Daily Update: Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Sixtus II and Cajetan and Games of the XXXI Olympiad - Rio, Brazil

Today is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today is also the Optional Memorial of Saint Sixtus II, Pope and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 258) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Cajetan, Priest (died 1547). This day also marks the approximate midpoint of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, assuming that the summer season begins at the Northern Solstice on June 21st (which it did this year). And the Games of the XXXI Olympiad continue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The future Saint Sixtus II was possibly born in Greece, and was a philosopher and an adult convert to Christianity. He became Pope in 257, and dealt with the controversy concerning baptism by heretics. He believed that anyone who was baptised with a desire to be a Christian, even if the baptism was performed by a heretic, was truly baptised into the faith, and that the validity of his faith was based on his own desire and actions, not the errors of the person who performed the sacrament. While celebrating Mass at the tomb of Saint Callistus in 258 he was arrested as part of the persecutions of Valerian. He was beheaded with six deacons (his seventh deacon, Saint Lawrence, died three days later), having been Pope for just under a year, and was buried in the same catacomb where he had been celebrating Mass when he was arrested; his name occurs in the prayer Communicantes in the Canon of the Mass. We also honor Saint Cajetan, Priest (died 1547). Born in 1480 in Vicenza, Italy as Gaetano dei Conti di Tiene, he was of the Venetian nobility. He studied law in Padua, and was offered governing posts, but turned them down for a religious vocation, and was ordained at age 36. In 1522 Cajetan founded a hospital in Venice, Italy for victims of incurable illness. He was aware of the need of reformation in the Church, and felt called to enter a religious community to serve the sick and poor. On May 3rd, 1524, with three others, including John Peter Caraffa (who later became Pope Paul IV), he formed the Congregation of Clerks Regular (Theatines) at Rome with the mission of fostering the Church’s mission and reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy.  He founded a bank to help the poor and to offer an alternative to usurers; it later became the Bank of Naples. He became known for a gentle game he played with parishioners where he would bet prayers, rosaries or devotional candles on whether he would perform some service for them; he always did, and they always had to “pay” by saying the prayers. He is the Patron Saint of job seekers and of the unemployed, and of the countries of Albania, Italy, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, and El Salvador. Today also marks the approximate midpoint of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, assuming that the summer season begins at the Northern Solstice on June 21st, which it did this year. (All I know is that it’s hot outside, day and night, in SouthWestCentral Louisiana.) And the Games of the XXXI Olympiad continue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Today there are competitions in Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing (Slalom), Equestrian, Field Hockey, Football (that’s Fútbol), Gymnastics (Artistic), Handball, Rowing, Rugby Sevens, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball (Beach), and Volleyball (Indoor), and Gold Medal Competition in Archery, Cycling (Road), Diving, Fencing, Judo, Shooting, Swimming, and Weightlifting.

I removed the polish from my toenails, and did my Book Devotional Reading. Richard was feeling much better, and we went off to work; on our way I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Second Day of my Assumption Novena. Richard attended the Sunday Pre-Shift Meeting (since he had missed the one yesterday). When we got out onto the casino floor, Richard was on Mini Baccarat. I was on Three Card Blackjack; when the table went dead, they closed the table, and I became the Relief Dealer for the Sit-Down Blackjack table, a Blackjack table, and the $5.00 Minimum Bet Blackjack table.

When we got home from work I made my salads for Monday and Tuesday, and ate a lunch salad while reading the Sunday papers and putting fresh polish on my toenails. I then came to the computer and cleaned up some stuff on my music. I then requested at least the first few days off of our vacation on the online schedule at work (with a note that I will request the whole thing in a few weeks), and found that according to the August 4th, 2016 USA Today Coaches Poll, LSU is ranked #6 in College Football. I got busy with today’s Daily Update, and when I finish with that I will get ready to go to bed for the duration.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest (died 1221) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Religious (died 1909). Tomorrow is also the anniversary of my graduation from LSU in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, and it is also International Cat Day. The Games of the XXXI Olympiad continue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Tomorrow we have competitions in Archery, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing (Slalom), Equestrian, Field Hockey, Handball, Rowing, Sailing, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball (Beach), Volleyball (Indoor), and Water Polo, and Gold Medal Events in Diving, Fencing, Gymnastics (Artistic), Judo, Rugby Sevens, Shooting, Swimming, and Weightlifting. And tomorrow is the birthday of Richard’s good friend Stephen in Mississippi (1957). At the casino my earliest call-in will drop off of the calendar; my next one will drop off on September 13th. Richard and I will be working our eight hours on the first day of the new pay period, and I will definitely start reading Quicksand House by Carlton Mellick III on my Kindle app on my tablet. And in the afternoon I will start packing my stuff for my mid-week trip to New Orleans.

