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Animal wrongs. In a series of experiments lengthy and costly enough to make the pages of Successful Farming (March 1991), researchers at the DNX animal biology research center in Athens, Ohio, have injected DNA into 14,252 fertilized swine eggs in the last six years, seeking to produce a “better” market hog. “Out of these, only 86 (less than one percent) produced transgenic offspring, and of these 86, only 37 were functional,” according to a Successful Farming press release. The “functional” ones suffered from arthritis, diabetes, thinness, ulcers, sterility, and excessive hair growth (resembling “a cross between a pig and a woolly mammoth”). Facility director Carl Pinkert hopes for a breakthrough “in the next 10 years.” Meanwhile, it’s a hog’s life.

Friendly firing. Title from a recent book brochure: How to Fire Your Friends: A Win-Win Approach to Effective Termination.

Suburbia on 35th Street. Old Comiskey Park and its contemporary ballparks were shaped by their cities, writes Philip Bess in Inland Architect (September/October). But the new Comiskey “requires the city of Chicago to do all the adjusting; it is essentially anti-urban and does not accommodate city life. The stadium itself freely interrupts the existing city street grid, and its form is unaffected by the site, except for 35th Street….The bars, shops, restaurants, and other sorts of commercial street life that one would typically find around a traditional urban ballpark have been banished from the immediate vicinity of the new Comiskey Park; no pre- or post-game food and drink will be found, or allowed, within nearly half a mile of the stadium. The ballpark assuredly could have been, but is not, oriented to afford a view of Chicago’s world-famous skyline, and the ISFA [Illinois Sports Facilities Authority] and the White Sox have resisted efforts to preserve even the smallest fragment of the original Comiskey Park as an historic landmark. The new park might as well be where the White Sox originally wanted it–in suburban Addison.”

Intelligent buildings. The Bigelow Group, based in suburban Palatine, offers a three-year guarantee on its new energy-efficient houses, according to Business Week (September 16): “If a 2,500-square-foot, single-family home costs more than $200 a winter to heat in chilly Chicago, the builder will pay the excess. In eight years, Bigelow…has paid out just $390.”

“While conventional wisdom holds that Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy in 1954 by doing away with ‘separate but equal’ facilities, the Brown decision and others like it failed to repudiate one of the most important consequences of Plessy,” argues Steven Yates in a recent critique of affirmative action published by Chicago’s Heartland Institute: “the notion that the State may classify people on the basis of race when ‘reasonable.’…It matters little that today the goal is to achieve coerced politically correct ratios of African-Americans to whites in various institutions, whereas before it was to maintain coerced segregation; coercion is still coercion, and privilege is still privilege, regardless of the hopes of its advocates.”

You can run, but you can’t hide. According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s 1989-90 survey of high school teachers and students, “There was no statistically significant difference in robbery and attack rates for teachers across different community types…rural teachers in Illinois are about as likely as central-city teachers to be attacked or robbed…” (Trends and Issues 91).

Better than two a day, weekends included. Number of hazardous-material spills investigated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District last year: 782.

How bad were the 80s? Maybe worse than you thought. According to the Civic Federation (Chicagoland– Fiscal Perspective, 1980-1989), federal aid to Cook County “decreased from $20 million in 1982 to $678,000 in 1989. This is a 97 percent decrease.” Maybe the suburbanites who applauded Reagan’s domestic cuts will step up now and pay more taxes in the cause of local responsibility. Nah.

A nation of wimps. “We sit here in comfort handicapping Gorbachev and Yeltsin, while we have no one to compare in vision or courage to either one of them,” writes Michael Kinsley in the New Republic (September 16 & 23). “Mikhail Gorbachev is criticized for his inability to abandon fully a lifetime of Communist beliefs; George Bush has no beliefs serious enough to be worth abandoning. Boris Yeltsin faces down the Soviet army in the name of democracy; in America, where democracy is secure, the leading Democrats all shy away from facing down George Bush. Between them, Gorbachev and Yeltsin have taken on every institution of Soviet totalitarianism. In this country, no politician will even take on the American Association of Retired Persons.”

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