Watching the World
Heart Surgery Without Blood
◆ “Cardiovascular operations can be performed safely without blood transfusion,” said the September 19, 1977, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association in a report on 542 heart operations on Jehovah’s Witnesses without blood transfusions. The report, by Doctors David A. Ott and Denton A. Cooley of Houston, Texas, stated that they operated without blood because “we believe that a patient should have a right to make his or her own decision, and that the physician has a moral responsibility to respect the wishes of the patient.” The doctors also noted: “The surgeon who agrees to treat Jehovah’s Witnesses should respect their religious beliefs or refer them elsewhere.”
“We have never violated the contract made before operation that blood will not be administered regardless of the circumstances or need,” said the doctors. They also learned of the benefits in substantially reducing the amount of blood given to other heart patients. “One thing this series led us to do,” explained Dr. Ott to the New York Times, “is use less blood in our non-Jehovah’s Witness patients.”
Drunk from Drugs?
◆ Is all drunkenness entirely due to alcohol? Apparently not, as there is growing concern that marijuana may be involved in many cases. Some law-enforcement officials suspect that many motorists stopped for drunkenness or erratic driving, and who easily passed sobriety tests, were under the influence of marijuana or a combination of marijuana and alcohol. Tests recently made in California revealed that of 291 drivers stopped for drunkenness, 22 percent, or more than one out of five, had marijuana in their blood.
Rock Band Wreckage
● Punk rock groups, whose “musicians” are noted for their crudeness and violence on and off stage, often find that they need considerable liability insurance to cover the damage that they do. Recently the Canadian punk rock band “Teenage Head” applied for a $25-million insurance policy. Though coverage will cost $62,000 a year, “we see it as a necessity,” says the band’s manager. “there’s so much violence in punk rock you never know what’s going to happen.”
● Even the more “orthodox” “Led Zeppelin” musical group had similar problems recently—a bill for $8,000 in damages to New York’s Plaza Hotel. A hotel spokesman said: “There was considerable damage in the rooms rented by Led Zeppelin earlier in the summer. The rooms have only recently been returned to service.” Furniture was wrecked, carpets ruined and holes knocked in the walls to make an interconnecting suite.
Theologians Endorse Violence
◆ At a recent Atlanta, Georgia, conference sponsored by the Black Theology Project, about 175 black theologians and church leaders from various parts of the world adopted a statement regarding struggles for liberation. The document endorsed violent as well as nonviolent means to effect liberation, saying: “We affirm whatever method [oppressed people] decide is best in their particular situation and make no pious and hypocritical value judgments which condemn those efforts to bring an end to their oppression, recognizing that we in this country may ourselves be compelled to make a similar choice.”
Alcohol and Hearts
◆ Can limited use of alcoholic beverages help to stave off heart disease? Surprisingly, a team of researchers reporting in Britain’s medical journal Lancet did find that moderate use of alcoholic beverages may prevent heart disease by converting blood cholesterol to a less dangerous form. “It was awfully surprising to us to find this,” explained one of the main investigators. But, he added, “our study is only a start toward answering” questions regarding alcohol and the heart. The researchers believe that it is best to be cautious and to await more research before endorsing alcohol as a heart-attack preventive.
Most Powerful Quake Ever?
◆ European seismologists claim that the recent great earthquake on the Indian Ocean floor may be the most powerful ever recorded in history. A tidal wave nearly 100 feet (30 meters) high was said to have been generated by the quake. Its epicenter was in an undersea mountain range about 300 miles (480 kilometers) southeast of the Indonesian island of Bali. The quake was felt as far away as Perth, Australia, about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) south of the epicenter. Seismologists around the world measured the quake at between 7.7 and 8.9 on the Richter scale.
Are the “Brainiest” the Best?
◆ Not necessarily, according to a 15-year study of 68 students at Haverford College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Psychology professor Douglas Heath observed the students from their freshman year back in the early 1960’s. What are they like now? He found that the brainiest students in college are not as mature and “effective” today as are those who got poorer grades. Men receiving high honors in college were found generally “removed psychologically from the practical and realistic problems of the day.” They were more depressed and abstract than their fellow graduates. Hence, Heath recommends that colleges devote as much attention to students’ social and moral development as to their intellectual growth.
Babies’ Lives Saved
◆ Nearly half of Argentine babies with diarrhea were dying in 1971 and 1972, according to Dr. Marshall H. Klaus, professor of pediatrics at the University Hospitals of Cleveland, Ohio. How was the problem solved? Dr. Klaus told the recent annual La Leche League international convention that when the tots were given breast milk rather than being bottle-fed, they survived.
