Anthropomorphize this! The spring issue of the state-produced tourism magazine Illinois Now! describes the Shedd Aquarium’s training program for sharks as “the Harvard of fish schools.” It also claims that another fish, “the exhibition’s brightest star,” was adopted by the Shedd after “his previous owner left him in a bucket on the aquarium’s steps.”

“Nearly one-third of the judges, 126 of 401, in the Cook County Circuit Court system are now women,” writes Bethany Warner in Illinois Issues (March). Do they make a difference? Perhaps not in the way you’d expect, according to research conducted a few years ago in other jurisdictions by Indiana State University political scientists Robert Van Sickel and Linda Maule. “Though researchers expected that men judges would be more likely to adhere strictly to rules and procedures, the study found that women judges ran their courtrooms in more authoritarian ways. At the same time, women judges were more likely to side with prosecutors.”

“Conservationists over the years have defended ourselves from critics who’ve argued that we should not cut trees, kill deer, or conduct controlled burns,” writes Chicago Wilderness editor Debra Shore in the magazine’s spring issue. “Most of us wish on some level that nature could be left unfettered, to be as free and pure as possible. We’d be happy if wolves did all the deer control–that’s nature at work. But we don’t want wolves around our pets and children. In the absence of wolves, neither the deer nor the rest of the ecosystem can survive…if we just leave them alone….That’s where Chicago Wilderness comes in. We are the urban and suburban pioneers of nature stewardship. We the people of Chicago Wilderness are the cutting edge of humanity’s quest to figure out how to collaborate with nature.”

Small is still beautiful, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism that’s detailed in the March issue of the “Political Standard,” house organ of the Alliance for Better Campaigns. The project’s five-year survey of 172 local TV stations “shows a negative correlation between ownership size and broadcast quality….Smaller station groups produced higher quality newscasts than stations owned by large companies–by a significant margin. Local stations owned and operated by the major national broadcast networks produced significantly lower quality newscasts than local stations affiliated with the networks but owned by others.”

Laws you probably thought were already in effect. Illinois state comptroller Daniel Hynes reports in the January issue of “Fiscal Focus” that as of July 1, “all crematory owners will need to obtain a license,” and new licensees “will need to complete a training program before they may begin performing cremation services.”

The 20th century in four sentences. From a December 17 Census Bureau press release: “At the start of the 20th century, most of the U.S. population [then 76 million] was male, under 23 years old, lived outside metropolitan areas and rented their homes. Nearly half lived in a household with five or more other persons. One hundred years later, most of the population [281 million] was female, at least 35 years old, lived in metro areas and owned their own homes. Most lived alone or in a household with one or two other people.”

A presidential administration unlike any other. University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone on past episodes of fear and hysteria (“University of Chicago Chronicle,” March 6): “One of the things we can learn from the past crises–such as the Alien and Sedition acts, the suspension of habeas corpus in the Civil War, the broadscale suppression of dissent in World War I and the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II–is that it is essential that there be respected voices of moderation and restraint–particularly within the administration–who can effectively advocate the importance of civil liberties. The complete absence of those voices in the current administration is troubling.”