“Amtrak Is like a ship without a rudder, drifting toward the rocks,” warns Pierre Loomis in RailGram (January). “Recently, a call to check on the arrival time of #6 (the California Zephyr) brought an interesting response from the ticket agent. In an attempt to explain why the train was 8 hours late (mechanical problems and locomotive failures), the agent drew an analogy between Amtrak locomotives and horses: ‘Look,’ said the frustrated agent, ‘if you were a horse and nobody fed or watered you for weeks on end, how well would you run?’ Amtrak’s failure to maintain equipment properly is causing the near collapse of the entire nationwide system.”

Um, er, here’s a book for you, dear. Ballantine is promoting Robert Masello’s Of Course, I Love You as “The perfect way for a man to say at he feels…without saying a word.”

Bald eagles wintering in downstate Illinois, 1990: 1,539. 1991: 1,864. 1992: 2,025 (Illinois Department of Conservation).

“The [casino] project appears to be dead. It appears the Daley Administration’s interest in open government is also dead,” reports Richard Means in the IVI-IPO Action Bulletin (January). When IVI-IPO made a Freedom of Information Act request for the proposed legislation, consultant studies, and memos on the casino project, the Daley administration provided the first two items (through the now-shuttered Municipal Reference Library), but “claimed that no city employee wrote any memos evaluating the project or portions of it!” Means’s account of his fruitless negotiations is Kafkaesque: on November 23, the last day the administration had to comply with the FOIA request, Daley Freedom of Information officer Martin Stack said he was trying; on Tuesday (after Means another day) Stack said he couldn’t “find anyone who knows where the documents are”; at an emergency court hearing on Wednesday he testified that he had mailed a heretofore unmentioned claim for extension on Monday; on Friday Means received the letter postage-metered and canceled Wednesday afternoon! As a result, no memos were released until after the scheduled casino vote. Come to think of it, maybe “Daleyesque” is a better word.

Let’s see, that’s six light bulbs out of every seven…Commonwealth Edison reports that nuclear power produced a record high 83.5 percent of its electricity during 1992.

The father of all sofa tubers. From the publicity for National Engineers Week (February 14-20): “The ‘couch potato’ of today with his ‘clicker,’ ‘zapper,’ or whatever you choose to call the remote control, owes his existence to [electrical engineer Robert] Adler’s invention.

See item above. “You will be free at last through your intellectual capacity to analyze,” Vernon Jarrett told a Governors State University observance of King’s birthday. “Otherwise, a new kind of slavery will take hold, and you won’t know who the master is.”

“I think people don’t want to hear and experience what’s in dance!” award-winning dancer-choreographer Jan Erkert tells Effie Mihopolous in Strong Coffee (January). “They’re really afraid of it. I get that resistance so much….It’s the lowest artform that’s funded on the totem pole, and the one not accepted by our society. I take that to be because it’s women-based.”

More evidence yet that the 1980s sucked. African American enrollment in Illinois higher education, 1980: 72,938. In 1991: 70,638 (Illinois Issues, January).

The attitude that dare not speak its name. A Western-civilization class at Fourth Presbyterian Church’s Center for Older Adults “will trace a certain attitude towards the world held by Western Civilization which distinguishes it from other civilizations.”

Press releases we couldn’t finish without aspirin, from Northwestern Memorial Hospital: “For sufferers of chronic sinusitis, life can be a big headache.”

Why they will keep on blocking off streets and sidewalks. State Department of Commerce and Community Affairs director Jan Grayson: “By helping to bring in $84.8 million on a general revenue fund of $482,000, [the Illinois Film Office] has generated $176 of spending in Illinois for each dollar of taxpayer’s funds. That is an amazing return on invenstment.”

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