Headlines we were afraid to read beyond: “Toothbrush manufacturers bristle with activity” (Chicago Dental Society news release, August 16).

Infant-formula marketers “are like tobacco companies–unethical and harmful,” Karlyn Sturmer of the International Baby Food Action Network tells Linda Baker, who writes in the Chicago-based biweekly In These Times (August 21), “In the United States, bottle-fed babies are more likely than breast-fed babies to contract a variety of illnesses, including ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, spinal meningitis and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.” What have hospitals done? Not much. “Last winter, for example, Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago received unlimited free formula, as well as $210,000, in exchange for granting brand exclusivity to Mead Johnson. The contract specified that Northwestern Memorial give all new mothers discharge packs containing Mead Johnson formula samples and coupons.”

“There’s no such thing as a parent,” one stay-at-home dad tells the Chicago-based Claretian Publications newsletter Bringing Religion Home (August/

September). “There are mothers, and there are fathers. Mothering is not the same as fathering. I’m a great father. I’m a very good father. I’m not a very good mother.”

Cost-effectiveness is where you find it. “One story in particular illustrates [the late University of Chicago physics Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan] Chandrasekhar’s devotion to his science and his students,” according to a U. of C. memorial note. “In the 1940s, while he was based at the University’s Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wis., he drove more than 100 miles round-trip each week to teach a class of just two registered students. Any concern about the cost effectiveness of such a commitment was erased in 1957, when the entire class–T.D. Lee and C.N. Yang–won the Nobel Prize in physics.”

“More reporters are covering the Statehouse now from more different media” than in the 1950s, notes UIUC journalism professor Tom Littlewood in Illinois Issues (August). “The turnover, however, is greater. Not many Statehouse reporters know any governor other than Edgar; fewer still can remember a Democratic governor [the most recent, Daniel Walker, left office in 1977!]. The AP follows a senseless policy of rotating correspondents periodically. No sooner does an AP reporter begin to master the nuances of Illinois politics than he or she is packing for Juneau or some other fresh assignment.” No wonder the Republicans want to hide social programs in state capitols.

The color line on-line. David Nicholson in the Washington Post National Weekly (August 14-20): “Minutes after I’d logged on to Compuserve’s African-American Culture and Arts Forum one night, someone asked if I was black. I said yes, and asked why it mattered. The response: ‘I think it’s taken for granted that people in the forum are African American. It sometimes feels like an intrusion when others are here.'”

Rethinking the 80s. Daniel Seligman in Fortune (September 4) notes a Treasury Department study that found that “individuals who were in the lowest quintile [of income] in 1979 were indeed more likely to be in the highest quintile in 1988 than to be still in the lowest.”

Sorry, I can’t hear you, there’s all this money talking in the background. Total amounts raised by all presidential candidates as of June 30 the year before an election, according to Capital Eye (August 15): in 1979, $10 million; in 1987, $36 million; in 1991, less than $1 million. And in 1995? $60 million.

Not as dirty a story. “Of the 23.1 million acres of cropland in Illinois, 76.7 percent were at…tolerable soil loss levels in 1995,” according to a recent Illinois Department of Agriculture soil-erosion survey. This amount represents a 2.7 percent increase over 1994 survey results.

“My version of saying grace before a meal includes a flurry of thanks for each step in the food’s history,” writes Kimberely Rector in Angelic Organics’ Farm News (August 5), newsletter of the community-supported farm near the Wisconsin border. “Kind of like the little speeches they give at the Academy Awards–I’d like to thank the seed, the soil, the compost, the preps, the soft rock phosphate, the Earthway seeder, the worms, the bees, the rain, the sun, the nature spirits, the hands that planted the seedlings, weeded, thinned, stirred, sprayed, picked, washed, cooked….I have the good fortune of being pretty well acquainted with most of the food I eat, for about half the year. My familiarity with our crops allows me to do a whirlwind, flashback, 2-minute acknowledgment session. If the average supermarket consumer were to say grace in the same manner, he might have to do a one-week research project for each meal.”

Guess which one is taking over the world? Per-person annual cost of the U.S. Defense Department: $1,100. Of the United Nations and U.N. peacekeeping: less than $4 (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October).

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