“It’s a sign of how terrified many are of the Daleys’ punitive exercise of their power that few will criticize the brothers for the record,” writes Doug Ireland in the Nation (February 3). “One prominent lawyer, a Democrat who is now out of politics, insisted on anonymity before confiding, ‘My client says Bill Daley told him that if he wanted to get city business, “You need a new lawyer.” So-called honest graft is wildly prevalent in Chicago, and Bill is a practitioner of it.'”

Only connect. “While the members of women’s study clubs and participants in the Great Books groups of the ’40s and ’50s were largely interested in self-improvement through education, it would seem that many contemporary members are drawn more by the social nature of book clubs,” writes Patrick McCormick in the Chicago-based U.S. Catholic (February). “In the midst of the electronic age and the increasing information glut that accompanies it, it’s not knowledge that’s a scarce commodity, it’s the leisure of a good conversation….Forty million folks have seen the latest film or TV show, and they all saw it recently, so you can walk into any place and connect or start a conversation, shallow as it may be. But pick up a serious book, spend 20 hours reading it, and where will you go to talk about all the things it stirred up in you?”

Your mother was right. According to a recent research paper coauthored by Greg Duncan of Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, “An interviewer assessment of the cleanliness of the parental dwelling was a consistently powerful predictor of the attainments of both sons and daughters” (“Working Papers,” Institute for Policy Research, Fall).

“Why did the Clinton administration become so hysterical over the medical marijuana initiatives?” asks Sam Smith in the Progressive Review On-Line Report (January 21). “One reason is that without pot, there couldn’t really be a war on drugs. No other drug is plentiful and bulky enough to produce the sort of drug hauls necessary to sustain the drug war mythology.”

You don’t understand, murder isn’t controversial! From the Illinois State Bar Association’s Bar News (January 3) account of attorney Lucinda Finley’s talk at the association’s midyear meeting: “Some lawyers are unwilling to take cases because their partners are against abortion, she said, but the same lawyers are willing to defend rapists and murderers.”

697, 1997, whatever. In its review of the past millennium Might magazine offers the following ranking of “most wins”: “1. Napoleon Bonaparte 2. Alexander the Great 3. The 1995-96 Bulls.” Alexander the Great was last seen alive more than 1,300 years before the current millennium began.

Illinois counties where per-pupil school spending exceeds the “adequacy level of $4,817 per student,” according to Voices for Illinois Children in a recent report: Cook, Du Page, Lake, Ogle, La Salle, Grundy, and DeWitt. (Illinois has 102 counties.)

At this rate, expect to see certain college rest-room stalls in the Art Institute within a few years. From the Hyde Park-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (January/February): “In the process of removing some post-war plaster work [from the Reichstag in Berlin], workmen uncovered walls decorated with hundreds of items of graffiti written by the Soviet troops who occupied the building in 1945. An argument now rages over whether these scribbles, most of which are described as ‘vigorously colloquial observations upon human sexuality,’ should be regarded as inscriptions to be preserved for posterity, or whether they should be treated like garden-variety smut.”

“I have gone swimming in other places,” writes Susan Power in Utne Reader (January/February), “a chlorinated pool in Hollywood, the warm waters of the Caribbean, the Heart River in North Dakota–only to be disappointed and emerge unrefreshed. I am too used to Lake Michigan and its eccentricities. I must have cold, fresh water. I must have the stinking corpses of silver alewives floating on the surface as an occasional nasty surprise, always discovered dead, never alive. I must have sailboats on the horizon and steel mills on the southern shore, golf balls (shot from the local course) clustered around submerged pilings and breakwater boulders heavy as tombs lining the beach. I must have sullen lifeguards who whistle at anyone bold enough to stand in three feet of water.”