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Letters we couldn’t finish because we were rolling on the floor. From a dog food company: “If dogs could talk, what might they say? Chances are they would fret about fat. Sixty percent of American dogs are overweight…”

“Only Loop employers knew what parking cost” when contacted in a survey of parking provided by Chicago-area firms with 100 or more employees, RTA principal analyst Reed Lee told a workshop at the Metropolitan Conference on Public Transportation Research June 9. “The suburban employers, who bought the lot and paved it and striped it, think that it’s free!”

Why don’t professionals fear free trade? Is it because the new global economy rewards their skills and expertise? Not likely, writes Michael Lind in Harper’s (June). “If this were so, one would expect multilingual physicists to be growing spectacularly rich rather than bond traders, corporate vice presidents, and partners in large law firms, whose skills have little or nothing to do with high technology. A more plausible explanation is that professionals in the United States benefit from a vigorously enforced form of protectionism based on credentials and licensing. A corporation can hire an Indian computer programmer to do the work of an American computer programmer for a fraction of the wage, but it cannot hire an Indian lawyer to try a case in the United States. Permit legal briefs to be written in India and submitted to American courts by fax from Indian lawyers, and legal fees in the United States would quickly plummet.”

News you can’t use. From a recent press release about the Metro Chicago Information Center’s latest poll: “People who visit historic battlefields are more likely to subscribe to Cable TV, use a Fax machine, and visit the Art Institute of Chicago.”

Behind the scenes. Illinois Times’s Aaron Elstein (June 1-7), mingling at the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association Springfield barbeque for car dealers and their representatives: “The informal conversations with legislators are usually pretty brief and tend to stick to four main subjects: car sales statistics, the Chicago Bulls, families, and the importance of legislation to make it harder to sue car dealers.”

“Recording engineers are uniquely qualified to be bartenders,” claims The Eardrum (May), newsletter of the Engineering and Recording Society of Chicago. “Either way, they’re still mixing for intoxicated jerks.”

Ready for a 2,000-year wait? “It is fascinating to catch the Catholic church in mid-transition on an important moral issue that has some historical and doctrinal parallels to our own: anti-semitism,” writes Paul Varnell in Windy City Times (June 8). “No one can doubt that the New Testament contains anti-semitic passages and explicit condemnations of ‘the Jews.’ There are far more, and more explicit, anti-Jewish references in the NT than there are anti-gay texts in the old and new testaments combined. ”

Translation: give us the privileges but not the responsibilities. From a report on a 1993 survey of 247 mainstream and alternative journalists: “There was a high level of self-identification as professionals in both groups, but a strong desire to reject the characteristics of more formal professions, such as mandatory education and licensing of practitioners.”

The voluntary Pentagon. According to a recent press release quoting U. of I. business administration professor John Kindt, the amount spent nationwide on legal wagering in 1974 was $17 billion. By 1993 it had soared to $394 billion. The U.S. defense budget in 1993 was approximately $244 billion.

“We need to let our children in on some of the choices we make in the name of family,” Kathleen O’Connell Chesto tells the Chicago-based U.S. Catholic (June). “When I was pregnant with my third child, a high-risk specialist told me that we should perform an abortion because there was the chance that my baby would not live nor lead a normal life and that my own life was threatened. My children were only 4 and 5 at the time, but we discussed this advice. We told our children what Mom and Dad believed about life and explained my difficult pregnancies with each of them and how they had struggled to survive. As a family, we decided that we were going to go through with this pregnancy–and Liz was born. Years later I recall a dinner-time conversation when Liz told us all about a discussion her sixth-grade class had on abortion. She explained that although she didn’t agree that abortion was right, if a doctor believed that the baby is probably not going to survive nor lead a ‘normal’ life or that the mother could die, then abortion would be the right choice. And my other two kids just turned to her and in the same breath blurted out, ‘But that’s exactly what the doctor told Mom about you.’ She just went absolutely gray. It changed her thinking radically.”

“The winners of the gold star for hypocrisy are Illinois [U.S.] Representatives Michael Flanagan, Henry Hyde, Dennis Hastert, and Harris Fawell,” says Kevin Martin of Illinois Peace Action in a recent press release. The four are members of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus who voted against an amendment that would have forbidden the U.S. to sell weapons to nations violating human rights. “The Code of Conduct should have passed,” says Martin. “It’s common sense. Do the Chicago police sell automatic weapons to gang-bangers?”

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