Pixel Scroll 8/4/18 Your Pixeled Pal Who’s Fun To Scroll With!

(1) AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE, DAY FOUR. Crusading investigative fanwriter Camestros Felapton has been trying to find out why the Dragon Awards ballot wasn’t released August 1, the date posted on the site, and when it will come out. Here’s what he’s been told:

The latest report is this. I got an email saying that the finalists will be announced this upcoming Tuesday (presumably US time). Don’t all get too excited at once.

(2) COME BACK, JEAN-LUC. “Patrick Stewart to star in new Star Trek TV series”Entertainment Weekly has the story.

Stewart will reprise his iconic character, Jean-Luc Picard, for a CBS All Access series that “will tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life.”

Stewart himself just announced the news in a surprise appearance at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention.

“I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart said. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.”

And Michael Chabon will be one of the executive producers reports Variety.

The untitled series hails from Alex Kurtzman, James Duff, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, and Kirsten Beyer. Kurtzman, Duff, Goldsman, and Chabon will also serve as executive producers on the series along with Stewart, Trevor Roth, Heather Kadin, and Rod Roddenberry. CBS Television Studios will produce. The new series does not currently have a premiere date

(3) BOREANAZ ON BUFFY. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “David Boreanaz has no plans to be in controversial ‘Buffy’ reboot: ‘I just let it be and lend my support from afar'” says that Boreanaz is too busy with SEAL Team to worry about the forthcoming Buffy reboot (which is controversial because showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen might find a new actor to play Buffy) but he doesn’t have any objections to it.

 “I think it’s great,” says David Boreanaz, who played the ensouled vampire Angel on Buffy for three seasons before graduating to his own self-titled spin-off. “I’m sure they’ll find the right storylines and the right people to fill shoes of whatever characters they want to portray. It was great to be a part of it when it first started, and now to see it being revived is just another testimony to the hard work that we did. I congratulate that, and applaud that.”

(4) KRESS REQUEST. Nancy Kress announced on Facebook:

A few people have asked if I will autograph their books at Worldcn San Jose. However, I was disappointed that Programming Reboot has given me no panels, no autographing session, and no kaffeklatch. I do have one reading, at 4:30 on Sunday, which I cannot linger afterwards because of a Hugo dinner. So if anyone wants anything autographed, I will hang around the Hyatt lobby at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.

(5) REACHING OUT TO HUGHART. Mike Berro, who runs the Barry Hughart Bibliography website is asking for help:

If anyone knows how to contact Barry Hughart, please let me know. I run a fan page, and would constantly get emails from people wanting to contact him, mostly about doing a movie or theatrical adaptation of Bridge of Birds. I would forward them to him, and he would always politely reply (with “no thanks”). I haven’t had a reply now for over a year, and just got an email from someone who reported that even his publishers cannot contact him. I fear something unfortunate has happened.

Berro says neither SFWA nor Subterranean Press have been able to offer any help.

Mike Berro’s contact email address is — [email protected]

(6) PRO ADVICE. Not certain who Mary Robinette Kowal had in mind, although JDA was sure it was about him. (Of course, he thinks everything is.)

(7) CLOUDS OF WITNESSES. Crisis Magazine recalls “When C.S. Lewis Befriended a Living Catholic Saint”.

When Luigi Calabria, a shoemaker married to a housemaid, died in Verona, Italy in 1882, the youngest of his seven sons, Giovanni, nine years old, had to quit school and take a job as an apprentice. A local parish priest, Don Pietro Scapini, privately tutored him for the minor seminary, from which he took a leave to serve two years in the army. During that time, he established a remarkable reputation for edifying his fellow soldiers and converting some of them. Even before ordination, he established a charitable institution for the care of poor sick people and, as a parish priest, in 1907 he founded the Poor Servants of Divine Providence. The society grew, receiving diocesan approval in 1932. The women’s branch he started in 1910 would become a refuge for Jewish women during the Second World War. To his own surprise, since he was a rather private person, his order spread from Italy to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, India, Kenya, Romania, and the Philippines.

With remarkable economy of time, he was a keen reader, and in 1947 he came across a book translated as Le lettere di Berlicche by a professor at the University of Milan, Alberto Castelli, who later became a titular archbishop as Vice President of the Pontifical Council of the Laity. Berlicche was Screwtape and “Malacode” served for Wormwood. The original, of course, had been published in 1943 as The Screwtape Letters and Calabria was so taken with it that he sent a letter of appreciation to the author in England. Lacking English, he wrote it in the Latin with which he had become proficient since his juvenile tutorials with Don Pietro.

