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The fat lady sings again...and again... Lyric Opera of Chicago reports that it concluded its 1989-90 season "at an historic 102.7% of box office capacity."

"Billions for rail service for nuclear weapons and not a cent for rail service for millions of Americans" is how U.S. Senator Paul Simon describes President Bush's budget, which includes no money for Amtrak but continues to fund an $11 billion railroad for the MX missile. Two million of Illinois' 2.7 million Amtrak riders last year boarded at Union Station; most popular downstate stops were Springfield (109,000), Champaign-Urbana (65,000), Carbondale (63,000), and Galesburg (52,000).

A racist city deserves a pair of racist newspapers. Number of racially motivated ("bias") crimes in Chicago from July 1, 1988, to June 30, 1989, according to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations as reported by David Protess of Northwestern University in Chicago, March 1990: 227. Number of bias crimes reported in both the Sun-Times and the Tribune: 3. Number of victims of all bias crimes who were black: about 150. Number of victims of the widely reported bias crimes who were black: 0.

Burn, baby, burn I: This thought from a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times, relayed by the University of Chicago's Martin Marty in his newsletter Context (February 1): "A law that declares the burning of a flag to be desecration is implicitly declaring the flag sacred, an inherently religious act. At whatever point the flag is declared sacred it becomes a national idol. Any Christian, Jew or Muslim, any thinking person, for that matter, who eschews idolatry or the imposition of a national religion has a moral responsibility to disassociate from it."

Burn, baby, burn II: "Aerial photos taken between 1938 and 1980, before we started burning, show advancing brush and retreating prairie," writes Steve Packard in the Twelfth Year Report of the North Branch Prairie Project. "Since 1980 that degradation has halted--and the apparently inexorable trend has been dramatically reversed--in those areas where we have been able to employ vigorous fires. Some of the prairie and savanna openings have almost doubled in size since 1977.... Our regularly burned areas show dramatic increases in such plants as blue-eyed grass, golden alexanders and rattlesnake master"--on the north side of Chicago and in nearby suburbs. "This is a field where dedicated amateurs from all walks of life [1,146 last year] can make a real contribution. We invite every person with a generous spirit and good muscles to join in on the workdays."

Squeaky clean, that's us. According to the city Board of Election Commissioners, in the 1989 municipal elections 28,785 Chicagoans had registered to vote in more than one place--but only one of them actually voted twice.

How TV cameras obliterate the AIDS virus. According to U. of I. professor of medical humanities Paula Treichler, the tube tends to "dissolve the gayness of the gay person with AIDS into a homogenized and universalized person facing death.... Without denying that this universalizing process may sometimes be valuable, I would suggest that it enables television both to dramatize death and to escape a fate worse than death: showing gay people being gay."

Polish up your stereotype just in time for Saint Patrick's Day. From a letter sent by a New York City public-relations firm: "In 590 AD, Tiberius II ruled the Byzantine Empire, Mohammed roamed the Middle East and the Irish were distilling the world's first whiskey."

Yeah, I worked for him, but I don't want his name in my bio. From the campaign biography of one candidate for the Democratic nomination for state comptroller: "In 1988, Bill Sarto served on the convention staff for the Democratic party's nominee for President of the United States of America."

The poor are more oriented to business ownership than the rest of the population, according to Roosevelt University economist Steven Balkin, who has just published Self-Employment for Low Income People. "They must consider self-employment because that is their last refuge for a job. They are resourceful, too, as demonstrated by their ability to survive on welfare payments or minimum wage jobs."

It's a fool's game to "balance" costs and benefits in cleaning up the environment and stopping pollution at its source, says pioneer environmentalist Barry Commoner. "This is the only field of public health in which such considerations are even allowed. No one ever did a cost-benefit analysis on eliminating smallpox."


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