Danger at the Ballpark

 

 

Image result for photo speeding baseball

Pitchers are throwing the ball 90 – 100 miles per hour now. A 90-mph fastball can leave the bat at 110 mph. source

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Anyone who pays some attention to baseball knows that it’s dangerous to get near a game.  That’s why batters wear helmets and pads.  And it’s one reason spectators pay attention to every pitch and protect themselves. Also they want the ball. Also the sharp pieces of broken bats fly into the crowd.

While I was driving past Louisville once, I heard on the radio a man from the Louisville Slugger company who said major league players use 80 bats in a season.

These dangers are greatest in the lower, very expensive seats, though we’ve seen  foul balls come toward us on the upper deck.

I feel sorry for anyone hurt anywhere, maybe especially kids; but I feel no support for lawsuits demanding damages from the team owners.

Why do people take small children and even infants into an area swarming with people, then into a park with 40,000 people, some drinking beer and/or margaritas, busy with hot dogs, tacos, and nachos ?  My authoritative belief  is that most kids under 9 or 10 can’t or don’t want to focus on the process of the game or to be alert to dangers of various kinds, including  hygiene in the busy washrooms.  Is that changing table clean?  The kids can learn the game from television as well or better than in the park.  Always with parental help, of course.

When a hot line drive heads into the stands, will you always see it coming?  You’d better.

You can’t expect to collect on an injury that is your own damn fault.

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From the Trib:

Spectators hurt by baseballs face long odds in court
State law shields teams from litigation