… Lewis’s correspondence with Calabria went on for about seven years, and after the holy priest died, Lewis wrote at least seven letters to another member of Calabria’s religious community, Don Luigi Castelli, who died in 1986 at the age of 96. Learning of Calabria’s death, Lewis referred to him in a message to Castelli with what I suspect was a deliberate invocation of the phrase about “the dearly departed” that Horace used to console Virgil on the death of Quintilius Varo: tam carum caput. It appears as well in Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. It was an unfortunate habit of Lewis to throw out letters he received when he thought he might otherwise betray confidences. So what we have are only what he sent. The letters are a radiant model of philia friendship that he described in his 1958 radio talks:

(8) WHO’S THE HERO? John Dilillo claims “Amazon’s Proposed ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Misses the Point of Middle-Earth” at Film School Rejects.

…Every conventionally heroic duty performed by Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings is performed in service of a greater act of heroism by Hobbits, characters who choose their own destiny instead of following the path their bloodline lays out for them. Without Hobbits, Middle-earth is just another cliched fantasy tapestry, painting with the same old tired strokes. What makes Aragorn special is not his heritage or his backstory; it is that he recognizes that he is not the hero of this story. Aragorn is the king who bows to the Hobbits. Stripped of that identity, he is indistinguishable from any other gruff sword-wielding badass.

On top of all this, we’ve already seen the type of story that results from a Tolkien adaptation that loses sight of true heroism in favor of grand tales of redeemed sons and doomed kings. The great failing of the Hobbit trilogy is that it abandons its titular character all too often in favor of the gloomy angst of Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield. Armitage does a fine job projecting gloomy wounded pride, and whoever assumes the lead role in Amazon’s series will doubtless give just as effective a performance. But all of that is ultimately wasted when the real appeal of a Middle-earth story comes from the Shire, not the Lonely Mountain. A Hobbit story that isn’t about Bilbo Baggins is a failure, and it’s a failure that should be learned from….


  • Born August 4 — Richard Belzer, 74. The Third Rock fromThe Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an awful adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-Files, The Invaders, Human Target, and acrecurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles.
  • Born August 4 — Daniel Dae Kim, 50. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles include the Brave New World tv film, the second Fantasy Island series, recurring roles on LostAngel and Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff series, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4 — Abigail Spencer, 37. First genre role was in the Campfire horror anthology series, other roles include Ghost Whisperer, Jekyll, a film that’s an sf riff off that meme, Cowboys & Aliens, the Oz the Great and Powerful film and Timeless, the sf series recently allowed a proper ending
  • Born August 4 — Meaghan Markle, 37. Yes, Her Royalness. Appeared in Fringe and the newer Knight Rider. Also the near future legal drama Century City.

(10) INSTAPOLL. Survey says –

(11) KEN LIU TO TV. Andrew Liptak says an animated show is on the way: “AMC is developing a sci-fi show based on Ken Liu’s short stories”.

Ken Liu is one of science fiction’s most celebrated writers working today. In addition to translating Cixin Liu’s acclaimed Three Body Problem and Death’s End, he’s also earned numerous awards, most significantly for his short story, “The Paper Menagerie”. Now, it looks as though his works could reach a new audience: AMC is developing series based on his works called Pantheon, according to Deadline.

If it’s produced, Pantheon will be an animated show “based on a series of short stories by [Liu] about uploaded intelligence,” reports Deadline. Craig Silverstein, who created and produced AMC’s American revolution drama Turn, will serve as showrunner, producer, and writer.

(12) SOLO. Lela E. Buis points out the casting problems: “Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

…The worst problem with this film, of course, was Alden Ehrenreich trying to step into Harrison Ford’s shoes. Ehrenreich did a workmanlike job with the character, but workmanlike just isn’t Han Solo. Donald Glover as Calrissian got glowing reviews, but it was really the charismatic Woody Harrelson as Beckett who lights up the film—an understated, low key performance notwithstanding. Also prominent was Lando’s co-pilot L3-37, an animated character fighting against the slavery of droids.

This brings up another question. Why isn’t Disney investing in flashier talent for these movies?

(13) BAEN CHALLENGE COINS. Baen Books is taking orders for the first pressing of its new Challenge  Coins commemorating iconic names or events in the books of Ringo, Williamson, Kratman and probably whoever else you’d expect to fill out a list that starts with those three names.

Each coin is $15. Buy all 13 author coins, and the “I Read Baen’d Books” coin comes free. Shipping and handling is a flat rate of $15, $45 international, for up to 13 coins. Write to [email protected] for rates on bulk orders.

