Farming just isn’t what it used to be. Last month McCorkle School at 4421 S. State hosted Illinois Farm Bureau consultant Tom Miller and his dog Sparky. “This Week…in the Chicago Public Schools” (March 23) promoted the presentation, noting that Sparky would show “how animals sniff illegal substances in baggage at airports as Miller discusses various illegal substances and why they are prohibited with fourth- and fifth-grade students”–all this “as part of the ‘Agriculture in the Classroom’ program

Chicago is Seventh City in number of scientific papers published during 1987, according to the Illinois Economic Report (February-March 1989). With 6,377 such papers, Chicago ranks behind New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.–and Bethesda, Maryland.

The Daley News. “The Sun-Times was vague about his qualifications,” complained the 48th Ward Progressive Network News (March 1989) shortly before the mayoral election. “The Tribune was definite. They said last year in ‘Chicago on Hold,’ that they want an autocrat to run the city and, especially, the City Council. The last Daley was such an autocrat; they hope this Daley will be. Then they call that autocracy ‘reform.'”

Thoughts we doubt ever got thought, from Northwestern Memorial Hospital: “When the poet T.S. Eliot said that ‘April is the cruelest month,’ he just might have been thinking about allergy sufferers doing their spring cleaning.”

Percentage of copies of the 21,728-page second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary expected to be sold in Japan, according to the New Yorker (April 3): 30.

Civilian contractors may be less civilized than the military, judging from the account of pacifist computer expert Nathaniel Borenstein, who participated in a NATO computer workshop and wrote about it in the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (April 1989). “I was entirely unprepared to like [the professional military officers] as much as I did. They were smart, conscientious, peaceable, and acutely aware of the gravity of their responsibilities.” The civilian defense contractor employees, on the other hand, “were not merely unaware of the ethical implications of what they did; they were, for the most part, uninterested in these implications even when they were pointed out. This is not to say that they were hostile to the idea of making weapons systems safer, for example. Rather, because they were not paid to think about the issue, they preferred not to do so.” Borenstein asked one if his artificial-intelligence system might actually make an accidental nuclear war more likely. “He answered, yes, it probably was more dangerous, ‘if you were interested in that sort of question.'”

That’s my Guv. At a recent panel discussion, Mary O’Connell reports in Salt (April 1989), “The governor’s aide reminded the audience that earnest people come to him several times a day demanding some action or other; ‘Our objective is to listen, be polite, and get you out of the office as quickly as possible with the minimum commitment possible on our part.'”

For whom the toll tolls. “As recently as 1966, the Illinois Blue Book quoted tollway officials as boldly forecasting abolition of the tollway authority (at the time, the Illinois State Toll Highway Commission) and conversion of the tollways to freeways no later than 1980,” writes Thomas Lee in Illinois Issues (April 1989). Since then, new debts have pushed that date back at least to 2009. For 20 more years, Chicago will continue to be the only major midwestern city with a toll beltway.

Dept. of (not exactly) feminist journalism. “Learn to sail….stalk luxury car showrooms…. Orchestra Hall regularly attracts the upscale, so learn to love classical music,” Sherren Leigh advises would-be gold diggers in Today’s Chicago Woman (April 1989). “Finally, if you do have a few dates with Mr. Megabucks but no sparks fly, don’t despair. Monied men travel in small circles, often passing around their girlfriends like others pass around a bowl of nuts at a cocktail party. Keep in touch; don’t let him forget you’re around. Sooner or later one of his friends will need to be fixed up, and through just one little introduction, you may be set up for life.”

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