Healthy Lifestyles: Death by TV

By Carol Aloysius reporting from the Gold Coast, Australia.
TV has long been accused of dulling the mind. But now, scientists believe it can also lead to an early grave, says the Brisbane Times.
A new study, according to the newspaper, has revealed a startling link between TV viewing and premature death, and suggests that, every extra hour spent in front of the ‘idiot box’, may be actually shortening your lifespan by 18%.

The research was led by Prof. Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, in which 8,000 Australian adults were monitored over a six-year period. None had a family history of heart attacks, but the risk of their dying from Cardiac trauma surged by 80%, when they watched four hours or more of TV a day.

It wasn’t the content that was to blame, say the researchers, but the sedentary position for watching TV.
So, those of you who stay glued to your TV, after returning from work, take care. You could end up with heart problems as well as many other diseases caused by the lack of exercise.

Green tea and lung cancer
Drinking green tea has been well documented as a cure for many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart, lowering cholesterol etc. Now, new research from Taiwan, adds to growing evidence that the beverage has anti cancer powers, and that it can also protect you from lung cancer. In a study of 500 smokers and non smokers who drank at least one cup of tea a day, findings showed that it cut lung cancer risks significantly, reports the BBC.

Bigger bottoms vs bulging bellies
A well padded behind is ‘good for you’ says ‘The Australian’. Carrying fat on the hips, thighs and bottom, rather than the waist, can protect against diabetes and heart disease, says the paper, citing research from the Oxford University, which recently published its findings in the International Journal of Obesity. The study suggests that belly fat can release more harmful fatty acids into the body, as well as molecules called Cytokinaes, which trigger inflammation. This raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic ailments. But fat on the thighs traps these harmful fatty acids and stops them from catching onto muscles and the liver, where they can cause a range of health problems including insulin resistance. Although fat around the thighs and bottom tend to be harder to shift, it can also release beneficial hormones that protect arteries and help control blood sugar. The idea that body fat distribution is important to health isn’t new, but only recently has bottom and thigh fat been shown to actually be beneficial to health says the journal.


How sick is our planet?

The patient’s condition is serious. Symptoms are multiple. His breath is noxious. He has a fever, higher than ever before. Efforts to bring it down are not working. Poison has been found in body fluids. When symptoms are treated in one area, more pop up in other body parts. If this were a usual patient, doctors would be inclined to declare the multiple sicknesses as chronic and terminal. Not knowing what else to do, they would just take steps to make the patient as comfortable as possible until the end came.

However, this is not a human patient. It is our home—the earth. The above scenario well illustrates what is happening to our planet. Dirty air, global warming, polluted waters and toxic wastes are just a few of the maladies of our very ill earth. Like the doctors mentioned above, the experts are in a quandary as to what to do.
The media regularly call attention to earth’s poor health with such headlines and captions as: “Blast fishing turns sea-beds into killing fields.” A “Billion Asians Could Be Parched in 24 Years.” “Forty million tons of toxic trash a year, trades globally.” “Nearly two-thirds of the 1,800 wells in Japan are contaminated with poisons.” “Ozone Hole Over Antarctic Is Back and Bigger.”

Some people become accustomed to frequent news of danger to the environment, perhaps even thinking, ‘That is not of great concern, as long as it does not affect me’. However, whether we realise it or not, the wholesale destruction of the earth’s environment affects the vast majority of people. Since contamination of our planet is now so pervasive, already, it likely affects more than one aspect of our lives. Thus, all should be concerned about the health and preservation of our home. After all, where else would we live?

Just how widespread is the problem? How sick is the earth? How are people’s lives affected? Let us take a look at just a few factors that help us to understand why our earth is not just mildly indisposed, but seriously ill.

• The oceans: Large sections of ocean are over-fished. A report by the United Nations Environment Programme says that “70% of marine fisheries are so exploited that reproduction cannot or can just barely keep up”. If this continues, what will it mean for millions who depend on the sea as a major source of their food? Additionally, each year, an estimated 20 million to 40 million tons of sea life are caught and thrown back into the ocean—usually wounded or dead. Why? They are caught along with target fish but are not wanted.
• Forests: Deforestation has many negative sides to it. Loss of trees results in a reduction in the earth’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, and this is said to be a cause of global warming. Certain species of plants, the potential source of lifesaving medicines, will disappear. Nevertheless, forest destruction continues unabated. In fact, the rate of destruction has increased in recent years. Some authorities feel that, if this persists, tropical forests could disappear in about 20 years.
• Toxic wastes: Dumping of harmful materials, both on land and in the sea, is a serious problem that has the potential to bring great harm to millions. Radioactive wastes, heavy metals, and by-products of plastics are among elements that can cause abnormalities, sickness, or death in humans and animals.
• Chemicals: During the past 100 years, close to 100,000 new chemicals have come into use. These chemicals find their way into our air, soil, water and food. Relatively few of them have been tested for their health effects on humans. However, of the ones that have, a significant number have been found to be carcinogenic or to cause disease in other ways.
• Noise pollution: One type of pollution is not seen but heard- noise pollution. Experts say that it is of concern because it can cause hearing loss, stress, high blood pressure, sleep loss and loss in productivity. Children who go to school in noisy environments, may develop reading deficiencies.
• Toxic chemicals: After World War II, 120,000 tons of toxic materials, mostly phosgene and mustard gas, were sealed in ships and sunk at sea, some to the northwest of Northern Ireland. Russian scientists have warned that these materials are now in danger of leaking.
• Air pollution kills: The World Health Organization says that between 5 to 6% of deaths worldwide each year are a result of air pollution. In Ontario, Canada, alone, it is reported that citizens spend more than $1 billion each year for health costs and absenteeism resulting from polluted air.
• Dying coral reefs: Some fishermen in Southeast Asia use cyanide solution to stun fish, making them easy to catch. The poison flushes from a fish’s system, and thus the fish remains edible. However, the toxin remains in the seawater, killing coral reefs.
There are many more threats to our environment: air pollution, untreated sewage, acid rain, lack of clean water etc. The few already mentioned suffice to show that the earth is really sick. Can the patient be saved, or is the battle already lost?


