Mapping madness. Writing in Illinois Issues (May), Ryan Reeves notes that because of the way redistricting lines have been drawn, the tiny town of Illiopolis (population less than 1,000) will be able to command the attention of 3 of the state's 19 congressional representatives. It "will be represented by the 17th District, a seat currently held by Democrat Lane Evans, from the northwestern Illinois town of Rock Island; the 18th, currently represented by Republican Ray LaHood of Peoria in west central Illinois; and the 19th, currently represented by Democrat David Phelps of Eldorado in southern Illinois." The cartographic lunacy is illustrated on-line at www.illinoisatlas.com, courtesy of Northern Illinois University's Center for Governmental Studies.
The other Lake County. According to Catherine Walden, writing in Indiana Preservationist (March/April), "Lake County, which includes the urban areas of Gary, Merrillville, Hammond, East Chicago, and Crown Point, boasts one of Indiana's densest collections of historic architecture"--nearly 9,000 significant sites and structures, according to a 1996 survey.
"Police who pick women up from the 'stroll' on Halsted and North/Clybourn (west of downtown Chicago) say a lot of the girls are from Milwaukee or Tennessee," Jody Raphael of the Women and Girls Prostitution Project of the Center for Impact Policy Research tells Kari Lydersen in Lip magazine (April 15). "They're being moved around. It helps them avoid detection and gives the customers a variety of new girls. From our grassroots studies, I'm learning to no longer make such a distinction between local and international trafficking."
Ethanol dreams. David Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance writes in an on-line article ("The Ethanol Enigma," Alternet.org, April 25): "In the long term ethanol will be made [not only from corn but] from rice and wheat straw, municipal garbage, grasses and many other raw materials. We should strive to have a biorefinery in every rural county, not only in Minnesota and Iowa, but in Massachusetts and California and New York. Will a renewable fuel standard benefit Archer Daniels Midland? Yes. But if the nation designs incentives that encourage modestly-sized, farmer-owned facilities, competition will flourish and local economies will prosper." Of course ADM could always buy enough legislators to make sure that never happens.
Fine art downstate. The huge populations of ducks, geese, and other waterfowl in the Illinois River valley early in the 20th century helped inspire some of the world's finest decoy carvers and birdcall makers, write Stephen Havera and Michelle Horath in the "Illinois Natural History Survey Reports" (Spring). "The 100-mile stretch of the Illinois River between Beardstown and LaSalle probably had more call makers than any other place in the United States. The art of carving and painting lifelike wooden hunting decoys reached its height of perfection in Illinois, particularly in the Illinois Valley, between 1870 and 1940."
"Acutely ill people or dying people want to make sense of what is happening to them," writes Edwin Dubose of the Park Ridge Center in Second Opinion (April). "We live our lives on a certain map. It is a geographical map, of course, but it is also a map of purposes--a map of everything we have done, everything we are now, and everything that we hope for. Few people have a spot for cancer, renal disease, or even old age on that map."
Vacation tip. Jeff Taylor of the on-line "Reason Express" (May 7) has a suggestion based on recent legislation: "Farm states will see some $180 billion flow their way in the next 10 years under support programs for corn, wheat, oats, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, honey, wool, sugar, mohair, and sorghum. A new subsidy program for dairy farmers will continue to keep milk prices artificially high.... Ethanol subsidies buried in new energy legislation add another $100 billion or so to this bipartisan effort to buy votes from the farm states.... So make the most of your bucolic getaway. Stride boldly onto the porch of the first farmhouse you see, rap smartly, and demand a glass of lemonade. Tell the owners you'll be staying a couple days and you prefer big breakfasts. You've paid for them--and will keep paying."