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Cultural-literacy test for parents of toddlers. From MOMents' (April) discussion of booking characters for kiddie birthday parties: "Because most of the popular characters are those seen on TV and in the movies, they are copyrighted and legally unavailable. Companies that book characters get around this by scheduling them by description....The hottest characters are: the big purple dinosaur, the lady in the yellow dress and her big hairy companion, the blue genie, and Mr. and Mrs. Mouse."

Sure they want to build a combined airport and trash incinerator, but they did stick around for two hours after the hearing was over. Nuclear Energy (First Quarter) includes this advice from Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication at Columbia University: "Studies have identified at least 77 nonverbal cues linked to trust and credibility. Our research has found, for instance, that the public is more likely to trust officials who linger after a meeting to hear and discuss people's concerns and questions. Those who leave immediately take their credibility with them."

It just wouldn't do for a Republican governor to put up signs saying, "Give, or we'll kick Lincoln out." The state Historic Preservation Agency is asking visitors to 18 historic sites to contribute funds to help keep them open. Exceptions to the new policy: prearranged school group tours, Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield, and Douglas's Tomb in Chicago.

Hey, y'know, like, the Holocaust was wrong for you, but it's not wrong for me. Saint Ignatius Magazine (Spring) quotes religious studies teacher Sister Kathleen Budesky: "The hardest thing for [Saint Ignatius students] to understand is that something can be universally wrong. They want to say, 'If it seems all right for you then it's all right.'"

Bible thumpers get a taste of their own medicine from Tim Unsworth, writing in the Chicago-based Salt (June): "The same fundamentalists that continue to endorse Leviticus' call for the death penalty for homosexuals are never heard demanding capital punishment for the sin of cursing one's parents (Lev. 20:9) or for adultery (Lev. 20:10), rules that would wipe out much of the U.S. population, including some well-known televangelists."

"Illinois budgetmakers routinely wink at the constitutional mandate [for a balanced state budget] and enact fiscal blueprints that permit general fund spending in excess of actual revenues," notes the Budget Watch Reporter (April). "Of course Illinois never operates in the red--when the cash balances get too low, the comptroller simply stops writing checks, and... [eventually] last year's bills are being paid with this year's revenues." The state has overspent its income in 12 of the last 15 years.

"Many folks who used to picket landlords have become landlords themselves," reflects R. Bruce Dold in Chicago Enterprise (May/June). "Rather than beg the government to spend money or pressure slumlords to fix their buildings, [Chicago community] activists are taking a management role in housing and economic development. They're operating Community Development Corporations (CDCs), tenant-management councils and self-run financial services such as credit unions and workers' compensation pools....[But] they can't help but wonder if Saul Alinsky would spit on their wingtips."

"Nowhere do we see the extent of the upper-middle-class, conservative, white, male bias of the media more clearly than when it comes to taking violence against women seriously," writes Susan Douglas in the Progressive (May). "'Manly' topics, like Bill Clinton's budget proposals and what 'we' should do about Russia, dominate the talk shows....Just the other day, Fred 'Blow-'em-Away' Barnes argued for 'a preemptive strike' against nuclear facilities in North Korea that we aren't even sure exist. Barnes and the rest of the boys celebrated the arming of Nicaraguan contras, invading Panama, and bombing Iraq as necessary and patriotic. But save the women--especially the Muslim women of former Yugoslavia--from mass rape? Hey, wait a minute. The terrain is hilly and it's really complicated. Talk about domestic violence in the United States? Hey, that's private stuff."

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

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