By Harold Henderson

“Before becoming a professor, I was a monk,” Northern Illinois University professor of English Sean Shesgreen tells Northern Today (April 15). “The two callings are alike. For example, as a professor, I observe two of the three vows I took in the monastery: obedience and poverty.”

The march of progress. Early TV shows often featured lawyers and judges reenacting actual cases, writes David Ray Papke in an essay on the Museum of Broadcast Communication’s new exhibit on prime-time law. “Stiff and awkward by modern standards, these early lawyer shows wanted to educate as well as entertain. They invited viewers to contemplate what actually happened in lawyers’ offices and in the courtroom. But as television both matured and mushroomed in popularity… producers realized that in lawyer shows, as well as in other types of prime-time programming, viewers preferred a regular set of characters and standardized plot lines.” Sounds mature to me.

The numbers: UIC Latino enrollment, 1985 to 1995, up from 1,465 to 2,755. UIC African-American enrollment, same period, down from 1,798 to 1,698. The reason, according to university trustee Gloria Jackson Bacon: “For the most part, this institution remains fundamentally white-male controlled.” The reason, according to university president and former chancellor James Stukel: The Latino community worked with the university, whereas “many African-American community leaders told me directly when I was chancellor that ‘we worked against you, we tried to direct students to other universities'” (UIC News, April 17).

Daddy, why do you say the word for “owl pellet” when you hit your thumb with a hammer? Among Earth Day activities described by the Chicago Academy of Sciences in a recent press release: “Did you know that owls hunt in Lincoln Park? Dissect an owl pellet to learn what they eat.”

“Many have called this city one of the most segregated in the country, and though they weren’t talking about artists, I think I know what they mean,” writes Adam Langer in his new book The Madness of Art. “Artists exist in tiny pockets of the city, in perfectly hermetic outposts, sealed off like unwittingly tinned King Oscar’s sardines. Walk around Lakeview and you’ll think everyone’s an actor. Take a stroll through Wicker Park and everyone’s a painter or a musician. But stroll through Sauganash and try to sell a painting that isn’t of a sad clown and they’ll cart you off to the Joliet correctional facility.”

Two cheers for capitalism? Nuclear engineer Alexander Sich, in the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May/June): “As a consequence of the Three Mile Island accident in the United States, one of the most comprehensive and costly research efforts ever undertaken has produced valuable design improvements that have been implemented in Western reactors, while spurring research into the design of the next generation of ‘inherently safe’ power reactors. At Chernobyl, because of bureaucratic tangles and a lack of funds or general interest, not even all of the melted fuel has been positively located.”

Just me and my boa constrictor. According to a press release from the Chicago Herpetological Society, a photo booth will be available at its “Live Reptile and Amphibian Show” in Rosemont May 24 and 25 “where visitors can have pictures taken with the reptiles of their choice.”

Ve haff our vays of making you obey ze party line. “I was sent out to review ‘Terminator,'” recalls the Sun-Times’s Dave Hoekstra in New City (April 25). “I gave it a one-star review and talked at length about the extremely violent content of the movie. In retrospect, that review really jump-started my career in music writing.”

Another hard day at the office. In a recent press release the Fair Economy News Service cites compensation expert Graef Crystal, whose research shows that in 292 large corporations the ratio between the pay of the average chief executive officer and the average worker was 41 to 1 in 1973, 145 to 1 in 1992, 170 to 1 in 1993, 187 to 1 in 1994, and may have exceeded 200 to 1 in 1995.

Oops! I forgot to be chemophobic there for a moment! “Chemicals, unlike people, should be assumed guilty until proven innocent,” writes Donella Meadows in the Chicago-based bimonthly The Neighborhood Works (May/June) — just after advising her readers to “beware of a clarion call to ‘ban chlorine'” because “all endocrine disrupters are not chlorinated, and all organochlorines are not endocrine disrupters.”

“This Congress seems to have a sense that the country would be a lot better off if poor people just didn’t have children,” Sharon Daly of Catholic Charities USA tells the Chicago-based Salt of the Earth (May/June). “When you challenge them on this…they say, ‘But we can’t reward this immoral behavior.’ What immoral behavior?…Eventually it appears it’s only immoral to have sex or children if you’re poor. If you are well-to-do and you can afford them, go right ahead and have children before you’re married or as a single parent. Two thirds of the children born out of wedlock are not poor, they’re born to working and middle- and upper-income people.”

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