Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody preserves it. Last month the Art Institute hosted an event at which two cabinets were displayed, one containing “the exact atmospheric conditions of New York City” at 12:51 PM on April 12, 1997 (“46 degrees and rainy with 6 mph winds”), and the other of Los Angeles at the same time (“cool, dry and still”). “By maintaining these conditions,” proclaims a recent press release, “the moment is perpetually sustained in the present.” We can only hope that the correct array of air pollutants is also being maintained.

“Like young jazz fans or rock and rhythm and blues fans of generations past, hip-hop music fans are refugees who have to search to find their music often on the dangerous margins of our society,” laments Hank DeZutter in “Neighborhoods” (Fall). “It is just another sign of the distance between official, adult-oriented Chicago and the youth it either neglects or disrespects.”

Only two Illinois representatives in Congress raised less than half of their money from business interests in the past two years, according to a Center for Responsive Politics survey of data from the 1997-’98 election cycle gathered by the Federal Election Commission (www.crp.org). Republicans got 74 to 99 percent of their funding from business; Democrats got 27 to 68 percent. The Republican who got the least is suburban newcomer Judy Biggert (74 percent). The Democrat who got the most is Chicago second-termer Rod Blagojevich (68 percent); Bobby Rush is a close second at 65 percent. Lane Evans of downstate western Illinois got just 27 percent of his funds from business.

“Has the abortion license solved any of the problems for women that it promised to solve?” asks Paige Cunningham of the Chicago-based Americans United for Life in a recent press release. “Do we see illegitimacy reduced?…Do we see child abuse abolished?…Do we see women’s dependence on abortion decreased?”

They don’t put lead in gasoline anymore, but city kids still aren’t safe from it. “Paint is neither the most abundant nor the most accessible source of lead,” writes Howard Mielke in American Scientist (January-February). “The common problem is lead dust….In predictable locations of many cities, the soil is a giant reservoir of tiny particles of lead. This means that many children face their greatest risk for exposure in the yards around their houses and, to a lesser extent, in the open spaces such as public playgrounds in which they play….Proximity to a high-traffic route is a better predictor of soil-lead concentrations than is the age of the buildings in the area or the amount of lead-based paint in the buildings.” Mielke found that covering play areas with rubber matting greatly reduced kids’ exposure.

The Department of Revenue was only 43 percent ready. “Fiscal Focus” (December/January) reports that, as of September 30, only 15 state agencies had their computers fully prepared for the year 2000, among them the Bureau of the Budget, the Racing Board, and the Farm Development Authority. Among the least prepared agencies were Children and Family Services (35 percent), Commerce Commission (24), Aging (15), and Financial Institutions (12).

Throwing money at–what problem? “The Pentagon is looking forward to its first major budget increase since the end of the Cold War,” writes Chris Hellman in the Center for Defense Information’s on-line “Weekly Defense Monitor” (January 7). President Clinton wants to add $12 billion to the military budget next year; at least one Republican senator wants to add $27.5 billion. “Instead of arguing about ‘how much,’ our political leaders ought to be asking ‘Why?’…With no significant threats to our security and growing domestic needs such as education, environmental protection and law enforcement, it is more than fair to ask why the Administration and Congress are considering a return to a Cold War military.”