capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I came to the realization, the other day, that YouTube is kind of taking up the "Ecological Niche" that Usenet, used to, years ago, in that it allows people to wander in and find discussions of ideas, or artistic pieces, or random silliness (i.e. cats!) and then join in the discussions via the comment threads or video responses.*

So I think that's one reason why I want to make a video of some sort on the power of storytelling, and the importance of Bechdel-like tests for under-and-misrepresented populations (specifically, the Disabled, but also P.O.C., trans*-folk and the like): There's more of a chance for the message to reach beyond the choir, so to speak.

Really, I want to answer this question (which I posed/posted the other day):

"What's the link between A) proverbial "rose colored glasses," B) the tendency for tragic literature to be taken more seriously than happy literature, C) the use and misuse of 'creative visualization,' and D) Storytelling?"

I have a sense the answer, but I want to tighten it up so that it can fit into a video that's no more than 6 minutes.

So, here goes (a bullet-pointed list to help start sorting out my thoughts) -- feedback welcome: )

...I did not expect this post to take all day... But it did (three hours). Why (well there were breaks for food and bathroom, but still)?


*...The only problem is that there's still a technological gate and lock there, because many people still do not have broadband, or are accessing the Internet through their phones, which makes broadband prohibitively expensive (Was discussing this with [livejournal.com profile] pendanther in regards to a venue for a 50th anniversary special of the Pro-Fun Hoedown, maybe, and why the hoedowns/round robins flourished like kudzu on Usenet, but fizzled as an LJ community).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Even though "Geek & Sundry" is a professional, for-profit YouTube Channel, I have to share these recent videos of theirs.

Remember, how, yesterday evening, I was remarking how I'd turned into a gloomy, Serious Business so-and-so?

Well, G&S came to my rescue. Last night, they posted a bonus video of Felicia Day and Robin Thorston making candy versions of "sushi" ... and that prompted me to get into a brief exchange with another user in the comments about our favorite flavor combinations, especially around candy and ice cream...

Then, this afternoon, they posted this music video by Paul and Storm. I'm not even a Game of Thrones fan, and I still had to watch it four times in a row... and kept finding new things to laugh at.

And I know several people in my circles are fans of the series, so:

capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
This is something that's been fermenting in my brain, lately, that I have not gotten around to posting (I don't think? If I have, please excuse the repeat):

---
An adherent to the Medical Model believes that "eliminating disability" means curing or treating all the symptoms.

Whereas an adherent to the Social Model (specifically Yours Truly) believes that "eliminating disability" means:

"Allowing all people the freedom to do everything they can do, without shaming them for what they can not do.

Now, that light bulb clicked on a few weeks ago. This morning a second light bulb clicked on regarding the definition of "Shaming":

The noun "Shame" is the emotional pain you feel when you believe (either correctly or incorrectly) that something you've done, or something you are, is Wrong.

The (transitive) verb "To Shame" is what other people do when you don't feel pain about what you've done, or who you are, but they feel you should, so they do everything in their power to convince you to change your mind. And it takes a lot of practice and a good circle of kith and kin (mostly kith) to withstand all that.

I, for example (as my kith know), feel no shame about my disability. But even so, I cannot deny that this visit to our local fine art museum was a fine example of "shaming, the (transitive) verb":

A visit to the Chrysler Museum [yes, the same people as the car company], January 23, 2008 [originally posted to my LJ the next day] )
---
And no, for the record, I have not gone back since.

It's that social shaming that makes "The Disabled" a distinct (i.e. second -- or third) Class within the society, and what makes Disability an Issue to Deal with instead of just a Difference to Live with.

And eliminating that class distinction within human cultures is what the Social Model of Disability Means to Me...
capriuni: Illustration of M. Goose riding a gander; caption reads: Beware the magic of words (mother goose)
Just a word or two on word choices (because it's something I've been thinking about, these past few weeks, and that's what these journal thingies are for, right?):

There are those (many, most, nearly all, maybe I'm the odd one out...) who see words like "crippled" and "lame" to refer to people with physical (especially mobility-related) disabilities as unequivocally derogatory, like the N# word, or the R# word.

A year and a bit ago, when I started collecting folktales and other pre-modern literature featuring disabilities, I knew I was going to come across these two particular words a lot. And I had a decision to make: do I reproduce these words faithfully, as they appear in the original (or translations of the original)? Or should I bowlderize them, and replace the offending words with "Mobility impaired," "couldn't/can't walk," etc.

Now, as an English Major, and lover of the Humanities, I can't abide bowlderization. ...after all, the words are part of the history, and the history is part of the understanding, and understanding is crucial to finding justice.

So I made a conscious decision to keep those words in each story as I find them.

