Watching the World
● For three days 250 writers, artists, musicians, philosophers, psychoanalysts, scientists, economists and industrialists from Japan, Italy, France, the United States and many other countries gathered in Tokyo to discuss themes of world importance, including nationalism. Jorge Luis Borges, renowned Argentinian writer and poet, said that nationalism is dividing the world, adding: “In this sense, it is the arch-villain of all the evils. It divides people, it destroys the good side of human nature, it leads to inequality in the distribution of wealth.”
AIDS From Transfusion
● “The 38-year-old woman went into the hospital for a hysterectomy. She came out with AIDS,” stated the San Francisco Chronicle. How did she get AIDS? “From a blood transfusion.” The report noted that it has been suspected for some time that transfusions have transmitted the disease. In this case it was known that the blood donor was a male homosexual. It is observed, says the report, that the disorder appears to strike homosexual men most often, and that it appears to be transmitted by blood or by sexual contact.
“Invasion” of Spain
● “An Arab invasion of Spain is under way. This time the invaders are armed with cheque books, not swords,” reports The Economist. Spain was ruled by Moors for seven centuries, which rule ended in 1492. Now the Arabs are back, and they have invested 6.5 billion pesetas ($45 million, U.S.) in 1983. But that is a mere pittance compared with the millions more coming in indirectly from Arab-owned companies in Luxembourg and Switzerland, mostly to buy hotels and banks. “Bankers estimate total Arab investment in tourist developments around Marbella and neighbouring Puerto Banus at around $600m,” says the report. Spain needs the money to pay for the oil obtained from Arab countries.
● In the United States the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) reported a 7-percent decrease in serious crime in 1983, the biggest drop in 23 years. The attorney general called it “marvelous news.” The report noted that violent crime was down 5 percent when compared to 1982, murder was down 9 percent, rape 1 percent, robbery 9 percent and aggravated assault was down 3 percent.
● “Burnout” is described as “the response to stress” that can lead to breakdown. Nora McCabe, writing in The Globe and Mail commented: “Competition today [in sports] is fiercer than ever because the depth is greater. Matches are longer, and harder physically and mentally. That increases the pressure, leading to more injuries.” Burnout affects most frequently those who are extremely dedicated and committed to their careers.
Athletes who become celebrities, often at a very early age, “live in fish-bowls, constantly scrutinized by the media.” It is in these that burnout is more noticeable, states the report. It quotes Chris Evert Lloyd, who many believe suffered from burnout, as saying: “I’ve been a pro for 10 years and I’ve had times when I’ve wondered if it was worth it . . . if this was all there is to life.”
● Denise B. Kandel, a psychologist at Columbia University in New York City, writes in Science News that youths who smoke marijuana are different from nonusers, and the more they use it, the greater are the chances that they will go on and use harder drugs. The effects of marijuana use? Kandel says that the person shuns participation in ordinary adult activities, and has “lower scores on tests of psychological well-being and a tendency toward delinquent behavior.”
Japanese Life Span
● Asiaweek reports that the Japanese live longer than anyone else. The expected life span of 40-year-old women is 81 years and one month, and of men of the same age, 76 years and three months. According to the article, “the average lifespan over the past ten years has been increasing by two months and 20 days each year.”
One reason for the longer average life span in Japan is the low mortality rate of infants. Only 7 babies out of 1,000 die before the age of one. In Australia it is 11 out of 1,000; in the United States it is 13; 30 in Malaysia, 53 in Thailand and 135 in Bangladesh. Among other reasons given for Japanese longevity is that “Japanese don’t murder each other as much as other people do.”
Druggists and Tobacco
● “I could no longer live in disharmony,” said a pharmacist in Canada. “On one hand, I was dispensing medication for illnesses, and on the other hand I was profiting by selling substances [tobacco] which were contributing to ill health. I was liberated from something that had been haunting me for some time.” The report in Toronto’s Globe and Mail went on to say concerning the pharmacist: “No amount of profit can be worth the deep feeling of calm that came over him six years ago when he swept all cigarettes from his shelves after 24 years in the business.” He stated that his business dropped a little, but this was not significant.
