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Homo ignoramus. In preparing for its new energy exhibit (opening October 24), the Chicago Academy of Sciences surveyed 388 Illinoisans, ages 9 to 70. According to its newsletter Newscast (Summer/Fall), "When asked to numerically order items involved in the production of electricity from coal, fewer than 25 percent created an appropriate chain from the sun to coal to electric light, and only half identified the sun as the first step in the chain." Says CAS vice president Carol Fialkowski, "Even the most educated people we interviewed weren't able to make the proper connections between the sun, coal, and electricity--and they didn't care!"

A college only Dan Quayle could love. Dowagiac's Southwestern Michigan College last year cut theater instructor Patrick Spradlin from full-time to part-time after which he resigned. One of his sins, according to the People for the American Way's Artistic Freedom Under Attack 1992, was this: "When he submitted a proposal for the 1990-91 [theater] season, his second year with the college, the administration informed him that the treatment of sex in [a] scheduled musical, Baby, was inappropriate for audiences, citing, among other things, the word 'spermatozoa' in a song lyric."

At last the world's most efficient form of transportation gets its own government subsidy. The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation News (August) reports that the city transportation department has $750,000 in federal funds to install up to 1,500 bicycle racks around town, and that city transportation planner Louann Hamilton is anxious to hear from cyclists about the best places to put them.

Let's see--that would make Y a cross-dresser, right? The Zephyr (August 6) reports that several downstate Galesburg parents have complained about sexism in an alphabet-teaching program in which the letters are characters: all the consonants are male, and only the five vowels are female.

The Chicago Public Schools are in first place in the Civic Federation's Chicagoland--A Fiscal Perspective 1981-1990. Of the eight major government bodies in Cook County, only the Chicago Board of Education has increased its property-tax take by more than the percentage increase in the local consumer price index in each of the past three years.

Sure, I could pull myself up by my bootstraps, but have you seen the price of bootstraps these days? "At St. Joseph School across the street from the Cabrini-Green housing project, the tuition per family is $855 a year, but the actual cost per student is $1,900 a year," according to Ed Marciniak, author of the new report "Mainstreaming the Urban Poor," on nonpublic schools' ability to help children from low-income families.

When consistency isn't a virtue. Tom Corfman and Muriel L. Whetstone in the Chicago Reporter (July): "For the fifth straight year, Southwest Side Chicago Lawn had the most hate crimes, with 22."

Books unlikely to be successfully marketed to those born since 1960. The subtitle of Florence and Al Tauber's new book, Over the Hill at 40 and Other Outrageous Lies, is How to Feel 20 to 30 Years Younger at Any Age.

Can Com Ed afford to cut its dividend? You bet, according to the Citizens Utility Board, which claims that Edison's $3-per-share dividend is "five times as high as the average dividend yield for the top 50 corporations in the Chicago area."

Age of cars most often stolen in 1991: 5 years. Percentage of Illinois motorists surveyed who think cars that old are a "very likely" target of thieves: 16 (Illinois Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Council).

"Will the new program work?" asks attorney Julius Yacker of legislative provisions enabling residents to buy multifamily dwellings with federal aid. "Well, in theory no new HUD program ever works. In practice we always make them work and that's what we have to do now."

The religion of Museumology. Harbert, Michigan, antique dealer Frank Priscillo, comments in The Other Side of the Lake (August) about how antiques tend to outlast their owners: "We're all curators here on earth, we don't get to keep anything."

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


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