And after that, I found I was no longer offended by the words themselves, but only as they've ended up being used in the generations through which I've lived (yes, by now, I've lived through multiple generations -- I'm surprised by this, too).

Used as a simple descriptive word for human being who crawls more easily than s/he/ou walks upright, "crippled" (from the same root as "creep," and "crawl") is no more derogatory than "Wheelchair-" or "Crutch-User") --

Except this same word has been used extensively (or even mostly) to refer to things that aren't even human -- an example:

"The wide-spread power outage on the East Coast today crippled Internet trading, and the Stock Market fell seventy points."

So, then, the word, which once was used as a simple descriptor (even self-descriptor) in literature of the past, has become "Dehumanizing" because it's been used to describe every thing that's ever been broken. And people are not things, and people don't break (in the same way cars do).

So -- in light of that, I've decided to refer to myself as "crippled" and/or "lame," because, by their first meanings, that's what I am. I will, however, take a ten-mile word detour (if I have to) to avoid applying either of these words to any abstract thing (like the stock market, or Government) or inanimate object.

Does this make any sense?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From the Grimm Anthology of Household Tales:

Rapunzel (for the young king's period of blindness)

The story of the young boy who went forth to learn about fear (Popular [mis]understandings of Asperger Syndrome)

Cinderella (for the blinding of the two stepsisters going to and coming from the wedding [and also, possibly, the mutilation of their feet]?)

The Seven Ravens, and The Six Swans, and The Twelve Brothers (for muteness, as in Mary's Child [posted on December 15, 2011])

Goose-Girl at the Well (For the fear of disability that comes with age / the "use" of disability to test the hero)

The Gifts of the Little People (for Hunchbacks)

The Two Travelers (sacrificing eyes in trade for food, as in the Welsh tale The Squirrel and the Fox [posted July 15])

Thumbling as Journeyman (A different version of Thumbthick [posted April 24])

*sigh* making links is taking too long; will just post titles from here on out
---
From Hans Christian Andersen:

The Little Mermaid (muteness and painful walking)

The Ugly Duckling (?) [Not sure about this one, actually. Disability isn't actually mentioned in the story itself, but it's now associated with disability / illness because in the Danny Kaye musical biopic of Andersen, he tells it (sings it) to a sick boy to cheer him up when the healthy schoolboys tease him -- and it does highlight the issue, in any case, of being the "odd one out" in your own family]

The Cripple (a peasant boy becomes suddenly paralyzed [reference to polio before it was named as such?] and after receiving a book of fairy tales as a charitable gift one Christmas, spends his time reading it, and earns a scholarship at a prestigious university after showing his genius interpreting the stories for others. Really!!]

(can I just say I have a troubled fan-relationship with Andersen? I'm totally with him on the power of storytelling in general, and wonder tales in particular, but his ableism and misogyny (not to mention his Protestant obsession with sin and evil spirits) make me want to pull my hair out, sometimes. I'd love to borrow a TARDIS to go back and have a good sit-down debate with him about this. Perhaps over tea.)

Various and Sundry (literature):

Robert Browning's verse telling of The Pied Piper of Hamlin (for the lame boy who stays behind)

Clara, in Heidi

Colin, in The Secret Garden

Shakespeare's Richard III (and Sigmund Freud's literary/psychological critique of same)

Caliban, in The Tempest (yes, one popular interpretation of his character is that he represents P.O.C.. But he's also described in-text as a "moon-calf" -- i.e. someone born with deformities, and, like Hephaestos in one myth, attempts to rape the woman of his desire)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Dead-Eye Dick in H.M.S. Pinafore (Ambiguous, though; it's not entirely clear whether he's blind in one eye, as his name suggests, or if he's just ugly, and therefore despised by his shipmates)

---
To be continued....
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Thanks to [personal profile] trouble for the heads-up:



This video has no audio, but it does have closed captions in English.

(BTW, I'm thinking up some Deaf support ideas for my Zazzle inventory.... maybe illustrations of the signs for "language" in many different signed languages?

And yes, I signed the petition... and left a comment (In English... maybe if the Italian officials get the idea that they're seen as backward by people around the world, that will sway their opinion? That's what finally drove Chinese foot-binding out of favor...)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Today's XKCD featured an image of a TV with manual dials, and the image of Count from Sesame Street, saying these words:

"One! ah-ah-ah!
Two! ah-ah-ah!
Many! ah-ah-ah!"

The caption under the image reads: "Primative cultures develop Sesame Street."

