Banquets we’d like to see. According to Purdue agriculture professor Al Heber, chair of the First International Conference on Air Pollution from Agricultural Operations, which is set for February, “Forty-five of the papers, three of the workshops, and two banquet speeches will be associated with the technical and regulatory issues of livestock odor.”

It’s all downhill from here. According to a press release from Borders, the book Surfing the Himalayas: A Spiritual Adventure uses “snowboarding as the metaphor for the path to spiritual enlightenment….When a young American surfing the Himalayas plows into the Tantric Buddhist he dreamt of the night before, he intuits that he’s in for the ultimate ride.”

Widespread reverse discrimination is a myth, according to Illinois Issues (November). “Only 35 of the 902 discrimination complaints filed with the state Department of Human Rights during the past six years were filed by white males, [director Rose Mary] Bombela says. Of those, only three were supported by substantial evidence.”

“The government’s involvement in National Consumers Week is doubly ironic because government itself is often the consumer’s worst enemy,” contends Joseph Bast of the Palatine-based Heartland Institute in a news release. For instance, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needlessly delays approval of thousands of life-saving and life-extending drugs, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths each year. This ‘death by regulation’ occurs in the name of greater product safety, but the deaths it prevents each year pale in comparison to the number it causes.” Similarly, he argues, “to meet [the Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standard, automobile manufacturers build cars that are lighter and smaller than they otherwise would be. But lighter and smaller cars are less safe, resulting in more deaths on the nation’s highways each year. Researchers at the Brookings Institution estimate that CAFE standards kill as many as 4,509 people each year.”

“I can’t tell you if it’s different being a Black general manager,” says Channel Five’s Lyle Banks in N’Digo (October 19-November 2), “because I’ve always been Black. I’ve never been anything else.”

Good news: low prices this month. Bad news: empty storefronts next month. Retail overbuilding in the Great Lakes area will hit discount stores hardest, according to Diane Swonk, deputy chief economist of the First National Bank of Chicago. In particular “the bloom on the outlet malls in Gurnee, Kenosha and Michigan City has already started to fade. Niche apparel retailers are also at high risk, which suggests some potential problems for the Michigan Avenue shopping district.”

Rx: Ex-Lax. Dr. Ronald Hoffman in Conscious Choice (November-December): “For some, holism is a life orientation that expresses the world-view, ‘I’m different. I’m not going to piss my life away like everyone else. I’m going to refuse to go with the idiotic mainstream, and my continued good health will be my vindication, while those people less disciplined than me will get their just deserts when they die of cancer, heart disease, or strokes.’ While there may be some truth to this statement, it bespeaks a life orientation which is at its core separatist, rather mean-spirited, and constipated.”

Illinois falls behind in the prison frenzy. The national incarceration rate at the end of 1994 was 387 prisoners with a sentence of more than one year per 100,000 residents. In Illinois the rate was 310 (Fiscal Focus, October).

Teaching fundamentalism by mistake? “Real discussion, so important to the process of real science, is notably absent in most science classrooms,” says Drew Gitomer in the Educational Testing Service publication Focus. “Typically, teachers do most of the talking and ask most of the questions. Students with the ‘right’ answer are recognized or rewarded, while those with incorrect answers are often ignored or corrected. But there is little discussion that addresses the reason why one answer or solution may be better than another….When students only do disconnected, fun investigations, when they engage in an activity that is reminiscent of the genuine activity but actually only highlights its most obvious and superficial aspects, we are reducing the experience to its caricature.”

Who are Father Michael Pfleger’s worst enemies? According to Nora Solitano in the Critic (Fall), the crusading south-side priest says they aren’t street drug dealers. “It’s the corporate world. I mean, when we started fighting the tobacco and alcohol industry, that’s when I got a brick through my window; that’s when the tires on my car were slashed and paint was thrown across the windshield of our church bus.”

Lest we forget. “I am old enough to have been part of the civil rights efforts of the 1950s and 1960s,” recalls Senator Paul Simon in his column P.S./Washington, which is sent to news organizations. “The whites who were with us disproportionately in that struggle to secure opportunity for African Americans were not Lutheran, which I am, nor Catholic, which my wife is, nor Methodist nor Presbyterian nor Baptist, but Jewish….It is ironic that people of little understanding but large ambition have mistakenly believed that you can build blacks up by tearing Jews down.”

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