Press releases we didn’t feel like finishing: “Homer Formby Has an Engrained Love of Wood.”

Yeah! Rah! Bricks and mor-r-r-tar! Patrick Barry in Chicago Enterprise (September 1990): “Daley recently named a high-powered panel of leaders to act as ‘cheerleaders’ for the proposed airport at Lake Calumet; another such panel is pushing for expansion of McCormick Place. No such steering group exists for job training, though production of skilled workers is probably the most crucial economic-development challenge this city faces.”

“The crisis over Iraq has reminded the U.S. of several things it has tried hard to forget since 1973,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (September 6-12), “that the world is still running out of oil, that what is left will be expensive to recover and often must be pumped from environmentally precious places, that if we don’t pay at the pump for the full costs of delivering oil safely we will pay it in other ways, with dead seals on Alaskan beaches or dead GIs on Saudi deserts. The year 1979 taught Europe and Japan the risks of foreign oil dependency, and both took steps to wean themselves by investing in efficiency improvements. Japan, for example, imports less than half the oil per dollar of GNP than it did in 1973. The U.S. has actually lost ground, and today imports over half its oil, more than ever before. The Europeans and Japanese had an enormous advantage over the U.S. in the 1980s, of course, since they had functioning national governments.”

Perils of liberalism. “A conservative Christian theologian once began a conversation with me by saying, ‘I presume we can start from the realization that there can be only one true religion and that all other religions are therefore false.’ I responded that my starting point tended to be that if one religion proved to be true, there’s a good chance they all are” (Ron Miller, a Lake Forest College religion professor, in Conscious Choice, Fall 1990).

Trouble. “In September 1989, Westinghouse found that someone had disabled a safety alarm in the P reactor [which produces tritium for nuclear weapons in Savannah, Georgia] because it was annoying.” The alarm goes off if the cooling-water pumps malfunction. “From interviews with plant staff, [U.S. Department of Energy investigators] found an attitude that the silenced alarm was not important, but rather a nuisance, and that many personnel responsible for responding to alarms ‘do not pursue the reason for the alarm as much as they try to silence the alarm.'” Real trouble: “To deal with the safety culture problem, Westinghouse is upgrading training and hiring new people from the outside who bring with them the commercial nuclear industry’s concept of safety culture” (U.S. General Accounting Office, “Nuclear Safety: Concerns About Reactor Restart and Implications for DOE’s Safety Culture,” April 1990).

“Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration is perfecting the art of information control,” writes Bruce Rutledge in the Chicago Headline Club News (September 1990). He quotes Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman saying: “When I have a question about a department I call the commissioner, but in this administration you don’t get the commissioner on the phone oftentimes. You get a secretary taking a message, and then you get a call back–from a public information officer…who probably has called [mayoral press secretary] Avis [LaVelle] to clear it with her in the interim.”

When “diversity” meets politics. From Edward Lempinen’s account of the “diversity movement” in U.S. law schools (Student Lawyer, September 1990): “The diversity forces want legal education and scholarship to acknowledge that the law has been used to keep women and minorities at a disadvantage, and to explore how the law can be used to correct that injustice…. ‘Currently there’s this corporate, private-enterprise emphasis in law schools,’ says [Harvard law student Renee] Saucedo, in a remark echoed by other students. ‘There’s very little emphasis on serving low-income clients. There’s very little emphasis on social consciousness. A lot of us believe that …diversifying the law school is one step toward shifting our law schools’ priorities.'” But only if the new women and minority faculty members agree.

“Throughout the 1990s, dramatic increases are expected in the number of 30- to 59-year-olds arrested in Illinois,” reports the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority in the Compiler (Summer 1990)–because there will be a lot more of them than before, not (presumably) because middle-aging baby boomers experience a sudden urge to rob, rape, and pillage.

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