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Or you could step on them. Hammacher Schlemmer now sells an "aluminum can crusher," complete with wall mount, 16-inch compaction arm, and foam-covered neoprene handle, for $22.95.

Escape from your drunken, abusive father and float south on a makeshift raft with a desperate runaway slave... Well, that's not exactly the curriculum, but Detours, the Rock Island-based "adventure travel" firm, still dares to call its tours, which start at $319, "Huckleberry Finn University." Unlike their namesake, clients will "travel on the river by day [on a boat fully equipped with life vests] and stay ashore in bed & breakfasts or historic inns" by night; in inclement weather, "alternative activities" may be substituted for river travel. Can we look forward to the Madame Bovary Getaway Weekend? The Bright Lights, Big City Escapade? A final visit to the King Lear retirement home?

Invasion for the hell of it. The New Yorker (April 2) reports that "the United States has quietly dropped its request that Panama toughen its laws on the laundering of drug money. The request was opposed by Panama's new government, four of whose top officials have owned or directed banks accused of laundering drug funds."

Chicago is the Third City in hotel rooms, according to Laventhal & Horwath (Executive Edge, March 1990). In order: Orlando (96,513), Los Angeles/Long Beach (67,492), Chicago (64,323), and New York (62,451).

Tunnel vision in the executive suite. Best of Business (Spring 1990) reviews Beijing Jeep: "On June 4, 1989, downtown Beijing was a businessman's worst nightmare. While soldiers went on a killing rampage in Tiananmen Square, foreign executives and their families stormed the international airports, clamoring to get a flight--any flight--out of the city. The business climate had changed."

Curious achievement award to U. of I. linguist James Marchand, who reconstructs obscured medieval Gothic manuscripts using ultraviolet photography, a digitizing camera, and "contrast stretching," which can distinguish more than 250 shades of gray. He says his reconstruction of the Codex Argenteus "will look more like the original than the original itself."

I can't believe they spent the whole thing. "The 1989 Spring Session of the Illinois General Assembly raised at least $486 million in additional revenue from new taxes and then spent it all, and then some," is the conclusion of the Illinois Tax Foundation, as reported in the Budget Watch Reporter (March 1990). "While Gov. Thompson on many occasions warned that the state could not handle large increases in general funds spending, when it came time to cut back by use of his veto powers, he opted for 'small scratches' as opposed to deep cuts.... As in 1983 and 1985, tax increases have again fueled a spending surge that can't be sustained.... No matter what, when the General Assembly reconvenes in the spring of 1990, the budget and appropriation activity for FY 1991 is going to be extremely difficult."

"While the public starves for information, are City negotiations with Edison going on behind closed doors?" asks the Challenger (March 1990), newsletter of the Labor Coalition on Public Utilities. The public hearings on whether Chicago should retain Commonwealth Edison as its electricity vendor, and on what terms, have been grossly underpublicized, according to LCPU. "It didn't have to be this way. Every alderman could schedule ward meetings to discuss the franchise. Every library, community center, union hall, church, social club could have copies of...the very excellent report of the Mayor's Energy Task Force.... One-page summaries could be distributed in the thousands."

"The political parade at the IMPACT dinner...was certainly impressive," writes Achy Obejas in Windy City Times (March 1). Of the politicians courting the gay and lesbian vote, she writes that her favorite was Robert Marshall. "Wearing a brown suit that looked like a grocery bag, he went from table to table introducing himself and telling anyone who would listen about his campaign [for the Republican gubernatorial nomination].... And as my friend Andrew Patner said, you know we've really arrived when a rabidly conservative, anti-abortion Republican comes looking for our vote."

Maybe it's the cafeteria food. According to the National Energy Education Development Project's poll of 25,000 U.S. students: "More than half of the elementary students asked (54.9%) are able to define why solar power is a renewable energy source. Surprisingly, only a third of the secondary students can give correct answers."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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