Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement

Friday, Jan 30, 2-3 pm. PST, KPFA


  • disability studies scholar and artist Dominika Bednarska
  • disability justice educator Patty Berne
  • exoskeleton test pilot Fernanda Castelo
  • bionics engineer Hugh Herr
  • journalist and radio host John Hockenberry
  • scientist and ability studies scholar Gregor Wolbring
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fixed: The Science/ Fiction of Human Enhancement

Excerpts and discussion of the movie Fixed
January 30, 2-3 pm PST, KPFABasic "Fixed' Photo, woman under water

From bionic limbs and neural implants to prenatal screening, researchers around the world are hard at work developing a myriad of technologies to fix or enhance the human body.

Fixed: The Science/ Fiction of Human Enhancement takes a close look at the drive to be “better than human” and the radical technological innovations that may take us there.

What does “disabled” mean when a man with no legs can run faster than most people in the world?

Fixed combines some of the most challenging questions facing the disability rights movement with the cutting-edge science of human enhancement. The result is eye-opening and raises provocative questions our civilization struggles to answer.  [Marilyn Golden, Disability Rights Education Defense Fund]

Scientist, ability studies scholar and person with a disability, Gregor Wolbring

Scientist, ability studies scholar and person with a disability, Gregor Wolbring

What does “normal” mean when cosmetic surgery procedures have risen over 450% percent in the last fifteen years and increasing numbers of people turn to “smart drugs” every day to get ahead at school or work? With prenatal screening able to predict hundreds of probable conditions, who should determine what kind of people get to be born? If you could augment your body’s abilities in any way imaginable, would you?

disability studies scholar and artist Dominika Bednarska
disability justice educator Patty Berne
exoskeleton test pilot Fernanda Castelo
bionics engineer Hugh Herr
journalist and radio host John Hockenberry
scientist and ability studies scholar Gregor Wolbring

Also with:
robot scientist Rodney Brooks

futurist Jamais Cascio
bioethicist Marcy Darnovsky
brain-computer interface study participant Tim Hemmes
philosophy professor Cressida Heyes
transhumanist James Hughes
reproductive rights advocate Sujatha Jesudason
disability lawyer Silvia Yee


Photo by Sue Austin

Photo by Sue Austin

Posted in Film, Movie, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | | Leave a comment

Police Violence and Disability

Listen (28 min)

DJ Quad

DJ Quad

In the consistent violent incidents between people with disabilities (often non-white) and police, the losers are almost always our disabled community members.  This week, we’ll be joined by:

Jesse (DJ Quad) Morin, a Los Angeles area DJ, performer and producer whose group 5th Battalion has produced three CDs; and

Emmitt Thrower, a producer, director, actor, playwright and videographer, who is the CEO and Founder of Wabi Sabi Productions in New York.

These two men are producing a documentary in collaboration with Leroy F. Moore Jr. about these issues.   As you can see on their website, “Where Is Hope” these are men with a lot to say about race, police actions and disability activism.

Emmitt Thrower

Emmitt Thrower

It’s not unusual for friends and family to call the police when someone with a mental disability behaves in a way they cannot cope with.  It’s not unusual that the person they are trying to help is shot and even killed. 

It’s not unusual that a deaf or autistic person is shot because they cannot understand or respond to police commands.  People with cerebral palsy are treated as drunks and homeless people who live with disabilities are double or triple at risk for police harassment.

Logo for "Where is Hope"

Logo for “Where is Hope”

How can we raise the issue of disability-related police violence without diminishing the outrage we feel at deaths which are solely race-based?  Tune in for this important discussion.

Hosted by Eddie Ytuarte and Adrienne Lauby.

CORRECTION:  In this program, Adrienne said that the San Francisco demonstrators laid on the ground for four minutes in honor of the four minutes Michael Brown laid on the ground (and 11 minutes to commemorate the 11 times Michael Brown said, “I can’t breathe.”)  Michael Brown laid on the ground for four hours before his body was taken to the morgue, not four minutes.  We apologize for this mistake.


Posted in Activism, Adrienne Lauby, Disability Justice, Eddie Ytuarte, Mental Disability, Music, Protest, Race | Tagged , , | | Leave a comment

Poetry and Prose by Barbara Ruth


A young Barbara Ruth, (Holding "Army of Lovers" sign) with Kathy Hogan and Paola Bacchetta at Philadelphia City Hall protest.

A young Barbara Ruth, (holding “Army of Lovers” sign) with Kathy Hogan and Paola Bacchetta at Philadelphia City Hall protest.  1975

Listen, 29 min

Barbara Ruth visits Pushing Limits with poetry and prose. Barbara Ruth is a long-time Native American, Jewish disability activist, NeuroQueer, poet, writer, musician and photographer.