By Steve Schmadeke and Elvia Malagon,  Chicago Tribune 10.14.17
Juanita DeJesus never saw the ball coming.
DeJesus was sitting along the first base line at a 2009 minor-league baseball game in Gary when an infield fly struck her in the face just as she looked up to spot the ball. The impact broke several bones in her face and resulted in permanent blindness in her left eye.
Her injuries were strikingly similar to those recently suffered by John “Jay” Loos, a Schaumburg man who filed a negligence lawsuit against the Chicago Cubs this week after also being blinded in his left eye when he was hit by a foul ball while sitting in a seat down the first base line in the outfield at Wrigley Field in late August.
“I had no idea that you were subjected to such missiles and the rate of speed that a ball can come into the stands,” Loos, 60, told reporters Monday. “In the stands, you know, you are sitting behind the plate, you can’t tell when the ball is contacted, you can’t tell where the ball is going, you can’t tell the rate of speed it’s going until it’s on top of you.”
But like DeJesus, whose lawsuit was dismissed outright by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2014, Loos faces long odds of winning in court.
Not only have judges across the country thrown out such lawsuits, but Illinois is one of four states where the legislature enshrined into law the so-called Baseball Rule, which absolves stadium owners of liability so long as an adequate number of seats — largely in the area looking onto home plate — are behind protective netting. Fans who sit elsewhere are presumed to have willingly assumed the risk of being hit by a ball or bat, according to the rule, which is now more than a century old.
The debate over increased safety — versus fans enjoying unobstructed views and the chance to catch a souvenir foul ball — was reignited in September when a little girl was hit by a rocketing foul ball at Yankee Stadium, prompting Major League Baseball’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, to say the league is looking again at extending protective netting.
“The events at yesterday’s game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game,” Manfred said in a statement, adding: “We will redouble our efforts on this important issue.”
In 2015, the league issued recommendations that ballparks have protective netting between the dugouts for any field-level seats within 70 feet of home plate. Those recommendations prompted the Cubs to extend the netting out that distance at Wrigley Field before the 2016 season, a Cubs spokesman has said.
The team’s president of business operations, Crane Kenney, told WSCR-AM 670 The Score last month that the Cubs would add at least 30 more feet of netting before next season as Wrigley Field renovations move the dugouts farther down the foul lines. Last year the White Sox also extended netting at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Beyond the Baseball Rule, legal obstacles include difficulty proving that spectator injuries are so commonplace that the courts should intervene. Last year, a federal judge in California threw out a class-action lawsuit against MLB filed by two fans who argued protective netting should be strung up along the entire length of the foul lines at all stadiums. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to show they and any other fans faced enough risk of injury to give them legal standing to sue.
In Loos’ case, his attorney argues there are two exceptions in the law that could allow them to win the lawsuit. He hopes to convince a judge that the MLB isn’t covered by Illinois’ stadium owner liability law and that the Cubs’ conduct in failing to install netting was reckless — both high hurdles. Another injured fan who alleged the Cubs recklessly removed netting behind home plate in 1992 to make way for skyboxes saw his case dismissed, records show.
“It’s obvious that the Cubs have known people are being seriously injured — it’s happened there before,” said Loos’ attorney, Colin Dunn. “It’s at least going to be a jury question as to whether this was willful and wanton conduct.”
But Dunn indicated the case may get settled. “I got a feeling that they want to talk to us,” he said of the Cubs, whom he reached out to before filing suit. “They do care about their fans. I’m hopeful that they’ll do the right thing.”
A Cubs spokesman declined to comment but directed a reporter to the statement issued by the team Monday that said “the safety of our fans is paramount to a great game day experience.”
It’s not publicly known whether these types of injuries are on the rise, though the class-action lawsuit alleged that they likely were, as pitching speeds go up and batted balls travel faster. A 2003 study found that about 35 fans were injured by foul balls per 1 million spectator visits to major league stadiums.
The risks of being hit by an errant ball or broken bat are low, according to lawsuits filed against other major league teams over injuries. But the injuries they cause can be catastrophic, especially to children.
A 7-year-old Cubs fan attending his first baseball game at Wrigley Field in 2008 was left with a fractured skull and swelling around his brain after being hit in the head by a line drive, the Tribune reported. There are no records indicating the family ever filed a lawsuit.
The Atlanta Braves reportedly settled a lawsuit recently filed by the father of a 6-year-old girl whose skull was fractured by a line drive in 2010.
But in an aside in her ruling to toss a California class-action lawsuit, the judge questioned why the league hadn’t done more to mitigate the danger to its youngest fans.
“Why Major League Baseball, knowing of the risk to children in particular, does little to highlight this risk to parents remains a mystery,” wrote Oakland U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in her ruling throwing out the class-action lawsuit over protective netting.
In 2014 a Bloomberg Businessweek report found that about 1,750 spectators are injured annually by baseballs that fly into the stands. Around 73 million people attend major league games each year.
Spokespeople for the Cubs and White Sox declined to provide figures on how many fans are similarly injured each year.
Figures unearthed in the class-action lawsuit show that during the 2015 season at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles an average of about two people were hurt by foul balls per game out of the 46,000 on average in attendance. In Seattle, about 300 people attending Mariners games were injured by errant baseballs out of the 10 million who attended games between 2005 and 2009, according to an appeals court ruling upholding the dismissal of another fan injury case.
This week, the Chicago City Council passed a toothless resolution calling for the city’s major league teams to surpass MLB’s minimum standards for protective netting and instead “lead the league.” The resolution also asks the teams to “reconsider” the Baseball Rule that transfers liability for spectator injuries to fans who sit in unprotected areas.
In the early 1990s, two rare legal victories for spectators injured while attending separate Cubs and White Sox games may have been the impetus for an Illinois law that now protects stadium owners from similar suits.
Delbert Yates Jr., a fourth-grader, was sitting behind Wrigley Field’s home plate in 1983 when he was struck under his right eye by a Leon Durham pop-up seconds after betting his sister whether Durham would get a hit, court records show. His attorneys at trial presented evidence that the screen behind home base was inadequate, and the family won a $67,500 jury verdict.
A state appeals court upheld the verdict in 1992. That same year, another appellate panel reinstated a lawsuit filed by a woman whose jaw was broken at a White Sox game when she looked up from her popcorn and was struck in the face by a foul ball, finding that the issue of whether the Sox had provided proper warning of her injury risks was a trial issue.
Just six months later, state lawmakers stepped in and passed the Baseball Facility Liability Act, shielding stadium owners from most lawsuits by turning the Baseball Rule into state law. James Jasper, who was struck by a foul ball at a Cubs game, filed a lawsuit over his injury and argued the new law was an unconstitutional handout to stadium owners. But in 1999 an appellate court upheld the law and the lower-court dismissal of Jasper’s lawsuit, essentially ending the legal issue in Illinois.
Outside of Wrigley Field during a recent scheduled playoff game, many fans sided with the Cubs organization on the issue of fan injuries. Among them was Naomi Rodriguez, 56, of Wrigleyville, who said spectators must pay attention to flying balls and bats.
“When you walk in the park, you have to know that this can happen,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just what happens, but I love my Cubbies. I back them up 100 percent.”
Others welcomed more protective netting at Wrigley Field. Mike Ford, 46, of Crown Point, said he believes fans are assuming the risk of being injured by sitting in areas where foul balls typically land. Standing outside of Wrigley Field with his 11-year-old son, Ford said the risk of being hit with one of the balls is one of the reasons why he buys seats in the terrace reserved outfield area.
He would like to see the spectator netting extended at the ballpark, which would expand his seating options.
“I’d be willing to go down to that section if I had the opportunity to,” he said.
sschmadeke@chicagotribune.com
emalagon@chicagotribune.com
Twitter @steveschmadeke
Twitter @elviamalagon

