Caution: Attempting to understand the following sentence may lead to either dementia or the practice of postmodern architecture. Stanley Tigerman in Inland Architect (July/August): “Architects are popularly perceived as unexplainably arcane decorative artists with diminishing believability in inverse ratio to their ability to exploit academically derived use of jargon.”

Real disaster relief = let the levees stay broken. “When it rains on the prairies of central Illinois these days, much of the water drops upon hard surfaces–shingled roofs, asphalt roads and parking lots, concrete driveways, mayors’ heads. Thus diverted from the [absorbent] soil, this water moves instead to nearby streams via a network of pipes,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (July 15-21). “The inundation is swift and violent, as torrents of water slam into streams and rivers whose water-carrying capacity has been artificially reduced. (The diking and draining of floodplains in these parts–and the consequent narrowing of river channels–is done mainly to enable farmers to add to the world’s supplies of surplus grain.) The result? Smaller and smaller rainfalls create bigger and bigger floods, as water that used to diffuse itself over space is now concentrated by humans in time.”

Vocabulary watch. According to the Trust Quarterly (Spring), the child-welfare agency Kaleidoscope prefers to call its clients, not “troubled,” but “seriously emotionally unique.”

“Her brother tried to prove to her that she was wrong by tackling her from behind during the Thanksgiving holiday,” writes Tracy Teslow of a Chicago Police Academy student in Cross Streets (Spring). “Holding her pinned to the floor, he told her, ‘See, you can’t handle yourself against me. What are you going to do against a six-foot guy who comes after you with a gun in the middle of the night?’ ‘They’re going to teach me what I need to know in there, how to defend myself,’ she replied, picking herself up off the floor. He tackled her again over Christmas. This time, however, she reacted instinctively and took him down. ‘Now don’t mess with me,’ she warned him. Her brother doesn’t hassle her about her career choice anymore.”

How much is that in stamps? Cost per vote in the 1992 Fifth District Democratic Congressional primary, according to 1994 challenger Dick Simpson: Rostenkowski, $15.70. Simpson, $5.50.

Wanted: More tests. From the July school reform report from the Consortium on Chicago School Research: “Today, the CPS spends in excess of $5,000 per pupil per year. Its current primary quality control system, the information provided by the ITBS [Iowa Tests of Basic Skills], consumes about $3 per pupil per year to purchase and score. In a system seriously committed to improvement, this gross imbalance between service expenditure and quality control must be redressed.”

Don’t blame me. I voted Democratic–in 1980. “No one imagined how bad the outcome would be. It was really an unnecessary chapter. It got away from us. It would have been far better had it not happened”–David Stockman on Reaganomics and the resulting federal budget deficits, quoted in the New Yorker (July 19).

Governments R Us. Illinois Issues (July) reports that seven of the state’s top nine employers are public entities. In fact, more Illinoisans work for the federal government (105,700), including the postal service, than work for the state’s three largest private employers combined (101,400) –Jewel/Osco, Sears/Allstate, and Caterpillar.

“Since 1983, Chicago’s labor productivity growth has exceeded that of Japan,” writes Shirley Siluk in Chicago Enterprise (July/August), describing results from the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory headed by director Geoffrey Hewings and associate director Philip Israilevich. “The reason for this, Israilevich contends, is that while some manufacturers have shut down or moved out of town, those that have stayed in the Chicago area are ‘lean and mean’–the ones most likely to survive. That discovery runs contrary to what many economists believe about Chicago, Hewings says.”

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