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Casino habitues were not asked whether they would prefer to play blackjack in Amish country. "More casinos are being discussed in questionable areas, such as Northeastern Indiana," reports Doug Dobmeyer in his newsletter "Poverty Issues...Dateline Illinois" (March 1997). "Makes the people in the tourist mecca of Shipshewana, Indiana, (antiques and Amish country) unhappy. They should be. The Chicago based Economic Research Associates...in a 1996 study found...33 percent of current tourists would not visit if casinos were present."

Not enough. According to the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation, "the average gross salary of all Illinois teachers ($40,890 for nine months, school year 1995-96) is higher than the incomes of 83 percent of all U.S. workers."

"Midwest consumers are the most confident in the nation and have comparatively little debt," says First Chicago economist Diane Swonk. So will their spending boost the economy? Only a little--because their confidence rests on something other than their take-home pay: "Wage and benefit compensation last year actually declined 0.1 percent, once inflation is factored in."

Didja hear the one about the proctologist and the baseball bat? A recent U. of C. study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (February 19) reports that "Primary care physicians who frequently used humor were less likely to have been sued" for malpractice.

Now, of course, all the nukes are gone. Governors State University president Paula Wolff, quoted in the newsletter "@govst.edu" (February): "The overriding event that pervaded every facet of my parents' lives was the Depression. In my own life, it was the threat of nuclear war from 1950 through the '70s. Today, the issue is how do we survive our own potentially self-inflicted destruction through degradation of the global environment."

Feminism on the march. Barbie doll sales worldwide in 1987, according to a recent press release from the Hinsdale Center for the Arts: $430 million. In 1995: $1.4 billion. Average number of Barbies owned by a "typical American girl between the ages of 3 and 11": eight.

Ouch! Steven Comfort, writing in Hotwired (January 24) on his investigation of whether Spruce (on Ontario) deserves Esquire's recent commendation as the "finest restaurant in America." Comfort doesn't think so. Not only were his portions too small, but the wine list was too short: "Nothing on the list cost more than U.S. $50, which might tell more about Chicagoans than Spruce."

Return on investment. "At Commerce, Daley will be in charge of some $1.5 billion in direct corporate welfare," notes Doug Ireland in the Nation (February 3). For instance? "Between 1992 and 1994, AT&T gave $90,000 to the Clinton fund-raising machine, and received $34.2 million in Commerce grants; Boeing gave $127,000 and received $50.9 million; Chevron gave $220,000 and received $8.1 million; GE gave $153,000 and received $14.8 million; Shell Petroleum gave $65,000 and received $12 million; Texaco gave $22,000 and received $8.1 million."

Doctors goof; patients grin and bear it. Hospitals make more mistakes than people think, and patients are less likely to sue than is widely believed, according to Chicago-Kent law professor Lori Andrews and colleagues in a study published in the Lancet (February 1). For nine months they followed 1,047 patients in an "elite teaching hospital" and found, "The likelihood of experiencing an adverse event"--defined as an inappropriate decision made when an appropriate one could have been--"increased about 6% for each day of hospital stay." Over one-sixth (17.7 percent) of the patients surveyed had at least one "serious adverse event"--but only 1.2 percent filed a claim for compensation.

Back when 708 was livelier. Raymond Wiggers in his new book Illinois Geology Underfoot: "A significant (but invisible) geologic feature, the Des Plaines Disturbance, lies about 10 miles west of the Northwestern campus. This is a zone where the earth's crust has sustained intense faulting and deformation in a relatively small area. Centered near the intersection of Dempster Street and the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294), this strange structure is approximately 5.5 miles in diameter. The strata have been subjected to some force that caused a remarkable degree of fracturing....Recent evidence, in the form of well-core samples containing rock fragments with shatter-cone patterns, points to a major meteorite impact that occurred at some point after the Pennsylvanian," less than 286 million years ago. "The disturbance is not something you will be able to spot at the surface. In the long span of time since the meteorite crashed to earth, the crater and the uppermost rock strata have been eroded to the same level as the surrounding terrain."

Just wait 'til your father gets home. According to the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative, "1,177,000 Illinois children will go to bed tonight in a home where their biological dad doesn't reside. That's 38% of all Illinois children."

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