Microwave culture. The Field Museum’s description of its weekend afternoon story times in a recent press release: “Listen to a story, sing some songs, and make an art project, all in just 20 minutes!”

“I remember walking through the apartment two days later,” says Earnest Gates of the Near West Side Community Development Corporation, interviewed in “Working Assets” (Fall) about the 1969 police murder of Fred Hampton. “It was a crime scene, but they never taped it off. There was so much blood that we were squashing around in the apartment.”

Biting commentary. The Chicago Dental Society reports in a recent press release that the new Congress will have four members who are also dentists (all Republicans). Only twice in U.S. history, both times during the Depression, did Americans elect more dentists (six) to Congress.

Obituary stats, from Doug Dobmeyer in StreetWise (November 24): Net income of the Tribune Company as of the end of September: $300 million. Amount disbursed in 1996 by Tribune-controlled foundations: $45 million. Annual cost to maintain the street-level reporting of City News Bureau, now slated to close March 1: $1.8 million.

“States that have implemented HOV [high-occupancy-vehicle] lanes by converting general purpose lanes have largely been unsuccessful,” reports the Metropolitan Planning Council in its “Issue Brief” (October), “with traffic congestion increasing in the remaining general purpose lanes following the conversion.” MPC nevertheless contends that HOV lanes have not been “adequately considered” for Chicago.

Racism is where you find it. According to Amy Traub, writing in “Chicago Ink” (October), Mike Gray’s new book, Drug Crazy, describes “the actions of Chicago police as they illegally search and hurl insults at a group of black teenagers who ‘fit the profile so perfectly that it’s impossible to believe they’re not carrying anything.'” But he insists the episode isn’t racist because “the team happens to include an Oriental, a Mexican, and a Puerto Rican.”

There’s never been a transaction without one. Headline from a recent local press release: “The Buyer Is Finally Becoming More Important in the Real Estate Transaction.”

“It’s a fundamental part of his personality to be modest in a belligerent fashion,” says University of Chicago legal historian Dennis Hutchinson of the late Supreme Court justice Byron “Whizzer” White, the subject of Hutchinson’s new biography (White declined to cooperate with him). “He doesn’t believe in history or in journalism” (“University of Chicago Chronicle,” October 29).

New horizons in liberal guilt. Gays and lesbians make up 0.015 percent of the governing boards of Chicago-area foundations surveyed by the Donors Forum; people with disabilities, 0.006 percent. Since 1990 the percentage of women has risen from 34 to 41, and of African-Americans, from 7 to 14 (“ForumNotes,” November 16).

There are 111 Chicago public elementary schools “whose reading scores displayed a trend of substantial, consistent improvement from 1990 to 1997,” writes Donald Moore of Designs for Change in “Catalyst” (November). What do they have in common? “Significantly more effective local school councils (as rated by teachers), principals who both involved others in decision making and set high standards for staff performance and more teacher involvement in school decision making.” In addition, these schools showed “collaboration, commitment and initiative by all adults at the school,” and “teachers focused their collaboration on improving student learning.”

Who wants to live downtown? According to architect-developer Charlie Hasbrouck, speaking at the December 3 meeting of Friends of Downtown, “People whose first question is ‘Where can I park?’ are not likely to buy.”