In a sentence. Alice Camille, writing in U.S. Catholic (August): “The deadliest sin in America is probably avarice, but it’s also the least confessed according to every priest I’ve ever talked to.”

“My wealth is not only a product of my own hard work,” successful software entrepreneur Martin Rothenberg (Syracuse Language Systems) is quoted as saying at “It also resulted from a strong economy and lots of public investment, both in others and in me. I received a good public school education and used free libraries and museums paid for by others. I went to college under the GI Bill. I went to graduate school to study computers and language on a complete government scholarship….While teaching at Syracuse University for 25 years, my research was supported by numerous government grants.”

A clean slate. Sam Smith writes in his “Undernews” (July 27) that if Kerry wins “he’ll be the first president since Carter without significant ties to the criminal world. No Iran-Contra thugs, no Dixie Mafia, no Enron scam artists.”

City of the moderately sober. Liesa Goins of Men’s Health recently ranked 101 U.S. cities based on their DUI arrest rates, alcohol-related traffic deaths, and alcohol-related deaths from liver disease. By these measures the most sober towns are Montgomery, Alabama; Yonkers, New York; and Hialeah, Florida. The sloppy drunks at the bottom of the list are Spokane, Kansas City (Missouri), Albuquerque, Anchorage, El Paso, and Denver. Chicago’s ranked 42nd, in the middle of the list along with Grand Rapids, Cincinnati, and Saint Paul.

Arrested development. According to David Tracy of the University of Chicago (New Republic, April 26), American intellectuals who comment on religious matters “too often content themselves with recalling the memories of their youth, which are usually unhappy ones. If they took the same lazy way with the arts, they would still be lingering over The Nutcracker and The Exorcist.”

Suburban rarities. Earlier this summer Robin Scribailo, who teaches biology at Purdue University’s North Central campus, and graduate student Mitch Alix kayaked around Silver Lake, in Valparaiso, Indiana. Phil Wieland reports in the August 9 edition of the northwest Indiana Times that they found threadleaf pondweed (a new species to Indiana), horned pondweed (an endangered species in Indiana), spiny coontail, and whorled water milfoil (both rare, found at only six to ten locations in the state). The water also contained thick beds of fingernail clams, an indicator of good water quality. Most of the lake belongs to the city’s park district, which denied the researchers access, so they launched from the backyards of consenting home owners. Valparaiso is considering building a road along the lake’s southern border.

Chicago for the head, Wheaton for the stomach. In an August 16 press release promoting its annual nationwide college rankings, the Princeton Review reports that students it surveyed concluded that the University of Chicago had the best academics overall, while Wheaton College served the best campus food.

Forty years of American politics in a paragraph. Onetime Nixon strategist and author Kevin Phillips is quoted in the August Harper’s: “What the Republicans got handed to them on a plate in the late 1960s was the triple failure of liberalism in the United States: Vietnam, inflation, and the decay of the cities. Still, most Republicans didn’t have a clue what they were going to do–aside from pandering to their constituencies. The liberal intellectuals and policymakers had become too sure of themselves, so lazy and complacent that they failed to pay attention to people who didn’t share their opinions. The conservatives have the same problem today. They’ve taken all those exotic ideas dreamed up twenty years ago at the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute–about how to turn everything into a free market or a cruise missile–and by trying to put them into practice, they’ve overreached themselves.”