Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe

Archive for the ‘science fiction’ Category

Go and Watch “Avatar”

with 3 comments

by Treadmarkz

Like I said in the title of this posting, go and watch James Cameron’s new movie, Avatar if you haven’t already. It is not ALL hype. Not all. It is a great movie, with some mind bending scenes, colors, action, etc. Not the most groundbreaking screenplay or overall plot, and there is certainly a lot of non-very-well-veiled anti-war propaganda. But all things considered the movie is great. And it’s not racist, despite what some people are saying. I don’t know how some people jump to that conclusion whenever a movie involves civilizations of a different color (The Na’vi, who are blue). If anything the movie is taking a stand against one of its own characters who considers the Na’vi to be inferior because of their non-European-like culture.

I will try not to spoil anything, but you can see from the preview that a man in a wheelchair, Jake, walks again by becoming one of the Na’vi, right? Well, okay, seeing him become an avatar and walk on two legs for the first time since becoming disabled, and talking about it with my wife on the way home from the movie, it FORCED ME to admit that while I don’t pine away to be able to walk, if I did one day find myself able to, I ADMIT that I would react the same way this man did. By running. And like him, I’d probably keep running for a while.

When I first saw the preview, I thought the movie might have something to do with the Hindu avatars of God (Krishna, Vishnu, etc) because they are always portrayed with blue skin. But it has nothing to do with that, except that in Hinduism, avatars are said to come to help humanity when we need to be reminded why we are here, OR we are being overcome by evil forces, which is just what the character Jake ends up doing for the Na’vi. But they are all blue themselves, so the reference gets lost.

Anyway, go see the movie and let me know what you thought. Or if you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought.

Advertisements

ReWalk Changing Outlook for Paraplegics, and Possibly Giving Mr. Treadmarkz an Attitude Adjustment…

with one comment

by Treadmarkz

Here is a story about the next big thing in technology for paraplegics who dream of one day walking. It is called the ReWalk, a robotic system worn on the legs allowing a paraplegic to stand upright and “walk”. The only thing about it that concerns me, and in fact turns me off, is the “humming”. It seems to me that this would make me feel more like RoboCop than a human being. It seems to me that I feel much more like a human being just being in a wheelchair.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that science is at least headed in the right direction on this one. Or that they are headed in any direction, for that matter. There will come a day…

But I still say I wouldn’t be interested. Even less interested than if someone came to me and offered a magical cure that would allow me to walk completely unaided. I say now that I would not be interested in such a miracle cure, but somewhere deep inside me, after seeing this invention, I am starting to doubt how steadfast I would be in that, if you want to know the honest truth.

Keep working on it, ladies and gentlemen. I salute you for your effort.

A Time Machine with Hand Controls, Episode VII: Mars, 2008. What the…!

with 3 comments

by Treadmarkz

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of NASA, I’d like to tell a story of a recent travel of the Time Machine with Hand Controls. You see, I am working with the space-time continuum here, and sometimes things just get a little screwed up. Sometimes the time machine with hand controls gets shot through space and not through time.

Which is how I recently ended up on Mars.

I don’t know if you know this but there are just as many disabled people on Mars as there are here. Only, I was able to ascertain (again, through my vast knowledge of the Martian language) that the governments throughout the planet are so focused on space travel, so focused on studying earth that they have in no way spent any time focusing on building a civilization. That’s why we’ve never seen any evidence of it on photos of Mars’ surface. And along with that, the governments of Mars have also neglected developing technology for the disabled to improve accessibility.

Except for the hoverchairs.

Yes, that’s right, using the same technology they’ve used to build their nifty “UFOs” as we call them, they’ve found a way to avoid any debates over wheelchair ramps etc. But its all just showing off because like I said, they haven’t built up a concrete jungle like we have so I think they are counting their chickens before they’ve hatched a little bit with these hoverchairs. Although I can see how they’d be nice to avoid the rocky terrain on the surface of Mars.

I think they may have went too far with the chairs’ built-in commodes which have a hatch that releases the contents into space. But hey, they probably got that idea from NASA. And it solves the problem of accessible bathrooms. No need for an ADA here.

Except for the issue of equal treatment in the workplace. No problem there either. Everyone on Mars is required to work for their space program. They are serious about finally being able to prove once and for all that there is life on Earth!

A Time Machine with Hand Controls, Episode VI: 866 A.D., the British Isles

leave a comment »

by Treadmarkz,

Time for the long-awaited sixth installment of the Time Machine with Hand Controls, in which our hero finds himself in the perilous position between a Viking long bow infantry and the treasure the Vikings sought out on the British Isles.

Just outside of York, England, 866 A.D. – The Time Machine with Hand Controls came to rest in the middle of a field. I got my chair out and popped the wheels on, and as I approached the village center, the locals began to stop what they were doing, and the cry of “Ivar!” began to grow louder. I, being well-versed in ninth-century Anglo-Saxon speech quickly determined that the locals thought that I was a Viking raider known as “Ivar the Boneless.” I did not do anything to make them think I was Ivar, but I did not deny it at first either. It was a powerful feeling.

I learned that the dreaded Vikings had just attacked York and were beginning to lay waste to surrounding areas, and news had made its way around that the raiders were led by a “legless demon” who was carried on an armor plated pallet.

According to the stories, Ivar either had no legs, or he had what is now known as osteogenesis, or brittle bones leaving him unable to stand. Whatever his affliction, he did indeed lead his army into battle, carried on a shield, which I found out when, not long after I arrived, who should appear but Ivar himself on his shield, at the head of an infantry of Scandinavian pillagers on horseback barraging the village with arrows from longbows and torching everything in sight.

