Watching the World
A “Blessed” Country?
● Japan’s Mainichi Daily News quoted a high government official who said: “Japan may without exaggeration be counted among the most blessed of countries today” because of its affluence. Yet the editorial asked: “But aren’t we a very poor, if not the poorest, nation in spiritual terms? Haven’t we lost the human soul in exchange for material prosperity?” The editorial, noting that top company officials were being prosecuted for dishonest practices, stated: “The verdict brings into focus a dirty bunch of men setting up a slush fund, dishing it out among politicians and indulging in all manners of lies and excuses.” It added: “Neither knowledge nor experience has served as a breakwater to prevent the human soul from going to waste. If our ‘prosperity’ has been maintained by people who have ‘knowledge and experience’ but who have lost the human soul, ours is a far cry from a ‘blessed country.’” The same could be said for most countries on earth.
● In recent times doctors are often charged with malpractice, where patients claim that medical services result in injury. But Dr. Gershon Lesser of the University of Southern California charges that many people are committing “malpatient.” This is defined as “health-jeopardizing negligence committed by the patient against himself.” It results from the patient’s failure to accept the fact that the major share of responsibility for health care lies with him. Lesser notes a common example: “A patient will ask his doctor to tell him which of the many famous diets is best, whether it’s better to jog or swim or bike-ride, or what’s the best method of managing stress. Meanwhile, the patient is puffing away on a cigarette. . . . Smoking is so devastating, especially to the heart and lungs, that the other aspects of preventive medicine become comparatively insignificant if the person smokes.” Many patients, including nonsmokers, harm their bodies by continually eating junk food and otherwise abusing themselves. The doctor comments: “Among all these types, you’ll find a dangerous misconception about modern medicine. People who commit malpatient tend to assume they can abuse themselves with impunity because they’ll be rescued by the new medical techniques and technology. I’ve got news for those people. No medical breakthroughs have justified a life of installment-plan self-destruction. The biggest medical breakthrough of modern times has yet to occur—massive awareness that the primary responsibility for health lies with the patient.”
● The Bible is now being published in 1,739 languages and dialects, an increase of twenty-nine over the past year. The entire Bible is available in 277 languages, the Greek Scripture portion in 518, and single Bible books in 944. The continent of Africa has the largest number of translations, with 104 languages for the complete Bible, 163 for the Greek Scriptures and another 239 for single books.
Infant VD Soars
● An alarming increase in venereal disease among infants six months of age and younger is reported throughout the United States. This VD is transmitted by infected pregnant mothers. From 1977 to 1981 the number of annually reported syphilis infections among these babies rose 45 percent, from 20,847 to 30,127. Many times that number of other venereal disease complications were reported. The tragic results include blindness, mental retardation, loss of hearing, the growth of tumors and other problems. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases calls the problem among these innocents “catastrophic.”
Canada’s Churches Decline
● There has been a major decline in belief in God among Canadian churchgoers. A project supported by the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian government found that less than half the members of the United Church, Canada’s largest, profess a firm belief in God. “Organized religion in Canada is experiencing a dramatic drop-off. Churches are losing many of their once-active members and adherents, while failing to replenish such losses,” declared Reginald Bibby, Alberta sociologist. He also said: “With the possible exception of conservative church members, Canadians—church members and nonmembers alike—have a remarkable level of ignorance of even the basic content features of Judaic-Christianity.” In a twenty-two-year period, church attendance declined from 61 percent to 35 percent. Bibby concluded: “Organized religion in Canada—mainline or conservative—is in trouble.”
● Mainland China recently inaugurated a “Civic Virtues Month.” Public order, politeness and cleanliness were declared to be official policies for all citizens to practice. The nation has been told not to spit on the ground, honk car horns unnecessarily, litter, cycle while intoxicated or be nasty in public places. The New York Times reported that, in an attempt to cut down the accident rate, “it has now become illegal for Chinese motorists to eat, drink, smoke or talk while driving.” In one weekend, the New China News Agency reported, about one million people turned out to join government leaders in scrubbing, sweeping and washing down Peking. Will the new politeness last? A store clerk said: “We are having this one-month campaign to teach people how to be polite, and to continue doing so as we reconstruct our country. It doesn’t mean that we should be rude again” in following months.
