Chicago has its share of the country’s top corporate criminals of the 1990s, according to a list compiled by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman in their weekly on-line column “Focus on the Corporation.” They ranked corporations by the size of the criminal fine imposed on them: 7th was Archer Daniels Midland, fined $100 million for antitrust activities; 8th was Sears Bankruptcy Recovery Management Services, $60 million for fraud; 52nd was Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, $4 million for fraud; 62nd was Chemical Waste Management Inc., $3 million for environmental violations. Have a nice day.

“Some of the classic apples are spitters,” Gene Yale of the Midwest Fruit Explorers tells Cathy Jean Maloney in Chicagoland Gardening (September/October). “You take one bite and spit it out.” Nevertheless he and his colleagues sometimes have trouble describing how fruits taste: “‘Carmely taste,’ says one, while a colleague talks about ‘licorice overtones.'”

Dr. Koop’$ pre$cription$. In early 1999 the Koop Foundation received a $1 million grant from the drug firm Schering-Plough. In April the former surgeon general circulated a letter to Congress in favor of allowing Schering-Plough to extend its patent on Claritin allergy medicine for five years (worth perhaps $6 billion in sales). In May Koop met with members of the House Commerce Committee to defend Schering-Plough’s position on a hepatitis-C drug. On September 4 Koop told Holcomb Noble of the New York Times, “It is true there are people in my situation who could not receive a million-dollar grant and stay objective. But I do.”

Leftovers? Here’s a tip.

According to a recent press release from the Swedish American Museum Center on North Clark, which will be showing Swedish art-glass maker Erik Hoglund’s work through November, Hoglund “once threw mashed potatoes into the molten glass to study the effect.”

Bad news the media don’t want to think about, from the suburban-based American Academy of Pediatrics (Pediatrics, August): “More than 1000 scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children and adolescents, desensitizes them to violence, and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is.”

“Even mothers who are inclined to sympathize with men’s employment difficulties were in a bind: they simply could not afford to keep an economically unproductive man around the house,” writes Kathryn Edin in “What Do Low-Income Single Mothers Say About Marriage?” a July working paper published by the Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research. “Because of this, almost all of the low-income single mothers we interviewed told us that rather than marry the father of their children, they preferred to live separately or to cohabitate. In cohabiting situations, mothers nearly always said they enforced a ‘pay and stay’ rule. If a father quit his job or lost his job and did not (in the mother’s view) try very hard to find another one, or drank or smoked up his paycheck, he lost his right to co-reside in the household. Since her name, not his, was generally on the lease, she had the power to evict him,” which gave her more power than if she married.

Jargon watch. According to the quarterly newsletter of the Jane Addams Resource Corporation on West Cuyler, “News From JARC” (summer), their summer benefit was held on June 6 at Architectural Artifacts on North Ravenswood and was attended by 91 people who “braved the torrid conditions to party with the JARConians.”

“If we had the same standards for English as we do for the environment, students would be studying Gothic romances instead of Shakespeare,” writes Kathleen deBettencourt, executive director of the Environmental Literacy Council (Education Week, July 14). “A recent survey of students reveals that despite the prominence of global warming in environmental education materials, only 35 percent of 5th graders knew that many scientists believe the Earth may be warming because of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. Just as many students incorrectly think that global warming is occurring because the sun is moving closer to the Earth.”