What we learn from Atari games, from a recent release: “Wanna be a cop? Try A.P.B., the game where the more donuts you eat, the better your chances are to nail your quota of bad guys.”

Signs of intelligent life in the cemeteries? Biologist Lawrence Slobodkin in a forthcoming book (Harvard University Press catalog, Spring): “If it were necessary, for some curious legal reason, to draw a clear line between human and nonhuman–for example, if a group of australopithecines were to appear and one had to decide if they were to be protected by Fair Employment Laws or by the ASPCA–I would welcome them as humans if I knew that they were seriously concerned about how to bury their dead.”

“Both city and county officials consider it one of their main tools for creating affordable housing in the city”–but according to Luis M. Corral in Chicago Enterprise (December), the Tax Reactivation Program has “failed by most standards.ÉNonprofit housing developers liked the plan because they could acquire tax-delinquent properties–for free–if they could prove they could renovate the buildings and keep them affordable to low- to moderate-income people for seven years.É [But] of the 88 residential properties that went through the 1987 tax sale, CE found that 66 of the properties (or 75 percent) still sit vacant and dilapidated–a scourge on the communities they were supposed to help.”

“It’s nice to make a living in the field that you’ve chosen,” says screenwriter Stephen La Rocque in Strong Coffee (January), “and it beats other things. But it’s tough. It makes you feel like being pregnant all your life.”

Joe’s Bar & Grill will be glad to hear this. Writing in Chicago Office 1991, published by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago, attorneys Elizabeth Gracie and Kevin O’Keefe say the city’s high taxes on business are offset by tax incentives. “Ad hoc negotiations with local and, in some cases, state authorities may…[expand] incentives which already exist but do not quite fit a proposed project….The size of the proposed venture, the number of employees involved, and similar considerations may have a significant impact on the incentives….This was seen in the incentives negotiated with Sears [in its move to Hoffman Estates]…as well as in the incentives negotiated by United Airlines for land in Chicago near O’Hare Airport for a reservation center….In addition to the specific statutory programs discussed above, a business should be prepared to seek the maximum in incentives even if entirely new legislation would be required. The hallmark of successful incentive packages for major projects is intense and creative negotiation.” Spelled c-l-o-u-t.

“Somewhere, sometime, someone has to stand up and say, Don’t rally around the flag. It is soaked in the blood of innocent people,” such as the tens of thousands of postwar casualties in Iraq, writes Stephen Slade in War Watch (November-December). “It is being used to cover our eyes to real needs and real threats. Someone has to say that the U.S. doesn’t need to fight wars any more than Japan and Germany do….The real threat is not Iraq. It is another war.”

So we get a lot of colds–at least we have high self-esteem. Eighty-one percent of U.S. consumers in a recent Gallup poll said they were “extremely or somewhat confident” about how to treat colds and flu, yet 60 percent believed antibiotics will help cure the flu, 87 percent thought you can catch a cold by kissing, and 62 percent thought inadequate dressing in cold weather causes colds and flu–all false. (What you should beware of are sneezing, coughing, and hand contact.)

Why Illinois often seems to have only three or four legislators. According to Kent Redfield in Illinois Issues (December), the four state legislative leaders–Michael Madigan, Lee Daniels, Philip Rock, and “Pate” Philip–raised more than $7.1 million for campaigns in 1990, up from an estimated $3.3 million in 1984. “A legislature populated by members who independently control their own elections is a legislature of free agents. Members who get elected and reelected with substantial help from their legislative leaders tend to be more easily led than those who do not.”

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