Barbara Ruth’s writing travels from lush erotic images to the nitty-gritty of relationships, all seen through her sharp political lens.  She’s a woman who knows her way around words, who sprinkles the pain with laughter and opens us to new ways of looking at our lives.

With music interludes from North Coast by Nicole Milner.

Barbara Ruth

Barbara Ruth

Barbara Ruth’s work will appear in Memoir: Dispatches from Lesbian Nation in 2015 and is available in Smash the Church; Smash the State; Writings from the Early Days of Gay Liberation, edited by Tommy Aviocolli Mecca from City Lights Books.

More from Barbara Ruth:
Bar Sinistre from Postcard Poems and Prose.
White Woman, Age 53 from NeuroQueer.
Poem to Change the World from Barking Sycamores.

Produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby.  Audio editing by Sheela Gunn-Cushman.

Original Air Date: January 2, 2015


Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Arts, Poetry & Prose | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | | Leave a comment

Visual Artists with Disabilities and Voice Augmentation Tools

Listen (37 min)

Vanessa Castro and her 'Salsa Shoe' Painting

Vanessa Castro and her ‘Salsa Shoe’ Painting

Vanessa Castro and Tamar Mag Raine, visual artists with disabilities, talk about their paintings, assemblages, mosaics and other work.


They are two of the five artists with disabilities who are participating in the KPFA Crafts Fair, Dec. 20-21 in Richmond, California.  Keep reading for the names of the other artists and links to their websites.

Tamar Mag Raine

Tamar Mag Raine

The artists are assisted by two non-profit organizations that assist artists with developmental disabilities, Alchemia and Casa Allegra


Tamar Mag Raine is assisted by Lauren Hiltebeitel who uses a technique called echoing to translate her speech.  Her business manager, Meghan Dunn, was also on hand to talk about Casa Allegra’s program for hopeful entrepreneurs living with disabilities.


Mia Brown of Downtown Mia Brown, Julia Pozgai of Pansy Creations, and Day Marrow, three other artists with disabilities, will also be offering their work for sale at the KPFA Crafts Fair.

Then the ever-stylish Lateef Mcleod shows up to talk about his Alternative and Augmentative Communication (ACC) device.  He demonstrates what it is like to order a pizza with one of these marvelous pieces of technology.    This segment was originally produced for International Media Project / Making Contact, one of our sister programs on KPFA.  Lateef Mcleod spent time in their studios as a storytelling fellow earlier this year.

Lateef Mclead has been our guest before.  You can hear him discuss race and disability here and here.  He also read a poem for our mini-literary festival here.

Mary Berg

Mary Berg


Mary Berg, long-time music producer and host of Sunday morning’s “Musical Offering” of classical music died in her Berkeley home late last week.  We offer a tribute with some details about her late-life disability.


Finally, here’s a treat for you on-line readers.  A photo of the beautiful mosaic which covers a small wall in Tamar Mag Raines work room. 

The Joy of Leaves by Tamar Mag Raine.  Polymer on wood. Over 350 individual leaves, each one different in color and pattern.

This program was produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby, with production assistance from Doyle Saylor and Shelley Berman.

 Original air date: December 5, 2014
Posted in Adrienne Lauby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | | Leave a comment

The ADA Legacy Bus Rolls On!

Listen (29 min)

Justin Dart on the mic.

Justin Dart on the microphone

As the Magna Carta rounds the corner toward its 800th year of existence, The Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, (a mere babe of almost 25 years) will celebrate its birth as well.  

Photographer Tom Olin has been with those who wrote, supported and fought for the ADA since before its historic birth.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Olin is eloquent indeed.

When the ADA Legacy Bus and its small crew stopped in Hayward, California this week, Pushing Limits’ producer Sheela Gunn-Cushman captured the moment.  Listen for interviews with Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle, David Korth, Damary Bustos, Dorene Giacopini, Sheri Burns and others.

The ADA Legacy bus will also be at the Abilities Expo this weekend, Nov. 22-23, in San Jose.  For the Jan. – July 2015 tour stops, click here.

Produced and hosted by Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Adrienne Lauby.

Bus 2014

Air date: November 21, 2014
Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Americans with Disabilities Act, Community, History, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment

Seniors, Disability and Action

Listen 29 min

The Children’s March: A Demonstration in Support of the Domestic Workers Bill. (Left to right) Dorothy Tegeler (Hand in Hand organizer), unknown, Nicole Brown-Booker, Jessica Lehman, Lateef McLeod, Sascha Bitter.

