Handicapped

They say: “We’re not handicapped, we’re handy capable!”
~George Carlin

The man has a good point here. The word “handicapped” is a really stupid word. It’s right up there with “disabled”. I really hate those words. I’ve hated those words since I took my first Disability Studies class in college. Kinda ironic, huh? A class for a degree in Disability Studies makes me see how stupid the word “disability” is.

This weekend my husband’s uncle died. He was an amazing man. When he was born, the doctors didn’t think he would survive the night. He proved them wrong by surviving over 40 years of nights. As my husband said “For a man who spent his life sitting down, he was so very tall.” So true.

This man may have spent his life in a wheelchair, but he did not let that handicap him. He has lived life more fully than I have and he was only about 20 years older than me. He traveled all over the country and to Ireland. He was very involved in his community and with his family. He lived his life almost in spite of the wheelchair.

When the priest was talking about him at the funeral Mass, he kept using “handicapped”. I understand that is the word he uses to simply describe someone who has a physical difference from others. But I kept thinking that man was anything but handicapped. He simply got around in a different way than most of us. He used a wheelchair while we walked. That’s all.

That’s really all a “disability” or a “handicap” is: a difference. I am really looking forward to the day where all we see are the differences in others and accept them, not label them a “disability” or a “handicap”.

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Read shelf: April

I was just a little busy this past month.

Akira Vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo
Maggie Without a Clue by Kasey Michaels
Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design by Christiane Lemieux
The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Brain Droppings by George Carlin
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Princess Jellyfish, Vol. 10 by Akiki Higashimura
Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin
More Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman
The Red Tent by Anita Diamanat
When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin

15 books! That’s one book every two days! I have not read that many books in one month since I started keeping track. Possibly ever. Well, at least since I started reading chapter books.

“Oh Say, Can You Hear?”

What is the purpose of having a person “sign” “The Star Spangled Banner”? Don’t deaf people know the words by now? Besides, signing can’t possibly convey the exact, personalized musical rendition the singer may be offering. How could a signer ever convey to a deaf person the elaborate, note-bending vocal gymnastics that black female singers put that anthem through? Especially those last few lines; the ones from “O’er the land…” all the way through “…of the brave,” which sometimes can take more than six or seven minutes to complete. Why, I should think a signer would break an arm trying to get that stuff across.
When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin

I was listening to the audiobook this week and this part struck me. At first I was upset. But then as I laid out my side of the argument in my head, I realized that he was simply speaking as any hearing person, with little to no knowledge of Deaf people, would when asked something like that. But as someone who has taken interpreting classes and is working on a Certificate in Deaf Culture, I know why it is signed.

But before I go into that, there is one thing that does bother me is that initial “sign”. There is not reason to put that in quotations like that. It is signed. That’s it.

Okay, moving on. First, it is law that if a deaf person is in attendance and asks for an interpreter, one must be provided. They have just as much of a right as anyone else to understand what is being said or sung.

Second, interpreters do take classes that address interpreting songs. There is a way to convey what is being sung and how, but he is right. There is no way to fully convey to the d/Deaf person what we hear the singer singing. But if they need an interpreter, chances are they wouldn’t understand it unless it has always been to described to them in detail.

Which brings me to my third point: If you have never heard someone sing The Star Spangled Banner, you have no context to place any information about the singer’s rendition, and you aren’t missing anything. That is the most important thing I have learned about the Deaf: they do not see it as missing a sense. They cannot hear, we can. It’s as simple as that.

Busy Bookworm: Carlin Crazy

I have been just absorbed by books this week. Four books and two audiobooks in one week! Somehow my bookworm side was tired of being ignored and would no longer take it.

Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin More Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin
Napalm and Silly Putty, More Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin
These two audiobooks are wonderful. They’re mostly bits of his from his shows and albums, but this time he reads them with a calmer voice and as more of the thinker that he is. I love them!

The Jungle Book by Rudyard KiplingThe Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
It was really nice to reread The Jungle Book after many, many years. I was first given the book at Christmas when I was in the 6th grade, and I loved it then. My favorite story of both books, not just this one, is “Rikki Tikki Tavi”. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but it was and remains my favorite story.

I do find it amusing to read it and see how much Disney sugar-coated Mowgli’s story. I think this was the first time in my life I had that realization. Now I know, Disney makes a movie, know that it’s covered in layers of sugar.
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This book is sadly a case of watching the movie and noticing in the credits that it was based off the book. Yet again, I have to say that The Book Was Better. There are certain aspects of the book that I can understand being left out. But there was so much more that was conveyed better by the book than the film. It was an amazing film. It is one that I will still be able to fully enjoy after reading the book because it was adapted well, but I do wish I had read the book first. The ending of the book was much better than the movie, in my honest opinion. I’d say more, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Go and read it and watch the movie for yourself!
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Babe in Boyland by Jody GehrmanBabe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman
“I need to come up with the most amazing article ever. I know! I’ll become a boy for a week and go to the local boys academy.” That is the premise for this whole book. And you know what, it’s great! This is a great book for all teenagers, boys and girls. Although I can see more girls reading this than guys. But it’s a great book that gives you a good perspective on the opposite gender, no matter what your gender is. I’m almost 30 and it reminded me to simply be myself and not let the expectations of my gender determine who I am. It is a wonderful read.
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The Red Tent by Anita DiamanatThe Red Tent by Anita Diamanat
I loved this book from the moment the audiobook began. This is my first time actually reading the book. It is just as wonderful. It gives you a whole new way of looking at the Old Testament and gives you a better context to put it in.

