By Harold Henderson

Sounds like a commercial to me. Southwest Airlines chief Herb Kelleher, quoted in Frequent Flyer (March): “All my life I have set contests for myself. Even little ones. If I went to the bathroom, I would simultaneously start peeing and flush the toilet to see if I could combine both actions so they would finish at the same time.”

Our kindly parent, the CHA. Number of CHA apartments known to be free of lead-poisoning hazards: 2,300. Number of CHA apartments whose lead hazards are not known: 29,764 (Chicago Reporter, February).

First the Daleys came for Maxwell Street. But I didn’t say anything, because I wasn’t a street vendor. Then they came for Meigs Field. But I didn’t say anything, because I wasn’t a pilot. Steven Whitney of Friends of Meigs Field is quoted in a recent news release as saying the city’s Department of Aviation has “implemented policy after policy to throttle traffic at Meigs Field. It is no wonder that traffic is down from its peak. By their own admission, much [traffic] has moved to other cities or the suburbs. Now they say because they have succeeded in weakening Meigs, it is time to kill it.” Shades of the loss of garbage and police services at Maxwell Street market before its obliteration.

Things environmentalists don’t want to know. Cancer from chemicals in your food? Not likely, according to a book-length February report, “Carcinogens and Anticarcinogens in the Human Diet,” from a committee of the National Research Council. Neither natural nor synthetic carcinogens occur at levels likely to threaten human health, according to the 20 scientists on the committee (including UIC’s Norman Farnsworth and Northwestern University Medical School’s Janardan Reddy). “The greater cancer threat in the human diet today comes not from minor chemicals in food,” they write, “but from diets too rich in calories and fats, or alcohol.”

On to Podunk! The Washington Post’s weekly edition (March 18-24) notes that the population of rural areas is growing three times as fast as in the 1980s and quotes Loyola demographer Ken Johnson: “There’s a real growing anti-urbanism out there. People want to be out of the cities and they are now going further and further past the fringes.”

“Our study leads us to believe there are more children actually being abused in the name of God than in the name of Satan,” write UIC psychologist Bette Bottoms and coauthors in an article recently published in the Journal of Social Issues. They surveyed 19,272 clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, who reported 417 “religion-related” abuse cases of three kinds: withholding of medical care, attempts to rid a child of evil spirits, and abuse perpetrated by ministers, rabbis, or priests. “The freedom to choose religions and to practice them will, and should, always be protected by our constitution,” they conclude. “In the long run, society should find ways to protect children from religion-related abuse and to help religions evolve in the direction of better treatment of children.”

Me? My retirement plan is to get on a flying saucer. According to an article by U. of I.’s Richard Kaplan in the Elder Law Journal, twice as many young Americans believe in UFOs as believe Social Security will exist when they retire.

The rest of the story, from James Merriner in Illinois Issues (February). “Two Chicago industrialists, Barre Seid [computer accessories] and Denis J. Healy [Turtle Wax], have sunk a combined $3.4 million into conservative causes and candidates in Illinois since 1989. Despite this impressive bankroll, candidates they backed were losers and organizations they subsidized are struggling.” What a difference a snowstorm makes!

Number of tourist attractions in Aurora, according to the Northern Illinois 1996 Official Visitors Guide: 16. In Rockford, 14. In Chicago, 13.

Somehow you just know the author has “a degree in Communications from the California State College system.” From a promotional release for the New Age book Mind Shampoo: “In these times of great change, running down our spiritual paths can be like trying to pin Jell-O to a wall.”

“Nothing underscores the left’s irrelevance in the big picture of American politics more boldly than Pat Buchanan’s strong showing in the Republican primaries, just as Louis Farrakhan’s bounce from the Million Man March indicated the left’s irrelevance in black politics,” writes Adolph Reed Jr. of Northwestern in the Progressive (April). But he warns that loneliness shouldn’t drive leftists into a shotgun marriage. “There are two important things for us to remember about the Ebony & Ivory of American fascism. First, it’s not unusual for fascists to propound left-sounding critiques of bourgeois institutions, including capitalism. Mussolini came out of the Socialist Party in Italy, and the Nazis were, after all, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Second…for most of both fascists’ constituencies, the radical-sounding issues [serve merely] as symbols of what is blocking their dreams of an organic world in which heterosexual male authority (white in the one case, black in the other) holds sway. The fascist ideas are not peripheral to the more radical-sounding stuff; if anything, it’s the reverse.”

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