Century Marks

Century Marks

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).

Banning the burkini

Two French Riviera towns have banned burkinis, the full-body swimsuits worn by some devout Muslim women. One of the mayors said the prohibition is for sanitary reasons. He added: “In France, one does not come to the beach dressed to display one’s religious convictions, especially as they are false convictions that the religion does not demand.” He said nothing about how the ban would be enforced. France already has a nationwide ban on wearing a burqa (The Independent, August 13).

Help yourself

Jessica McClard got the idea for the Little Free Pantry from seeing Little Free Libraries in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she lives. She received a microgrant through Thrivent Financial to build a small cupboard mounted on a post to hold food items, toiletries, and paper goods to which people may help themselves. The small food pantry was placed outside Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. “Peanut butter and jelly, feminine hygiene products, and diapers are in demand,” McClard said, noting that garden vegetables go quickly as well. She has a Facebook page devoted to the pantry concept and is encouraging others to build their own (Huffington Post, July 29).

Summer reading

President Obama’s summer reading includes Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan; The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead; H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald; The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins; and Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (whitehouse.gov, August 12).

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).