Watching the World

Toddlers and TV

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two not watch television, reports The Toronto Star. Research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers need direct contact with parents and other caregivers. Watching TV may “interfere with interaction that helps develop their social, emotional and cognitive skills.” Not all experts agree, however. The Canadian Pediatric Society, for example, says that watching quality programming with parental supervision for a maximum of 30 minutes a day provides the child “an opportunity to be taught by a parent.” Both organizations agree, however, that young children should not have televisions or computers in their bedrooms and that TV should not be used as a baby-sitter. Since TV viewing can affect the health of young people, it is suggested that “children be encouraged to play outside, read books or work with puzzles or games.”

Frustration at Work

Why do some people lose their temper or even become violent at work? According to Toronto psychologist Sam Klarreich, the reason may be not just stress but a low tolerance for frustration. He believes that this condition develops in some employees who feel that they are being “asked to sell their souls at work and then discover the payoff is not proportionate to what they have given,” reports the Globe and Mail newspaper. Klarreich cautions that prolonged anger is “a very unhealthy emotion” that can lead to strokes or heart attacks. He encourages employees to learn to accept frustrations and to sit down with their employers and calmly discuss how much work they can realistically do. On the other hand, Klarreich advises employers to be alert to employees who seem to be burning out and to give them extra help, relieve them of some of their load, or suggest that they take a day off.

Singing Lifts the Heart

Scientists have found that singing releases chemicals in the brain that make you feel relaxed and happy, reports the German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten. Researchers say that singing gets the “molecules of emotion” in the brain moving. Thus, “singing is said not only to express emotions but also to create them,” states the report. Music teachers note that many people today feel that singing is “old-fashioned” or that their voices are not very good, and they therefore leave singing and music to the media. This research indicates, however, that people benefit when they themselves sing.

Crop Theft

In several German states, farmers are complaining about an increase in the theft of crops, reports the Siegener Zeitung. Thieves help themselves to cucumbers by the bucketful and load minivans with piles of asparagus. In one case they stole 7,000 strawberry plants. Although some may steal food because of their worsening financial situation, others seem to view it as a hobby. Farmers report seeing “cars of all classes” near the looted fields. Fields are often located far from their owners’ residences, and in these fields the thieves become even bolder. One consultant suggested that farmers cover their crops with manure to discourage the thieves.

The Socially Active May Live Longer

According to a new study by Harvard University, elderly people who participate in social activities, such as going to church, restaurants, sports events, and movies, live an average of two and a half years longer than less social people. It has long been assumed that it was the physical part of such activities that helped people, said Harvard’s Thomas Glass, who led the study. However, he added that this study provides “perhaps the strongest circumstantial evidence we’ve had to date that having a meaningful purpose at the end of life lengthens life.” Glass noted that doing more, regardless of the activity, extended life in almost every case.

 World’s Oldest Shipwrecks

Oceanographers have discovered the wrecks of two Phoenician vessels dating from about 750 B.C.E., reports the French magazine Sciences et avenir. The 48 [15]- and 58-foot [18 m] boats, lying off the coast of Israel at a depth of about 1,600 feet [500 m], are the oldest ships ever found in the open sea. The boats had set off from the port of Tyre carrying earthenware wine amphorae, probably bound for Egypt or the North African city of Carthage. As quoted in the International Herald Tribune, the discoverer of the ships, Robert Ballard, noted: “The great depths that exist in the oceans, the absence of sunlight, the great pressures, seem to preserve history far more than we thought.” The researchers said that this discovery “could help to open up a whole new chapter in the research on this ancient maritime culture.”

First Choice to Relax

In a recent study, 1,000 people in 30 different countries were asked which activity they favor to minimize or release stress. Worldwide, 56 percent of those interviewed indicated that music is their first choice, reports Reuters news agency. In North America, 64 percent ranked music first, compared with 46 percent in developed Asia. Overall, TV watching came in second, followed by taking a bath or a shower. “When you think of music’s cost and its availability via radio, TV, personal CD players, the Internet and so many other new channels,” said Tom Miller, director of the study by Roper Starch Worldwide, “it’s not surprising that more than half the world listens to music to relax.”

Poverty—A World Problem

The president of the World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn, recently voiced concern about continuing world poverty. Wolfensohn noted that a third of earth’s six billion people still live in extreme poverty, reports Mexico City’s La Jornada newspaper. He added that half of earth’s inhabitants survive on less than two dollars a day; and one billion, on less than a dollar. Although he is proud of the progress made by the World Bank in the fight against poverty, Wolfensohn provided figures showing that the problem is widespread and far from being overcome. He stated: “We must recognize that poverty is a world problem.”

If in Doubt, Throw It Out

Some molds, such as those in blue cheese, are safe to eat. But others can be dangerous, especially to people who are in frail health, warns the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. The molds on bread and grain products are among the most toxic. Often the visible mold has rootlike threads that penetrate the food. Moreover, the toxins produced by mold cannot be destroyed by cooking. The Wellness Letter recommends:

▪ Refrigerate produce if possible, and use it before mold grows.

▪ Throw out small fruits, such as berries or grapes, that are moldy. Wash fruit only when you are ready to eat it, as moisture promotes mold.

▪ Small moldy areas of large, hard fruits and vegetables, such as apples, potatoes, cauliflower, or onions, may be safely cut out. Moldy soft fruits, such as peaches and melons, should be discarded.

▪ Moldy hard cheese may be partially salvaged by cutting away the outer part at least an inch [2—3 cm] away from the mold. But throw out moldy soft cheese and yogurt, along with moldy bread, meat, leftovers, nuts, peanut butter, syrups, and preserves.

Healthier Grilling

“Undercooking meat has always been a concern in food safety, but in recent years, overcooking—especially burning and charring meat, chicken and fish on the backyard grill—is being linked to a more long-term health threat,” states Canada’s National Post newspaper. When meat is cooked at high temperatures, carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are formed. The report suggests that using a simple marinade that includes “an acidic component, such as lemon juice, orange juice or vinegar,” may make grilling safer. In repeated trials, researchers at the American Institute for Cancer Research “found that the marinated foods had 92% to 99% fewer HCAs than their non-marinated counterparts—and it made no difference whether they were marinated for 40 minutes or two days.”