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"Ever since Senator Paul Simon told me he gets more PAC contributions than other pols because he's 'good at it,'" reflects Fletcher Farrar in Illinois Times (September 19-25), "I've wanted to know more about how politicians go about selling themselves."

How the MDs did in the midwives in Chicago. Writing in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, U. of I. historian Leslie Reagan explains that in three separate scares in Chicago around the turn of the century--1896, 1908, and 1915--"the identification of midwives as abortionists facilitated the passage of new rules and regulations controlling midwives' practices." Doctors did not let the facts stand in the way of their campaign. If public health had been their goal, they would have directed it against their own profession as well: "The coroner's records from 1905 through May 1915 showed that out of 117 cases where women had died due to criminal abortions, midwives were responsible in 54 cases; physicians, in 49."

"Why was one school with declining test scores put on remediation--and not another?" ask Catalyst editors Linda Lenz and Lorraine Forte (October). "Why was one principal fired--and not another? Why does one school--and not another--have to get all its spending OKed by superiors? And what does it mean to 'function well' in the eyes of the Office of Accountability, which is a prerequisite for getting off probation? There may well be legitimate answers to each of these questions. But school employees and activists don't know them."

Ya gotta have art. William Finley Green (now at the Automatic Art Gallery on North Hermitage) looks forward to "a world where nouns and pronouns disappear and verbs and prepositions take over."

Ralph Nader: too far to the right, according to Greta Gaard in Green Politics (Summer). "Since his candidacy has been declared, Nader has given numerous interviews in which he addresses corporate power and the erosion of democracy, but fails to take democratic positions on matters of social justice. On the Phil Donahue show, for example, Nader refused to address reproductive choice, claiming it was a 'private' issue....Similarly, when William Safire asked if Nader would support same-sex marriage, Nader claimed he was 'not interested in gonadal politics.' This response is not only uninformed, but overtly homophobic. And finally, on 'Meet the Press,' Nader said he would not take a stand on animal rights issues, a topic which is part of the California Green Party Platform."

Don't you just hate it when neutrons turn up uninvited? Publicity for physicist Leon Lederman's recent talk at the Chicago Historical Society: the Nobel Prize winner and IIT professor "will talk about crashing the atom right here in Chicago."

"Some people [had] told the search committee, 'We need someone who can go out on the golf course and make deals to get food donations,'" Christine Vladimiroff says she learned after being hired as president of Chicago-based Second Harvest (Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 19). "I don't play golf, but food donations have been up 10 per cent every year since I've been here." The Chronicle reports that there are only 30 female CEOs among the nation's 188 richest nonprofit organizations, and they are routinely paid less than comparable male CEOs. The best paid is local John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation head Adele Simmons, at $355,350.

"In each culture, gays construct their lives using the materials at hand," writes Adam Goodheart in the Washington Post (June 9), reviewing the book Cracks in the Iron Closet. "Thus, America's liberation-oriented movement has modeled itself closely on the black struggle for civil rights, while British gays often portray their sexual tastes as a colorful eccentricity, like spiritualism or court tennis. In Russia, homosexuals embrace the protean inventiveness and evasiveness so prominent in their country's literature."

Watch your language! In a recent report on campaign finance reforms in other states, Northern Illinois University's Paul Street notes that the solution is "democratically financed elections, a phrase that meets greater voter acceptance than publicly financed elections."

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