“There are three reasons why bicycles can provide greater relief from auto pollution than almost any other transport option,” according to Mike Erickson in the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation News (June): “(1) they mostly replace short [car] trips which can produce up to three times more pollutants per mile than long trips, (2) their peak usage coincides with the ground level ozone season thereby providing relief when most needed, and (3) by substituting for autos they reduce congestion and improve the performance of other road users. Basically, the bike can remove entire automobiles from the roadway while replacing oil and gas combustion with solar and human power.”

Dept. of unfortunate comparisons. From the Summer 1991 compilation of books in print by members of the Midwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (39 authors, 57 books, including The Case of the Haunted Health Club): “The variety is as endless as stalks of corn in an Iowa summer…”

Words we wish we had written before the Soviet coup. Editor Michael Davis in Perspectives on the Professions (August), published at IIT: “Power did not grow out of the barrel of a gun. The guns were in fact powerless. Those with the guns–and the schools, patronage jobs, television stations, and all the other ‘levers of power’–lost to those who had little more than courage and good reasons. This was a year to remind us that, in the long run at least, we can learn from our mistakes and, having learned, act accordingly. History is not a rolling prison.”

Annual gun injuries at Children’s Memorial Hospital: In 1980–4. In 1985–9. In 1989–27 (Ounce of Prevention Fund Quarterly, Summer).

“Hiring at Commonwealth Edison Co. falls short of reflecting Chicago’s minority work force,” writes Ted Pearson in the Chicago Reporter (July/August). “African Americans, by far the largest group of minority workers, are 33.6 percent of the city’s work force, but only 22.7 percent of the workers at Edison’s Chicago facilities. Latinos, who are 13.2 percent of workers throughout Chicago, are 9.4 percent of Edison’s Chicago workers. Other minorities, mostly Asian Americans, make up 3.2 percent of the Chicago work force, and 1.7 percent at Edison.” Similar figures apply for Cook County as a whole, where the work force is one-third minority; nevertheless “Edison’s county work force of 7,435 is 27 percent minority.”

“We understood in the ’60s that we were taking a risk,” says politically incorrect feminist Camille Paglia in the San Francisco Examiner’s Image magazine (July 7). “Today these young women want the freedoms that we won, but they don’t want to acknowledge the risk…. These girls say, ‘Well, I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy’s room without anything happening.’ And I say, ‘Oh, really? And when you drive your car to New York City, do you leave your keys on the hood?’ My point is that if your car is stolen after you do something like that, yes, the police should pursue the thief and he should be punished. But at the same time, the police–and I–have the right to say to you, ‘You stupid idiot, what the hell were you thinking?'”

Closing in on ten cents a word. The Dartnell Corporation’s Institute of Business Research on North Ravenswood reports that a one-page, 185-word business letter cost 30 cents in 1930, $1.83 in 1960, $6.07 in 1980, and (depending on dictation and typing methods) between $11.77 and $17.71 in 1991.

Foreign species. Brookfield Zoo curator of marine mammals Ed Krajniak on acquiring two walruses from the Moscow Zoo in March: “They only ‘spoke’ Russian. When we wanted to have them stop I’d say ‘No, no, don’t do that.’ But I really had to say ‘Nyet, nyet!’ It took a little getting used to that” (Brookfield Zoo Preview, Autumn).

Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, the Great Lakes, Independence Hall: which isn’t part of the National Park System? Of course, it’s the Great Lakes–but in a recent poll, almost one-third of those questioned incorrectly picked one of the other four. Maybe they felt that more of the lakes should be protected: there are only five national parks or lakeshores on the Great Lakes, and only one of them–Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore–is at all close to populated areas.

In trying to sell the safety of a final resting place for high-level nuclear waste, the trade magazine Nuclear Industry says, “The first step is to make sure the public understands that there’s no such thing as 100 percent scientific proof. Asking geophysical models to predict the detailed structure and behavior of a site over thousands of years is scientifically unsound.” Hmmm–therefore, the only logical thing is to bury lots of plutonium there and cross our fingers, right?

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