These coins were designed by Jack Wylder with the active participation of the authors. Here’s an example —

Front: I Read Baen’d Books

Reverse: RIP Joe Buckley

All profits from this coin will go to support two charities founded, supported, and run by Baen readers: Operation Baen Bulk, which provides care packages for deployed service members, and Read Assist, a 501c3 company that serves our disabled readers. http://www.readassist.org/ Each coin is $15. Buy all 13 author coins, and the “I Read Baen’d Books” coin comes free. “I read Baened Books” was first used by Chris French. “Joe Buckley” used courtesy of Joe Buckley. Don’t forget to duck

(14) A CENTURY OF STURGEON. Scott Bradfield tries to jumpstart the party — “Celebrating Theodore Sturgeon’s centenary – so should we all” in the LA Times. (Unfortunately, the Times initially failed to get David Gerrold’s permission to run his photo of Sturgeon with the post…)

I’ve always been a bit confused by these various centenary and multi-centenary celebrations that punctuate our discussions of literature, such as Thoreau’s recent 200th birthday (2017), or the centenary of James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (first published in 1917), or even the fourth centenary of the death of Cervantes (d. 1616), etc. (By the way, celebrating the anniversary of someone’s death strikes me as pretty grisly.) But while some writers seem to continually receive such posthumous honors, others suffer unfairly in silence. No cake, no candles, no old friends leaping out of closets, no nothing. And this year, that seems to be the case for one of America’s greatest and most original short story writers, Theodore Sturgeon, who was born on Feb. 26, 1918. From what I can tell, nobody has yet to pitch in and even buy him a decent card.

…Take, for example, the opening of his brilliant (and often poorly imitated) 1941 novelette, “Microcosmic God”: “Here is a story about a man who had too much power, and a man who took too much, but don’t worry; I’m not going political on you. The man who had the power was named James Kidder, and the other was his banker.”

Or this, from the aforementioned “The Dreaming Jewels” (1950): “They caught the kid doing something disgusting under the bleachers at the high-school stadium, and he was sent home from the grammar school across the street.”

Or even this, from his haunting and beautiful story, “The Man Who Lost the Sea” (1959): “Say you’re a kid, and one dark night you’re running along the cold sand with this helicopter in your hand, saying very fast witchy-witchy-witchy.”

Every opening plops you down bang in the middle of a story that is already happening and in the life of a character it is already happening to. And while many of his stories were collected in “horror” or “suspense” anthologies, they are rarely shocking or violent or grotesque. Instead, they begin by introducing you to a slightly strange world and a slightly strange character who lives there; then, before the story is over, you both feel at home in the world and compassion for the character who now lives there with you.

The greatness of Sturgeon’s stories reside in their almost inflexible, relentless unfolding of strangely logical events and relationships; each sentence is as beautiful and convincing as the last; and the science-fictional inventions never rely on tricks or deus ex machinas to reach a satisfying resolution; instead, a Sturgeon story always resolves itself at the level of the all-too-human.

(15) ACCESS. At io9 Ace Ratcliff asks “Staircases in Space: Why Are Places in Science Fiction Not Wheelchair-Accessible?”

I never used to notice stairs. They were simply a way for me to get from one place to another. Occasionally they were tiresome, but they never actually stymied or stopped me entirely. Eventually, I managed to get where I needed to go.

Then I started using a wheelchair. Suddenly, stairs became a barrier that prevented me from getting from here to there. One step was often enough to stop me in my tracks. It turns out that when you start using a wheelchair, you quickly realize that there are a lot of staircases and steps in our world—and a lot of broken (or nonexistent) elevators and ramps….

Once you start realizing how many stairs there are stopping you in real life, it becomes impossible not to notice them existing in the sci-fi you adore. Turns out they’re everywhere, in all of our sci-fi. Whether it’s decades-old or shiny and brand-new, our sci-fi imitates a real-world reliance on steps and stairs in our architecture.

When we think of sci-fi that’s run the test of time, Doctor Who immediately springs to mind. The inside of the TARDIS is littered with steps—from Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, there’s no way a wheelchair using companion would be able to navigate that beautiful blue time machine. Prior to the 2005 reboot, previous embodiments of the spaceship were no less inaccessible. You’d think that a spaceship that is regularly re-decorated could easily manage ramps in at least one iteration, but no set designers seem bothered enough to make it happen. I was pleased to learn that a quick finger snap seems to occasionally unlock the TARDIS doors—a quirky replacement for the buttons that exist in real-life, usually installed near closed doors and pressed by disabled people to assist with automatically opening them—but trying to scootch through the narrow opening of that British police box with an accessibility device looks nigh impossible, even without the need for a key.

(16) KERMODE ON SF FILMS. On August 7, BBC 4 airs an episode of Mark Kermode’s Secrets of the Cinema about science fiction.

SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says —

This is an excellent series for film aficionados but the August 7th edition will also appeal to SF fans as this episode will be on science fiction film.

Also the series is co-written by the genre critic Kim Newman whom,  some Worldcon fans will recall, with SF author Paul McAuley,  co-presented the last CalHab (formerly known as Glasgow) Worldcon Hugo Award ceremony (2005). So be assured this episode has a solid grounding.

Mark Kemode’s Secrets of the Cinema SF film episode should be available on BBC iPlayer for a few weeks after broadcast.

