The City File 

Bulletin: Health Nazis take over luxury hotels. According to a Northern Illinois Tourism Council newsletter, at least one San Francisco hotel no longer leaves a chocolate on your pillow--it leaves a "beta-carotene antioxidant tablet" instead. "The rooms' minibars are stocked with rice cakes, vegetable chili, organic wine."

"My own attitude is that being gay is like being left-handed," says Northwestern historian Peter Hayes in Bowdoin (January). "It took hundreds of years for people to decide that being left-handed was not grounds for being forcibly reoriented. I belong to the first generation in the United States--I am left-handed--that didn't have to learn to be right-handed in school. We forget that until the end of World War II, they made you change. That is sort of parallel to 19th-century attempts, and even 20th-century attempts to reorient all gay people. At a certain point it stops, one hopes. The history of the West...is a history of extending the claims of individual freedom to ever-wider groups. It is not an unbroken history; it is not a unilinear history, but it has been the overall trend since the 1750s. Now the problem gay people have is that the resistance is particularly intense."

Things Republicans don't want to know, from a recent Institute for Women's Policy Research newsletter: "African-American women have actually declined as a proportion of AFDC mothers since 1969, from 45 percent to 40 percent, despite the fact that during the same period African-Americans slightly increased as a percent of the U.S. population."

Damn nice work if you can get it. Southern Illinois University communications professor Barbara Kaye, who compared two weeks of the four television networks' programming in 1990 and 1994, reports in a recent press release that use of swear words is up: Her study found that "the amount of foul talk aired before 9 p.m. jumped from 99 offensive words in 1990 to 192 words in 1994."

If we hate congestion so much, why aren't we on the train? From Fact Sheet #1 (February) of the Metropolitan Planning Council's Market-Based Transportation Solutions Project: "During the 1980s, the number of miles traveled by vehicles in the region increased by 33 percent, while the number of trips taken on public transit declined by 17 percent."

Multiculturalism approaches med school. Ethnic origin of the 300 students entering class at the U. of I.'s medical school in 1994: white 149, Hispanic 40, black 39, Indian or Pakistani 27, Chinese 16, Korean 14, other Asian 7, unknown 7, Native American 1 (UIC News, February 1).

"Why doesn't the real world look like the conservative economists' model [in which higher minimum wages reduce jobs]?" asks David Moberg in In These Times (March 6). "Because labor markets aren't like stock markets, where there is a clearly identifiable price set by a relatively smoothly adjusting market. As [Princeton economists David] Card and [Alan] Krueger emphasize, the market doesn't set a clear price for labor. Employers have fairly broad latitude in setting the wages for their workers; they don't simply respond to a market-determined wage rate that is gauged by a worker's productivity. Also, unlike stocks, workers change their behavior as their price--i.e. their wage--rises: they work harder, they are less likely to be absent, they stay on the job longer."

Remedial education. Item 4 on the state's official list of ten ways to prepare for tornadoes: "Know the name of the county in which you live."

So you're a bigot. At least you're conserving. Among Sam Smith's suggestions for "saving affirmative action" (Progressive Review, February): "Provide wiggle room, especially for smaller businesses....What if we offered these smaller firms some leeway in how they help America become a better place? For example, what if, for such businesses, we lumped affirmative action, energy conservation and recycling together in such a way that a laggard in minority hiring could partially compensate by excelling in reduced energy use or vice versa? Such a program would be based on the principle that while we all have our faults, we all can do something right as well."

Batting .180 after 20 months. According to Anna Kibat in Illinois Politics (February), the state auditor general examined a statistically valid random sample of child-support collection cases opened during October 1992 and found that as of June 1994, "only 18 percent of the cases sampled resulted in some provision to collect child support."

Careful, Paul, they might take you up on it. Part of U.S. Senator Paul Simon's recent reply to a "visibly angry woman" who asked him how he could believe in the Bible and still support letting gay people join the military: "Since the 10 Commandments mention adultery and not homosexuality, and adultery is condemned at least 40 times more than homosexuality in the Bible, should we keep anyone out of the service who has committed adultery? My recollection of my Army days is that would thin our ranks appreciably."

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

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