Subway Riders Save Life

Chad M. Estep is accused of pushing a man onto tracks. (Chicago Police Department)

Megan Crepeau, Katherine Rosenberg- Douglas, Jeremy Gorner Chicago Tribune 10.11.17

The attack at a Loop CTA station was the stuff of public-transit nightmares: a man waiting on a train platform eyed a nearby stranger, came up behind him and shoved him onto the tracks below.
The assailant tried to block the victim from climbing back onto the platform, but seconds before a train pulled up to the station, he managed to scramble to safety with the help of others.

. . . .

Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said Estep came up behind Benedict and shoved him onto the tracks with both hands, knocking him perilously close to the electrified third rail.
Estep then tried to block Benedict from getting back onto the platform — and even tried to stop others at the station from assisting Benedict, she said.
Benedict finally climbed to safety just seconds before a train arrived, Antonietti said, while Estep escaped on foot.

. . .
In September, Benedict said he was standing near the edge of the platform when he felt a hard jab to the back and tumbled to the tracks 5 feet below. He said he stopped a foot short of the electrified third rail.
He looked down the tracks but didn’t see a train approaching. He then looked up and saw the man who apparently had pushed him staring at Benedict with a blank look on his face.
“It was like a lion looking at his prey, that’s kinda what it looked like to me,” he said.
Benedict tried to get onto the platform, he said, but the man kept blocking his way, pointing his finger at him. When Benedict yelled for help and people tried to come to his aid, the man tried to keep them away until they were able to form a circle and help Benedict off the tracks.

mcrepeau@chicagotribune.com
kdouglas@chicagotribune.com
jgorner@chicagotribune.com

More Kindness

When Susan and I had arrived in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, for my sister Carol’s funeral, she remarked on the courtesies we had received en route, she with her arm in a sling and  I with my cane, but the best was ahead.

After we checked into the Hilton Garden, I went back to  the parking lot to get my bag.  I found our rental car by opening the trunk with the button on my key.  I reached in, grabbed my bag and yanked it out.  The bag came easily, but it was heavy and took me to the concrete with it.

(One of the problems for old guys in taking a fall is that it’s impossible to get up without something pull on.  I don’t know now where my cane was.)

I lay there wondering what to do, until a small woman showed up and grasped my arm.  She wasn’t strong enough to get me off my butt, so she called for her husband who came behind me and put his arms around my chest.  He was no bigger than the woman, but together they got me on my feet. By that time their daughter had showed up, a head taller than her parents.  By their appearance and speech, I took them to be Japanese.

We were all smiling as I thanked them.  It was fun to see them at breakfast next morning.  We all smiled some more.

RJN

Leaning Tower Bells in Niles

 

 

The Leaning Tower of Pisa SB.jpeg    Leaning Tower of Pisa  Wikipedia

 

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Leaning Tower bells in Niles, Illinois are survivors.  Some might be among oldest in U.S.
Construction of the Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois,  a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. was begun in 1932. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune ) This bell, one of five located inside the Leaning Tower of Niles, is believed to date to 18th-century Italy. (Chicago Bell Advocates photo)
By Jennifer Johnson Pioneer Press, Chicago Tribune, `10.11.17

