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Beer, tobacco, and guns "are products with very long histories that are risky if misused," muses Joseph Bast in the "Heartlander" (June), newsletter of the Chicago-based Heartland Institute. "We used to tolerate that risk in exchange for the benefits derived from their proper use. To encourage proper use, we held individuals responsible for their actions. As a society, we now seem to take those benefits for granted, and we run to government for help when the benefits no longer rise to meet our needs. We have lost the will to hold people accountable for their mistakes."

"Science fiction has a really bad track record of actually predicting the future in any definitive way," acknowledges Gary Wolfe, a humanities professor at Roosevelt University and a leading science fiction critic ("Roosevelt Review," Summer). Just for starters, SF authors have predicted nuclear war, regular space travel, and household robots--but they failed to predict home computers and the Internet.

The acid test. The Chicago Housing Authority's new executive director, Phillip Jackson, has visited Hilliard Homes three times, including at night, reports Hilliard's Local Advisory Council president Manor Jean Wiley ("Residents' Journal," June). "He has been on the property not only during the day, but he comes out here at night. And I have never known no one else to do that unless there was a meeting and they had security and everyone was aware."

"People are worried about the Indian Tiger becoming extinct. I am equally worried, if not more so, about twenty major Indian languages becoming extinct over the next fifty years," Harish Travedi tells Emily Bloch in the "Chicago South Asia Newsletter" (Spring). Travedi heads the English department at the University of Delhi and is a visiting professor in South Asian languages and civilizations at the University of Chicago. "Who is fighting for them? There's no World Wildlife Fund for them. Everybody is quite happy that English is spreading, and in effect killing off these languages as it goes along."

You are watching Channel 11--God knows why. William Hoynes of Vassar College analyzed 276 public-affairs stories broadcast by the Public Broadcasting System between November 30 and December 13 of last year and compared the results to his 1992 study, in a report sponsored by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (www.fair.org/reports/pbs-study-1999.html). He found that 36 percent of all on-camera sources represented business or Wall Street (almost double the 1992 percentage)--the proportion rises to 75 percent in stories about economics. Over 78 percent of all sources were men (77 percent in 1992). Only 6 percent of sources were from the general public (12 percent in 1992), and only 5 percent were "citizen activists" (6 percent in 1992). Just 5 percent of all stories focused on international affairs (12 percent in 1992). And on the domestic scene, "not a single representative of organized labor appeared in public TV's discussion of corporate mergers or of layoffs."

Things you can do that your father couldn't. Reuters headline July 1: "Study Says Fathers Can Pass Along Infertility."

"It's important for children to have the freedom to imagine that their parents never had sex," says adoptive parent, and Reader advice columnist Dan Savage in an interview in "Gay Parent" (July/August). "Most people are the biological product of their parents' physical union. [Savage's adopted child] has the advantage of not being the biological product of his parents' union. He can live his whole life believing that Terry and I never had sex."

At least she won't be our senator. Barbara Ehrenreich on Hillary Clinton in In These Times (July 11): "As hard as I look though, I find only a creme brulee of soft-minded sentiment laced with the arsenic of betrayal. In her personal life and her public pronouncements, she's no more feminist than Barbara Bush. Hillary wrote a book about being nice to children but supported her husband's punitive version of welfare 'reform.'"

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