Don’t let your laptop fall in there. According to a Chicago firm offering a document shredder, “Unlike desktop shredders, the Kwik Shred machines can destroy staples, paper clips, rubber bands–even computer disks and tapes, off-specification packaging materials and confidential product prototypes.”

“The phrase ‘helping professionals’ is an oxymoron and misleading,” writes Billy Golfus in the Alternative Press Review (Fall), reprinted from Mouth. “Big John McKnight at Northwestern University points out that the word ‘care’ gets commandeered by everybody including Medicare. ‘You know and I know that Medicare doesn’t care,’ McKnight says. ‘Care is always voluntary. You can’t buy it, you can’t manufacture it or produce it,’ Professor McKnight reminds us. Sometimes hookers or Do-Gooders will fake it, if you pay them good. I forget, is it in hospitals or with hookers where you’re supposed to put the money on the bed?”

Aside from the occasional carnivorous shrub. How to control crime in parks? In a recent press release the International Society of Arboriculture, based in downstate Savoy, quotes one of seven suggestions from a recent study: “Remember, the wholesale removal of vegetation is unnecessary. Vegetation is rarely the sole cause of crime.”

“The all-too-familiar view that welfare is the cause of illegitimacy among black women does not stand up,” writes Frances Fox Piven in the Progressive (February). “The non-marital birth rates of black women have not changed in two decades. What has changed is that marital birth rates have declined. Furthermore, birth rates, which are about the same for welfare families as other families, are higher in states where benefits are low, and lower in states where benefits are high. Those are the facts, though the talk of wanton women is so inflamed that one has to wonder whether the facts matter.”

“Many denominational boards and congregations have followed a ‘don’t ask-don’t tell’ posture towards, or overtly rejected, sexual minorities,” write the publishers of the Lambda Directory of Religion and Spirituality. “As a result, sexual minorities have formed a vast array of welcoming groups and organizations. Some groups formed new denominations, such as the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. Gay and lesbian groups are found in the shadows of almost every denomination and faith, from Baptist to Buddhist…. Dignity, the largest of such groups with over 5,000 members, provides services to Catholic gay men and lesbians. Integrity (Episcopal), Affirmation (United Methodist), More Light (Presbyterian), and Reconciled in Christ (Lutheran) sponsor hundreds of local chapters in the U.S.”

Double jeopardy. Former nanny and fashion designer Monika Poplawska recalls in an interview in the Three Arts Club of Chicago newsletter (December) her problems as a newcomer from Poland: “I came here without knowing the language, which I soon found I could learn by using a computer. But I didn’t know how to use a computer either, so it was twice as difficult.”

Should men be parents? A study in Pediatrics (February) reports that “Men are twice as likely as women to shake babies left in their care.” Shaken baby syndrome is the most common lethal form of infant abuse.

Another view of school reform, from Roosevelt University’s Pierre deVise: “The mid-1960s campaign to desegregate Chicago’s schools, spearheaded by King in the summer of 1966, gave way 20 years later to school decentralization and community autonomy under the guise of school reform–in effect, spelling a retreat to separate and unequal schools….The fragmented black leadership left in the wake of [Mayor Harold] Washington’s death in November 1987 could not prevent passage of the Chicago School Reform Act of 1988. The shift of policymaking from the central Board to 542 elected Local School Councils speeded the end of school desegregation programs in Chicago….No civil rights group or anybody else interceded against the pupil, teacher, and principal segregationist effects of local school control before or after the 1988 act.”

White, middle-class, suburban man recreates. Volume IV, number 1, of the Cutting Edge, published by the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association in Glenview, reminds us that “Illinois racer Kevin Penne [was] crowned fastest lawn mower racer in the world when he took the checkered flag and knocked off defending champ Chuck Miller in an unforgettable Factory Experimental finale.”

Could rent subsidies for CHA residents to enter the private housing market be unfair? Maybe so, according to a Metropolitan Planning Council policy brief: “Only 9 to 13 percent of Chicago’s very low-income households live in CHA….In a city where housing abandonment, demolition and condominium conversion continue to drive supply down, an influx of CHA residents will increase rents and decrease availability.”

“The media functions primarily as the unsafe sex of politics,” writes Sam Smith in the Progressive Review (January): “verbal intercourse capriciously transmitting whatever viruses may be about.”

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