For starters, quit mowing and tear down the fences. Intending to encourage bird feeding, the March-April issue of “Bird’s-Eye Review,” the Northbrook-based newsletter of the National Bird-Feeding Society, says, “Habitat loss deprives birds of both food and shelter and leaves them more vulnerable to predators. If everybody does something, we can offset forest fragmentation–one backyard at a time.”

The new union busters. The January/February issue of Business Ethics (reprinted from Dissent) includes a story by Liza Featherstone describing the extensive efforts of “socially responsible” companies, including Ben & Jerry’s, to defeat union organizing drives. “Such companies as Borders Books and Music, Starbucks, Noah’s Bagels, Whole Foods, Newman’s Own, Working Assets, and the Portland, Oregon-based Powell’s Books have all recently been mired in acrimonious labor disputes. And company tactics haven’t been pretty….I asked Alice Tepper Marlin of the Council on Economic Priorities if she knew of any company that had voluntarily recognized a union ‘on principle.’ She laughed. ‘It would be very unusual,’ she said. After looking through her files, she was unable to locate a single example.”

God needs deniability. “The challenge to theology is great,” writes Ronald Cole-Turner in the “Park Ridge Center Bulletin” (January/February). “On the one hand, theology needs to maintain its view that God is creator and therefore involved in the origins of the fundamental processes of life. On the other, few will want to implicate God directly as the cause of a particular DNA sequence or its mutation. How can we affirm that God is our creator without blaming God for our inborn imperfections or our inherited propensities to disease?”

Deep doo-doo. According to a July General Accounting Office report, “Animal Agriculture: Waste Management Practices,” “Nationwide, about 130 times more animal waste is produced than human waste–roughly five tons for every U.S. citizen.”

Which Chicago do you live in? Chicago recently achieved a unique distinction when it made two new lists. Participants in an on-line survey ranked it among the top ten northern “white trash” cities–behind Cleveland, Milwaukee, Duluth, Missoula, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Winnipeg, and Rockford ( A survey by Arizona State University ranked Chicago among the ten best cities in which to start a nonprofit–along with Austin, Indianapolis, LA, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. (

No exact scripts required, thank you very much. According to “Leave No Child Behind,” an October report prepared by the Chicago Schools Accountability Council for the Board of Education, “In improving schools, principals support teacher creativity, but encourage or mandate that teachers use a common set of instructional materials, strategies and performance measures to ensure continuity.”

Are they real or are they silicone? Guys may care, but doctors don’t need to, according to an analysis of 20 studies of breast implants in the New England Journal of Medicine (March 16). “There was no evidence of an association between breast implants in general, or silicone-gel-filled breast implants specifically, and any of the individual connective-tissue diseases [rheumatoid arthritis and others], all definite connective-tissue diseases combined, or other autoimmune or rheumatic conditions….The elimination of implants would not be likely to reduce the incidence of connective-tissue diseases.”

All that clout won’t take you where you want to go. “George Ranney’s Prairie Crossing subdivision, which is being built in north suburban Grayslake, is a grand experiment,” writes David Young in Illinois Issues (March). Ranney “convinced Metra officials to build a station on the new Wisconsin Central commuter rail line within a short walking distance of Prairie Crossing and hopes to get a second station on the adjacent Milwaukee Road Metra line. Still, some of the houses in Prairie Crossing are being built with three-car garages.”