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The City File 

No time off for good behavior? According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average U.S. resident spends more than two years of his or her lifetime behind the wheel.

Are journalists too skeptical to cover religion? wonders Sun-Times reporter Ray Hanania. "Reporters seem to be offended by groups that espouse their religious beliefs," he tells Kevin Clarke in Salt (September 1989). "The attitude seems to be, 'How can there be a God? We've never interviewed him.'" Don't worry, Ray, we have some good questions ready if he ever goes on the record.

Parking wars. Schwab Rehabili-tation Center on South California now gives out pseudo-tickets to put on the windshields of those clods who park in spaces reserved for the disabled (Target: Independence, Summer 1989). "The cards resemble municipal parking tickets in color and size. The difference is these 'tickets' enlighten rather than penalize the offender."

And besides, Judge Wapner would do a better job. "Percentage of Americans who can correctly name the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: 9. Percentage who can correctly name the judge on The People's Court: 54." (Harper's, September 1989).

Let babies be babies, advises William Ayers, coordinator of elementary education at UIC's College of Education. "When preschools push academics, they are focusing on one narrow strand of child development." Instead, he says, "parents should seek preschools that appreciate [that]... kids need to play, to fantasize, to work in a group, to enjoy physical activities, and so forth.... Parents should seek out places that are home-like rather than school-like, that have a positive tone and feel, and they should trust their own instincts"--unless, that is, their instincts run to teaching three-year-olds to read.

"Chicago is losing trees three times faster than they can be planted," writes Michael Leccese in Land-scape Architecture (September 1989)--and that's the good news. "Nationally, the rate is four to one, according to a 1987 survey by the American Forestry Association." This is known in the profession as "negative tree-flow." But in Chicago the Open Lands Project's NeighborWoods is reversing the trend. "We've had yuppie plantings with fresh flowers, pink lemonade and chocolate doughnuts in wicker baskets," says urban forester Edith Makra, "and we've actually had gang members leading other plantings. We've had great luck planting trees in hostile areas."

Our favorite fact from The Kids' World Almanac of Animals and Pets: More people go to zoos each year than go to all professional sporting events combined." Hey, how about them rhinos?

1 way 2 think faster. According to U. of I. accounting professor Dan Stone, "Complex decisions can be made more than 20 percent faster when the same information is expressed in numbers instead of words....Working with numbers is like juggling baseballs. If you're good at it, you can start out with three and rather easily add several more. However, working with words is more like juggling bowling balls, and adding more can quickly strain a decision-making process."

Just say "Medic!" The 40 Chicago-area hospitals that report to the national Drug Abuse Warning Network reported almost twice as many drug-related emergency-room episodes in 1988 as in 1986--up from 7,800 to more than 13,000. During 1986, cocaine was mentioned as a contributing factor in 1,075 emergency-room trips--a number that has more than tripled to 3,431 (The Compiler, Summer, 1989).

Terrorism & taxes, as viewed by William Leahy in Leahy's Corner (August 1989): "Patrick QuinnÉhas hit upon an issue that is profound on a local level: the decades-long exploitation of ethnic suckers who, sheeplike, have been terrorized into paying an ever-increasing property tax on their homes. The Democratic Party of Cook County uses a gentler form of terror than its partner the Mafia, but terror it is. The present Northwest and Southwest sides are largely populated by people who themselves, or whose parents or grandparents came from countries that were repressive and/or backward.... These homeownersÉ are the folks who pay their taxes on time, keep the law, and maintain their property. They are the Germans, the Greeks, the Asians, and the Slavs who spent most of their lives obeying the Irish"--until the latest property-tax bills came.

One American = 2 1/2 Romans. "The amount of trash generated (now about 3.6 pounds/person/day) in this country is unusual and a relatively new phenomenon," writes Susan Mudd in CBE Environmental Review (Summer 1989). "In comparison Paris generates 2.2 pounds per person per day; Rome 1.4 pounds and Tokyo 2.8 pounds."

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

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