Hovering your mouse over the image reveals this alt-text:

(quote) Cue letters from anthropology majors complaining that this view of numerolinguistic development perpetuates a widespread myth. They get to write letters like that because when you're not getting a real science degree you have a lot of free time. Zing! (unquote)


This exchange between [livejournal.com profile] khalinche and [livejournal.com profile] nine_muses sums up, quite nicely, my problem with the main cartoon, regarding the display of racism and First World Privilege (disclaimer: I pipe up at the end of that thread).

But what really makes me sad is the alt-text. Not that I think the hurt feelings of anthropologists matter more than the real hurt endured by PoC.

But it's the alt-text's subtext:

Randall Monroe is saying: Yeah. I know this will anger a lot of people. But those people don't matter. Isn't it funny how they vent their anger, and show how stupid they are? Let's all laugh at them. Aren't I clever?

In other words, he's admitting to being a (nasty) troll. I like him better when he's rejoicing in the things he admires, instead of trying to cut down whatever he doesn't. I hope he remembers those joyful things, soon, and gets back to them.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
This is a repost from of an entry I orginally wrote in my LiveJournal, October 13, 2004 ("The Days of Yore," in Internet Years), so I offer no promises that all of the links at the end will still work.

I started thinking about this post again, yesterday -- specifically the paragraph I've put in boldface -- the one that starts: "Almost as soon as he started his advocacy campaign, I started to envision a future world ..."

Because, lo and behold, thanks to Script Frenzy, I'm now working to write my vision of that alternate world.




Christopher Reeve -- My thoughts, such as they are. )



Footnote, Afterword, Post Script, What-you-may-call-it:

Here's a link to Christopher Reeve's Speech at the 1996 Democratic National Convention (Full Transcript found at the official Christopher Reeve Homepage).

This is the specific passage that gave me the willies, and planted the seed in my head of a dystopian world that claimed to have cured all Mankind's ills:

(Quote)
Research can provide hope for people who suffer from Alzheimer's. We have already discovered the gene that causes it. Research can provide hope for people like Muhammed Ali and the Reverend Billy Graham, who suffer from Parkinson's. Research can provide hope for Americans like Kirk Douglas, who suffer from stroke. We can ease the pain of people like Barbara Jordan, who battled multiple sclerosis. We can find treatments for people like Elizabeth Glaser, whom we lost to AIDS. And now that we know that (nerves in) the spinal cord can regenerate, we are on the way to getting millions of people around the world, millions of people around the world like me, up and out of these wheelchairs.

Now, 56 years ago, F.D.R. dedicated new buildings for the National Institutes of Health. He said that, "The defense this nation seeks involves a great deal more than building airplanes, ships, guns, and bombs. We cannot be a strong nation unless we are a healthy nation."
(Unquote)


Alzheimer's, stroke, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis (among many other diseases and conditions) are all difficult to live with, and sometimes painful. It's not the call for research for cures that bothers me.

What bothers me is the pairing of National Strength with Bodily Health, all tied up in a great big shiny bow made of airplanes, ships and guns. It's the machismo of the whole thing, with "The Disabled" forced into the role of "Perpetual Burden," because our presence in the family portrait sullies the Superman persona America wishes it could embody.

And as much as I want this current version of the Health Care Reform to pass (Which was the main thrust of Reeve's speech, back then), this shadow side of the debate still bothers me.

---
Oh, and if you want to have fun with your Disability!Inspiration Bingo Cards, check out the Tributes page on Christopher Reeve's Homepage...

*facepalm*

(oh, and sorry for the weird posting of this about 3 hours ago. I accidently hit "Enter" when I meant to hit "Shift" So the thing posted before I'd even written my first sentence.... argh.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Hephaestos)
There is a cultural meme, out there, that the whole idea of Disability, as a concept, and a legitimate part of the Spectrum of Human Existance, simply Did Not Exist before the vague threshold of "Modern Times" -- that, way back in the grim and depressing "Ancient Times," babies who were unlucky enough to be born too early, or too small, or too deformed, were simply left outside to die, and nobody gave another thought to their existance.

My own mother made such an argument to me, on at least one occasion (though in less blunt language), when I'd complain about the unfairness of people's biases against me, the gist of it all being: "Well, at least you survived!"

But. As a counter-argument, I offer the Greek god Hephaistos: the god of metalcraft, intricate technology, sculpture and art (including jewelry). He was one of the twelve Olympian Gods -- one of the biggies -- and he was lame, crippled, a gimp.

Since the Greek gods, with all their strengths, foibles, raging jealousies, graces and virtures, were mirrors of human life, raised by exponential powers, how can it be that the ancient Greeks conceived of a disabled god, if there were no disabled mortals living among them? Huh -- huh?! Answer me that!

Sigh. The answer often is: "Well, okay. But 'crippled' didn't mean the same thing to them that it does to us. He just had a club foot, and walked with a bit of a limp, is all. But it's not anything you'd really notice from a distance."

