“Freedom to bank” is just another way of saying you already have money. Banking offices per 10,000 people in McHenry County, according to “Where Banks Aren’t,” published by the Woodstock Institute in June: 3.85. In suburban Cook County: 2.91. In Chicago: 1.69. In low-income areas, where the median family income is less than half the metropolitan average: 0.79. In Humboldt Park and Austin: 0.13.

Not a feel-good Catholic. “Do you buy the studies showing that spirituality promotes health?” the editors of U.S. Catholic ask Jesuit doctor Myles Sheehan of Loyola University (July). “I’m intrigued,” he replies, “but I also reserve judgment for several reasons….The last time I checked, somebody who had a really good spirituality ended up executed in the most horrible way possible.”

Getting restless out there. Writing in the February 10 National Law Journal (www.law.com), Gary Young notes that in the 50 biggest verdicts in the country, the total amount juries awarded for punitive damages was $3.2 billion in 2001 and $32.6 billion in 2002. He also compares the ratio of median punitive damages to compensatory damages (compensation for documented harm), which jumped from 2.3 to 4.5 over the same period.

Metaphors rule! According to a study of Saint Louis newspaper stories on gentrification during the last two decades coauthored by University of Illinois geography professor David Wilson (described in a July 1 U. of I. press release), reporters’ metaphors help create the gentrification they’re supposedly just describing. “One dominant metaphor speaks of neighborhoods as living organisms, using words and phrases such as ‘thriving,’ ‘alive,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘robust,’ ‘on its deathbed.’ Another metaphor describes neighborhoods as places needing salvation [delivered by] planners, developers and gentrifiers, and uses such phrases as ‘need for technicians,’ or for ‘fixers,’ ‘bold agents of change,’ ‘savvy progressive developers.'” Such metaphors were rarely applied to low-income neighborhoods that were unlikely to gentrify.

Terrorists without a constituency. Surviving members of the ultraleftist late-60s Weather Underground, including Chicagoans Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, “are proud of having been part of a worldwide revolutionary movement,” writes Pat Aufderheide, reviewing a new documentary about the group for the July 1 issue of In These Times. “But they never explain exactly how they were part of such a movement, other than in their minds.”

You thought you were commuting, but you were really enjoying a day at Chicago World! “You won’t find a better theme-park ride in the country than this,” reads a 2001 story in Preservation magazine, quoted in the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois newsletter “CornerStone” (July). “(It’s) the last of America’s old elevated transit lines still running essentially intact. If Disney could simulate the Brown Line, crowds would wait hours for a chance to get on board.”

Something’s sure to turn up. “Imagine getting a home equity loan for $100,000, spending $27,000 of it on a new car and investing the rest–then counting on the interest earned to cover the interest paid, as well as the cost of the car,” writes Aaron Chambers in Illinois Issues (June). “That’s the essence of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s $10 billion pension bonding plan, which became law in April.”

Can building transit cure congestion? Many urban planners believe it can, a claim recently recycled in the Joyce Foundation’s new report “Keep It Moving” (June). But the widely used Texas Transportation Institute congestion index (http://mobility.tamu.edu) suggests the story is more complicated. Detroit is cited by Joyce as a midwestern city that has suffered because it hasn’t built new transit. The TTI says that Detroit went from 53 percent congestion (measured as “person-miles” of travel in peak periods) in 1990 to 71 percent in 2000. But Portland, Oregon, hailed as a success by Joyce for building light rail and increasing ridership, experienced a nearly identical increase, from 53 percent in 1990 to 76 percent in 2000.