Watching the World
◆ A recent Labletter published by Christ Hospital Department of Laboratory Medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio, was headlined: “HAZARDS OF BLOOD TRANSFUSION.” The bulletin stated: “Hemotherapy is a double-edged tool. Few, if any, other medications presently in use carry as great a risk for deleterious side effects as do infusions of blood and blood products. . . . Because of the risks, Hippocrates’ admonition ‘to do good, or at least, to do no harm’ must be borne in mind when the hazards of transfusion are balanced against the possible benefits.”
After detailing seven different possible bad reactions from the use of blood, the document goes on to warn of possible lawsuits by patients who expect “to feel better, not worse, as a result of the transfusion.” “In Summary,” says Labletter, “blood transfusions should be regarded as a dangerous and even potentially lethal form of therapy and should be used only when the benefit to the patient clearly outweighs the risk.”—Jan. 31, 1979.
Lottery Winner a Loser
◆ Among the 40 tickets Hiromi Kiyokawa purchased in a Japanese year-end lottery was a winner worth 10 million yen ($50,000). “But people began to gossip about his instant wealth,” reports The Daily Yomiuri, “and tension developed in his human relations as some people even refused to speak to him.” It was too much for the lottery winner. He took the winning ticket to his place of work and burned it up in front of his flabbergasted fellow workers. But some people still enviously claimed that he had burned one of the other 39 tickets and not the winning one. Now, according to the Mainichi Daily News, Kiyokawa “appears to be too shocked to lead a normal life since the incident. ‘I can’t go out or play mah-jong now because of all the fuss,’ he said remorsefully.”
Roots of TM
◆ Washington physician Gary L. Forrest, writing to American Medical News about Transcendental Meditation, asserts that it is “classical Hindu religious worship.” To support this, the doctor cites an agreement signed by TM teachers and the Maharishi that says that the teachers “have been accepted to serve the holy tradition and to spread the light of God to all those who need it.” Forrest also notes that article 14 of TM’s California incorporation document states that “the purpose of this organization is a religious one.” He declares that for physicians to suggest TM instruction to patients without making them aware of the religious connection “is to perpetuate deception.”
End of a Noted Beer Hall
◆ Progress in Munich portends the end of a noted beer hall, the one where Hitler proclaimed his Nazi revolution. The building where Hitler organized his party and which became a special place for Nazism will be razed to clear the way for a new shopping center. The “bierkeller” entered the pages of history in 1923 when Hitler led more than 2,000 storm troopers on a march against the government, in what came to be known as the Beer Hall Putsch (revolution).
Polish Winter Tames Wolves
◆ Apparently not only humans suffered from the worst winter in 25 years in Poland and much of Europe. The Polish newspapers Polityka and Zycie Warszawa reported that as many as eight to ten wolves at a time would come up to houses in villages and on farms to beg for food. One farmer’s wife told of two starving wolves who scratched at her door, then just sat and looked at her “with pleading eyes” when she opened it. To protect their livestock from the hungry beasts, each day the villagers and farmers took turns gathering scraps of food from all the houses and putting them out for the wolves, which are a protected species in Poland.
Danes Use Waste Heat
◆ Waste heat from a fertilizer manufacturer’s plant will be used for home heating in the Danish coastal town of Fredericia. Said to be the first such use of waste industrial heat, the system will save each home an estimated average of $200 in heating bills each year. Millions of gallons of hot water produced during the fertilizer manufacturing process will be diverted to supplement the oil-fired central heating system that serves the town. It is estimated that oil consumption may be halved.
Blessing the Lawless
◆ A recent issue of Toronto’s Weekend Magazine described the murder of a prominent Montreal underworld figure and his funeral, a requiem high Mass “celebrated by three priests and a seven-man choir.” The article noted that “the long funeral cortège of 35 cars carrying extravagant flower arrangements drew murmurs of admiration as it wound its way through the snow to Madonna Della Difesa, the most important church in the Italian community.” Floral tributes came from underworld figures all over the world, including one from an imprisoned criminal “once considered the Mafia’s capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses).”
“On the right of the church, high above the crowd of 3,000 mourners,” reports the magazine, “[Benito] Mussolini’s portrait was there, in a place of honor among the frescoes of popes and saints, because for many Sicilians and Calabrians he is a great man who did much to improve the conditions of life in the south of Italy.”—Jan. 20, 1979, pp. 4. 6.
