“The Chicago River is somewhat cleaner than it used to be–its status has been upgraded from ‘toxic’ to merely ‘polluted’–but remains exposed to steady contamination,” writes David Cohen in Compass (December). “The most serious, surprisingly, is rainwater. Permitted and non-permitted dumping takes place, but rains carrying pollution from numerous other sources in the city are causing most of the damage. The water brings pet excrement, lawn fertilizer and car residues (flaking paint, gas and oil discharge, and so forth) into the River.”

Be especially alert at 12 minutes to midnight. According to a UIC study of U. of I. Hospital emergency-room patients, the incidence of sexual assault has two peak rhythms: “a circadian, or 24-hour, rhythm that peaks at 11:48 p.m. for all victims” and a second rhythm that follows that peak at intervals of 4.8 hours.

Things parents have to be told these days, from the American Academy of Pediatrics in Elk Grove Village: “Before age 6, children are unlikely to be ready to participate in organized sports.”

U. of I. philosopher Robert Wengert holds professional-ethics discussions with businessmen, accountants, bankers, chemists, librarians, politicians, and students. But, he points out, “I have yet to receive any calls from law schools.”

Self-esteem strikes again. Last year the Consortium on Chicago School Research found that 95 percent of public-school elementary teachers felt confident teaching reading, writing, and mathematics. This year the consortium reports principals’ views: 67 percent believe that “most” or “almost all” of their teachers have a “good grasp” of reading. When asked about other subject areas, the principals’ estimates drop to 56 percent (math), 46 percent (social studies), and only 30 percent (science).

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Guinea, Japan, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Scotland, Senegal, Sudan, and Togo all sent representatives to visit the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations in 1992, according to CANDO’s 1992-93 annual report.

Why not sign a long franchise with Commonwealth Edison? Here’s what those dangerous socialists at the downstate Greater Sterling Development Corporation think: “The proposed franchise runs 57 yearsÉ. We don’t know anyone who’s buying 57 year bonds (which used to finance the lifestyles of the British aristocracy up until WWI–which ended 74 years ago). If bond investors are shunning the ultralongs, it behooves municipalities–which such agreements make constructive investors–to apply the same bond principles to franchise agreements of similar length.” Too bad Mayor Daley didn’t have them in charge in ’91.

Dept. of white guys who don’t have a clue. Eric Utne in the allegedly alternative Utne Reader (January-February) on male-female relations: “A few months ago, I thought I’d come up with a major breakthrough myself. When locked in yet another of those recurring arguments my wife and I have about who does what in our relationship, I had a rare flash of crazy wisdom. I found myself asking that she try not to think of me as a man. Instead, I suggested, ‘think of me as your lesbian lover.'” Sure beats actually trying to change.

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