Freedom is not enough. “If you are born to an average family on 57th Street and Dorchester Avenue…your life prospects will be good, and altogether different from what they will be if you are born to most families 10 blocks south,” writes University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein in the on-line IntellectualCapital (July 16). “Morally irrelevant factors produce deprivation, even desperation, in global markets. A just society, and a just world, should be closely attentive to the background conditions against which markets proceed.”

“We have entire organizations devoted to the preservation–historical and topographic–of the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon and California Trail, the Mormon Trail,” writes William Least Heat-Moon in his epilogue to the handsome new coffee-table book Prairie Passage. “Now the time has come for the I&M [canal] to join these grand monuments in our national historical consciousness; the day is about to pass when I can mention the Illinois and Michigan Canal and hear a New Yorker or a Californian or a Texan ask out of enthusiastic perplexity, ‘How could a canal go from Illinois to Michigan? Isn’t there a big lake in between?'”

Chicagoans are consistently more supportive of charter schools and school vouchers than suburbanites, according to the Metro Chicago Information Center’s most recent annual metropolitan survey. Region-wide, 62 percent of those surveyed support tax-funded vouchers for poor people; only 44 percent support vouchers for all.

Each theory about guns “captures a certain amount of reality,” writes Northwestern University law professor Daniel Polsby in Reason (August/September). “We know, for example, that x number of impulsive homicides would not occur in a gun-free world. On the other hand, we also know that the prospect of meeting armed resistance changes the calculations of human actors, whether they intend good or mischief. That is why we insist that Brinks guards, soldiers, and Secret Service agents carry guns. We recognize that if they did not, their ability to deter predators would shrink or, in some cases, altogether disappear.” Which theory is true more often in the real world? We don’t know yet, writes Polsby, but “a massive natural experiment” is now under way: 31 states have permissive laws on concealed firearms and 19 do not. “Five or six years from now, we’ll know.”

Next stop dystopia. “The main impact of the emerging telecommunications technology on urban demography in the next 10 to 20 years,” writes Melvin Levin in the Chicago-based magazine Planning (July), “will be more of the same, only faster and deeper: more growth in resort and recreation areas, selected college towns, attractive outlying communities, and accelerated decay in many central cities and poor suburbs.”

So who’s the pope? Deborah Doyle in Focus Architecture Chicago (June): “As a British colleague once observed, ‘Being an architect in Chicago is like being a Catholic in Rome.'”