The distribution of literacy. News Inc. (May) reports that when the Baltimore Sun quit running classified ads for guns, it received overwhelmingly negative response from callers…and overwhelmingly positive response from letter writers.

That’s OK, kids, the Stoics would find you pretty bizarre too. From Notre Dame professor Michael Francis’s journal about teaching his first general-education course to sophomores (Notre Dame, Winter): “Wednesday, February 1: This morning in the quiet of my study I felt that the stoicism stuff would stimulate a good discussion–certainly the idea of insulating yourself from the pains of the world has some advantages. But the class felt otherwise and we had a really terrible discussion. It caught me by surprise, and soon I had exhausted my prepared questions and the discussion was going pretty much nowhere. After class, one of the students walked with me across campus; she observed that students are ‘into’ emotions and relationships and that stoicism struck them as simply bizarre.”

“To give you an idea of how strapped the library is, one of the books for my research was borrowed through interlibrary loan from the University of Alabama,” Alzina Stone Dale tells Near West Gazette (May 6). “When it came in, the librarian called me to say there was a $3 lending charge for that book but they couldn’t afford to pay the $3 up front. She asked if I could come down right away with a check for the university.”

Beware–dangerous foreign immigrants! The Journal of Great Lakes Research, edited by DePaul chemist Thomas J. Murphy, recently published a complete catalog of the 59 nonnative species of plants, 25 fish, 24 algae, 14 mollusks, 6 crustaceans, 3 benthic worms, 3 disease pathogens, 2 jellyfish, 2 insects, and 1 flatworm that have invaded the Great Lakes basin since 1830. Although the sea lamprey, purple loosestrife, and zebra mussel get publicity for parasitizing or crowding out native species, more than 90 percent of the newcomers have had no serious economic or ecological impact.

What’s the biggest problem for the 1.6 million new businesses started up in Poland during the last four years? According to UIC professor of marketing and entrepreneurship Gerald E. Hills, it’s–values. “They’ve spent the last 45 years being bombarded by communist propaganda against self-interest. It’s going to be a long time before most of the people of Poland are comfortable with capitalism’s differential rewards.”

Great new entertainment option! Live artists! Three dimensions! “What excites you most about a play?” asks New Plays! (Summer), newsletter of the Chicago Dramatists Workshop. “A sense of theatricality,” replies Organic Theater literary manager Sarah Tucker. “I get scripts that are very influenced by television, from writers who don’t understand the potential of the stage.”

“The pages of textbooks are a singular haven for the ideal social mix,” writes a bemused Sheri Reda in Conscious Choice (May/June). “The result is a strangely incorrect form of political correctness–a textbook world nearly devoid of…Italian grocers, Greek restaurant owners, Asian dry cleaners, female nurses, female homemakers, female secretaries, male WASP executives, male doctors, male construction workers, African-American caregivers, African-American athletes, African-American musicians, Polish cleaning women, Japanese gardeners, Korean store owners, Asian convenience store clerks, Middle Eastern cabbies.”

“Their argument goes: Women are being raped in Bosnia, so we must bomb the Serbian rapists back to their senses. Don’t they see the inherent contradiction in this policy?” asks Jon-Henri Damski in Windy City Times (May 13). “Rape is a political crime of asserting male power over female. But when we send our bombs over–bombs that are not smart enough to avoid hitting hospitals, schools, women and children–we collectively rape them….Bombing women and children in a distant land is a true and real exercise of presidential power. But putting women and gays into real jobs is ‘social experimentation.'”

I don’t get it–Bill Kurtis and Oprah aren’t strangers. Pediatrician Dr. Victor Strasburger on kids’ TV watching. “No parent in his or her right mind would allow a stranger into their house to teach their children for 3-5 hours per day.”

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