Watching the World
To Paralyze Society
◆ Experts now regularly warn that man has lost orderly control of his technology. To what may this lead? Italian systems engineer and computer expert Roberto Vacca says in his new book The Coming Dark Age: “As yet, a crisis on a single system [as in transportation, water or waste systems] would not be enough to bring a great metropolitan concentration to a halt, but a chance concomitance of stoppages in the same area could start a catastrophic process that would paralyze the most advanced societies and lead to the deaths of millions of people.”
Coal to the Rescue?
◆ Those who regard coal as the energy to fill the U.S. oil gap may be leaning on a broken reed. Strip (surface) mining requires diesel fuel for the big shovels; operators say they are getting less than they need. The Wall Street Journal also notes that underground mines cannot get enough roof bolts to hold up ceilings; necessary explosives are scarce and railroads are short of coal cars. Ironically, fuel used to run oil-drilling rigs is also critically short, as well as new and used drill pipe. One operator says he has “eight wells ready to drill now, but I can’t find pipe anywhere.”
◆ Sales of old-style wood stoves have increased sharply in the U.S. They may be needed this winter. Science News reports that wood for heating has some advantages over oil. A ton of wood gives off about the same amount of heat as 1,000 gallons of fuel oil but, over all, less pollutant.
◆ The Roman Catholic archbishop moderating a two-day “management meeting” of priests at Menlo Park, California, said: “We have to go and find the lost sheep. It is the home-visiting priest who makes a parish.” The response? “We can’t do that and do other things more important,” said a priest. The San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle reports that “young priests blamed increasing rejection of Catholicism on conditions unrelated to the schedule of parish home visits.” As regards church meetings, one said: “We really don’t have much of a show. . . . We should have something a little more happy, like . . . the [Jehovah’s] Witnesses.” But, among other things; their rapidly growing ministry emphasizes home visits.
Pope Bewails Declining Church
◆ Pope Paul VI told a delegation of 200 Italian priests that “our suffering because of the many priests who are defecting is our crown of thorns.” He is quoted as saying that many “are mingling with the world, almost disguising themselves as if they were ashamed of being priests.” But not just priests are defecting. Last year those never going to church nearly doubled, from 8 to 14 percent. The greatest drop was among the former strongest supporters, those over 50 years of age.
◆ The Italian Communist party has joined the Catholic Church in opposing legalized abortion there. This “is widely seen as another sign of the Communist party’s desire to appease the Vatican and strike a deal with the Christian Democratic party, .. . . which is backed by the Roman Catholic Church,” notes the New York Times.
Church Politics Protested
◆ About 600 French Protestants called for the Reformed Church of France to change from its “excessive emphasis on political and social issues . . . to greater attention to the Bible and spiritual matters,” reports Christianity Today.
Church Council Actions
◆ In the U.S. the 31-denomination National Council of Churches, representing 42 million members, elected a woman as general secretary of the Governing Board, its top executive office. “She is very much involved in the fight for women’s rights,” says the Atlanta (Georgia) Journal. Another move of the Governing Board was to approve a “dialogue” with “gay” or homosexual churchmen. Council president W. Sterling Cary struck a political note in a recent press conference: “I do not think you can be a Christian without being political,” he said; “you have got to be involved in politics.”
◆ Professor of Anthropology Anthony Ostric told the ninth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences that most professionals have fallen in behind a few leaders in accepting evolution “for fear of not being declared serious scholars or of being rejected from serious academic circles.” He said that “man’s unique biophysical and socio-cultural nature appears now to represent an unbridgeable abyss separating him from all other animals.”
◆ It is alleged that the third century B.C.E. Greek mathematician Archimedes set fire to Roman ships besieging his hometown of Syracuse by using some kind of “burning glass.” That this could be done has apparently been verified. A Greek engineer recently had 50 or 60 sailors line up on the Skaramanga naval base pier with five-by-three-foot bronze-coated mirrors. The weak winter sun’s rays were focused on a small rowboat about 160 feet away. Smoke appeared in seconds and flames in less than two minutes, according to reports.
◆ Auto insurance rates for those under 25 years of age are high. This is so because they were involved in well over one third of U.S. highway deaths last year, yet they compose only about one fifth of the drivers. The chances of this age-group having a fatal accident are more than two thirds greater than for those over 25. About one fourth of U.S. drivers had an accident of some kind last year, but of drivers under 25, 42 percent had accidents.
