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Sam Jacob
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On The Shoulders of Giants

♀ A sepia print of an Indian woman, a Japanese woman and a woman from Syria, dated 1885. What do they have in common? Extraordinarily, each was the first licensed female medical doctor in their country of origin. They were trained at the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania, the first of its kind in the country. This was a time before women had the right to vote. If they did attend college at all, it was at the risk of contracting "neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system” (according to Harvard gynecologist Edward H. Clarke). 

An all-woman medical school was first proposed in 1846, supported by the Quakers and the feminist movement. Dr. Ellwood Harvey, one of the early teaching faculty, daringly smuggled out a slave, Ann Maria Weems, dressed as a male buggy driver, from right outside the White House. With his reward money, he bought his students a  papier maché dissection mannequin. Eventually, poverty forced him to quit teaching, but he still helped out with odd jobs. What a magnificent man!  

Fate and fortune were to buffet Ms. Joshi's life. Married at age 9 to a man 11 years older, her husband turned out to be surprisingly progressive. After she lost her first child at age 14, she vowed to render to her "poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician". She was first offered a scholarship by a missionary on condition that she converted to Christianity. When she demurred, a wealthy socialite from New Jersey stepped in and financed her education. She is believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. I didn't arrive until 1983 ;)

Times were tough then. The fate of these three intrepid pioneers was a sad one. Joshi died of tuberculosis in India at the age of 21, without ever practicing. Fittingly, her husband sent her ashes back to America. Islambouli was not heard of again, likely because she was never allowed to practice in her home country. Although Okami rose to the position of head of gynecology at a Tokyo hospital, she resigned two years later when the Emperor of Japan refused to meet her because she was a woman. 

Times have changed. My own mother was married at the age of 13 to a man also 11 years her senior. My father recalls helping my mother with her geography homework in high school. She never did attend college, despite being a charismatic woman with quicksilver wit and efficiency. Little wonder then, when I was accepted into graduate school in the US, unmarried and 21 years young, my parents staunchly stood behind me against the dire predictions of friends and relatives ("She'll come back with a yellow haired American!" "Haven't you read Cosmopolitan magazine? They are all perverts there!"). Happily, I escaped perversion, earned my doctoral degree and even gained a supportive spouse of my own. In 2004, I became only the 103rd woman to be promoted to Professor in the 111-year history of the Johns Hopkins medical school, and the first in my department, the oldest Physiology department in the country. If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants

#STEMwomen   #ScienceEveryday  

More reading: http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-07-15/historical-photos-circulating-depict-women-medical-pioneers
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Northern State Parkway, Long Island, NY
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Thoughts on Gun Violence, Gun Control, and Safety 

As the Gun Control discussion continues to swirl… I find the discussion doesn't really touch on the real reason we, as thoughtful Americans on both sides, can so deeply disagree about what kind of guns should be legal or whether guns should be legal at all. I think, the argument is not about guns… It's about a Rural vs Urban view on security. I see side comments on the subject but no one really delving into the underlying issue that permeates the entire conversation. After watching Erin Burnett on OutFront discuss this topic with David Frum... I had to write something :)

For some background, I spent half my life living in rural Pennsylvania. I fired my first gun at 5, owned my first gun at 10 and fired my first automatic weapon at 15. I loaded my own ammo and hunted with rifles, pistols, shotguns, bows and flintlocks.  The second half of my life has largely been spent in urban areas - Denver/Boulder, Colorado and the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and Petaluma). I have barely shot a gun since I left the country. 

As a "metro-redneck", I find my background provides a somewhat unique perspective at how these two different groups, rural and city dwellers, view guns and why there is such a gap in opinions that leads each to think that the other is crazy. Of course, neither are crazy… they just can't see the other side of the equation. 

