No Gay Genes
Much of the push to normalize homosexuality has been linked with the assertion that sexual orientation — straight or homosexual — is determined by genetics. Gay rights advocates have based their claims of discrimination on the "fact" that they had no say in their sexual preference — that they were born with a homosexual disposition. However, evidence now seems to suggest otherwise.
Those claims were based on autopsies performed by Dr. Simon LeVay at the Salk Institute in San Diego. He found that there was a difference in the brain structure between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Activists, anxious to validate their sexual orientation, suggested the difference proved a biological basis for their homosexuality.
However, according to the Los Angeles Times, October 23 1997, neuroscientist and psychology professor Marc Breedlove of the University of California at Berkeley has produced evidence from laboratory rats which suggests that sexual behavior changes the human brain, not vice versa.
"These findings give us proof for what we theoretically know to be the case — that sexual experience can alter the structure of the brain, just as genes can alter it," Breedlove said. "It is possible that differences in sexual behavior cause, rather than are caused by, differences in the brain structure."
Teens and Alcohol — A Tragic Mix
Those who start drinking as teenagers are headed for doom.
While the warning may conjure images of a tee-totaling, Bible-thumping, fundamentalist, Southern country preacher, the notice actually stems from recent medical research.
A study by the National Institutes of Health shows that children who begin drinking before they turn fifteen are four times as likely to develop alcoholism as those who start drinking at the legal age of twenty-one, according to reports by the Associated Press.
They also are twice as likely to abuse alcohol than people who start drinking later, says the study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a component of the NIH.
The February AP story reported that some medical experts attribute childhood alcohol use to early exposure to drinking, family pressures, and alcohol advertisements. This, in turn, makes breaking the habit more difficult as they grow up.
"It's hard to get away from the pervasiveness of alcohol in our culture," said Dr. Clarence Chen, medical director at New York's Gracie Square Hospital, a facility for treating alcohol and drug abuse. "Kids start drinking because they think it's the adult thing to do."
Chen said an increasing number of his patients with alcohol problems report they started drinking by age ten. While older children often begin drinking because of social influences, younger children tend to take their cues from adults, he said.
More freedom and access to alcohol may also contribute to the propensity of childhood drinking, said Dr. Morris Chafetz, director of the Health Education Foundation, who has worked on alcohol-related issues for more than forty years.
The study also shows the risk of alcohol dependence decreased by 14 percent for each year the start of drinking was delayed. The risk of lifetime alcohol abuse fell by 8 percent with each additional year.
Of the people surveyed for the study, more than 40 percent who began drinking before they turned fifteen eventually became addicted to alcohol. That compares with the 24.5 percent who began drinking at seventeen and the roughly 10 percent who started at the age of twenty-one or twenty-two.
If Heaven Could Be Bought
According to a USA TODAY survey, the wealthiest 1 percent of families (about 1 million households) have incomes of at least $250,000 and/or net worth of at least $2.5 million. Here's what the rich say they'd pay for:
A place in heaven: $640,000
True love: $487,000
Great intellect: $407,000
Eternal youth: $259,000
Reunion with a lost love: $206,000
Great beauty: $83,000
Being president: $55,000
First Kmart, Now Levi-Strauss
Levi-Strauss and Company, the object of a long-standing boycott by many pro-family organizations and individuals, is beginning to feel the pressure where it hurts most: the bottom line.
The clothing giant came under fire several years ago because of their decision to eliminate funding for the Boy Scouts of America. Levi-Strauss did not agree with the Boy Scouts' policy of not allowing homosexuals to serve as Scout Masters.
Last November, the company announced plans to close eleven of its thirty-seven plants in the United States and Canada and cut nearly 6,400 jobs, or 34 percent of its North American work force.
Texas Family Update, January 22, 1998
A majority of Americans seems convinced of God's existence and His miraculous activity. Yet the nation's moral fiber seems to be unraveling.
According to Associated Press, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that more Americans now believe in God and miracles than did a decade ago. Their fall '97 poll found that 71 percent of respondents say they never doubt the existence of God. In a similar poll in 1987, the figure was 60 percent.
The poll also found that 61 percent of Americans believe miracles come from the power of God — an increase of 14 percentage points from a decade ago.
And 53 percent said prayer is important to daily life; in 1987, it was 41 percent.
Yet in spite of these statistics, radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger asserted on NBC's Meet the Press that the United States is in the midst of a morality crisis. Americans "don't seem to have much of a moral framework," she said.
Schlessinger, who gives advice on personal relationships, said the clergy bears some of the responsibility.
"I yell at the clergy all the time," she said. "I think the clergy — with all due respect — have become more like camp counselors than leaders.
"What they're doing is saying, 'I want the people to come back next week. You can't challenge them too much, can't ask too much, can't tell them that religion demands something of them.' God demands something of you.
"Since they're not doing that, it's like the inmates are running the institution," Schlessinger said.
Turn It Off
During the week of April 22-28, millions of individuals around the country will join together in leaving their TV sets off for seven days. National TV-Turnoff Week is part of a growing effort to reduce the excessive amount of television that Americans watch. The annual event helps move beyond the old discussions about program content and instead focuses on what TV-viewing displaces: creativity, productivity, healthy physical activity, civic engagement, reading, thinking, and doing.
National TV-Turnoff Week is sponsored by TV-Free America and is endorsed by more than forty-four national organizations, including the American Medical Association. Since 1995, more than 8 million people have experimented with a TV-less lifestyle.
• The average American watches three hours and forty-four minutes of TV each day
• Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
• Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66
• Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 38.5
• Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1,500
• Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900
• Percentage of children ages 6-17 who have TV's in their bedroom: 50
• Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000