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There's a big wave out there, and we just saw the first speck of foam. Chicago attorney Larry Zanger reports in the October Chicago Computer Guide that a Michigan grocery store has filed what may be the first year 2000 lawsuit, "claiming it incurred substantial losses because its [computerized] cash registers froze whenever a customer used a credit card expiring after 1999."

Rx: One big white-bread pill. Robert Katz of Rush Medical School on placebos, in "Focus on Lupus" (Fall): "Larger capsules are thought to be stronger. White tablets are often believed to be pain killers. Injections are perceived as 'stronger' than pills....Placebos can sometimes get people to change behavior, and this in turn can lead to a positive treatment response. For example, those with fatigue and achy joints may decide to resume an exercise program, whereas previously they avoided exercise because of pain or fear."

"In a fascinating study whose findings surprised even the researcher, University of Chicago Professor Susan E. Mayer found that the key determinant of whether a child drops out of high school and becomes an unwed mother is not her family's income, but her parents' character as demonstrated by their 'skills, diligence, honesty, good health, and reliability,'" writes Nurith Aizenman in the Washington Monthly (September). "In other words, a child whose parents have these traits is almost as likely to graduate from high school and avoid teen pregnancy if she's poor as if she were middle class."

There's too much money in politics. I think I'll register but not vote. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin recently argued for limiting money in politics this way: political spending rose from $200 million in 1964 to roughly $4 billion in 1996, while the percentage of the voting-age population that actually cast ballots dropped from 62 to 49 percent. One puzzle: if this is cause and effect, why has the percentage of the voting-age population registered to vote increased from 65 to 74 percent in the same time period?

"In 1982, the largest class of women to enter the Congress of the United States were completing their first year--all four of them," recalls Lynn Martin in Today's Chicago Woman (October). "It was considered remarkable then. I was one of those four and another was Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island. We were constantly mistaken for one another but we did not look alike at all. Nonetheless, since we were both tall, that seemed enough to flummox many of our male colleagues."

OK, I'll keep quiet and let you imagine. "Spirituality is a lot like sex," writes Mark Matousek, quoted in Martin Marty's newsletter "Context" (October 15). "The ones who really have it don't talk about it."

At the start of his first legislative session in Springfield, new state representative Larry McKeon didn't know his way around the labyrinthine building where the General Assembly meets. As Jennifer Davis reports in Illinois Issues (October), "McKeon solved this by tagging along with a school group taking the Capitol tour. 'It's one of the best things I did. Very informative. I highly recommend it.'"

Percentage of Navy Pier visitors who come from the city: 30 (from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority's newsletter "Showtimes," Fall).

"Actually, Paul Vallas has no problem with most of Chicago's black and Latino kids going to school in war zones--as long as those war zones are safely distant from Yuppy Fantasylands like the Gold Coast," reads an editorial in the October issue of "Substance." "There are at least thirty schools in Chicago Housing Authority war zones alone, but only Jenner--adjacent to the Gold Coast and sitting on some prime real estate--gets these semiannual attentions (and closing threats). Why not Terrell, or the dozen elementary schools that stretch north along the State St. corridor all the way to Attucks--in the shadows of Robert Taylor and Stateway Gardens? Why not Grant--or has Rockwell Gardens suddenly become a Garden Spot?"

Facts we didn't know anybody knew, from the Harper's Index (October): "Percentage of Americans earning more than $246,000 who met Bill Clinton last year: 11."

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