Fat is where you find it. An article by Anjali Jain of the University of Chicago and others in the May issue of Pediatrics advises doctors that low-income black and white mothers in three focus groups they ran “did not define overweight or obese in their children according to how height and weight measurements were plotted on the standard growth charts used by health professionals.” Regardless of where the kids fell on the charts, these mothers didn’t believe their children were overweight as long as “they were active and had a healthy diet and/or a good appetite.”

More evidence that tearing down CHA buildings won’t end segregation. From Catalyst (April): “The 5,673 students from HOPE VI developments who transferred out of their neighborhood schools between fall 1995 and fall 2000 scattered to 421 schools in 69 of Chicago’s 77 community areas. Students from South Side developments, Taylor and Wells, were most likely to attend schools in nearby, black South Side communities: Englewood, West Englewood, South Shore, Woodlawn and Washington Park. Students from West Side developments, ABLA and Horner, stayed on the West Side. Most went to the Near West Side, Austin, North Lawndale and East Garfield Park. Cabrini-Green students scattered in all directions, although most went to communities that were relatively close.” Of the almost 1,000 who transferred to schools outside of the city, “many went to the south suburbs, including Harvey.” (Full data at www. catalyst-chicago.org.)

Call a cab, it’s cheaper. The Illinois Times (April 19-25) reports on a beleaguered effort in downstate Springfield to provide public transportation between 6 PM and 11:30 PM, when city buses don’t run. The program has provided an estimated 800 rides a month at an annual cost of between $125,000 and $185,700 per year. That works out to between $13.02 and $19.34 per ride.

Regulations are worth more than economists think, warn Robert Frank and Cass Sunstein in the University of Chicago Law Review (Spring). “Conventional estimates tell us the amount of income an individual, acting in isolation, would be willing to sacrifice in return for, say, an increase in safety on the job.” But it makes a difference if everyone acts together. “When a regulation requires all workers to purchase additional safety, each worker gives up the same amount of other goods, so no worker experiences a decline in relative living standards. If relative living standards matter, an individual will value an across the board increase in safety more highly than an increase in safety that he alone purchases.” Therefore, “when government agencies are unsure how to value regulatory benefits along a reasonable range, they should make choices toward or at the upper end.”

When numbers can lie. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau (“Earnings Differences Between Women and Men,” www.dol.gov/dol/wb/public/ wb_pubs/wagegap2000.htm), 20 years ago women on average earned about $6 for every $10 earned by men. By the late 1990s, the figure was between $7.22 and $7.42. But most women aren’t average. “A higher proportion of working women than men [are] in the young age group” rather than in peak earning years. “When the major field of study was considered, women’s earnings were generally even closer to the earnings of men, and closer still when the occupation and major were considered….The earnings gap lessens significantly in most cases when women are compared with men with similar educations and similar occupations.”

No time for Boeing. Back on April 25, the Sun-Times presented figures comparing Chicago, Dallas, and Denver on their annual numbers of clear, partly cloudy, and cloudy days. The statistics for Dallas and Denver added up to a total of 365.2 days. But Chicago was listed as having 82.8 clear, 103.6 partly cloudy, and 174 cloudy days–giving us only 360.4 total days.