Watching the World
New Arms Spending Peak
◆ Spending for military equipment and personnel throughout the world has now passed the $400-billion mark annually. It is estimated that at the current rate of increase, the cost would reach $1 trillion by the end of the century. About half the current expenditure is accounted for by the United States and the Soviet Union. However, even the less-developed nations now spend more for arms than for any other single program.
Orient’s Tallest Building
◆ The tallest building in the Orient was opened earlier this year in Ikebukuro, outside downtown Tokyo. The office building is 60 stories high (240 meters, or 787 feet). The building has 37 elevators, two of which go directly to the observatory and are rated as the fastest in the world, traveling 600 meters (1,969 feet) a minute and taking less than 30 seconds to reach the top. Officials say that this is the tallest building that can be built in earthquake-prone Japan with present technology. It is designed to withstand a quake three times as strong as the one in 1923 that killed an estimated 90,000 people in that area.
Electricity from Garbage
◆ The German city of Munich derives about 12 percent of its electricity by burning its own wastes, producing steam to turn electric generators. In Paris, several plants use about 1.7 million tons of garbage annually to generate electricity and also to heat buildings, saving an estimated 480,000 barrels of oil each year. The largest waste-burning plant in the world, near Rotterdam, uses 3,200 tons of refuse each day. It produces 55 million watts of electricity, and also desalinates water from the Rhine River. Of the reported 262 plants in the world that use waste material as fuel to generate electricity or heat, three quarters are in western Europe and most of the rest are in Japan.
◆ The Treasury Department reports a record 1,058 bombings in the United States during 1977, up from 870 the year before. Thirty-eight people were killed. Labor strife was thought to be a major cause, as was vandalism.
Change in Homicide Pattern
◆ Years ago, about 10 percent of the homicides in the United States involved strangers. The rest were committed against persons known by the killer, such as family members and other relatives, friends, neighbors or work associates. Now, murders involving strangers are up to 30 percent nationally. This indicates a more widespread level of violence, since many of these murders accompany robbery, burglary, assault or larceny-theft. Homicide is now the fifth leading cause of death for nonwhite males, the eighth for nonwhite females, and the 12th for white Americans.
◆ The average American automobile can produce 200 horsepower for as long as its fuel lasts. The average athlete produces about half a horsepower, and only for a short period. When human power is coupled with a vehicle such as a bicycle, how fast can it go? In timed races on a 200-meter (656-foot) course, the record for a human pedaling a bicycle-like vehicle is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) an hour.
A Losing Game
◆ The first gambling casino in the eastern United States opened in Atlantic City, New Jersey, earlier this year. For the first six days of operation, the casino’s “win” averaged $438,504 (U.S.) a day. The average player lost at the rate of $18 an hour, with slot-machine players losing the most, an average of $18.64 an hour.
Can Be Equal Risk
◆ Smokers may be deceiving themselves if they think that they are less liable to get smoking-related diseases such as cancer by switching to low tar and nicotine cigarettes. Research reveals that most persons who smoke low tar and nicotine cigarettes hold the smoke longer in their lungs, unaware that the longer period makes them about as susceptible to harm as smoking higher tar and nicotine cigarettes but inhaling the smoke for a shorter period.
Marijuana Greater Hazard
◆ As more information becomes available, the high hazards of smoking marijuana become more apparent. Dr. Donald Tashkin of the University of California School of Medicine at Los Angeles conducted tests lasting five years, using paid volunteers. His experiments showed that chronic, heavy marijuana smokers run a higher risk of suffering chronic bronchitis and emphysema than do chronic heavy tobacco smokers.
Riding on Lap Dangerous
◆ A safety research group concludes that a passenger’s lap is the most dangerous place for a child to be while riding in an automobile. In frontal crashes, the child and the adult continue to move forward as the vehicle comes to an abrupt halt, causing the child to be crushed between the person holding him and the interior surfaces such as window frames, instrument panels, doors and even floors. In one case, a 14-month-old child riding on a passenger’s lap in the rear seat was found face down with the adult on top of him. The child died of brain injuries, and also had sustained multiple fractures and cuts from being crushed between the adult and the back part of the front seat. But in the same accident, a nine-year-old passenger, sitting beside the adult and wearing a lap belt, received no injuries.
