Job sprawl brings workers closer? That’s the finding of a study of U.S. cities in 1985-’97 by UCLA planners Randall Crane and Daniel Chatman, published in the online journal Planning & Markets. “Our evidence supports the argument that suburbanized employment–or sprawl–is associated with shorter distance commutes on average,” they write. “This is not to say that commutes are shortening as cities expand their footprint; indeed, they seem to be slowly lengthening.” But “the average commute would be longer still if jobs were not suburbanizing.” The length of a commute also depends on what kind of job you have. “The suburbanization of construction, wholesale, and service employment is associated with shorter commutes, while manufacturing and finance deconcentration (weakly) explain longer commutes.”

By the numbers. Number of jobs George Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers predicted the economy would create in the last half of 2003 under the president’s tax cuts: 1,836,000. Number of jobs actually created in that time: 221,000 (“Job Watch,” Economic Policy Institute).

“When I assess a regular education student for special education eligibility it is usually the result of a parent or caseworker making a request,” writes Chicago conservative and self-described “educrat” Bernard Chapin in the online publication Enter Stage Right (January 5). “Many of these parents and caseworkers are African-American (as are 90 per cent of our students) and I do not believe that they are in any way trying to disproportionately segregate their offspring or wards based on race. Parents, caseworkers, therapists, and educational liaison officials often feel that initiating a referral is in the best interests of the child. Their motivation for initiating a case study is not a result of racial self-hatred. Sometimes it is due to failing grades or a desire for therapeutic services. They also cannot help but be aware of the dazzling list of protections and exemptions that await individuals who are certified as having an educational disability. Even in the case of expulsion for drugs or a firearm, our district still goes to great pains to ensure that the student receives some form of instruction during their period of banishment.”

“The notion that local owners of newspapers or TV and radio stations are inherently ‘better’–usually taken to mean more ‘objective’–than a large corporation has no standing in the real world,” writes Ben Compaine in the January issue of the libertarian magazine Reason. “Some of the most biased newspapers in 20th-century history–McCormick’s Chicago Tribune, Annenberg’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Loeb’s Manchester Union-Leader–were the creations of local ownership. Local owners are more likely than remote corporate owners to have ties to the local political and business establishment. Local owners may not have the economic resources to withstand a boycott by real estate or banking or similar interests should they risk some criticism of the local industry. Large chains, on the other hand, are far less affected economically by a short-term downturn in any one community. And it is less likely that the publisher is a prep school buddy of the mayor.”

Zen is for capitalists, says Slavoj Zizek as interpreted by Eugene McCarraher in In These Times (December 23). “The Buddhist call for ‘compassion,’ ‘oneness,’ and ‘harmony,’ Zizek argues, marks it as ‘the paradigmatic ideology of late capitalism,’ enabling its devotees to participate in market competition while effecting the appearance of serenity. (Zizek sees no distinction between Western and Asian Buddhism here, noting that the origins of ‘corporate Zen’ lie in Japanese military and managerial ideology.)”

In a sentence. Conrad Worrill of Northeastern Illinois University’s Center for Inner City Studies, quoted in the Chicago Reporter (December) on why he insists that black people are owed reparations for slavery that ended well over 100 years ago: “Because the infrastructure of the Western Hemisphere was built on the backs of slaves.”