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Been working inside too long? The Rest of Us (June), the newsletter of the Chicago Area Macintosh Users' Group, offers this brief review of SoundScape 2.1.1: "A control panel that plays bird calls at random intervals. Yes I know this isn't an application, but some of us happen to like birds. OK?"

The federal government spends too much on welfare--except for my middle-class constituents. Contract With America supporter and 5th district U.S. representative Michael Flanagan has urged the House of Representatives "to protect...the sanctity and integrity of the many decades old home mortgage interest deduction" (Congressional Record, May 15).

"Many advocates of free trade claim that higher productivity growth in the United States will offset any downward pressure on wages caused by the global sweatshop economy," writes Michael Lind in Harper's (June), "but the appealing theory falls victim to an unpleasant fact. Productivity has been going up in America, without resulting wage gains for American workers. Between 1977 and 1992, the average productivity of American workers increased by more than 30 percent, while the average real wage fell by 13 percent."

Swastikas in black and white. "Tom Metzger, a former KKK leader and current head of the White Aryan Resistance, has spoken well of [Minister Louis] Farrakhan and often donates cash offerings when the minister visits near his California neighborhood," writes Salim Muwakkil in The Neighborhood Works (June/July). "Some may find this incongruous, but in reality, the goals of the two men coincide. It was intriguing, for example, listening to Farrakhan's 'Savior's Day' speech excoriating a cabal of international Jewish bankers and finding his villains identical to those listed in the stock literature of the racist right."

No muddy water in these bankers' living rooms. From a First Chicago press release on the temporary economic slowdown caused by the wet Midwestern spring: "It's still uncertain whether this year's floods will be as bad--and ultimately as stimulative--as 1993's."

"Senior police officers sometimes have axes to grind in the area of gun control," Scott Baltic and John McClelland advise their colleagues in Chicago Journalist (June). "If you wouldn't accept a police chief's pronouncements on drugs or search warrants as gospel, then you shouldn't accept the chief's statements on guns as gospel, either."

Is this a compliment? Richard Turner of Shorebank on East 71st, which last year made 71 "enterprise loans" in Russia and 55 in Chicago: "To a surprising degree, small business entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe and elsewhere have many characteristics comparable to those in Chicago--similar motivations, similar strengths and weaknesses....And lending in Chicago is not all that much different from lending in Russia" (Shorebank Corporation, 1994 Annual Report).

Oh. Painter and poet Pat Steir, interviewed in the School of the Art Institute's Interrobang (Spring/Summer): "I definitely was not a modernist formalist. The reason I wasn't is because it had rules. I became an artist so that I wouldn't have to conform to any rules."

"The goal is to consolidate and reforest as much as possible," Scott Robinson, a state Natural History Survey ornithologist, tells Sheryl De Vore in The Nature of Illinois (Spring). Bigger forests offer better survival chances to songbirds like Kentucky warblers and wood thrushes. "Evidence shows that reducing fragmentation in these areas will improve the success of breeding songbirds. At Lowden-Miller State Forest [2,225 acres, recently acquired], breeding success is about two times as high in the forest interior as it is at the edge of campgrounds and farm fields."

Coming next: "Forms Dad Faked That He Doesn't Want the IRS to Know About." A local radio station observed Father's Day by inviting students from Chute Middle School in Evanston to broadcast features on "Silly and Fun Things Dad Did That He Doesn't Want Mom to Know."

"Liberals these days call for the F.B.I. to witch-hunt rural militias," complains consistent leftist Alexander Cockburn in the Nation (June 26). "How come people oppressed by economic circumstances and government predations who take up arms and defy the state in southern Mexico are hailed in The Nation and other pwog publications as virtuous revolutionaries, whereas those in the West and Midwest who do the same thing are reflexively denounced as Nazis?"

There is no truth to the rumor that the phrase "not really" must be added to make the plates legal. According to a recent Illinois Department of Conservation press release, owners of the more than 139,000 gigantic recreational vehicles registered in Illinois will be allowed to purchase the state's cardinal-and-prairie-grass environmental license plates.

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

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