“Less than a third of Illinois’ eighth graders are being taught math by teachers who have even an undergraduate major in the subject,” notes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (August 1-7). “Parents wouldn’t dream of sending their children to a plumber to have their teeth filled but they willingly send them to English majors to learn their fractions.”

Now they tell us. The nuclear-power-industry trade association, the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness, arguing recently for streamlining nuclear-power-plant licensing procedures: “The old two-step system for licensing nuclear power plants [one license for construction, another for operation] was appropriate for plants built in the 1970s and 1980s. It is no longer appropriate for plants that will be built in the future, because of fundamental changes in industry practice. In the past, utilities received construction permits based on preliminary, conceptual designs; design details were not known and as a result, questions about plant safety could not be resolved until the plant was built. In the future, nuclear power plants will be fully designed before construction begins.”

Gee, as long as they don’t have majority rule…Laurel Ross in Compass (May), newsletter of the Chicago Audubon Society: “According to local insect guru Ron Panzer, of the approximately 5,000 animals native to midwest prairies and savannas, only about 150 are even vertebrates; the vast majority are lowly invertebrates–moths, worms and bugs!”

When college was a seller’s market. ETS Developments (Volume 36, Number 2) quotes psychological measurement pioneer John Stalnaker, who applied for admission to the University of Chicago in the early 1920s: “This was before the days of polished admissions directors. The admissions director looked at me and said, ‘What right do you have to think you can get into the University of Chicago?’ But finally, after some fussing around, she said, ‘We’ll admit you, but I want to warn you in advance that you probably will be dismissed after one quarter.’ ” (He got straight As.)

The good news is the bad news is no worse than it was two generations ago. According to a study published in Pediatrics (July), “The prevalence of sexual abuse as determined by adult questionnaires or interviews appears to have remained steady at about 12 percent for females over the past four decades.” The apparent recent increase may be due to increased reporting.

A rallying cry for Catholic conservatives–or is it radicals? The Critic (Summer) quotes the late John L. McKenzie’s 1986 book The Civilization of Christianity: “Insofar as the Roman Catholic Church has become identified with the fabric of western civilization it will perish with that civilization; and it worries me that its saints and scholars (I could be wrong here) have not been seriously concerned with how closely the Church has become identified with this civilization, which they should be able to recognize as the Anti-Christ.”

High hopes. Richard Frisbie, in the Uncommentator (July), on a big New York bank’s marketing strategy he read about a few years ago: “What it came down to, with the MBA verbiage boiled off, was that they cherished hopes not only of becoming less hated, but perhaps even achieving the status of the least hated bank in town. Their aspirations despite all odds were touching. I did what I could to help. There was no suggestion that any customers might actually feel friendly toward a bank.”

More, I want more! “Two years ago, Roberta Feldman, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, interviewed 75 residents of middle- to upper-income suburbs about their attitudes toward their property,” writes Ruth Knack in Planning (August). “Their answers, she says, made it clear that…one indicator of status for that group was lot size. Feldman notes that all the respondents said they wanted even bigger lots–no matter how much land they owned.”

Paragraph we read over and over, from a press release touting the International Directory of Pageants: “This is the most singular reference work within the Pageant industry. The Directory lists for $50.00 and has only been available directly from the publisher. Now that the industry is saturated with and has accepted this publication, its distribution is being extended to the general public through other sources.”

Dept. of architectural ironies, from the U. of C.’s Martin Marty, speaking in June at a Chicago conference on religious-property stewardship: “One cannot help but note with regret that the only places worth restoring are in locales where it is financially difficult to do so, and that where it is fiscally feasible to build new ones, congregations tend to favor structures that will not be worth preserving or restoring some day!”