God for postmoderns. “Vodou finds its sacredness not so much in the clinging to different religious expressions as in the claiming, re-arrangement and idiosyncratic empowerment of these expressions,” writes Joseph Houseal in In These Times (March 3), reviewing a current Field Museum exhibit. “The Haitian people were stripped through a succession of unspeakable injustices to an almost Job-like state of spiritual penury. What was sacred was their own selves and their dignity, in which, it seemed, they alone believed. As a religion, Vodou is bereft of authorship. It is neither a revealed religion, nor a sect of a larger religion…nor a philosophical tradition. Vodou is very much about identity–a self-claiming of status within the cosmos–and about power.”

Time for a vacation. First paragraph of a recent Army Corps of Engineers press release, headlined “1997 Lake Shelbyville Fishing Prospects”: “Lake Shelbyville, 13 February 1997–If you have been wondering what the fishing is going to be like at Lake Shelbyville this year, here are the 1997 fishing prospects for Lake Shelbyville.”

“Twenty years is a long time for an ethics center,” writes Michael Davis in the 20th-anniversary issue of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Ethical & Policy Issues Perspectives on the Professions. “Only one, the Hastings Center, has survived longer.”

Railroad sprawl. According to Roosevelt University urbanologist Pierre deVise, writing in a February “Chicago Regional Inventory Working Paper,” “There is little evidence of leapfrogging outlying job concentrations in Chicago’s hinterland.” Unlike the “edge cities” springing up around New York and LA, “Chicago’s ten business districts reflect a railroad configuration of suburban development radiating out of the central area served by the suburban lines of the Chicago and Northwestern and the Burlington.”

Not so alone. Sociologist of religion Nancy Ammerman, quoted in Martin Marty’s Chicago-based newsletter “Context” (February 15): “The decline in league bowling may simply be an indicator that other forms of communal bowling are emerging. We found many congregations in distress, but we also found new congregations being born and old congregations expending considerable energy to reorganize or relocate. The overall ecology of congregational institutions shifted, often dramatically, but Americans seem not to have given up on gathering into worshiping communities.”

Self-polluting? From a recent South End Press list of new books: “Since the land, the forests, the oceans, and the atmosphere have already been colonized, eroded, and polluted, [Vandana Shiva] argues [in her new book, Biopiracy], Northern capital is now carving out new colonies to exploit for gain: the interior spaces of the bodies of women, plants, and animals.”

Self-cleaning? “We know about the problems of development in China, Mexico and Brazil and about the higher levels of pollution those countries are generating,” says University of Chicago economist Nancy Stokey in Chronicle (February 6). “Richer countries clean up their pollution, and controls start developing when countries reach a moderate level of income–$4,000 or $5,000 per capita. While development is the source of the problem, further development brings its own cure. The pollution controls hold down growth a little bit, but they do not stop growth.”

Most Americans like advertising but don’t trust it, reports the Cummings Center for Advertising Studies at the University of Illinois. But “men are less often offended by advertising than women (45 percent often/sometimes offended vs. 57 percent), and women are more supportive of increased government regulation of advertising than men (45 percent vs. 35 percent),” according to a recent university release.

“In a city where top school officials have publicly identified teachers and principals as the problem,” writes George Schmidt in the Chicago Public Schools’ “Substance” (January), “nothing is being done to rid the schools of criminals, especially organized ones who can utilize a sophisticated network of political and media contacts to focus attention away from their activities and on those who might hinder them….There is little substantial oversight of the hiring of nonteaching employees, and virtually no follow-through. The result, in many schools, has been that the school, through its Chapter One budget, has become a hiring hall for the gangs.”

Now that’s gross. James Ylisela reflects in Illinois Issues (February) that some legislators supported both separate county standards for obscenity and state government control of Meigs Field: “Let me get this straight. When it comes to smut, we’re supposed to trust the locals. But when the subject involves a small patch of dirt, Springfield knows best.”