Desperately seeking centenarians: The Illinois Department on Aging (917-2630) is trying to locate the 500-plus Illinoisans over age 100 in time for July 1, National Centenarians Day. And if you were born July 2, 1887, well . . .

“Culture”: a working definition. The Ounce of Prevention Fund Magazine (Spring 1987) reports that the Southern Seven Health Department in downstate Cairo doesn’t have much trouble getting young people in its doors for sex education: “The cultural barrenness of the area — no movies and only one McDonald’s in 2,003 square miles — works in the agency’s favor in attracting young men.”

Has the Department of Housing joined the Washington administration yet? Maybe not, according to community organizers quoted by David Moberg in The Neighborhood Works (May 1987). One described the department as a haven for “red tape, obstructionism, incompetence and interpretation of rules against administration policy.” Carol Hegland of the Northwest Community Organization adds that DOH remains “real resistant to initiatives from communities. . . . I don’t know if the vision of the administration has floated into the Housing Department.”

“Vietnamese refugee children show respect and obey others in authority,” says Duong Van Tran in Lien-Nghia (March 1987), publication of the Chicago-based service organization Nghia Sinh International, Inc., “and are a little disappointed that the spontaneous and self-assertive behaviors of their American peers are not punished by their American teachers.” This can surprise the unaware, as when a misbehaving student, his teacher, and his mother conferred: “The teacher described the misbehavior of the boy and the mother tried to offer some explanation. The teacher then asked the boy, ‘Do you agree with that?’ This simple sounding question implies a number of . . . assumptions, among them that the boy has his own explanation and he would have no hesitation to contradict his mother.”

If northern Illinois were independent, it would be the third most nuclear-dependent nation in the world, after France (with 70 percent nuclear-generated electricity) and Belgium (67 percent). Commonwealth Edison in 1986 generated 60.4 percent of our electricity by splitting atoms.

More than three out of five Chicagoans would move if they had the money, according to a telephone survey of 701 city residents conducted last year by the University of Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Policy Studies (The Quality of Life in Chicago Neighborhoods). But about one-third of those movers would just like to find a new place within the city. Less than one-fifth of the total sample said they wanted to live in the suburbs.

From the land of moral absolutes: Amnesty International reports that most executions in Iran (usually imposed following secret trials lasting a few minutes) are by hanging or firing squad. But “stoning to death is prescribed for various sexual offences and is deliberately designed to cause pain to the victim before death — by law the stones used must not be too large, in case the person dies after being hit by only one or two of them.”

There are fewer union representation elections in Illinois, and unions were voted in in fewer of them in 1985 than in 1980, according to National Labor Relations Board figures in Illinois Economic Report (April 1987). In 1980, just under half of the 15,098 employees involved in such elections voted to establish a union in their workplaces; in 1985, only 9,413 employees were involved, and less than one-third of them voted prounion.

“In the 1880s there was one of these ‘for every 149 men, women, and children in Chicago.’ One what?” asks Past-Times (April 1987), newsletter of the Chicago Historical Society. Answer available somewhere in the CHS galleries, or at the Museum Store after June 1.

“I can’t compete with the material goods a pimp or drug dealer is going to offer,” says Leon Intrater, director of the Neon Street Center for homeless youth, in In Transition (Spring 1987), the newsletter of Travelers & Immigrants Aid of Chicago. “I can’t give a 15-year-old girl a ride in a Cadillac, a gold necklace, and a steak dinner at a fine restaurant. But when it comes right down to it, that’s not what she wants. What she wants most is someone to show her some concern and love.”

No nukes is not enough. “If, as a result of anti-nuclear demonstrations in Europe and the United States, nuclear weapons were dismantled . . . we would perhaps be no closer to peace, and not much farther from total destruction,” writes John Garvey in the Chicago-based Thomas More Association’s The Critic (Spring 1987). “The immediate practical effect in Europe might be a great increase in the number of conventional troops, and in the United States and the Soviet Union a plunge into intense germ and biological warfare research. . . . If any movement away from destruction is allowed to become too simply symbolic, focusing on one symbol (the bomb) it might find itself surprised by another (the man-made plague).”

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