Nonsteroid rage. UIC public-health professor Paul Goldstein reports on a study of 400 typical Chicago gym users: users and nonusers of anabolic steroids are equally likely to have histories of above-average violence and drug abuse.

Stop the immigrants! “The northern Mississippi Basin and the rivers of Europe were once separated by a wide expanse of sea water, freshwater barriers such as Niagara Falls, and the drainage divide at Chicago,” writes biologist Richard Sparks in the Illinois Natural History Survey Reports (November/December). “One by one, these barriers have fallen,” allowing the pestiferous zebra mussel and at least five other potential alien pest species to arrive here from overseas. How can the barriers be restored? Oceangoing ships are now supposed to discharge freshwater ballast before they get to the Great Lakes; Sparks suggests that ways of restoring the barrier between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi might include “ultrasound, thermal, or chemical barriers in the lock chambers between Lake Michigan and the Chicago waterways.”

The west-coast way. “Hours of psychotherapy California’s Contra Costa County exchanged for each handgun turned in this year: 3.” (Harper’s “Index,” December).

When law isn’t as important as lawyers think. “One application of game theory to law,” reports Charles Whitt in the University of Chicago Chronicle (November 10), can be seen “in the case of a pedestrian and a motorist, each of whom must decide what to do without knowing what the other will do….Different laws will have different consequences [according to the new book Game Theory and the Law]: (1) the motorist will be more careful if the motorist knows the law makes her or him liable for any injuries the pedestrian may suffer in case of an accident, or (2) the pedestrian will be more careful because of statutes allowing for comparative liability, according to which the pedestrian could be held partially responsible for injuries caused.” Or maybe the pedestrian will be real careful simply because a ton of steel trumps flesh and bones every time.

“During the last few years, virtually every major religious body in America has appointed commissions, study groups, and task forces to issue ponderous statements on sexuality,” writes Peter Berger in First Things (December). “If only they could break into laughter now and then. A commission of Roman Catholic bishops discussing marital chastity; a study group of Presbyterian theologians delving into the morality of masturbation; a gay-and-lesbian task force designing wedding ceremonies, with all the bourgeois frills, for graduates of bathhouses and leather bars. The…[1993 Chicago] Parliament of the World’s Religions missed a great opportunity there. Instead of endorsing the Kung-Kuschel manifesto of global motherhood-and-apple-pie niceness, it could have appointed a number of task forces on sexual ethics: a Christian-Confucian task force on foot fetishism, a Jewish-Buddhist task force on polygamy. When these task forces would eventually have published their reports, there might have been outbreaks of helpless laughter even in the Roman Curia and at Princeton Theological Seminary–perhaps even redeeming laughter.”

I keep telling you, that’s not the Baltic Sea out there. “Illinois is the most ‘Lithuanian’ state,” according to the Lithuanian Museum Review’s (November/December) reading of the 1990 census. Illinois has 112,410 resident Lithuanians.

“I do not have secrets of the sort that whites expect to get from Native Americans, secrets to ‘give them power,’ or to ‘enable them to have an extrasensory experience,'” writes Mary Brave Bird in Ohitika Woman, quoted in the Chicago Reporter (November). “I have no medicine to sell.”

You hope. Competing snow-sculpture teams at Sinnissippi State Park near Rockford will each have a block of snow six feet square and ten feet high to work with the weekend of January 18-21, according to the official rules. “The condition of the snow cannot be guaranteed. Additional snow will be available on site.”

“Ancient Pompeii was not full of classical beauties,” according to a report on the work of anthropologist Estelle Lazer in newsletter number 41 of the Chicago Society of the Archaeological Institute of America. “Lazer examined the bones of several hundred individuals found in the remains of Pompeii destroyed and buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius…[and found] a small bony growth on the inside of a number of skulls that was a telltale sign of hyperostosis frontalis interna, a minor hormonal disorder that causes people to be obese and hairy and suffer from headaches and a form of diabetes.”

How about Pate Phillip? “I suspect the chance of anyone getting a zoning permit for a landfill on the Southeast Side is nil,” Land and Lakes attorney William Quinlan told the Chicago Defender’s Ethan Michaeli (October 18) after the city’s ten-year-old landfill moratorium was ruled unconstitutionally vague. “I don’t care if you’re a personal friend of the pope’s, it’s not going to happen.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.