Comment Response on Race Relations and Ferguson Rioting

The following comment was left after my last blog, the first part of the question was easily answered in the previous blog comment, the second part of the question has had me pondering to such a degree that my response somewhat exceeds the scope of a simple comment.

I was just browsing through your weight wallpaper and wondered why it skips from week 17 to week 31, just curious. I was also wondering what your thoughts are on how the rioting in Ferguson will affect race relations in the St. Louis region and across the country.

There were two things that immediately came to mind regarding a response to this comment.  The first thing was that I haven’t necessarily seen the riots and protest going on as being specific to black/white race relations.  Although that may be a component, my perspective has seen the gist of protest as unfair treatment between law enforcement and the black community.   The main reason I haven’t seen the protest as being a purely black & white race issue is because I’ve always seen white people participating in the protest whether in Ferguson or the other main crowd of people which persisted in South St Louis city along Grand Avenue.

What really struck me when watching the overhead helicopter views of the crowds gathered in front of the police station in Ferguson was how few people actually showed up.  Reporters put the estimates at 400-500 people on South Grand and it didn’t look like much more than that in Ferguson.  This blog started as a running blog and as such, in the past year, I’ve ran in races with crowds ranging from 500 to close to 30,000 people with most of those runs being done in St Louis simply because that’s the area I’m from.   Even the Go! St Louis marathon with say, 10-15,000 people packs the roadways from curb to curb and goes on for miles.  The crowds in Ferguson weren’t anywhere close to that.

Ferguson is a little over 8 miles North/Northwest of St Louis city.  I live about 12 miles east of the city.  Collectively, both places make up what’s known as the Metro St. Louis Region.  The population of the St Louis Metropolitan Region is about 2.8 million.  This means that even if as many as 2,800 people showed up for the protest that we’re still only talking about 1/10th of 1% of the population.  This also means that about 99.9% of the people in this area did not participate in the protest.  However, about 100% of the news I saw the night the verdict to acquit officer Darren Wilson was ultimately focused on the destruction.  Here again, not all of the protesters caused damage to property, that was a subset of the protesters.  How many?  I don’t exactly know but, say 10% of that generous 2,800 figure participated in destroying property (280 people),  that would mean 99.99% of the population in this area did not destroy anything.

I remember reading about this incident the day it occurred from the St Louis Post Dispatch (via stltoday.com)  at that time the headline simply read “Ferguson Police Shooting”.   A few days later there was news & subsequently the video released of the robbery which occurred prior to the shooting.  Once the story went national, the headlines were pretty much homogeneous and were along the lines of, “Unarmed Teen Shot by Cop”

The 2nd thing I thought of in response to that comment was that I believe things are better today than they’ve ever been.  Keep in mind, the perspective here is of somebody who’s been around close to half a century.  I interact with people from the black community pretty much every day of my life and never really thought much about it but, after all that’s happened I was curious and a bit more aware of the possibility of my interactions being adversely influenced by these current events.  I would rank the demeanor of the people I encounter in this area to range between nice and extremely nice, with the majority being in that extremely nice category.

From personal experience, I think things were more tense in the 1970s.  I can recall incidents from that time of my life which I remember to this day which I would never classify as being nice.

Again, there is a perspective component to all this and I would argue that overall, things are better today than they’ve ever been.  Go back in time a little more to the 1960’s when you had Civil Rights and the riots in Watt’s.  What happened in Ferguson doesn’t even begin to compare to the destruction that happened in Watt’s, Los Angeles.

Then, go back to the 1940’s and 1950’s.  Back then you could still see segregated bathrooms, segregated water fountains & segregated restaurant seating.

Go back to the 1920’s.  I recently saw a program on the History Channel regarding the Ku Klux Klan which, in the 1920’s had a peak membership of over 4 million people and this is back when the population of the US as a whole was around 106 million.   Fast forward to the early 90s and with almost triple the population the membership level has dropped to between 6,000 and 10,000 active members.  Percentage wise, that’s a reduction of 99.75% (more if you factor in the increased population)

I’m not saying things these days are totally right, perfect or ideal …just better.

I would also hope that the overall trend of history will continue and things will continue to get better.

Anyway, that’s a pretty good fraction of my thoughts which were elicited by the comment.

 

These days, you have to be 18 to vote, 21 to drink so maybe …you should have to be at least 30 years old before being allowed to be employed in a position where part of your responsibility may include taking another human life.

