Another major study, this one involving more than 650,000 Danish children, has found no link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Multiple past studies have also proven no association, and public health experts consider the matter settled science.
The latest study followed children for more than a decade, beginning at age 1. There was no increase in the rate of autism among MMR-vaccinated children compared to those unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, measles outbreaks continue to plague parts of the United States, spurred by decreased rates of vaccination that are, in part, fueled by unfounded fears of autism.
Body of Knowledge
Blood makes up approximately 8% of your total body weight.
Get Me That, Stat!
Until 1954, all private tombs in Venice, Italy, above or below ground, were leased for eternity. The city now leases tombs for varying numbers of years, with possible renewal. The used tomb market in Venice is brisk: A 99-year lease with 50-year renewal option for a small crypt in a prime location can cost upwards of $500,000.
Stories for the Waiting Room
Medicine in ancient Babylon was pretty dicey, for patients and physicians alike. The Code of Hammurabi set forth some pretty draconian penalties for perceived malpractice, the original notion of "an eye for an eye." The code declared that if a physician accidentally killed or maimed a patient of an elevated class or status, the physician's hand would be cut off. The penalties didn't apply in the cases of people of lower classes, but they presumably couldn't afford a physician in the first place.
Onychocryptosis: An ingrown toenail, derived from the Greek for "hidden nail." The Latin term sounds even more painful: unguis incarnates, meaning "nail in flesh."
Mania of the Week
Klazomania: Compulsive shouting or screaming
Never Say 'Diet'
The Major League Eating record for Hostess Donettes is 257 in six minutes, held by Joey Chestnut. No word on whether they were powdered sugar, glazed or chocolate-covered.
First old man: "You want to go for a walk?"
Second old man: "Isn't it windy?"
First old man: "No, it's Thursday."
Second old man: "Me, too. Let's go get a beer."
"The years between 50 and 70 are the hardest. You are always being asked to do more, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down." — Poet T.S. Eliot in 1950 at the age of 62. He died in 1965.
This week in 1969, media incorrectly reported the first transplant of an entire human eye. At Methodist Hospital in Houston, Dr. Conrad D. Moore, assisted by Dr. Dan Sigband, reportedly had operated on John Madden, age 54, in an attempt to restore his right eye, which had been destroyed by bleeding following a cornea graft some days earlier.
The Houston Ophthalmological Society decried the operation as not possible or prudent, and Moore replied that, in fact, he had not transplanted a complete eye but rather just the front optical portion, retaining the patient's original retina, optic nerve, blood vessels and muscles.
Three weeks after the procedure, the patient remained blind, though the eye possessed normal movement and appearance. In June, Moore was expelled from the Houston Ophthalmological Society for poor practices.
Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, needlessly complex words and opaque phrases such as "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research: "The perils of bungee jumping" by Marc J. Shapiro et al., published in Clinical Communications.
At the time of publication in 1995, bungee jumping was a relatively new recreational phenomenon. Apart from the pretty obvious peril of jumping from high places while attached to an oversized rubber band, the researchers found that injuries such as strains, bruising and the occasional stress attack were possible. They did note that the chance of serious injury was at least 1,000 times greater among parachutists than among bungee jumpers.
Q: Can you name three animals (other than humans) that have chins?
A: There aren't any. The chin isn't just the bottom of the face, but specifically a lump of bone protruding forward from the lower jaw. It's not clear why modern humans have chins; earlier ancestors did not. When you stroke the chin of a cat, you're really stroking its lower mandible, which slopes backward from the teeth. It's the same with horses and other animals that appear to have chins. An elephant's jaw does have a forward-jutting bit that appears chin-like, but it's really a vacant space where, for some reason, elephants have lost their lower jaw's front teeth.
Fit to Be Tried
There are thousands of exercises, and you've only got one body, but that doesn't mean you can't try them all:
Step-ups are exactly what they sound like. You step one foot up onto a box, bench, staircase or even a sturdy chair and then bring the trailing leg up into a 90-degree angle in front of you as you balance on one foot. Gently return the lifted leg to the ground, followed by the first foot. Repeat on the other side. Keep your shoulders and back up and the knee of your standing leg in line with your toes.
Step-ups build leg muscle, increase strength in your core and improve balance and stability.
"God bless Captain Vere." — Author Herman Melville (1819-1891), referencing a main character in his then-unpublished novel "Billy Budd." Budd uttered the phrase just before his execution at the hands of Vere.
To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.