Drexel’s Virtual Butt Draws National Attention — Again

Photo courtesy Dr. Benjamin Lok

Photo courtesy Dr. Benjamin Lok

Last week, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed on my phone, I kept seeing the same photo of a seated man with his gloved hand inside a plastic dummy’s butt. It looked like a CPR class gone terribly wrong. I didn’t read the accompanying articles because, well, there were other things to do. But when I was told today that the dummy had been developed, in part, by a professor at Drexel, I got interested. A Philly connection? I had to learn more. My priorities are in order.

Turns out, the photograph is of a medical student giving a virtual patient a prostate exam. It’s part of a project called the Virtual Patients Group, which includes computer scientists, medical doctors, pharmacists, psychologists, and educators all doing research and development into improving interpersonal skills in healthcare environments. They provide tools for medical school curricula and public health exhibits—tools like Patrick, pictured in the photo, a virtual human who is half-onscreen and half-mannequin. The interpersonal interaction with Patrick (voiced and controlled by an instructor) includes taking his history. When it comes time for the physical exam, the actual mannequin—which has sensors inside—allows the student to perfect the hands-on technique. This combination of onscreen virtual patient and mannequin for hands-on application is also in use for breast exams, another intimate scenario in which medical students need practice with bedside manner and a gentle, precise touch.

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Wildwood Cops to Parents: Stop Telling Kids We’ll Arrest Them

Wildwood Police Dept. - PSA

Wildwood patrolman Andrew Kolimaga stands in front of himself on the boardwalk at Glenwood Avenue. (Photo via Wildwood Police Department)

The Wildwood Police Department has a message for parents this summer: Don’t tell your kids the cops will send you to jail.

The WPD has put up several signs along the boardwalk that send this message to parents: “Please stop telling your children that we will haul them off to jail if they are bad. We want them to run TO us if they are scared… NOT be scared of US!” The signs are up on several shelters donated by In Plaza Advertising, which also did the artwork. Read more »

5 Years Ago Today, Roy Halladay Was Perfect

May 29, 2010; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (34) celebrates with catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) and Ryan Howard (6) after pitching a perfect game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium. Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Marlins 1-0 Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

May 29, 2010; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (34) celebrates with catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) and Ryan Howard (6) after pitching a perfect game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium. Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Marlins 1-0 Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I didn’t notice until the fifth inning.

I was actually at a hockey bar. Arthur Etchells had recommended it to me to watch Olympic hockey earlier that year, and the Flyers were opening the Stanley Cup Finals that night. T.A. Flannery’s was the kind of bar where the regulars swore the Guinness there was the best pint in the city. “My dad’s very Catholic, and he always had a firearm behind the bar,” said actress Kate Flannery (Meredith on The Office), whose grandfather founded the bar. How fortunate I was to be in such a great place to watch sports on such a special sports night.

It was a great scene. When Ville Leino scored first for the Flyers, the bar screamed in celebration. Butch Flannery gave everyone free shots. But as the hockey game continued — and the Flyers fell behind — our attention turned to baseball. Normally, it wouldn’t have: The Phillies were coming off consecutive pennants, and they were playing the Marlins. This was a win.

But as the first period ended, I checked my phone. No hits yet for the Marlins! We all played along with the baseball superstition and didn’t say the words “no hitter.” Eventually, the bar noticed it wasn’t just a no-hitter: It was a perfect game. We roared when we figured it out. Eventually, the TVs and the sound in the bar turned to the Phillies. The Flyers ended up losing that game (and the series), but we a pretty amazing consolation prize. Read more »

For the First Time, PSU “Facebook Frat” Whistleblower Speaks Out

Penn State students in March protest against Kappa Delta Rho.

Penn State students in March protest against Kappa Delta Rho.

For what appears to be the first time, the ex-member of Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho chapter who prompted a police investigation into the fraternity is speaking out publicly about his allegations.

James Vivenzio told the authorities in January that Kappa Delta Rho had operated two private Facebook pages where members posted photographs of nude, unconscious women, hazing and drug sales. Shortly thereafter, police filed an affidavit of probable cause detailing the alleged pages named “Covert Business Transactions” and “2.0.”

This week, Penn State announced that it is shutting down the local chapter for three years following its own investigation.

Vivenzio released a statement about the frat’s suspension through his lawyer, Aaron Freiwald, late Thursday: Read more »

Ruben Amaro’s Big Problem

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. not making a trade. Photo | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. not making a trade. Photo | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ruben Amaro Jr. has an affliction that baseball people, far and wide, and through decades of time, call the “red ass.”

It is not a physical, but mental condition where emotions get inflamed very quickly. In the case of Amaro, last week, his red ass came as a result of his professional competency being questioned by fans who he felt had no business questioning his competency.

After all, he’s the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s the one with the baseball pedigree. And you’re just a schmoe fan who watches the game from your Barcalounger with a bag of Doritos perched upon your ample stomach. See, that’s just the type of thing that would give an insecure guy like Amaro the red ass. Read more »

Will More Atlantic City Casinos Close?

Resorts - Trump Taj

Resorts and the Trump Taj Mahal were the only two Atlantic City casinos that posted operating losses for the first quarter of 2015. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Atlantic City’s casinos recently reported a bit of good news: Gross casino operating profits more than doubled in the first quarter. The eight remaining casinos made $81.3 million — compared with $38.8 million in 2014.

Obviously, these numbers are skewed: In the first quarter of 2014, casinos had deep losses from Revel dragging down these numbers. But now that Revel and other struggling casinos (and the still-profitable Showboat) have closed, the situation has leveled out. Winter is not the easiest time for a resort town to turn a profit, and all but Resorts and the Trump Taj made money.

But obviously the news can’t be all good for AC’s casino industry. Speaking at the East Coast Gambling Conference on Wednesday, a Wall Street analyst said more casino closures were likely. Read more »

Acquitted Officers Won’t Get Parade Honor

philadelphia-narcotics-cops-corrected-940x540

Plans to honor six acquitted narcotics officers at a parade benefitting a police charity have been dropped after parade organizers came under criticism.

The officers — Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Linwood Norman — were part of the narcotics unit in the Philadelphia Police Department. All had been charged with RICO conspiracy, among other counts, and all were found not guilty this month after a federal trial. 

The annual Hero Thrill Show, which raises scholarship funds for the sons and daughters of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty, had planned on honoring the six at its annual parade. But those plans have been withdrawn by James J. Binns, CEO and president of the show. Read more »

Firefighters Say Engine Fleet Is Breaking Down

The Philadelphia Fire Department’s fleet of trucks and vehicles is increasingly fragile, firefighters say.

CBS Philly reports that the firefighters union provided the station with two months of maintenance records, from last summer. Over 60 days, 56 trucks and vehicles were taken temporarily out of service due to mechanical issues.

“The condition of the fleet has never been this bad,” union president Joe Schulle said. Read more »

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