Okay then. Take a look at this scene from Greek mythology (compiled from a variety of sources, including The Illiad and The Oddessy), from Hephaistos' page at WWW.Theoi.com (emphasis mine):

(Quote) On that occasion he offered a cup of nectar to his mother and the other gods, who burst out into immoderate laughter on seeing him busily hobbling through Olympus from one god to another, for he was ugly and slow, and, owing to the weakness of his legs, he was held up, when he walked, by artificial supports, skilfully made of gold. (Unquote)


And take a gander at this Archaic Greek vase painting -- from about 2,500 years ago:

The Greek god Hephaestos, holding his smith's hammer, sits in a wheeled chair with bird-like wings and a tail.  The chair is decorated with cranes' heads, including those arranged much like push handles on modern wheelchairs.


Either that's a depiction of assistive technology for the mobility-impaired, or I'm a three-headed donkey (who speaks fluent French)!

I have mixed feelings about decorating my assistive technology with shiny stickers, because I don't want to give anyone the idea that I am childish in any way, or that my tech is something that should be disguised. However, I am seriously considering making some shiny stickers from this image.

One: I could use it as a conversation piece / teachable moment motivator to remind people that disability has been a part of the human condition for as long as there has been a human condition, and it's not going away, no matter how advanced our medicine gets.

Two: Honoring the God of "Tech so Fancy, it May As Well be Magical" certainly can't hurt in protecting my favorite piece of Fancy Tech from breaking down.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
(Cross-posted from the LJ community "Dot_Gimp_Snark")

Your son, Haley, has dyslexia and ADHD, and so, inspired by him, and his love of Greek myths, you created a fictional hero in his image, and made those two conditions symptoms of Divine Parentage.

Not wanting to leave out those with more visible disabilities, you have his best friend, Grover, walk with arm-cuff crutches. Not because he has any difficulty walking, but only to hide the fact that he's actually a satyr, and has goat legs, and he doesn't need his crutches at all, except as weapons for fighting with bad guys. Oh, no, that won't cause any trouble for real kids with arm-cuff crutches, and other kids wanting to take them and play with them, not at all. And Mr. Brunner, Percy's teacher? You have him hiding the fact that he's a centaur by putting him in a motorized wheelchair, that looks superficially like mine. I guess I have you and Chris Columbus to thank for adding that special dose of "freak out" for a little girl I encountered as we both left the theater after the closing credits.

... Gee, not only are people with disabilities accused of "faking it," all the time, in real life, you've now created a world where they're faking being human, even.

Way to go. How wonderfully special of you.

(Note: I did give the movie based on your book a positive review, but that was, in part, because I was so tired of it getting compared to Harry Potter. I have whole other levels of snark for clueless critics on the subject of tweener fantasy novels. But I'll save that for another time).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
This is something I recently posted as a reply to [personal profile] trouble,*

(Quote) You know, this summer, when I started watching ASL vlogs on YouTube, it was mostly just to remind myself what basic signs looked like (did I remember the difference between "EXCUSE-ME" and "EASY," for example).** And what I stumbled upon instead was a veritable cultural revolustion. ...I've kind of gotten sucked in.

You see, there are these massive aggregate sites (or they were massive, earlier this year) for Deaf vlogs and blogs, called "DVTV" (Deaf Video TV) and DeafRead, both run by one guy. But, apparently, Deaf users were getting upset by the number of people coming on spouting audist (like racist for the ear) sentiments, and were asking this guy to put statements condemning audism, disablism and homophobia in his user guidelines (sound familiar? might be something in the air...). And so far, he's refused. So people are leaving, and just posting their stuff directly to YouTube.

So -- the Tube is full of discussions of what Deafhood is, and what Audism is (and I've been watching the switch from fingerspelling the latter to back and forth discussions on how that should be signed***). It's kind of like watching the Protestant revolution around the time the printing press became a viable means of communication. Rather exciting. (Unquote)


Anyway, I've also seen references to "Hearing culture," which is an aspect of my cultural view-point I'd not considered before. But now that it's been brought to my attention, I can't stop wondering about it.

The thing about (neurotypical) humans is: we think in language. And the thing about heard languages is that we can hear a sound, or receive a message, and have no idea where it's coming from. If someone shouts "Fire!" in a crowd, we run -- we don't care who's shouting, or why.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of lying awake in my bed at night, listening to my parents talking and laughing downstairs in the kitchen, and drifting off to sleep to that, comforted that I was not alone.

On the other hand, this weekend, I kept hearing an excited man's voice through my bedroom window, off in the distance. I couldn't make out what he was saying, whether he was close and unamplified, or speaking far away through a loudspeaker. I couldn't tell if he was simply enthusiastic, or furious at someone. And it kept going on. And it was making me nervous.

