Next week I’ll be defending my doctoral thesis down at Willie’s Pool Hall. According to a recent press release, U. of I. chemistry professor Peter G. Wolynes “likens a chemical reaction to a pool table shaped like a figure 8. The molecules in the reaction can be compared to pool balls that bounce off the walls of one circle of the table until they can travel to the other circle. The problem puzzling chemists for decades is how the pool balls travel through the bottleneck at the middle of the figure 8.”

What is Governor Edgar up to with his welfare-bashing budget? Don Sevener of the Illinois Times (March 14-20) talked to the man who ran Governor Thompson’s budget office, who noted that (1) state revenues, are strong and (2) state spending is not being cut, but rather being reallocated to pay bills more promptly. “So what’s the point?” asks Sevener. “If revenues are strong and spending won’t really be cut, why the crisis atmosphere? The answer, it seems, is that Edgar needs a crisis if he’s going to stand a chance of shifting priorities enough to put his own stamp on state government. He doesn’t have enough money to fund Jim Edgar’s programs, Jim Thompson’s programs, and keep his word to avoid new taxes….It has been so long since Illinois has had a new governor that it’s easy to forget that every governor starts out with lean spending plans so he can afford to loosen the spending reins as time for reelection approaches.” That should reassure the people in the shelters.

Save the cucumbers! “People who are concerned about plant life should become at least vegetarians,” advises the Farm Animal Reform Movement. “This way they will consume only a small fraction of plants that must be fed to livestock to yield an equivalent amount of animal food.” Er–“at least–vegetarians?

“The real public servants are not the politicians,” writes Shel Trapp in Disclosure (January-February). “The real public servants are the members of community organizations … [who] don’t get paid for all the hours of work and meetings that they give to the community through the life of the organization. One local organization that we know of kept track for one month of the number of people at their meetings and the length of time of each meeting–and then multiplied the total man-and-woman hours by the minimum wage. They discovered that their membership had donated over $7,000 in time for that month.”

And which precinct did they vote in? The state Department of Professional Regulation recently fined three Chicago funeral directors and one from Oak Park for paying Chicago police officers to deliver bodies to their business establishments.

Everything Frank Lloyd Wright ever hated seems to be embodied in Midwest Living magazine’s “1991 Idea Home” in Saint Charles–a “heartland Gothic” concoction, with “a two-story turret on the facade, expansive wooden front porch and finely detailed Gothic arches near the entrance….To emphasize the home’s Midwestern flavor, only Midwestern artisans were used to decorate it.”

Janitors wanted. Helen Lambin of Chicago to U.S. Catholic (April 1991): “What many women of my acquaintance worry about is not so much that women will never be ordained. Eventually, they very likely will be. Instead, they worry that the Church will wait until it finds itself in a complete shambles and then say: ‘How ever did this get in such a mess? Why don’t you come on in and help us clean it up?’ And you know what–we probably will.”

Is modesty the best policy? From a research summary in the Spencer Foundation, Newsletter (March 1991): “Of the sixty-six professional men and women studied, more than one-third of the women attributed the history of their professional growth to luck, accidents, or other kinds of inadvertent events, whereas all the men and the remaining women reconstructed their professional development in purposeful and deliberate ways.”

Great issues as framed by the Publicity Club of Chicago: “Is recycling here to stay or is it another ingenious public relations spoof?”

(Not) keeping Richie honest. If there had been a mayoral debate, someone could have publicly torpedoed the mayor’s favorite number–the alleged 200,000 jobs to be generated by the Lake Calumet Airport. According to “Proposed Lake Calumet Airport: A Review of the Issues,” a study prepared by William Howard of UIC’s Center for Urban Economic Development for the Southeast Chicago Development Commission, the city mysteriously assumes that the proposed airport would have twice the multiplier effect of any other airport recently built in the U.S. In other words, 110,000 jobs is a more reasonable estimate.

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