BBC 4’s intro reads —

Mark Kermode continues his fresh and very personal look at the art of cinema by examining the techniques and conventions behind classic film genres, uncovering the ingredients that keep audiences coming back for more.

This time Mark explores the most visionary of all genres – science fiction, and shows how film-makers have risen to the challenge of making the unbelievable believable. Always at the forefront of cinema technology, science fiction films have used cutting-edge visual effects to transport us to other worlds or into the far future. But as Mark shows, it’s not just about the effects. Films as diverse as 2001, the Back to the Future trilogy and Blade Runner have used product placement and commercial brand references to make their future worlds seem more credible. The recent hit Arrival proved that the art of film editing can play with our sense of past and future as well as any time machine. Meanwhile, films such as Silent Running and WALL-E have drawn on silent era acting techniques to help robot characters convey emotion. And District 9 reached back to Orson Welles by using news reporting techniques to render an alien visitation credible.

Mark argues that for all their spectacle, science fiction films ultimately derive their power from being about us. They take us to other worlds and eras, and introduce us to alien and artificial beings, in order to help us better understand our own humanity.

(17) GETTING BACK IN BUSINESS. “NASA Announces Crew For First Commercial Space Flights”NPR has the story.

NASA has announced the names of the astronauts who will be the first people in history to ride to orbit in private space taxis next year, if all goes as planned.

In 2019, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner are both scheduled to blast off on test flights with NASA astronauts on board. “For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday, standing in front of a giant American flag at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Since NASA retired its space shuttles, the agency has had to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get its crews to the International Space Station.

(18) MUNG DYNASTY. FastCompany predicts “Plant-based eggs are coming for your breakfast sandwiches”.

When you order a breakfast sandwich or a scramble at New Seasons Market, a local chain in Portland, Seattle, and Northern California, you’ll bite into a yellow, fluffy food that tastes just like an egg, but did not, in fact, come from an animal. Instead, what you’re eating is a mung bean, a legume that people have been eating for thousands of years that, when ground into a liquid, happens to scramble and gel just like an egg.

Mung beans are the key ingredient in Just Egg, the latest product from Just, Inc.–the company formerly known as Hampton Creek, which manufactures plant-based alternatives to products like mayonnaise, cookie dough, and salad dressing. Just Egg, a liquid that scrambles in a way that’s eerily similar to an egg when cooked in a pan, is derived from mung bean protein, and colored with turmeric to mimic the light yellow of an egg. It’s slowly rolling out in stores and restaurants across the U.S., and New Seasons Market has gone as far as to entirely replace its regular eggs with the mung bean mixture.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Berro, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and David Langford for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

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125 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/4/18 Your Pixeled Pal Who’s Fun To Scroll With!

  1. I don’t know if we’ll really ever be able to do in-vitro gene editing, let alone post-birth gene editing that would eliminate congential deafness, blindness, various genetic illness that used to condemn children to early deaths (and some still do), or things like autism or genetic predisposition for mental illnesses, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s or even heart disease and cancer. If we are able to, as a society, I expect that whether it is routinely done, it will be not because of “condescension and pity”, but because of economic reasons. People with disabilities tend to cost more than people without. Education, health care, and general daily living tend to be more expensive, and sometimes it’s orders of magnitude more expensive than a “normal person”. I don’t even think that it’s unreasonable that SF writers think about this, since some of the layman articles I read make me think that geneticists and doctors are already trying to isolate genes that cause these diseases, disabilities, as well as genes that positively affect intelligence and other body characteristics. If it is too expensive to do routinely, the rich will still pay a certain amount for research to make sure the poor are used as test subjects, and then pay to make sure their kids are as good as they can make them.

    Having said that, I expect that there will be the religious holdouts who will refuse medical intervention because it goes against God, just as we have today. Likewise, there will be disabilities we just can’t fix because they are too hard to fix, or the side-effects are too severe, and there will be disabilities that are due to life events.

  2. There’s a fascinating book I read several years ago called Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture by Carol Padden and Tom Humphries. For me, it drove home the fact that, as the title states, Deaf people have their own culture and community. It’s made me much more ambivalent about “cures” for disabilities.

  3. @Meredith:

    The cure narrative is science-magicking those things away as unnecessary; it’s failing to engage with disability at all and instead casually erasing it. It’s lazy.

    Lastly, disability representation in fiction is only disability representation in fiction if there are… you know… disabled people in it. Eugenics-erasing us from existence before we’re even born (a not uncommon example in science fiction) is not disability representation; it is deciding that an improved future society is one which does not have disabled people in it, and you can’t represent that which does not exist. Representation where the culmination of our story arc is not being disabled anymore (cure narrative!) is not good representation. For me, it doesn’t even work as wish fulfilment because either it’s science-magic and has nothing to do with my life, or it’s still science-magic and I never existed as myself in the first place. There’s nothing good about it as representation.