● About thirty years ago aquaculture, or fish farming on land, was considered to be one way to end world hunger. But it did not rise to expectations. However, in the past five years the industry has made greater progress in controlling diseases, in nutrition, growth rates and other problems. In the United States annual aquaculture production doubled in five years, to 300 million pounds (135 million kg). Trout and catfish now account for more than two thirds of the fish grown. In Hawaii the largest land-based oyster farm produced 250,000 oysters last December and expects many times that amount in the near future. Regarding recent research advances, Business Week says: “Most important, it has led to dramatic increases in conversion ratios—the amount of food required to produce a pound of fish.” Yields of 3,000 pounds (1,350 kg) of fish an acre (.4 ha) are now common compared with 1,200 pounds (540 kg) 10 years ago.
Sex Harassment—by Men
● The Canadian Human Rights Commission reveals that about 15 percent of men surveyed said that they were subjected to sexual harassment on the job—by other men. Of the women surveyed, 23 percent reported sexual harassment by men. With both men and women, the pattern was said to be identical: “There are remarks with sexual innuendo, fondling and touching, and in some cases people are forced to submit to sex,” the Toronto Star reported.
● More children not yet in their teens are committing adult crimes. Last year a nine-year-old boy robbed a New York City bank and spent the money on hamburgers, French fries, a watch and other items. Under a modified probation plan, he had to report regularly to a probation officer, attend school regularly and “commit no act which would be a crime if he were an adult.” However, he was arrested again on charges of stealing from two little boys at knife point. Police sources said that the boy, now ten, had two accomplices, one aged nine and the other ten.
● Toronto pharmacologist Dr. Armand Lione says that aluminum in the food we eat and in the utensils we cook with may contribute to health disorders. He claims that as little as two or three milligrams of aluminum filtering into the brain can disrupt normal functioning and contribute to a form of senility. Lione said that the average North American takes in about twenty-two milligrams daily, and most is excreted through the kidneys. However, he warns that the efficiency of the kidneys begins to decline after age thirty, so some aluminum begins to stay in the body. What are some common sources of aluminum in foods? Commercial cake mixes, pancake batters, self-rising flours and frozen doughs. These often have sodium aluminum phosphate as a leavening agent. In sulfate salts of aluminum, known as “alums,” aluminum may be present in some pickled foods, such as pickled cucumbers. Aluminum cookware, especially when used to prepare and store acid foods such as tomatoes, can increase aluminum content, the doctor declares.
Nutritious Winged Bean
● The winged bean, a plant in little demand a few years ago, is making a dramatic showing in more than seventy countries. It is called a “supermarket on a stalk” because it combines desirable characteristics of the green bean, garden pea, spinach, mushroom, soybean, bean sprout and potato. Virtually the entire plant is fit for consumption, from flowers to roots. It is said to be a good source of vitamin A, and the beans are rich in vitamin E. Observed The New York Times: “The highly nutritious crop promises to become the soybean of the tropics, where it alone may do more than any combination of foods to counter malnutrition.”
Eagle Skyjacks Radio
● The magazine Soviet Life tells of a strange happening in the province of Kirghizia. While tending to his flock in a mountain ravine one day, a shepherd heard music coming from an eagle’s nest high on a cliff. He realized where his transistor radio had gone. It is thought that the eagle had swooped down and snatched it, carrying it off to the nest. The magazine also said: “For several days and nights the eagle’s family listened to music. Then the batteries ran out, the radio was silent, and the birds pushed it over the cliff.”
Thin Live Longer?
● “If you show me a thin person who isn’t a heavy cigarette smoker, I’ll show you the person who does the best of all in life—the lowest death rate, the lowest stroke rate, heart attack rate, the whole bit,” said Dr. William Castelli, director of the Framingham, Massachusetts, Heart Study. The group has been following the health of thousands of local residents since 1949. These conclusions contradict those made at Johns Hopkins University showing that the healthiest people were somewhat overweight. But of that report, Dr. Castelli stated: “All the fat people loved it. We’re saying that can’t be right.” He noted that when smokers were not averaged in with the figures, the true picture of thin longevity emerged.