A North Pole First
◆ Back in 1893-1896 Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen was the first to try to reach the North Pole by surface ship. Rather than breaking through ice, he drifted with the current and came within 280 miles (450 kilometers) of the Pole. More recently American nuclear submarines have either traversed under the polar ice or surfaced through it at the Pole. But when the Soviet nuclear icebreaker Arktika recently reached the North Pole, it was the first time for a surface ship. The Arktika’s 75,000-horsepower engines enabled the ship to break through ice up to 12 feet (3 1⁄2 meters) thick on its northward journey.
◆ “The problem of explosions of carbonated soft drink bottles is an environmental hazard that has not received adequate attention,” reports a Phoenix, Arizona, medical research team, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They note that the United States Product Safety Commission estimated that, in 1974, 32,000 persons had to receive emergency room treatment because of injuries from exploding bottles. Larger bottles pose more danger because of the greater potential energy involved, which could propel fragments of glass with more force than could smaller bottles. In one instance, a large bottle exploded inside a refrigerator and fragments penetrated the walls of the refrigerator. Protective plastic sleeves placed on some large bottles were found to reduce by 50 percent the number of fragments that escape. The researchers recommend the precaution of storing bottles of carbonated beverages in a cool place, avoiding hitting bottles together or shaking them, and, when opening, pointing the top of the bottle away from your face and body.
◆ Of some nine million cases of blindness in India, at least one million are believed to be “nutrition blindness”—caused by a deficiency of vitamin A. In the developing world as a whole, it is estimated that 11,000,000 children under the age of six are threatened by this kind of blindness. Experts say that the basic cause is not poverty but, rather, malnutrition due to ignorance. At little or no additional expense, say the experts, the blindness could be prevented by using simple local foods that are a source of vitamin A.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses Thrive”
◆ Under the page-wide title “Jehovah’s Witnesses Thrive in Brooklyn in Contrast to Losses by ‘Establishment’ Sects,” the New York Times of September 6, 1977, said, among other things: “A gentle army has taken over a corner of Brooklyn, preparing for the end of the world as we know it. After rapid expansion in the last decade, the Jehovah’s Witnesses now have 1,800 people living and working in 15 buildings at their international headquarters in Brooklyn Heights. . . . Their presence is seen in sparkling clean factories and renovated hotels near the Brooklyn Bridge. . . . ‘They’re safe, they’re neat, they’re hard-working,’ said Jerry Rizzuti, a real estate broker. . . . ‘They’ve fixed up old buildings that had pimps and addicts in them,’ Mr. Rizzuti said. ‘They keep their property in tip-top shape. Some idiots complain about them, but I wish more people would take their example.’ Since the Witnesses sell their durable, handsome books for dimes and quarters, they obviously are not in publishing for a profit.”
The article also observed: “According to recent figures from the National Council of Churches the Witnesses enjoyed a 4 percent growth in the last year—at a time when ‘establishment’ denominations were dropping.”
Energy in These Waves!
◆ Off Japan’s coast of Yura in Yamagata Prefecture, the waves are more than 10 feet (3 meters) high for about 100 days a year. The Japanese have decided to use the waves to drive turbines for the generation of electricity. They are installing the world’s first floating electric power plant off the coast of Yura. Its three generators will have a maximum capacity of 200 kilowatts each. To drive the turbines, energy from the waves will compress air in a pressure chamber of the plant.
◆ The cow may have greater potential than most farmers imagine. In fact, the Moscow Circus has a new act—dancing cows, according to the Soviet daily Komsomolskaya Pravda. The cows’ trainer related: “I started working with bears and once I had a look at cows and saw their clever eyes and enchanting faces I decided to work with them. They are clever, tender, understanding, beautiful and adaptable to training.” In the new act the cows not only dance but ride scooters and play soccer. As a goalkeeper for the cows’ soccer team, the trainer is thinking of using a goose.
“Oil” for Arthritic Joints?
◆ Someday people with stiff joints may be able to have them “oiled.” Doctors in the Soviet Union at the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Vilnius, Lithuania, have been using artificial lubrication for aging joints. After injections of artificial synovial fluid, “functions of the affected joints improved,” said Dr. Viktoras Vasilionkaitis. “Pains on walking and crackling lessened or disappeared.” Japanese investigators have also found the use of artificial lubrication helpful. Not only did it improve the knees of arthritic patients but it was said to be more effective than drug treatment. “The technique shows some promise,” commented a Harvard orthopedic surgery professor, “but it’s still in the very experimental stage.”
◆ The Athens, Greece, Daily Post of August 7, 1977, reports that a 25-year-old prospective nun was raped while on her way to the convent. Later she suffered a mental breakdown and was committed to a mental hospital, having been rejected by the convent because she was no longer a virgin.