“Gay organizing is far from achieving its potential in some surprising areas of the country,” writes Doug Ireland in the Nation (July 12), describing Chicago as a “paradigm” for this failure. “The Second City’s mayor, Richie Daley, has managed to co-opt much of the gay community with a shrewd combination of patronage and symbolic gestures: The city has provided domestic partnership benefits to its employees since 1997, and as part of his citywide gentrification and urban renewal program, Daley spruced up Halsted Street, adorning it with gay rainbow markers.” Yeah, that sounds like a disaster.

Heh, heh. We’ll make those godless commies rediscover uranium. According to the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (July-August),

in the wake of the Chinese spy scandal, Los Alamos National Laboratory hid much of its Web site behind a fire wall to keep the public from seeing it. Among the things that disappeared was the lab’s “image map of the periodic table.”

Limiting fertilizer use in the midwest may not help revive the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, argue Purdue agronomists Ron Turco and Sylvie Brouder in a recent university press release. The dead zone is an area devoid of life because bacteria stimulated by excess nutrients have used up all the oxygen in the water. Changing crop rotations and modifying tile drainage systems would help more. Says Turco, “If you have a guy who is farming in a field that’s not tiled, and that field isn’t next to a river and it’s not on sandy soil, then that farmer’s not adding much to the problem. Asking him to cut his fertilizer use by 20 percent [as some have suggested] isn’t fair.” By plugging tile systems during the dry parts of summer and keeping fields covered with crops as much as possible, they say, farmers could reduce their excessive nitrogen runoff more efficiently.

“A few years ago I had an offer from a distinguished eastern university,” writes University of Chicago philosophy professor Daniel Garber (“University of Chicago Record,” May 27). “While I was considering what to do, I called a colleague here who had come to Chicago from there some years ago, and asked him about the difference between the University of Chicago and the other university, call it ‘X University.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘at X, faculty figure that if you are there, then you must be the world expert in whatever it is that you teach. And so, you don’t have real conversations at X. One person talks, and the others listen respectfully until he finishes. But at Chicago, they have no respect: you are only as good as your last argument.'”

That’s 437 scofflaws and counting. Natalie Pardo writes in the “Chicago Reporter” (June): “The Illinois School Code requires that all schools provide daily physical activity….The Reporter survey found that 418 of the 462 [city] elementary schools that responded offer physical education no more than twice a week. Only 25 have gym daily.”

“In the 1960s it was pot; at the approach of the millennium it’s God. Same difference,” snarls Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post’s “Book World” (April 12), quoted by Martin Marty in “Context” (July 1). “It seems to me that the present vogue for spirituality is little more than that: a passing fad indulged in for easy gratification rather than a genuine religious commitment requiring hard choices and genuine faith.”

A few thousand stomachaches saved. The city’s Department of Public Health reports that during Taste of Chicago its sanitarians “condemned and destroyed approximately 2,850 pounds of food determined to be unfit for consumption.”

“The last thing we need to be doing is penance for supposed past sins of utopianism,” argues David Graeber in In These Times (August 8). “This is the moment for new, grandiose visions, experiments, inspirations and wild fantasies. (Myself, I would vote for a feminist-led revival of anarcho-syndicalism, but maybe that’s just me. For now, I’d happily settle for a world in which suggesting this would not seem ridiculous.)”

Virtual milestone you may have missed, reported in the July 20 Economist and reprinted in the July 29 “Progressive Review”: “The entire publicly traded American newspaper industry is now worth less than America Online.”