...And then, there are the proverbial "things that go bump in the night."

The thing about heard/spoken language is that:

A) it can come to us through the air in a "disembodied" way, and:

B) it travels directly to our emotional, limbic, centers of the brain (via the tone of voice, before the left temperal lobe gets down to work on it) -- reason is not strictly necessary.

But in seen/signed languages, the message is always embodied in the messenger -- to take part in a discourse, you must look the messenger in the eye.

So here're a couple of the questions that've been rattling 'round in my brain for the last week or so:

1) "If Plato had been Deaf, and a native signer, would he have come up with the doctrine of the Real Vs. Ideal?

2) "Is it the disembodied quality of speach (and thereby, thought) in "hearing culture", that has led to the whole mind/body dualism that dominates religious thought, and plagues our medical system?"

...Haven't come up with any answers, yet. But I think the questions are interesting.

(and one of the neighbor's dogs is barking hysterically... again).



*Her post is here: I'm supposed to be marking more midterms

**No, I did not. EASY and ALMOST are closer to being a minimal pair than EASY and EXCUSE-ME, and I'd gotten the three of them switched around in my head -- Though to be fair to myself, all three use the same Bent B handshape.

***Which is an indication that it's shifting its position in the language from a piece of foreign-language-based jargon to having its own culturally-embedded meaning.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I recently discovered that the last full week in September (that is, from the last Sunday to the last Saturday) is Deaf Awareness Week. So I've been holding back on (some of) my Sign Spam until now. And now, I'm going to throw down a double on you. :-)

Both vids have English captions. Both deal with what it's like to grow up as a Deaf child.

The first vid is in American Sign Language -- and it's an ASL translation of a poem written in English (the second half of the vid is just the words on a black background, so it's easier to read through).

The second Vid is a skit performed in British Sign Language (since that's what about half my f'list is familiar with), and it was posted as a video reply to Monty Python's "Four Yorkshiremen."

Oh, and remember my post from a bit back? About whether signed languages are abstract or iconic? Well, just one of many differences I noticed between the two languages shown here: The ASL sign for "DEAF" is the BSL sign for "HEARING."* And I bet you, dollars to donuts, that if you go to a tutorial for either language, both will carefully lay out obviously iconic reasons the sign means what it does...

Um... yeah.





*"Hearing" as an adjective, not a verb. As in: "Are you a hearing person or a deaf person?"
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I found a website that's up as a student resource for a particular curriculum in ASL (American Sign Language). The teacher's put up some pretty interesting stuff, including this brief (and, imnsho, chilling) history of signed languages in education: The Language of the Deaf.

I think I may want to do more research on that Milan Convention... But only when I'm in a resolutely cheerful mood, because otherwise, I'll either want to kill people, or go to bed with the covers pulled up for .... oh, I don't know ... maybe a year or so.

Anyway... that timeline of Signed Languages reminds me that I was going to a camp for handicapped children, when a) D/deaf* children were starting to be reclassified as handicapped, by government and social agencies,** b) Total Communication was just beginning to replace strict oralism, and c) I was at the perfect age to pick up a second language naturally.

What I learned at Wagon Road Camp was not true Sign Language (even though all the grown-ups told me it was [damned liars!]). But the building blocks of a visually based language got lodged in my brain in the final four years before my language centers ossified. I didn't even start to tackle Latin until well after puberty, and I took one semester of Spanish as a freshman in college. So, even though I rarely use it (with other people -- I still occassionally fingerspell, count things, and sign brief phrases to myself), ASL is the closest thing I have to a second language. And that may be why I got upset, and started hunting down resources on the Web, when I realized I was forgetting it.

Over the last few nights, I've been thinking about my relationship with sign language, and my use of it, and my relationship with Deaf-
World. On the one hand, I will never be a part of that culture -- even if both my eardrums were shattered tomorrow, I'd still have grown up in the Hearing World, and I'd carry the remnants of that culture with me till the day I died. So I admit there's an element of exoticism and fascination going on, and that part of my psyche, I find embarrassing. On the other hand, even though the Deaf don't consider deafness to be a disability, much of the Hearing World still does; a Deaf university student, for example (unless she's going to a Deaf university, like Gallaudet) will need to go to the Disabled Student Services Office for an interpreter, instead of the Foreign Language Student Services Office (even though that same university may be teaching ASL under its Foreign Language Dept). So I am more likely to cross paths with her than my nondisabled Hearing peers.

So, um, yes.

I was going to post a second link from the same site about Signing Etiquette, to give examples of how Deafness is truly a distinct culture from the Hearing World.

But now that I've written this all out, I think that's a completely different topic, altogether.




