“We subsisted on crackers mainly, and water, since there were food shortages and it was dangerous to shop at the markets,” says Northern Illinois University anthropologist Andrea Molnar of her tour of duty as an election observer in East Timor (“Northern Today,” September 20). “Many of the local people who worked with us were threatened that once we left their throats would be slit.”

Twin Senators. Two faxes, both received at 3:40 PM on October 5: “Senate Surprise: Fitzgerald Blocks O’Hare Expansion,” a press release from Fitzgerald’s office, and “Senate Expected to Retain Durbin Compromise on Number of Flights at O’Hare,” a press release from Durbin’s office stating that he and Fitzgerald offered a compromise allowing 30 more takeoffs and landings per day.

“This is a great town to be a messenger in,” Chicago courier Brent Olds tells John Greenfield in “Chicagoland Bicycle Federation News” (October/November). “It’s flat and there’s a lot of work out there. I like the fact that there are a lot of different levels of couriers here, from the elite racer types to the homeless guy who can get a Huffy, a helmet and a lock and make money. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Career move. A press release announcing Donald Greenhaus’s exhibit of photographs at the Thomas McCormick Gallery on North Winchester notes that the photographer “was stoned for most of twenty years and spent most of that time viewing his SoHo surroundings through a gauzy glaze.”

“The state has released a study of 150,000 families who left welfare between July 1997 and June 1998,” reports Jennifer Davis in Illinois Issues (September). “‘The overall picture of life on welfare is not as attractive as life off welfare,’ says Peggie Powers, who designs and evaluates human services programs. ‘We saw that evictions declined, utility shut-offs declined.’ Further, 79 percent of those interviewed said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. ‘That’s much higher than we imagined it would be. We also looked at wages and the number of hours worked because we had a foreboding early on that people might be piecing together two or three part-time jobs. We found that 87 percent to 90 percent–an extremely high percentage–had one job, working between 36 to 38 hours a week. That was very good news for us.'”

There’s a message here–if only we could figure it out. From Catalyst magazine’s survey of teachers new to the Chicago Public Schools (September): “Of elementary school teachers who said their principal provided little or no support on instruction, 36 percent planned to leave. Of those who said their principal provided strong support on instruction, less than 1 percent planned to leave.”

Chicago beats Dallas, but not in football. Researchers from Ohio State University report in a recent issue of Professional Geographer that the five cities with the most Internet connections in 1997 were, in descending order, Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Dallas; New York; and Atlanta.

BP Amoco goes first. On January 1, 2000, the owner of the third-tallest building in Chicago will institute a company-wide system for trading and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, with the goal of reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. The company’s 127 semi-independent “business units” will trade among themselves (and participate in a limited number of forestry and energy-efficiency projects outside the company) to bring this about most cheaply. According to the company’s Web site (www.bpamoco.com), “Trading should be a better way of achieving the world’s objectives than the suggested alternatives–command and control regulation which imposes the same standard on everyone, regardless of the costs they face; or taxation, which just raises the price to everyone, irrespective of whether they have a cheap alternative or not. These are both blunt instruments, whereas ET [emissions trading] is a precision tool.”

“In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve been surprised by many things,” says Stanley Fish, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (“UIC News,” September 29), explaining why he invited controversial conservative author Dinesh D’Souza to speak. “One thing surprised me most and distressed me most: there is no right wing here. So I’ve decided to import one.”