Reeking Of Class

How low can Donald Trump go?

Trump obviously is a jerk, but his buffoonery seems to have a kind of unfortunate multiplying effect.  He makes the outlandish claim that he saw, on television, thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the World Trade Center towers on September 11.  His claim is debunked.  Trump then seizes on an article written by a reporter that suggests that at least a few people in New Jersey were detained by police for apparently celebrating the attacks.

When that reporter says in an interview that he doesn’t recall anyone in authority saying that thousands, or even hundreds, were celebrating the 9\11 attacks, Trump attacks the reporter.  Some view Trump’s depiction of the reporter as meanly mocking the reporter’s hand disability, and Trump denies the charge — on the barely more defensible ground that he was simply mocking a flummoxed reporter, rather than mocking the reporter’s hand — and demands an apology for being criticized for his insensitivity.  All the while, Trump stays in the headlines, day after day.

Even if you take Trump at his word that he was not mocking the reporter’s disability, it is inarguable that he was mocking the reporter — and all the while acting like the loud-mouthed bullying kid who made 7th grade so unpleasant.

If, like me, you are disgusted with the coarseness of our national discourse, it’s hard to even imagine how low things could go with Trump forever in the news.  When was the last time you saw a politician stoop to physical mockery?  Where’s the next stop on the downward spiral?

A Temporary Invalid’s Perspective

As our readers know, I’ve been stumping around on crutches for a few weeks now as my foot heals. And yesterday Kish and I had to go visit someone in Riverside Methodist Hospital and realized that crutches just wouldn’t work, so I plopped myself down into a wheelchair for the visit. Both experiences have given me a new perspective.

With crutches, my main concern is stairs, ramps, and floor surfaces. Even a single step, such as from from one room to another, can pose a significant risk. If there’s no handrail, your only choice is to teeter on your crutches and hop up or down on your good foot, hoping you don’t fall in the process. If you’re talking three or four steps, forget it. The chance that you are going to be able to repeatedly balance and land successfully is miniscule — which means you are risking a crash. When I go up and down the stairs at home, I do it on my knees or on my butt, one step at a time. That’s OK for home, but it’s obviously not a very dignified approach when you are in a public place.

IMG_1866Ramps are better, obviously, because no hopping is required. But if the surface is not flat and clear, ramps also pose a risk. I don’t achieve enormous ground clearance when I balance on my good foot and swing my crutches forward, so if there’s any change in the surface it might snag the rubber tip on the end of the crutches and cause the finely calibrated crutching process to come to a screeching halt. That can happen even on a flat surface, if it has carpeting with some kind of raised pattern.

As for the wheelchair, it apparently changes the perspective not only of the seated person but also of everyone else. When I was seated in a wheelchair, I felt reduced and shrunken and somewhat helpless. Curiously, the hallway scenery seems to move by much more swiftly when you are wheelchair-bound, perhaps because you aren’t the person who is in control of speed or direction.

The most fascinating aspect of my brief wheelchair adventure, however, was the reaction of other people. When we went to the hospital Kish initially put me in a wheelchair by the door, then went to park the car. As I waited, several people walked by without so much as a nod in my direction or an acknowledgement of my presence. This is unusual behavior in the friendly Midwest, where it’s rare to not look passersby in the eye. For those people, apparently, I might as well have been a piece of furniture. I wonder if other people in wheelchairs have had similar experiences?

My experience suggests that building designers and architects would be well served by spending a few days on crutches and in a wheelchair, to appreciate the challenges involved and consider first-hand how their designs might affect people using those devices. It has definitely opened my eyes.

Harnessing The Power Of Thought

Every day, it seems, there is some dazzling new advancement in science and technology.  Consider the video above, which demonstrates how researchers are able to use brain waves to guide and control a helicopter.  It’s amazing stuff, and you can read about some of the science behind the thought control device here.

You can imagine the enormous value of this kind of technology as it relates to helping disabled people to control their environment, achieve greater self-sufficiency, and use their brainpower to make up for their disability-related losses.  For those who are wheelchair-bound but unable to speak due to injury or debilitating disease, for example, imagine the joy of being able to use your brain to communicate with the outside world once more.  That day can’t get here fast enough.