Watching the World

“Difficult” Children Can Improve

“Many difficult primary school-aged children grow out of their problems,” states The Sydney Morning Herald. “They can turn into well-adjusted teenagers.” Research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies followed the progress of 178 children identified at 11 or 12 years of age as displaying three or more of such characteristics as “high aggression, low co-operativeness, low self-control, low capacity to stay focused on tasks, high hyperactivity and a volatile or moody temperament.” Six years later, 100 of these youths exhibited behavior “virtually identical to a control group of more easygoing youngsters.” What helped them to improve? “Children who turned into happy teenagers were less likely to have kept company with antisocial peers [and] were also more likely to have closer parental supervision,” says the report.

 Mother Bears Undeterred by Tourists

“The presence of noisy ecotourists may unexpectedly benefit brown bears in the wild,” reports Britain’s New Scientist magazine. Human visitors to remote natural areas often interfere with animal behavior, sometimes with disastrous results. However, British and American researchers studying brown bears at an isolated salmon spawning ground in western Canada “found that while adult males avoided the tourists, . . . the presence of people didn’t bother mothers and cubs, who seemed to use the noise of buses as a cue that dangerous males had left the stream,” states the report. “Even when males had left the area altogether, females didn’t appear until the tourists did.” Mother bears evidently take advantage of the opportunity to dine at prime feeding zones without the threat of males attacking their cubs.

Working While Sick

“People who drag themselves into work despite feeling ill,” reports Britain’s Telegraph online newspaper, may well be increasing their likelihood of developing heart disease. Scientists at University College in London studied the health and work attendance records of more than 10,000 London civil servants over a ten-year period. Between 30 and 40 percent of workers who did not rest at home when sick​—even if only with a common cold—​“had double the incidence of coronary disease over the following years,” stated Sir Michael Marmot, director of the study.

The World’s Most Untranslatable Word

“The world’s most difficult word to translate has been identified as ‘ilunga’ from the Tshiluba language,” spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says BBC News. The word won a poll conducted among a thousand linguists. Ilunga means “a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.” Another high scorer was naa, a Japanese word used only “in the Kansai area of Japan to emphasise statements or agree with someone.” According to Jurga Zilinskiene, managing director of the translation and interpreting agency that commissioned the poll, “people sometimes forget that an interpreter . . . must translate not just from one language to another but from one culture to another, [and] sometimes, the equivalent idea just does not exist in both cultures.”

Leisure Reading Makes for Higher Grades

Reading for pleasure contributes more to better grades than “the number of hours spent studying, parents’ education, use of class notes, or computer use,” reports Mexico City’s Milenio newspaper. A study of hundreds of thousands of high-school admission tests indicates that students who dedicate time both to their school studies and to leisure reading are more likely to have success in school. The books students choose need not be only about school subjects but may include those read for sheer pleasure, such as biographies, books of poems, and books on scientific topics. On the other hand, the report notes that students who watch TV for many hours a day instead of reading tend to have lower grades.

Résumé Fraud

While job applicants generally want to present themselves to potential employers in the best possible light, some resort to outright fraud. A study by the employment screening company Australian Background found that of 1,000 job seekers, 21 percent had lied to prospective employers about their qualifications, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Additionally, “60 per cent of those with criminal convictions failed to admit them, even when asked,” states the paper. “The applicant[s] may be claiming that they ruled the world,” says employment executive Gary Brack. “But when you probe a bit further into their last job, it may turn out that they only ruled a little corner of the office.”

Idleness Even Deadlier Than Smoking

“A life of inactivity is more deadly than smoking,” according to a review of the exercise habits of 24,000 Hong Kong residents who died during 1998. The study revealed that physical inactivity increased the risk of dying prematurely by 59 percent for men and 33 percent for women, reports the South China Morning Post. “It is fine if you do not smoke. But if you do not exercise, then you are [still] at high risk,” stated Lam Tai-hing, head of the University of Hong Kong’s department of community medicine. Even limited exercise is better than none, according to Professor Lam. He recommends replacing half an hour of sitting time with walking or housecleaning.

Syphilis on the Rise

In Italy reported cases of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis “have more than doubled in the last two years,” states the Italian weekly Panorama. According to Giampiero Carosi, director of studies of infectious and tropical diseases at the University of Brescia, these cases mostly involve youths who have never gone through AIDS prevention programs and who show up at medical centers after their first sexual experience. Panorama points out that for 40 percent of those infected with syphilis, the disease progresses to the third stage, where “internal organ damage spreads to the brain, heart, bones, joints, eyes, and liver.”