Watching the World
“A Police State”
◆ A headline in The Standard of Nairobi, Kenya, calls the nation of Malawi “A Police State.” In the accompanying article by C. Legum, attention is drawn to the brutal treatment of various minorities under the dictatorial rule of H. Kamuzu Banda of Malawi. Mr. Legum notes that many black Malawians are political prisoners who for years have been held under terrible conditions, without trial. Then, concerning Malawi’s Asians who have been discriminated against for some time, he states: “Life has been made almost intolerable for Malawi’s brown minority.” Finally, Mr. Legum cites the horrible persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses and calls it “the saddest aspect of Banda’s rule.” Observing that Britain has been giving financial aid to Banda’s government, he asks: “How long will Britain continue to support Banda’s despotic rule?”
Reading Habits Changing
◆ By 1975, newspaper circulation in the United States fell 2.5 million from its peak of 63.1 million in 1973. Rising costs were given as one reason. But there is another. Newsweek magazine commented: “Editors are worried that Americans are simply not reading as much as they used to. They seem, instead, to be devoting more time to television, to leisure-time activities, to scores of vividly illustrated and easy-to-read speciality publications.” An editor said: “We’re living in an age of audio-visually educated readers, and competing with much brighter visual products.”
Machine “Reads” for Blind
◆ A machine has been developed that can “read” out loud to blind people. It scans printed material with a special camera and “translates” this into electronic signals. The signals are sent into a miniature computer that recognizes the letters, sorts them out, and produces words that can be heard. While the “voice” is somewhat difficult to understand at first, students who have used the machine have learned to understand as many as 160 words a minute with just a few hours of practice. Though the cost of the first machine was about $50,000, it is hoped that production models will cost only $5,000 to $6,000.
No Convincing Evidence
◆ Many people who have investigated the theory of evolution have been struck by the lack of evidence and indications that its acceptance borders on blind credulity. In Science magazine David Wake of the University of California’s Department of Zoology asks: “Why are there so many kinds of organisms, and how have so many complex structural patterns evolved?” He answers: “One is left with the numbing feeling that biologists remain unable to present convincing arguments to explain the evolution” of these specialized features in living things. He adds: “Evolutionary biologists are indeed clever, but has the production of pattern in evolution really been explained, or has it been explained away?” He says regarding the explanations given for evolution in a book he reviewed: “There is a vagueness in some instances approaching mysticism.” But that has always been the case, since evolution is based, not on fact, but on what scientists prefer to believe.
◆ Official Catholic Directories show that in the United States “about 3,100 Catholic elementary and high schools, out of 13,340, have closed in the past ten years, and enrollment has dropped from 5.6 million in 1965 to 3.5 million in 1975,” according to Time magazine. It also observed that “some 35,000 American nuns and 10,000 priests—even a brilliant bishop—left their ministries, and sometimes even the church, in a great exodus.” Also, there are fewer new priests and nuns to replace those who have left, retired or died. For example, seminary enrollment, nearly 49,000 in 1964, fell to 17,200 in 1975. Much the same condition confronts the Catholic Church throughout the world.
Schools Cannot Cope
◆ Elizabeth Shannon, writing for the Poynter Center on the Public and American Institutions at Indiana University, says: “Junior and senior high schools cannot continue to cope with an increasing number of frustrated, non-motivated adolescents who arrive . . . wishing they were someplace else and unable to understand what they are supposed to be learning. There is no way a teacher, no matter how gifted, can teach language, maths, science, or history to a large high-school class, half or more of whom have reading skills so poor that they cannot begin to understand the material in the textbooks they are using. Those youngsters will soon be in the streets, unskilled, untaught, and looking for someone to blame. Unless our society can devise better ways of handling these failures, schools will not be able to cope with violence in their hallways. And unless the burden of this load is lifted from the schools, the schools themselves will crumble under the weight.”
◆ People who use subway trains in big cities are familiar with the stress involved, especially during rush hours. Two American scientists experimented with rats to see what effect subway stress had on them. The rats were exposed to hour-long simulated subway rides in a crowded, vibrating cage with taped subway sounds. This was done twice daily, five days a week. A second group of rats was not exposed to the subway stress conditions, but was physically handled as much as the others. The tests resulted in death for four of the stressed rats within 16 weeks. Not one of the unstressed rats died. While the results cannot be applied directly to humans, they are highly suggestive.
