The counties with the largest proportion of bicycle commuters in Illinois are downstate college counties, according to Transportation Facts (August). Fully 2.12 percent of workers in Jackson County (home of Southern Illinois University) and 1.84 percent in Champaign County (University of Illinois) stated on the 1990 census that they biked to work. Likewise with the counties showing the largest share of pedestrian commuters: 13.7 percent in McDonough (Western Illinois University), 11.5 in Jackson, 11.4 in Champaign, 10 in DeKalb (Northern Illinois University), 9.7 in Coles (Eastern Illinois University), and 9.2 in McLean (Illinois State University). In Chicago 0.3 percent of commuters bike and 6.4 percent walk.

Moooo! “Freedom is not empowerment,” according to P.J. O’Rourke in Cato Policy Report (July/August). “Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It’s not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights–the ‘right’ to education, the ‘right’ to health care, the ‘right’ to food and housing. That’s not freedom; that’s dependence. Those aren’t rights; those are rations of slavery–hay and a barn for human cattle.”

“We have to catch the boys early if we want to succeed,” says Barney Berlin, director of Loyola University’s Project Upward Bound, a precollege program for minority high schoolers. “When we started the program 25 years ago, there was a 2:1 male/female ratio; today, it’s just the opposite.”

Speaking of disadvantaged minorities…”You also have mothers who choose to stay at home,” says Bernice Weissbourd in Today’s Chicago Woman (August). “I heard somebody ask a woman at a party what she did. She said she’s home with three children under the age of four and the comment was ‘Oh really? What else do you do?’ The value of being a parent has really declined. What that then means is that parents don’t get the support they need to raise children the way they want to raise them.”

“There should be nothing surprising about the failure of the safe sex message among those who need it the most,” writes Malcolm Gladwell in the New Republic (June 21). “When it comes to personal risk reduction, there is a growing divide along the lines of income and education. There is a class of Americans who eat well, see their doctors regularly and attend aerobics classes. And there’s a class for whom these things make little or no sense. Somehow we have expected AIDS to be different. Condoms have been promoted as the principal agent of prevention on the blithe assumption that those who live in poverty, whose self-esteem and personal prospects are dismal, who lack the skills to communicate, who do drugs and take other risks in their daily lives will strap one on as readily as suburban couples. They haven’t done it in the past. And, after a decade of tireless condom promotion, there is no evidence that they are doing it in any great numbers now.”

“One of the rules is that you can’t blame anyone for anything,” complains exurban Boone County school principal Richard Smelter in the Illinois School Board Journal (July-August). “It is socially unacceptable to make people feel uncomfortable in any way….Thus, the broad brush of reform is applied to every school in Illinois, not just those that are plagued by high truancy and drop-out rates and poor academic performance…. Someone suggested to me recently that schools with high IGAP scores ought to be exempt from further state goal/objective scrutiny, as it would be difficult for students to score well on the IGAP without their teachers having addressed the goals and objectives emphasized therein. I responded that this would never come to pass as it made too much sense.” OK if Chicago gets the extra money, then?

Gay-bashing Bible thumpers get thumped by their favorite book, in U. of C. church historian Martin Marty’s newsletter Context (June 15). Marty quotes Charles Ehrhardt (Monday Morning, April 19), who points out that the New Testament speaks far more often and more clearly against divorce than against homosexuality. Ehrhardt accordingly asks, “Should not all who take the New Testament seriously…use every available resource to remove divorced persons from the positions of honor, esteem, and influence to which they have been mistakenly and sinfully installed?”

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