Top

Q & A on the News

More questions and answers from Joey Ledford.  This week: the seventh inning stretch, Iraqi casualties, the polio epidemic, and "innocent until proven guilty?"

Q: How did the seventh-inning stretch come into being and why is it in that inning?

A: As is often the case, no one knows for sure. But there are plenty of theories, several of which were advanced by David Emery, writing for the Web site About.com.

One popular legend credits it to William Howard Taft, the 300-pound 27th president of the United States. Uncomfortable on his wooden chair, Taft supposedly stood up in the middle of the seventh inning of a 1910 Washington Senators game against the Athletics. Thinking he was about to leave, the rest of the crowd stood as well. Legend also has it Taft also started the tradition of a visiting dignitary throwing the first pitch that very day, Emery said.

In the late 1800s, Brother Jasper, a coach of the Manhattan College baseball team, felt his team was becoming a bit restless on a hot and muggy day, Emery writes. So Jasper called time-out during the seventh inning of a game and invited everyone in the bleachers to stand and unwind, allegedly starting a tradition that spread into professional baseball.

But it may go back even further. Emery reports that baseball historians located a letter dated 1869 written by Harry Wright of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first pro baseball team. "The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about," Wright wrote. He described it as "relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches."

Q: What states now have fire ants? What is the best treatment for the bites?

A: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined that red imported fire ants are an established pest in 13 states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, New Mexico and California.

The best treatment is prevention where possible. Over-the-counter anti-itch medications can be used to treat the itching. After the pustule forms, do not break it, in order to avoid a possible secondary infection. People who are allergic to insect bites or stings should carry a bee sting kit and become familiar with how to use it.

Q: Would you please give me the definition of the phrase, "truth to power." I hear it used on the news, and have read it in the newspaper.

A: It is believed the first modern use of the phrase "speak truth to power" was in a 1955 pamphlet published by the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers.

Titled "Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence," the pamphlet proposed a new approach to the Cold War.

According to their Web site at www.quaker.org/sttp.html, the title phrase was taken from a charge given to 18th century Friends to bear witness before their leaders to the terrible consequences of war. The phrase has been used frequently by authors, including Kerry Kennedy and Anita Hill.

It also has come to have meaning in recent years among black, working-class and poor Americans who feel national leaders have ignored their interests. Recently defeated U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., often has called her controversial rebukes of national leadership "speaking truth to power."

Q: How many Iraqi civilians have been killed since the United States invaded the country?

A: A group of about 16 volunteers, mainly in Great Britain and the United States, counts civilian casualties that have occurred in Iraq since the 2003 coalition invasion. It compiles reports from nearly 200 media outlets, ranging from ABC News to the Washington Post, according to Hamit Dardagan, a London-based freelance researcher and co-founder of Iraq Body Count.

The group reports on its Web site, www.iraqbodycount.org, that at a minimum, 40,592 Iraqi civilians have been reported as dying a violent death. The maximum figure is 45,144, and Dardagan said pending morgue figures for the late spring and summer months will inflate those numbers by thousands more.

The site details the group’s methodology, explaining the minimum-maximum differential by noting that reports of dead often vary among news sources. Deaths must have been reported by at least two of the approved news sources to be included.

Dardagan, in a telephone interview from London, said the group goes to great lengths not to include the deaths of insurgents or terrorists in its counts. In suicide bombings, for example, if media accounts don’t make it clear whether the bomber is included in the body count, one death is subtracted.

"The count includes civilian deaths caused by coalition military action and by military or paramilitary responses to the coalition presence (e.g. insurgent and terrorist attacks)," the site said. "It also includes excess civilian deaths caused by criminal action resulting from the breakdown in law and order which followed the coalition invasion."

Americans may not be as aware of the increases in civilian deaths in the past few months because the war has been pushed off front pages by the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. The St. Petersburg Times, which Dardagan’s agency monitors, reported 3,438 Iraqi civilians died in July, a 9 percent jump from June and nearly double the toll reported in January. Dardagan thinks the newspaper’s count is probably low.

Dardagan said his group is candid about its opposition to the Iraq war but its count is as accurate as humanly possible. "We are open about our personal biases, but that doesn’t mean we can’t count," he said.

"We can only hope that the same nation which put so much admirable effort into discovering the full human toll of 9/11 will one day turn to uncovering the human costs of its fateful military intervention in Iraq," he said.

Q: Why is a sand trap called a bunker, and how did the golf terms bogey and birdie originate?

