Electric EDGE
Web Edition of
The Ragged Edge
July/August 1997

Electric Edge


When you've got your health,
you've got everything! Right?

"Basically the school nurse, principal and special education teacher kept saying, 'it depends on how much risk you're willing to take,'" Mrs. Mahar recalled. "I thought about it, and I'm not willing to take any risk. We've kept this child in the house for two and a half years. Being with other children is important, but not worth risking her health." Mother of Katie Mahar, who's going to have a lot more than health problems with a mom with such an attitude. Mahar was quoted in a New York Times article about the child's genetic disease, xeroderma pigmentosum.

Problems are everywhere!

Mattel's new wheelchair Barbie playmate, "Share a Smile Becky" is being barred from the Barbie dollhouse -- seems her chair won't fit through the too-narrow door.

Intelligent or blind: pick one

"Deep Blue shows no intelligence whatsoever . . . but rather searches 'blindly.'" Yale computer science professor Drew McDermott, reassuring those worried that IBM's Deep Blue computer might be able to actually think, after all.

The inevitable

"Patients with moderately severe Alzheimer's who took the high doses of the vitamin delayed such major milestones as going into a nursing home . . . . [it] decreased the . . . loss of their ability to bathe, dress, handle money and do other routine chores . . ." An Associated Press news report on a study of vitamin E in which the reporter never questions whether a nursing home ought to be the only fate for someone who cannot bathe, dress, handle money . . .

For eyes only

"My concept . . . was to have Braille as a kind of invitation to touch, more than anything." FDR Memorial sculptor Robert Graham trying to explain himself to the Washington Post when it was discovered that his huge Braille "lettering" spelling out the initials WPA, CCC and other "alphabet agencies" created by Roosevelt , about 5 times normal size for Braille and far too big to fit under a fingertip -- were virtually unreadable. He acknowledged that artistic "license was taken," reported the Post. "Braille is not much different than touching a face or anything else," he said. Memorial architect Lawrence Halprin continued his total ignorance of disability issues by insisting that his decision to mount at least a third of the Braille about eight feet off the ground -- well beyond reach -- was "necessary" -- "so they can be appreciated from a distance,

Interpretive drama critic

"O'Brien talks in this moving portrait about . . . his desire at times to die." Louisville Courier-Journal TV critic Tom Dorsey, giving readers his version of Mark O'Brien's Oscar-winning interview in "Breathing Lessons," in which the Not Dead Yet poster boy/writer talks explains in elaborate detail why he does not want to die. ( Guess you had to be there. )

'Decent' vs. 'disabled'

In arguments preceding passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Sen. Robert C. Smith of New Hampshire complained that when lawyers representing disabled students won fees from Federal court, the money was taken out of funds that "would otherwise go to decent children."


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