    If I’m writing about Earth-present or Earth-near future, I want to include people with disabilities because we exist and should be seen. There may not be room in every story, but they’re in the setting because we’re in the world.

    OTOH, if I’m writing about a more distant future, even a hundred years out, I’m going to assume that medical science has progressed substantially beyond what is possible today, as it has beyond what was possible when I was a child. I’m going to assume that at least some conditions which are now incurable and disabling have become curable and are no longer disabling. I’m going to write about a world where disabilities are at least rarer and maybe much rarer – because my limitations frustrate me in real life and I don’t want to impose them on even imaginary people. I write the brighter, kinder world I want to see, and I want to see a future where pain is less common.

    I’m well aware of the difference between treatment and cure. I treat my epilepsy with two pills a day – a minor inconvenience, but still one I’d rather not have. I treat my chronic pain with high-powered painkillers that do little more than blunt the edge. My best friends treat their diabetes with insulin injections. My mother endures pain because she can’t take most pain medication, and she uses a walker with a seat because she’s not quite “disabled enough” for insurance to cover a wheelchair. Her brother is in a nursing home, where a stroke has demolished much of the man I remember as a lively man with a sharp intellect and a wicked sense of humor. Need I go on?

    When I write, I want to write about a world where the sources of at least some of that pain have been cured. I want a world where that expensive stem cell injection that was supposed to at least help fix my mother’s knee worked and was covered by insurance. I want to live in, and therefore I will write about, a world where I am free of my epilepsy, chronic pain, and obesity, not where they continue to be hurdles which must be “managed.”

    I aim to depict a better future, by which I mean one with less pain and suffering. If you want to call that a cure narrative, you go right ahead. If you want to chide me for not showing enough disabled people in that world, go for it. But don’t call my desire to write about that world lazy or inconsiderate or non-inclusive, because it is rooted in the agony – of myself and others – that defines many aspects of my daily life, and I will be damned before I sacrifice my vision of a better, freer future on the altar of someone else’s idea of what the future should look like. My words and vision are mine to write and define.

    I’ll stop with a thought experiment. Imagine we were having this discussion seventy years ago. Would you chide SF which accurately depicted today’s world as lazy or uninclusive because it lacks children with polio wearing leg braces? Would you demand that it show people in developed countries dying by the truckload from smallpox and influenza? How about its depiction of a vaccine that drastically reduces the chance of developing certain types of cancer? Or, I know: someone with bad eyesight goes to a doctor who shoots lasers into their eyes, and they walk out the same day knowing that after a few days’ recovery, their vision will be perfect. Is that a “lazy cure narrative,” or is it LAZIK?

    Medical science advances. We can seldom predict specifically how it will do so, but assuming that it will remain static, that today’s disorders are eternal, is always the wrong answer. Given the choice between reflecting that reality and ignoring it for political reasons, I’ll take the former every time.

  4. @Lenore Jones: Antigrav devices if there are no ramps, since even if all the disabilities in the world are cured, goods will still need to be moved. We have anti-grav devices; they’re called elevators. More seriously: as someone who has moved hundreds of tons of goods, I find two problems with ramps: a sufficiently gentle one takes up a lot of space (that I’d rather put to an active use, in one of my other hats), and they typically don’t have enough stop points (versus steps, where each step is place where a load can be held with less effort than holding the load on a slope.) Ramps can be useful for people (e.g., the 3-level stairless facade of the Cincinnati railroad station) but their value for goods is … variable. Note that an elevator is not limited to lifting over complete floors if there are doors in more than one wall.

  5. @Chip, well, elevators, then! We were talking about fiction that appeared to have nothing but stairs.

  6. Well, Barsoom has no stairs, only ramps. At least according to a certain gentleman from Virginia.

  7. @Chip: ramps vs. steps

    There’s definitely a place for both, as people who have different mobility issues will prefer one over the other. My mother, for instance, has trouble climbing even a single step; she finds ramps invaluable. OTOH, I have more trouble with distance than I do with steps.

    A local community center (formerly a school) has one place where the lobby is a few steps below a hallway, and the switchback ramp beside it is easily twenty feet long – with one stop point, at the midpoint (aka against the outer wall). When I went there a couple of weeks ago for early voting, I was annoyed that the steps were roped off, such that the only exit was down the ramp. I understand that this is the more universal accessibility option, but the added distance made me regret not having brought my cane with me. I would much rather have navigated the few steps and saved the twenty feet of extra walking.

    Accessibility is a hard problem. What works for one can tax another.

  8. @Rev. Bob:

    It’s possible you’ve already looked into this, but I’ve found biofeedback and meditation has been very useful WRT chronic pain management. Pain meds and I don’t work and play well together for the most part (the side effects are significant with everything I’ve taken).

