Watching the World
Orphanages in the province of Manicaland, Zimbabwe, are becoming overcrowded because of the great number of AIDS orphans. In this province alone, there are ‘about 47,000 children under the age of 14 who were orphaned as a result of their parents dying of AIDS-related diseases,’ reports The Star of Johannesburg, South Africa. Of these children, about 10 percent have lost both parents. The newspaper reported that according to a study conducted by the Ministry of Health, ‘out of 294 households randomly selected in the province, 29.9 percent had AIDS orphans.’
Bored With Free Time
According to a study by the BAT Leisure Research Institute, some people in Germany are finding it more and more difficult to decide what to do with their spare time. The study found that many who live in prosperity and have much free time forget how to enjoy life. Many get bored or become addicted to adventure. Some become too aggressive, or even violent. This sort of person often takes unnecessary risks in his search for excitement and thrills. The researchers noted that the issue of how to use free time properly will become one of the major problems of the next decade.
Office workers who daily spend several hours staring at computer screens are “a danger to themselves and others when driving at night,” claims Professor Paul Cook of London’s Brunel University. The Daily Telegraph of London reports that after a ten-year investigation of night blindness, Professor Cook found that the eyes of people who viewed computer display units for long hours at a stretch took 120 milliseconds to transmit information to the brain. That is nine times longer than normal! Though this increased delay protects the brain from any overload of information displayed by computer screens, at night, in reduced light, it can retard a driver’s reactions.
Victory Over Insects
For seven months, plane after plane flew over Libya, opened their cargo bays, and unleashed a powerful biological weapon: sterile male screwworm flies. It was “an emergency campaign to eradicate the New World Screwworm, a pest threatening animals and humans in Africa and beyond,” says New African magazine. Now, 1.3 billion flies later, victory has been proclaimed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, at a cost of $65 million—just over half of what was originally estimated. When the females mate with the released sterile males, no offspring are produced. As a result, the flies eventually die out. Surveillance is to continue until the summer of 1992.
A service that provides fake families for elderly people who are lonely is now available in Japan. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports on an entertainment agency that dispatches actors who, for a price, play the role of family members. The actors are ranked from seventh to first class, depending on their acting ability. There is a greater demand for actresses to play the role of daughters than for actors to pose as sons. The newspaper explains that the reason for this is that the elderly want “someone to spoil them and to listen to their gripes.” A three-hour visit from pseudo family members, including a three-year-old granddaughter, could cost up to 150,000 yen ($1,200, U.S.).
The Toronto Star reports that in a nationwide survey of some 9,000 high school dropouts in Canada, “three out of every 10 dropouts leave school because of boredom.” Good grades are no indicator that students will stay in school, as over 30 percent of those surveyed had high marks. Jim Livermore, vice president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation was not surprised. He stated: “Boredom is more of a factor today than it was 20 years ago because of television. To interest kids everything today has to be glitzy, high tech and showy.” Mr. Livermore feels that some of the brightest minds are not being challenged in school. He added that the “old way of teaching doesn’t work any more. Rather than lecture-style teaching, we have to get students more involved in learning.”
Children in Accidents
For the first time, researchers in Argentina have compiled information about accidents among children in that country. The study revealed that 41 percent of all hospitalized children in Argentina have suffered accidents in their own homes. Many have suffered accidental falls. After describing the hazardous environment found in many homes, the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarín referred to the typical Argentinean house as a “hunting trap for children.” Another place where many of these mishaps take place is in the automobile. The newspaper added that in most cases adults bear the responsibility for these tragic, and often fatal, accidents.
Prevent Accidents With Light
In Finland, Denmark, and Sweden, all drivers are required to use daytime running lights on their cars as a measure to prevent accidents. This precaution is especially effective in lands where it is dark much of the day during the winter months. A recent study in Finland revealed that during six winters, driving with the lights on during the day reduced daytime crashes by 21 percent. Some states in the United States have adopted laws requiring the use of headlights when visibility is poor, such as just before sunset and just after sunrise, and when there is any precipitation. During 1990 there were more than 44,000 deaths and 5,000,000 injuries related to car crashes in the United States alone.
In Japan people who have received a blood transfusion in the past will no longer be qualified to donate blood for transfusions. Why? The Japan Red Cross Society cited “a high percentage of infection by the C-type hepatitis virus” as the reason, reports The Daily Yomiuri. According to the newspaper, the C-type hepatitis contagion rate from people who have had blood transfusions is 8.31 percent, about 12 times higher than from those who have never received blood. Japan thus became the first country to adopt the policy of rejecting blood as dangerous simply because it came from previously transfused people.
Singapore Tightens Gum Control
Visitors to the island republic of Singapore must now declare on their customs forms any chewing gum they have with them. While a few sticks for personal use are allowed, larger amounts are confiscated. Since the beginning of the year, the government has banned the manufacture, sale, and importation of chewing gum. Sellers face a fine of up to $1,200, while importers may land in jail for a year and be fined $6,100. As yet, possession is not an offense. Gum “causes filthiness to our public facilities,” said a government spokesman. Subway trains were halted a few times last year when wads of gum caused the doors to jam and prevented them from closing. Gum sales had been $5 million a year, although gum advertising has been banned in Singapore since 1984. According to Asiaweek, the government has also announced plans “for legislation requiring convicted litterbugs to clean up public places.”
Babylonian Haute Cuisine
The French magazine Science Illustrée reports that after ten years of work, a team of researchers from Yale University has deciphered what appear to be some of the world’s oldest recipes. The recipes are part of a cuneiform text that was inscribed on several clay tablets discovered at the site of the ancient city of Babylon. The tablets include menus and 25 recipes for dishes that were apparently reserved for feasts and special occasions. Although the daily diet was rather simple fare, the recipes reveal that the culinary tastes of the ancient Babylonians at times included all sorts of meats and seasonings and contained such “delicacies” as lamb seasoned with garlic and onion, served with fat, curdled milk, and blood.
Germany’s Street Gamblers
Police cars have recently taken to patrolling the streets of Berlin, Germany, blaring an unusual message from loudspeakers: “Do not take part in Hütchenspiel. You cannot win. It is not played honestly.” In Hütchenspiel, which literally means “the little hat game” (also long known as the shell game), the player tries to guess which of three little cups conceals a die, while a nimble-fingered con artist rapidly manipulates the cups. A secret partner usually eggs the crowd on by coming forth and appearing to win, while other teammates look out for police. Police believe that such teams can make as much as DM10,000 ($6,000, U.S.) a day. So far the law has had little success in stopping them. The newspaper Nürnberger Nachrichten reports that in the first half of 1991, there were 1,500 street gamblers arrested, but because of lack of hard evidence, only 25 were prosecuted for fraud.