● Police uncovered an international child pornography ring “whose records,” according to The New York Times, “were kept on home computers and involved girls who were lured by promises of household jobs.” The operation, said the report, filled orders for pornography to other countries. The pornography included “hundreds” of women, minors and animals. How were the teenage girls solicited? The report explains: “It’s the classic story of the nice man hiring the teen-ager, 14, 15, 16, to come over and clean his house.”
New Meter Defined
● The length of the meter was first defined in France in 1799 as one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator. In 1960 this basic unit of linear measurement was redefined as being equal to 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red light of krypton-86 under certain specified conditions. This standard, however, proved to be inaccurate to the extent of one and a half meters in the distance between the earth and the moon. In this age of space travel, such an error in measurement could not be tolerated. Now, according to Brazil’s Ciência Ilustrada, the meter has been redefined as “the distance that light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458th of a second.”
● Man has long wanted to harness the power of the sea for his use. Such is becoming a reality in the narrow Kurushima Strait in Japan’s Inland Sea. A waterwheel that generates power from tidal movements has already been installed, reports The Daily Yomiuri. The wheel and its 14-meter-high (46 ft) steel frame was lowered into the water and is expected to generate 1.6 kilowatts of power by tidal currents with a speed of 7.4 meters (24 ft) a second.
World’s Most Expensive Cities
● What cities in the world have the highest cost of living? United Press International says that for three years in a row they have been Lagos, Nigeria, and Tokyo, Japan. Chicago, Jidda (Saudi Arabia), Singapore and San Francisco share fourth place. New York is in eighth place together with Brazzaville, Congo. Today the strength of the dollar makes Europe “something of a bargain” for Americans. Caracas, once Latin America’s highest-priced capital to live in, has become the cheapest city.
Lost and Found in Hotels
● Have you ever forgotten something in a hotel room? If you have, you are not alone. The Imperial Hotel in Japan receives 30 to 40 claims a day for items guests left in their former rooms. What kind of items are left behind? “Half empty bottles of whisky, shirts, pyjamas, neckties, handkerchiefs, shoes, glasses, and even false teeth,” reports the Mainichi Daily News.
By law perishable items are to be kept 24 hours. Clothes and other items must be stored for six months. Cash, precious metals and jewels must be reported to the police within 24 hours.
The word of caution is: Check your room thoroughly before checking out.
More on Cancer
● During the second world war in the early 1940’s, many American women took over the jobs traditionally done by men. They also adopted the then predominately male habit of smoking, succumbing to the propaganda that to be a stylish, fashionable, liberated woman one must smoke. But what is happening now 40 years later? The lung cancer death rates of women in 1984 will probably surpass breast cancer as the chief cancer killer of American women. What a price to pay just to be fashionable!
Athletics Versus Aging
● If athletes seem to stay younger longer than the rest of us, perhaps the answer can be found in science. “Exercise slows, stops, and even reverses some of the deterioration associated with aging,” states Herbert A. deVries, Ph.D., director of University of Southern California’s Physiology of Exercise Research Laboratory. “Exercise halts the loss of lean muscle, increases the strength of the heart muscles and appears to slow the stiffening of the blood vessels,” he says.
● “Give a patient who has just had his gall bladder removed a brick wall to look at through his ward window and he’ll need more and stronger doses of analgesic, a longer hospital stay and more nursing than one who can see trees in leaf.” That is the conclusion reached by Roger Ulrich of Delaware University’s geography department after studying a Pennsylvania hospital’s patients’ records as reported by New Scientist. The average stay for patients with a brick-wall view was 8.7 days compared with 7.96 for those with tree views. Long-term patients, however, might benefit most from seeing a busy city street, suggests Mr. Ulrich.
● “Break dancing has been hailed by The New York Times as the greatest cultural revolution in the western hemisphere since the invention of the hula hoop,” reports The German Tribune. In Germany, it has come into its own in railway stations’ concourses, pedestrian areas and shopping centers. Arising from the ghettos of New York nearly ten years ago, break dancing is a cross between gymnastics, karate and tumbling. While there are many variations, the usual routine is for the dancer to spin on his arms, shoulders, head or back to the accompaniment of pulsating music or to a disc jockey’s rap. Girls are crazy about good dancers, says the report. But 15-year-old break dancer Guido from Hamburg adds that it will be all over ‘once any idiot can do it.’ “I’d give break dancing another three months.”