Watching the World
Bible History Supported
◆ The 20,000 clay tablets from the archaeological site of ancient Ebla in northern Syria continue to produce information that lends support to Biblical history. Dr. David Noel Freedman of the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem says that among the tablets, which are basically business documents, there is one that mentions the cities of Sodom, Gommorah, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar, together with their kings. These cities are named in the same order in the Bible at Genesis 14:2. Freedman also asserts: “In the Ebla tablets—I happen to know—the name of the king of one of the five cities was given. These are not household names. These are so extraordinary, unique names that the correlation either means that we have the same person or somebody within a generation or two.”
Sex-Change a Paradise?
◆ Do the sex-change operations so much desired by transsexuals really make their lives better? A Johns Hopkins Hospital psychiatrist followed the lives of 32 persons whose sex was medically changed and compared them with 66 persons of a transsexual disposition who were not operated on. He says that after an initial phase of elation for a few years, most of those operated on are “overtaken by the painful realization that nothing had really changed except certain elements of bodily configuration.” The report in Science News states that “preexisting emotional and personality problems reemerge and the patient begins to realize that he or she is only a ‘facsimile’ of what was hoped for.”
Ancient Agriculture Works
◆ “Trees in the middle of nowhere,” said Israeli Professor Michael Evenari, indicating an arid area of the Negev Desert south of Beer-sheba. He and other scientists have been working to duplicate the ancient Nabatean method of raising plants in the dry desert soil. The answer, they say, is to capture the runoff from sudden desert flash floods and lead it to crops individually planted in shallow pits. The crusting effect of this particular soil causes rapid runoff when rain makes it shiny and slick, and the crust also seals in the moisture at the plant. Pistachio, olive, almond, apricot, fig and peach trees grow successfully in this way on an average of only about three inches (8 centimeters) of rain annually.
◆ Many people were enlightened and also shocked by the material presented in dramatic fashion by the book Roots. The book has admittedly contributed to a fuller understanding of slavery. It is of interest, though, that the author recently is reported to have told a press conference that his book is “‘obviously’ great and ranks with the Bible and Homer’s ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey.”’—Associated Press.
Einstein and Jehovah
◆ In a letter published by the magazine Physics Today, a member of Rutgers University wrote about her impressions of Albert Einstein’s letters to his ‘old crony,’ Michele Besso. In her opinion, the letters showed that Einstein studied “God’s works . . . in the laws of physics. There are numerous references to Jehovah in the letters.”
Best Heart Start
◆ A heart researcher from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, says that he has found strong evidence indicating that the longer babies breast-feed, the better their chances of avoiding coronary heart disease. “Breast milk is the most perfect and all-sufficient food for the infant in his first 12 months or even up to two years,” he declared.
◆ “I could not believe my eyes,” said a young Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, New York. “I saw a man. with a beard punching a man with a beard.” Hasidim (“the pious ones”) traditionally wear beards and black suits. A New York Times report on this religious conflict between two Hasidic factions tells of the traditional Passover time march by about 2,000 Lubavitch Hasidim into the residential area of the other faction. “They were met by at least as many Satmar Hasidim,” who, claimed the Lubavitchers, “began striking elderly rabbis and hurling objects from apartment roofs.”
According to the Times, a Yiddish-language newspaper that allegedly favored one side had its offices “vandalized and burned out two years ago,” and a candy store that stocked the paper “mysteriously burned to the ground.” Many Hasidim are survivors of the Nazi persecutions in eastern Europe, and came to the U.S. to escape intolerance.
Rules of War
◆ Recently a 109-nation conference in Geneva, Switzerland, worked to update the rules of war, commonly called the Geneva Convention. Among the proposals was one that would make it lawful to shoot at a parachuting airman if it appeared that he would land behind his own lines. The proposal was defeated by a vote of 47 against, but 23 voted for such ‘target practice,’ with 26 abstentions.
◆ Soviet geologist V. Eliseyev recently theorized in Soviet Weekly that dinosaurs may have suddenly disappeared from earth because they had rickets. He claims that constant jungle rains could have leached bone-building calcium and other salts from the soil, making for weak dinosaur skeletons. Discovery of thin dinosaur egg shells and twisted skeletons are cited to support his theory. However, says Britain’s New Scientist, London Natural History Museum experts have not seen many bent bones. “Perhaps,” it remarks, “Eliseyev’s next job will be to explain why Russian dinosaurs’ skeletons are twisted while those found in the West are not.”