    Both hips were dislocated close to 50 years ago and chronic pain and I have been well acquainted ever since.

    Pain is still there, but biofeedback and meditation have been most helpful in my case. YMMV.

  9. I don’t think the difference is between physical and mental issues alone: I have not yet met a depressed person who wouldn’t want their brain chemicals reset, and very few ADD/ADHD people who wouldn’t prefer to have their brains at least tweaked by some means more lasting and less side-effecty than their pills, I have met many autistic people who don’t want their minds fixed.

    Some might want some symptoms fixed, if they could pick and choose**, but are understandably afraid what else they would lose. Fixing brains overall is hard.

    Many are also rightly afraid of societal pressures, or of doctors doing medical intervention without asking. And they should be. All these things happen already. . ABA has been demonstrated to have some traumatic effects and an increased risk of abuse and it’s still touted as the best way to treat children with autism. I’m healthy and neurotypical and I still ended up with an episiotomy on my first childbirth even though I asked for none in my birth plan — and women giving birth have had much worse stories than that about interventions without asking. It’s only now becoming the preferred thing for intersex children not to be given surgery until they’re old enough to decide for themselves* instead of foisted on them by parents. There are people committed to mental health facilities who cannot get out again. Doctors who prescribe meds based on which pharmaceutical company has last given them a fee. Medical ethics are supposed to be sharp and clear but aren’t always so positive.

    I don’t know, if I had a condition like autism if I would *trust* the system to fix my sensory issues at my request but not decide to tweak something I asked them to leave alone “for her own good, she’ll thank us later”. *I* didn’t mind or suffer because of the episiotomy and I still have good opinion of that doctor — but that didn’t make it any less a violation of my wishes.

    Oh and the reasons they are starting to back off from high and low functioning labels is that “low-functioning” people who eg don’t talk or took a decade to toilet train have surprised people with their intellect when they do find means to communicate, and high functioning people have been treated very badly indeed when they *have* an autistic meltdown or a sensory overload because high-functioning is treated too often as “basically normal and they don’t really need the accommodations they ask for.” IOW they’re supposed to provide people with the cachet of being a disability employer/ally/friend with none of the inconvenience of accommodations or genuine openness.

    NB: parent of an autistic child I do not want to change (but do want to teach and give help to for communicating his wants and needs more effectively.) This stuff is very close to home.

    * forms of intersex that are life threatening obviously excepted.

    ** IMO people with autism who also have other mental handicaps or who have severe enough cases likely do want treatment of at least some aspects but I do not entirely trust caregivers to choose with the patient’s best interest and not their own. This is very thorny ground.

  10. My darling daughter has Audio Processing Disorder, yet another condition which is now considered to be on the autism spectrum. She has it pretty severely, and when she was a child, sensory issues weren’t as widely studied or widely known as they are now. Until we got a diagnosis when she was 8, she wasn’t considered disabled. Instead, she was considered, by many, many strangers in public places and even by some of her relatives, as spoiled and undisciplined, since her confusion and frustrations led to daily and hours-long tantrums. Many of these people felt free to offer unsolicited advice, ranging from spankings and beatings to drugs. Once we got a diagnosis, we were able to utilize therapies to help her work around her issues, and she excelled, both academically and socially, and is now (quick brag!) an ER doctor. I can’t tell you that she would have managed to become who she is now if she hadn’t had such a difficult time way back then, but I do know that if we’d been able to “fix” those issues right after she was born, or even known that there WERE issues, her life and ours would have been much easier.
    I wouldn’t change one thing about her, of course. But here’s the thing – my husband and I are both laid-back people who never had any ideas for what children should be like, and we were older when our kids were born, so we had the resources and patience to deal with a difficult child. But what about all those kids out there who are just as bright and just as talented as my daughter but don’t have patient, relatively well-to-do parents who have the time and energy to devote to them? How many of those non-neurotypical kids have had hellish childhoods, how many accepted their schools’ judgements that they were slow or unteachable, how many of them are dulling their senses with drugs or booze because it’s the only way they can get through their days? I want ALL those kids to end up like my daughter, not so the world doesn’t have to acknowledge their disabilities, but because we need all the brainpower we can get.
    And like Reverend Bob, I would trade my depression and chronic pain in a freacking heartbeat for the ability to consistently think that life is worth living, and to be able to get out of bed in the morning without sounding like a horror movie soundtrack.
    I don’t want to erase anybody, and I’m not assuming that everyone who is disabled leads a pathetic life. But I don’t see a downside to offering cures for everything from cerebral palsy to sensory issues.

