By Harold Henderson

Press releases that caused us to buy a CTA pass. From secretary of state George Ryan: “Panel approves Ryan plan to identify unconscious drivers.”

Divorced? Lost your job? “I knew I had to do something,” says an unnamed interviewee in Cognition, magazine of the Church of Scientology of Illinois, “and I knew from previous experience that psychology and psychiatry were far too expensive and didn’t work anyway. I went to a local bookstore for an answer. There was a whole wall full of Dianetics books and I thought well, if there’s this big of a display there must be a reason so I bought it.”

My lawyer told the judge he had a passionate feeling that I had been wrongly charged, but he hadn’t formulated an argument or looked up any precedents. Student Lawyer (May) quotes local psychotherapist Benjamin Sells, author of The Soul of the Law: “Depression and various psychological disturbances are very high in law students — much higher than in the general population. There is a deadening of the aesthetic sense through law school training, a weakening of the ability to perceive beauty. My hypothesis is that there is this passionate, almost animal connection to the world through the senses that gets set aside and actually degraded by accentuating the logical mind.”

Oops! Your comment here. Percentage of U.S. pregnancies that are unintentional, according to a recent U.S. Institute of Medicine study calling for research and product-liability reform for new contraceptive methods: nearly 60.

Whiners. Businesses often complain that laws and regulations restricting pollution don’t work, that taxes and fees would do the same job more efficiently. But when government takes the more efficient route, does it get so much as a thank-you note? Not from the Chicago-based accounting and management consulting firm Grant Thornton. “Get ready for the latest trend in taxation: politically correct (P.C.) taxes,” sneers Debra Anderson in GT’s Tax & Business Adviser (May/June), warning corporate readers of state taxes and fees on solid-waste disposal, hazardous-waste disposal, hazardous materials, air emissions, litter, and other environmentally damaging products or activities.

Free lunch! Get yer free lunch here! According to David Moberg in In These Times (May 27), the Labor Party Advocates’ draft statement of principles includes “a constitutional right to a job at a living wage, an income stability fund to protect workers against job dislocation and downsizing, free higher education for all, assurance of basic social needs (single-payer health care, longer paid vacations, affordable day care) and”–to pay for it all?– “shorter work time.”

“I happen to have a traditional, one-man, one-woman family, and no one yet has shown me the risks that my family would allegedly face in the presence of same-sex marriage,” writes Topaz Munro in Illinois Politics (April). “What’s next, if gays are out? Interracial marriages? Interfaith marriages?

…As recently as 30 years ago, individual states still prohibited interracial marriages–using many of the same arguments that today are used to battle same-sex marriage.”

Things Republicans don’t want to know, gleaned from a recent news release from their sometime friends at the Cato Institute: “Eighty-five percent of the corporate welfare safety net survived the 1995 [congressional] budget process intact….Of the $19.5 billion budgeted for the 35 least defensible programs”–in which the authors include the Export-Import Bank, Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, and Army Corps of Engineers–“Congress cut just $2.8 billion in 1996.”

“Continued household exposure to ETS [environmental tobacco smoke, aka secondhand smoke] for asthmatic children despite physicians’ advice to the contrary may constitute neglect or abuse,” according to a literature review published in the journal Pediatrics (April). How solid is the connection between asthma and secondhand smoke? It “persists when controlled for age, allergy, breastfeeding, compliance with medications, crowding, day care and school attendance, education, ethnicity, family size, gas heating and cooking, gender, maternal age, maternal symptoms of depression, parental allergy, parental respiratory symptoms, prematurity, race, and socioeconomic status.”

Good news/bad news from Illinois Natural History Survey Reports (May/June): Out of 80 species of mussels once present in Illinois waters, only 59 have been seen since 1970, and 11 of those are each restricted to a single river system. Illinois River fish, on the other hand, are doing much better than in the 1960s, when pollution-tolerant carp dominated survey catches. Now clean-water species like bluegill dominate.

Arts advocates: The problem is not Newt, it’s your kids. According to a National Endowment for the Arts study described in the Washington Post National Weekly (May 20-26), adults born since 1945 are going out less–instead, they prefer “customizing their own artistic activity at home, through recordings, television, videos and the like….Young college-educated adults in 1992 were less likely to attend live arts performances than their counterparts in 1982.” Only jazz, art museums, and theater have avoided the decline.

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Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration by Karl Kock.