Several crayons short of a full box. In a recent company press release, condominium developer American Invsco congratulated itself on its “history of supporting a diverse mix of Chicago neighborhoods including the Gold Coast, Michigan Avenue, West Loop, Lakeview.”

“It is a truism that children need role models, but where is the research that says role modeling is about color?” asks Golden Apple Foundation president Peg Cain in the organization’s Report Card (Summer). “In fact, research exists that says there is no relationship whatever between student achievement and color identity with their teachers. If it were true that physical similarity between teacher and student is important, then shouldn’t schools have gender guidelines and insist that half the faculty be male, since gender is a more profound determinant of personality than race? But of course we can’t do that because there aren’t enough men in education. We bow to expedience in one category, but continue to insist on the other, making principals’ jobs more difficult, forcing the employment of dubious teachers because they are the ‘right color,’ in order to serve a goal that has no proven merit.”

“I hope that people can come to understand that it’s not always a lifelong tragedy,” says eight-time Boston Marathon wheelchair-racing champion Jean Driscoll, of downstate Champaign (Illinois Issues, June). “When people go through their day with their contact lenses or glasses, they’re not thinking, ‘Ugh, another day with farsightedness!'”

Or maybe they foresaw Clinton? Constitutional amendments sometimes produce unanticipated results, according to Northern Illinois University historian David Kyvig (“Northern Today,” July 17). “In its attempt to prevent another FDR, the Eightieth Congress undermined the position of later presidents by [passing the 22nd Amendment limiting presidents to two terms and] turning them into four-year lame ducks. Eisenhower and Reagan in particular might have achieved unrealized conservative objectives had they not been hobbled by the 22nd Amendment.”

Shocking research news. According to an Associated Press story published in the LaPorte, Indiana, Herald-Argus on February 15, a University of North Carolina survey reveals that, within two miles of industrial-size hog farms, “fewer residents enjoyed outdoor activities.”

“Few other animal groups are as persecuted as rattlesnakes,” writes Christopher Phillips in the Illinois Natural History Survey “Reports” (May/June). “At the time of European settlement, the [small and secretive massasauga rattler] was found throughout the northern two-thirds of Illinois. There are accounts of early travelers and farmers encountering 20 or more massasaugas in a single spring day. Within a very few years, however, habitat destruction and outright persecution reduced the Illinois range of the massasauga to a few widely scattered populations.” Only one, in downstate Clinton County, has much prospect of surviving.

Remember what the Bible thumpers were fussing about 50 years ago? Martin Marty does (Christian Century, July 19-26). “Back then Sabbath-breaking, drinking, gambling and divorce were the big four morality topics. One no longer hears Sunday-closing legislation proposed from evangelical pulpits. Now that so many women have added work outside the home to work inside the home, the preacher often finds congregants heading for K-mart or the supermarket or Nordstrom on Sunday. The preacher and his sons hurry off to the pro football game. Drinking? Like Catholics and mainline Protestants, evangelicals score alcoholic excess and tout moderation, but teetotalism is seldom urged from the pulpit. Gambling? How can the preacher preach against it when his congregation profits and the local economy is enhanced by legalized riverboat and casino gambling? Divorce? When the president of your denomination, the members of your family, and your favorite evangelical celebrities divorce at the same rate as their liberal and secular counterparts, you are far more likely to treat the subject as a tragedy than as a sin…. For now, most evangelicals draw the line at abortion, euthanasia and homosexual expression. Will preaching on these subjects change as cultural accommodation changes, or have evangelicals at last found the absolute lines and boundaries to which they will adhere?”