Century Marks

Century Marks

Required reading

Angela Jenks once dismissed a college class early because no one had read the assigned reading, but she later regretted it. She says professors need to be aware that students are combining academic study with work and family obligations. She counsels professors to choose readings that are clearly integrated with course objectives, pairing them with quizzes and writing assignments (Cultural Anthropology, August 19).

Read on

Researchers at Yale Univer­sity School of Public Health have discovered a link between longevity and reading books. People who spend up to 3.5 hours each week engrossed in a book were 17 percent less likely to die in the 12 years following the study, and those who read more than 3.5 hours are 23 percent less likely to die in the same period. The longevity advantage remained even after adjusting the data for education, wealth, cognitive ability, and other variables, although no cause-and-effect relationship was established (Tech Times, August 8).

Never too late

A group of Amish in Pennsylvania met with representatives of 12 Native American tribes to apologize to them for the way their ancestors treated them during colonial times. The pacifist Amish didn’t fight indigenous people, but they did settle on their land. Gifts were exchanged between the Amish and the Native Americans. A representative of the Shawnee tribe formally accepted the Amish apology. Several tribes took the occasion to work toward reconciliation with each other over long-standing land conflicts (Lancaster Online, August 1).


When you register for a driver’s license in the United States you are asked if you’d like to be an organ donor. It’s an “opt-in” question, and only about 40 percent of people choose that option. In Spain, Portugal, and Austria, you’re considered an organ donor unless you opt out. In those countries about 99 percent of the people are registered as organ donors, and there are a higher number of transplants as a result (ProPublica, July 27).

Mass benefit

Despite rising rates of suicide among women, one female group bucks that trend: highly devout, practicing Catholic women. Of the 6,999 Catholic women in a study group who said they attend mass more than once a week, there was not a single suicide. Protestant women who worship weekly are far less likely to take their own lives than women who seldom or never attend services, yet devout Protestant women were seven times more likely to commit suicide than devout Catholic women. Although the Catholic Church has traditionally taught that suicide is a mortal sin, it has in recent years softened that stance, taking into account that psychological disturbances can contribute to suicide (Los Angeles Times, June 29).