“The likelihood is that we’re going to get an information railroad and not an information highway,” Abdul Alkalimat told his audience at the Harold Washington Library last March (Video, May/June). The government, he pointed out, gave railroads public land for free, then let them charge riders and freight shippers. “At a latter stage, based on automobile technology, the government built and continues to maintain the highways we are all free to enter. If the information revolution is a highway we should all be able to get on free, but since we are being expected to pay a fee it’s a railroad and not a highway.”

McUniversity? From a Valparaiso University newsletter: “Question: What do the Golden Arches of McDonald’s and Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection have in common? Answer: More than one would guess, according to Paul D. Schrage, a 1957 graduate of VU. Mr. Schrage, senior executive vice president and chief marketing officer for McDonald’s Corporation, sees many similarities between the ‘billions sold’ hamburger empire and the nation’s pre-eminent Lutheran University. ‘Valpo is a business; a nonprofit business, yes, but a business nonetheless.'”

Want your kid to flunk kindergarten? Just keep on smoking. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics in Elk Grove Village, reporting on a recent study of nearly 10,000 children, “If your child has frequent ear infections or is exposed to cigarette smoke at home he may be at risk of repeating kindergarten or first grade.”

How convenient: the consumers get smaller and the corporations get bigger. U. of I. economist Steven Sonka reminds us that one-size-fits-all mass food marketing is giving way to “food products, stores and services that carve out specialized niches by emphasizing health, nutrition, convenience, diet–or indulgence.” Similarly, at the Food Marketing Institute conference at McCormick Place last month, a consultant explained how supermarket managers are starting to use “preferred customer” cards to give their most faithful (and therefore most profitable) customers special coupon offers–a practice that may lead to individualized food pricing. “Ironically,” according to a university account of Sonka’s research, “the ‘fragmentation’ of food retailing comes in a period when the food industry is becoming more economically homogeneous. The percentage of sales accounted for by leading firms has gone up in many food manufacturing industries, including meatpacking, vegetable oils, liquid milk, soft-drink processing, and canned fruits and vegetables.”

Will the pope be pleased to hear this? Social scientist and Catholic priest Father Andrew Greeley, reporting in Society (May/June) on the surprisingly low rates of marital infidelity found by the U. of C. National Opinion Research Center’s 1991 General Social Survey: “Nearly six out of seven married Americans have been faithful to their spouse(s)….The strongest predictor for fidelity is [belief in] the moral principle against infidelity which has not changed in the twenty years since the General Social Survey was started and which has been found to exist independent of religious devotion (only 9 percent of those with no religious affiliation think that adultery is never wrong).”

I quit eating. Now I’m down from 180 pounds to 60, but I plan to gain weight real soon, without eating. Wish me luck! Chicago-based Conscious Choice environmental columnists Mark Long and Mark Wicklund (May/June) offer their commendation to Conservation International in Portland, Oregon, “which decided to stop using direct mail for fundraising. After tens of thousands of letters, CI concluded that it was costing as much to recruit members as the members were paying. In an interview with E magazine, CI officials describe the contradiction of using paper to save the rainforest and mock the defense that direct mail spreads valuable information. Three years since it stopped mailing, CI has lost two-thirds of its members but is committed to regaining its size.”

“The Illinois is one of the most hospitable waterways,” reports Heartland Boating (April), citing easy and cheap boat docking available in downstate Kampsville, Peoria, Chillicothe, Ottawa, and Joliet, as well as Chicago. “Especially to boaters who have come by way of such inhospitable cities as Saint Louis, Cairo, or Paducah, the ease of going ashore along the Illinois is particularly appreciated.”

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