Economist humor, from Diane Swonk of the First National Bank of Chicago, describing in a recent FNB press release one reason the midwest economy is likely to do better than the nation’s as a whole: “Strength in the housing market combined with spending surges after recent floods have kept spending on furniture and appliances afloat.”

Let’s preserve history, whatever it is. Early PR letter for this fall’s national historic-preservation conference: “Back in October, 1871, many thought that Chicago would never rise from the ashes of the Great Fire. But famed, pioneering architects, such as Mies van der Rohe, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, came to Chicago to construct buildings that are now considered treasured landmarks.” Reality check: at the time of the fire, Sullivan was 15; Wright, 4; and Mies would not be born for 15 years.

“I was unprepared, seventeen years ago, to work in a hospice,” writes N. Michael Murphy in the Chicago-based Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (June). “A handful of years in general practice and nearly two decades in psychiatry were no preparation for the confusion that surrounds dying. When technology has run its course, we run out of answers. We are faced with helplessness and a clear vision of impermanence: two experiences that inspire the greatest discomfort in physicians whose technological training implies that there is always something that can be done, and that they should never say die.”

Things the Supreme Court doesn’t want to know. According to an abstract of a Harvard Law Review (April) article by Valparaiso University’s John Hart, “Colonial legislators believed that it was a legitimate use of government power to promote the public good by restricting the right of private landowners to use their land as they saw fit.”

New Age spirituality is “nothing but McSpirituality, junk food for the soul,” according to Eugene Kennedy in Notre Dame magazine (Spring), quoted in the Chicago-based newsletter Context (July 15). “The New Age’s most obvious characteristic is its rejection of institutional boundaries or standards, especially those of religion and science.” Kennedy argues that this trend will continue until “the official church stops trying to revive hierarchical authoritarianism,” evidently another brand of junk food.

“We do not argue that NAFTA caused Mexico’s latest economic collapse, nor did it create the growing inequality in all three nations, nor most of the other problems outlined below,” write UIC planner David Ranney, Sarah Anderson, and John Cavanagh in the Nation (July 15-22). “NAFTA did, however, make them worse.” In economic terms, NAFTA eased the movement of goods and investment among the three countries; it sped up the free-trade model that large corporations have been pushing for decades. NAFTA codifies an economic ideology that glorifies the market, that demonizes and defunds government and that regards human beings as little more than customers in a continental shopping mall.”

Excuse me, I can’t hear you, I’m leaning way over to the right. Number of times major newspapers, radio, and TV used conservative think tanks’ expertise during 1995, according to Extra!: 7,792. Number of progressive think tank citations: 1,152 (In These Times, July 22).

“The Illinois Democratic delegation to the Democratic National Convention will be staying at one of the city’s best hotels, the Drake,” writes Doug Dobmeyer in Poverty Issues…Dateline Illinois (July 18). “The hotel provides round the clock room service in a 20 minute time frame. The rooms are very posh with fine upholstered furniture. Security is top notch. The food is excellent. The cost for rooms ranges from $190 to $325 a night.” Among low-income Democratic voters, by contrast, “a family of three survives on $377 a month in public aid payments….Their monthly food bill is less than a fine Drake meal.”