Watching the World
Effects of TV Violence
◆ To test the effects of TV violence, children of the same temperament were recently matched together in pairs. One was shown violent programs and the other was shown nonviolent programs. In every pair the child exposed to the violent TV programs became the more physically aggressive of the two. As to the long-term effects of viewing TV violence, Science Digest reports this about a ten-year experiment: “A boy’s aggressiveness at age 19 was directly and significantly related to the amount of violent television he watched at age eight regardless of his initial level of aggressiveness, social status, intellectual ability, or parents’ behaviors.” The publication concluded: “Scientists are discovering that certain effects, notably increased aggression, may last a lifetime.”
Fanatical Priest Arrested
◆ In Greece, the Athens Daily Post tells of “a fanatic priest” who was arrested for firing a shotgun in an attempt to prevent Jehovah’s Witnesses from carrying on their peaceful Christian work in his village. The priest was charged with illegal possession of arms, illegal use of arms, disturbance of public order and tranquillity and insult. Police also arrested five villagers who aided the priest.
◆ In an era when high and persistent joblessness affects many nations, the number of Switzerland’s unemployed remains very low. It is only about 15,000, according to a recent report. Since the country’s population is about 6.4 million, that is an unemployment rate of less than one quarter of one percent.
Largest Stone Meteorite
◆ A meteorite shower in China produced what is claimed to be the largest stone meteorite known. The shower occurred in northeast China’s Kirin Province. On its way through the earth’s atmosphere, the meteor broke up into more than 100 meteorites. The largest one struck close to a village and shattered on impact. It weighed a total of 1,770 kilograms (3,900 pounds), nearly 700 kilograms (1,540 pounds) more than the largest stone meteorite previously reported.
Wrong Drugs Given
◆ Dr. M. R. Achong of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada, told a meeting of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons that many patients get drugs needlessly. His analysis involved patients in three hospital wards—gynecology, surgery and medical. For 50 percent of the gynecology patients, 42 percent of the surgical patients, and 12 percent of the medical patients the drugs ordered were either needless, unsuitable or given in wrong doses. In London, Ontario, kidney expert Dr. Adam Linton said that a study of 82 kidney patients at Victoria Hospital revealed that 39 of them had been given drugs known to be harmful to the kidneys. In 17 cases, he stated, it appeared that the drug had directly caused kidney failure.
Birth Defects from Pills
◆ The New England Journal of Medicine says that a study of 50,000 pregnant women showed that those who took female hormones in early pregnancy had more than twice as many babies with heart defects. Those who took birth-control pills in early pregnancy had three times as many babies with heart defects.
Trumpet Helps Mailman
◆ Ancient Greek historian Herodotus said regarding mail carriers: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” He would have been proud of the postman servicing the village of Mikrolivado in Greece. While on his way there to deliver mail he was attacked by a pack of six wolves. But by blowing a trumpet that he was carrying he dispersed the wolves and continued his work.
Replacing Slide Rules
◆ At one time many mathematicians and scientists used slide rules to make numerical computations. However, the recent widespread use of pocket calculators is making the slide rule an ‘endangered species.’ One slide-rule manufacturer said: “The slide rule will still be around, the way the horse is still around. But the electronic calculator is taking its place, the way the automobile replaced the horse.” Some people still buy slide rules, since they cost less than the cheapest calculator and have no batteries to replace.
Giant Sturgeon Returns
◆ Because of over fishing, the giant sturgeon, native to the Amur River basin in the Soviet far east, was in danger of becoming extinct. However, a ban was put on all fishing of this species twenty years ago. Since then their numbers have doubled. Some fully grown sturgeons reach a length of six meters (20 feet) and weigh up to a ton.
Which European Has More?
◆ The Statistical Department of the European Common Market reports that among Common Market countries, Denmark has proportionately more telephones, 429, for each 1,000 of its citizens. Great Britain has the most televisions, 309. Luxembourg has the most cars, 357. The country listed as having the least in all three categories was Ireland.
◆ This past January was the coldest in the eastern two thirds of the United States “since the founding of the Republic,” according to the National Weather Service. It reached this conclusion after consulting government records dating back to the year 1800, and from earlier written records.
Unusual Reactions to Fire
◆ A Tokyo insurance company says that nearly one third of the victims of fire claim that they fled their burning house with articles of almost no value. They took such things as a pillow, potlid, flower vase, umbrella, or just one shoe. A combination of panic and the instinctive urge to want to save something may be one reason why. Many said that when they came to their senses and found themselves with useless items, they dashed back into their burning house to recover something more valuable. Only 10 percent said that they gathered up cash and brought it out of the house.
