| Chicago Reader

News & Politics » City File

The City File



Excuse me, my supervisory monitor shows that you haven't been thinking very hard for the last 30 seconds. University of Illinois scientists say they can now measure mental activity through the scalp. Psychologist Arthur F. Kramer: "We know more about the [brain] voltage fluctuations in terms of psychological processes. We now have computer hardware that allows quick recordings from a large number of electrodes and does the analysis--measuring how busy a person's mind is--almost in the blink of the eye."

Just how far would you have to travel from Mayor Daley's office to find a museum exhibit titled "Chicago's Maxwell Street Market: Homage to an Urban Treasure"? About 600 miles, to the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

"No two peoples in the world misunderstand each other as profoundly as Americans and Koreans," writes Northwestern historian Bruce Cumings in In These Times (July 25). "Except for the too-silent left publications, it is almost commonplace now for U.S. pundits to indulge in a dehumanized, racist discourse about North Korea that makes me think there would be almost no popular resistance to American involvement in another Korean war. I always try to remain conscious of what I like to call the fallacy of insufficient cynicism, but never would I have anticipated the debased racist imagery or the warped, tabloid-style 'debate' that is now routine in discussions of our problems with Pyongyang."

Predictions that didn't pan out. The Chicago Reporter's Scott Burnham (May/June) finds that four aldermen stand to lose constituents if the Chicago Housing Authority high rises are torn down--Madeline Haithcock, Toni Preckwinkle, Dorothy Tillman, and Dexter Watson. But only two of the four, Tillman and Watson, confirm conventional wisdom by wanting to keep the high rises.

Meet you at the doctor's office after work for Happy Hour... "Ask yourself whether you would join a social club that provides drinks to its members free of direct charge--and then divides the total bar bill equally among members at the end of the month," suggests the Palatine-based, non-Clintonite Heartland Institute in a recent press release. "The month-end bill no doubt would sober the membership. Such a club would quickly lose members or change its pricing practices. We find it astounding that health care reform advocates could claim that the total cost of providing care will fall if the government organizes a National Health Club along similar lines." Sounds reasonable--but then why isn't Canada bankrupt?

"Too often, recycling is a justification for incessant waste," Rachel Spurr reminds us in Conscious Choice (May/June). "Reducing is a far wiser choice than recycling, one we don't emphasize nearly enough." And Waste Management won't get a contract for it either.

Is it race or is it fashion? "Only seventy-four per cent of those who identified themselves as American Indian by race [in the 1990 census] reported having Indian ancestry" --Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker (July 25).

"Child welfare appeared to be the most acceptable, the most 'white glove' of charities, crossing political lines and tapping a universal interest," writes Joan Gittens in her new history of Illinois state policies toward kids, Poor Relations. "But under the surface, the situation was intensely political....The connection between poverty and dependent children was unmistakable, but to act decisively in that direction took the issue from its safe, neutral territory and into the realm of class injustices--an uncomfortable setting for many philanthropists and for the public at large."

"At a recent Columbia College reading, Amiri Baraka began his segment, not by speaking, but by placing his hands on either side of the podium and quietly starting to drum," writes Kevin Cassidy in Letter Ex (June/July). "This simple act transformed the podium, an icon of intellectual/academic authority, into the ancient African instrument of communication, the drum, and transformed the performance space into the site of ritual telling. It was a transformation consistent with the project of Baraka's work over the last thirty years, adapting a hostile culture to the needs of the person."

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

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →