Watching the World
Early Education—How Significant?
◆ Contrary to some previous views, Cornell University educators coordinating the results of different studies made over many years conclude that the early preschool educating of children affects them for the good throughout their school years and the rest of their lives. As a group, these children were half a grade ahead of others on achievement tests, had fewer dropouts, and better employment records later. While these studies had to do with government programs for preschool children, Professor Irving Lazar of Cornell said: “The more direct parental participation . . . the better.” Parents who have exposed their preschool children to educational material, and who have taught them to read well even before going to school, observe that this early education does indeed help their young ones throughout their lives. Their minds are better able to handle mental tasks and they are better readers (a key to learning and receiving enjoyment therefrom) than are those who do not have such early exposure.
“Combat Pay” for Teachers
◆ Some American schools have become so crime-ridden that a California Superior Court has approved of millions of dollars for what is being called “combat pay,” to encourage teachers to work in the more dangerous schools of Los Angeles. An additional $1,500 to $2,500 a year is being offered. Los Angeles, however, is not alone in having difficulty hiring teachers, for many cities are now experiencing the same disorder and violence in school.
Pigeons’ Magnetic Tissue
◆ England’s New Scientist reports that researchers have found a tiny mass of iron-rich magnetic tissue between the eyes and the brain of homing pigeons. Scientists are wondering if this could be one source of the pigeons’ remarkable navigation ability. Cells similar in nature already had been discovered in honeybees that have a homing mechanism. More research is under way to see if this magnetic tissue is indeed a factor in the amazing navigational ability these pigeons have.
Clergy Morals Lower
◆ According to a survey of laity and clergy in the Lutheran Church of America, 34 percent of the laity, but 50 percent of the clergy, considered homosexual relationships not always wrong. Regarding premarital sex, 52 percent of the laity said that they did not consider it always wrong, while 54 percent of the clergy answered the same. Marijuana smoking was viewed by 36 percent of the laity as not always wrong, yet 50 percent of the clergy responded similarly. Thus, in various areas of Christian morality more of these clergy have an unchristian view than do their flocks.
◆ California produces more than a third of the fresh produce in the United States. But, ironically, many people there do not get enough food to eat. Noting this, a group of retired persons inquired of food growers and distributors whether they could glean what fruit and vegetables had been left over after normal picking and distributing procedures. As a result, hundreds of tons of food are being salvaged and distributed to the elderly poor, as well as the sick who cannot afford nutritious food and shut-ins unable to do their own shopping. Some of the food is canned to be used after the crop season. The gleaners now number about 2,000 in northern and central California. The law of Moses made such a gleaning provision for the “fatherless boy and for the widow.”—Deut. 24:20-22.
◆ Columnist Sydney Harris, writing in the Detroit Free Press, calls attention to the following statistics:
“During the peak seven years of the Vietnam War, 42,000 American soldiers were killed in action—but during those same seven years, more than 50,000 American civilians were murdered here by handguns.”
“If we include handgun accidents and suicides, over 125,000 American civilians died by handguns in those seven years—three times the number of American soldiers killed in action.”
“At present we have more than 50 million handguns in the homes and pockets of Americans, and two million more uncontrolled handguns are being poured into our society each year.”
“Even with out patchwork of 20,000 local and state laws, the U.S. continues to operate under the most lenient handgun control laws of almost any country in the world.”
“We have by far the highest per capita handgun population, from five to 25 times that of most countries, and by far the highest handgun crime rate, almost 10 times our nearest rival.”
Walking as Good as Jogging?
◆ Brisk walking can be as effective as jogging in lowering your blood pressure, states Dr. Andrew Lewin, a hypertension expert at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He suggests a medical checkup first, then walking for five to 10 minutes to begin with, and gradually building up to 45 minutes of rapid walking three to four times a week.
Illegal Use of Gas
◆ According to an attorney for the Enforcement Division of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, it is illegal under federal law for any gas-station operator to allow less expensive leaded gas to be put into a vehicle that was originally designed for unleaded gas. The penalty is a $10,000 fine. Under federal law it is also illegal for a mechanic, dealer or manufacturer to convert an engine to the use of leaded gas if the engine is designed only for unleaded gas. In the majority of states, it is also illegal under state law for a private citizen to make such a conversion himself.
“Most Important” Health Measure
◆ Oxford University medical statistician Richard Peto maintains that both the emphasis of medical research in Britain and the government’s health policies are wrong because they devote far more research to publicized diseases than to the real killers. For instance, he notes that many more scientists study acute myeloid leukemia than study strokes, yet he says that strokes kill 60 times more people and could prove easier to prevent and treat. The government, Peto observed, devotes far more attention to testing drugs, food additives and pesticides than to reducing smoking, yet smoking kills about 100 times more people each year in England and Wales. ‘Preventing smoking is the single most important health measure for developed countries,’ he declares, smoking taking more lives than even traffic accidents or alcoholism. Similarly, an article in Medical World News counsels “politicians, bureaucrats, and public-interest groups” to “go after the cigarette hammer and tongs.”
◆ Evidence continues to mount regarding the health hazards from smoking marijuana. The Toronto Star observes: “Some of its hazards are only beginning to be uncovered.” At the University of California medical school, experiments with monkeys revealed that those administered the drug on a regular basis were four times as likely to have their babies die in the womb, or shortly after birth, as those monkeys not given the drug.
Kuwait’s Oil Money
◆ Kuwait sells $10 billion in oil each year, and has enough reserves to continue such sales for another 70 years. According to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the average Kuwaiti’s annual income is $15,000. That is twice as much as an average American’s and 150 times as much as an Ethiopian’s. But Kuwaitis tend to think it is misleading to speak of their oil money as genuine wealth. Said the director general of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development: “It’s only so on paper. There is a big difference between income and wealth.” Officials contend that their economy is based on a single resource and that they are racing against time to build a stable economy before the oil supply is depleted.
Higher College Costs
◆ The cost of sending a child to a private college continues to skyrocket. Tuition and student fees of prestigious institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton and others are now well over $5,000 a year, some over $6,000. Adding the cost for room, board, travel, books, clothes and other items brings the total cost to about $10,000 a year.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
◆ A team of American pharmacologists who recently toured Chinese hospitals were impressed by evidence that some of their traditional herbal medicines seem effective even with nonsurgical treatment of appendicitis, gallstones and kidney stones. The Chinese employ some 5,000 medicinal herbs in treating various ailments. A prescription likely contains several herbs. For example, the prescription for appendicitis is a mixture of ingredients from rhubarb, magnolia, dandelion and sargentodoxa genera. The American visitors were told at one hospital that of 995 uncomplicated cases of appendicitis treated with just herbs, 93.6 percent had uneventful recoveries. Concluded the visiting pharmacologists: “Patients in China seem to do as well as those in the West at the hospitals we visited.” Moreover, they noted that the Chinese now are combining the best of Western medicine along with their traditional herbal treatments, and that “the present amalgam of Chinese and Western medicine may be as good (or better than) any other system that might be devised for the Chinese population.”