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Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day


Happy Birthday, Charlie! Look for the fireworks heading your way. Paper lanterns, too. Just like every year...

It's a party.

pH 5.29.17


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Let's Do the Numbers (Again)

If you view this blog in the web version, you will find a survey on the lower right side of the page, right above the picture of the starving cat. It asks,

"A body is found at the base of a cliff. No witnesses. What should a Medical Examiner conclude?" The options: Accidental, Undetermined, Homicide, Suicide or Not the ME's Call.

There's no rush to beat the buzzer or anything, just notice the results, from an admittedly small sample. Most people would call it Undetermined. A good portion say Accident. A fraction believe Homicide; a larger fraction didn't think it was the ME's call.

Nobody says Suicide. Zero percent.

I ran several similar polls on Twitter last year, using the same scenario, but not including the option about the ME's call. Suicide registered a statistical blip is all, with the vast majority of respondents divided between Accidental and Undetermined.

I can tell (call it researcher's intuition) that this makes sense to you. NSA guys can actually see you, through your camera, nodding your head in agreement as you read it... We know this.

It should make sense to you because it is the result of thousands of family tragedies that are broken down into raw data every year. So let's confirm your gut feeling with some numbers - again.

Start with 100,000 people, all kids age 14 and younger. Almost enough to fill The Big House at a University of Michigan football game. Just one of them will intentionally kill himself or herself. That's 1/1,000th of 1%.

Two out of three times, that child is a female.

In half of those suicides, drugs were either contributory or causative.

Only one in four will use suffocation/strangulation as their method of suicide - and that is nearly universally done in a clandestine manner.

Minorities or kids in poor neighborhoods are more likely. The top of the age range in this group is 14 years, and the incident rates drop significantly by the year... All of this, we know.

Charlie was a White boy, barely 12, with no drugs in his system when he died in his front yard while playing on a years-old "Tarzan"-style rope. No witnesses to the act. No suicide note. None of the well-known societal red flags.

White. Boy. 12. No drugs. Out in the open.

The chances of his death being a suicide are less than 1/4 of 1/2 of 1/3 of 1/1000th of 1 percent. It's something that simply has never happened before, not here, or anywhere else you can find.

Another, more plausible, statistic: Accidents are the leading cause of death in all children 14 and younger... This, too, we know.

But here in Kalamazoo, why, the government tends to view these things in any way that suits their purposes. No matter who it harms. Their motto here: Ready, Fire, Aim.

It is hysterically obvious by now that ME Joyce deJong got it wrong. A far better pathologist than her explained carefully to my sister the official (read: Legal) manner used to determine cause of death: Scene investigation, which they botched, toxicology results, which they didn't get back until 3 weeks later (100% clean at that) and police reports which they didn't even bother to have mailed to them until May of the following year.

When called to account, they said they based their horrifyingly irresponsible bullshit also on letters from concerned citizens - which the ME apparently did not read - and from, well, my blog.


I sure do miss Charlie. I wonder sometimes what it might have been like, to grieve normally, instead of having to do this. My dirty job.

Someday, though, I believe I will see him again, and together we will look down at this cruel little place, and we'll laugh and laugh, until our tears fall like rain. My big belly guffaw will roll down as the thunder. And Charlie's delighted cackle will crackle with the lightning... This, above all else, we know.

pH 5.17.17


Monday, May 8, 2017

Top Ten Reasons NOT to Attend WMed

Does anybody else out there miss David Letterman? Many people do. It's not that Stephen Colbert (Dave's replacement) is an inferior comedic talent, or that his ears aren't lined up straight, or his propensity to be vulgar when talking about Donald Trump... For me, it was The Top Ten List that put Letterman over the top.

Here, then, are my Top Ten Reasons NOT to Choose WMed as Your Medical School:

10. Low Ratings. This stuff matters more now that we have a reality TV star running our country. If you can't be Number One, then you'd better be a close second... Last time I checked, WMed was ranked 147th in the United States. That's pretty unimpressive, if you think about it. Statistically speaking, that means that 49 other states each have 3 better medical schools than WMU's Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine.

9. High Tuition. Compared to other medical schools, $46,000 tuition is considered to be quite elevated, and you know these things only go up. Moreover, since it is a private school, I'm pretty sure no local students would be able to use the Kalamazoo Promise as financial assistance in getting a degree from WMed... Perhaps one of their 50-odd students could clarify that for us in the Comments section below.

