Nonexistent Vatican documents we wish we'd dreamed up first, "translated" by Maurice F.X. McNulty in the Chicago-based Critic (Summer): "Catholic tradition has constantly taught that only the right hand may properly engage in manual activities. The left hand must remain curbed and passive or, at most, ancillary and subservient to the right hand, analogous to the function of a palette in respect to an artist, or the operation of a dustpan to a broom, or the role of a wife in relation to her husband. Hence, the use of the left hand, either principally or indiscriminately along with the right, has always been held to be...an unnatural vice.... Manual activity may be undertaken only by right-handed people within the context of a lifelong commitment to right-handedness.... Sinistrals, that is left-handed people, should always be made to feel the depth of compassion that the Church wishes to extend to all contemptible deviates."
"I think I was the first black mechanical engineer the company had hired," reflects senior vice president Cordell Reed on starting with Commonwealth Edison in the summer of 1960 (Trust News, Summer). "I know that every place I was assigned as an engineer, I was the first black who had been there....The difference was, people would treat me too nice. If I stepped on someone's foot, they would say 'thank you.' But once you've worked together in the hot, sweaty power stations, you start to become real people together."
A solution in search of a problem. "It's hard to figure out exactly what problem term limits is intended to solve," muses state representative Barbara Flynn Currie in Illinois Politics (July). "Even without term limits, the records show that from 1979 through today the average tenure of members of the Illinois House has never been longer than eight years. At the start of this session, in 1993, the average length of service was just over five years."
"EPA needs to consider risks to human health and the environment when deciding which [Superfund] sites to clean up first," asserts the General Accounting Office in a June report. Belaboring the obvious? Not in Federalland: "We found that risk plays only a minor role in the setting of EPA's priorities." EPA regional offices set priorities "on the basis of such factors as how long [sites] have been in the queue.... Officials in EPA Region 5 [Chicago] told us they generally discuss with states where to begin cleanup work first and attempt to fund equal numbers of sites in each state in their region."
The "powerful Christian right" is a paper tiger, argues David Frum in the New Republic (September 12). "Three years ago the country was riven by a controversy over the National Endowment for the Arts: Should taxpayers have to pay naked women to smear themselves with chocolate? Should a crucifix submerged in urine collect government money when no other crucifix could? The answer to both questions: Yes. All the NEA artists blackballed by the Bush administration have jumped back on the public payroll. If the Christian right couldn't win that one, it can't win anything."
"Many haunted locations are staffed or controlled by employees or bureaucrats with no sense of wonder and no good graces," complains local ghost hunter Richard Crowe, reviewing Dennis Hauck's The National Directory of Haunted Places in Real Crime Book Digest (August-September). Worse yet, some are haunted only by the credulous. "One amusing error [in the book] is his account of ghostly animal sounds heard at a circus burial plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, IL. Hauck blames dead circus animals from a long-ago train wreck for the sounds. Actually the train involved in the accident carried no animals, just circus performers. The real source for exotic animal cries here is actually Brookfield Zoo just a mile and a half away."
We nature. Natural Area Notes (Fall) reports that in 1990 volunteers in the Illinois Nature Conservancy's stewardship network spent 38,000 hours cutting brush, collecting native plant seeds, burning prairies, and otherwise restoring 21,000 acres. In 1993 they spent 81,000 hours managing 37,000 acres.
News we didn't really want to hear, from Caring Grandparents of America: "By the turn of the century nearly half of America's grandparents will come from the baby boom generation."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.