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Give me your tired, your poor, your mathematicians... The University of Chicago Chronicle (February 25) reports that for the first time last year, more than half of the people receiving mathematics PhDs in this country were not U.S. citizens. "If not for the brain drain from overseas," says U. of C. mathematics chairman J. Peter May, "it would not be possible to staff U.S. mathematics departments even at a skeletal level."

"Spring is the perfect time to get out and see the Universe," says the Adler Planetarium. I dunno, seems like a long way to go.

"Graduate school enrollment among blacks declined by roughly 20 percent from the mid-70s to mid-80s across the nation," reports At Chicago (March 2). Most alarming, according to UIC Graduate College's Karen Williams, is that "the numbers are getting so small so rapidly. Between 1976 and 1984, we're seeing 12,000 fewer blacks in graduate schools" because of fewer grants, higher loan rates, and difficulty in finding mentors in predominantly white faculties.

The Best New Roof in Chicago Award, according to "Chicago architecture police" Howard Decker and Philip Bess (Inland Architect, March/April 1988), "goes to Philip Johnson's 190 South LaSalle for its gleaming copper top. The less said about the rest of the building, the better."

Your taxes at work, chapter one: "An EPA staffer accidentally gave me the number for [EPA] Director Lee Thomas' personal phone," writes Fred Nelson of the National Network for the Chemically Hypersensitive, as quoted in In These Times (March 9-15). "I called and his administrative assistant answered, 'Director Thomas' office.' The response to my query, 'Is the director available,' was 'What company are you with?' I responded, 'I'm not with any company but with a foundation concerned with the health effects of pesticides.' Pause. 'Does the director personally know you?' 'No but he should be aware of the foundation.' Very long pause, followed by, 'The director isn't available; someone will get back to you.'"

Your taxes at work, chapter two. "I sent a letter to the Postmaster General," said Federal Trade Commission chairman Daniel Oliver in a speech reprinted by the Center for the Study of American Business. "He immediately answered my letter and gave it to someone to hand deliver. When we called the office of the Postmaster General and asked why they had it hand delivered, the young man at the other end of the receiver simply replied, 'Well, we wanted to make sure that the letter arrived safely.'"

Self-actualization with the proper class of people. The April-June catalog of the Oasis Center on North Sheridan includes a $10 Saturday-night workshop, "Enjoying the Single Life: Safe Ways of Meeting Others," with the promise of "non-threatening and enriching experiences," including learning "new skills and attitudes . . . enjoyment in brief contacts . . . emotional nourishment." But from whom? "We expect singles of all ages between 25 and 55 most of whom are in professional occupations." Whew.

But when was the last time someone was elected governor by promising to put check forgers and small-time burglars on probation? Illinois' probation system improved greatly during the 1980s, writes John Howard Association president Joyce O'Keefe in Update (Winter 1988). The state's Intensive Probation Supervision (IPS), with a better than 50 percent success rate, costs "only $2,278 [for adults] compared to the annual cost of imprisonment per inmate of $16,014." But as of last August, just 546 adults were in IPS, while state prisons bulged with a record 19,994 inmates.

"Workaholism is the most socially acceptable of the addictions," writes California publicist Candice Fuhrman, who's plugging a new book, The Addictive Organization. "In fact you often hear people BRAG that they are addicted to their jobs. Furthermore, workaholics are generally encouraged by their employers. . . . But workaholism, like all addictions, is a progressive disease that leads to death if not treated." Like life.

"Family fairness" is the new policy of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, according to Legalization Bulletin (January 1988), published by the Citizens Information Service of Illinois: "If both [illegal alien] parents qualify for legalization (or one parent in a single-parent household), the INS will not deport minor children if they are apprehended." Some people are all heart.

Reassuring words from mayoral assistant Robert Mier (Chicago Enterprise, March 1988): "Nobody really understands the Chicago economy."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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