The Children’s March: A Demonstration in Support of the Domestic Workers Bill. (Left to right) Dorothy Tegeler (Hand in Hand organizer), unknown, Nicole Brown-Booker, Jessica Lehman, Lateef McLeod, Sascha Bitter.

Eddie Ytuarte speaks to Jessica Lehman, executive director of Seniors and Disability Action in San Francisco about the intersection of the disability community and the senior communities.




Ms Lehman is a strong disability activist and this wide-ranging conversation will discuss such topics as In Home Support Services (IHSS), what older folks and people with disabilities have in common, labor unions, and the outlook for disabled activism.

Jessica Lehman (R) with Alice Wong

Jessica Lehman (R) with Alice Wong


How about that aborted effort by SEIU to get its IHSS training initiative on the California ballot? What happened to that?!!?



 Listen in for the answer to this and other questions.

Jessica Lehman suited up for a power soccer game with her team, Kryptonite Pride.  Lehman played with the World Cup Winning national team in 2007. (George Lavender/OAG)

Jessica Lehman suited up for a power soccer game with her team, Kryptonite Pride. Lehman played with the World Cup Winning national team in 2007. (George Lavender/OAG)

Posted in Activism, Eddie Ytuarte, IHSS, Politics, Protest, Seniors | Tagged , | | Leave a comment

True-to-Life Horror Stories

Listen 29 min

theater w chairOn Halloween people go out and about wearing zombie-ghost-vampire costumes, but the disability community knows the true-to-life reality of terror.  In this program, we invited callers to tell stories of medical mistakes, bone-rattling trauma and nightmare drugs.

We also talk to Larry Hall, a homeless advocate in Santa Rosa, about “The Day of the Homeless Dead,” a procession honoring the many who have died unsheltered and alone in Sonoma County.

The veil between the worlds is thin as the Day of the Dead slowly emerges.  Today, we honor the experience of homeless deaths and our many horror stories.  

Sheela Gunn-Cushman, Shelley Berman and Adrienne Lauby led the parade of specters.

Original Air Date  10-31-14

Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Call In Program, Community, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Shelley Berman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged | | Leave a comment

Getting Credit for Buying Toothpaste

By Jacob Lesner-Buxton

Jacob Lesnor-Buxton

Jacob Lesnor-Buxton

Yesterday, I had a first in my life. It happened at exactly 9:10 AM and about 35 people participated in the occasion. At that point in time I received a standing ovation for, well, for just being me.

I didn’t discover the cure for cancer or land a major account for my job. I didn’t track my girlfriend down at the airport and beg her to marry me instead of moving to Paris. I didn’t even make a great omelet for my roommates. Instead, all I did was make my usual thirty-second speech which includes my name, agency, and what services we offer. I must make this speech 8 times a week in public. However, on this particular occasion — a middle school career day— the audience stood and applauded.

The ovation wasn’t from the students. Instead, it was given by the other professionals in the room. We were all hanging out before we went to talk to students, going around the room, talking about our jobs. Lo and behold, after my presentation I received a loud round of applause. Neither Mark the landscaper nor Sally the banker were so honored. Minutes later I was introduced to an English class by another career day speaker who called me an inspiration. This guy met me a few minutes before, and already he’s using the “I” word. I laughed and thought about telling the students that I was a ambassador of the Cuban Government sent to Santa Barbara to start a Marxist revolution. How inspiring would I be then!

However, I am on my best behavior; and did the normal spiel about my background and job, mixing in a few details about cheating on a few high school spelling tests, and about my arrest record for protest. Apparently this didn’t make me less inspiring. Do I need to tell them about my preference to smoke a little medicinal stuff on a summer night, or my trips to convenience store to buy Playboy, to get them to stop finding me inspirational?

If I had shouted out all my vices, I may have been kicked off campus, but my tale of working a 9-5 job made me seem super-human to them (though I know lots of people with disabilities who do the same thing). It’s kind of scary to hear people say that I am helping them see humanity in a new way. It’s scary to think that I might be able to open someone’s heart in 5 minutes. What if I had never met them. Would their hearts remain closed? Would they remain callous towards other people?

My guess is no, that you and a lot of folks are wonderful people with big hearts offering me a compliment. But your flattery puts a hell of a lot on my shoulders. You set a standard for me that I have to live up to. What if you saw me at a bar drinking margaritas and talking like a sailor with friends downtown — would you be disappointed in me then?