* Capital-D "Deaf" refers to the cultural group, and lowercase-d "deaf" refers to the simple inability to hear. You can be hearing and Deaf -- if you're a hearing child raised by Deaf parents, for example, and Sign is your first language. You can also be 'deaf as a post', and still be part of the Hearing world, and culture.

**The Deaf do not consider themselves to be a part of the Disability community, but part of a linguistic community, and culture (unless, of course, a Deaf person also has a disability -- it happens).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (renegade)
Last week, my Davros and the Daleks (sounds like a dodgy pop rock band, no?) thread reignited. 'Twas (and 'tis) good. But it left my brain too busy to come up with a new discussion.

But I thought I'd get back to it, today. My topic was going to be:

Yes, indeed, the concept of "Disability" is a social construct, just as "race" is a social construct.


I was planning on starting early, today, and writing something clever, and tying it in, somehow, to how Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson broke the news cycle. But I had to wait for a phone call, so I stayed offline, and couldn't gather links and quotes and examples. So now it's late. And the tempurature-humidity index for today is officially "Ridiculous." And I'm feeling too "meh" to write anything clever.

So I will leave you with this link: Report: 1 in 5 Americans Have a Disability(*, +, ^)

And summarize the broad-strokes information in that report thusly:

If you are between 18 and 44 years old: You have better than 1 in 10 chance of being disabled.

If you are between the ages of of 45 and 64 years old: You have almost a 1 in 4 chance of being disabled.

If you are lucky enough to live past 65: You have better than a 50/50 chance of being disabled.

And finally, I'll leave you to comtemplate, in the face of these numbers, what sort of accommodations (and representations in the media) we might consider "normal."



*From the Centers of Disease Control, which, according to the report, many consider to be overly conservative in their estimates.

+Culled from U.S. Census Data, and thus does not include all the young, permenantly, injured soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

^I haven't looked for stats from other industrialized nations, but I wouldn't be surprised if they wre more or less the same as America's stats
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (curb cuts)
Since I've been writing about this issue of Disability on a regular basis, I've become more conscious of how it effects me, and the feelings it has engendered throughout the years, and in the last couple of weeks, I've begun to put my finger on one particular aspect of it that makes the very talking about it uncomfortable for me, and makes me squirm a bit inside when someone asks why I don't write an autobiographical story, someday. It may be a bit of paranoia, but talking about the personal, intimate, aspects of "Living with a Disability" makes me feel like I'm being studied as an 'exotic specimen,' for other peoples' enlightenment.

It's a sister to the fear that some able-bodied people have of saying something wrong to a disabled person. It's a cousin (I have a hunch) to the fear some able-bodied people have of offering help to a disabled person, lest they do something wrong.

It's the notion that The Impaired are Fundamentally Other from the Able-Bodied and -Minded, so that even those who are sympathetic and supportive might feel like they have nothing to say on the topic, because it doesn't effect them directly (at the moment), and it's not "their" issue, so they sit back and politely listen and learn (or, at least, I hope that's what they're doing). But here's the thing:

"Disability" is unique among minority groups, because it's the only one you will join -- and when you least expect it.

[Edited to clarify (May 24, 2009, 13:24)]** Most of the time, being a "privileged ally" of those who suffer the consequences of various -isms (Racism, Sexism, Cissexism, etc.) is a tricky business, because the privileged person has never felt the consequences themselves, and, what's more, never will. Someone who grew up straight and white (for one example) is not going to take one ill-fated step, somewhere, and suddenly become a person of color, or gay. No one is ever going to go to bed as a man and wake up as a woman. Being a person of privilege, on whatever spectrum of priviledge that is, gives you the dubious superpower to define the nature of reality -- or rather, it gives you the illusion that your definition of reality is universal. So it is far too easy for an ally to hijack any conversation and not even realize it: like Godzilla trampling through a city, and never having to go back and deal with the consequences.

But "Disability" strikes everyone as it struck poor, (proverbial) Teddy McGrath in the Napoleonic Wars:
Oh, I wasn't drunk and I wasn't blind
But I left my two fine legs behind.
For a cannon ball, on the fifth of May,
Took my two fine legs from the knees away.
    Wid yer too-ri-aa, fol de diddle aa
    Too-ri-oo-ri-oo-ri-aa.

Even for the people who are born disabled, like I was, the disability strikes the family with the unexpected force of a cannon ball.

And you can't outrun that cannon ball. You're only hope is to die before it hits you. If you are human, it will hit you, one way or another. If you are human, this is your issue.

"Disability Rights" are Civil Rights. "Disability Rights" are Human Rights.

