Dept. of overdeveloped ethics. “Growing food is one of those areas where, at present, our moral intentions are ahead of our practical abilities,” writes Jean Blackwood in the Animals’ Agenda (January/February). “When I’m poisoning squash bugs and harmless bystanders, blasting aphids with insecticidal soap, or stomping blister beetles by the hundreds, I don’t feel like a very authentic animal rights person…. There is no kind way to kill. There are no shelters for unwanted blister beetles.”

The summer camp from hell. From a recent press release: “Can freedom of expression go too far? What limits guide the police? Should the state interfere in privacy issues? If those subjects interest you, and you have completed any grades from 9 through 12, you may want to attend Northern Illinois University’s summer Law Camp July 26-31.”

“If [city planning commissioner Valerie] Jarrett is willing to be open, we’re on the brink of a wonderful new era,” Jackie Leavy of the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group tells David Moberg in The Neighborhood Works (April-May), commenting on the decision to divide the city into seven “neighborhood planning districts.” But “if they’re going to repeat the mistakes of the past and do it top-down rather than honor planning from the bottom up, I don’t expect it to go very far. There’s a philosophical issue: Is the city writing plans for the neighborhoods or is the city supporting the neighborhoods writing plans?”

Is it my imagination, or do antiques keep getting younger? From a Lincoln Park Zoo press release: “The Sea Lion Pool, built in 1971, is antique by contemporary standards…”

“Would term limits return the citizen [politician] to the legislature?” Not likely, writes Sangamon State University political scientist David Everson in Illinois Issues (April). “The career of the average state legislator today is about 10 years….In a legislature with term limits professional politicians would continue to predominate, but they would be even more fixated on higher office because of their inability to plan a long career in the General Assembly. The only sure way to get back to a citizen legislature is to mandate a return to biennial sessions and reduce the incentives for full-time politicians by cutting legislative pay, benefits, and resources.”

Gender calls the shots. “There’s basketball, and then there’s women’s basketball; there’s the top coach and the top coach in women’s basketball,” says Southern Illinois University sports sociologist Elaine M. Blinde, following a study of 16 televised play-by-play accounts of basketball games from1988 to 1990. “Announcers never say, ‘And now the men’s basketball scores.’ If they say basketball scores, you know it’s men’s.”

Why we now have national health care, ample funding for mass transit, and a federal full-employment program. Economist Dwight Lee, in a pamphlet published by the Saint Louis-based Center for the Study of American Business: “The longer a representative stays in Congress, the longer he or she is exposed to arguments that overwhelmingly favor increases in government spending. From a recent study of 14 hearings before different committees of the U.S. House and Senate, political scientist James Payne found that for every witness who appeared before a committee to oppose a spending proposal, there were 145 who appeared to argue for the proposal. Furthermore, according to congressional aides, the pro-spending bias is equally as strong in the phone calls and correspondence received by congressional representatives.”

The Chicago School for Delinquents: Lock ’em up. From testimony before the Chicago Bar Association’s Justice for Youth Campaign: “Chicago maintains a capacity of 435 beds in secure detention for youth, compared with 235 for New York and 25 for Boston. Many non-violent juvenile offenders are held in detention.”

Who ordered this trolley? Not me. Metra chairman Jeffrey Ladd on the supposition that rail commuters into the Loop would use the proposed downtown circulator: “Our people are not going to use it. The figures I’ve seen are clearly exaggerated…. Our people just walk” (WBEZ, May 13).

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