Watching the World
More Bible Languages
◆ By the end of 1979 at least one of the Bible books had been published in 1,685 languages and dialects, an increase of 25 over the 1978 total. (See Awake!, 9/22/79, p. 29.) According to the Daily Mail of Anderson, South Carolina, at least one of the Bible books has been translated into 492 African languages. Second in number of translations is Asia, with 429; third is Latin America, with 275; and fourth is Australia and the South Pacific, with 246.
War Games Banned
◆ Following up an earlier agreement with toymakers to stop the sale of toy soldiers and pistols, Sweden has now banned all remaining war-oriented games, models and weapons. Officials say that such toys “expose children to violence and thus perpetrate a violence-prone society.” Advocates of the ban contended that war games condition children to think that the normal solution to problems is war and violence.
“Obligated” to Fornicate
◆ The number of youths who have had sexual relations by age 16 has multiplied eightfold in less than a generation, according to Ladies Home Journal magazine. The article offers a sad commentary on today’s morality when it observes that the young people feel “sexually obligated” to lose their virginity because of peer pressure that implies “anyone who’s a virgin is out of step with the times.” It quotes a 16-year-old girl as saying: “I’m a virgin. Isn’t it pathetic? I don’t think any of my friends are. They don’t criticize me, but it’s like a barrier between them and me. Like they know something I don’t. It makes me feel left out. I’m definitely going to do it before my seventeenth birthday. I don’t know with who.”
Bag of Gold Rejected
◆ At a time when people are buying gold at astronomical prices, it is unusual for someone to refuse to accept the precious metal if he can get it free. But that is what Kazue Uemura of Shimonoseki, Japan, did. When fishing for squid, his iron pole hooked a bundle from the seabed containing 21 small gold bars worth about 50 million yen ($200,000, U.S.). After turning the treasure over to the police, the six-and-a-half-month legal wait for claimants was allowed to expire, but Uemura then renounced his finder’s right to the gold. “From the time I fished it up, I’ve been plagued with nasty phone calls asking what I’m going to do with all that gold,” he said. “After talking with my family and friends I decided I would be better off without it.”
Tobacco Hinders Sleep and Memory
◆ Smokers generally find it harder to sleep than nonsmokers do, and sleep habits of smokers who suddenly quit improve dramatically, according to researchers at Pennsylvania State University. Their report in Science magazine says: “A group of 50 smokers experienced greater sleep difficulty than a group of 50 nonsmokers matched by age and sex.” The smokers took almost 44 minutes to get to sleep, while nonsmokers took less than 30 minutes. Heavy smokers who abruptly stopped reportedly spent 45 percent less time awake during the first three nights after quitting.
A study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland indicates that smoking also impairs memory. According to the report in the British Medical Journal, volunteers who had smoked for 25 years or more were closely matched with volunteer nonsmokers. These were given a test of their ability to match names with faces. Nonsmokers scored 73 percent correct, while smokers were only 56 percent correct. “An inferior memory for names connected to faces significantly differentiated smokers from nonsmokers,” said the report. “It is interpreted as an indirect side effect of chronic cigaret smoking.”
Peking’s First Bank Robbery
◆ In what is said to be Peking’s first bank robbery since China’s present government took power in 1949, two men looted the People’s Bank of about $700 (U.S.) in Chinese currency. Armed with a homemade weapon, the masked robbers threatened terrified tellers while one of them jumped over the counter to scoop the money from a drawer. The robbers escaped, although about 50 police immediately tried to trace them.
Sphinx Repairs Suspended
◆ “The Sphinx really is in danger,” says Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s inspector for the Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza. “It is possible that someday the head could fall off.” Wind-driven sand has eroded the exterior of the ancient monument, and experts fear that salt water seeping into the porous limestone from beneath also may be damaging the interior. A restoration project to apply new limestone blocks along the sides of the Sphinx was suddenly stopped when well-meaning hired masons began removing ancient stone blocks from a paw. “They had all these nice new limestone blocks,” said an Egyptologist, “and they thought they would look better than the old dirty ones.” Shocked authorities stopped the work temporarily.
◆ Walter Brattain, who won a Nobel prize for inventing the transistor 33 years ago, says that his only regret is the use of his invention to amplify rock music for today’s teens. “Rock-’n-roll is detrimental to the hearing of the youngsters who go to it,” declared the 77-year-old inventor. “It is not, in my estimation, music . . . just noise.”
◆ The total federal government debt projected for the United States this year is $939.4 billion, nearing $1 trillion. This means that every person in the nation, even if just born, shares an average debt of $4,229. The year’s interest alone amounts to $359 for each American.