  11. Another Laura: That’s a strong argument for accurate diagnoses and understanding, and for accommodations. I’m not sure it’s an argument for a full-on “cure” if the cure involves rewriting the entire brain and personality…

    (though you will note sensory processing issues are one of the areas I can see even the person themselves potentially wanting cured or at least mitigated. However, what I see as the ethical path is for them to be accommodated and mitigated until the person themselves can express an opinion or it becomes clear the issues are such they won’t be able to meaningfully decide.)

    I want to fix everyone’s chronic pain and physically broken bodies. I want to fix all the depression. There are right up there in my three wishes (along with fixing climate change without requiring mass death of humans).

    I think accommodations and understanding are huge.

    But I am very very scared of doing something that would “cure” my son if it meant, not him being the same boy with more words at his command, but a different child entire.

  12. As I said, I woukdn’t change a thing about my daughter. But an early diagnosis, even if there is no cure, would go a long way towards improving outcomes for kids not so lucky as my daughter or your son. (Note- making no assumptions about your son’s condition. But I know he has an involved and intelligent mother who loves him. A major advantage right there!)

  13. Andrew on August 7, 2018 at 10:01 am said:

    @Darren: The war between the G’kek, the Skroderiders and the Mulefa is ramping up.

    Not to mention the Polarians.

  14. @Darren Garrison: “City of Stairs and Ramps.”

    ROFLMAO! Please except this Internet. 🙂

  15. @Another Laura: My darling daughter has Audio Processing Disorder, yet another condition which is now considered to be on the autism spectrum. Somebody (IIRC on ML rather than here) quoted that it’s really a hypersphere rather than a spectrum; different ways in which processing is interfered with keep turning up. I am impressed that you were able to work through this — and that your daughter is able to cope with what I’ve found a high-random-noise environment even when it doesn’t look like a TV episode.

  16. Um, it wasn’t easy? We knew very early that something wasn’t right, but physically, she was perfect and her hearing, which we had checked repeatedly, was excellent. By the time she was diagnosed, I’d worked my way through every childhood development book the library had, and was getting more through interlibrary loans. (If only I’d had access to the internet back then!) All that research came in very handy once we knew what she was dealing with. One of the things we’d read early on was to play to her strengths, so we enrolled her in martial arts as well as field sports. She credits the martial arts for teaching her self-discipline, which helped her learn to focus. She says that after learning to tune out radios, barking dogs, traffic noises, birds, crickets, and all the random noise life is jammed with, the chaos of an ER is quite manageable.
    Up until she was born, i sort of bopped along through life, kind of assuming that most people experienced life the way I did. I realized, of course, that physically disabled people had a much harder time bopping along than I did, but the idea that people’s actual senses and mental processes could be so completely different from mine eluded me.
    It’s been fascinating watching her grow into an amazing and competent adult, but it has given me a sort of jaundiced view of many scifi tropes. If it’s THIS hard to understand other humans, how the heck are we ever going to learn to communicate with aliens?

  17. @Lenora Rose: “I don’t think the difference is between physical and mental issues alone: I have not yet met a depressed person who wouldn’t want their brain chemicals reset, and…” (cut for space)

    Fully agreed. I made that division in my statements because (1) it’s an intuitive one and (2) there’s much less controversy over fixing physical issues than there is around mental ones. The “mental issues” basket is messy for exactly the reasons you cite: more depends on the individual person, the specific condition, and to what degree that condition affects that person’s identity.

    I remember going on Dilantin for epilepsy in the early 1990s and actually feeling my brain slow down. (I also remember first needing glasses around the same time, and sometimes I wonder whether that was causal or coincidental.) It was tangibly harder for me to think, and I was very much aware that I could not do so as quickly. I am now on a different medicine, from which I perceive no side effects, and I greatly prefer that. Second example: I have not been diagnosed with clinical depression – that takes money, which I lack – but I rather suspect I have it. Although I’m aware that medication would likely change “me” beyond simply altering my mood, it’s a change I would welcome… despite my strong apprehension (bordering on paranoia) about using chemistry to affect my mind.

    More on that last bit: I’ve never done drugs, nor have I gotten drunk or even what I could notice as “buzzed.” That is only in part because epilepsy meds don’t mix well with significant amounts of alcohol. A bigger slice is that I seriously value being In Control inside my skull. The idea of ceding that control to a bottle of tequila (or a pitcher of swamp water – ask me about that one sometime) is not a temptation, but a barrier. I seldom have more than a hard lemonade or two, and it’s been at least a year since I even had that. And yes, even with all of that said, sign me up for a depression cure.

    @Another Laura: “If it’s THIS hard to understand other humans, how the heck are we ever going to learn to communicate with aliens?”

    Ain’t that the truth!

  18. Rev. Bob: That’s pretty much the attitude I see in the people I know with depression or anxiety disorders — which list includes one of my best friends and my spouse. And indeed sometimes the aspects they lose of identity are *because* they have been depressed so long they haven’t learned what else to be, not because anything else actually went away.

