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
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?
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
• 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
• 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
• 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
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 –
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
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.
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
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