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"Think of the universe as a loaf of raisin bread," says U. of C. cosmologist David Schramm in Chronicle (June 9). "And we're one of the raisins. No matter where that raisin is in the universe of bread, all of the other raisins are moving away from it as the loaf is rising. That's the expansion of the universe." And don't ask how much yeast God put in, OK?

Saint Theodore? That Alderman Ted Mazola could move Maxwell Street to gain open space for UIC may be miraculous according to letter writer Lionel Bottari in the Near West Gazette (June 2). "That the addition to the university of several playing fields and a parking lot will provide an opportunity for 'thousands of Chicago residents to achieve a higher education' is truly a marvel. That thousands more, including 750 vendors, goods, and vehicles should fit into three blocks of Canal St. is right up there with the parting of the waters....When the scientific studies and church investigations of these miracles are completed, I am sure the Alderman will be canonized."

To each according to his lack of need. Cheryl Bardoe reports in The Neighborhood Works (June/July) that during the first 15 years of the U.S. Department of Energy's Institutional Conservation Program, Northwestern University received $1.28 million, while the Chicago Public Schools received just $231,000 in energy-saving grants.

"Consider the declaration of the ethical principles supposedly common to all religions promulgated at the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago in the summer of 1993," writes University of Chicago professor Paul Griffiths in First Things (June/July). "This declaration limits claims of such vagueness and generality that it would be hard for anyone to disagree about them, but equally hard for anyone to get excited about them--much less to structure his life around them or be prepared to die for them. To say that all religious communities recognize the right of people not to be tortured, or that all religious communities support the self-determination of indigenous peoples is not very exciting: even if these claims are true (and I suspect that they are not), they bear little relation to any claim that a faithful member of any religious community would recognize as his own. Such attempts at saying things that every religious community can agree upon are about as useful to a serious Christian or a serious Buddhist as a pacifier is to anyone over the age of four."

Another reason to raise the cigarette tax. UIC economist Frank Chaloupka says that "the inhibiting effect of high cigarette prices seems especially pronounced among teenagers," supposedly because they're less addicted.

"There is something inherently hypocritical about burning gallons of jet fuel to jet-set around the country to preach the gospel of sustainable living," writes John Schaeffer, president of Real Goods, about his own recent activities. "And then there is the built-in conflict of an 'expert' preaching about independent living where the word 'independence' involves not listening to the experts. Anyhow, I justify it all in the name of education..."

At least you'll be fired by an expert. The Wisconsin-based newsletter Informed Management (June) advises employers never to let front-line supervisors do the firing, because "they are not experts on employment law, and can say the 'wrong thing,' which may lead to lawsuits."

"The American Trotskyist movement sounds like not such a bad place to have spent the '50s," writes Scott McLemee, reviewing Tim Wohlforth's memoir in In These Times (June 27). "While the beatniks of the day issued little mimeographed collections of bad poetry, Wohlforth and his associates published large mimeographed collections of bad prose."

Things that just didn't surprise us at all. Percentages of various groups who say they have a favorable impression of Ross Perot: Of the general public--39. Of those who say they've seen a spacecraft from another planet--59. Of those who say they've had direct contact with aliens from another planet--90 (Washington Post weekly, June 27-July 3).

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

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