He shot a long bow from his “chariot” while screaming out instructions to his front line. In the Scandinavian military culture of the time, a Viking leader was expected to lead his troops into battle, and by God, Ivar was clearly driven to the point of inhumanity to do so. What I witnessed was an attack which was no less merciless than any other great siege in world history.

I had seen the movie “The Butterfly Effect” so I was not going to affect history one way or another by taking up arms for or against Ivar. Instead I headed for the woods, far out of range of the longbow, and watched with binoculars. I was unable to determine which story of Ivar was the true one, if either, but the Brits ran from Ivar and his band as though he were a minion of the devil himself. The Scandinavians quickly laid waste to everything in sight, so I sneaked through the brush back to the Time Machine with Hand Controls, and got the hell out of dodge, having satisfied my curiosity about one of the most mythical, yet very real, figures in disabled history.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Episode II – The Vietnam War

with one comment

by Treadmarkz

After the Vietnam War, almost 200,000 people came back home with a variety of debilitating war injuries and disabilities. They were amputees, they were blinded by flying shrapnel, they were deaf from unprotected ears during bombings, they were paraplegic, they were quadriplegic and they were mentally disabled from the stresses and horrors of the war.

But they came home.

With them, came a long list of socioeconomic issues that the country had not been confronted with since the down days of the Depression.

The Disabled American Veterans of the World War, established in 1920 had helped the 200,000 injured and disabled survivors of WWI. Of this number, those that suffered a permanent disability experienced the same troubles, joblessness, homelessness, alcoholism, etc. But many of them ended up in a mental institution or a home for the disabled, because their was no real other way to help them.

But for the vets of the Vietnam War, they came home without much in the way of benefits. Much less than their WWII counterparts received. Much of the social activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s can be attributed to the living conditions of the veterans. The first Vet Centers were not established until 1979. It took that long for veterans of WWII and any remaining disabled survivor of WWI, who were experiencing much of the same trouble that the Vietnam vets were, to get help.

Alcohol and drug use among veterans were rampant. These problems led to homelessness. I think we’ve all seen what has become somewhat of a stereotype, a man in a wheelchair on a street corner with the sign scribbled in permanent black marker on a piece of flattened cardboard box: “Disabled Veteran, Please Help” or something to that effect, with a bucket in his lap for any spare change he may receive from a generous passerby. This started after the Vietnam War. Before that, people in wheelchairs were rarely seen in public.

Terrible as their situation was, it took the story of the disabled from being buried in the back section to a big bold headline on the front page. For it was in the 1970s when legislation began to work its way through that made employment opportunities more accessible to the disabled, leading in part to the ADA, improvements in wheelchair technology and wheelchair athletic associations. It had to be so.

Thousands of the prospective young workforce, a workforce that once made this country thrive, were maimed, and therefore inactive. There had to be a way to get these people back into the world as the productive members of society that we are today. Because the country was in a major recession by the latter part of the seventies. In fact you might say that the many disabled who came back from the Vietnam War, needing employment contributed to the push-button workforce that is so prominent today. The Jetsons called it in 1962! It’s not push-button finger but carpal tunnel syndrome that we of the desk job suffer from in this modern age.

A Time Machine with Hand Controls, Episode I – The Middle Ages

leave a comment »

by Treadmarkz

Announcing a new segment here at treadmarkz.wordpress.com…”A Time Machine with Hand Controls” in which I explore living conditions for the disabled throughout history.

I have written about my thoughts on what my life may have been like had I grown up on a farm and not in a small town, and exploring that possibility has lead me to want to explore another dimension.

Time.

What kid hasn’t wondered what his/her life would be like if they’d been born in another time? My favorite place and time period is Europe in the Middle Ages (between the years 500 roughly, to about 1300-something, when brains became important again in Europe.

I love to read about the Middle Ages. The wars, the struggles for survival, and even the schmaltzy fictitious legends of knights in shining armor. But living in it? First off, without the use of my legs I would have been useless in the Wars for the Holy Sepulchre (the Crusades) unless I was able to come up with a way to hold fast in the saddle while wielding a sword and fighting off “infidels”.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, the law of the land was feudalism, which means you were “allowed” to work the land in exchange for protection from your lord (usually some fat guy who got someone to do all his fighting for him). Incidentally this is where the modern term “landlord” comes from.

There was no place to buy your food unless you wanted to travel miles to the nearest market place. If not, you were to grow and raise and graze your own food. Traversing the land to get to said market would be a chore in and of itself for someone without use of their legs, as their was no Quickie wheelchairs in the Middle Ages. There is record of wheelchairs being used in China in the sixth century but in Europe not until well after the Middle Ages and even then their use was restricted to the Royals. And anyway, a wheelchair certainly would have done little good for a disabled peasant who worked the fields.

Most European-based surnames are rooted in the trade of those in the Middle Ages who were lucky enough to be self-sufficient and not to be dependent on a lord. Tanner, Smith, Shoemaker, and Miller are all examples that come to mind.

But let’s be honest. Technology did not allow the disabled the freedom we enjoy today. There was no ADA protecting the rights of the disabled in the work force. And there was no social security. Most disabled people scraped a living together however they could, and this was hard, as other folk saw them as witches or bad omens, the blind often seen as some kind of oracle with inner vision that the rest of us did not possess. Again, stereotypes can be used to one’s advantage! Much in the same way that the eight-limbed girl from India has been recently doted on as a reincarnated Vishnu. Can you blame them for running with it? I would!

In closing, it has come to my attention that in the Middle Ages, everyone had the middle name of “the” – Alfred the Great, Harold the Bold, Henry the Unready, Philip the Goofy. Whatever. Well, I would be Forrest the Lame, of course. But I digress.