Watching the World
Music Reflects times
◆ Music is becoming more degraded. A recent example is “punk rock,” which originated in England. The words and music are more immoral and violent than “acid rock,” and the singers themselves act in a debased manner. The New York Times reports that the assumed names of the musicians often reflect this, one being “Johnny Rotten.” “Other punk rockers take names like Sid Vicious and Rat Scabies,” it said. The Times also noted: “Punk followers sometimes wear bizarre clothing, such as ripped T-shirts and slacks made of plastic garbage-can liners. A few wear safety pins in their cheeks, noses and ears.” Fashion designers “are cashing in on the punk look” by selling “calculatedly ratty shirts and slacks.” A musician in a group called “The Stranglers” said: “This is a time of trouble and strife in Britain. That’s why angry music is being produced here. People feel numbed and purposeless. That’s what’s behind urban music like ours.”
Harder to Own Homes
◆ Accomplishing the American dream of owning one’s home is becoming more difficult. Prices have risen so rapidly that even many “middle-class” people cannot afford their own homes, especially if there is only one wage earner in the family. According to the National Housing Conference, by the 1980’s the average home will cost $78,000 and only people with incomes of more than $20,000 a year will be able to afford them. Five million homeowners now have mortgage payments in excess of 25 percent of their incomes, as do more than ten million who rent living space.
◆ Hang gliding, or sky sailing, has attracted thousands of enthusiasts in recent years. Soaring through space hanging underneath a glider may be thrilling, but it is one of the most dangerous sports ever invented by man. University of Colorado surgeon Dr. Bruce Paton says that it is “at least twice as dangerous as parachuting and incomparably more dangerous than skiing and rock climbing.” In Colorado alone there have been 15 deaths and dozens of serious injuries in just a few years. The greater the pilot’s skills, the greater his chances of serious injury or death. Why? Because advanced pilots take greater risks, jumping off higher cliffs and mountains. Dr. Paton states that almost all the Colorado hang gliders who died were considered “super-expert pilots.” California is said to have even more deaths from the sport, averaging about one a month.
Inconsistent Health Practice
◆ Western observers are impressed by the strides that China has made in providing basic health care for its 850 million people. However, China reports an 85-percent increase in smoking in ten years. It is second only to the United States in tobacco production. Results? Lung cancer is on the increase. England’s New Scientist comments: “For a nation so much praised for successful health campaigns, the lack of even a general information poster telling the Chinese people the dangers of smoking is puzzling.”
No Compulsory Salute
◆ A new ruling approved by the California Board of Education allows students the privilege of refusing the flag salute without censure. Students may remain silent during the pledge of allegiance, but may not disrupt it.
Going Barefoot Harmful?
◆ Is going barefoot harmful to your feet? Not according to Dr. Paul Brand, Louisiana State University orthopedist. For 30 years Dr. Brand has studied feet in different countries. He states that “barefooters” practically never have athlete’s foot, ingrown toenails, corns, bunions, hammer toes, or metatarsal pain. In India the only patients with fractured ankles that he ever had were those who wore shoes. He says that if you are barefoot, you sense being off balance more quickly and correct it faster. However, he warns that diabetics should not go barefooted because their feet are relatively insensitive; even slight cuts or injuries can lead to infection and amputation.
Fewer House Calls
◆ A recent medical report shows that, in the United States, doctors make about 17 million house calls annually. But 20 years ago 63 million were made by fewer doctors serving a smaller population. The number of house calls now is only 2 percent of all physician services.
◆ Many nonsmokers object to others smoking in enclosed public places. A number of recent court cases have been decided in favor of nonsmokers, even awarding some of them financial compensation. A photographic darkroom worker in New York received unemployment compensation after leaving his job because a fellow employee’s smoking. When a government economist in Baltimore argued that the tobacco smoke at his work made him so ill that he had to stop working, a federal board awarded him compensation. A stewardess in California was compensated after she developed an allergic reaction to the air in the smokers’ sections of airplanes and had to stop working. An employee of a telephone company in New Jersey claimed that she was made seriously ill by fellow workers who smoked, and that the company had a duty to provide a workplace free of such harmful smoke. A state court agreed, ordering the company to restrict smoking by employees to one room only.
◆ Many spectators at sporting events have expressed disgust at the drinking habits of other attenders. One stated: “Fans can get pretty obnoxious if they’ve been drinking all day.” Officials at an automobile raceway in Atlanta have decided that for their next special event there will be a section in the stands reserved for nondrinkers.
