Watching the World
New Alexandrian Library Lacks Books
The great library of Alexandria, “famous for containing the whole of human knowledge in the time of Christ, . . . was ravaged by fire in 47 B.C. and finally disappeared in the 7th century A.D.,” notes The Wall Street Journal. With help from other Arab states and from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Egypt has created a new library in Alexandria that it hopes will outshine the old one. “The first four floors are below ground. Surrounded by a reflecting water-pool, the library has 17 elevators, self-cleaning windows and a safety system so advanced it can extinguish fires without leaving so much as a drop of water on a rare text.” However, continues the Journal, “the library is short on one crucial element. Books.” The newspaper adds that after millions were spent during long years of construction, “the new library’s budget for actually acquiring books is so puny that the library’s chief, . . . Mohsen Zahran, must grovel for books whose main virtue is that they are free.” A chief librarian is not being sought because “we can’t afford the person’s salary,” says Mr. Zahran. The new library has space for eight million volumes.
“People who have lost a limb often experience chronic pain seemingly coming from the missing limb, or feel sensation in the absent limb if someone touches their face,” reports the magazine New Scientist. “When part of the cortex no longer receives sensory input—because of amputation or a spinal cord injury—adjacent nerves encroach on the defunct region, essentially taking it over,” the magazine explains. It adds: “This often results in people perceiving a missing limb, or suffering constant pain.”
Bad Breath and Job Prospects
“It is no exaggeration to say that [bad breath] harms many careers,” states dentist Ana Cristina Kolbe in the Brazilian business magazine Exame. “In extreme cases,” adds executive headhunter (recruiter) Leandro Cerdeira, “people lose one job after another without ever understanding what the real problem is.” In a study carried out in two large Brazilian cities, 40 percent of people surveyed suffered from halitosis, or bad breath. Among the most common causes were stress and a fiber-deficient diet. To alleviate symptoms, Dr. Kolbe recommends that sufferers take a few days’ vacation and increase their consumption of vegetables. As an emergency short-term measure, employees with halitosis can gargle with a weak hydrogen peroxide and water solution.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 105 countries, the average suicide rate in those areas increased by 60 percent between 1950 and 1995, reports the French newspaper Le Monde. Dr. José-Maria Bertolote, coordinator of WHO’s mental-health department, estimated that one million people would commit suicide in 2000 and that another 10 to 20 million would attempt suicide. The true figures, however, could be much higher. According to the report, more people die every year from suicide than from all the world’s armed conflicts combined. Among those between 15 and 35 years of age, suicide has become “one of the three principal causes of death,” says Dr. Bertolote.
South Africa’s Rape Victims
“Each year, 1 million rapes are committed in South Africa,” states World Press Review. This means that a rape is committed about every 30 seconds. The article notes that “South Africa has the world’s highest number of rapes that end with murder.” The number is 12 times higher than that for the United States, which is next on the list, although South Africa has a population of only 40 million. The article adds: “In other countries, people may rape you, rob you, or kill you. But in South Africa people will rape you before they kill you, almost just because you happen to be there. Rape occurs almost automatically in connection with other criminal acts.” Also, “rape has become a part of the initiation rites for new gang members,” who then go on to kill their victims. Among the contributing factors cited in the article are the high level of child abuse and the prevailing idea that life is cheap. Additionally, a 1998 Johannesburg survey “revealed that young men believed that women in fact enjoyed being raped but were hiding it, and that if you take a girl out, you have a right to demand sex,” the article states.
Bloodless Surgery in South Africa
“Alarmingly high Aids statistics have led one of South Africa’s major private hospital groups to opt for a switch to ‘bloodless medicine and surgery,’” reports the South African newspaper The Mercury. “Our aim,” said Dr. Efraim Kramer, the medical director of the program, “is to encourage the medical fraternity to provide medical and surgical care to patients without using donor blood.” Although at least 800 doctors in South Africa individually offer bloodless medicine and surgery, this is the first time that a hospital group has decided to implement such a nationally coordinated program. Dr. Kramer said that the response of doctors was “overwhelmingly positive.” The Mercury observes: “Largely through demands from religious groupings such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refuse to be treated with donated blood, effective methods of bloodless treatment have been developed.”
Natural Vitamin-C Capsules
The azarole, also known as the jungle cherry, measures only about three quarters of an inch [2 cm] in diameter. Yet, this bittersweet fruit has 50 times more vitamin C than an orange and 100 times more than a lemon. Studies at the San Martín State University of Tarapoto, Peru, show that 100 grams of pulp from the most acid lemon has 44 milligrams of ascorbic acid, while the same amount of azarole has 4,600 milligrams. Just four of these natural fruit “capsules” provide the daily requirement of vitamin C for an adult. According to the newspaper El Comercio, efforts are being made to see if azarole, “an easily perishable fruit,” can be grown commercially as a substitute crop for coca.
“The media and pop psychologists promote the idea that ‘venting’ [anger] is useful,” notes the magazine Psychology Today. “But this advice is more harmful than helpful.” According to Iowa State University psychologist Brad Bushman, “expressing anger actually increases aggression.” Test subjects who “let it out” by hitting a punching bag showed twice as much aggression and cruelty as those who did not. Even “subjects who read an article on the benefits of catharsis before punching the bag were much more likely to want to box than others,” the article says. “Instead of trying to simmer down, says Bushman, just turn off the heat altogether. Count to 10—or 100, if need be—and the anger will pass.”
Biggest Ozone Hole Ever
During September 2000, NASA’s ozone monitoring satellite registered the biggest hole in the ozone layer ever observed over the Antarctic. So reports the newspaper Clarín of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The hole appeared above an area of about 10.9 million square miles [28.3 million sq km], exceeding the previous record by more than 300,000 square miles [1,000,000 sq km]. The enormous size of the hole surprised scientists. Dr. Michael Kurylo of NASA said that these observations “reinforce concern about the fragility of the terrestrial ozone layer.” Physicist Rubén Piacentini of Argentina’s National Committee for Space Activities commented that although the hole is presently situated above unpopulated Antarctica, “it could end up passing over the southern area of [Argentina].” Clarín notes that ozone acts as a protective shield by diminishing the destructive potential of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.