I’m going astray from my original comment response thoughts but, the Michael Brown shooting occurred on August 9th and less than two weeks after that on August 19th, about 4 miles east of where Michael Brown was shot another man by the name of Kajieme Powell was shot and killed by St Louis police.  Unlike the Brown shooting there is full video available of Mr Powell being shot & killed.  Two things that stand out to me in that video is the fact that from the time the police SUV pulled up and first opened their doors until the first shots were fired is about 16 seconds.  The other thing is that I counted 9 shots being fired.  Some reports have cited anywhere from 10 to 12 shots so, maybe some shots audibly overlapped and I missed a couple.

If you watch the video, you’ll notice the police draw their weapons immediately after getting out of their vehicle.  From another stltoday.com article, I’ve read this is due to a 21 foot rule.  Studies have indicated that a physically fit individual with a knife can close 21 feet before an officer can get his gun out which, presumably was why the officers who shot Kajieme Powell pulled their weapons when they did because Mr Powell was holding a knife.

I don’t know anything about police training.  I do know a bit about human neurology and I have read, more than once, that the frontal lobes of the male brain aren’t fully developed until around age 25 (or “well into the third decade of life“) which is why I initially mentioned that age requirement.  The part of the brain we’re talking about is sometimes referred to as being the “executive decision making” part of the brain.  It’s where planning and impulse control take place and are among the last areas of the brain to develop.

If police can remember a 21 foot rule then maybe they could also implement a 2 shot rule.  Maybe once you’ve hit your suspect twice then police can be trained to stop, pause and think.  I don’t know what the stats are here but, Mr. Powell was shot at least 9 times and the last two shots fired were after Mr. Powell was already on the ground.

Dare I say retreat?  Mr Powell wasn’t holding a bazooka or an Uzi, it was a knife.  Maybe after a suspect is already hit twice by gunfire and while the stop, pausing and thinking portion is occurring the police could back off a few feet to help maintain their safety distance.  I’d like to see human life valued as much as possible.  Call it a Respectful Retreat for the sake of Human Life.

idk.  Like I said, zero police training on my part.  I recall in karate that we’re taught that an opponent may be on drugs or crazy and simply inflicting pain may be insufficient so physically breaking or killing the opponent may be necessary but we’re also taught the maxim, karate ni sente nashi, which means there is no first attack in karate.

From this layman’s outside perspective, shooting Mr Powell 9 times 16 seconds after arrival seems excessive.  I think people shot twice probably have a better chance of surviving than people shot 9 times.

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i freakin’ did it! :) 480!

In this blog

  • i freakin’ did it! – 480
  • humble pie
  • future plans

i freakin’ did it!

I guess there’s a story here but there also is much I’d rather not admit to.  The number of times it took me to finally pass my Part III board exam is one thing I’d rather not advertise.  I wish I could say “third times a charm!”  but … it was more like 5 times and possibly 6.

I hone in on my brother who didn’t even attempt Part III until after he graduated because he failed it on his first attempt but passed it on his second attempt.  So, if you don’t count all the attempts prior to graduation then, at least, I was able to emulate him.

Age is another matter I don’t really want to own up to so….hypothetically speaking ….it’s like I started this new adventure when I was still 41 years old and, after I get results for my Part IV exam which I’ll be taking in May of 2015 I …could be ,,,49.

Then things become a little surreal.  Have I actually spent a decade of my life in this pursuit? 20-25% …  and this is all post college.   As my brother described it before I started my attempt to become a DC, he said it was “balls to the wall” and, that may even be an understatement.

Humble Pie – sort of fits in with all this since I just finished up a week of reviews in preparation for my May 2015 exam.  Within minutes of the first day of reviews you realize you’re eating humble pie – within the first hour, you realize it’s more like a humble buffet that’s being forced down your throat.

The questions are rapid fire, like a machine gun.  Is body temperature increased or decreased with Graves disease?  Temperature?  Don’t we have a lab panel to look at?  I never thought of a simple vital sign pointing me in the direction of Graves disease, I think of exophthalmos – eyes bulging out, increased T3, 4, TSH …oh, OK, hyperthyroidism, I guess it would make sense that we’d have an increased temp but, by the time my 10-speed brain figures all that out I’m 3 questions behind and we’re talking about Thalassemia – …I just studied some anemias the other day, maybe I can feel a bit smug as opposed to stupid …not a chance.  I’m confusing Coombs (a test for Rh factor with Cooley’s Anemia which is a subset of Thalassemia.  Now I’m falling farther behind, feeling stupid, wondering if I even belong there.  It’s a trip – that much is certain.

That’s pretty much how the days go, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. save an hour for lunch.  We covered 2 years worth of radiology in a day and a half this past weekend.  At which point, I’m thinking the words ‘self torture’ and really don’t want to go back for any more.