In the city, while gun ownership is much lower, gun violence is much higher. You have a more compressed society and more opportunities for conflict. You also have gangs and other elements of crime that are more prevalent. The danger of guns is very real. You have a large population without guns that are afraid of the criminals with guns. You rarely see guns being used in self defense. You more often see youth dead on the street after a gun fight.

In the country, you have a much lower level of gun violence and a fairly low level of violent crime. Part of this is because people are spread out and you can ignore those you don't like. Also everyone is armed. Everyone. Where I grew up, a typical house has a pistol, a shotgun and a few rifles. Rifles and shotguns are used for hunting, pistols are used for self defense. You don't see as much random violence… which is generally the source of real fear.

In the city, generally, the police reaction time is fairly fast. Here in Petaluma (where I live now), a call to 911 will put a car outside our house in less than 3 minutes (I've called). City police are hardened and experienced. They are organized and tend to "swarm" an active crime site.

In the country, there might be 1 police officer covering 10-20 square miles. And he's often only hired for part time duty. You don't know when the police will show up or how they will react… as they very rarely need to do more than talk to people or hand out speeding tickets. In the country, you assume you will need to sort out the issue yourself.

I once sat next to an ATF agent on a flight and asked him what he thought of the gun laws. His response was, "The real problem is that we're not enforcing the laws we have." He continued, "The average law enforcement response time for 50% of Americans is over 20 minutes… that's too long to not be able to protect yourself."

In the city, large clips and assault rifles are a real issue for law enforcement. When they show up at a crime scene, they have to contend with the possibility that the person will be as well armed (if not more so) than they are. This slows their response time as they call for back up and gather intel. Gun registration is important to them because they want to know what they are most likely stepping into.

In the country, guns are the ultimate equalizer. They protect the woman from the man, the small man from the large man, the single homeowner from a group. In the rare instance someone comes to a house in the country for mischief, they are rarely foolish enough to come alone (there is a saying "Trespass in someone's backyard and you may end up in their garden.") If they come, they come in groups. Folks in the deep rural areas are very sensitive to the ability to fend off not one intruder, but many. Are these situations rare? Absolutely. But so are mass shootings and we're trying to figure out how to stop those. In the country, people think about these things.

In the city, you don't admit you have a gun. We saw the upset around the publishing of registered gun users in New York. City dwellers don't want to worry the neighbors … who might think you are some kind of crazy gun nut, a gang banger or a hick.

In the country, you would never admit that you didn't have a gun. People have signs like "Insured by Smith and Wesson" or "Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be prosecuted." And you don't particularly like the idea that neighbors would not be armed. Like vaccination, everyone being armed makes the entire area safer. And while you want people to know you are armed, you don't want them to know how well you are are armed. And, you especially don't want the government to know what you have… as the potential for taking your arms leaves you defenseless. 

City folk view country folk as uneducated, uncultured and uncouth. Country folk view city folk as weak, without common sense, and unable to take care of themselves. 

The city dwellers see the need for centralized organization of core services as there are so many that need support. HUD and other welfare provide an important net for the population and actually serve to keep crime down. 

In the country, folks that get welfare assistance are often seen as the only source of crime in the county… whether that is true or not. Some feel that if there wasn't federal welfare, those people would go somewhere else. (BTW… this is not a racist view, in Pennsylvania… as most of the people in question, in rural areas, are white). It's not a matter of fact… just impression.

In the city, the need for and impact of the government is readily seen and accepted by most. You can't run a city without a government. In the country, you feel like you are running without oversight. There is only a tacit trust of the government that does exist and there is always an underlying feel that … eventually, they're going to have to overthrow Washington if the city folk push too much of their craziness on everyone.

These are all generalizations, there is a wide variety of views in the city and the country… but I think these opinions are what drive the conversation. This post isn't about what should be done about Gun Control… it's just an attempt to show how the apparent insane attitudes of each side (to the other) make sense in their own context. This is country that is split between city and rural. We need to look at both sets of needs if we're going to find a federal solution.

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