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Who's in charge here? The suburban-based Pediatrics reports that toddlers get hurt in car accidents much more often than infants do: "Only 12 percent of 4-year-olds are in car seats at the time of a crash as compared to 78 percent of infants."

Not all the neighborhood news is bad. The Woodstock Institute compared 1988-'92 to 1977-'81 and found that 18 of Chicago's 45 low- and moderate-income neighborhoods have had significant increases (greater than the city average) in the number of building permits for residential repair and improvement. "The notion that these communities are washed-up economically is misguided," says Woodstock Institute vice president Dan Immergluck. "While there's no doubt they've had more than their share of problems, they continue to be places where people work, live, and invest."

No free lunches, part one. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all mass-transit agencies to provide accessible regular buses and trains as well as comparable "paratransit" service for those whose disabilities keep them off regular "fixed-route" transit. But the bill provides no funding, and according to a recent U.S. General Accounting Office report, "officials at 9 of the 12 transit agencies visited told us that [this] could force them to reduce existing fixed-route service or delay planned service expansion in order to make additional funding available for paratransit service." In addition, they might also have to consider such options as "(1) restricting paratransit service to those persons who meet the ADA's criteria [i.e., excluding the elderly], (2) requesting a waiver to delay full compliance with the ADA, and (3) increasing fares for all service."

No free lunches, part two. According to David Cohen in the Chicago Audubon Society's Compass (June), protecting the lakefront with a "rubble-mound revetment" would cost $154 million. A far more sightly and accessible "step-stone revetment" would cost $192 million. "The Army Corps is willing to build the costlier project, but will apply the 65/35 [federal/local cost sharing] formula only to the lower figure," because of federal requirements that the project be built at the least possible cost. "This means that the $38 million difference will fall entirely on the shoulders of the City and Park District." The city and some conservationists have started campaigning to get Congress to overrule the Corps. Don't stay up late waiting for someone to mention that Chicagoans will get a lot more good out of the step-stone design than will federal taxpayers in New York or Arizona.

Unclear on the concept. From publicity for a California demonstration: "Without a doubt, the crowd will sing our national anthem as well as other patriotic songs, such as 'we shall overcome,' Dixie, etc."

"The book distorts Illinois history by turning it into an unambiguous and celebratory saga of modernization with sturdy pioneers, clever entrepreneurs, ambitious businessmen and right-thinking reformers as its heroes and heroines," complains Richard Taylor of Lois Carrier's new textbook Illinois: Crossroads of a Continent in Illinois Issues (June). "Illinois history thus becomes a triumphalist middle-class myth of origins....Yet developments like public education were not naturally emerging improvements, the inevitable consequences of modernization described by the author. They were (and still are) bitterly contested, socially constituted and perpetually contingent phenomena arising from struggles between specific religious, ethnic and social groups. Similarly, the reformers invariably presented here as right-thinking advocates for disadvantaged groups seeking to share modernization's bounty were often bitter critics of the modern and middle-class values otherwise celebrated in the text."

Less land, fewer farmers, more money. The 1992 Census of Agriculture shows that the state had 77,610 farms (compared to 88,786 in 1987) occupying 27.3 million acres (down from 28.5 million). But those farms sold $7.3 billion worth of products, compared to $6.4 billion five years earlier.

How to succeed in academia. U. of C. anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, as quoted in Context (June 15): "At least as far as anthropology goes, two things are certain in the long run: one is that we'll all be dead; but another is that we'll all be wrong. Clearly, a good scholarly career is where the first comes before the second."

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

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