Budding herpetologists take note. On a recent field trip to Spears Woods in the south suburban Palos area, a group of grade-school children found an unusual creature: a Graham’s crayfish snake. Asked how they could have found the rare prairie-wetland snake, the Chicago Herpetological Society’s Ken Mierzwa said, “Because kids are low to the ground and because they look in stupid places.”

“If every fetus is a fully human being, a woman who procures an abortion is exactly like someone who hires a gunman to murder her child,” writes Michael Kinsley in the New Republic (July 15 and 22). Of course, Kinsley knows that “even abortion’s strongest opponents turn logical somersaults to avoid punishing women abortion customers. What this reveals is that they don’t really think abortion is the equivalent of murder….If abortion opponents would abandon their false claim to moral clarity, we could have a useful debate about what reasons for abortion are better than others and when in its development the fetus acquires claims that can override the various reasons a woman might have for wishing to terminate her pregnancy. But abandoning abortion-is-baby-killing would mean giving up the best weapon in the propaganda battle. And admitting that the moral issue is inherently muddled might dangerously incline an honest person to the pro-choicers’ conclusion: that, in most circumstances at least, the decision should be left to the woman who has to live with the consequences.”

“This is the Reagan-Bush trickle-down budget,” says Democratic state senator Alice Palmer (Chicago) of Governor Edgar’s state spending plan. “The governor seems more concerned about asphalt and property taxes in the suburbs than he is about the people. He runs the state as if he is a county road commissioner…”

“Undeniably, the development of skyscrapers in Chicago was driven by non-rational considerations, rather than the practical business concerns traditionally supposed,” writes Gary M. Rahl of Harvard University in “The Skyscraper and the Space Program,” published in the Weaver (Spring). Rahl’s argument is that early skyscraper building drew on the “myth of material opportunity.” By contrast, he writes the space program is in trouble now because “modern America is demythologized,” adding that “it remains ambiguous whether a new mythology can be invented.” He laments that “the chore for any future mythology has been made more difficult precisely because it must establish consistency among the individual, national, and global mythological environments. Future space policy, therefore, should seek to provide a bridge between national and global mythologies.” Either that, or try to deliver more and better results for less money.

A travel alternative for the state with two capitals is the state government’s new $500,000 “videoconferencing” link between Springfield and Chicago. “We use the videoconference system for two hours every Friday morning for management staff meetings,” Tom Green, public information officer for the Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, tells the Comptroller’s Monthly Fiscal Report (June). “Our travel expenses have dropped by about $1,000 a week.”

In the eye of the beholder. According to the Appraisal Institute on North Michigan, “With the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and the lifting of the Iron Curtain, an untapped real estate market has been opened to the world.”

Thoughts of a court watcher, from Citizens Look at Their Courts 1990: “It’s hard for a lay person to evaluate the necessity of continuances in felony court, particularly when reasons are never given. However, when so much is put over, it would seem logical to expect that every once in a while there would be a day when many cases are disposed of. I have never seen this happen.”

Fifty-eight: Percentage of people–according to Franklin’s Social Ticker (July 15)–who say they cannot name a single company they consider “environmentally conscious.”

Does George have the guts? The Great Lakes Reporter (May/June) says that, in the right hands, a Canada-U.S.-Mexico free-trade zone could be good for the Great Lakes, which are suffering from airborne DDT pollution, even though the pesticide has long been outlawed in this country. Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that it is being carried north from Mexico, where it is still legal, and deposited in our freshwater seas. “Such a pact,” writes Paul Botts, “could be a crucial step in addressing one key threat to the health of the Lakes–but only if the governments see the opportunity and seize it.”

Try beating these odds. Campaign funds raised by U.S. House seat challengers and incumbents, in 1980: $36.5 million versus $72 million. In 1990: $37.5 million versus $181 million (Common Cause).

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