Watching the World

Luxury Water

“It is a sign of the times,” says the German magazine Natur+Kosmos. “Cool students always have their brand-name water with them. In New York, ‘in’ people meet in water bars. And five-star hotels with waiter service offer a selection of international brands of mineral water, with a quality rating otherwise reserved for wines of the best years.” The water does not come cheap. “People pay a lot of money for their mineral water, which they take with them in designer bottles,” says the article. In some hotels a liter of water of exquisite origin can cost as much as 62 euros. Although bottled brand-name water has become an expression of individual style by the consumer with discriminating taste, this does not mean it is better for you. Some producers promise mental and bodily fitness, health, and beauty. But many experts cannot see any advantage over plain water. In Germany, for example, the quality of tap water is at least as good as the mineral water from halfway around the globe, the article contends. And tap water needs neither plastic bottles nor transport of several thousand miles.

 French Diet Secrets

“The French eat a lot of saturated fat,” says the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. “Yet they are leaner than Americans and far less likely to be obese. Their mortality rate from heart disease is half that of Americans and lower than any other country in the [European Union].” Why the paradox? The answer may be that the French “consume fewer calories,” says the Wellness Letter. Research conducted in restaurants in Paris and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., showed that the French portions were considerably smaller. Cookbooks differed also. Suitable servings of meat, for example, were smaller in the French cookbooks. “Perhaps the most impressive finding was that the French take a lot longer to eat their smaller portions,” the article states. “The average French person spends nearly 100 minutes daily just eating, while Americans swallow their daily bread (and whatever else) in only 60 minutes.” The conclusion? Watch your calories. Eat sensible amounts of nourishing food. Take time to enjoy the food. If you are served large portions, share with a companion or take half of it home. And “make home meals a pleasant experience.”

Take Care of Your Books

“The worst enemies [of books] are time and dampness,” says an article in the Mexican magazine Día Siete. To preserve them in good condition, the article recommends dusting your books at least once a year. Take care, though, to grasp the book tightly as you dust to prevent dust from impregnating the pages. In humid environments, dampness can be controlled by sprinkling a little talcum powder on each page, putting weight on the book for a few days, and then removing the powder with a brush. If mildew develops from dampness, lightly scrape it off with a razor blade and finish by cleaning it with alcohol. Do not remove a book from a shelf by pulling it by the upper part of the spine. The best way to remove a book is to grasp it between two fingers at the center of the spine, move it from side to side to separate it from the books on either side of it, and ease it out. Books that are very large, especially if they are old, are subject to damage by their own weight. This can be avoided by placing them horizontally on the bookshelf.

Demise of the Unitarians?

“One of [Britain’s] oldest denominations . . . is in terminal decline and will be extinct within decades,” states The Times of London. The Unitarian movement has fewer than 6,000 members in Britain. Half of these are over 65 years of age. Forecast of the movement’s demise was made by Peter Hughes, a senior minister of the denomination. Using their oldest chapel in Liverpool as an example, Hughes said: “They have had no minister since 1976 and the Unitarian cause there is effectively dead.” The designation “Unitarian” has been used in Britain since 1673, says The Times. “Many English Presbyterians became Unitarians in the 18th century, inspired to reject the belief in the Trinity in a theological debate over the divinity of Christ that caused a crisis in the Church of England.” The paper adds: “But now that it is no longer illegal to embrace a non-Trinitarian belief, and many churches turn a blind eye to ‘believers’ who have liberal views on traditional doctrines, there is not the demand for the Unitarian movement that there was.”

Shrinking With Age

As people get older, they usually get shorter. “The reason has a lot to do with gravity,” reports The Daily Telegraph of Australia. Under the influence of gravity, a person’s height changes throughout the day. Full height is restored during sleep. “When our bodies get older, though, and a little less robust, the shrinking effect starts to become permanent,” says the newspaper. “As people get older, they lose muscle mass and fat. It’s part of the natural ageing process and has a lot [to] do with hormonal changes. The vertebrae can actually begin to degenerate and collapse​—causing the spine to shrink by more than 2.5cm [one inch].” Osteoporosis is a likely cause of the shrinking process.

Raising Bilingual Children

“When children are nurtured with patience and sensitivity, multilingualism can be a source of great fortune for them, their families, and society,” states the Milenio newspaper of Mexico City. Studies have “concluded that children who speak two languages perform better in school than those who speak only one.” Sometimes parents worry when their children mix words from the two languages in one sentence or make mistakes by applying the rules of one language to the other. “But these grammatical ‘mistakes’ are trivial and quickly overcome,” says Professor Tony Cline, a psychologist who specializes in the language development of children. If the languages of both parents are taught from birth, they are naturally absorbed, and in time, the children will handle them separately.