Dept. of understatement. Illinois EPA water-pollution-control manager James Park, commenting on the $30,000 fine levied on a fertilizer plant that contaminated ten miles of the Apple River in northwestern Illinois: “The beauty of Apple Creek State Park was spoiled that summer with thousands of dead fish floating in the river.”

Bad news, Luis: you’re too dependable. “Daley may have enough influence to create more Hispanic wards” in redistricting, writes David Fremon in the Chicago Reporter (April), but he “may not have the inclination to do so, said [political science professor Paul] Green of Governors State. ‘Harold Washington needed independent Hispanic allies to counter hostile white aldermen, but Daley has both whites and Hispanics in his pocket,’ Green said. ‘There is no need to rock the boats of (white) aldermen who have been proven allies.'”

Is that a threat or a promise? Roosevelt University president Theodore L. Gross to the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce (Renaissance, April 1): “Roosevelt University wants to do for Arlington Heights what Northwestern University did for Evanston.”

Seriously underemployed. The Metra newsletter On the (Bi)Level (April 19) reports this phone call from the morning of the rail-strike scare: “Hello, Metra.” “Should I be worried about tomorrow?” “I don’t know sir, what line do you ride?” “I don’t ride, but in case I wanted to ride I want to know if I should worry.”

“The risk to justice from pseudo-science is substantial,” said Chicago federal judge James Zagel in refusing to hear the testimony, not of an astrologer or a faith healer, but of an economist, who would have offered expert testimony in a personal-injury lawsuit (Business Week, April 22).

“Technology enables many people with disabilities to exercise more control over their own lives,” says Techtalk, the newsletter of the Illinois Assistive Technology Project (April). But “remember, a computer is not necessarily a part of every solution….Some of the most practical and satisfactory technology solutions are inexpensive, simple, low-tech adaptations and/or devices. Using a built-up handle on a spoon is often a more appropriate solution than an expensive electronic feeding system.”

“The national media have occasionally shown themselves willing to deal with the painful reality of abortion for women and the tragedy of unwanted children–but usually only when discussing abortion policies of foreign governments, in particular the policies of Eastern European countries under Communism,” writes Tiffany Devitt in Extra! (March/ April). “For example, Newsweek published an article titled ‘When Abortion Is Denied: What of the “Unwanted”?’ (8/22/88), discussing the consequences of Czechoslovakia’s ban on abortions. And the Washington Post ran a poignant article on restricted access to abortion in Romania (6/17/90). But the human consequences of restricting access to abortion in the U.S. seldom made news.”

Invisible. From Harper’s “Index” (April): “Number of walls the size of the Vietnam Memorial it would take to list all the Vietnamese who died in the war: 69.”

Clam chowder, for one. The U of I’s ORER Letter (winter 1991) quotes Jaromir Ryska, a Fulbright scholar from Prague: “Czechoslovakia is a small and unique country, slightly smaller than Illinois in area but with 4.5 million more inhabitants. It is not, contrary to what many Americans tend to think, indistinguishable from the other Eastern European countries. I’m not being critical; before I came to the U.S. I didn’t know that there were differences between Illinois and Massachusetts.”

No, but it makes a better target. “It would be absurd to deny the existence of real inequities in the art world’s representation of nonwhite artists,” writes Eleanor Heartney in the New Art Examiner (April). “But is the art world really the moral equivalent of David Duke’s Louisiana? Is it really as exclusionary as, say, the average corporate boardroom?”

“When I first got to Japan, I used to walk down the street and see Japanese point at me and hear them say in Japanese, ‘Look, a foreigner!'” says University of Chicago divinity professor Gary Ebersole (UC Chronicle, November 21, 1990). “Three years later, I heard the same thing one day and found myself looking around for the foreigner. That was my first realization that there could be something like an identity transformation.”

Women can’t be priests because Jesus chose only male disciples. Oh yeah? writes Julie Kelemen in The Critic (spring 1991): “Jesus also chose only Caucasian Jews to be apostles. Therefore, if we follow [this] line of reasoning, we can only conclude that all Black, Oriental, and Gentile priests have been ordained in error and must be removed immediately.”

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