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"I have an affinity for machinery," confesses farmer John Peterson in Angelic Organics Farm News (August 27). "One machine can sometimes do the work of twenty laborers. It will never sneak out of the field in the middle of the morning for a nap. It's usually where I left it. If it breaks I can almost always fix it. And I've never seen a drunk chisel plow. On the other hand, the 656 Farmall tractor has never made me lunch, I've never flirted with the wheel hoe, and I've never enjoyed an Amazake White Russian with the tiller."

Oh great. "No nation may claim that any portion of the moon is part of its territory," according to Lance Frazer in the Chicago-based Student Lawyer (October), "but there is no language specifically forbidding any private business from claiming ownership of part of the moon and the resources on it."

"This is a nation in which every driver stuck in a traffic jam thinks that it's everybody else's cars causing the tie-up," writes James Krohe Jr., reviewing Anthony Downs's book New Visions for Metropolitan America in the farewell issue of Chicago Enterprise (September/October). "Before cities can improve, Downs says, in effect, people must improve--be more thoughtful, more generous, less afraid, better. That is not a new vision, but an old daydream."

Fat kids. Results from a long-term study of Louisiana children on which pediatrician Samuel Gidding of Northwestern and Children's Memorial served as a consultant: "The children followed from 1984 to 1992 gained on average about ten pounds more than the groups of children who were examined from 1973 to 1981. Their growth in height was the same; they were simply more obese. This was true for all race/gender groups." The younger kids also had higher cholesterol, and more of it was the "bad" sort (Children's Carousel, Fall).

"Clinton's perfidy on issues of social justice and racial equality puts the [Congressional Black] Caucus in a situation comparable to that which faced black Republicans after Reconstruction," reflects Northwestern's Adolph Reed Jr. in the Progressive (October). Clinton's "staging of photo-ops at black churches and his fawning over black homicide victims' families to sell his draconian crime bill bring to mind J.K. Vardaman's and Ben Tillman's insistence a hundred years ago that disfranchisement and Jim Crow were good for black Mississippians and South Carolinians....I am haunted by the image of the last cohort of black Southern state legislators waiting to be driven out of office after the restoration of white supremacy a century ago. Their pathetic efforts to fashion compromises with an increasingly obdurate tyranny are a poignant reminder that at times the greatest danger lies in not standing on principle."

"Here is a person who is running for state comptroller...[whose] financial disclosures are filled with large and small inaccuracies," writes Rich Miller of Democrat Earlean Collins in Illinois Politics (August). "Her stump speech is widely described as 'laughable' and her Republican opponent only half-jokingly says her best strategy for victory is to convince Collins to agree to a long series of debates....And, lest you think I'm being racist, ask a few black state legislators about Collins and then watch their eyes roll all the way back into their heads."

Howard Learner's millennium. The executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest told the Chicago Conference on Human Health and Environment last month that before 2000 Commonwealth Edison and Wisconsin Electric will "seek to shut down some of the old nuclear power plants...which are no longer economically justified assets in a more competitive marketplace"--cutting their losses rather than throwing good money after bad. Will Dresden be the first to go?

"Why is it that we expect total perfection in our public transportation system, but overlook the slaughter on the highways?" asks Ken Bird in Railgram (September), newsletter of the Illinois Association of Railroad Passengers. "We would be offended if the average daily [highway] toll of 100 deaths and over 7,000 injuries cluttered up our TV screens or daily newspapers. Imagine what the media--and public--reaction would be like if 110 people were killed every day in train wrecks or airplane crashes."

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

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