Yes, but is it OK if I fantasize about Pat Buchanan? According to the Harper’s “Index” (August), “Percentage of Americans describing themselves as ‘ultra-liberal’ who consider S&M ‘an acceptable sexual practice’: 6. Percentage of Americans describing themselves as ‘ultra-conservative’ who say this: 18.”

“Despite declining population, local leaders appear to be running a treadmill, losing sound, affordable [housing] units faster than they can be replaced,” writes Doris B. Holleb in the new book Affordable Housing and Public Policy: Strategies for Metropolitan Chicago. “The number of poor persons needing housing assistance is totally incommensurate with the scale of current programs. By 1990, after more than a quarter of a century of varied public and private housing programs, the total volume of assisted units available in the city of Chicago amounted to well under 80,000 units,” compared to more than 600,000 people in poverty.

Absentee parenting doesn’t work, even for ninth graders, according to survey results published in Pediatrics (July) and coauthored by UIC’s Brian Flay. “Our results demonstrate a relationship between lack of supervised care after school and susceptibility to cigarette use, alcohol use, marijuana use, depressed mood, risk taking, and academic grades…. Adolescents who spend time after school without an adult present are at higher risk of engaging in problem behavior, and these behaviors increase as parental knowledge of the adolescents’ whereabouts decreases….The more hours per week the adolescent remains unsupervised, the greater the risk of problem behavior.”

Sounds like President Bill to me. A preliminary computer simulation by U. of I. researchers suggests that “the best strategy in chaotic situations of any kind”–stock markets, courtship, politics–“is to be neither completely orderly nor totally unpredictable…. A competitor who imposes a weakly chaotic dynamic on the chaotic environment stays leader for the longest period of time.”

“When we discussed cultural and racial diversity, it was evident how my students’ white, middle-class values, attitudes and beliefs shaped their understanding of the African-American students they would be teaching,” writes University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee education professor Beverly E. Cross in In These Times (July 12). “They often assumed that African-American parents ‘don’t care about their children,’ ‘are all on welfare by choice,’ and ‘are not interested in being involved in their children’s education.’ Even after completing 50 hours of field experience in schools with diverse student populations and seeing many parents entering and exiting the school daily, many of my students still believed that the parents they had observed were an anomaly. They held fast to their preconceived judgments.”

Did the 60s die when nonviolence died? That’s the suspicion of Staughton Lynd, reviewing Greg Calvert’s new book Democracy From the Heart in the Hyde-Park-based Midwest Pacifist Commentator (May 29): “The chapter on SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] raises the profound question as to why the Movement (including SNCC) tore itself to pieces, and whether this disintegration may not have had something to do with a loss of genuine, inner faith in nonviolence…. I believe that 90% of the Movement’s defeats resulted not from external obstacles or government repression, but from the deep inability of Movement participants to behave like brothers and sisters toward each other.”

“If the entire fundamentalist membership heeded the call from their pulpits and handlers, we’d hardly have a library or a school program left,” writes downstate author Richard Peck in Illinois Issues (July). Fundamentalists who do act “tend to have children either just entering school or trembling on the brink of puberty, two moments when parents fear a sudden loss of control. Book censorship isn’t about books; it comes of redirected parental fear.” Warming to his topic, Peck makes sure to offend everyone: “Speakers at the annual convention of the National Council of Teachers of English are sternly warned in writing to eschew all sexist grammatical constructions, while the English-teaching establishment might better implement plans to teach the rudiments of language to their students and to ban the phrase ‘you know’ from all classrooms. But adults of all viewpoints now find it easier to bully each other than to challenge their own children.”

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