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"Logic and history say that the frontier was, in fact, a place where violence served the causes of racial subordination, but a more powerful emotional understanding says that the frontier is where people of courage have gone to take a stand for the right and the good," writes historian Patricia Nelson Limerick in Harper's (October), quoted from her contribution to a book published in conjunction with the Newberry Library's exhibit on the frontier. "As a mental artifact, the frontier has demonstrated an astonishing stickiness and persistence. It is virtually the flypaper of our mental world; it attaches itself to everything--healthful diets, space shuttles, civil-rights campaigns, heart transplants, industrial-product development, musical innovations. Packed full of nonsense and goofiness, jammed with nationalistic self-congratulation, the image of the frontier is nonetheless universally recognized and laden with positive associations."

Here we have a photocopy without an original. The Rockford-based Testor Corporation, which manufactures hobby materials, says it has created "a scale model--called the Area S4 UFO--of an alien spacecraft allegedly hidden within the heavily guarded Nellis Air Force Range at Groom Lake in central Nevada." But company PR director John Dewey says Testor "can neither confirm nor deny the existence of UFOs."

"Education does not affect pay rates" among Illinois home-care workers surveyed by NIU's Center for Governmental Studies on behalf of the Service Employees International Union Local 880. "Respondents at all educational levels are just as likely to make no more than $5.00 per hour on their homecare jobs." Experience seems equally unhelpful: "Respondents are just as likely to make no more than $5.00 per hour whether they've been on the job less than one year or more than six." In both cases the vast majority earn no more than $5.

Dept. of lawyerese. Fine print from the order form in the Peoples Gas Consumer Information Bulletin (November/December) touting a particular brand of carbon monoxide detector: "This mailing does not constitute an offer to sell. It is solely a solicitation of your offer to purchase merchandise."

"We shouldn't write the [Chicago] river off," insists Robert Lonsdorf in the North Branch Prairie Project's Sixteenth Year Report 1990-1993, noting several recent initiatives to start restoring parts of the river and its banks and wetlands. Besides, "last summer, up on the West Fork, in a ditch where it didn't belong, a state-threatened fish, the Iowa darter, was found. Its Latin name is Etheostoma exile, like an exile that had found its way home."

"These times demand more aggressive philanthropy in legal services," argues Theodore Tetzlaff in the newsletter of the Chicago Area Foundation for Legal Services (Fall). "Though there are at least 35 different agencies providing free legal services in the metropolitan area, their reach is severely limited; their caseloads could increase five times and still not meet the need in areas such as discrimination, employment, health care, housing, immigration, and many other issues where proper resolution can be found only in the courts."

Sorry, my stereotypes indicate that these people are all starving to death. U. of I. political scientist and historian Stephen Cohen reports in a university press release that South Asia's economic prospects are much better than most people have thought: "Until now, India and Pakistan have been dependent on foreign aid, but thanks to India's liberalization policies, India now exports some $200 million worth of computer software to the United States each year, and that sum 'can increase by tenfold.' Pakistan also has become a major exporter of software."

Anniversaries we were happy to miss, from the Producer's Report (August), newsletter of the ultraconservative Christian publishing house Zondervan: "September 31. First Criminal Execution in American Colonies Anniversary."

"Some 90 percent of people under the age of 35 have never touched coal," says Kim Underwood of the state Department of Energy and Natural Resources, promoting the Museum of Science and Industry's upgraded coal exhibit. "Coal is an abstract form with them."

Enough pressure for you? According to the director of career and placement services at the University of Chicago, "The best time to begin thinking about getting a job after college is during your freshman year."

No comment. In his newsletter Context (November 15), Martin Marty quotes Jimmy Allen, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, whose grandson is HIV-positive and "therefore could not get into a Southern Baptist Sunday School anywhere": "The first man in history to reach out and voluntarily touch lepers didn't die of leprosy. He died at the hands of religious leaders who wouldn't have touched a leper on a bet."

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

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