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Watching the World

Watching the World

 Watching the World

The Myth of Hair Growth

“Cutting or shaving your hair will not affect its rate of growth, texture or thickness,” states a health-and-fitness article in The New York Times. The myth that hair will grow back faster and thicker if cut or shaved has been around for many years. However, repeated studies since the 1920’s have shown that “the length, texture and coarseness of your hair are determined by genetics and hormone levels, not by how often you shave,” says the article. Why does the myth persist? It may be because many people start shaving early in life, when hair growth has not reached its highest rate and the hair is of lighter color. Also, “hair is darker and rougher at its roots, so removing the tips gives the appearance of coarser hair,” states the Times. “The bristly stubble that emerges after shaving may also be more noticeable than the same amount of growth in hair that is already long.”

 Beware of Noisy Toys

“Noisy toys harm kids’ hearing,” states the Toronto Star newspaper. After evaluating “40 toys aimed at children under the age of three,” a team of Canadian hearing experts found that “at least 25 were noisy enough to damage young ears,” says the paper. A toy cell phone registered the highest level of sound at 115 decibels. According to audiologist Richard Larocque, that sound level is “lower than a jet plane but noisier than most discotheques.” The current standard allowed by Health Canada is 100 decibels. The study suggests that “a standard of 87 decibels for 30 minutes of exposure would better protect hearing,” the article stated.

Meeting the Challenge of Meetings

Many companies are seeing a need to keep business meetings short and even to do away with unnecessary meetings, reports The New York Times. So to curb waste of time at meetings, some executives have resorted to the use of such desperate measures as stopwatches, whistles, and uncomfortable chairs, as well as having attendees stand rather than sit. Apparently, the executives are not alone in their view. In a survey of over 600 workers, “meetings that last too long” topped the list of time wasters. Patti Hathaway, author of a book that gives advice on handling situations at work, recommends that executives first look at the agenda to decide whether a meeting is really necessary. If the purpose of a proposed meeting is simply to disseminate information, then consider whether the information can be sent by e-mail.

Underground Nursery

“A steamy mine is a perfect environment for tree growing. For starters there’s a constant humidity and geothermal heat of 25C [77 degrees Fahrenheit] year-round,” says the Toronto Star newspaper. Since 1986, Inco Limited, a mining and metals company, has been quietly running an underground nursery. At the 4,600-foot [1,400 m] level of their Creighton mine, located near Sudbury, Canada, the nursery grows 50,000 seedlings each season. Storage tanks equipped with timers irrigate the baby trees with 530 gallons [2,000 L] of both fertilizer and water per day. To give the effect of sunlight, thirty 1,000-watt lightbulbs “stay on 24 hours a day the first week, then 18 on and 6 off for three weeks and then 12 on and off​—just like outdoors—​the rest of the time,” says the paper. Growing season starts in late January, and by late May the red pine and jack pine seedlings are ready to be planted on and around the mining company’s property. Some of the tiny trees are also donated to community groups.

Gardening Reduces Stroke Aftermath

“Gardening brings people the most zest for life after a stroke,” reports the German newspaper Gießener Allgemeine. Six months after being released from rehabilitation, 70 patients who had suffered a stroke were asked which activities brought them contentment. Such things as housework, shopping, cooking, reading, walking, driving, working at their job, and a number of social events were suggested. But gardening was the only activity named as increasing contentment in life. According to occupational therapist Brigitte Oberauer, gardening “makes it easier for stroke patients to focus on certain things and to keep concentrating. It busies the senses and delivers the message that new things are growing and life goes on. This is an important message after a serious illness.” Working outside may also break the isolation of staying indoors, increase mobility, and train one’s sense of balance.

Crisis Looms in Care of the Elderly

“If you don’t raise living standards now and begin to put in place some sort of safety net for the elderly, in 2030 or 2040 you could see a humanitarian crisis of colossal proportions,” warns Richard Jackson, director of the Global Aging Initiative in Washington, D.C. According to the international edition of The Miami Herald, increased longevity and declining fertility rates have produced an “elderly boom” worldwide. For example, the number of elderly in Mexico is expected to rise from 5 percent to 20 percent by 2050. A similar burgeoning elderly population exists in many developing nations, such as China, where an expected 332 million senior citizens will live by the middle of the century. It is now “a race against time” to provide the “mammoth social services” needed for the elderly, the article stated.

Home Remedies for Children?

The indiscriminate use of medication for children has become a habit in Brazil and other countries, reports Folha Online. Many families keep a stock of medicines on hand in their home. But “contrary to what many people think, even medications that can be bought without a prescription can cause irreversible damage to a child’s health​—if used incorrectly or unnecessarily.” And many ailments in children, such as the common cough, will go away on their own without the use of medication. “We have a culture of resolving any problem with medication,” says Lúcia Ferro Bricks, a pediatrician at the Children’s Institute of the Clinics’ Hospital in São Paulo. Food supplements are also abused, as in most cases a proper diet would satisfy the child’s needs. “When parents ask me to prescribe a vitamin, I tell them to take several fruits and make a good juice for the child,” says Bricks.