October 30, 2009
William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) was an amputee who persevered despite his disability. He was the physical inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous amputee character Long John Silver. His daughter was said to have inspired, and coined the name of, J.M. Barrie’s character Wendy.
Probably his greatest contribution to humanity was this poem about resilience, written shortly after his leg was surgically removed (by none other than Joseph Lister, inventor of sterile surgery) to prevent the spread of a tuberculosis infection.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
October 28, 2009
October 9, 2009
Ghost in the Shell &
Ghost in the Shell—Stand Alone Complex
The Japanese manga/animé series Ghost in the Shell actually is (at its deepest levels) mostly about people with super-disabilities—although ostensibly the theme is about humans’ relationship with the machines they build and how that relationship changes us.
What is a “super-disability” you ask? Consider South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius.
Oscar, a double amputee, created a stir in 2007 because he came within 0.75s of qualifying for the South African Olympic Team. Not the Paralympics—the Abled Olympics. There was some debate as to whether he should be permitted to compete because his prosthetic limbs give him an unfair advantage.
We’re not quite there yet, but what happens when the artificial becomes better than the real thing?
This is a key question in Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
October 2, 2009
It has always astonished me how long it takes kids to get powered mobility. Not being able to move around has profound effects on cognitive and language development. Check out these robots:
(However, please don’t read the YouTube comments. YouTube comments are probably the most cognitively impaired language output on the planet. )
October 1, 2009
Reuters reports the following story:
No thumbprint, no money, bank tells armless man
MIAMI (Reuters) – A bank in Florida refused to cash a check for an armless man because he could not provide a thumbprint.
“They looked at my prosthetic hands and the teller said, ‘Well, obviously you can’t give us a thumbprint’,” Steve Valdez told CNN on Wednesday.
But he said the Bank of America Corp branch in downtown Tampa, Florida, still insisted on a thumbprint identification for him to cash a check drawn on his wife’s account at the bank, even though he showed them two photo IDs.
In the incident last week, a bank supervisor told Valdez he could only cash the check without a thumbprint if he brought his wife in with him or he opened an account with them.
“I told them I neither wanted an account with them and couldn’t bring my wife in because she was nowhere close by,” Valdez told CNN.
Bank of America said in a statement cited by CNN: “While the thumbprint is a requirement for those who don’t have accounts, the bank should have made accommodations.”
Valdez said his treatment by the bank violated the U.S. Americans with Disability Act requiring institutions to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled persons.
(Writing by Pascal Fletcher; editing by Todd Eastham)
It would be funny it it weren’t so disturbingly stupid.