A: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, bunker is an old Scottish word for a seat or bench. It was first used as a golf term in Scotland about 1824. It originally was a "sandy hollow formed by the wearing away of the turf on the [seaside] links," or a bank of earth. Now, it also can be an "artificial sand-hole with a built-up face, and also any natural obstruction on a golf course."

According to the U.S. Golf Association, the term "bogey" came from a song popular in Britain in the early 1890s called "The Bogey Man." It originally was equated with the ideal score a good player could be expected to make on a hole under perfect conditions. But when the concept of "par" emerged early in the 20th century, a bogey was demoted to one over par.

The term "birdie" originated in the United States in 1899, according to the USGA. It probably comes from a 19th-century American slang term "bird," meaning anything excellent. A birdie is one under par.

Q: In TV stories about Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi, a full-color film clip of the same event, apparently from the exact same shooting location, is often shown. Was Rosenthal also responsible for the film clip?

A: No. The film clip was shot by Marine Sgt. Bill Genaust. Published reports say Genaust never lived to see his own footage.?He was killed in action nine days after the flag was raised.?His story is told in the book "Immortal Images" by Tedd Thomey.

Genaust and another Marine entered a cave to flush out the enemy and were killed by a squad of Japanese inside.?The Marines hit the cave with a flamethrower and then blew up the entrance.?Genaust’s body was never recovered. Rosenthal won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph, but it took 40 years for Genaust to be officially recognized for his film. In 1995, a plaque honoring him was placed on Mount Suribachi.

Q: Who is singing the background song, "I Don’t Love You Much, Do I?" for the Nature’s Own bread commercial?

A: The song was written by country singer Guy Clark and can be found on his album, "Boats To Build." On the album, Clark and Emmylou Harris perform a duet.

But is it Clark and Harris singing the song on three Nature’s Own bread commercials? The company refuses to say.

"Due to a contract we have, we are unable to provide any information on the artists singing the song," said Mary Krier, spokeswoman for Flowers Food Bakeries Group. She would not elaborate.

Q: Will you please refresh my memory about the polio epidemic in the United States?

A: In 1916, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a polio epidemic in the United States killed 6,000 people and paralyzed an additional 27,000. By the early 1950s, there were more than 20,000 cases annually.

Polio is believed to be an ancient disease that did not transform itself into a paralytic killer until hygiene was significantly improved in industrialized nations. Encyclopaedia Britannica says health experts theorized that the infection was common in earlier times, but people were infected in unhygienic environments at very young ages when they were less likely to suffer permanent paralysis.

Polio was such a threat that many parents refused to let children go to the movies or go swimming for fear they’d get polio. Parents feared children would be unable to walk or forced to spend their lives in an iron lung.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was polio’s most prominent victim. He contracted it in 1921 at age 39, more than a decade before becoming president.

The disease became the subject of intense research. A team at Harvard Medical School demonstrated that the virus could be grown in large amounts in tissue culture. In 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk of the University of Pittsburgh made history with his announcement of the development of a successful vaccine.

Widespread vaccinations began in 1955, and by 1960 the number of U.S. cases had dropped to about 3,000, the CDC said. By 1979, there were about 10 recorded cases in the United States.

Polio still occurs in some parts of the world, and scientists remain concerned that without continued vaccinations, another outbreak of the incurable disease could occur.

Q: What ever happened in the beef between the U.S. Senate and British member of Parliament George Galloway over food for oil in Iraq?

A: On May 17, 2005, Galloway, an outspoken critic of the Iraqi war and the Bush administration, appeared before the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).

Galloway testified under oath about allegations he solicited and received the right to buy oil from Iraq in association with the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program. Galloway angrily denied being an oil trader, soliciting oil allocations or instructing anyone to do so for him.

On Oct. 24, 2005, the subcommittee issued a follow-up report alleging that Galloway gave false and misleading testimony during his appearance. He has denied those allegations.

According to Coleman’s press office, the matter has been turned over to the U.S. Justice Department on the grounds that it is unlawful for a witness to give false testimony before Congress.

Q: Is it true that at birth you are born with over 300 bones and by the time you reach adulthood you only have about 208 bones? If so, then can you explain the decrease in bones once you reach adulthood?

A: Our experts have a bone to pick with you over that one. Humans suffer no numerical bone loss over time.

"There are 208 bones in the body," said Dr. Scott D. Boden, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of the Emory Spine Center. He said at birth, some of the long bones — legs, arms and fingers — have growth plates, which are actually nonbony cartilage bands at each end. They allow the bones to grow in length while still bearing weight.