Mock exams are Monday, the 27th of October – gotta show up for that.  These upcoming Part IV exams – one day is all radiology, the other consist of 25 different rooms filled with actors pretending to be patients with certain diseases.  We get a whole 5 minutes per room to ask questions and test accordingly after which time we move to another room and have 90 seconds to look over x-rays and lab results then need to come up with a diagnosis, differential dx, and appropriate case management & treatment.  I guess it’s not so bad but, this goes on for 3 hours straight.

The DC program is kind of like signing up for a slow death and you just need to graduate before it kills you.  And, other than the 20% or so that don’t make it to graduation after 15 semesters a few do die.  I remember one guy died from a heart attack one weekend when I was at school because, you know, 8 hours of classes along with clinic during the weekdays is never enough and the stress is very real.

The most self induced stressful times I’ve had this year have been at those reviews.  That’s when I’m reminded that we actually have three autonomic nervous systems.  Most everyone knows about the good old, fight or flight – that’s the sympathetic nervous system and is sort of like the bodies gas pedal.  Somewhat lesser known would be our parasympathetic nervous system which would be like our brakes or some say ‘wine & dine’ or even …poop & relax.  Probably the least well known autonomic nervous system would be our enteric nervous system which is made up of two subsets known as Aurebach’s and Meissner’s plexuses.  This system basically has to do with our gut.  and – without exception that’s where I feel a great deal of stress making itself known but, it also helps me make greater sense of various ailments such as enteropathic arthropathies and remembering to ask patients about various work and social aspects of their life to help gauge levels of stress in their lives.

March of this year was my first post graduation attempt at Part III and I failed it worse than any other time I attempted the exam with a very dismal score of 340.   A score of 375 is needed to pass Part III.  I did learn that we needed to have everything from Part II down cold and wholly memorized as a prerequisite for getting through Part III so I scheduled review sessions for Parts II, III and even a few PT reviews this past August.  Essentially 23 solid days of reviews in 3 different states – Iowa, Kansas and Missouri and averaged about 12 hours a day of worthwhile study.

Well – it freakin’ paid off!  A few days ago I checked to see when the scores might be available and to my surprise the website said results would be available Monday morning, 8 a.m. MST.

I crushed it!  Bested my previous score by 140 points and ended up getting a 480!

2014-10-27 14.11.43

There was a week between my last review session and that exam and that week was probably unduly stressful because I had to work every day leading up tot he exam – my fault,  for not requesting more days off but, I had already taken off nearly a month – still, I’d done enough to pass with flying colors! 🙂

In order to finally get though school, I had to break things up by first finishing all my classes then I focused exclusively on completing my clinics.  That strategy did work and got me to graduation.  However, a lot of the kids I talked with during this past week shared with me that they were in the process of finishing up their 2nd year of radiology with me – I have to go back about 3 years to when I finished and I realize, every day that passes between when all these classes ended and now all tends to make that humble buffet a little bigger every single day.

On the other hand, maybe it’s a bit like that Leitner method of memorization with spaced repetition and perhaps I can at least say I’m on my way to eventually consuming, digesting and assimilating that humble buffet.

I’ve got about 6 months before that exam.  I just need to up my game.

oh yeah – one of the last hotels I stayed at when prepping for my Part III retake didn’t have a desk, it barely had room for the bed so I spent a lot of time outside with a book and leaning on the balcony.  I spent so much time with my elbows on that balcony holding my books that I eventually wore the skin away on my elbows to the point of bleeding.  Study battle scares!  Good for the male ego and kind of funny.  About a week later my brother took a picture

2014-08-28 01.15.46 - Copy

well, not overly dramatic but, if you look closely you can still see the study scars 😉

Honestly, it was pretty emotional to see that score.  Anyway, I suppose that’s enough musing.

Time to look forward – There is one state in the country that allows you to get a license with Part III and that state is Illinois where I happen to live 🙂

and, with that license I can finally apply to test and become an NRCME! – Nationally Registered Certified Medical Examiner.

How long does it take to get a license…. (had to Google this)  looks like once I tic off 15 or so items the state requires and get everything sent in then I should have it within about 2 and a half months.  ….hmmmm, maybe by Valentines Day 🙂

Pondering 2015 – real possibilities include that license and a black belt in karate.  I think I’m signed up for 3 half marathons – 2 in April and one Rock n Roll in October.

I did play it a little smart and allocated some post-review time at my parents condo so I’ll have some time to get some plans in motion and figure out more for 2015 and, ideally not end up as sick and strung out on stress like I was after my last bout of reviews.

I did learn on that site I Googled that only 150 hours of CMEs (Continuing Medical Education) is needed each year, I thought it was 200 hours.  This will afford me some great opportunities.  I think one of the first things I’d like to go after is a diplomat (specialty) in Neurology.  A first step there will be searching out a former teacher by the name of Dr Bub!  🙂