“Conscious, simple – consciously simple”

Emergence of an Alternative Product Culture

The Goeth-Institute Colombo (German Cultural Centre), in collaboration with the University of the Visual & Performing Arts, the Academy of Design and the University of Moratuwa are proud to present a major Design Exhibition “Conscious, simple- consciously simple. The Emergence of an Alternative Product Culture”, a Design Exhibition in Colombo.
The biggest exhibition of Design ever to be held in Sri Lanka, this German exhibition has travelled to 29 cities worldwide.

The newly opened Gallery of the University of Visual & Performing Arts will host a selection of 65 objects and a total of 122 exhibits by 35 German designers and designer groups, which focusses on pieces of furniture, luminaries and home accessories. This New German Design reveals the various trends and strategies with their different emphases on the aspect of the conscious and the simple.
Along with the selection of German Design products, the organisers and exhibition partners plan to jointly exhibit a selection of Sri Lankan objects of contemporary and indigenous Design, made by young Designers and students of Design.

This exhibition from Germany has already attracted more than 300.000 visitors, and will be in Colombo for the first time! This is a unique opportunity for all those interested in Design as well as the public, to view inspiring cutting edge Design options for enhancing our environment

In this three-storied state-of-the-art Gallery, you can experience the different strands of fundamentally different design approaches which have impacted on furniture and object design. Their common subject has been the piece of furniture that is conceived, produced and handled in a consciously simple way. In this exhibition, furniture is not only shown as a functional product, but becomes a topic of aesthetic thought and design.
The objects chosen do not stand out for their luxurious materials or complicated and costly production processes, but for their robust materiality, plain configuration, simple and practical handling, as well as comparatively low prices, notwithstanding some humour.

The demand for simplicity of materials and production processes also leads into a new design consideration, i.e. ecological quality which, however, is not the primary aim for selection. Rather, designers try to create designs that also convey sensory pleasure.

In this exhibition, design trends follow the traditions of typical home-living culture, with some objects referring to the functional furniture of Modernism, e.g. of the Bauhaus. Yet, from the start, the New German Design has extended the notion of functionality to include narrative and emotional moments, the principles of ‘objets trouvés’ as well as the recycling of materials and set pieces as essential design factors.
The exhibition catalogue is a work of Art in itself. It won the promotion prize for ‘The most beautiful German books 1998’ held by the Stiftung Buchkunst (German Book Art Foundation. the designers also won a distinction for the exhibition poster design.


A new chapel for St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa

A new chapel of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa premises was blessed and ceremonially declared opened by the new Archbishop Most. Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith on January 19, 2010. This was a landmark event in the history of this 150-year-old institution, started by a priest, then handed over to the Frates Scholarium Christianorium (FSC) fraternity and now again vested with the priest community. The present Rector is Rev. Fr. Bonnie Fernandopulle who is also in charge of the Moratuwa Deanery.

The chapel project includes class rooms, administrative block and a library constructed at cost of Rs. 60 million with 10 million collected initially with a contribution of two million from the Sebs Batch of 93. The chapel is housed on the upper floor of the building and accommodates a congregation of 1500. Old Sebs who love their alma mater, students parents and teachers all participated in swelling the fund. Students of yesteryears have contributed Rs.5,000 each on an installment basis while the present students collected their daily savings in a till in attempts to swell the fund.

The college had small beginnings in 1854 commencing in the verandahs of St. Sebastian’s church with 11 pupils in the English medium under the parish priest. The De La Salle Bros. took over the school in January 1926, with an Irishman as its first Director. Presently the college caters to a student population of 3500 and boast of state of the art facilities including a swimming pool, Gymnasium, indoor and outdoor Sports Complexes... etc The College being a premiere educational institute boasts of having produced over 75 priests and three Bishops in charge of two dioceses and one deanery. They are Rt. Rev. Dr. Marius Pieris, Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo, Rt. Rev. Dr. Winston Fernando, Bishop of Badulla, Rt. Rev. Dr. Valence Mendis, Bishop of Chilaw.

The new chapel is the brain child of the present Rector Rev. Fr. Bonnie Fernandopulle who has made it a dream come true. It was his vision to construct the chapel building at the centre of the college, thus giving the College a new face. The college web site(www.sebsmoratuwa.schlk) states, “for any dream to be realised it must be borne in the hearts and minds of the people. Just as much as one’s face is a reflection of their heart, the new face of St. Sebastian’s College, which is the chapel, will be its heart. The chapel being at the centre of the college will remind all Sebastianites under her wing and all those who enter the college premises seeking her shelter that God is given the highest priority. It will also enable the teachers not only to impart knowledge to students but also to inculcate catholic values in them. It is an integral part of the education at St. Sebastian’s to instill in students moral and spiritual values whilst enriching them with Biblical teachings. The chapel fulfills a deep felt need of the college and given the present context of the society, generations of students will benefit from this benchmark project of the college.

The grand opening ceremony of the chapel was attended by the tree old boy bishops of the collage alone with a large number of old boy priests and hundreds of thousands of Sebastianites. This was a dream come true for this leading catholic school and students, parents, teachers, and the old boys paid a glowing tribute to the Rector Rev. Fr. Bonnie Fernandopulle for his unparallel service to the Sebastianites community.