Dept. of Amazing Coincidences. Brian Rogal writes in the Chicago Reporter (December) that over the last three and a half years the Chicago Housing Authority has evicted more families from developments it planned to “revitalize” than from developments not slated for revitalization. Why the difference? Perhaps because evicted tenants need not be provided with replacement housing when buildings are torn down for revitalization. “Eviction rates are highest in the four developments already awarded $152.9 million in federal HOPE VI funds slated for revitalization: Addams-Brooks-Loomis-Abbott, on the Near West Side; Cabrini-Green, on the Near North Side; Henry Horner Homes, on the West Side; and the Robert Taylor Homes, on the South Side.” According to the CHA, these developments simply contain more residents who are behind on their rent.

“Do we really think that Nietzsche’s dietary habits are more revealing of who he was than his ideas about power and self-overcoming? Do we really feel that we cannot grasp who Aristotle was because we do not know anything about his dietary (or sexual) idiosyncrasies?” asks the University of Chicago’s Martha Nussbaum in the New Republic (January 4 & 11). “I don’t think so….The notion that our public ideas are not the real self, that our real self is a congeries of mostly secret and odd qualities and habits that writing ought to bring to light, is an anomalous view about the self, arising from our culture’s strange combination of Romanticism and Puritanism, of anti-intellectualism and prurience.”

And then there’s the news… According to a January press release from the suburban-based American Academy of Pediatrics, “the so-called family hour of prime time television (8 to 9 pm) contains more than eight sexual incidents per hour, more than four times as much as in 1976.”

“Despite the many problems confronting black males in Gary, residential fathers among them continue to comprise a dynamic and vibrant population,” reports the Hammond-based Heartland Center in a report issued last fall, “Residential Black Fathers and Their Children in Gary, Indiana.” (The report defines residential fathers as men who live with their children.) “Most are married, have completed at least a high school education, have stable employment, own their own homes, and keep their children out of poverty.” But residential fathers make up less than one-quarter of the African-American males over age 14 in that city.

Why is the home-mortgage interest deduction a good idea? According to Joseph Trefzger in the “Illinois Real Estate Letter” (Summer), the federal tax code should support home ownership “because a house occupies a fixed location” and thus its value “relates directly to the quality of the surrounding physical, fiscal, and social environment. The owner of a house, unlike the owner of a car or a machine or a specialized set of skills, cannot relocate the asset to derive a higher residual value in a more favorable location. As a result, the home owner has a powerful financial incentive to play an active role in dealing with some societal problems that we, as citizens, must address collectively.” Survey results reported in a November 1998 publication of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, “The Many Benefits of Home Ownership,” support this theory: owners are more likely than socioeconomically similar renters to vote, to know who their representative is in Congress, and to know the name of a school board member.

The adults on probation in Illinois who are most likely to get in trouble again, according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s newsletter “On Good Authority” (December): “Those convicted of property and drug offenses, those with histories of drug abuse, those with prior involvement in the justice system, those in their late teens and early 20s, and those who continue to use drugs while on probation.”

Headline we could have lived without, on a recent press release from the Academy of General Dentistry on East Chicago: “How Bad Is Your Breath? Dental Device Can Quantify Your Halitosis.”