◆ Medical attacks on smoking influence young people very little. Health problems later in life are too remote to worry them. The British medical journal Lancet notes that other factors are more telling. The adolescent is “for once following uncritically the example of his elders.” Television cigarette ads are banned, but “casual ignition [of cigarettes] is the norm for heroes and villains alike and for lawyers, policemen, and other professionals. . . . we still have a lot too many irrelevant smokes.”
$120,000 a Minute!
◆ That is what sponsors pay for advertising on one popular prime-time U.S. television program. Sixty seconds during a special sports event can cost even more. It now takes a third more money than it did just two years ago to reach the same number of homes.
◆ The recent U.S. war alert during the Middle Eastern hostilities jolted many people around the world. At Darmstadt, Germany, when soldiers began raising antiaircraft missiles and getting gear ready for possible desert warfare, a Reuters report notes that one said: “Some of them are talking about the Armageddon. Some guys are really scared and some are getting religious all of a sudden.”
Israel’s Woodpecker Problem
◆ One variety of bird cost Israeli orchard operators an estimated $250,000 last year. Syrian woodpeckers peck holes in their plastic irrigation pipes. A Plant Protection Bulletin published by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization notes that the Syrian woodpecker was previously welcomed because it eats insect pests. But the recent installations of plastic pipe gave their sharp beaks a new surface to probe for food.
Religion, a Ground for Divorce?
◆ No, says the Court of Appeals for Tennessee. A Catholic husband, charging cruel and inhuman treatment, was granted a divorce from his formerly Lutheran wife who became one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Custody of their little daughter was his, too, decreed a county circuit court. Reversing this decree, the Court of Appeals Opinion said: “Since the Court was without authority to grant a divorce based solely upon divergent religious beliefs of the parties, it was error for him to grant the Plaintiff a divorce. . . . We have . . . to find evidence to justify the action of the Trial Court in awarding the custody of this 22-month-old daughter to the Plaintiff instead of the Defendant, and we have found none.”
◆ The music director of a Lubbock, Texas, Baptist Church was stabbed deeply in the abdomen during a brawl that erupted before the regular Sunday night sermon. The congregation called for the pastor’s resignation during a scheduled business meeting. The pastor “took a punch at a man in the congregation” when a shouting match resulted. The music director was stabbed as he tried to break up the fight. Fighting had gone outside by the time police arrived. Police told reporters that many of these professed servants of the Prince of Peace “were rude to them” as they tried to investigate, notes the Amarillo Daily News.
Church and Lottery
◆ Under a large photograph of a nun with state lottery ticket paraphernalia, the Detroit Free Press notes that “State lottery ticket outlets have sprung up in some unlikely places—like the somber confines of Carmel Hall, home for the aged . . . This nun is more than happy to sell tickets to anyone who walks in the door.”
◆ Fourteen sons and 24 daughters have been born to 54-year-old Mrs. Raimundo Carnauba of Belém, Brazil, since she was married at 15, according to a new edition of the Guinness Book of Records.
Where Abortion Reigns
◆ In 1948, Japan passed a liberal abortion law designed to curb food and overcrowding problems. Professor T. S. Ueno of Tokyo’s Nihon University says that now “abortion has become a substitute for contraception.” Of the 1.5 million abortions last year, “about half . . . admit they did not even try to prevent conception.” Speaking to the International Academy of Legal and Social Medicine in Rome, he said: “Moral life has become disorderly. It is an age of free sex, and the life of the unborn is not respected. We can now say the law is a bad one.”
China’s Youth to the Country
◆ Another wave of city “educated young people” were trucked out to the Chinese agricultural communes recently. Estimates of how many graduates, about 17 years old, have been sent out since 1968 vary from an “official” seven million to an “unofficial” fifteen million. The idea is to inject modern thinking into rural areas, while also teaching city dwellers about the reality of peasant life.
Air Flights Dropped
◆ Among those suffering in the current fuel shortage is the U.S. airline industry. In just one day in November about 160 flights were dropped. Fifteen of 67 daily New York to Chicago flights were to be cut. Some authorities estimate that over one thousand flights may be dropped by early 1974.
New First-Aid Manuals
◆ Improved knowledge of first-aid techniques, together with the fact that about one quarter of the population needs it each year, has caused the American Red Cross to publish textbooks recommending new procedures. These include pouring cold water over first- and second-degree burns (See Awake! July 22, 1966); mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in preference to arm-lift respiration (Awake! July 22, 1973); and, pressure directly on a wound rather than a tourniquet to stop bleeding. Prolonged tourniquet pressure can lead to gangrene. One doctor notes that, of the 57,000 annual highway deaths, “many occur needlessly because everyone panics and no one does the right thing.”