Ex-Lax for the mind. From a new-age diet book quoted in Conscious Choice (Summer): “Holding onto thoughts is mental constipation. It usually is accompanied by intestinal constipation, because an excess of energy is in the brain. This creates a deficiency in the colon, so there is less activity taking place in the colon.”

Dept. of low expectations. From an official description of Secretary of State George Ryan’s summer reading program: “In July, kids are encouraged to read newspaper headlines, cereal boxes, and signs…”

“You may ask why the business community fights family leave [legislation] with such intensity,” writes Grace Kaminkowitz in Today’s Chicago Woman (May). “Officially, it claims leaves would impose a terrible burden on businesses, causing small and marginal companies to go broke…Hogwash! We learned during the Gulf War that businesses did survive leaves of absence. Some reservists were away seven months, way longer than any proposed family leave. Businesses coped with absent reservists because the government said they had to cope.”

“Uptown Baptist is a model for urban ministry throughout its Southern Baptist denomination,” says Inspired Partnerships in its recent report, Good Space and Good Work. “To accomplish its dynamic and extensive community service programs, it uses several methods to raise funds.” One is renting the space to small congregations: “Spanish ($85 per month), Cambodian ($85), Korean ($100), Russian ($50-75, depending on the offering), Vietnamese ($100), and African Christian ($85).”

“As with any other motor vehicle, the limo has revealed more than a few flaws since delivery, from both a design and a maintenance standpoint,” writes Chicago heiress Abra Prentice Wilkin in Town & Country (May). “For example, in order to turn on the AM/FM/cassette player or to reach the ice bin, both located far ahead on either side of the car, one must catapult forward into a spread-eagle kneeling position. This is not ladylike. Furthermore, the VCR picture is fuzzy, the remote zaps wrong and the drink holders have long since snapped off.ÉOnly two of the original dozen Baccarat glasses remain chipless, and the expense of replacing them has forced me to opt for the lower-priced, first-marriage Tiffany Swag pattern.”

“Hospital Union Blitz” is what the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, an employers’ group, unenthusiastically predicts in its Update (May/June), following an April 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling defining standard bargaining units for hospitals. “Chicago currently ranks very low among major metropolitan areas in the number of unionized, private-sector hospitals.” Hospital unions have reportedly won only six of 25 representation elections here since 1974.

Dictators at home. Richard Ned Lebow reviews the last volume of Khrushchev’s memoirs in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May): “At dinner parties [Stalin] would routinely get drunk and fling food at his guests. Terrified, they would sit, dripping vegetables and sauce, pretending that nothing had happened.”

Maggie Thatcher all over again. “When women first attended law school in large numbers, many asserted they would ‘feminize’ law, creating a kinder, gentler profession because they were less vicious, insensitive, and money-oriented than men,” writes David S. Machlowitz in Student Lawyer (May). “Instead, law appears to have ‘masculinized’ many women; I no longer hear men suggest that women cannot be top litigators or dealmakers, but I do hear many women echo the lament…that despite the ideals of feminism, women can envy, backstab, and cheat other women with a vengeance.”

Big wheels. Number of public parking lots and garages between Division and Roosevelt, and Halsted and the Lake: 316. Number that offer bicycle parking: 10 (Downtown Research Corporation, 1991 Downtown Chicago Parking Survey).

“Multi-cultural means ‘THIS and… (other)’ for most cultural institutions,” writes Maria Benfield in Video (July/August), published by the Center for New Television on North Dayton. “As a Latina woman in recovery from assimilation, my emphasis is firmly on the rich complexity and wide variety of ‘other.’ (Of course, easier said than done, for as all of us recovering assimilateds know, we have sucked it up like sponges and are gonna be squeezing it out forever.)”

The last word on William Bennett, from U. of C. humanities professor Stuart Tave in the University of Chicago Record (May 30): “The man has a special gift, difficult to describe, a kind of negative charisma, an ability to give a bad name to eternal truths.”

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