Watching the World
Why Laughing Feels Good
Why does it feel so good to laugh? Research shows that humor activates not only regions of the brain associated with perception and language but also the nucleus accumbens, a region that has been linked to happiness and euphoria, reports The Vancouver Sun. According to Dr. Allan Reiss of Stanford University, this neural region is “a very powerful brain subsystem.” Reiss believes that the study of humor can help physicians to understand social behavior better. “One’s sense of humour often dictates if, how, and with whom we establish friendships and even long-lasting romantic relationships,” says Dr. Reiss. “Humour also is a universal coping mechanism when [people are] faced with all varieties of stress.”
‘The 21st Century’s New Pathology’
That is how some psychiatrists have described the new “addiction” to mobile phones. According to a study by the Special Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation From Social Addictions (CETRAS), the most vulnerable are “single women aged 16-25, who are shy, immature and frustrated,” reports Spain’s newspaper El País. The “addiction” leads to “an insatiable need to use mobile phones to call and send messages,” says psychiatrist Blas Bombín. When they cannot use their cell phone, they suffer from “anxiety and irritability.” Cell-phone “addiction” not only affects relationships with others but is also expensive. CETRAS cites cases of patients who own eight mobile phones at the same time and who owe “as much as 800€ [$1,000] per month in phone bills.”
World’s Slums Growing
If the present rate continues, “one in every three people in the world will live in slums within 30 years,” states The Guardian of London, citing a UN report. Sadly, “940 million people—almost one-sixth of the world’s population—already live in squalid, unhealthy areas, mostly without water, sanitation, public services or legal security.” In the Kibera district of Nairobi, Kenya, there are about 600,000 slum dwellers. Anna Tibaijuka, director of the UN human settlements program UN-habitat, says: “Extreme inequality and idleness lead people to anti-social behaviour. Slums are the places where all the evils come together, where peace and security is elusive and where young people cannot be protected.”
China’s Parking Problem
Rapid economic growth in China has resulted in car ownership for millions. But there is one problem—finding a place to park. Many residential compounds built within the last 25 years do not have parking because so few people owned automobiles when the housing was constructed. Older residential neighborhoods have narrow, twisting lanes, making parking a car nearly impossible. Meanwhile, “the number of autos in Beijing has exceeded 2 million, and parking capacity is merely 600,000,” reports China Today. Nationwide, only about 20 percent of car owners have a legal parking space. Another indicator of growth in the number of autos is the increasing demand for oil. According to China Today, “China will soon take over Japan’s place as the second largest petroleum consumer.”
Youths With Repetitive Strain Injuries
An increasing number of youths are seeking treatment for repetitive strain injuries (RSI), reports The Globe and Mail of Canada. “Doctors and physiotherapists say that their patients are getting much younger as inactive children spend more time on computers both at home and in school,” says the paper. According to the Globe, constant typing or clicking on a video game controller can lead to the pain and swelling common to RSI sufferers. Parents are advised to watch their children’s posture and to be alert for signs of RSI—a child rubbing his elbows or wrists or complaining of numbness or tingling.
Hazardous Work Location?
According to a Swedish study, “working with people of the opposite sex is hazardous to your marriage,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The author of the study, Yvonne Aberg, reviewed government records of divorces and employment and found that “working with co-workers who are all of the opposite sex increases the divorce rate by a startling 70%, compared with an office filled with co-workers of the same sex.” Aberg also found that the marital status of the co-workers made no difference. The seven-year study, involving 37,000 workers at 1,500 locations, is based on empirical data rather than on personal reports, which tend to be less accurate. The article noted that one way to reduce the risk of divorce by 50 percent is to work in the same office with your spouse.
A Lutheran minister received much attention last year for saying “there is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection.” After a brief suspension, he was allowed to return to work as a preacher, reports BBC News. Thorkild Grosbøl of Tårbæk parish near Copenhagen “apologized for his comments” and acknowledged his obligations to the church, said Bishop Lise-Lotte Rebel of the Helsingør diocese. However, Grosbøl continued preaching along the same lines. In June 2004, the bishop stated that if Grosbøl refused to resign, it would have to be determined by a trial whether he could continue as a minister.
Ancient Gospel Inscription
For the first time, scholars in Palestine have found a verse from the Christian Greek Scriptures inscribed on an ancient tomb, reports Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. An inscription on what has become known as Absalom’s Tomb was found by chance. The diffused light of a photograph taken in the evening twilight revealed to anthropologist Joe Zias what appeared to be an eroded inscription. A simple papier-mâché patch was applied to the area, and the Bible verse was deciphered. The inscription is from Luke 2:25 and corresponds to the Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century. The find is noteworthy in that the use of Bible texts on gravestones generally became popular only about the year 1000 C.E.