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Traffic jam just ahead on the superhighway. "Chemical Abstracts took 31 years (1907 to 1937) to publish its first 1 million abstracts," writes Eli Noam in Science (October 13). "The second million took 18 years; the most recent million took only 1.75 years. Thus, more articles on chemistry have been published in the past 2 years than throughout history before 1900."

'Tis the season to be...peculiar. Hammacher Schlemmer's 1995 gift catalog includes the "Barbie 'Solo in the Spotlight' Telephone," a gold-plated 50th-anniversary Slinky, and--our favorite--an aquarium designed to look like a computer with an aquarium screen saver.

"Today's lopsided debate over national policy stems in part from a shortage of liberal and left thinkers who can work full time to develop and sell ideas," writes David Callahan in the Nation (November 13). "At the same time that conservative foundations began investing heavily in intellectual elites during the 1970s and 1980s, foundations on the left were moving in the opposite direction. Reflecting a widespread belief among progressives that more attention should be focused on the grass roots, they placed a new emphasis on community programs and sought greater diversity in their grant recipients. They poured money into activist groups....They continued to fund policy research, but they didn't expand that funding to match growing spending on the right....The results of this starvation diet are now apparent. The left is handicapped in the war of ideas."

In which a tax-supported university promotes one kind of religion. According to a UIC press release, one piece of advice to parents for relieving holiday stress on children from pediatric psychologist Anita Landau Hurtig of the university's medical center is "Don't let children pray for gifts."

Sorry, folks, we've pulled up the ladder. From a news release on Corrado Cutlery's 90th anniversary: "In 1905, Dominick Corrado began offering sharpening services and hand made razor strops from a pushcart in Chicago's Loop area. Specializing in professional sharpening services, Dominick established a unique retail store, later honored by Richard J. Daley as one of the oldest family-run retail stores in Chicago." Our question: where in the Loop in 1995 will Richard M. Daley's government allow today's street vendors the chance to succeed?

Somewhat good news on housing from the Metropolitan Planning Council's draft report "Housing for a Competitive Region" (October): "In every area of the region there was an increase in the number and percentage of renters who could afford lower-priced rental housing from 1980 to 1990. Furthermore, the actual number of renters in the region declined. Many of those households probably became homeowners, suggesting that affordable owner housing attracted many renters with the ability and desire to buy." Why then did the number and percentage of Chicago-area renters paying more than 30 percent of their income also increase? "Some leaders in the southern suburbs point out that the housing affordability problems in the region are not due to a dearth of affordable housing units--there are many in Chicago and throughout the southern suburbs--but to the reluctance of white people to move to affordable areas."

Bring on the cigarettes and cholesterol! According to a recent Women's Health Initiative press release, women's health advocate Dr. Bernadine Healy said recently at Rush-Presbyterian-Saint Luke's Medical Center, "Women live about 10 years longer than men, but those years are filled with chronic, debilitating diseases."

Is it just me? From a recent hospital press release: "Each year nurses outfit babies at Grant Hospital who are born on Christmas, Easter and Halloween. This year the Halloween babies will be dressed in orange, jack-o-lantern faced costumes that fit over their diapers."

Planning for whom? According to a recent news release from the Heartland Alliance, the Chicago Institute on Urban Poverty found that the Chicago Area Transportation Study's transportation planning process grossly favors the suburbs, with one representative for every 230,000 suburbanites and one for every 800,000 Chicago residents. What may be worse, "None of the key committees within the CATS structure have even a single transit user representative among committee members."

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

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