“Cool” Laser for Glaucoma
◆ Soviet eye specialist Dr. Mikhail Krasnov claims to cure most cases of glaucoma with his unique “cool laser” system. Glaucoma is a disease causing eye fluids to build up pressure inside the eye, damaging it. “In our method we simply make a hole with the laser, allowing the fluids to drain,” says Krasnov. “There are no unsatisfactory side effects, and the patient is in the office for only about an hour.” Other specialists have used lasers to perform a similar operation, but Krasnov says these “hot” lasers actually burn the hole in the eye and increase the tendency for scar tissue to form. His “cool” or “Q-switched” laser is said to vaporize the tissue without burning because its pulses are so much more powerful and short-lived. He asserts that the “laser treatment is much safer” than the drops glaucoma victims usually use, “and there’s no nuisance about carrying drops and keeping to a schedule.”
The Price of Fame
◆ Actress Farrah Fawcett-Majors recently commented on what it is like to be famous. In London for the premiere of her motion picture “Somebody Killed Her Husband,” she said: “I’ve lost all my freedom. I didn’t realize the price I would have to pay for fame. I need a guard living with me at all times now and that in itself is a great strain.” One of her guards was killed during a kidnap attempt in Mexico. As for real friends, she feels a loss here too. “I can count my true friends on two hands and most of them are from before I became well-known,” she says.
◆ To help fight the rat problem in Central Java, Indonesia, an official in the Ardjawinangun area has devised a novel system. He reportedly ordered bridegrooms to come up with at least 25 dead rats before being allowed officially to marry. Also the newspaper Berita Buana says that schoolchildren were ordered to catch at least three rats daily after school. The rodents are devastating rice crops.
Weaning Ivan from Vodka
◆ The Soviet Union has suddenly begun importing American hops in large quantities. Hops are used to flavor beer, and apparently authorities are hoping to wean some people from the traditional vodka to beer in an effort to reduce drunkenness. Soviet advertising is casting beer and wine drinkers as sophisticated, while vodka drinkers are shown as drunks. Until now, Russian brew has been considered of low quality, and evidently the importing of hops is an effort to improve it.
◆ Letter carriers are increasingly being plagued by dogs that bite. The latest figures for the U.S. Postal Service show that for fiscal 1978, 9,062 mail carriers suffered “animal-related injuries.” That was an increase of 15 percent from four years ago. Dogs inflicted about 90 percent of the injuries. They either bit the carriers or caused them to flee and suffer a fall. “It’s a serious problem,” declared Vincent Sombrotto, president of the letter carriers’ union. Records indicate that many of the canine attacks were preceded by the dog owner’s assurance: “He won’t bite.”
Volcano Emits Deadly Gases
◆ In Central Java, Indonesia, Mount Sinila recently erupted, spewing lava and a concentration of poison gases. Many of the people of nearby Pucukan village were asleep and succumbed to the gases. Even villagers trying to flee were overcome by the lava and gases, leaving dead bodies sprawled in the streets of the village. The gases killed at least 155 persons, including some members of rescue teams. Just before the death-dealing eruption, there were seven earth tremors and an explosion underground.
Most Expensive Land
◆ The most expensive piece of land in Japan, according to the Mainichi Daily News, is in the Shinjuku Ward of Tokyo. It might be the most expensive in the world. Located around the Shinjuku Railway station, it includes a built-up area of stores and shops. The appraised value of one square meter (10.8 sq. ft.) is 2,880,000 yen (about $14,500, U.S.). One acre of land at that rate would cost almost $60,000,000, U.S.!
◆ Some children may breathe a sigh of relief if their mothers take seriously new information about the iron content of an often-hated green. University of Freiburg professor G. W. Lohr recently told a medical congress in Wiesbaden, Germany, that the reputation of spinach for high mineral content is all a mistake. He said that an old nutrition handbook published an iron level 10 times too high because of a typographical error in decimal-point location. This error was perpetuated in later textbooks, and was not discovered until scientists were routinely revising the old food-value tables. The professor also claims that iron in spinach is not in a form that the body can absorb easily anyway.
Value of Helmets
◆ At one time, motorcycle riders in Texas were required to wear protective helmets. However, two years ago this law was repealed. Dr. Myron Koehler of the Texas Transportation Institute tells what has happened since: “The results are irrefutable. As helmet usage decreased, the severity of the injuries and the number of fatalities increased.” Hospital and coroner reports show that since the repeal of the helmet law the number of victims listed as “dead on arrival” has more than doubled, with incapacitating head injuries increasing sharply.
Traffic Deaths Up
◆ In the United States, when the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit was imposed several years ago, traffic fatalities dropped dramatically. But now, the Transportation Department reports that traffic deaths in the country during 1978 exceeded 50,000 for the first time in five years, an increase of nearly 5 percent over the previous year. Although the speed limit is still in effect, many are ignoring it.