The Paul Vallas magnet–attracts whites only. Near North Career Magnet High School and Jones Commercial High School are being replaced by new magnet schools–supposedly as part of a plan that requires a magnet school in each of the city’s six regions, writes George Schmidt in Substance (June). But “reporters covering the stories have missed the fact that the ‘regions’ extend from the lake all the way west to the city limits, and that in both cases the new magnet schools are being placed within jogging distance of Lake Michigan–but miles from most of the public school students who go to school in those ‘regions.'” Even stranger, both regions already have magnet high schools. “The last time we looked, Whitney Young High School was in Region Three. Whitney Young is arguably (and in most ways, statistically) one of the ten best high schools in Illinois. In Region Two, Lincoln Park High School has long served a mixed population of college-bound students, as well as offering its traditional fare of general courses.” So what’s going on here? “Apparently the mayor and Mr. Vallas believe that a ‘magnet’ high school (at least for those families acquiring property within a mile of Lake Michigan) means a high school that is ‘safely’ within their community–and as white as possible!”

We’re number four! According to a recent press release, Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg has 2.7 million square feet of “gross leasable area,” making it the fourth largest in the U.S., after the Mall of America outside Minneapolis and two California malls. Oakbrook Center, with a mere two million square feet, is tenth.

Forgot your car keys again? “Three months before we’re born, we have all the neurons we’ll ever have,” says Loyola University’s Karen Wills, quoted in “The Brain and the Developing Child,” a newsletter from the Erikson Institute (Spring). “So how come adults are smarter than babies? If it’s not more brain cells that make you really smart, then what’s going on? We don’t know exactly, but we do know that at about six months gestational age a process called ‘pruning’ begins: we start to get rid of the excess neurons and synapses that were developed initially. The connections that are reinforced are sustained. The ones that are not reinforced are not sustained. Gradually, the brain becomes more efficient and more functional.”

“There is no doubt that the predominant image for the artist in American society is the romantic one of the artist on the fringes–wild, mad, visionary, alone, ahead of his or her time, misunderstood, somewhat like the prophet raging in the desert,” writes Carol Becker, dean of the School of the Art Institute in the new book Education and Cultural Studies. “There is also the image of the artist as bohemian, somewhat irresponsible, less than adult, immersed in the pleasure principle, who at times makes something truly extraordinary and at times fools the general public….But we do not have in our collective consciousness, or probably unconsciousness as well, images of artists as socially concerned citizens of the world, people who could help determine, through insight and wisdom, the correct political course for us to embark on as a nation.”

Where the Senate money comes from. Most of Republican challenger Peter Fitzgerald’s campaign funds that don’t come out of his own pocket come from suburban Barrington and Palatine, according to Federal Election Commission info made accessible on the Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics. Democratic incumbent Carol Moseley-Braun’s biggest contributions come from Chicago’s near north side–zip codes 60611, 60614, and 60610.

No! Wait! You’ve got it wrong! It’s the suburbs that are supposed to be all the same! “The visual panorama of the city is a fractal replication along the coordinates of the grid,” writes Mitchell Schwarzer in a recent issue of the Dodge City Journal. “Despite its imperial bulk, Chicago is really a folio of small replicative parts.” West of Clark and away from the lakefront “there are infrequent surprises, and few Chicagoans would be able to distinguish one area from the next if suddenly dropped into one of them. Everywhere the grid establishes common street widths, lot dimensions, building profiles, and tree spacings.”