Psychedelic drugs in Naperville? It’s academic. Educational psychologist Tom Roberts of Northern Illinois University will teach a three-credit class at NIU’s Naperville campus dealing with “entheogens”–mind-altering substances said to enhance or create mystical experiences. According to “Northern Today” (December 3), the course will, among other things, “delve into the Good Friday Experiment of 1962, when 10 theological students took psilocybin in the basement of Boston University’s Marsh Chapel while 10 others took placeboes. Most who took the actual drug reported a religious experience and remain in the ministry today; of those who took the placeboes, only half remain in the ministry.”

How to reduce your taxes? The December issue of the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation’s newsletter the “ITEF Review” is largely devoted to a rehash of claims that Franklin D. Roosevelt provoked Pearl Harbor. No explanation of how describing FDR as “monster,” “traitor,” or “fiend” will reduce Illinois pork barreling in 2002.

Speaking of the pork barrel, Beth Musgrave and Jennifer Whitson document in the Chicago Reporter (November/December) that “member initiative” grants from July 1999 to June 2001 from the Illinois FIRST spending program have been used to shore up swing districts important to the control of the state legislature. In the process, the average majority white district has received $3.3 million, the average majority black district $2.4 million, and the average majority Latino district $2.1 million.

Things you thought were automatic. The Better Government Association will argue before the Illinois Supreme Court that those convicted in the licenses-for-bribes scandal in the secretary of state’s office should “refund to the State of Illinois all bribe monies that came into their possession ($170,000 to date) as well as the forfeiture of any state salaries or other benefits that they obtained during the long running scandal.” The BGA can’t even make this case until it establishes that taxpayers can file such a suit; an appellate court has held that only the state attorney general can.

Wanted: a moat. Lake Point Tower residents tired of dodging speeding bikes in their neighborhood might be expected to support the city’s planned $6 million “Navy Pier Flyover,” which would provide a viaduct for bicyclists running parallel to Lake Shore Drive along the west side of Lake Point Tower. According to “Bike Traffic” (December), the flyover will pass within nine inches of the lower structure of the tower, and 13 feet below the roof of that part of the building. “Still, Lake Point Tower residents were quick to point out that 13′ is quite scalable using grappling hooks.”

Christopher Jencks explains immigration. “The big effects of immigration are on the distribution of income,” Jencks, a professor of social policy at Harvard, writes in the November 29 issue of the New York Review of Books. “Under America’s current immigration policy, the winners are employers who get cheaper labor, skilled workers who pay less for their burgers and nannies, and immigrants themselves. The losers are unskilled American-born workers.”

Stop them before they make me gamble again. A December 1 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign press release describes an article published in Managerial and Decision Economics in which gambling opponent and U. of I. business administration professor John Kindt weighs the gambling industry’s vulnerability to tobacco-style lawsuits. “According to Kindt, the gambling industry profiles customers through credit cards and uses other marketing knowledge to target people who are liable to wager a high percentage of their income.”

New subdivision in Kane County = Chicago’s income-tax dollars at work. Economist Joseph Persky of the University of Illinois at Chicago and his Howard University colleague Haydar Kurban find that the income-tax subsidy for home ownership contributes four times as much money to Chicago’s suburbs as to the city. “A suburban family of four receives about $2200 a year while a city family of four receives about $500,” they write in “Do Federal Funds Better Support Cities or Suburbs?” (November). “The difference comes about for three reasons: higher home ownership rates in the suburbs, higher incomes in the suburbs, and higher housing values in the suburbs.”