Lightning strikes more frequently than weather records based on thunder indicate, according to the Illinois Water Survey. “Between 22 and 40 percent of lightning bolts are ‘silent’–not accompanied by thunder,” reports the Nature of Illinois (Winter 1989). “This could have adverse implications for businesses like nuclear power plants, which have had to base risk analyses on old, conservative reports.”

Dog, Cat, Snake, and president of the U.S. are the four subjects (in order) that students look up most often in the World Book Encyclopedia, reports the firm from its Merchandise Mart headquarters. “Dinosaur” is only 10th, but it runs well ahead of George Washington (16th) and Hawaii (17th).

Back for a third year and going strong. The mostly white southwest-side Chicago Lawn neighborhood had the most racial incidents reported in 1988, just as it did in 1987 and 1986, according to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations–31 out of a citywide total of 255. “Nine of the incidents involved physical attacks, including six against blacks. Two other attacks were against racially mixed groups.” (Chicago Reporter, March 1989)

Cook County, wilderness stronghold. This tidbit from the Forest Preserve District of Will County: “The Forest Preserve District of Will County has 13.4 acres of land per 1000 people, equivalent of .8% of all county land. This is the lowest ratio of any collar county. In comparison, Cook County holds 10.8%, DuPage County holds 10.0%, and Lake County holds 5.0% of all county lands.”

Mmmm, it feels sooo good. “Every time I rinse out a tin can, tear off the label and put it in my blue box [for recycling], I just feel so good. I say to myself, ‘Yeah, another one for the environment,'” says North-west Morgan Park Civic Associ-ation secretary Diana Butler in a recent Resource Center release. Some 38 percent of Morgan Parkers now use their blue recycling boxes on garbage day.

“In 1959, Midway was the world’s busiest airport, handling more than 10 million passengers annually,” writes Scott Baltic in Chicago Enterprise (March 1989). “Today Midway Airport is again on top of the charts as the nation’s fastest-growing airport and the Chicago area’s busiest handler of corporate jets. By 1990 passenger traffic is projected to hit a 30-year high of eight million.”

No surprises, please. “I suspect in fact that people don’t walk very much precisely to avoid meeting people on the street,” muses James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (March 23-29). “The street is one of our last truly democratic institutions, the venue for unanticipated encounters (and yes, troubling ones), the place where classes, races, and callings can mingle, if only briefly. You can divide the nation into those people for whom that prospect is inviting and those who find it terrifying.”

The Constitutional collision course. According to a study by University of Chicago legal scholar Geoffrey Miller (just published in the George Washington University Law Review), in the past 30 years cases involving the separation of powers have increased 224 percent in the U.S. Supreme Court, 764 percent in federal appeals courts, and an astonishing 791 percent in federal trial courts.

“I would like to see the next guy who’s elected pope announce very quickly that he’s getting married–with his bride up on the balcony,” writes Richard McBrien in Notre Dame Magazine, as quoted in the Critic (Spring 1989). “In a hundred years or less, people are going to look back and say, ‘You mean they actually let thousands of priests go because they wouldn’t change this [celibacy] law? Why in God’s name would they do that? I mean, can you imagine the pope without a wife? Or (better yet) can you imagine the pope without a husband?'”

My mind’s made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts. From Harper’s “Index” (April 1989): “Percentage of Americans who cannot name any member of Bush’s Cabinet: 81. Percentage of Americans who say that Bush’s Cabinet choices are ‘good’ or ‘excellent’: 44.”

Optimists’ corner. From a discussion of the Edison franchise issue in NEIS News (February 1989), publication of the Evanston-based Nuclear Energy Information Service: “Remember, Yogi Berra was right–it ain’t over ’til it’s over. People never thought Chicago’s Machine would end. It did. People never believed that Chicago could elect a black mayor. It did, and he turned out to be one of Chicago’s best. People never thought that Chicago would ever adopt ‘reform’ at City Hall. It just passed its first major ethics ordinance. These examples illustrate an important point–this place is goofy enough to force the will of the people on both the City and ComEd, if enough goofs work hard enough. So what are you waiting for, the next rate hike?”

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