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More casualties of organized gang warfare. Dr. James Kelly of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago estimates that up to 250,000 concussions, many overlooked or minimized, have already occurred this season on this country's football fields.

Why does the U.S. spend more per pupil on education than any other country--and get so much less? According to UIC education professor Herbert Walberg, in a new report published by the Palatine-based Heartland Institute, it's because we've been doing things backward. For the last 50 years educators have been busy consolidating schools, enlarging districts, and lobbying for more state money and less local money in education. But Walberg compared the scores eighth-graders in 37 states received on a national mathematics test and found that states with the highest scores have the smallest schools, the smallest school districts, and the smallest state share of education funding. Evidently there's no substitute for local control and the personal touch.

"Renewable resources are ready to generate much of the electricity in the Midwest," according to Dennis Nelson's review of the Union of Concerned Scientists' new book Powering the Midwest in NEIS News (November/December). According to UCS, Illinois has the theoretical potential to produce 51,000 megawatts of electricity from wind and 6,100 megawatts from wood, crop residues, and municipal garbage. By comparison, one Zion-sized nuclear reactor produces 1,040 megawatts.

One time will do it. According to Dr. Virginia Bishop, chief of adolescent medicine at U. of I. Hospital: "The number one way that teens become HIV positive is by having unprotected sex one time with one person"--and the number one myth among teens is that it takes more than once.

"One White House aide notes that [Bill] Daley is one of the few people he has seen in close proximity to the President who are not scrambling for attention or favor, not trying to demonstrate their place at the top of the pack," writes Sidney Blumenthal in the New Yorker (November 29). "Daley's political identity is rooted not in this court but in something larger: the history of the Democratic Party....No matter what happens to him in Washington, his identity remains constant. Daley's detachment about power is derived from his intimacy with it. For him, image doesn't dictate substance; rather, in accordance with the dictum of Chicago's greatest architect, Louis Sullivan, form follows function."

I don't think so. Comment made at the September summit held by the Illinois Center for the Book and recorded in its fall newsletter: "If Illinois had had a Center for Department Stores a decade ago, perhaps today Carson's and Field's wouldn't now be out-of-state companies and Sears would be healthier!"

"Whites on the Left don't want to confront complexity, tension, and ambivalence in black politics," complains Northwestern University political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. in the Progressive (December). "In general, they simply do not see political differences among black people....For instance, middle-class black people, largely because of housing segregation, are more likely than middle-class whites to live close to poor people. And black people, especially in the middle class, are more likely to be public employees, thanks to more nearly equal employment opportunities in the public sector.... Attention to black politics on the [white] Left tends to revolve around thin and simplistic definitions of good guys and bad, 'true' leaders and false. This distorts political judgment into a search for authenticity, hauntingly like white youth's quest in the 1960s for the most 'authentic' blues."

Marketing letters from hell, family-ties division. From a suburban roofing company, warning of winter weather: "We felt it last week. It wasn't warm...or was like my cousin!"

"Toys aren't inherently social problems. We're just surrounded by people telling us they are," says Southern Illinois University sociologist Joel G. Best. "A lot of social movements today"-- feminist, antiwar, fundamentalist --"find it convenient to talk about toys in terms of their cause....The real lessons that shape [children's] lives are learned with family and friends, not objects."

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

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