Feedback cartoonAlong with this “hero worship,” I don’t understand why people expect me to be interested in hearing about how their uncle or cousin works for Special Olympics, or how they volunteer with Best Buddies every weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing about other experiences with disabilities, but I don’t need to hear these stories to know that someone’s a good person. I am not asking for the “story” about how you identify with the community in every “small talk” conversation — we can talk about the weather too.

Another thing I don’t understand is when people tell me how glad they are that I don’t feel sorry for myself. Most people with disabilities I know aren’t the “woe is me” kind. I wonder if the people they’re talking about as “feeling sorry” for themselves are actually the people who are fighting the evils of this capitalist society every day. I guess I failed in my presentations yesterday to expose my true socialist tendencies. I need to work harder next time so people will stop saying ‘Jacob is an inspiration” and instead say, “Jacob is another liberal nut job from San Francisco, but we better watch out because he’s a damn good advocate ”

I was so tired from being called a damn inspiration that day that I found myself pining to be back in my office getting a good lecture from my boss. Surely a report I submitted had too many typos; or perhaps I had contacted a community person whom I shouldn’t have for some advice; or maybe I was throwing my ego around a bit too much. Now I think highly of my boss and hate to disappoint her, but i was ready to be brought down from that inspirational high to the happy medium of critique and praise that comes with my job.

The day before I got my standing ovation, I received some good-natured ribbing for forgetting to do a job (putting on the music at our organization’s open house). “It wasn’t my fault,” I protested, “I couldn’t find the right password for our computer.”

“Yeah buddy, whatever!“ my co-worker said, “We still have twenty minutes left, and I want to hear classic rock.”

My favorite critique came two months prior when I complained about the bus company not e-mailing me back. “Are you sure you used spell check” the person I was complaining to said. Then she added, “You make so make so many typos sometimes I don’t understand your e-mails at all.”

These critiques help me got better at my job. All the clapping at the event was nice, but it didn’t feel as genuine as that complaint from my co-worker.

I know I sound ungrateful criticizing people who find me inspiring, but I just want to live my life as a person with a disability, who pays his rent, goes the movies and buys toothpaste without people being amazed. I see my job as helping to work for a day when people with disabilities are not ignored by society, but are also not put in the position of being role models. Then again, I probably wouldn’t mind being an inspiration if people who met me were inspired to give $100 to my organization.


Posted in Jacob Lesner-Buxton, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , | | Leave a comment

Spoken Word by Writers, Musicians and Radio Artists with Disabilities

Listen 58 min KPFA

Avotcja with Modupue.

Avotcja with Modupue.

Guests include Jean Stewart, Lateef Mcleod, Beatriz Herrera, Leah Gardner, Leroy F. Moore Jr, and Avotcja.   See their photos below, illustrating Lateef’s poem.  This is a fund drive program.  Don’t miss the depth and passion of our community spoken word artists!


This poem is part of A Declaration of a Body of Love, a collection written by Lateef McLeod, available on Amazon



Absence of routine

Slender grey lines
on jacket sleeves
that musty smell on my clothes
drool is all over me
and you think it is disgustingLeah Gardner and Vander

“Just swallow”
you say to me
and I really do try
catch and force down
pools of drool
from coming out of my mouth
cuz I be wearing tight fits
like Rocawear jeans, bick Ecko
shirts, Gap hoodies
or fresh to def in tailor-made
and drool does not go
with tailor-made suits
you know I try to look suave
so at a party I can get my
grown man on

LeRoy F. Moore Jr.

LeRoy F. Moore Jr.

So there shouldn’t be a problem
with me swallowing, right?
Well I have to remember to
every minute
every hour
every day
that means when I roll down
the street
whenever I talk to someone
when I exercise
when I go to school
cuz I don’t want anyone to see

me drool

Beatriz Herrera

Beatriz Herrera (L) and Asthmatic Friend

you always say
it makes me look gross
and it is not my intention
to disgust you
so I try to swallow
like a mad man




try and
consciously do something
that everyone else

Barbara Ruth

Barbara Ruth – Coming soon to Pushing Limits

does unconsciously
and you still

can’t understand
can’t I
to swallow all

Jean Stewart.  Photo by Scott Braley

Jean Stewart. Photo by Scott Braley

the time
it is like

to toss you a tennis ball
telling you
to throw it
in the air and catch it

every 15 seconds
and yell at you
when you drop the ball

—Lateef McLeod


Lateef McLeod

Lateef McLeod


Hosted and produced by Shelley Berman, Adrienne Lauby, Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Josh Elwood.

Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Josh Elwood, Leah Gardner, Music, Poetry & Prose, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Shelley Berman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment