Want to avoid cancer? Shrink. Men’s Health (February 1989) reports that a recent study showed that the shortest 25 percent of the more than 12,000 people studied had only half as much cancer as the tallest 75 percent.

The laziest alderman award goes to Victor Vrdolyak of the Tenth Ward. According to Dick Simpson and fellow researchers at UIC, between March 30 and November 30 of last year, Fast Eddie’s brother “cast only 82 of the possible 231 substantive votes….He voted only 35% of the time.”

A capsule history of the last 25 years, from Citizens Utility Board president Josh Hoyt in CUB News (Winter 1989): “Remember when Ralph Nader told off the Detroit automobile moguls back in 1965? He said, ‘You ought to build cars that are smaller, safer and more fuel efficient.’ The big car manufacturers just laughed and said, ‘You’re an “activist.” What do you know about cars?’ In fact, the only people who listened were the Japanese, who built small, safe, fuel efficient cars and almost put Detroit out of business. And when Chrysler came close to going belly up, who had to pay to bail them out of their mistakes? We did–the taxpayers!

“And remember when the neighborhood organizations stood up to the big banks and savings and loan associations in the 1970’s? They said, ‘Stop redlining our neighborhoods! Don’t invest our deposits down in Brazil and in those risky get-rich-quick schemes. Invest in our neighborhoods.’ The bankers just laughed and said, ‘You’re just a bunch of “activists.” What do you know about banking?’ So they went out and made risky foreign loans, and risky energy loans, and risky real estate loans. And got into deep trouble. And who had to bail out Continental Bank and who is going to have to sink billions of dollars into bailing out the s & l’s of this country? You guessed it–we, the taxpayers!

“Now, when these utility companies began their nuclear building frenzy in the 1970’s, there were organizations that said, ‘Hey, don’t build those things! We won’t need the power and they cost too much money!’ Well, the utility big-shots just laughed and said, ‘What do you know? You’re just a bunch of “activists.”‘ So they went out and started buying nuclear power plants like Donald Trump buys buildings.” With the usual result, except that CUB would like them to pay for their own mistakes for a change.

We know she meant it as a compliment. “Many things about the Illinois arts climate appeal to me,” says Robin S. Tryloff, new director of the Illinois Arts Council, including its resemblance to the arts climate in Nebraska, where she served most recently. Both states, she says, have “urban and rural, emerging organizations and large institutions, traditional and cutting-edge art forms.” (Illinois Arts, Winter 1989)

Sure, you can go home again, but who wants to? Andrew Ferguson, formerly of Hinsdale, reflects on our ex-midwestern ex-president in Chicago Times (March/April 1989): “It would be overstating the case–and insufficiently ironic–to use Ronald Reagan’s defection from small-town Illinois [to California] as an example of a midwestern brain drain. But his ambivalent relationship to the region of his boyhood is nonetheless instructive. For his entire career the Midwest served him as a source of political exhortation–the most resonant and successful political exhortation since Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Midwest shaped him, he said; it gave him his principles and beliefs, his primary experiences, and he passed them on to an accepting nation. But now that his career is over, would anyone seriously expect him to move back? Really now. That would be asking a bit too much. It’s a nice place to mythologize, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”

Anything you say can be held against you. “By and large, I think the [legal] profession lacks a reverence to the ethics, the principles that are so important to our profession,” former U.S. Attorney in Chicago Dan Webb tells Barrister (Winter 1988). “The legal profession is not disciplining itself.”

Only Vermont’s Governor Madeleine Kunin has appointed more women (ten) to state cabinet posts than has Illinois’ governor-for-life James Thompson (eight), according to the National Women’s Political Caucus. The eight are Janet Otwell (Aging), Sharon Sharp (Lottery), Sue Suter (Public Aid), Joyce Tucker (Human Rights), Karen Witter (Energy and Natural Resources), Sally Jackson (Employment Security), Ann Kiley (Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities), and Gwen Martin (Labor).

The bad-timing award goes to Iran expert James A. Bill. “It is time to speak clearly about US acceptance and recognition of Iran’s revolution,” he writes in World Monitor (March 1989), “to announce US intentions to respect Iran’s national sovereignty, to refrain from gratuitous jingoism labeling Iran and Iranians as terrorists and barbarians”–just before the homicidal fundamentalists in charge of that country labeled themselves.

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