Yes, there is a time and a place for "safe spaces," where the temporarily-able-bodied (TABs) need to "Shut up and listen" (or simply stay away altogether). Yes, the Disabled need to be allowed the opportunity and freedom to fight for ourselves (Nothing About Us Without Us!).

But the very same ableist practices and policies that we need to fight are the things that silence and separate us. We're already shuffled off into "Special rooms" in school, given "Special entrances," into museums, churches and restraunts, and offerered employment by special, "Charitable organizations" (in jobs behind the scenes, where we don't have contact with the "general public"). We're already (far too often) kept to speaking only amongst ourselves.

And "Out of sight, out of mind," and therefore, unimportant. In my not-so-humble opinion, as long as we are perceived as "fundamentally Other," we will be counted as the smallest, and least important of the minority groups. Our rights will be the last to be considered, and the first to be discarded.

So, my temporarily-able-bodied friends, join in the conversation. Educate yourselves. If you are out on business, or out on the town, and see barriers to equality, speak up. Let the business owner or the government bureaucrat know that it's not okay with you. You might not need accommodation today, but you could get hit by a bus tomorrow.



**This 'Edited to Clarify' paragraph replaces the bullet-pointed list behind the cut. )
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (TV)
[Edit to add: The icon is a picture of a television, with the caption "I like to watch" on the screen]

I know I said (To myself, if not "out loud" here on my LJ) that I was going to go on a bit of a vacation from thinking and talking about Disability Issues, because I can feel myself wearing a rut into my brain, and I don't like getting stuck in this particular rut. But I seem to be failing at that.

You see, sometime last week (or maybe it was a couple, or a few weeks back), someone on my f'list pointed out how misogynist The Mentalist is (Was it you, [livejournal.com profile] kynn?) -- that, by the end, it always turns out that it's the woman that's the murderer.

So, last night, I decided to tune in for the last fifteen minutes of the show, to see if, once again, it was the woman who was hauled away in handcuffs.

Not only was it the woman who was hauled off in handcuffs, she was hauled off as the accomplice to the murderer (or she was one of two murderers -- I only tuned in for the denouement) who almost got away with it by faking his disability for six months, "confining" himself to a wheelchair for all that time.

And the way Our Hero knew the faker was faking? He sneaked a look at the bottom of the guy's shoes, and saw that they were (omg!) scuffed.

Because we all know (don't we, my honey-blossoms?) that once a person becomes disabled and needs a wheelchair, his bottoms of his shoes will never again touch the solid, honest, earth.



And then, tonight, again looking for escapism, I flipped on Lie To Me. The drama in this week's episode was about a copycat to a rapist who forced his victims to watch videos of him raping previous victims, and then he would blind them with acid.

As if that wasn't bad enough, there was a scene where a cop-like woman goes to visit a recent victim, to see if she can get more information about who the copycat might be. The victim breaks down and cries:

"My life is over! I'm 23 and no one will ever love me!"

And the cop-like lady doesn't say anything, just looks all sad and pitying.

That same two seconds of screentime could have her saying something like: "I know it seems like that, now. But you can't let this scum rob your life." Or whatever other platitudes are used on cop shows with rape victims. But because this woman was now disabled, her comment about life being over was left unchallenged.

I think I put the cart before the horse in my BADD entry, this year. I should have written about why honest disabled protagonists are so important, and how harmful portrayals like these two are.

*sigh* Maybe I should start taking notes...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Saturnalia was the ancient Roman Holiday dedicated to the god of agriculture, and celebrated with the giving of gifts, forgetting about formal business attire, and the symbolic, temporary, equality between slave and master.

Some of its rituals have survived in our modern Christmas, while the festival also became a Christian synecdoche for evil and debauchery in Pagan times, and a reason why some Christian Fundamentalists refuse to recognise Santa Claus.




Lupercalia was the ancient Roman Holiday dedicated to the wolf bitch that raised Romulous and Remus, in celebration the founding of Rome, and also of the shepherds not having their entire flocks ravaged by wolves over the winter. It was celebrated by the blood sacrifice of goats on the alter in the main square, and of married women being stripped naked and flogged with strips of the still bloody goat hide taken from the carcasses, to ensure their fertility.

Its place on the calender was Christainized in the form of Saint Valentine, who, according to legend (or a poem by Chaucer), was jailed for marrying Christians, then stoned, beaten and beheaded for trying to convert the emperor.

And this is the holiday we shove down kids' throats, as soon as they enter school, in an annual competition for superficial displays of affection, where little slips of paper are treated like score cards to see who can get the biggest, or the prettiest, pile?

Excuse me, but WTF (in this case, literally)?




This post was brought to you by Hallmark ads, and Valentine's Day-themed PBS kids' shows, that have begun to appear on my television set.

