Dept. of things not likely to be mass produced. U. of C. biologist Michael Dickinson on the equipment he needs to study the physiology and aerodynamics of fly flight: “I can’t just call up Fisher Scientific and say ‘I would like to buy an automated flight simulator for tethered flies.'”

“Here’s the real deal killer,” writes Ed Zotti, explaining why the city has trouble marketing its vacant land to businesses (Chicago Enterprise, November): “Potential liability for environmental cleanup. The so-called Superfund Act of 1980 makes current and past owners of contaminated sites responsible for the cost of cleanup, even if the owners didn’t create the contamination themselves. The only way to avoid liability is to prove that you made all appropriate inquiries before buying the property and genuinely believed it was untainted–and the burden of proof rests with you, not the government. A city study of the Lake Calumet area found only one large site without major environmental problems and almost any older site in the city poses some risk.”

If you’re patient, sooner or later every possible opinion will land in your mailbox. David E. Eckmann in Modern Steel Construction (June): “Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, in addition to its reputation for handling prodigious amounts of traffic, has gained much repute of late for its beauty.”

Least likely to be embraced by the Chicago Teachers’ Union. UIC research professor of education Herbert J. Walberg recommends that schools allow class sizes to grow in order to pay for adding a month to the school year: “We’ve made a major investment in the United States in reducing class sizes because many people think that class size is a major ingredient, but research doesn’t support this view. So we’ve invested a lot of money in something that’s not as productive as the length of time in school.”

Our forgetful social critics. Marilyn French, The War Against Women, page 169, paragraph 3: “The more popular a medium the more it is subject to censorship–television, film, and glossy magazines are most censored.” Page 169, paragraph 4: “Filmmakers and book publishers are freest from interference.”

Quick now: are we in Arlington Heights or Mount Prospect? “While critics cannot find their way around [in the allegedly ‘placeless’ suburbs], the public has little difficulty differentiating between communities,” argue UIC professors Roberta Feldman and Martin Jaffe in Inland Architect (September/October). “Distinctions between communities are drawn not only by use of physical cues (the age of physical fabric in traditional versus newer communities, the size of the properties and dwellings, and landscape and house design) but also by interrelated social and economic attributes as well (the socio-economic status, race, and ethnicity of the residents). Common sense alone suggests that all suburbs are not the same.”

“Is it possible to have an NEA free of government intervention? asks Stan Edwards in a letter to New Art Examiner (November). “Given that the NEA is in fact a government agency, I think not. The question to artists is: Do you really want a government agency with a lot of cultural clout mucking around in your profession regardless of who’s in charge of it? Censorship or attempts at it will always be with us in one form or another, it’s encouraged by government funding simply because you’ll never get people to agree about art.”

Things they don’t put in the brochures for tourists. According to the Art Institute’s News & Events (November-December), the institute’s Michigan Avenue lobby is now open “exclusively to members” for ten minutes before the museum opens to the public.

Pope Joe? “Vatican watchers, who find clues under every mitre, occasionally speculate that Bernardin is a papabile–one who could be pope. Therationale runs this way: We elected the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI (1522-23) and the youngest in a century. We made a Big Mistake; John Paul II is a finger-wagger, not nuanced enough. But we can’t get a native Italian in for a while, so let’s look at Bernardin, an Italian-American with sensitive nerve endings and Italian blood. Bernardin just smiles faintly at such blather. ‘I don’t even speak Italian,’ he responds”–Tim Unsworth in the Critic (Fall).

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