It’s because the editor is an Aries, right? According to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, quoted in the Saint Louis Journalism Review and then in the Chicago Journalist (March), “The Tribune is the largest daily in the country that runs a horoscope without a disclaimer.”

Is a For Sale sign superfluous speech? According to the Metro Chicago Information Center’s 1994 Annual Metro survey, only 9 percent of area home buyers in the last five years first found out about their new home from a sign.

“The public is uninformed about some basic tax facts,” writes Northern Illinois University’s Ellen Dran in Illinois Tax Facts (February). “The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of the Census’ latest statistics ranked Illinois 36th-highest among the 50 states and District of Columbia in…total tax burden per $1,000 of personal income. Illinois’ average was $105.34; the Midwestern states average was $111.90, and the U.S. was $112.66.” But never mind the facts: “In the 1987 Illinois Policy Survey 51 percent of the respondents said that their taxes are higher than in other Midwestern states, and another 25 percent thought they were at least as high.”

Of course, he could have taken up architectural history or social work. From a profile of a 19-year-old “graffitist” named “Attica” in Grey City Journal (March 4): “Attica, who is enrolled part time at a liberal arts college, leads a double life between his book-lined home and the petit-underworld of graffiti….Before he started writing, he said he never had reason to venture beyond Hyde Park and Downtown. He hadn’t even been to all of Hyde Park. For someone like Attica, graffiti is more than just mischief; it is his passport to the city–especially the part he was warned never to go near.”

“Treating small business preferentially is the same as creating a subsidy for bad jobs,” University of Chicago economist Steven Davis tells Crain’s Small Business (March), dissolving yet another political bromide. His study shows that U.S. manufacturing firms with fewer than 500 employees created only 46 percent of new manufacturing-sector jobs between 1972 and 1988–and the jobs they did create were less stable and less likely to reappear if eliminated.

“If up-to-date business principles had been applied by Amtrak management in the utilization of company assets, there wouldn’t be the need to worry about the budget every year,” writes Dave Randall of the Illinois Association of Railroad Passengers in Railgram (February). He figures that if Amtrak were to sell as little as 55 percent of the “seat miles” available on its short-haul trains, it would bring in $187 million more than its 1992 revenue of $512 million.

Good news: National health care. Bad news: Run by the same people who dump mail in out-of-the-way places for months. From the Evanston-based Kidney Cancer News (February): “Anyone touting the administrative ‘economies’ of a government-run national health care system might find the report, ‘Welfare Administrative Costs,’ interesting. The report, released by the Inspector General’s Office of Audit Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, shows that administrative costs have ‘skyrocketed,’ far outpacing new benefits or increased number of recipients. Medicaid costs have been especially high, rising 61.9 percent between fiscal years 1987 and 1991, while the number of recipients rose only 22.4 percent.”

You’ve seen the commercial–now you too can be laughed at by your kids. The sales-promotion division of the Marketing Corporation of America is promoting “Woodstock ’94–a festival like the nation has not seen in 25 years.” Yeah, right. MCA is offering “official sponsorships, exclusive product sponsorships, supplier sponsorships, and sampling opportunities. The event provides an unprecedented opportunity for on-site product exposure.”

“Twice as many whites as blacks are portrayed as victims [on Chicago TV news during December 1993] where race is identifiable. Yet numbers of black and white accused perpetrators are approximately equal,” Robert Entman told a recent Northwestern University conference on media and race. Blacks are…rarely [represented] as socially valuable officials and citizens aiding the community to cope with the violence that seems to suffuse urban life.”

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