On this Sunday Afternoon our Parting Quote comes to us from Frances Oldham Kelsey, Canadian pharmacologist and physician. Born as Frances Oldham in 1914 in Cobble Hill, British Columbia, she graduated high school at age fifteen and attended Victoria College, British Columbia (1930–1931) in Victoria, British Columbia (now University of Victoria). She then enrolled at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec to study pharmacology, where she received both a B.Sc.(1934) and a M.Sc.(1935) in pharmacology,, and on the urging of one of her professors wrote to EMK Geiling, M.D., a noted researcher, who was starting up a new pharmacology department at the University of Chicago asking for a position doing graduate work. The acceptance letter she got was addressed to “Mr. Oldham” (Geiling had apparently thought she was a Francis), but on her professor’s advice went without clearing up the matter of her gender first, and began working for Geiling in 1936. During her second year, Geiling was retained by the FDA to research unusual deaths related to elixir sulfanilamide, a sulfonamide medicine. Kelsey assisted on this research project, which showed that the 107 deaths were caused by the use of diethylene glycol as a solvent. The next year the United States Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.  That same year she completed her studies and received a Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of Chicago. Working with Geiling led to her interest in teratogens, drugs that cause congenital malformations. Upon completing her Ph.D., Kelsey joined the University of Chicago faculty. In 1942, like many other pharmacologists, Kelsey was looking for a synthetic cure for malaria. As a result of these studies, Kelsey learned that some drugs are able to pass through the placental barrier. While there she also met fellow faculty member Dr. Fremont Ellis Kelsey, whom she married in 1943. While on the faculty at the University of Chicago, Kelsey was awarded her M.D. during 1950. She supplemented her teaching with work as an editorial associate for the American Medical Association Journal for two years. Kelsey left the University of Chicago in 1954, decided to take a position teaching pharmacology at the University of South Dakota, and moved with her husband and two daughters to Vermillion, South Dakota, where she taught until 1957. She became a dual-citizen of Canada and the United States in the 1950s in order to continue practicing medicine in the U.S., but retained strong ties to Canada where she continued to visit her siblings regularly until late in life. In 1960 Kelsey was hired by the FDA in Washington, D.C. At that time, she was one of only seven full-time and four young part-time physicians reviewing drugs for the FDA. One of her first assignments at the FDA was to review an application by Richardson Merrell for a drug (under the tradename Kevadon) to be used as a tranquilizer and painkiller, with specific indications to prescribe the drug to pregnant women for morning sickness. Even though it had already been approved in Canada and more than twenty European and African countries, she withheld approval for the drug and requested further studies. Despite pressure from Richardson Merrell, the manufacturer of Kevadon, Kelsey persisted in requesting additional information to explain an English study that documented a nervous system side effect. Her insistence that the drug should be fully tested prior to approval was vindicated when the births of deformed infants in Europe were linked to ingestion by their mothers during pregnancy of Kevadon, the main ingredient of which was thalidomide. Researchers discovered that the thalidomide crossed the placental barrier and caused serious birth defects. She was hailed on the front page of The Washington Post in an article by Morton Mintz as a heroine for averting a similar tragedy in the United States. Kelsey insisted that her assistants, Oyam Jiro and Lee Geismar, as well as her FDA superiors who backed her strong stance, deserved credit as well. After Mintz broke the story in July 1962, there was a substantial public outcry. The Kefauver Harris Amendment was passed unanimously by Congress in October 1962 to strengthen drug regulation; companies were required to demonstrate the efficacy of new drugs, report adverse reactions to the FDA, and request consent from patients participating in clinical studies. The drug testing reforms required “stricter limits on the testing and distribution of new drugs” to avoid similar problems. The amendments, for the first time, also recognized that “effectiveness [should be] required to be established prior to marketing.” As a result of her blocking American approval of thalidomide, Kelsey was awarded the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President John F. Kennedy, becoming the second woman to receive that award. British Pathé released a film of Kennedy acknowledging Kelsey in a speech. After receiving the award, Kelsey continued her work at the FDA. There she played a key role in shaping and enforcing the 1962 amendments. She also became responsible for directing the surveillance of drug testing at the FDA. Kelsey continued to work for the FDA while being recognised for her earlier work. She was still working at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in 1995 and was appointed deputy for scientific and medical affairs. In 1994 the Frances Kelsey Secondary School in Mill Bay, British Columbia was named in her honour. In 2000 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She retired in 2005. In 2010 the FDA presented Kelsey with the first Drug Safety Excellence Award and named the annual award after her, announcing that it would be given to one FDA staff member annually. Kelsey turned 100 in July 2014, and shortly thereafter, in the fall of 2014, she moved from Washington, D.C., to live with her daughter in London, Ontario. In June 2015, when she was named to the Order of Canada, Mercédes Benegbi, a thalidomide victim and the head of the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada, praised Dr. Kelsey for showing strength and courage by refusing to bend to pressure from drug company officials, and said “To us, she was always our heroine, even if what she did was in another country.” Kelsey died in London, Ontario at the age of 101, less than twenty-four hours after Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, visited her home to present her with the insignia of Member of the Order of Canada for her role against thalidomide (died 2015): “[Richardson Merrell executives] were writing letters and telephoning. They were very anxious to get their product on the market. It had been very successful in other countries and they felt there would be a big market in this country. Then quite suddenly, the news came from Europe about the deformities.”

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