I need a valentine's day fail icon...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (TV)
The mandatory conversion is in three weeks. The waiting list until more coupons available is six months. There are now 1 million people on the waiting list.

So President Obama wants to delay the switch-over, to at least give the people on the waiting list time to get their coupons.

I have heard a couple of letters to NPR and local TV news "your opinion" segments, expressing outrage over this, along the lines of: "It's only TV!! People can do without TV for six months! Let them read a book, instead, or talk with their families!"

And I got to say: as much of a book snob as I am and have been, that's pretty harsh.

Technically, I don't qualify as "House-Bound." But I don't go outside in bad weather, and when I do go out, my sleep schedule is so out of sinc with my neighbors, I'm often the only person in sight. I go shopping twice a month, I go to the library occassionally, I see my aide 3 times a week, for maybe 15 minutes at a shot (except when going to the library and store). So there can be days at a stretch, sometimes, when the TV is the only oportunity to see another living human being moving and speaking.

Now, consider the fate of those who are truly house-bound, or who don't have families with whom they can gather around the kitchen table and play cards or checkers. For them, the TV can be, if not the only connection to the wider world of our culture, at least, it's the richest way to experience it. Books and radio can't fill every void. And we can't go back in time to reconstruct our towns and cities into small, close-knit villages like we dream they used to be, when visiting neighbors was a matter of course.

And even for those "regular" people, for whom television is "mere entertainment, and a salve of the masses," so what's so wrong about that?

Do I wish that Television were not given such primacy in our culture (playing non-stop in hotel lobbies and hospital waiting rooms, as a sort of wallpaper)? Absolutely! Do I wish that literature and poetry, and person-to-person conversation got more respect? You bet your bippy I do!

But just to dismiss everyone who feels they need television reception as some huge mob of mindless boobs, just because you feel culturally superior? That's just supercilious and mean-spirited.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
A transition from an author's book to his conversation, is too often like an entrance into a large city, after a distant prospect. Remotely, we see nothing but spires of temples and turrets of palaces, and imagine it the residence of splendour, grandeur and magnificence; but when we have passed the gates, we find it perplexed with narrow passages, disgraced with despicable cottages, embarrassed with obstructions, and clouded with smoke.
--Samuel Johnson, May 5, 1750


2009 will mark the 300th anniversary of Samuel Johnson's birth. ...And so, there was an interview with Jeffrey Meyers, the author of a new Johnson Biography.

Meyers mentioned two things: a) Samuel Johnson, looking back at his symptoms from our vantage-point, seems to have had Turrette's Syndrome (his hands and feet twitched uncontrolably and his head rolled, whenever he sat down, and he was also blind in one eye, and deaf in one ear), and b) had an obsessive fear of death, and of being tormented in Hell after the same.

And I can't help wonder if those two things are directly linked.

I know from personal experience that people tend to get judgy of your personal character when you don't move your body in a "normal" fashion.

Nearly everyone on the planet "knows" that all we need to do is have a desire to move, and our body obeys automatically. The desire doen't even have come all the way to conscious, reasoned thought. I mean, when was the last time you made a conscious decision to scratch an itch on your nose? So, of course the way we move is a reflection of the way we think and feel, revealing the "truth" about ourselves, while our words are all lies (how many books and articles in self-help magazines have been written about the "secret code of body language"?)

I'm out of school, now, and I do not have a regular job of outside employment, so I don't get these comments as often, but I used to hear things like: "But couldn't you walk if you really wanted to?" or: "But what if you tried a different / more intensive therapy?" And even when people don't say anything, I still sometimes get hostile stares, as if I have no right to bring my different self into their space.*

Trying to answer these comments (I don't even bother with the stares) is like banging my head against the Wall of Stupid. And I have a scientific vocabulary in which what was happening with my body was explained to me, growing up, and which I can use to try and explain it to other people. I can't imagine what it was like for Johnson, who had neither. I mean, how do you explain to people that you don't want to kick, and flail your arms around, but you're doing it, anyway, all the time, without an understanding of the nervous system, and all the different brain chemicals flying around inside your head?

If I had no one to tell me I had a condition, with a name (cerebral palsy), and no language to describe what's happening inside my body even to myself, I can see how easy it would be for me to invent an army of little demon spirits getting in the way between my intentions and my actions. No wonder Johnson got more torment than comfort from religion. **

Pblthblth!!


*(though, to be fair, this comes mostly from older folks who grew up and went to school before the policies of "mainstreaming" became normal; people who went to school with disabled kids tend to be at least outwardly more polite).

**Johnson's difficulty in walking gives a slightly enhanced meaning to the phrase: "embarrassed with obstructions;" Hello, Modern City X, do you realize how bad your lack of curbcuts is making you look?

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