◆ Ten years ago, the Funabara Hotel in Naka-Izu, Japan, made headlines when it installed a 22-carat gold bathtub for use by its guests. Now, with the recent skyrocketing value of gold, the hotel can advertise its prize as a “billion yen [$4 million, U.S.] bathtub.” About 50,000 hotel guests annually have been paying 3,000 yen ($12) for a five-minute dip in the golden tub. However, in keeping with inflation, the price of a dip went up to 5,000 yen ($20) in February.
◆ France is constructing a 264-mile (425-km) rail link between Paris and Lyons that they say will be one of the world’s fastest rail lines. For six years, the French have been testing new electric trains at speeds of 190 miles per hour (310 km/hr). Even the curves on the new line are designed to allow speeds of 160 mph (260 km/hr). Work is planned for completion in 1983, although about 70 percent of the line is scheduled to open in late 1981. When work is completed, passengers are to be whisked from Paris to Lyons in just two hours at an average speed of 132 mph (212 km/hr). The current schedule is 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Not to be outdone, the famous Japanese “bullet” trains, which presently offer the fastest passenger service in the world, expect to begin operating a 160-mph (260-km/hr) service in late 1981 as well. The proposed Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines will speed passengers at 30 mph (50 km/hr) above speeds now reached on “bullet” lines.
Gas Masks for Greeks?
◆ Between emissions from automobile exhaust and those from building heating equipment, according to the Athens Daily Post, “the people of this city will require gas masks in order to move about without running the risk of suffocating.” The newspaper says that this is the implication of findings by researchers from the Technical Chamber of Greece. Their report cited average levels of fine particles in the air over certain streets in downtown Athens that were four to six times as high as standards said to be safe by the World Health Organization.
◆ A Florida jury recently convicted a 28-year-old woman for contributing to the delinquency of her four-year-old son. She had taught the tot to roll and smoke marijuana cigarettes. The judge jailed her.
Ancient Herb for Malaria?
◆ The Chinese Medical Journal reports that an ancient herb remedy for malaria was effective in tests on over 2,000 patients. It is an extract of an Asian wormwood known as qinghao. Old records show that it was used against malaria in 341 C.E. It was not until 1971 that its efficacy was “rediscovered.”
Young Armed Robbers
◆ A 10-year-old New York City boy was accosted by two gun-toting boys aged 12 and 13 who demanded his possessions on threat of death. Police said that the boys may be the youngest ever arrested in the city for armed robbery. Two loaded pistols—a .22 caliber and a .38—were taken from the boys, who, along with their victim, reportedly broke down and cried. The New York Post reported at the end of February that “70 guns have been seized in schools from youngsters—some not yet in their teens.” A youth worker said: “The kids don’t even bother making zip [home-made] guns any more because guns are so available on the street.”
Japan’s Robot Workers
◆ “The world population of robots used in industrial manufacturing is 17,500,” says Technology Review. “Of these, 2,000 are in Europe, 2,500 in the U.S., and 13,000 in Japan.” Illustrating Japan’s preeminence in the field, the journal noted the use of automated machines for color television set assembly. Less than half as many workers are required to assemble a set in Japan as in the most efficient American plants. Japan’s leadership in automation was attributed to “a deliberate plan launched a decade ago,” when a survey indicated that the country’s labor force “would soon be inadequate to sustain the country’s industrial aspirations.”
Auto Costs Skyrocket
◆ Since 1973, the cost of driving a new car during its first three years has risen as much as 90 percent. Huge jumps in the price of gasoline, repairs, insurance and original sale price of the auto are said to account for increased ownership costs. According to Hertz Corporation, the car rental firm, overall cost per mile (1.6 km) of operating a new compact model averages almost 32 cents in the United States, with some cities costing as much as 44 cents per mile. On the other hand, a three-year-old car may require only half as much to operate for the next three years. This is reflected in rental and leasing prices, with the result, says The Wall Street Journal, that “used-car rental and leasing operations are mushrooming all over the country. Rent-A-Wreck has over 20 franchises throughout the country; Lease-A-Lemon has four, and Ugly-Duckling-Rent-A-Car over 20.”
◆ “More and more women are demonstrating that anything men can do, they can do just as well—or badly,” observes Rocky Mountain News of Denver, Colorado. The newspaper cites the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports. These reveal that, between 1974 and 1979, the number of women arrested for fraud increased almost 50 percent, while only about 13 percent more men were arrested for that crime. Embezzlement arrests of women went up nearly 50 percent as well, yet grew only 1.5 percent among men. Female forgery and counterfeiting arrests rose 27.7 percent, while rising less than 10 percent among men. Even though these percentages indicate a high rate of growth in white-collar crimes among today’s “liberated” women, the relative number of crimes they commit remains much smaller than the number committed by men.