Divorce Affects Business
◆ Dun & Bradstreet Report says that divorce is draining hundreds of millions of dollars in obvious and hidden costs from business in the United States. The magazine states: “With divorces exceeding one million for the first time in 1975, with the divorce rate doubling in twelve years, the question can only be to what extent” the losses are each year. When personnel are affected by divorce, their judgment and efficiency often decline. For those in executive positions, such divorces can result in a loss of business or other financial loss, such as the cost of replacing the individual. Some smaller companies have been closed down as a result of the divorce action and financial settlement.
◆ Vigorous massage of the scalp and similar combing and brushing of the hair have, in times past, been recommended to prevent or delay baldness. Now, nearly the opposite advice is given by Dr. Joseph Jerome of the Department of Drugs, American Medical Association. To keep hair longer, he claims, do not massage the scalp vigorously, and do not comb and brush the hair vigorously. His advice: “Shampoo and dry gently, and avoid scalp massage.” He feels that neither the scalp nor hair roots need massage, and that vigorous manipulation of the scalp and hair tends to break the hair and induce baldness.
Collecting Unemployment Checks
◆ Many nations have provisions for unemployed workers to collect unemployment payments. In Florida, a 34-year-old former professional football player acknowledged that he too was collecting these payments although he was worth $500,000. He said: “Sure, I collect unemployment. Why not? A lot of my friends are into it. I’m unemployed. That’s why I draw unemployment.”
◆ Hypertension—high blood pressure—and its consequences are leading causes of death in the United States. Recently a report was compiled on more than one million persons examined for this problem. The report shows that, while there has been some improvement in the detection and treatment of this potentially fatal disorder, it is still undetected and uncontrolled in more than half the people who have it. High blood pressure was found to be more severe among blacks, who were also less likely to have it detected and treated.
Salt a Culprit?
◆ According to Boston heart specialist Dr. Lot Page of the Tufts University Medical School, a major medical study declares salt to be the chief cause of high blood pressure. He claimed that after all the medical factors associated with high blood pressure were analyzed, only one stood out as highly significant. That was the daily intake of salt. He said that it was equally striking that “every one of the 18 ‘low blood pressure’ populations known is also a low salt population, whether they live in the desert, jungle or Arctic.”
Bugs Help Museums
◆ Many museums carry impressive displays of stuffed animals, or the skeletons of others. How is the flesh taken off these animals where that is necessary? In a number of museums around the world, the work is done by thousands of furry little insects, the larvae of the dermestid beetle. After the animal is skinned, the excess flesh is cut away by hand and the carcass is dried. Then it is put inside a special box where the beetles go to work. The females lay their eggs in the dried flesh and the growing larvae feed on it. The larvae then burrow into cotton laid on the floor of the bin. In time they emerge as adults ready to lay their eggs on another carcass. Why this method? For one thing, cleaning flesh from bones entirely by hand is too time consuming as well as difficult. Chemicals tend to disintegrate the bones as well as the flesh. On the other hand, the beetle larvae can safely clean a fish in about two weeks, or have a sheep skeleton spotless in a couple of months.
A Belly Full
◆ Surgeons in New York operated on a mental patient they thought might have a tumor, since his stomach was badly extended. But when they cut into the 38-year-old patient, they found 300 coins—quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies and subway tokens. In addition they found more than 200 other objects, including broken thermometers, can openers, knives, spoons, forks, nuts, bolts, chains and car keys. Said one of the surgeons: “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.” They had no way of knowing how long the objects had been in his stomach. Surprisingly, there was no damage to his esophagus or intestinal tract.
◆ About two million migrant workers in western Europe have lost their jobs in the past two years. These workers had been imported from southern Europe and North Africa to the more industrialized northern countries to make up for a labor shortage. But the recession of the past two years took its toll. The International Labor Organization now estimates that, despite the economic recovery now in progress, more migrants will lose their jobs. They will return to swell the ranks of the unemployed in their home countries to the south.
◆ The Philippines reported a plague of rats. The crops on nearly 500,000 acres of land in the northern part of the country were said to have been heavily damaged.
Women More Violent
◆ In some countries, the rate of increase in violent crimes is greater among women than among men. Britain’s only woman police commander, Daphne Skillern, says that this increase comes about in nations where “women’s emancipation is the greatest.”
Lots of Shaves
◆ An estimated 600 million men shave their faces regularly, according to Parade magazine. And this does not include men in China, India or the Soviet Union. Eighty percent of the shavers are said to use the “wet” blade method, and the other 20 percent the “dry” electric shaver. About ten billion razor blades are sold each year for the wet shavers.