Watching the World
Merchants of Death
“The buildup in conventional weapons has been so continuous, so worldwide and so massive that it may have passed the point when rational arguments and responsible conduct can stop it,” says the National Catholic Reporter in reviewing a new book entitled American Arms Supermarket, by Michael T. Klare. According to Klare, the United States sells 34 percent of the world total of arms and the Soviet Union 29 percent. Says the review: “The United States keeps advancing altruistic and strategic reasons for its role as the number one arms supplier in the world,” reasoning that arms sales win friends and that if it did not sell these arms “the Third World might well buy their weapons from the Soviet Union.” But “little attention has been paid to the dangers to world peace by the very presence of these vast arsenals in politically unstable nations.”
Approximately 70 to 80 percent of bank robberies are solved compared to 25 percent for other robberies, says The Wall Street Journal in a report on “Unfruitful Crime.” Nevertheless, bank robberies rose 71 percent between 1976 and 1980. This compares with a 45-percent rise for street robberies, 47 percent for robberies of convenience stores, 17 percent for homes, and 5 percent for gas stations. “In the mid-1970s, narcotics users began showing up in the statistics [for bank robberies],” says Nicholas V. O’Hara of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “In the old days, they (criminals) worked up to banks. Now, they are looking for big scores.” But a bank heist averaged only $6,327 in 1983. A 44-year-old bank robber, now serving time, says: “Seven thousand dollars may be a lot of money to a 19-year-old, but for a man with responsibility $7,000 is no money. It’s kid stuff.”
Since sunlight rarely penetrates deeper than 590 feet (180 m) underwater, it came as a big surprise when two botanists found plants living 879 feet (268 m) below the ocean surface off the coast of the Bahamas, reports Newscience of the Ontario Science Centre. One of the varieties, hard-shelled red algae, is a hundred times more efficient at capturing and using light than its shallow-water relatives are. One reason for this is the alga’s unique structure. Its cell walls are exceptionally thin and the cells are stacked in columns, one atop the other, so that any light hitting the top cells can penetrate to the lower cells.
“The ability to talk over problems is more important than how much a couple are in love or how happy the couple were before the marriage,” reports The New York Times in summarizing the results of recent studies on durable marriages. “All couples go through ups and downs in marriage,” says psychologist Howard Markman of the University of Denver. “But it’s those couples who don’t communicate well whose marriage is more likely to be the victim of such a difficult period.” George Levinger of the University of Massachusetts adds: “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”
Best Child Care
“There is no such thing as a day-care centre that can do as good a job as a parent can,” says Burton L. White, author of The First Three Years of Life. White maintains that parents should postpone careers and even live poorly for the sake of being with their children during their first three years of life. While he admits that there are exceptions to his recommendation, he feels, in general, that the natural parents are best at responding to a child’s needs, praising his accomplishments, and shaping his development. He adds: “The chances of getting someone better than you to raise your child are not all that good.”
“In spite of the supposed liberation of women from domestic chores, 93 per cent of them still do most of the cleaning in the house,” reports The Times of London. “Only 2 per cent of husbands do most of the work, and only 27 per cent help at all.” Furthermore, only 8 percent of daughters and 3 percent of sons give their mothers a hand with the cleaning.
“Escaping Into Prison”
“Records show that prison populations rise significantly each year with the onset of winter,” writes Geoffrey Fellows, a member of the Ontario Board of Parole, in The Globe and Mail of Toronto, Canada. Why? Because, he surmises, “there are many willing to commit offences just to get in out of the cold.” Who are these would-be criminals? “Society’s derelicts, the unemployables and vagrants,” says Fellows. But it is more than the season that drives them toward prisons. Prisons offer them meals and lodging, freedom from responsibility, and a predictable life-style.
“Spare Tire” Risk
“A spare tire around the middle—as in the male paunch or pot belly—indicates a five-fold risk increase” of heart disease or stroke over those without such fat, reports The Medical Post of Toronto, Canada. “Fat thighs, fat legs and fat bottoms carry much less risk.” The findings are based on several long-term Swedish studies. For better health, Dr. Ulf Smith of the University of Göteborg, Sweden, recommends that a man’s waist measurement should not exceed his hip measurement, and a woman’s waist measurement should not exceed 0.8 of her hip measurement. Offering hope to those with large middles, Smith points out that midriff fat is the first to go when one exercises.
The first archbishop for the 2.1 million Roman Catholics and their families in the United States military, embassies, and Veterans Administration hospitals was appointed this past March by Pope John Paul II. “For the first time, there will be a Bishop whose sole responsibility will be to oversee the spiritual needs of Americans serving their country here and abroad,” a Catholic official told The New York Times. The U.S. Military Vicariate not only is the largest of 30 Catholic military vicariates around the world but is also among the largest dioceses in the world.
“Friends on Both Sides”
Well-known evangelist Billy Graham, who has often been a featured speaker at gatherings of the Southern Baptist Convention, explained that he was not attending the denomination’s meeting in Dallas this year so as not to get involved in its running controversy over Bible inerrancy, reports The Christian Century. “I am an evangelist and I must appeal to as wide a range of people as possible,” said Graham in an interview with the Dallas Morning News. “I believe in the holy, inspired Word of God, but I have friends on both sides.”
“New Testament-style baptism by immersion is catching on among Roman Catholics,” reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. While baptism by sprinkling or by pouring water on the heads of infants and adult converts is still standard practice, immersion is now preferred, says James T. Telthorst, director of the Office of Worship for the St. Louis Archdiocese. Three churches in the area use immersion pools for baptisms. “Baptism by immersion was the standard practice in the early churches,” admits Telthorst. However, the report does not comment on the fact that not a single instance of infant baptism is recorded in the Bible.
“In a 1979 survey of 379 doctors who practice AID [artificial insemination from donors], nearly 90 percent had no policy on the maximum use of a specific donor,” reports Psychology Today. One of the many problems this can create was recently reported by the Sunday Express of London, England. The father of an engaged girl confided to his intended son-in-law, a businessman, that his daughter was not his natural offspring. His wife had been artificially inseminated at a certain sperm bank. The businessman was alarmed since he had donated to that same bank some years before. After obtaining permission to inspect the bank’s records, his worst fears were confirmed. “He was, indeed, the father of his intended bride—and of 806 other children,” says the report. The wedding was called off and the disconsolate businessman decided to court in another area to reduce the risk of making the same mistake again.
“More than three-quarters of American women are beginning sexual activity before marriage,” reports The New York Times. The findings were based on a survey of women aged 15 to 44 that was performed by the National Center for Health Statistics. Specifically, 79 percent of women who married between 1975 and 1979 had sex before marriage compared to 52 percent of women who married between 1960 and 1964. Also reported was a higher percentage of births out of wedlock—19 percent in 1982, up from 5 percent in 1960.
“In the past decade, annual sales of health publications have tripled to more than $300 million,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “But some doctors and nutritionists warn that the industry’s rapid growth is prompting publication of significant amounts of misleading and false information.” Last year, for example, the American Council on Science and Health surveyed 30 periodicals and reported that one third of their health articles were “inconsistent” (50 percent to 80 percent accurate) or “unreliable” (less than 50 percent accurate). Adds the Journal: “Whether a consumer is perusing a newsletter, magazine or book, health experts advise being open-minded but skeptical.”
Moving “Like Monkeys”
How do molecules and energy move within a cell? The Times of London reports that four American neurobiologists recently demonstrated “that packets of molecules, and the cell’s energy sources, the mitochondria, manœuvre rapidly along threads called ‘microtubules’, attaching and re-attaching, and shifting from thread to thread like monkeys in the forest.” The microtubules, which are made of small protein subunits, assemble and disassemble according to the needs of the cell. Enlightening as these discoveries are, the scientists cannot explain what makes it all work.