Watching the World
Psychiatrists account for a disproportionately large percentage of the medical professionals expelled from the Medicare and Medicaid programs because of fraud and other abuses, reports a study financed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Though comprising only 8 percent of the physicians practicing in the United States, 18 percent of the 147 physicians suspended from the programs within a 15-year period were psychiatrists. Among the abuses cited were fraudulent billing practices, which included charging for therapy when only drugs were prescribed, submitting bills for nonexistent patients, and engaging in sexual encounters with patients but charging the time to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. As Paul Jesilow, criminologist and coauthor of the study, noted: “Obviously, this doesn’t reflect well on the practice of psychiatry.”
When children break the law, are parents to blame? Yes, according to South Carolina, U.S.A., State Supreme Court Justice Julius B. Ness. He said that the term “delinquency” applies more to parents than to juveniles. In qualifying this assertion, Justice Ness explained: “Our children learned from us to have reverence for the almighty dollar, for power and wealth. Our warped sense of values has undoubtedly been largely responsible for the increasing number of troubled youth.”
Want a Grizzly?
The state of Montana (U.S.A.) has a problem. Its Rocky Mountain grizzly population has overexpanded and spread into areas where there are people and livestock. Some have become “problem bears,” leaving their usual fare for the “easier pickings” in the human environment. So, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, Montana hit on the idea of writing other states and offering the grizzlies—which can reach a weight of 600 pounds—to them. Some states simply said “no thanks.” California mentioned that the places it could put the bears also had “a high concentration of people.” Wyoming was afraid of the problems that would come with the bears. And Oregon made a counteroffer to send Montana some of their problem black bears. Only Alaska gave a ray of hope. Although they did not want the bears, they said that, in an effort to protect their moose, they might be willing to trade Alaskan wolves for the bears “on a pound for pound basis.” But Montana, already trying to protect its livestock, did not want more wolves around.
The much-publicized exploits of a New York City subway vigilante who shot four youths has captured the interest of a game maker. He has created “The Subway Vigilante Game.” It is centered around a map of the New York subway system wherein “each space represents a different station,” reports the Daily News. Cards containing directions such as “Put Gun to Punk’s Head . . . Move 2 Spaces” may be drawn with a roll of the dice. Miniature weapons of varied design are among the game pieces. Players who fail to keep such pieces “can be mugged” and thus are the losers. While some merchants refuse to sell the game, some who have carried it are sold out and claim it is a big seller.
Hypnotic Testimony Not Admitted
What is remembered as a result of hypnosis is not admissible as testimony in court, ruled the Supreme Court of Missouri, U.S.A. Commenting on the case, Alsbach v. Bader, The National Law Journal reports: “Carl Alsbach underwent hypnosis to refresh his memory concerning an accident in which he was involved. He attempted to have his post-hypnotic testimony admitted into evidence. The court held that such testimony lacks scientific support for its reliability and should not be admitted in the Missouri courts.”
Pesticides can penetrate the protective clothing that workers wear, researchers say. No warning is given as the pesticides do not burn or irritate the skin, from which they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. By use of a fluorescent chemical marker in the pesticide, it was found that even the most protective of covering used—layers of clothing, overalls, and rubber gloves—was penetrated. Agricultural workers are therefore receiving higher doses than previously thought. The problem is compounded when workers, assuming they are protected by their clothing, wash only exposed areas of skin.
The most abundant by-product in cheese making is whey. For every pound of cheese made, six to nine times as much whey is produced—some 46,000 million pounds (21,000 million kg) of it annually in the United States alone. A major constituent of whey is lactose, or milk sugar. A method has recently been devised that uses the lactose as an adhesive in making particleboard for use in construction. The traditional use of formaldehyde, which produces a toxic vapor that accumulates in the air in modern airtight buildings, is thereby circumvented. The researchers say that the lactose particleboard is harmless. The lactose can also be used in making polyurethane insulating foams. The advantage is that it is less costly to make them fire-resistant than the conventional foams made from sucrose.
Pollution levels in modern, well-insulated homes may be cut by the use of common houseplants, researchers say. Fireplaces, gas appliances, cigarettes, insulation, and even synthetic clothes, rugs, and curtains throw potentially dangerous pollutants into the air. Experiments showed that within 24 hours the levels of the offending substances—nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde—were greatly reduced by spider plants. From 8 to 15 well-placed plants are needed to combat pollution in the average home. While spider plants tested out the best, other plants, such as the Chinese evergreen, golden pothos, and the peace lily, also were effective. NASA scientists discovered the plants’ ability while searching for a biological air-purification system that could be used in space stations.
Success From Failure
A “runaway success” in Japan, says New Scientist, is “a new electronic rain alarm.” The sensor, which is clipped outdoors, is attached to the melody part by a long cord. When rain splashes on the sensor, a connection is made, and the alarm starts playing the melody. The company, Nippon Alumi Tsurumaru, originally developed a system that would automatically pull in a clothesline when it rained. When it proved to be much too expensive, the company made use of the sensor part and developed the rain alarm. About 250,000 were sold in the first eight months on the market.
Better Late Than Never
A book missing from the Pennsylvania State Library since last century has been returned. Library officials were surprised when the book, published in 1657, was found returned in a book-drop bin. The book, Tounsend’s Collection, was originally purchased under Benjamin Franklin’s direction when he was developing the state library. It was estimated that it disappeared sometime between 1823 and 1900.
“A serious scientific test of the accuracy of horoscopes concludes that the star sign under which a person is born has no influence on his or her personality,” writes science editor Pearce Wright in The Times of London. The experiment, conducted at the University of California, involved 28 renowned astrologers. The test was to match the astrological chart of a subject with the correct personality profile. The profiles were drawn from a questionnaire that was both familiar to the astrologers and conducted according to their suggestions. For each individual, three profiles were given, one factual and two others chosen at random. “An embarrassing outcome of the trials for the astrologers,” says the article, “is that the predictions proved to be of no greater value than could be expected by chance.” The astrologers did not meet the volunteers face to face. When they do, says scientist Shawn Carlson, who conducted the test, they pick up clues that they use to impress their clients.
Speaking is the prime activity at the UN, but few diplomats are skilled at it. “It is rare to find someone here with a true gift for speaking,” says François Giuliani, a spokesman for the secretary-general. “There are lengthy speakers and there are brief speakers, but there aren’t many captivating speakers.” A big restraint, delegates say, is the control that home governments usually exercise over what is said, and that certain protocol must be followed. Besides, dramatic speech is usually lost in translation.
◻ To honor the historic 40th session of the General Assembly, an American mountain-climbing team was to plant the UN flag on top of Mount Everest. Although difficult conditions made them stop 800 feet (240 m) short of the top, they did plant the flag and took back a picture as proof. “The photograph has now officially disappeared, and all references to it have been expunged,” says The New York Times. “The reason? The flag was planted upside down.”
Artery Versus Vein
Use of an artery has proved superior to that of a vein in coronary bypass operations. The surgery is performed when arteries that feed the heart become clogged and there is danger of a heart attack. Until recently, most surgeons would remove a piece of vein from the leg and use it for the bypass. New research has shown that use of the internal mammary artery from the chest produces superior results. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation compared the long-term results of 2,306 patients who had the artery bypasses with those of 3,625 who had the standard vein bypasses. In all cases, it was the anterior descending coronary artery of the heart that was bypassed. The research team found that over a ten-year period, patients with the vein bypasses had a 60-percent higher death risk than those with the artery bypasses and were also 40 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks.