Watching the World
A BAD YEAR FOR RELIGION
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, people in the United States are losing their respect for organized religion. Gallup surveys in 1988 showed that, compared to 1986, more Americans had lost confidence in the ethics of the clergy and felt that religion was losing its influence on society. The report noted that the disillusionment was most marked among minorities and Evangelical, or “born-again,” Christians, citing as apparent causes the scandals involving such television preachers as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.
According to The Star of Johannesburg, more sulfur rains down from the skies above the eastern Transvaal of South Africa than anywhere in the Western world. The sulfur fallout comes mostly from coal-fired power-generating stations and could possibly be as high as 149 tons per square mile annually [57.5 tons per sq km]. That would be eight times worse than in West Germany, where similar fallout has already done “irreversible damage to forests, crops and buildings.” Sulfur is a key ingredient of acid rain. One study found the rain in the eastern Transvaal to be about as acidic as vinegar. Since South Africa’s weather patterns tend to keep pollution trapped near the earth, many are concerned over the health threats involved. Parents fear for their children. The Saturday Star notes that the smog is causing “one of the highest rates of ear, nose and throat complaints in the world.”
PET ABUSE AND CHILD ABUSE
A recent study showed that abuse of animals in a home may be a sign that child abuse is going on under the same roof, reports the U.S. magazine Parents. Of 57 families troubled with child abuse, some 88 percent also abused their animals. Usually it was a parent who was abusing a pet, but abused children may also turn and vent their anger on animals. The organization that conducted the study urged parents, teachers, and others to take children seriously when they tell of animal abuse in their homes. Suggested the article: “Teach children that any kind of abuse is wrong.”
“PAID TO REMAIN SILENT”
An AMA (Australian Medical Association) survey of women’s magazines, published over an average five-year period, revealed that magazines carrying cigarette advertising appeared to censor material that exposed the harmful health effects of smoking. Of the magazines surveyed, there were ten times as many articles on weight loss and diet as there were on smoking. The AMA secretary-general accused the magazines of deliberately ignoring the dangers of smoking and renewed a call for tobacco advertising to be banned. “The magazines are being paid to remain silent and they are remaining silent,” he said. “That is disgracefully irresponsible.”
A BIG BORER FOR THE SOVIETS
A giant tunnel-boring machine has been assembled in Richmond, Canada, for a hydroelectric project in the Soviet Union, reports The Vancouver Sun. The big borer weighs in at 660 tons and is 92 feet [28 m] long. Its 59 steel alloy disc cutters, set in a 28-foot [8.5 m] diameter cutterhead, can carve through hard rock at up to 4 inches [10 cm] per minute. The mechanical mole’s ten electric motors develop a total of 2,800 horsepower. It will be used to bore two 3.4-mile [5.5 km] tunnels for the Irganaisk hydroelectric project in the Caucasus Mountains. Six similar boring machines are presently tunneling under the English Channel.—See Awake! April 22, 1989.
What secret “weapon” does the Bahia Sports Club, winner of Brazil’s 1988 Union Cup for soccer, use to guarantee victory? “Mysticism,” reports the Brazilian magazine Veja. Before each game, the team’s masseur and dresser prepares a bath of lavender sap and another of garlic for the players. “If I forget to prepare this bath, the players demand it,” he says. Also, before the players run out to the playing field, he places a clove of garlic in each sock. “True, voodoo does not win the game,” the masseur admits. “But it does have a strong psychological effect and also serves to frighten the opposing players.”
INTERESTING ADVICE FOR MOTHER
When a Roman Catholic mother wrote for advice to a Catholic priest who edits a regular column in the Australian newspaper Sunday Telegraph, she received a reply that was probably unexpected. Her letter expressed sadness because her eldest married daughter, though raised a Catholic, had become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The cleric’s answer had some interesting advice. In part he wrote: “She must be free . . . in making her own way through life. Take some comfort from the fact that she is practising a religion. Better to be a practising Jehovah’s Witness than a non-practising Catholic.”
Almost 63 percent of all prisoners released from state prisons in the United States were arrested again for a serious crime within three years, according to a recent Justice Department report. Freed prisoners younger than 25 years of age who had been arrested 11 or more times had the highest recidivism rate—94 percent of them were rearrested.
WHERE THE BICYCLE REIGNS
In just one year, China produced some 41 million bicycles, reports Asiaweek magazine. That means 3,400 bicycles were produced for every car made. By contrast, the United States made only 82 bicycles for every 100 cars it turned out. And those bicycles were “for the most part flashy ten-speed machines built to last an adolescent a season or two of exuberance,” the magazine remarks. The Chinese find bicycles to be eminently practical. “Cycling requires one-third of the energy of walking. A small automobile consumes 50 times as much energy as a man riding a bicycle,” according to Asiaweek.
HAPPINESS—SINGLE OR MARRIED?
In the past, studies in the United States have shown that married people, as a whole, reported higher levels of personal happiness than the unmarried. This may be changing. More recent data collected from 13 national surveys conducted from 1972 through 1986 by the National Opinion Research Center suggests that there is a decline in the marital status-happiness relationship. While in 1972, 38 percent of those married said they were “very happy” with their lives, in 1986 those figures had fallen to 31 percent. Yet, among the unmarried, the number who said they were “very happy” rose from 15 percent in 1972 to 27 percent in 1986.
KILLER SODA MACHINES
Rocking a soda vending machine back and forth to dislodge a soda is more than a senseless prank. It can be quite deadly. One U.S. Army doctor writes in The Journal of the American Medical Association that he knew of 15 young men injured by falling soda machines in just over two years. Three of them died. The injuries occurred, the doctor notes, because the soda machines are top-heavy when fully loaded, so that some determined pulling or rocking will bring the machine crashing down. Once a machine is rocked forward too far, it may strike with a force of up to a thousand pounds [450 kg] at the top front of the machine. Victims who survived were astonished at how heavy the machines were.