Image result for leaning tower of lincolnwood photo  Leaning Tower of Niles
High inside the iconic Leaning Tower of Niles are remnants of another time and place.
Five bronze bells, three bearing religious motifs and Latin inscriptions, wait to ring again. The writing on the Latin-inscribed bells suggests their ages.
One dates back nearly 400 years.
If their ages can indeed be proved, they could very well be among the oldest church bells hanging in the United States — and the rarest, according to Kim Schafer, founder of Chicago Bell Advocates, an organization dedicated to helping owners of tower bells restore and maintain them.
“If you go to Mexico, which was a colony of Spain dating back much longer and had a strong Catholic tradition, you will find bells as old or even older. But in the United States, it’s much rarer,” Schafer said.
But where did they come from? And how did they get to Niles?
Schafer and her organization are helping to unravel the origins of the bells as the village of Niles continues its renovation of the Leaning Tower, a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which has stood along Touhy Avenue since the 1930s.
Niles Mayor Andrew Przybylo said restoring the bells so they can ring once again is a goal.
“Maybe by adding one or two more we could create enough tones, enough notes to chime out some music,” he said. “If we do a celebration at the base for some holiday, maybe there’s a way to chime out some music.”
According to the book “The History of Niles, Illinois,” written by Dorothy C. Tyse and published in 1974 to mark the village’s 75th anniversary, construction of the 94-foot-tall Leaning Tower of Niles began in 1932 and was undertaken by businessman Robert Ilg as a way to conceal a water tank that supplied spring water for two outdoor pools on the site.
When the tower was completed two years later, Ilg “dedicated it to the memory of Galileo,” who demonstrated that objects of different weights fall at the same speed when he dropped various items from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tyse’s book said.
At the time, the property on which the tower stood was a park for employees of Ilg’s electric ventilating company. Later, Ilg would leave the tower — and the land surrounding it — to the YMCA, with the stipulation that it remain standing until 2059 and an average of $500 be spent on maintenance annually, the Chicago Tribune reported.
This summer, the village of Niles took over ownership of the tower after years of leasing it from the Leaning Tower YMCA and paying to maintain it, said Przybylo. The cost of the purchase was $10.
Following previous studies that determined extensive repairs to the tower were required, the village began rehabilitation work. So far, approximately $750,000 worth of repair and restoration of the tower’s exterior has been completed, said Mary Anderson, director of public works for the village of Niles. This work does not include restoration of the bells or replacing existing railings around the tower’s exterior, she said.
It was the potential historic nature of the bells that came to light during the tower renovations, said Bernie DiMeo, spokesman for the Leaning Tower rehabilitation project.
Przybylo said little had been said about the bells during his political career with the village, which dates back nearly 30 years.
“I don’t remember anybody highlighting the bells,” he said. “They were a treasure we didn’t know we had.”
A report from Chicago Bell Advocates, completed at the request of the village of Niles, found that three bells, dated 1623, 1735 and 1747, were each cast in Italy, and that at least one of them likely hung in a church in Cavezzo, a town about 150 miles northeast from Pisa.
“Chicago Bell Advocates has no reason to doubt at this time that the three Italian bells are authentic and date from the 17th and 18th centuries,” the report reads.
Each bell features Catholic imagery: A crucifix. Madonna and child. Faces of cherubs. A grape vine. The oldest bell is inscribed, in Latin, with a line from a Catholic prayer in devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus: “Ave, Maria, full of grace, the Lord be with you.”
A fourth bell, according to the report, is dated 1912, and appears to have been created at a foundry in San Francisco. It bears a leaf pattern and an inscription in Italian that includes the word “Vespruccio,” which, according to the research report, is the name of one of the bells in the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Robert Ilg lived in San Francisco as a young man, according to “The History of Niles, Illinois.”
The fifth bell in the tower is undated and cracked, though it can be repaired to ring again, the report says.
Since the report was compiled, Chicago Bell Advocates spoke with a researcher in Cavezzo, Italy, who found that church bells in Cavezzo were sold to a foundry in Milan in the 1930s in order to be recast for new bells, Schafer said. That was right around the time the Leaning Tower’s bells arrived in Niles, so Schafer believes it is entirely possible that instead of recasting, the bells were sold — and are as old as their dates say.
“I think they just sold them to Ilg or some middle man who then sold them to Ilg,” Schafer said.
But details of the acquisition to confirm Schafer’s theory have not yet been found.
“We have been trying to uncover that story, and it’s unclear how the connection was made between Robert Ilg and this foundry,” Schafer said. “That’s a mystery we will hopefully one day be able to uncover.”
Chicago Bell Advocates also recovered written correspondence between a Cavezzo church and the foundry, but they require translation, Schafer said.
While a process called a metallurgical analysis can help “narrow down the ages of the bells,” the method is not foolproof, Schafer said. The Chicago Bell Advocates report indicates that there are several opportunities for additional research, including searching records of the United States Customs Service, which can found in the National Archives, and conducting research within the community of Cavezzo.
Chicago Bell Advocates has not been contracted for additional studies at this time, and the organization is currently advising the village on how to remount the bells and get them ringing again, as they are not currently operational, Schafer said.
It is unclear when the bells last sounded, but newspaper reports from the last several decades seem to indicate that hearing the bells was not a common event.
In October 1958, the Chicago Tribune reported that the bells rang for the first time in 15 years to celebrate $54,000 raised by YMCA workers for renovation work inside the tower and construction of an athletic field, ice skating rink and camping area on the grounds, which was the headquarters of the Skokie Valley YMCA.
In November 1963, special note was made of the ringing of the bells when ground was broken for new YMCA facilities, including the construction of residential accommodations, which still exist, the Tribune reported.
Anderson, the village’s public works director, said she has heard the sounds of the functioning bells, describing them as having a “decent tone.”
“We were really excited when Chicago Bell Advocates started working on this for us,” she said. “It’s a very cool piece of history in Niles.”
Once the current tower renovation is complete, it will be available for visitors to explore, Przybylo indicated.
“The plan is to clean it up, turn (the first floor)] into a visiting center where people can be told the story of the tower and bells before they proceed up the stairs,” Przybylo said.
He added that the hope is to allow groups to climb the tower by next spring or summer, with a goal of the tower securing a place on the National Registry of Historic Places.
“It’s part of our brand,” Przybylo said of the Leaning Tower. “Our brand and our village logo is the Leaning Tower. A lot of people know about it.”
jjohnson@pioneerlocal.com
Twitter @Jen_Tribune

