Former video-game addicts do “amazingly well” at learning airplane instruments, reports the University of Illinois, and they will probably be better airline pilots because of their superior hand-eye coordination.

Why teenagers should nag their parents not to smoke. “Boys from smoking families had significantly thicker heart walls and stiffer aortas” and less “good” cholesterol in their blood than did otherwise similar boys from nonsmoking families, reports the American Heart Association. All this makes boys from smoking families likely candidates for heart disease as adults–even if they resist their parents’ bad examples.

“The most important single economic choice likely to face Chicago in the next decade” is how the city will get its electricity, writes Kathryn Tholin in The Neighborhood Works (January/February 1988). The choice is not–as superficial media coverage has suggested–whether city patronage hacks will take over Commonwealth Edison. The issue is that Chicago’s electricity costs are high and keep rising, while rates are being cut elsewhere in the country. “Edison’s current rates would have priced it out of the market, if we had a market,” writes Tholin. Because Com Ed’s franchise expires in 1990, Chicago has a chance to open its largest contract to competitive bidding. “Chicago’s electric future must include the right to purchase power where we can find it cheapest.”

Can law students learn to write English? Yes, if their law professors care enough, says Student Lawyer columnist Mark Mathewson (December 1987), who picks IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law as “the most ambitious legal writing program in the country.” Writing courses make up 11 of 90 hours required for graduation. The students “complain while they’re in the midst of the first year,” says professor Ralph Brill, “but they always come back after the summer and thank us, saying that they knew what they were doing while the other law clerks didn’t.”

I love nuclear power–it’s power plants I can’t stand. “We should use more nuclear energy if that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” agreed 59 (plus/minus 3) percent of those Americans polled by Gallup this fall. But only 19 percent said they would support a nuclear power plant in their area. Even that figure would probably decline if Gallup acknowledged that the real alternatives to nuclear power are coal and conservation, not imported oil.

“The curriculum guides are all outdated,” Chicago Public Schools social studies teacher Lenore Lipkin told a legislative hearing last fall (Substance, January 1988). She said consultants had visited her classroom twice in 26 years, and that their written material was little help. “The Geography guide was written in 1961 and the Contemporary American History guide in 1968 [!]. The other social studies guides were written about the same time. What do the consultants do? Dr. Byrd said these people could not be cut because of the service they give to the teacher.”

Most major industries in Illinois routinely break the clean-water law and get away with it. That’s a January 5 report from the Evanston-based Illinois Public Interest Research Group, which examined discharge reports filed by one-third of the state’s major industries with permits to discharge between October 1984 and October 1986. “Over 90% of the dischargers examined were in violation of permit limits. . . . Over half the violations were ‘substantial’ (50% or more over the limit). . . . Almost half of the industries studied were chronic violators (reported violations in 4 or more months per 6 month period).” Illinois EPA responded to less than 3 percent of these violations, and resolved the problem in less than half of those cases.

Why do women-owned small businesses succeed much more often than the average small business? It’s not just more government help that has kept the failure rate of women-owned businesses to less than half the overall rate, reports Marla Donato in Chicago Enterprise (January 1988). Women are willing to do more with less, and typically they’re better prepared. “Women do more homework and are more receptive to training assistance,” says H. Sam McGrier of the Small Business Administration’s Chicago office. “They tend to read more material, go to more workshops and seminars and ask more and better questions.”

“(Art)n’s phscolograms participate in this dialogue regarding the new reality,” we read in the catalog for the (Art)n group’s exhibition at Fermilab. The group’s high-tech photography, holography, sculpture, computer graphics, and video “present images which are not only more real and believable than those found in traditional photography, but also even more fabricated and fake.” Now that we’ve cleared that up . . .

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.