Popular Science Monthly/Volume 54/December 1898/Minor Paragraphs


Count Gleichen relates, in his story of the mission to Menelek, that besides the Maria Theresa 1780 dollars, the people of Abyssinia, for small change, use a bar of hard crystallized salt, about ten inches long and two inches and a half broad and thick, slightly tapered toward the end, five of which go to the dollar at the capital. People are very particular about the standard of fineness of the currency. "If it does not ring like metal when flicked with the finger nail, or if it is cracked or chipped, they won't take it. It is a token of affection also, when friends meet, to give each other a lick of their respective amolis, and in this way the material value of the bar is also decreased. For still smaller change cartridges are used, of which three go to one salt. It does not matter what sort they are. Some sharpers use their cartridges in the ordinary way, and then put in some dust and a dummy bullet to make up the difference, or else they take out the powder and put the bullet in again, so that possibly in the next action the unhappy seller will find that he has only miss-fires in his belt; but this is such a common fraud that no one takes any notice of it, and a bad cartridge seems to serve as readily as a good one."

A study of problems in the Psychology of Reading, by J. O. Quantz, bore upon the questions of the factors which make a rapid reader, the relations of rapidity to mental capacity and alertness, quickness of visual perception, and amount of practice; and whether those who gain their knowledge principally through the eye or through the ear obtain and retain most from reading. The author finds that colors are more easily perceived than geometrical forms, isolated words than colors, and words in construction than disconnected words; that persons of visual type are slightly more rapid readers than those of the auditory type; that rapid readers, besides doing their work in less time, do superior work, retaining more of the substance of what is read and heard than do slow readers. Lip movement is a serious hindrance to speed, and consequently to intelligence, of reading. The disadvantage extends to reading aloud. Apart from external conditions, such as time of day, physical fatigue, etc., some of the influences contributing to rapidity of reading are largely physiological, as visual perception; others are of mental endowment, as alertness of mind; still others are matters of intellectual equipment rather than intellectual ability, as extent of reading and scholarly attainment.

Mr. Merton L. Miller, of the University of Chicago, says, in his preliminary study of the Pueblo of Taos, New Mexico, that he was hampered in his researches there by a circumstance that illustrates very well certain characteristics of the Indian. About fifteen years ago representatives of the Government were at Sia making investigations, and had to ask many questions. Some time after they went away there was much sickness in the pueblo, and many people died. It occurred to the Sia people that the presence of those white men, asking so many questions, was the cause of all their trouble; so they sent men to the other pueblos to warn them against white men who came to find out about their customs and beliefs. These messengers also came to Taos, and the people remembered their warning well. If a Taos Indian is caught now teaching the language or telling any of the traditions to a white man, he is liable to a whipping and a fine. This, Mr. Miller believes, accounts for the fact that he could rarely learn anything from his friend when they were at the pueblo, although when away in the mountains he became much more open and communicative.