City of neighborhoods–for raccoons too. Jill Riddell in Chicago Wilderness (Summer) on recent radio-collar studies of raccoons: “Raccoons raised in a forest preserve tend to remain in that preserve, while raccoons born inside the urban matrix will likely continue to reside in the city or suburban neighborhood they are familiar with.”

When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. According to a catalog description, in a forthcoming book New York University professor of politics Steven Brams uses game theory “to build a detailed assessment of God’s character and motivations, including the reasons for His frequently wrathful behavior….He also extends the game-theoretic analysis, using the theory of moves, to study a counterfactual situation–what if Abraham had refused God’s command to sacrifice Isaac?–and to examine the rationality of believing in a superior being” (MIT Press, fall 2002 catalog).

Welcome to the prosecutorial staff. Here’s your basic tool–a pair of dice. Thomas Sullivan, cochair of Governor Ryan’s Commission on Capital Punishment, writes in the Illinois Bar Journal (June): “Our review of the 250 cases in which capital punishment was imposed revealed a tremendous disparity in factual and aggravating circumstances and no consistent pattern. All 13 cases of the convicted-then-released defendants were characterized by relatively little solid evidence connecting the charged defendants to the crimes. In some cases, the evidence was so minimal that commission members were at a loss to understand why the prosecution was pursued, much less why the prosecutor sought the death penalty.”

The tax game. According to Global Gaming Business (July 1), “The Illinois Legislature made a mockery of ‘tax stability’ last month when it decided to bash the ‘sin’ industries to make up a shortfall in the state budget. Already one of the highest-taxed gaming jurisdictions, Illinois now is in a class of its own.”

No history please–we’re Americans. “Genetic ‘enhancement,’ as it is euphemistically called, will eventually become a eugenics project meant to perfect the genetic composition of the human race,” writes Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago in last year’s fall issue of the Wilson Quarterly. “But our public life is so dominated by short-term considerations that someone who brings to the current genetic debate such a historical understanding sounds merely alarmist.”

The third world buys into Christianity–but not the kind you think. Martin Marty quotes Philip Jenkins’s The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity in the June 1 issue of “Context,” noting that by about 2025 African and Latin American believers will make up half of all Christians in the world, and are “by and large far more interested in personal salvation than in radical politics….The denominations that are triumphing all across the global South are stalwartly traditional or even reactionary by the standards of the economically advanced nations. Indeed, that conservatism may go far toward explaining the common neglect of Southern Christianity in North America and Europe. Western experts rarely find the ideological tone of the new churches much to their taste.”

News stories that would have made no sense at all before the 1980s, from the Citizens Utility Board newsletter the “CUB Voice” (Summer): “CUB has urged the ICC…to begin strict enforcement of number conservation” in the 815 and 618 area-code regions.

One world without one government. In an April report (“Policy Analysis,” number 431), the Cato Institute happily describes international tax competition as “a 21st-century restraint” on government: “The average top personal income tax rate in the major industrial countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has fallen 20 percentage points since 1980. The average top corporate income tax rate has fallen 6 percentage points in just the past six years.”

In two sentences. Tony Judt on the Middle East (New York Review of Books, July 18): “The central point is not who committed the first act of terror or the last, who has shown more restraint, and so forth. The point is to end it.”