◆ A stroke takes place when the blood supply to the brain is reduced due to a blood clot or bleeding from an artery. When nerve cells in the brain are deprived of blood, the part of the body controlled by these nerves will not function normally. An often unsuspected cause of impaired physical and mental health is a series of “little strokes.” Such strokes can start when a person is 30 or 40 years of age, and may happen at night or pass almost unnoticed as a dizzy spell, a temporary blackout, or just a few moments of confusion. While they are not severe enough to compel the victim to seek medical aid, some brain damage can remain. Medical science is seeking to learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of these “little strokes.”
◆ A report at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offered strong evidence that keeping women in a more vertical position during labor and birth is generally superior to an in-bed horizontal position. It was observed that in 1783 a French doctor first proposed a horizontal position in bed for childbirth, not because it would benefit the mother or infant, but because it was easier for the doctor. But in controlled studies of pregnant women, it was found that babies are born faster, easier, and with less pain and fewer complications when mothers are in a more vertical position during labor and delivery. The seven-nation study concluded that the older way, vertical delivery, is best for the majority of normal births. Forceps had to be used only 0.7 percent of the time in vertical births compared to 6.7 percent of the time in horizontal births. And among women having their first babies, the vertical women’s labor was 36 percent shorter. Vertical birth is very ancient. About 3,500 years ago, Israelite women were spoken of as using “the stool for childbirth.” (Ex. 1:16) But any who use such a method today would be wise to do so only under skilled supervision.
Caution on Cooling Dip
◆ After a long period of sunbathing on a beach, a sudden, cool dip in the sea might be fatal, says Dr. David Ryde, medical officer of England’s Crystal Palace National Recreation Center. He states: “If you are lying on the beach sunning yourself the blood vessels in the skin dilate. During this time the skin contains about an extra litre [quart] of blood. Sudden cold causes the vessels to send this blood back into the system again. It is like having a sudden transfusion, and sometime the heart cannot cope.” At other times, the sudden shock can cause fainting, and the unconscious person drowns.
Body Worth More
◆ Some years ago, it was estimated that the basic raw materials in an adult body, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and other chemicals, were worth 98 cents. According to Dr. Harry Monsen of the Illinois College of Medicine, they are now worth $5.60 due to inflation. Monsen said: “When people were told they were worth only 98 cents they were shocked. They feel better knowing they are worth $5.60.”
CB Antennas Can Kill
◆ At least 123 persons were electrocuted in the United States by communications antennas in one year, half of them involving citizen band radio antennas that touched power lines. In a recent one-month period, at least eight men died from CB antenna electrocution. The number being killed this way may be higher, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, since not all death certificates specify the direct cause of an electrocution.
No Laughing Matter
◆ Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is an anesthetic given to dental patients to relax them while the dentist performs his work. But some dentists habitually inhale the gas for its intoxicating and relaxing effects, and have become addicted. As a consequence, some have suffered symptoms similar to those of multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Included in these symptoms are a loss of bladder control and difficulty in walking.
Who Is More Generous?
◆ A Harvard University study showed that members of the lower socio-economic classes tend to be more charitable and more inclined to share with others when able than the more affluent classes. Poor children were less selfish than children from wealthier classes. Also, Northwestern University studies indicate that generosity is contagious, that when we observe others being generous, we tend to imitate that behavior. And experiments at the University of Washington reveal that when persons engaging in various activities were approached for help, those who were eating were the most generous.
Most Preferred Television
◆ A newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, asked 120 families if they would turn off their television sets completely for one month if offered $500. More than three quarters of the families (93) said No. Of those who said Yes, five were selected actually to do it. After the month without television, most fathers said that they had become better acquainted with their children, and four of the families said that they had become closer. Some of the children played peacefully without television interference, but other children begged for the TV.
◆ Of the estimated six million unemployed in western Europe, at least a third are under the age of 25. Many of these young persons face the prospect of staying unemployed for much of their lives. When the millions of other unemployed in Asia, Africa and South America are added, it can be seen why many world leaders are deeply concerned about the future.
◆ A clinical professor of dermatology in San Antonio claims that all the creams, hormone masks, face exercises and steam treatments that women use are almost useless in preventing wrinkles. Dr. B. L. Limmer says that while cosmetics can hide blemishes and lines, and accentuate beauty, they can do nothing to overcome wrinkling and aging. He claims that cleansing the face with a mild soap and water twice a day, and using a pure oil or moisturizer such as baby oil, is enough for any type of skin.