Watching the World
Number of the Jobless
◆ The International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, has reported that during December 1975 there were 18 million jobless persons in 23 countries. Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States and 18 European lands outside the Soviet bloc of nations were surveyed. December’s unemployment level was the highest since the 1930’s.
◆ In the United States, fire fighting is the most perilous work. Basing its report on the most recent annual survey by the International Association of Fire Fighters, Parade magazine says that during 1974, for every 100,000 fire fighters, 84 died on the job. In second place was mining, with 71 deaths per 100,000. Police work was third and had a death rate on the job of 51 for 100,000.
Blood Cells Unchanged
◆ An autopsy recently was performed on an Egyptian mummy by a research team associated with the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. This was the first time that intact leukocytes, or white blood cells, were seen in a mummy. Red blood cells previously have been observed in mummies. However, the researchers also found that both the red and the white blood cells had remained structurally unchanged in this mummy, said to be some 2,200 years old. Moreover, these cells do not differ from those of persons now living. Dr. Jeanne M. Riddle, Associate Professor of Pathology, is quoted as saying: “I can look at these cells today and recognize them by the same structural criterion that I would use in identifying these same cell types in my own blood.”
◆ The stealing of bees has become quite common in some areas of the western United States. Thieves take entire hives swarming with bees by the thousands. This bee rustling evidently is profitable, since honey prices have risen sharply in recent years. Also, bees are in great demand for the pollination of certain crops. Illustrating the upsurge in bee stealing is the fact that in California 300 colonies were purloined during 1972, whereas rustlers made off with almost 3,000 colonies there this past year.
◆ A Scotland Yard study reveals that schoolchildren in Britain increasingly are becoming involved in serious crime, especially burglary. It was found that more than half of the burglaries committed in London during 1975 were the work of children between eleven and fifteen years of age. Comments London’s Daily Mail: “The Yard fears they could grow up to produce a state of lawlessness which would make the present crime rate seem insignificant.” The present crime wave among children of school age is said to be worrying police chiefs throughout Britain.
More Durable Mud Bricks
◆ Half of earth’s inhabitants reportedly live in houses that they themselves build with mud, generally using sun-dried bricks. But these homes are not very durable, since the bricks erode and rains ultimately wash them away. Recently, though, British engineers produced an improved mud brick, one very resistant to wind and water. They discovered that a much more durable mud brick can be made by mixing lime with Asian and African soils. It was suggested that likely the new brick would ease the housing shortage in developing lands while not adding much to construction costs.
Life After Death
◆ A poll carried out by West Germany’s Allensbacher Institute of Public Opinion reveals that the percentage of people in that country who believe in some form of life after death is lower now than it was twenty years ago. Forty-two percent of the populace held such views two decades ago, but the figure has dropped to 36 percent today. The poll also shows that fewer West German men than women believe in life after death.
◆ Most crabs may be eaten without imperiling a person’s health. However, John S. Garth of the University of Southern California has discovered some half-dozen species that are very poisonous when eaten. All of these are said to exist in remote regions of the Pacific, and they have bright colors and marks. So, persons living elsewhere need not eliminate all crabs from their menus. Nevertheless, Garth urges warnings in the press, and the journal BioScience quotes him as saying: “People who live off the reefs—food gatherers, sailors, even servicemen from crashed aircraft or wrecked ships, who have to catch sea creatures for food—must be made aware of this hitherto unsuspected danger.”
◆ James Dawson, senior vice-president of the National City Bank, Cleveland, Ohio, states that most family purchase decisions are dominated by wives. There are exceptions, however. These include deciding on such things as life insurance, the family automobile, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes.
Ulcers and Coffee
◆ Ulcer patients may not find decaffeinated coffee any more soothing than regular coffee. This was indicated in a study undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania. Both types of coffee were shown to increase the secretion of stomach acid. However, the secretion was lower when caffeine was given alone in amounts equaling that present in regular coffee. This suggested that an unknown coffee ingredient may account for the higher levels of stomach acid in persons who have ulcers.
◆ It is reported that there are two stray cats for every resident of tiny Yaku Shima Island in southern Japan. Just let the smell of cooking fish fill and dozens of feline invaders come streaming into the home, hoping to carry off a meal. Nevertheless, because of superstition, nothing is being done to curb the stray-cat population. The islanders say, ‘If you kill a cat, its spirit will haunt you forever.’ In other lands, cows and monkeys are viewed as sacred, and so are allowed to eat freely even when vast numbers of humans are going hungry. Does it make sense?
Habits of the Long-Lived
◆ A University of California study reveals that certain habits are common to persons enjoying long life. Changing Times cites these as: “Eight hours of sleep for men, seven for women; a good breakfast daily, followed by two nutritional meals at regular times; no snacking; regular exercise, usually in a sport; moderation in alcohol; no smoking and good control of weight.”