A "get out the vote" drive targeting Scott and Waterloo counties is underway. In the Iowa House 86th District, the strategy is as follows: Paid employees, some masquerading as citizen activists, spent the summer rounding up absentee requests.

For Gwen and Dorty Hennessey, the two Catholic nuns from Dubuque who received the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) award from St. Ambrose University last Thursday for their service in promoting world peace, the wind knows no government.

Before Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein became icons of the 20th Century, they were dreamers. Steve Martin thinks so anyway. In his 1996 play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Martin explores the unusual (fictional) meeting of young artist Picasso and science genius Einstein before they created history-changing works and ideas - during a time they had only the visions in their heads to rely on. Richmond Hill Players is performing the play in Geneseo through October 13.

Iowa candidates for public office should be ashamed for not filling out Project Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (NPAT). What message does it send to voters when our incumbents and challengers are unwilling to share their views with voters? And what does it say about the parties and political consultants who discourage candidates from such basic disclosure? This refusal to inform voters is part of the systemic problem that perpetuates lack of accountability of the body politic.

The Midwest Writing Center was once an idea and an organization without a place. It's definitely a place now, but one with a door that might or might not be open if you stop by.

The facility, which held several programs over the summer, will make its presence official this weekend with a grand-opening celebration on Sunday, September 29, from 2 to 4 p.

• The audio alchemists of Negativland have done it again, challenging listeners with an electronic cacophony to accompany their latest "art damage" project, entitled Death Sentences of the Polished & Structurally Weak.

I am happy to report that the parents of students from Grant and Johnson elementary schools are appealing the Iowa Department of Education's administrative law judge's decision to uphold the closings of the two facilities.

When the Davenport City Council on Wednesday considers raising fares for the city's mass-transit service by 50 percent, it's doing so with the risk that the move could backfire. While the city has estimates on how much revenue the fare increase might generate, history and the size of the hike suggest that the benefit might not be enough to bring the service out of the red.

• According to a study published this month in the journal Health Education Research, the nation's three leading student drug-prevention programs are either ineffective or under-evaluated. Programs highlighted in the study include McGruff's Drug Prevention & Child Protection, Here's Looking at You 2000, and DARE.

A budding political dynasty is in deep trouble on Chicago's Southwest Side.

No, I'm not talking about the attorney- general candidacy of House Speaker Michael Madigan's daughter, Lisa. And I'm not referring to former Senate President Tom Hynes' son, Dan, whose re-election as state comptroller is all but assured.