◆ An American living in a well-to-do part of town recently wrote to a nationally syndicated advice columnist about some “weird” neighbors. It seems that, instead of buying their house on credit, these neighbors “paid CASH.” They “didn’t have a television set!” and had “only one automobile (and a two-car garage!).” This person also marveled that the neighbors “rarely go anywhere, except to church,” and “the wife doesn’t have any fancy clothes or jewelry or furs. The children aren’t permitted to have any toys dealing with war or violence.” Apparently in today’s world, many consider such principled behavior “weird.”
Weight on the Wings
◆ West Germany’s charter airline, Condor, is said to be suffering a loss in earnings due to weight gains by its female passengers. “For years the average weight of German passengers had been figured at 145 pounds for women and 167 pounds for men,” according to Deutsche Zeitung of Bonn. But “a recent spot check . . . revealed that in the future the average weight will have to be fixed at 167 pounds for both sexes.” This means that “Condor either has to fly with thirty-two fewer passengers on each flight,” the article says, “or make refueling stops on some of its runs”—at a projected loss of $2 million for 1977.
◆ In what a U.N. official described as “an electrifying and bold move,” Kenya recently banned hunting of its wildlife. “We want to give them breathing space to reproduce,” said the Tourism and Wildlife Minister. Overhunting, poaching, land settlement and a recent drought have dangerously reduced the numbers of many animals, including the elephant, sought for its ivory.
Professional hunters call the move “catastrophic” to their hunting safari business, and a spokesman claims that “the poachers used to be scared by [legal] hunting camps all over the country.” “Now,” he said, “when the camps go, they will have a field day.” It is hoped that “hunting” by camera will replace some of the hunters’ former business.
Newer Is Not Better
◆ Is modern cement construction superior to the traditional banco (clay and straw) for homes in Africa? At least from the standpoint of comfort and economy, it is not, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s magazine Ceres. “Even under the hot sun,” it reports, studies show that “the inside temperature of a house made of banco stays about ten degrees [18 degrees Fahrenheit] lower than that of an analogous building made of cement, and in most cases does not exceed the ‘comfort zone’.” Banco is also cheaper and requires less skill to use than cement.
Horse Bites Lion
◆ Ethiopia’s official news agency reports that a starving lion had devoured three goats in a barn in the southwestern part of that country. The lion was starting on a donkey when a horse bit it and held on. Finally, in an unusual turnabout, the lion dropped dead, according to the agency.
Episcopal’s First Concern
◆ When St. Luke Episcopal Church of Pueblo, Colorado, separated itself from the parent church, along with at least 17 others across the U.S., over the issue of women’s ordination, what was the first concern of the local diocese? Congregation members sorrowfully say that their shepherds “never once asked after the people. The first words from Denver [diocese headquarters] were ‘What about the money?’”—Pueblo Chieftan, April 26, 1977.
◆ A West German poll of postal customers found that they got along fine with mail deliverymen, but disliked the “unfriendly and lazy clerks who manned the post office counters.” Parade magazine reports that the clerks now must repeat certain expressions until they become part of their behavior. Some are: “I will treat every customer politely as I myself would like to be treated . . . If I’ve had a bad day, I will not show it or take it out on the customer.”
◆ “Kill! Kill!” shouted bullfight enthusiasts in Portugal recently. In answer, three bullfighters killed six bulls that day and were later separated from the admiring crowd and arrested by riot police for their illegal actions. Bullfighting fans consider the three men national heroes as they await trial. Devotees want the 1928 ban on public killing of bulls to be relaxed.
For a Two-Track Mind
◆ A German company is said to be manufacturing a two-channel-at-once TV set. Three quarters of the screen contains the main show and the other quarter has the second channel. “Presumably, rapid shifting of the eye will assure that you don’t miss a thing,” says the report in Changing Times magazine.
◆ Massachusetts state representative H. Thomas Colo has accused two Catholic chaplains of “stealing from the public.” He says that the two “politically connected” priests are paid $8,600 per year “for putting in less than one hour a month between them” when they open sessions of the Massachusetts House and Senate with prayer. They have each already netted $100,000 for their prayers, he asserted.
◆ Termites can now be found in every state of the United States except Alaska, reports U.S. News & World Report. Even though 60,000 of these insects will eat just a fifth of an ounce (about 6 grams) of wood daily, the journal suggests contacting a reputable pest-control company if their presence is suspected. If they are found, it is suggested that extermination cost estimates be obtained from two or three firms. When building a home, “try to get the builder to keep from burying any wood next to the foundation and to take out wooden grade stakes before concrete sets,” the magazine suggests, adding: “It is recommended that you have the soil treated with one of four chemicals—aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin or heptachlor. They provide a barrier against termites for at least 25 years.”