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The waffles are fine, it's the rodent hairs that bother me. The Northbrook-based Chef's Catalog will soon offer a waffle iron that makes waffles in the image of Mickey Mouse: "Think of the fun your kids will have serving Mickey Mouse as a treat at their next party."

Gee, why not just watch while you're at it? Executive Edge (March) gives advice to employers testing employees for drugs: "When administering tests, reduce chances of employee tampering by having the 'donor' remove outer clothing and make sure he/she carries nothing into the stall."

Caution: contents of deal may not be as advertised. Last year, when the Daley administration turned the Chicago Commission on Human Relations from a loose collection of advocacy groups into a tight assembly of advisory councils, chairman Clarence Wood "predicted that the CCHR's new enforcement powersÉwould reduce hate crimes. He added that if the new commission failed to reduce hate crimesÉit should be abolished," writes Rachel L. Jones in the Chicago Reporter (March). "But since the [restructuring] ordinance went into effect on May 6, 1990, the Commission has issued only two subpoenas, initiated no complaints and held no hearings.ÉAnd only 16 percent of the 200 discrimination cases investigated by the CCHR since May 6 have been settled." Meanwhile, hate crimes are up from 185 in 1989 to 213 in 1990.

"Parents' conceptions of school date from their own childhood experiences," Antonia Potenza reminds school officials in "Parent Participation Programs in the Chicago Public Schools," a new booklet put out by Roosevelt University. "Parents may still be intimidated by teachers and administrators. These feelings are not likely to change when all communications from the school involve bad news about their offspring. A call from the teacher that their child aced a math test will delight parents--and probably surprise them. Better not leave a message on Friday afternoon; you'll worry them all weekend."

If this is compassion I'd like a double helping of abuse, please. From the newsletter Ethics & Medics (March), published by the Pope John Center in Braintree, Massachusetts: After arguing that "condomistic sexual acts" are immoral, John Haas adds, "If both [marriage] partners are infected with HIV it would be better to abstain altogether from sexual relations to avoid the possibility of an infected child. The abstention would also provide them with the opportunity to give themselves more fully to prayer and penance in preparation for their probable death from the disease."

"This building may be poetic, but it is also extravagantly self-absorbed," writes Chicago architect Carl Giegold of the Miglin-Beitler tower, which he says would cram the floor area of a normal 50-story building into 125 stories and would be an energy glutton because of its tall, thin shape. In general, "the projects in 'New Chicago Architecture' [shown at the Chicago Athenaeum, Hancock Center, through June 30] are appropriate to the decade of the 1980s.ÉThey make us feel good, give us a sense of accomplishment despite their superficiality. But such self-absorption is inappropriate to future design" (The Neighborhood Works, April-May).

Just behind India, just ahead of Australia. According to CIA figures in the recent Illinois Economic Report, Illinois' gross state product of $258 billion would make it the 13th largest economy in the world if the state were a separate nation.

Antiauthoritarianism becomes compulsory. "Tom Wolfe showed us some years ago how the masters of Bauhaus worker-housing chic used every form of tyranny at their disposal to frustrate the desires of real proletarians, who wished to add a little warmth and humanity to the concrete slab pillboxes built for them by their self-appointed caretakers," writes Paul Mankowski in First Things (April). "In the same way, simple Catholics uneasy with the clown mass or the offertory dance troupe have met a wall of unshakable resolve: there simply is no turning back [say the 'enforcers']; it is for us, the university trained, the licensed and commissioned, to judge the beauty of the emperor's wardrobe; no others need apply. Contemporary ritualists are famously intolerant; in Catholic seminaries it is common to refer to priests who have 'a black-belt in liturgy.' Yet all this, it need hardly be said, takes place in the name of a counter-hierarchical program."

The best senators money can buy. Common Cause reports, "The average spent by a Senate incumbent in incumbent-challenger races in 1990 was $4,491,802, compared with $4,002,916 in 1988....In contrast, spending by Senate challengers decreased....The average amount spent by Senate challengers in 1990 was $1,687,871, compared with $1,783,368 in 1988."

And the other two were lying. From a Chicago business seminar producer: "A recent speechwriting survey showed that 8 out of 10 business executives admit to falling asleep during someone else's presentation at least once in the last year."

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

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