8. Terrible Weather. That's no secret. Look, it's now the 2nd week in May. The overnight low last night was below freezing across the entire state... They don't just call this place The Big Mitten because it's easily recognizable on the map.

7. The Campus Seems to be Cursed. The private medical school, while technically a nonprofit (whose Dean makes $400,000 a year), sits on the campus at Western Michigan University here in Kalamazoo. Yes, the Broncos had a great football season last year, then the coach rowed his boat on over to the University of Minnesota (likely for favorable climate). But it's not just that. In 2014 and in 2015, teenage girls were found dead in WMU dorm rooms for no physically obvious reasons. Both were ruled "cardiac arrest".

6. The Faculty is Often in Court. The ongoing civil rights lawsuit brought by David Ferris II against WMed's Joyce deJong (among others) also embroils deputy ME Rudy Castellani, who also heads up WMed's Neuropath department. Dozens of defense motions have been filed, and hundreds of exhibits have been dumped on Judge Robert Jonker's desk, in a tired old bid to delay the trial into chronological oblivion.

5. Dean Hal Jenson is a Mormon (Probably). In fairness to myself, I'm not banging on his, or anyone's, faith. But if he tithes to his church, then a portion of your tuition money heads that way, too. Maybe that kind of thing matters to you, maybe it doesn't. I'm just covering all the bases, that's all.

4. Too Much on Their Plate. It's hard enough, one might think, just to effort along as the nation's 147th ranked medical school, but actually WMed has a lot going on. For instance, half of their M.E. staff is also on the board of MAME, the Michigan Association of Medical Examiners. Joyce deJong logs time as an expert witness from case to case. This county contractor also offers pediatric care, ironically enough. And they are under contract to provide forensic pathology services not only to Kalamazoo County, but almost every other county in West Michigan, and Elkhart County in Indiana as well.

3. WMed is Not LCME Accredited! Nope, not yet... When we filed our complaint against WMed with the LCME in my nephew Charlie's case, they seemed very interested in all those county contracts to perform forensic pathology services. If WMed's accreditation to be a medical school is hung up, they can blame us. We can take it.

2. High Turnover? Ask former Compliance Officer and Associate Dean of Finance Tom Zavitz about that - if you can find him.

1. Charlie Wolf. My sister's little boy, as delightful and happy a kid as I ever did see, died in a tragic accident while playing in his front yard in July of 2015. The psychotic gun-nut that WMed sent to our house that night, Kai Cronin, falsely ruled it a suicide. WMed's chief "investigator", Lyin' Jo Catania, tried to sweep it under the rug. Even though we've proven all of that, the heartless bastards refuse to make it right.

Go find a good medical school, aspiring pupil... For this one is so very far beneath you.

pH 5.o8.17


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Headlines and Deadlines

The following are the actual headlines from local news stories that chronicle the years of ham-handed dysfunction at the county level in Kalamazoo, Michigan... No wonder we can't get anywhere with them; they're just a hot mess.

(Clicking on the headline itself will take you to the article.)

In Kalamazoo County, complaints surface about timely delivery of absentee ballots 



Sheriff's deputy gets $200,000 in breast pumping case 


Okay, that's probably enough. Clearly, better must be done by Kalamazoo County... The chances are you've never even heard of it before, so all you may know about it is this.

It is a nice place to live. The people here are good. But we suffer from terrible civil administration, which I suppose is logical, because we just can't attract that much blue-chip talent around here... Not like this.

So, look. I'm from here, but I haven't been here my whole life. I came up out of Maricopa County in Arizona. It covers over 9,000 square miles, home to the 5th largest city in the United States.

It used to make the national news more, back when Joe Arpaio was Sheriff. You know, Joe Arpaio, America's toughest lawman? Tent City, pink underwear, green bologna, women chain gangs, dead inmates, immigration sweeps, Obama's birth certificate. You remember.

Where's Sheriff Joe now? Things can change. They do change.

If you are just now discovering Kalamazoo County through this blog, then here is what I hope you take away from it:

Don't come here. Don't spend your money here. Don't go to school here. Don't look for a job here. Don't buy or rent a home here. Don't raise your kids here.

Until things change.

pH 5.o2.17