No way am I going into that bar! Writing in the autumn newsletter of the Illinois Natural History Survey about the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly, Sophie Foster and Daniel Soluk observe, “Differences in habitat use may result in female avoidance of areas with high male densities and possibly male harassment.”

Where the inmates run the asylum. According to Business Ethics (September/October), Illinois hosts six of the 100 largest employee-owned companies in the U.S. Chicago has number 3, United Airlines (100,000 employees at the moment), and number 12, Amsted Industries (10,000 employees in heavy manufacturing). Number 55, Mulay Plastics (1,275 employees), is in Addison. And outside the metro area are number 73, Rockford Products Corp. (industrial fasteners, 838 employees), number 77, Superior Consolidated Industries in Peoria (parts assembly, 800 employees), and number 100, Decorative Surfaces International in Dupo (coated fabrics, 200 employees).

How do you mediate a dispute when you don’t speak their language? Very carefully, to judge from ten tips for professional mediators who use interpreters, offered in the fall 2001 issue of Caucus, published by Chicago’s Center for Conflict Resolution. Here’s one: “Make sure the summary given by the interpreter is somewhat similar in length to the statements made by the parties. Be cautious of lengthy interpretations and/or those that aren’t long enough.”

Son, if you don’t go to college, you’ll have narrow horizons and wind up in a dead-end job! Bob Carlson, night manager of the Northern Illinois University Huskie Den and a 2000 alumnus of the school: “I personally enjoy spraying bowling shoes!…Reading is not one of my favorite hobbies. I believe the only material I have read since graduation are bowling magazines” (Northern Today, October 15).

Pioneers. “William Emilio Rodriguez was elected to the Chicago City Council in 1915,” writes Carlos Hernandez-Gomez in the Chicago Reporter (September/October). “His father was a Mexican immigrant, his mother was from Germany and Rodriguez called himself ‘a German socialist.'”

Lockheed won the other bidding wars too, reports the Center for Responsive Politics in its October 26 “Money in Politics Alert” ( During 2000, as Lockheed Martin and Boeing competed for a $200-billion contract to construct 3,000 new Joint Strike Fighters, Lockheed spent $9.8 million lobbying, compared to Boeing’s $7.8 million. Campaign contributions for 1999-2000 were $2.7 million Lockheed, $1.9 million Boeing.

More pumpkin pie, anyone? According to an October 19 release from the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois was the top pumpkin producer in the country last year, growing 364 million pounds, more than twice as many as California, the second most prolific state.

First your civil liberties, then your wallet. The on-line libertarian publication “Reason Express” (October 23) blows the whistle on a Bush administration proposal that would bail out the insurance industry by having federal taxpayers pay 80 percent of the first $20 billion of terrorist claims next year. “The proposal is a huge crutch to an industry that could sustain losses in the hundreds of billions before actual solvency was an issue. But lobbyists have convinced pols in Washington that solvency isn’t the issue–the real threat is higher premiums” that would make it impossible to do business in big cities or big buildings. “The proper response to that doomsday scenario is: so what? Sooner or later those empty skyscrapers would look attractive to someone….

Government is being asked to outlaw risk on behalf of a group of well-connected players who still plan to collect handsome rewards. The way such schemes usually work out is that government is saddled with all the risk–almost always more risk than would otherwise be countenanced–and the rewards continue to flow to corporate hands, absent a small slice for lobbyists and members of Congress. When the bailout becomes law, be sure to ask your banker and insurance agent for your terrorism-protection credit–you earned it.”