“To protect Lake Michigan we have to protect the land that drains into it,” said Lake Michigan Federation director Cameron Davis in an interview last month. He favors replacing Meigs Field with a nature park to be called Sanctuary Point. Among other things, the federation would like the Chicago Park District to construct wetlands that would help purify the runoff from nearby parking lots serving Adler Planetarium and the 12th Street Beach.

Another sidesplitting parody from those rascals at the American Bar Association. An ABA press release dated February 23 states, “In the Winter issue of Litigation, the quarterly journal of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the U.S., argues that the Supreme Court’s independence from the other branches of the federal government is its most indispensable and perhaps most assailable asset. This 4,500 plus word essay is the first published adaptation of a speech Rehnquist presented to the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association on Dec. 11, 1999.” Litigation’s editor in chief, Gary Sasso, adds, “What emerges in this issue is a testament to the rule of law.” I guess being independent means never having to say you’re sorry for arbitrarily picking a president, eh?

We’re number five! In 1999 Chicago had an average of 65.5 public-transit trips per capita, putting it behind New York (155.1), Honolulu (76.6), San Francisco (69.1), and Washington-Baltimore (67.1), and just ahead of Boston (65), according to Wendell Cox’s “Urban Transport Fact Book” (www.publicpurpose.com/ ut-99percap.htm).

“Occasionally, company policy required black workers to enforce rules mandating segregation” on trains early in the 20th century, writes Eric Arnesen of the University of Illinois at Chicago in his new book, Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality. “The Chicago Defender wasted few words in 1930 when it denounced some black railroaders as Uncle Toms for complying with segregation statutes or insulting black passengers…. When it came to racial etiquette, the Defender expected not only defiance of Jim Crow norms and laws but of managerial authority as well.”

Moving in the right direction. Percentage of Illinoisans in poverty, according to Census Bureau figures reported in “Fiscal Focus” (December): for 1993-’95 the figure was 12.8. For 1997-’99 it was 10.4.

Darwin rules, creationists drool. The finally deciphered human genome “reveals, indisputably and beyond any serious doubt, that Darwin was right,” writes Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia Inquirer (February 23). “Humankind evolved over a long period of time from primitive animal ancestors….There is no other way to explain the jerry-built nature of the genes that control key aspects of our development. It’s not just that we have DNA in common with these other, older life forms. It’s also that this string isn’t very elegant: It’s redundant, full of noise, inoperative stretches, junk. It came to be in a complex, selective, messy process over millions and millions of years….Our instructions have been slowly assembled from those that made jellyfish, dinosaurs, wooly mammoths and our primate ancestors.”

“I did not find Singapore strange; I found it familiar,” writes Thomas Frank in the sixth issue of “Context” (www.centerforbookculture. org/context/no6/frank.html). “It has become a country whose culture, superficially at least, looks a lot like our own….Depoliticized but intensely successorized, Singapore is what America will be like if the ‘New Economy’ crowd get their way for much longer….From every magazine, newspaper, alternative weekly, or slick lifestyle supplement I came across arose a suffocating fog of affirmation.”