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Hello, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you out of a job. "Stopping industrial development in the name of 'environmental justice' will do nothing to alleviate poor environmental conditions or public health problems in low-income and minority communities," writes Jonathan Adler in "Intellectual Ammunition" (June/July), published by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute. "However, by erecting the greatest barriers to economic development in those communities with disproportionate minority populations, 'environmental justice' has a disparate impact on the people it purports to help."

"Chicago generally is too conservative," opines architect Joseph Valerio in "Focus" (July/August), newsletter of the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects. "Our firm presents different schemes with varying degrees of 'volume.' Our clients almost always go for the one turned way up; Chicago needs to do more of that."

California dreamin'. Hanna Rosin, editor at the New Republic, reports in the June 8 issue on how high-technology companies distinguish Washington, D.C., lobbyists who know about their industry from those who don't. Automatically disqualified are "the lobbyists who pronounce Silicon Valley 'Silicone Valley.'"

"We give them hot spots, and the hot spots are still there." That's what Donald Stone of the West Garfield chapter of ACORN says about community policing in his neighborhood in the Community Media Workshop's "Newstips" newsletter (June 11). "No goals are set, and nothing changes. The police seem to feel that just by going to the meetings they've met their responsibility."

Metaphors we could have lived without. From the summer issue of the "John Marshall Comment": "She has handled [sexism and anti-Semitism] as if they were bedbugs in the cot of life: unpleasant but natural forces that were to be eradicated as best one could."

Forty times slicker than Teflon. That's the description of the carbon coating developed by Ali Erdemir of Argonne National Laboratory. In its July issue, Discover magazine selected the coating as one of the 45 top innovations of the past year. "The trick is in the way he deposits the carbon film." So far the technology has been licensed to two automotive firms looking for better, less-polluting lubricants.

"Every person shall have the right to a job and to receive a livable wage for their work (defined as a minimum of $10 per hour in 1997, indexed to inflation)." That would become the 28th Amendment to the Constitution if the Labor Party has its way, according to Adolph Reed, writing in the Chicago-based "People's Tribune" (June). "On its own, the private economy does not create enough decent jobs for all who need them," he writes. And he sees a bleak future. "The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 1990 and 2005 the value of goods manufactured in the United States will increase by 41 percent but the number of people employed to make those goods will decline by 3 percent."

"During the year that Illinois has had control of welfare, caseload levels have plummeted 25 percent from 227,943 cases in July 1997 to 171,736 cases in May 1998," reports Doug Dobmeyer in "Poverty Issues...Dateline Illinois" (July 27). How many of those 56,207 people left because they'd found work? Only one-quarter.

No more magnet schools, suggests the "Secret Sub," writing in Substance (July). "If you really want middle-class people with young children to stay in the city, revitalize the neighborhood school where people can walk to their school....Someone should concentrate on those neighborhoods (the majority) where the families pay $100,000 to $200,000 for their homes. These are the people who can move to the suburbs and automatically get better schools for their children simply by buying the same priced house outside the Chicago city limits. This is the middle class. By the time people can afford $300,000 or $400,000 for a 'home,' they're moving away from the middle class (and probably will send their kids to expensive private schools anyway)."

The coyote ate my homework. Northern Illinois University offers an English course held in the Rocky Mountains wilderness, for six credits, called Xtreme Lit ("Northern Today," July 13).

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