Swords into plowshares. An architectural jury commented on the reclamation of a Forest Park torpedo-factory-turned-mall for use as a 2,500-seat worship hall for the Living Word Christian Center (“Focus,” November): “This project represents a new way of looking at adaptive reuse as well as a new sense of what worship is.”

How many tens of millions dead would it take? “Like many other communists, I never agreed with the terrible things that happened under that [Soviet] regime,” distinguished historian Eric Hobsbawm says in a recent interview quoted in In These Times (November 27). “But if you think that communism is something greater than the history of the backward countries in which it happened that communists got to power, then that history is not reason enough to abandon the chosen cause.”

“If you sat in the Northbrook food court, starting in 1990, then continued to 2000, and took photographs periodically at the same day and time, you would see dramatic changes from the all-white clientele to mixed Indian, Chinese and Mexican,” says Anthony Orum, a sociologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in “UIC News” (October 18). “It seems to me this group of 26 million foreign-born Americans is having a profound effect; they bring with them a different culture, a different set of ideas and in doing so, reshape who we are.”

Great blunders of 1980. According to Charles Wheeler III in Illinois Issues (November), one big blunder was the statewide referendum that approved Pat Quinn’s legislative-cutback amendment, which reduced the size of the Illinois House of Representatives by a third and eliminated cumulative voting and three-member districts. Among other things, the cutback was supposed to make legislative races more competitive. Not so, reports Wheeler: “In the three elections preceding the cutback, House incumbents seeking new terms succeeded 95 percent of the time; in the most recent three elections, the success rate dipped to 94 percent.”

“Nearly all Chicago principals began as teachers in the city’s schools, ‘most of which are low performing,’ notes one university professor who works with principals and asked not to be named. ‘They haven’t seen an effective instructional program. How can you supervise a good instructional program if you don’t know what good instruction is?'” So writes Elizabeth Duffrin in a story in the October issue of Catalyst.

“Teenagers, especially girls, are the single most victimized segment of the population in the United States,” writes Dr. Daniel Broughton in “AAP News,” newsletter of the suburban-based American Academy of Pediatrics (August). “The average victim of abduction and murder is an approximately 11-year-old girl, described as ‘average’ and ‘low risk,’ with a stable family relationship. The initial contact with her abductor is within a quarter mile of her own home….This is a time when most parents start to relax, thinking their children finally are old enough to take care of themselves.”

“Chicago miracle” or just old-fashioned push-outs? George Schmidt writes in Substance (October): “A comparative analysis of Chicago Board of Education enrollment data conducted by Substance shows that the number of students in the city’s public high schools decreased by 9,509 (nine percent) between September 1995 and September 1999, the first four years Mayor Daley had complete control over the city’s public schools. During the same time period, the number of students enrolled in the school system as a whole increased by 18,829 (four percent)….No other school system in the United States had similar numbers.” Black high school enrollment is down 9,216 students over that period, while black enrollment in all schools is up 1,473.