“If there were justice in the world, Chicago would be treated to a Ninja squad of federal test police,” says an editorial commentary in Substance (April). “The reason for an outside squad is that just about every insider (including the city’s most prominent pundits, professors, and testing ‘experts’) in Chicago has been bought off at this point….The Ninjas would revisit the scores of every school that has had one of those pressure cooker numerical ‘miracles’ Vallas has been taking credit for. Like a tax audit after you claimed $200,000 in itemized deductions or $50,000 of adjusted gross income, it’s just to be sure the miracle really happened.”

My fashion is forever. “The timeless appeal of naturalized [naturally landscaped] areas won’t become dated,” writes Meg McGowan in Conscious Choice (April), “as often happens with other landscaping fads and fashions.”

“Manufacturing on Chicago’s North Side has diminished not only in presence but in power and influence as well,” laments Carl Bufalini of the North Business & Industrial Council (“Network,” April). He then lists some of the “most noticeable” companies that have left, as well as what replaced them: “Stewart-Warner / townhouses. Procter & Gamble / Home Depot. Chicago Boiler / Treasure Island. Siegel Manufacturing / condominiums. True Value Hardware / shopping center. Emerson Electric / residential development. Elgin Clock / shopping center. Warner Lambert / Kmart parking lot. Moloney Coach and Grebe Boatyard / townhomes. Bankers Life / residential and commercial. Advance Transformer / lofts. Brooks Sausage / townhomes.”

The pope isn’t sorry enough, according to Garry Wills, writing in the New York Review of Books (May 25). “No apology has been made for the teaching Church’s statements,” such as those referring to Jews as Christ killers. “In fact, a little dance of words is gone through every time reference is made to past injustices calling for apology. It is never ‘the Church’ that erred, just its ‘sons and daughters.’…This constant distinction between ‘the Church’ and its children, or members, or erring sons and daughters, goes against the Vatican Council’s definition of the Church as the whole ‘people of God,'” which allows John Paul II to evade the glaring necessity of apologizing on behalf of the Church itself.

Was Pat Quinn right after all? Economists Stephen Coate, of Cornell University, and Timothy Besley, of the London School of Economics, compared states with appointed utility regulators and those with elected regulators in a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper (number 7579, March). States that elect their regulatory commissions do enjoy lower electricity rates. They may also–the evidence is not as strong–have more service interruptions.

Lord, make us poor again. “Affluence is placing a great strain on our ability as families to teach self-sacrifice,” writes Kathleen O’Connell-Chesto in her new book, Raising Kids Who Care, quoted in the Chicago-based newsletter “At Home With Our Faith” (May). “Sharing works best when there is not enough….A television for every room and separate phone lines may eliminate arguments, but it also inhibits community and the possibility of learning to live for and with others.”

“In sharp contrast to public perception of paternal involvement among poor, unwed fathers,” writes University of Chicago professor Waldo Johnson Jr. in Poverty Research News (March-April), “more than 75% of both mothers and fathers reported paternal involvement during the pregnancy. The relationship status of the unwed parents during pregnancy was the strongest predictor of paternal involvement after birth.”

When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. David Moberg writes in In These Times (May 15): “In many developing countries where the IMF [International Monetary Fund] prescribes its harsh medicine, governments have been particularly bad–corrupt, ill-managed, inefficient, undemocratic, inequitable and ineffective in their basic tasks. But as the 1997 Asian crisis demonstrated, the IMF prescribed the same treatment for governments that had been doing many things well.”