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Needed: a place where everyone knows your name. According to a new University of Chicago study of truancy and class cutting in Chicago public high schools, "More than 40 percent of the highest-achieving ninth graders missed two or more weeks of classes in at least one major subject in the second semester of 1996." Study author and U. of C. professor Melissa Roderick says, "Cutting is easy in large high schools without adult monitoring, strong school cultures or orderly school environments."

Gee--what would it be like if our governor weren't a Baptist?

"The state of Illinois does not want to spend any money to find out the cost of gambling," says Chris Anderson, executive director of the Illinois Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling, interviewed in "Poverty Issues...Dateline Illinois" (July 28). "The state operates with the same mentality of a compulsive gambler, only counting the win side of the equation and deliberately ignoring the loss side."

Most organized Chicago neighborhoods, according to the Institute of Urban Life's "1997 Directory of Community Organizations in Chicago": Austin and Humboldt Park, each with seven "neighborhood-based, multi-purpose community organizations with a membership, office and staff."

What a deal! North-sider Monica Drane on her decision to stop teaching ninth grade to be home with her daughter: "I like to say I traded 97 14-year-olds for one baby" (Carleton Voice, Summer).

Paragraphs that stopped us quick. "Sometimes I have real difficulty relating to the Jesus I find in scripture," writes Gregory F. Augustine Pierce in the Chicago-based U.S. Catholic (April). "Beyond the obvious differences--he lived in the first century, I in the twentieth; he was a Jew, I am a Christian; he is God, I am not..."

On the soup line in Champaign. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Cary Nelson claims that there are perhaps as few as 600 academic jobs for every 10,000 PhD applicants--leading many graduate students "to cobble together what is at best an uncertain, nearly impoverished existence on the margins of their disciplines."

The old I&M Canal has been drained for repairs until next year, but you can tour the canal virtually by visiting dnr.state.il.us/i&m/main.htm, where the state Department of Natural Resources has "still pictures, audio and video" available, though presumably not from the 1850s.

Is the glass 21 percent full or 79 percent empty? "Of the 216 Moraine Valley [Community College] students receiving public assistance in 1996, 46 (21 percent) increased their income enough to have their monthly cash assistance reduced or canceled altogether," reports the school in a press release. "This saved the state $303,552."

"For street gangs and organized crime groups, computer chips have become the dope of the 1990's," writes Elizabeth Van Ella in the Chicago Crime Commission's "Action Alert" (Spring/Summer). "The computer chip is the most valuable commodity on the international market....Of the 80 million '486' computer chips currently in use, fewer than 2% have serial numbers, a fact that has attracted organized crime groups. After all, it is not a crime to walk around with a suitcase full of central processing units."

New horizons for caregivers.

The Corner Bakery's newsletter "Toast" (Summer) includes an interview with employee Pam Fitzpatrick: "We vent our breads for the last five minutes of the bake to dry the crust, but again, there is little we can do about the humidity once the bread goes into the trucks for delivery. The crust absorbs the moisture in the air and boom, baguettes go limp.

The best we can do is advise our customers about bread care at home."

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