Super Volcano under Yellowstone

Photo

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, a large hot spring known for its vibrant coloration. Beneath the park is a powerful supervolcano which drives the spring and other geological activity. CreditMarie-Louise Mandl/EyeEm, via Getty Images

Beneath Yellowstone National Park lies a supervolcano, a behemoth far more powerful than your average volcano. It has the ability to expel more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash at once — 250,000 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980, which killed 57 people. That could blanket most of the United States in a thick layer of ash and even plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter.

Yellowstone’s last supereruption occurred 631,000 years ago. And it’s not the planet’s only buried supervolcano. Scientists suspect that a supereruption scars the planet every 100,000 years, causing many to ask when we can next expect such an explosive planet-changing event.

To answer that question, scientists are seeking lessons from Yellowstone’s past. And the results have been surprising. They show that the forces that drive these rare and violent events can move much more rapidly than volcanologists previously anticipated.

The early evidence, presented at a recent volcanology conference, shows that Yellowstone’s most recent supereruption was sparked when new magma moved into the system only decades before the eruption. Previous estimates assumed that the geological process that led to the event took millenniums to occur.

To reach that conclusion, Hannah Shamloo, a graduate student at Arizona State University, and her colleagues spent weeks at Yellowstone’s Lava Creek Tuff — a fossilized ash deposit from its last supereruption. There, they hauled rocks under the heat of the sun to gather samples, occasionally suspending their work when a bison or a bear roamed nearby.

Ms. Shamloo later analyzed trace crystals in the volcanic leftovers, allowing her to pin down changes before the supervolcano’s eruption. Each crystal once resided within the vast, seething ocean of magma deep underground. As the crystals grew outward, layer upon layer, they recorded changes in temperature, pressure and water content beneath the volcano, much like a set of tree rings.

“We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption,” said Christy Till, a geologist at Arizona State, and Ms. Shamloo’s dissertation adviser. Instead, the outer rims of the crystals revealed a clear uptick in temperature and a change in composition that occurred on a rapid time scale. That could mean the supereruption transpired only decades after an injection of fresh magma beneath the volcano.We’ll bring you stories that capture the wonders of the human body, nature and the cosmos.

“It’s shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption,” said Ms. Shamloo, though she warned that there’s more work to do before scientists can verify a precise time scale.

Dr. Kari Cooper, a geochemist at the University of California, Davis who was not involved in the research, said Ms. Shamloo and Dr. Till’s research offered more insights into the time frames of supereruptions, although she is not yet convinced that scientists can pin down the precise trigger of the last Yellowstone event. Geologists must now figure out what kick-starts the rapid movements leading up to supereruptions.

