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Proficiency test. Computer repair technician Yvonne Miller on her first day of work at south suburban Moraine Valley Community College (Applause Applause: 1994 Employee Awards): "My boss, Jay Torrens, said, 'Here's your office. There's your computer. By the way, the computer doesn't work so you might as well fix it.'"

"In the best of all possible worlds, every PC would have a DWIM (Do What I Mean) key," writes Robert Luhn in Chicago Computer Currents (April). "Press the sucker and the article would print out, the spreadsheet would find your missing profits, the presentation would fix itself. Alas, the days of the DWIM key are far, far away. Until then, remember User Error Rule #1. Chances are, you (and Windows--credit where credit is due) are to blame."

"As a populist stick to beat the corporations, the campaign against corporate welfare is well-timed and powerful," writes David Moberg in In These Times (April 17). "But...[it] could backfire on the left. It implicitly accepts the legitimacy of the assault on welfare for the poor and condones both deficit reduction and cutting government overall....Even if all the unjustifiable corporate subsidies and tax breaks go, corporate power will remain intact. And small businesses are no alternative: They are not in principle better for workers, the environment or the common good than big businesses are."

"When I came to Chicago [January 1970], blues was a black on black thing," recalls Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records in Buddy Guy's Legends Bluesletter (May/June). "Virtually all the artists were black, virtually all of the audience was black. If I found another white person in a blues club on the South side or West side, I almost always knew that person by name and we all hung out together, all the white blues fans. Blues was a neighborhood music, it was a music where the people on the bandstand knew the names of the people in the audience, and sometimes the people in the audience came and sat in with the people on the bandstand. There would be amateur musicians who were just as good as the professionals. Now blues has become more of a type of show business, and for the musicians that's good because they are beginning to make a decent pay for their talent because they are getting a wider audience," but the gap between musicians and their audiences has grown. "I miss the neighborhood atmosphere a lot and I know that a lot of musicians miss it too, but they don't miss playing for $20 or $25 a night. They don't miss worrying at the end of the night if they're going to get paid....When I met Koko Taylor, she was cleaning houses for people on the North Shore, now she owns a house like the ones she used to clean."

The renegades. North suburban Republican John Porter cast nine votes against parts of the Contract With America, according to an Illinois Politics (April) wrap-up by Karen Nagel and Victor Crown, while Democrat William Lipinski cast only eight dissenting votes! Most of the state's congresspeople were more reliably partisan: "Republican members of the Illinois delegation cast only 18 votes against and 282 votes in favor of items in the Contract during the first 100 days....Democratic members of the Illinois delegation cast 94 votes in favor and 192 votes against."

"Most of the [nuclear] weapons complex is not going to be cleaned up in the foreseeable future," writes Linda Rothstein in the Hyde Park-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May/June), summarizing two recent Department of Energy reports. "Merely stabilizing the wastes is an enormously sophisticated technical enterprise." Estimated expenditures of $230 to $500 billion "would buy 'stabilization' of the worst sites, not cleanup."

Jesse Jackson "has always sought to operate and be recognized as a political insider, as a leader without portfolio or without accountability to any constituency that he claims to represent," writes Northwestern's Adolph Reed Jr. in the Progressive (April), explaining why a 1996 Jackson presidential candidacy would not be a satisfactory antidote to Newtonian politics. "PUSH ran as a simple extension of his will, and he has sought to ensure that the Rainbow Coalition would be the same kind of rubber stamp, a letterhead and front for his mercurial ambition....We need something much more substantial, a program and a credible strategy for realizing it."

The true price of a gallon of gas, according to the Clean Air Council, if infrastructure, pollution, congestion, accidents, and suburban sprawl were counted in would be about $10 (The Neighborhood Works, April/May).

Nice to know that when we shop at Wal-Mart and ignore the downtown stores, we're not contributing to job loss or suburban sprawl. David Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, in Earth Day Times 1995 (published by Earth Day Illinois and Conscious Choice): "Conservatives...prefer that we exercise our authority as individual consumers rather than as collective citizens. 'We vote with our pocketbooks,' is a favorite phrase of theirs. And they are right, in a trivial way. How we spend our money may influence corporations to modestly change the kinds of goods and services they offer. But how we spend our money rarely if ever influences the truly important decisions: the character of our immediate surroundings, the health of our natural environment, the stability of our jobs."

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

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