    (the experience with that drug sounds terrifying. I know people who have complained of fuzzy thinking before and they almost always want to change the drug *immediately* — but they rarely describe it so crisply.)

    I, too, have never gone past buzzed or tried any illicit substances, and for similar reasons. While it was entertaining observing that being buzzed meant I was no longer terribly concerned about screwing people over in a game of Munchkin — normally a game I do not like because that aspect is nigh essential — it did not make the prospect of having even less control than that at all enticing. Because what if I stopped caring about real people instead of harmless game rules?


    Another Laura: Early diagnosis is HUGE, yes. As is being up on the reading – even if in your case it was because of no diagnosis instead of because you have one.

    I don’t know if I feel as involved and intelligent as I should, most days — the three year old, A., is at a vastly more demanding age *and* is a more demanding personality. J. is pretty easy-going and a bit too easy to leave to his own devices when his brother is exploding– he’s fairly bright academically, and self-motivated, and these days I can trust him to stay where he’s asked and not to get into danger.

    “If it’s THIS hard to understand other humans, how the heck are we ever going to learn to communicate with aliens?”

    I think at least one story has been written positing that this is something an autistic person with the right traits might be helpful at, because they have the practice learning alien communication consciously. They’re used to others having arbitrary inexplicable rules they need to go along with, and thus possibly less likely to be fazed by a completely alien factor — and more likely to know how to handle not being quite socially right. Not sure I’m sold on that, but I thought it was an interesting take on the skills.

  19. I have heard it proposed that ADHD is hunter/gatherer brain, or soldier brain, rather than farmer or office worker brain, because of the multi-focus etc. If this is true, it’s a brain style which is useful in some environments and not others, and coping mechanisms rather than cure might be appropriate.

    I give another vote for curing depression if possible. My life would have been vastly different without it. I’m working myself out of a deep hole again right now. Anti-depressants haven’t helped me. Oh, and I don’t like losing control, either, so no fixing it with liquor or getting high.

    That said, to return to the original topic, I like having representation in stories. It doesn’t have to be a current disability – it could be a new one. Say, someone who can’t use the brain plug-ins. The cartoon someone recommended here a while back, with most characters using some sort of body modifiers, and one who can’t, is a mild example. The example given of people raised on low-grav worlds coping with higher gravity is another. Or just include discussion of what happens when someone is injured, and have the process take some time, and maybe not always be perfect. Make some things use accommodation rather than cure. Have people age! There are lots of ways to do it. It just feels weird to have everyone be young and have perfect bodies.

  20. @Lenora Rose: “(the experience with that drug sounds terrifying. I know people who have complained of fuzzy thinking before and they almost always want to change the drug *immediately* — but they rarely describe it so crisply.)”

    It wasn’t scary, but frustrating. Imagine getting used to a souped-up laptop, then you install a necessary piece of software and wake up to find that it’s running at half-speed. It’s not broken, it’s just harder to use. Maybe you have to adjust your routine because instead of running three programs at once and popping from one to the other, you can only have two open at the same time and so you growl at having to keep closing and reopening the same software to get the job done.

    More like that. Not “OMG what’s happening in my head,” but “dammit, this used to be so easy!”

    I was no longer terribly concerned about screwing people over in a game of Munchkin — normally a game I do not like because that aspect is nigh essential

    I am well acquainted with that game, in most of its flavors. In fact, I used to be on the short “brain trust” list involved with bulletproofing new sets and interpreting weird edge cases in the rules. (And although I was never given credit for the innovation, I couldn’t help but notice that the company began producing gameboards relatively soon after its owner attended a convention where I was using homemade ones.) I lost my taste for the game a couple of years ago, though. Not the game’s fault, but now it reminds me of an infuriating event.

    @Lenore Jones: “It doesn’t have to be a current disability – it could be a new one. Say, someone who can’t use the brain plug-ins. The cartoon someone recommended here a while back, with most characters using some sort of body modifiers, and one who can’t, is a mild example. The example given of people raised on low-grav worlds coping with higher gravity is another. Or just include discussion of what happens when someone is injured, and have the process take some time, and maybe not always be perfect.”

    Honor Harrington comes to mind. Normal regeneration methods don’t work on her, so after getting injured in an early book, she gained some cybernetic parts. For much of the series, that’s treated as a “better than new” situation, but there’s one stretch where she is imprisoned and her jailers disable the tech. Brutally.

  21. @Rev. Bob
    I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression – it may be a little easier in my case, as there’s a history of bipolar/unipolar in my father’s family – and found that an antidepressant was very helpful in being more me. It got me better focused, and made it easier to do those things that I’d rather put off. (It also had the wonderful side effect of fixing my neurodermatitis. It’s a known side effect.)
    I was lucky that the first SSRI my doctor tried did the job. I should probably ask him about getting it again.

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