“It’s one thing to think about this slow gradual buildup — it’s another thing to think about how you mobilize 1,000 cubic kilometers of magma in a decade,” she said.

As the research advances, scientists hope they will be able to spot future supereruptions in the making. The odds of Yellowstone, or any other supervolcano erupting anytime soon are small. But understanding the largest eruptions can only help scientists better understand, and therefore forecast, the entire spectrum of volcanic eruptions — something that Dr. Cooper thinks will be possible in a matter of decades.

Carol Jeanne Murphy

My sister Carol has died in Crosslands, the place where she worked and then lived.  Susan and I went to Kennett Square for the funeral.  It was nice to see Carol’s children and grandchildren.  I will miss my only sister.   RJN

Obituary —  Carol Jeanne Murphy

Carol Jeanne Murphy Obituary
Carol Jeanne Murphy, age 88, of Kennett Square, PA, passed away on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at her residence. She was the wife of Joseph E. Murphy, Jr., who passed away in 2000, and with whom she shared 47 years of marriage.Born in Evanston, IL, she was the daughter of the late James Nugent and the late Marjorie Forshee Nugent.

She was a registered nurse last working for Crosslands in Kennett Square, PA.

Carol was a member of St. Patrick Church in Kennett Square, PA.

She enjoyed entertaining her family, reading a good book, little children, her husband’s jokes, and being with her family and friends.

She is survived by three sons, Joseph E. Murphy, III and his wife Debra of Amherst, NH, Timothy J. Murphy and his wife Bernadette of Plano, TX and Matthew W. Murphy and his wife Angela of Holly Springs, NC; three daughters, Mary Ruth Johnson and her husband Thomas of Kennett Square, PA, Marjorie Campbell and her husband William of Park City, UT, and Julia Anne Welch and her husband Rudolph of Half Moon Bay, CA; four brothers, Patrick Nugent of Cambridge, MD, Richard Nugent of Wilmette, IL, Thomas Nugent of Delavan, WI and John Nugent; twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by one brother James Nugent.

You are invited to visit with her family and friends from 6:00 to 8:00 on Friday evening, October 6, 2017,and again from 9:30 to 10:30 on Saturday morning, October 7, 2017 at the Kuzo & Grieco Funeral Home, 250 West State Street, Kennett Square, PA. Her Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 Saturday morning, October 7, 2017, at St. Patrick Church, 212 Meredith Street, Kennett Square, PA. Burial will be in St. Patrick’s cemetery, Route 82, Kennett Square, PA.

In lieu of flowers, a contribution may be made to the ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter, 321 Norristown Road, Suite 260, Ambler, PA 19002 or to the Robert N. & Lenora C. Zearfoss Fund for Crosslands Staff Support, P.O. Box 100, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

Published in The News Journal on Oct. 4, 2017

 

Pap test lost its value?

 

Has the Pap test lost its value?

