And if we legalize private ownership of tanks and guided missiles, maybe we can slash the Pentagon budget. From the fall issue of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois’ “Taxnews”: “Cal Skinner’s Personal Security Act, which would allow a trained, law-abiding citizen to use a gun in self-defense, would save millions of taxpayers dollars by making it possible to reduce the number of police and supporting bureaucracy.”

As if buckthorn itself weren’t bad enough. According to Chicago Wilderness (Fall), DePaul University’s Liam Heneghan has found that the invasive shrub not only crowds out healthy plant communities, but its leaves, which contain excess nitrogen, quickly decompose into the soil. The magazine reports that “the increase in nitrogen content could have serious negative effects on the survival of many native plants [and animals], even after the buckthorn is removed.”

The Hippocratic oath in action. In a talk delivered at a hospital staff reunion on September 28, Dr. Gordon Schiff recalled his medical education at Cook County Hospital: “When I was an intern on call on Ward 24, we had to run back and forth between the Admitting Ward (Ward 35 in the Medical A Building) and our patients in the main building. Being constantly called back and forth for admissions, patients, spiking fevers, seizures, cardiac arrests, there was no way we could wait for the elevators. So we took a short cut, up the fire escape behind Ward 23 to more quickly get back to the ward. The only problem was that there was a locked ‘fire exit’ door that was supposed to remain closed….We circumvented this by holding the door open with a block of wood. However, half the time we arrived at the top of the fire escape only to find the block of wood had been knocked out and it was no longer holding the door ajar….So one night, I found a rag and wrapped it around the door from the inside to the outside and created a nice handle to pull open the door as we came up the fire escape. The rag stayed in place for the next two years! Who knows how many patient lives may have been saved by this rag, as well as countless hours of housestaff time and frustration.”

Glad that’s been cleared up. The definition of ethics, according to Prosperity (issue #56), a Scientology-oriented business magazine: “Ethics consists simply of the actions an individual takes on himself. It is a personal thing. When one is ethical or ‘has his ethics in,’ it is by his own determinism and is done by himself.”

“In the United States, today’s 50 largest media companies account for little more of total media revenue than did the companies that made up the top 50 in 1986,” writes MIT’s Benjamin Compaine in Foreign Policy (November/December). “Indeed, media merger activity is more like rearranging the furniture: In the past 15 years, MCA with its Universal Pictures was sold by its U.S. owners to Matsushita (Japan), who sold to Seagram’s (Canada), who sold it to Vivendi (France)….Media companies have indeed grown over the past 15 years, but this growth should be understood in context. Developed economies have grown, so expanding enterprises are often simply standing still in relative terms….For example, measured by revenue, Gannett was the largest U.S. newspaper publisher in 1986, its sales accounting for 3.4 percent of all media revenue that year. In 1997, it accounted for less than 2 percent of total media revenue. Helped by major acquisitions, Gannett’s revenue had actually increased by 69 percent, but the U.S. economy had grown 86 percent. The media industry itself has grown 188 percent, making a ‘bigger’ Gannett smaller in relative terms.”

The GOP casino: legendary. According to Illinois Issues (November), ten Illinois politicians and political organizations received more than $200,000 each from the state’s casino and horse-racing industries between 1993 and 2001. Of that total, $3,866,540 went to Republicans, and $611,700 went to Democrats.