Corporate strangeness. When Com Ed encourages customers to sign up for its automatic bill-payment plan, the envelope lists all the things you might do with the time you save not writing a check: “Watch a musical. Take skiing lessons. Climb a hill. Start a fire.”

Pity the poor suburbanites. Madeleine Doubek, political editor of the Daily Herald, notes that suburban resistance to school-funding changes will probably continue (Illinois Issues, April). “The way suburban residents see it, they’ve been paying for their schools locally for years, while sending money to Springfield that ends up downstate or in Chicago….Much has been made about the fact that a North Shore district spends $15,744 annually per student, while downstate St. Rose Elementary District spends only $2,932. But the numbers that may have more meaning in the suburbs are ones that show some suburban school districts get little more than $230 in state funds per student, while others outside the suburbs get as much as $2,000.”

Between 1990 and 1995 traffic fatalities among Hispanics rose by 40 percent, while traffic fatalities for non-Hispanics dropped 5 percent, according to the state Department of Public Health. Why? Dr. Elizabeth Orsay, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, examined the figures for one year and found that the Hispanic victims tended to be younger, to more often be male, and to use seat belts less and alcohol more than their non-Hispanic counterparts.

“Drinking, et cetera, helps one access the unconscious, and that’s a natural thing for a writer to want to do,” writes Jane Mead in the newsletter “Sarabande News.” “But, there are other ways–better ways–to do that. I used to get high or drunk or whatever–write all night. Now I write in the morning before I’m fully awake–sort of the same effect.”

What odds for a living wage? Land Use Digest (March) reports that an industry-financed study found that the average casino wage in 1996 was $26,000, compared to $20,000 in the “amusement and recreation industry” and $16,000 in hotels and motels.

Building new schools to relieve overcrowding–instead of other remedies, such as open enrollment–may be popular with the bricks-and-mortar crowd and certain local school councils. But it’s likely to be expensive and counterproductive, warns urbanologist Pierre deVise of Roosevelt University. “This policy shift will result in overbuilding schools in Hispanic areas next to black areas of half-empty, previously overcrowded schools….The major losers are the mostly black students and teachers in half-empty schools that will be shortchanged in renovations and repairs because of the imminence of closure. Desegregation will be another loser with the demise of open attendance and the hardening of self-segregation preferences of LSCs.”

“Special Olympic players’ skill levels have improved,” a volunteer basketball official tells the SO newsletter “Connection” (Spring). “In the early years, we called nothing. It was almost more coaching than refereeing.”

If only they hated us more. Hyperion Press says its new book The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture “argues that the assimilation of gay culture into mainstream society is rapidly undermining gay men’s sense of themselves as a distinct minority.”

Still crazy after all these years. Greg Mello in the Hyde Park-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May/June): “The B61 ‘mod-11’ gravity bomb is the first new nuclear capability added to the U.S. arsenal since 1989. It was developed and deployed secretly, without public or congressional debate, and in apparent contradiction to official domestic and international assurances that no new nuclear weapons were being developed in the United States.”

I think not. In Chicago Computer Currents (May), Tim Bajarin describes robotics expert Raj Reddy’s vision of “tele-presence” in the future of computing: “A video [showed] a baseball player in a batting cage, his every movement captured by dozens of cameras. The video shows the pitch from the ball’s perspective, the bat’s–everything. More intriguing, Reddy posits that this technology could be used to record everything you see and do during your lifetime–a personal history you could leave to your descendants.”

As is customary in such cases, the victims of genocide gathered publicly for a $30-a-plate dinner, with dancing and entertainment afterward. That was the per-ticket price for a celebration of the work of National Black United Front chairman Dr. Conrad Worrill on May 3, proceeds from which were to “subsidize his trip to Geneva, Switzerland, where he is scheduled to present petitions to the United Nations regarding the United States genocide against Blacks.”