English

Listening to all this wonderfulness that is Kelly Carlin’s Waking from the American Dream and various George Carlin and learning American Sign Language (ASL) has me looking at the English language in a whole new way.

English is such an overcomplicated language! In ASL, for example, one sign can have the same meaning as 5 different words. But there may be three signs for one word, but it has so many meanings. For example, like. You can like something, or that shirt is just like one I wore the other day. One word, two meanings, two signs. On the other hand, great, amazing, and wonderful all use the same sign.

When did English get so complicated?

It actually makes learning ASL interesting. It takes a while for you to understand that when you’re translating into ASL, you don’t translate the exact words so much as the concept. My instructor can sign a sentence for a test and everyone in the room can write down a different, and correct, answer. I do feel for the people who take ASL because they think it’s a simple language of gestures. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

But I’ll go on about ASL later. Back to English.

Everyone probably knows George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” bit. Right? Say them with me now: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. But my favortie part of that track off of Class Clown actually happens before then.

I want to tell you something about words that I think is important. They’re my work, they’re my play, they’re my passion. Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid; then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.
I like to think that the same words that hurt can heal, it is a matter of how you pick them.

He says so much with those few sentences. So many people have issues with certain words. They don’t want you to use that word. Fag. Nigger. Retarded. Those are just a few that pop into my head. But, the thing that people have a problem with is not the word, but the meaning behind them. Why they’re being used. The majority of the time, if someone straight is saying “Fag”, it’s with hostility in their voice. Same goes for the other two. But there are gay people and black people out there who use those words. They’re “taking them back”. Well, why not let the rest of us use them the same way you do?

Retarded is the word I remember being told never to use when I was growing up. And it wasn’t that I couldn’t say, for example, that Forrest Gump is retarded, if I was simply stating the fact. He is. He is mentally retarded. It is a medical term. Mental Retardation is used when someone is diagonsed early in their life. I wasn’t allowed to use it to call someone retarted when they were being annoying or stupid or idiotic. Yet, stupid and idiot are words that people used to use to describe people who we now refer to as mentally retarded or developmentally disabled. It’s all in the context.

And that is the problem. So many people in America today do not have a proper context for so many words. Retard is simply another way of saying something was stunted or slowed in growth. Nigger comes from Negro which comes from the French word for the color black. In Britain, a fag is a cigarette. Fag is short for faggot which used to mean a bundle of twigs. How did these become words that we use to be mean to each other? Seriously. We all need to start looking into the meanings and roots of words that we use without thinking. If we all started to be more aware of the words we use, the world would be a better place.

Words

Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid. Then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.
~George Carlin

But damnit, words mean what they mean, even if everyone thinks they ought to mean something else.
~Harry Dresden, Ghost Story p. 433

I have to agree with both of these quotes. And the first leads into the second which leads to my thoughts.

There are many words that have changed in meaning since their beginning. Some still have different meanings in different places today. For example, fag refers to a cigarette in Britain, and has a completely different meaning here. But since college there has been a word that bugs me, even today.

nor-mal
1 : perpendicular; especially : perpendicular to a tangent at a point of tangency
2 a : according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle b : conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
3 : occurring naturally <normal immunity>
4 a : of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development b : free from mental disorder : sane
5 a of a solution : having a concentration of one gram equivalent of solute per liter b : containing neither basic hydroxyl nor acid hydrogen <normal silver phosphate> c : not associated <normal molecules> d : having a straight-chain structure <normal butyl alcohol>
6 of a subgroup : having the property that every coset produced by operating on the left by a given element is equal to the coset produced by operating on the right by the same element
7 : relating to, involving, or being a normal curve or normal distribution <normal approximation to the binomial distribution>
8 of a matrix : having the property of commutativity under multiplication by the transpose of the matrix each of whose elements is a conjugate complex number with respect to the corresponding element of the given matrix

Do you see that first definition? That’s what the word originally meant. It was a carpentry term! When I found that out in one of my Disability Studies classes, I vowed never to use it again. I’d never really liked the term before then, but that was the final nail in that coffin.

My big issue with it is why are we using a word for another word? The way people use the word ‘normal’ really should be using the word ‘average’. I mean really! Why substitute one word for a perfectly good one?

A new look

I love words. I thank you for hearing my words. I want to tell you something about words that I think is important. They’re my work, they’re my play, they’re my passion. Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid. then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words. I like to think that the same words that hurt can heal, it is a matter of how you pick them.

Those words are George Carlin’s. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about them lately. I’ve realized how much I enjoy words. So I’m going to start making more of an effort to write down words that make me take notice, and I’m going to share them with all of you. They may be bumper stickers, quotes from books, lyrics from songs, or simple thoughts I’ve had.

I felt since I’ve decided on this course, I should change up the look. I really think it’s a nice look and hope that it works well for a while. I don’t like to switch up the look unless I really feel the need for change.

Hopefully you’ll be reading more of my words soon!