Honey, call work and tell them I’m taking an environmental day off. Peter Friederici sums up the many ways that road salt damages city and suburban ecosystems in Chicago Wilderness (Winter): “The question residents of Chicago Wilderness and other heavily populated regions may have to ask themselves, then, is how much we are willing to sacrifice for convenience. Biodiversity and high-speed winter travel may not always coincide. JoAnn Seagren of Barrington Hills remembers when her town spread sand on the roads rather than salt. ‘I think people drove more carefully and slowly then,’ she says. ‘Now the roads are totally clear and people don’t have to slow down.'”

No credentials? No experience? No problem. Elizabeth Duffrin describes research on teaching by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in Catalyst Chicago (December): “Analyzing math test score gains for three years worth of Chicago freshmen, researchers found that teachers had an enormous impact on test scores but that their credentials, including their advanced degrees and years of teaching experience, did not. Whether a teacher had three years in the classroom or 30, a bachelor’s degree or a Ph.D., a degree from a modest local college or an Ivy League university–none of that made a significant difference in student outcomes, the study found.” That result doesn’t exactly support the current method of determining Chicago’s pay scale, which is based entirely on number of degrees and years of teaching.

“Too many people treat their careers like chess matches,” said Andrew Alper, a University of Chicago trustee, addressing business school graduates last June (University of Chicago Record, January 8). “They are always thinking several job moves ahead and are always dissatisfied with the here and now. They waste valuable energy plotting and planning. For them, career strategy becomes an unsatisfying end in itself. In my experience, the best opportunities find you when you are minding your own business. They find people who are passionate about what they are doing now, not what they may be doing next year.”

In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls. “With an average duration of 1 minute and 44 seconds per case, hundreds of eviction court hearings monitored by [Chicago-Kent College of Law] students frequently failed to require landlords to meet their statutory burden of proof; rarely, if ever, afforded tenants the opportunity to state a defense to the landlord’s claims; and, at times, overlooked other due process requirements,” states a December 18 school press release describing a fall 2002 project in which six Chicago-Kent students monitored 763 cases in Chicago’s eviction court. “Although judges frequently asked tenants whether they had paid the rent, in only 27 percent of the cases monitored did judges ask tenants if they had a defense.”

Map to nowhere. Nick Jackson pans the 2003 Illinois official bicycle map for Chicago and northeastern Illinois in “Bike Traffic” (December/January). In the suburbs “the map paints a short portion of Route 83, between 90th Ave. and 88th Ave., with every color in the legend from ‘Most Suitable’ to ‘Not Recommended for Bicycling.’ Should a cyclist take the average of the ratings? Walk her bike where cycling isn’t recommended, and ride the recommended portion? Our guess is she will load her bike in the car and drive to a forest preserve.” It’s no better in the city, where even streets with bike lanes are usually labeled “Not Recommended.” “Many of the streets so labeled are state routes; the state approved the design and even paid for the installation of the lanes. And yet they don’t recommend you ride there?”

Strom Thurmond? Trent Lott? Never heard of them. From the January 10 blog of Illinois Policy Institute director Greg Blankenship (anewcanofworms.blogspot.com), criticizing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis’s commercials attacking George Bush’s immigration proposal: “Running the ad in Decatur–a manufacturing town–to me is troubling. In my opinion the ad appeals to xenophobia regarding immigration with a touch of bigotry. It just gives the libs another opportunity to call Republicans racists.”