Business Crime Wave
◆ American businesses of all sizes are being hit with a soaring crime wave. Crime now costs businesses about $40 billion a year, more than 17 percent of the total income before taxes. That is about $185 for every man, woman and child in the country. Business crime includes bribery, kickbacks, bankruptcy fraud, embezzlement, pilferage, insurance fraud, theft of trade secrets, and others. According to insurance officials, 30 percent of all business failures each year are the direct result of internal theft. And this theft is being committed by all kinds of people, from ordinary workers to chief executives.
Unlisted Telephone Numbers
◆ In a search for more privacy, more people are asking that their telephone numbers not be listed in telephone books. In Los Angeles, about 38 percent of the phones are now unlisted; in Chicago, 33 percent; in New York city, more than 30 percent, a third more than five years ago. While privacy increases, the overall usefulness of the telephone system decreases, since potential callers cannot find out what number to call.
Addicted to Gambling
◆ An earthquake jolted the mountain gambling resort of South Lake Tahoe in the United States. While it shook hundreds of gamblers who were “feeding” slot machines in a casino, most of them kept right on playing. A spokesman for one of the casinos said: “The floor would have to fall out from under them before they’d stop gambling.”
Trapped by Poor Spelling
◆ A teller at a New York City bank was handed a badly scrawled stickup note by a robber. Written on a withdrawal slip, the note was so poorly made out, and the spelling so bad, that the teller told the man: “I don’t understand you. You’ll have to make it out again.” However, she understood enough to know what his intentions were. To her surprise, the man walked back to the customers’ counter, pulled out a new withdrawal slip and began to rewrite his stickup note. In the meantime, the clerk pushed silent alarms, and the robber was quickly captured.
◆ When funds are solicited for some charities, very little goes to the needy people. Most of the money collected goes for “expenses.” The Toronto Star reports that a “charitable organization” in that city raised about $500,000 in the name of under-privileged children. But a court judge found that less than 10 percent of the money was actually used for the children. In his comments on the case, the judge said that the evidence showed “excessive disbursements for directors’ salaries, staff wages and bonuses.”
◆ The Detroit News observes that “experts call youthful suicides a frightening ‘epidemic.’” The suicide rate among persons under the age of twenty-five has tripled in a recent ten-year period. The actual number is even higher since many suicides, such as by drugs, go undetected. Females account for more than 70 percent of the attempted suicides, but 40 percent of the actual ones.
◆ Pest-control experts admit: “Eradication of the imported fire ant in the U.S. is currently impossible.” Fire ants were first discovered in the country in 1918, in Alabama. Since then they have spread to eight southeastern states, from the Carolinas to Texas, infesting an estimated 150 million acres (60 million hectares). The ant’s sting is painful, and each ant is capable of about twenty stings. For a small number of people, the sting may be fatal. The ants also pose an agricultural problem because, at times, their large mounds interfere with the harvesting and mowing of forage and field crops. In some places, these mounds may stand about 18 inches (46 centimeters) high, or more, and there may be as many as 30 to 50 mounds an acre. However, the fire ants are not without merit. They have the beneficial effect of being predators of other insects that are dangerous to livestock and field crops.
Most Feared Disease
◆ A Gallup Poll taken of Americans confirms that the disease they fear most is cancer. Of those polled, 58 percent listed cancer first, followed by blindness (21 percent), heart disease (10 percent), arthritis, polio and the loss of a limb (2 percent each). Tuberculosis and deafness were each listed by only one percent of the people, with 3 percent being undecided.
Fairy Tales by Phone
◆ Soviet Life magazine hails the fact that “twenty-five types of information are supplied by telephone in Leningrad.” Included in this service is the opportunity “by dialing the right number [to] hear a fairy tale,” says the report. “This is the sixth year that the city’s best actors have been telling these stories to little Leningraders.”
Lowest Fertility Rate
◆ American women are bearing fewer children than at any time in the country’s history. On the average, the fertility rate has fallen to 1.8 children for each woman. At that rate, each married couple would not quite replace themselves. Hence, in time, there would be no increase in the nation’s population. In fact, there would be a decrease. One consequence that has been immediately noticed is that there are now 7.6 million fewer American children ages 13 and under than there were in 1970. As a result, the elementary school-age population has declined by 5.8 million, or over 10 percent since 1970. This also affects a wide range of other activities, such as a decline in the manufacture of children’s clothing, baby food and other items.