“Junk” Foods Costly
◆ “Junk” foods such as candy bars, sodas, pretzels, donuts, potato chips, cookies, ice-cream bars and others may cost less than meat, fish, vegetables, eggs and fruit. But children who eat them pay a high price. A Philadelphia pediatrician found that undernourished children were eating twice as much of such foods as the better-nourished children. The “junk” food eaters were too short for their age, too thin, weaker, and also anemic.
Farming in Comfort
◆ Many farm tractors are now equipped with an enclosed cab that has air conditioning, heating, AM-FM stereo and citizens’ band radios. Of the 155,450 tractors sold in the United States last year, most had several of these features, some even having television sets. Farm labor is increasingly expensive to hire, and more acreage is needed to make a living. So farmers must do more of the work themselves on ever-larger and more efficient machines, often spending 12 to 15 hours a day on the tractor.
◆ The Edmonton Journal declares: “The obesity problem in Canada has reached epidemic proportions. Nutrition Canada found at least half the adult population has a weight problem and one in six adults to be grossly overweight.” The Journal suggests: “The safe way to slim down is to eat less and exercise more. Don’t expect fat to melt away overnight. So, be patient and persistent and accept small losses of one or 11⁄2 pounds per week. Whatever you do, beware of any diets, slimming aids or devices that promise to take fat off you fast and painlessly.”
Hard Work Helps Hearts
◆ A study of several thousand longshoremen in San Francisco confirms the fact that hard physical work over a long period of time reduces the risk of fatal heart attacks. Those who did lighter work-equivalent to office work—had five times as many fatal heart attacks as did those who performed hard physical work such as lifting, shoving, or pushing heavy materials.
Altitude and Heart Attacks
◆ Researchers in New Mexico have discovered that men living at higher altitudes have fewer heart attacks. Scientists are not certain why, but suggest that one reason may be that living at high altitudes keeps blood pressure down, and high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks. Another theory is that men may not completely adjust to the thinner mountain air, so that daily activities “represent greater exercise than when undertaken at lower altitudes.” Also difficult to explain is the fact that the higher altitudes made no difference in the rate of women’s heart attacks.
Learning About Eggs
◆ When birds sit on their eggs to hatch them, they achieve a hatching rate of nearly 95 percent. But when the same type of eggs are put into artificial incubators, the hatching rate is drastically reduced. Scientists in England are hoping to find out why by having birds sit on electronic “eggs.” These are glass-fiber replicas packed with electronic devices. The information is passed on to a laboratory receiver that records the data on charts and magnetic tapes. It has been found that there can be a temperature difference of several degrees from the top of the eggs to the bottom of the nest. Too, birds often leave a nest for an hour or so, causing temperature and air changes. And it also has been noted that the birds turn their eggs throughout the night. By making use of such information it is hoped that incubator-hatched eggs may achieve a higher success rate.
◆ A large filmmaker such as Twentieth-Century Fox may spend about $90 million a year on movie and television production. But that is far less than the largest moviemaker. Who is that? The Wall Street Journal answers: “The [United States] government is by far the nation’s largest producer; it estimates that it spends more than $500 million a year to make movies, TV shows, filmstrips and the like.”
Spectacular Crane Comeback
◆ The large, stately whooping crane was once near extinction in the United States. In 1941 the whooper population was only 41 birds. But the current number is more than triple that. This year alone, 28 of the cranes were hatched, which is considered a “spectacular year” for the birds.
Employee Theft Soars
◆ Known cases of employee theft have nearly doubled in the past five years in the United States. The cost of such theft to businesses is now about $24 billion annually, Industry Week recently reported.
◆ Japan has a population of over 110,000,000. But 64,000,000 of the people (nearly 60 percent) live on just a little over 2 percent of the land area. They are concentrated in three metropolitan regions, centered on Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. The highest density of population is in Hidaka, Saitama Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, where there are 59,230 persons per square kilometer (less than one-half square mile).
Huge Arson Toll
◆ Arson is the deliberate burning of a building. The National Fire Protection association says that arson cases make up about 30 percent of all fires in the United States. In a ten-year period, the number of arsons rose from 64,800 to 258,000; property damage rose from $142 million to $1.2 billion. A large number of the fires are set to collect fire insurance, with organized crime being heavily involved.
Alcohol and Vision
◆ According to University of California eye doctors, for some time after drinking heavily of alcoholic beverages auto drivers have trouble identifying things and keeping them fixed in view. Reportedly, vision becomes normal again only after six hours have passed since a person’s last drink.