Dept. of kids. Natural Resources Defense Fund senior staff attorney David Doniger, in the NRDF’s 20-year report: “Once I tried to explain to my daughter, who was then three years old, what I do when I go to work every day. I told her I was trying to stop pollution–the smoke that comes out of the back of buses, that kind of thing. We were outside one day when a big bus rolled by, and she pointed at it and said, ‘There’s a smoky bus, Dad. Go get it.'”

Air time. From Harper’s (April 1990): “Estimated amount of time that Michael Jordan has spent aloft while playing in NBA games, in hours: 3.”

“Chicagoans horrified by the phrase ‘cashing in on the lakefront’ should remember that it’s nothing new,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Chicago Enterprise (March 1990). “Condos facing Lake Michigan are said to fetch an estimated 30 percent higher price than landlocked sites, which presumably adds to their property-tax bill…. And the park district this year expects to receive $27.5 million from such things as boat moorings and rental of Soldier Field. The problem is that those earnings vanish into the park district’s general fund, rather than being specifically earmarked for the lakefront. Rather than maintaining a precious asset, we may instead be bleeding it.”

Commercial Christianity for the 90s, courtesy of James F. Hind, author of The Heart and Soul of Effective Management: A Christian Approach to Managing and Motivating People, and Martin Marty, who quotes it (without endorsement) in his religion-and-society newsletter Context (March 15): “The results Jesus achieved were second to none,” writes Hind. “In only three years, he defined a mission and carried it out. He recruited and motivated twelve ordinary men to become extraordinary. He molded their diverse personalities, with different appetites and ambitions, and internal disagreements, into a ‘glorious company.’ He organized Christianity, which has grown to have 1.5 billion proponents, and branches in all the world’s 223 countries.” (“Branches”? Oh well, never mind.) “Of course, even if we followed Jesus’ example to the letter, we would most likely run into trouble at some point.” “Trouble” is about right. We’ll keep an eye on the number of businesspeople whose actions lead them to suffer capital punishment.

A chance to pay more and get less. Executive Edge (March 1990) reports that the biggest reason corporate employees resist transfers is no longer worries about their families but about huge jumps in the cost of living. Ten years ago, a move from Chicago to Los Angeles meant a 12 percent cost-of-living jump; today, it’s 98 percent.”

“Transportation Secretary Sam Skinner is the George Bush clone in the Cabinet,” writes Fred Barnes in The New Republic (March 26). According to Barnes, Skinner has hit it off with both the right-wing Washington establishment and some key Democratic congressmen. But he’ll have to make some enemies soon–when he decides whether to fund the feasibility study for Mayor Daley’s southeast-side airport (over the objections of VP Quayle, who favors Gary, Indiana). “If he copies Bush, Skinner will split the difference and endorse an airport half in Indiana, half in Illinois.”

Switch! “As a pilot program, state officials should swap two Black prisoners for one yuppie convicted of fraud in the federal courts,” editorializes William J. Leahy in Leahy’s Corner (January/February 1990). “The idea is that the white guy would go down to Statesville where he might be sexually tasty, and the Black men should be sent to the federal rest home in Oxford, Wisconsin. If this is considered to be an unsavory suggestion, by, let’s say, the editorial board of the Tribune, we wish that someone would tell us why.”

Grad-school boom? At the University of Chicago virtually every graduate field shows a continued upward trend in applications–even the long-despised humanities, according to assistant professor of music Anne Robertson, quoted in the U. of C. Chronicle (February 22): “We’re all used to the sad story of the 1970s and 1980s, when bright students were encouraged to leave their first loves of English or music to pursue a more practical degree. We can’t know if these increases will stick, but we’re loving every minute.”

“What would you say is the appropriate interest rate for Edison to pay its customers on all the refund money that’s been piling up?” asks the Citizens Utility Board in CUB News (Winter 1990). “20%? That’s the compounded rate Com Ed charges you for late payments. 15%? That’s the average ‘return on equity’ the ICC has allowed Edison investors to make over the last four years. How about 5%? That’s the rate the ICC has authorized so far.”

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