Watching the World
Parents should turn children’s vacations from school into productive time, says Mexican psychologist and university professor Rafael Martínez. By careful advance planning, parents can coordinate the instruction given at home and at school. According to the report in Mexico City’s daily El Universal, Martínez pointed out that “the school is an educational center that should in no way substitute for the education that parents should give their children.” Among other things, he suggests a flexible schedule that includes training in domestic chores, some occupational activity, and helping handicapped and needy persons. Martínez advises that “vacation time should not mean total leisure and rest but, rather, a change in activity.”
Concern for Workers
Japanese companies have gained great expertise in many areas. They are, however, reluctant to reduce the work force when it is necessary. One company even temporarily reduced the workweek to three days to avoid laying off any of its employees. Normally, Japanese workers are accustomed to lifetime employment with their company. Some firms even educate their employees’ children and then take them into the firm. But because of economic changes and the need to be more competitive in world markets, as well as a glut of workers on certain levels, some companies have had no choice but to reduce their work force. Great effort is made to find new employment for the workers, out of loyalty to one another.
When pigpens became playpens, piglets “had an average daily gain that was four-percent higher than penmates that weren’t so favored.” That report, published in the Calgary Herald on the results of scientist Al Schaefer’s work at Agriculture Canada’s Lacombe Research Station, spells good news for hog producers. Schaefer’s research indicates that when pigs have playthings to occupy their time, they grow better. He experimented with an ordinary automobile tire hung on a chain that was slung across their pen. The pigs played with the tire “by pushing the tire back and forth along the chain or biting the rubber.” In this way, the aggressions of the more pugnacious pigs in the pen were diverted toward the “toy” instead of their more timid pen mates. As a result, after a two-year study, pigs in these pens who went to market had fewer bruises and less meat loss.
Researchers from the U.S. National Bureau of Standards and the Enrico Fermi Institute in Chicago, studying a meteorite’s fragments, have made an interesting discovery. Some of the meteorite consists of tiny diamonds. In subjecting the meteorite’s fragments to X-ray and electron diffraction, the researchers saw the clear diffraction pattern of diamond, reports New Scientist. Scientists believe that the diamonds must have condensed from carbon atoms emitted by a star and conclude that “possibly nature makes diamond more efficiently than even the best laboratory synthesis discovered so far.”
A Long Sleep
Miners claimed an extraordinary find when they recently excavated for gold in the bleak Siberian region of Yakutia, just above the Arctic Circle. Thirty feet [9 m] below the surface of the polar tundra, they discovered a triton, a tailed amphibious animal resembling a newt (salamander), trapped in the permafrost. The news agency Tass asserts that, to the amazement of the miners, after a while in the sun “it crawled slowly . . . on its five-fingered limbs, turning its head, with round bulging eyes, from side to side.” It died after a few days. Soviet scientists say that in a state of reduced animation, known as anabiosis, it is possible for such creatures to live for hundreds, even thousands, of years.
Attacking Music Pirates
The recording industry has been fighting pirates who unlawfully tape records and sell them. One firm has developed a system that “notches,” or cuts out, a narrow band of frequency in a recording so that circuits set up to react to the notch will automatically shut off a tape recorder. However, experts who have auditioned the process insist that the notch drastically affects the music. Thus, musicians, technicians, and record buyers are concerned that the notch, intended to stop those victimizing the music industry, will ruin many years of technology designed to achieve lifelike sound recordings, making them the new victims.
“Seeds of Rebellion”
In July of this year, 110 New Jersey teachers were arraigned in court for defying a court order to end an illegal strike. The presiding judge, Paul R. Huot, said that their “defiance of his back-to-work order had corrupted the students and inspired disrespect for law and contempt for the courts,” reports The New York Times. Concerned that society is drifting away from respect for law, social decorum, and discipline, the judge said: “Things aren’t black and white anymore. Everything is gray. We’ve lost good manners. We’ve lost courtesy. We’ve lost decency.” The reason? “Fewer people recognize the difference between right and wrong,” says Huot. “The sin now is getting caught, not the violation.” Placing the blame on parents, he explained that they tell their children to obey the law, while they themselves cheat on taxes, pad expense accounts, or violate speed limits. “I think we’re growing seeds of rebellion in this country like mad.”
Music to Their Ears
To gather and destroy rats, the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin played his musical pipe. Recently, a “Pied Piper” has appeared in Tokyo, luring rats away with modern musical pipes. Today’s “Piper” is a company specializing in environmental hygiene, and after 20 years’ research, according to The Daily Yomiuri, it has perfected a suction-pipe system to remove rats from high-rise buildings. Pipes with holes about every seven feet are laid along floors and walls. The music? Rats communicate by ultrasonic waves with frequencies of 20 to 38 kilohertz, and even waves from computer wires attract them. The pipes release ultrasonic waves to “call” the rats, who then enter the holes and are sucked along to a disposal section, suffocated by carbon dioxide, and immediately wrapped in a vinyl sheet for sanitary removal. From Hamelin to Tokyo, the conclusion is the same: Addiction to piped music can be hazardous to rats.
Fines, Fines, and More Fines!
The metropolitan area of São Paulo, Brazil, with its estimated 12 million inhabitants, has its traffic problems. In one month, a total of 1,218,491 traffic fines were issued. By the end of the year, three million of the four million vehicles in the city are expected to have been fined. Every month, nearly 30,000 vehicles are fined Cz$1,290 (about $30, U.S.) for parking on sidewalks, reported O Estado de São Paulo. Still on the books, though not enforced, are fines for driving a herd of oxen through the streets (Cz$1,149) and for parking a horse-drawn cart on the sidewalk (Cz$384). Leaving on a windowsill an object that could fall on a pedestrian may mean a fine of Cz$99. One incident, still remembered by many, was when a pig being raised on the terrace of a bakery became frightened and jumped over the edge and landed on a pedestrian, breaking his arm. This fine was collected.
According to Israeli sources, water supplies for Israel and Jordan may be seriously jeopardized by important works undertaken by Syria, their neighbor to the north. The project under way is to divert the flow of the largest tributary of the Jordan, the Nahr al Yarmuk, to irrigate “24,700 acres [10,000 ha] of land” to the north. To this end, large lakes have been dug, connected by a network “of over 160 miles [260 km] of open canals.” Syria is planning to move 500,000 inhabitants into the southern Golan Heights area.