"If someone were counting those growth plate centers as ‘bones,’ which would be incorrect, that would be the only way to imagine that there would actually be 300," he said.

Q: The news story about a chocolate dripping that some think resembles the Virgin Mary reminded me that someone stole the famous "Nun Bun," a bakery roll that many thought looked like Mother Teresa. Was it ever recovered?

A: The "Nun Bun," a cinnamon bun said to have a remarkable resemblance to Mother Teresa, was discovered at Bongo Java, a trendy Nashville coffee shop, in 1996. Shellacked to preserve its saintly appearance, it was on constant display until being stolen during a burglary on Christmas Day 2005.

Bongo Java owner Bob Bernstein told Q&A he thought he’d never see the famous bun again, but it has since made two mysterious appearances.

On May 24, someone mailed The Tennessean a photograph of what the Nashville newspaper called the "pious pastry" resting next to a paint-flaked statue of what may have been a nun in what might have been a thrift store. It was postmarked Philadelphia.

Then on June 20, the bun-flashing prankster struck again. The newspaper received a second mailed photograph of the pastry, this time being held by two unidentifiable young men, one of whom was wearing a Homer Simpson T-shirt. It was postmarked New York City.

Bernstein said he doesn’t think the loss of the Nun Bun has hurt business. But he and his customers miss it. "It’s kind of like going home and seeing your favorite picture of your grandmother missing from your wall," he said. "It was part of the culture around here."

Q: Where is it written that an arrested person is "innocent until proven guilty"? I don’t find it in the Constitution.

A: It’s not in there. Nor is it in the Declaration of Independence or the Magna Carta. But, as Kenneth Pennington, a law professor at the Catholic University of America, writes, "There are few maxims that have a greater resonance in Anglo-American common law jurisprudence."

Pennington writes that the phrase entered American law via an 1894 Supreme Court decision, Coffin vs. U.S. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Edward Douglass White said the presumption of innocence "has existed in the common law from earliest time."

Legal scholars feel the presumption of innocence is supported by the Fifth, Sixth, and 14th amendments.

The Fifth Amendment, for example, says no one will be "held to answer" for a crime "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

Q: I just saw "Shall We Dance?" with Susan Sarandon for the third time. What is her history, and how much older is she than her live-in boyfriend with whom she has children?

A: Sarandon accompanied her actor husband, Chris Sarandon, to a casting call for the 1970 movie "Joe." Chris was passed over; Susan got a major role.

Five years later, Sarandon was cast as Janet in the cult classic, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

Sarandon flew at her own expense from Rome to Los Angeles to successfully campaign for the role of Annie in the 1988 baseball classic "Bull Durham." A romance developed during the filming with supporting actor Tim Robbins.

Sarandon, 59, and Robbins, 47, are still together, with two sons, Jack Henry, 17, and Miles Guthrie, 14.

"I’m certainly not an expert, but Tim and I just celebrated 17 years together, which in Hollywood years I think is 45," she is quoted as saying on the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com). "I think the key is just focusing on this one person and not keeping one eye on the door to see who might be better."

Sarandon won an Academy Award in 1996 for "Dead Man Walking." She has been nominated four other times.

Q: Some weeks ago a new cartoonist took over "Judge Parker." I find the captions harder to read, and in my opinion the artwork is not as good. Did the original cartoonist pass away?

A:"Judge Parker" cartoonist Harold LeDoux recently retired after drawing the strip for more than 50 years. Originally hired as an assistant artist for Judge Parker creator Nick Dallis, LeDoux became the primary illustrator in 1953.

Eduardo Barreto was appointed by the King Features Syndicate to continue the 54-year-old strip, which has been written since 1990 by Woody Wilson.

Barreto, born and based in Uruguay, previously worked at DC Comics, where he drew Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman.

Q: I have several ancestors who served in the Confederate Army and I am interested in obtaining government-issued grave markers or headstones for their burial sites. Could you please advise the correct procedure to accomplish this?

A: Gwendolyn Coley of the Department of Veterans Affairs said veterans who served honorably during the Civil War are entitled to a government headstone if the grave is not already marked by one or a privately purchased headstone.

To apply, one must complete VA Form 40-1330, accompanied by documentation of the veteran’s honorable military service. Muster rolls, extracts from state files, pension documents or land warrants are considered documentation.

The form is also available on the National Cemetery Administration Web site at http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hm–hm.asp. The VA Web site also contains comprehensive information on the government headstone and marker program, Coley said.

 Copyright 2006 Cox News Service

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*