By John Biemer and Guliz A. Barkan   source
The Pap test — a staple of women’s health checkups for generations — is one of medicine’s greatest success stories, saving the lives of countless women by detecting abnormal cells on the cervix that could turn into cancer. Yet the Pap test could be on the decline due to changing technology.
The Pap test is widely considered the most effective cancer screening test. As recently as 2000, an estimated 61 million Pap tests were performed in the United States, according to surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. But if recent proposals from the United States Preventive Services Task Force are approved, fewer Paps may be performed going forward, with a molecular test replacing them.
This month, the task force proposed that screening healthy women ages 30 to 65 for cervical cancer could be performed by either a Pap test or by a human papillomavirus DNA test instead — although a Pap would be performed every three years while the HPV test alone could be performed every five years.
The task force proposals, which are now in a public comment period, follow a study of 47,208 women undergoing routine cervical exams that demonstrated that a DNA test for HPV was more sensitive than the Pap at picking up lesions on the cervix that could progress into cancer.
However, critics of the HPV molecular test say it also is more likely to turn up with erroneously “positive” results (when there is no precancerous condition), which may lead to unnecessary treatment such as colposcopies and biopsies for patients who don’t need them. There also are concerns that setting the screening at five-year intervals may lead to women failing to follow up with gynecological checkups, which are also important for other health concerns besides cervical cancer screening. As a result, for the patient’s benefit, it may be better to have co-testing — both a Pap test and HPV testing at the same time — to ensure higher sensitivity in detecting cancer.
Cervical cancer was the most common cause of cancer deaths of women in the United States in the 1930s, but deaths dropped dramatically after the introduction of the low-cost, easily performed Pap test, which was developed by Dr. George Papanicolaou, a pathologist who emigrated from Greece.
In the Pap test, commonly referred to as a “Pap smear,” cells collected from the uterine cervix with a tiny brush are later placed on a glass slide.
Cytotechnologists and pathologists examine those slides under a microscope, scouring thousands of cells for any abnormality. From the perspective of patients, collecting cells for the HPV molecular tests also requires a speculum exam, so they won’t notice much difference.
Some strains of the human papillomavirus — the same virus that causes warts — have been linked to the development of cervical cancer. Infection by HPV, which is spread by sexual contact, still is common, especially in sexually active young men and women.
At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but the infection is usually transient and the body clears it on its own. That’s why the Pap test, rather than the HPV DNA test, is still preferable in women under 30 to see if precancerous changes in cervical cells already have taken place.
Some women, however, do develop persistent infections that can progress over time into invasive cancer. There are still nearly 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer in the United States each year and more than 4,000 deaths due to the disease, according to the American Cancer Society — though it now ranks as the 21st most common of cancers in women, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The biggest reason for its precipitous decline is vigilant surveillance. Although HPV vaccines and the HPV testing ultimately may lead to fewer Pap tests being performed, the goal remains the same: to stop a deadly disease in its tracks.
John Biemer, M.D., a former Tribune reporter, is a cytopathology fellow at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood; Guliz A. Barkan, M.D., is the director of cytopathology at LUMC.

Comments

Oh, oh.  I discovered this morning that friends of the blog had made several comments to which I hadn’t replied.  Usually I get an email  “comment alert” and I reply. For those I missed I hadn’t been alerted by the blog system, but I have now replied.

Please do reply to blog posts.  I enjoy comments very much and intend to answer all but the ones selling sunglasses and “make money with your blog” rackets.

Love, RJN

Image result for photos sunglasses

Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Some notes:

The music is difficult.  In most elementary schools, the 5th grade classes and older sing it every morning, but in my fourth grade class we sang “My Country Tis of Thee” instead.

Even professional singers get the last line wrong, adding a note, maybe on purpose:             ba-an-ner yet wave.  Then they end on  a (more dramatic?) high note, rather than the middle note as written.

The country singers make the formal music into a broken-heart piece!

I was moved when Aretha Franklin gave the anthem a thrilling Black sound at the Democratic National Convention of 1968. You can see and hear Franklin doing the song on Youtube.com

Recently the cantor of my synagogue, a White Sox fan,  sang the anthem beautifully, in his powerful baritone voice before a Sox game, the second time he’d been invited to do this.  We went to the park for his first performance.  A cantor, or hazzan, is a trained singer and expert on Jewish ritual music.  Before the recent performance, I told him it was nice to expect a straight rendition of the song.

A few days ago, a girl, maybe 16 years old, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a ballgame I was waiting to watch.  She got the words tangled up but finished as well as she could.  Surely she felt bad about this failure, and  I wish I could have told her that even professionals had had the same problem, that she should be proud she had not broken up and run off the field.  She finished the job.

The words were written in 1814 just after a failed attack on Baltimore by the British in the War of 1812.  They were applied to the melody of a well-known drinking song.

While the song was widely approved and performed, it did not become the official “national anthem” until adopted in Congress in 1931, just before I was born.

In a well-done episode of “On the Media I learned that the 3rd stanza of the song has been challenged as “racist”–take a look below.  The fact is that British ships were manned by mercenaries working for pay and slaves fighting for the reward of individual freedom if they survived. You can hear that show in the Chicago area on WBEZ 91.5 fml.  On the Media, too, was the observation that we have a history of using the flag in making legal demonstrations.

Federal law includes rules for handling the flag but provides no penalties for violation.

One rule is The flag should never be used as wearing apparel. Several years the Under Armour company arranged for the Northwestern U . football team to wear special uniforms incorporating the flag.  I sent a complaint to the Director of something or other at the University who was unimpressed.

RJN

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave![27]

Cover of sheet music for “The Star-Spangled Banner”, transcribed for piano by Ch. Voss, Philadelphia: G. Andre & Co., 1862