Fixed: The Science/ Fiction of Human Enhancement

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.

We play clips from the movie and entice you to become members of KPFA.

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

Lisa Bufano

Lisa Bufano

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

 Adrienne Lauby, Shelley Berman and Josh Elwood host. Produced and edited by Adrienne Lauby and Sheela Gunn-Cushman.

Artist: Sue Austin Photgrapher: Norman Lomax. (c)"

Artist: Sue Austin.   Photgrapher: Norman Lomax. (c)

 Original Air Date: 5-15-15

To learn more about Fixed, visit:

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

Disability Organizations Demand Peter Singer’s Resignation

Listen, 28 min

Stephen Drake

Stephen Drake of “Not Dead Yet”

Grassroots disability organizations are demanding the resignation of  Peter Singer, a tenured bio-ethics professor at Princeton, after he advocated the killing of disabled infants for economic reasons on a radio talk show

Their on-line petition garnered over 500 signatures in four days, many from people who live with major disabilities.  The petition cites Singer’s long history of dismissing the lives of disabled people as well as his recent remarks.


Singer … is advocating that both government run healthcare and private insurance can and should deny care to some people based on real or alleged cognitive and/or physical disabilities for economic reasons.

The petition includes a transcription of much of the radio dialog.  You can read it and consider adding your name HERE.

Peter Singer’ 1975 book, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals, is widely considered to be the founding philosophical statement of the animal liberation movement and his writing is popular among other environmentalists.  His thinking is based on the philosophy of Utilitarianism.Animal Liberation

Martha Nussbaum, author of  Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership (2006), says the Capability Approach provides a more adequate foundation for justice than Utilitarianism can supply.  Utilitarianism, Nussbaum argues, ignores adaptive preferences, elides the separateness of distinct persons, misidentifies valuable human/non-human emotions such as grief, and calculates according to “sum-rankings” rather than inviolable protection of intrinsic entitlements.

Eddie Ytuarte talks to Steven Drake of Not Dead Yet about Peter Singer’s latest dangerous statements.

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

Care Giving: Naomi Ortiz & The East Bay Center for the Blind

Listen (29 min)

Preparing Food at the East Bay Center for the Blind.

Preparing Food at the East Bay Center for the Blind.


Those of us who live with a disability are often typecast as burdens.  Because we’re limited in some ways, the ways we give to others and participate in community work often go unnoticed.


Naomi Ortiz talks with Adrienne Lauby about how caring for others affects people with disabilities.  What kinds of questions arise as we offer help?  What trade offs do we make?   Then, we visit the East Bay Center for the Blind in Berkeley to talk to those who enjoy, staff and manage this grassroots community center.

Naomi Ortiz

Naomi Ortiz


Naomi Ortiz is a writer, poet, and painter living in the US/Mexico Borderlands. She is currently writing a book on self-care for social justice activists.

Check out her blog: Self Care for Social Justice: Deep Thinking About Self-Care and Living in Multiple Worlds (Intersectionality)

The East Bay Center for the Blind in Berkeley California, offers services and social activities to a diverse group of people who are blind or low vision, many of whom are not assisted by other agencies.


Dancing at the East Bay Center for the Blind

Dancing at the East Bay Center for the Blind

Among its many offerings are a newly upgraded computer lab, classes in braille, ceramics and music appreciation, as well as dances and other social events.  The East Bay Center for the Blind (EBCB) is highly praised for its individualized programs and principled governance system. It is run entirely by the membership it serves.


East Bay Center for the Blind, 2928 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA
Tuesday – Friday, 10 am – 3 pm
(510) 843-6935


The Front Door of the East Bay Center for the Blind

The Front Door of the East Bay Center for the Blind


At the EBCB, Adrienne talks with Laurie and Mike Castner, a member named Connie Thomas and the Senior Access Technology Instructor, Leah Gardner.


Original Air Date: 4-17-15
Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Blind, Community, Leah Gardner, relationships, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment

It’s A Fools Game

From "Humor Discapacitado" on Facebook.  Lots of great stuff.

From “Humor Discapacitado” on Facebook. Check ‘em out – lots of great stuff.

Listen (29 min)

This April Fools Friday, nothing’s off limits on Pushing Limits.  Sheela Gunn-Cushman hosts.  Shelley Berman puts Robin Williams and Eliahu Ha Navee in the same paragraph. And Josh Elwood hands nuggets of wisdom to some politicians in par-tic-u-lar need of them.

Posted in Arts, Comedy, Josh Elwood, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Shelley Berman, Story Telling - Disability | Leave a comment

Justice for Asa Sullivan

Asa SullivanPeople with mental health disabilities are four times as likely to be killed by police, according to the Department of Justice.

Please help support the family of Asa Sullivan, who was killed by SFPD on June 6, 2006 in an attic crawl space in the home where he lived. The officers who killed him were found not guilty in court and Asa’s death was determined to be “suicide by cop.”


Now the family is being made to pay $10,000 to purchase transcripts from the federal trial, which they have to do in order to appeal the court’s decision.

Local activists have committed to raising $2000 of that cost, as part of an ongoing People’s Investigation into the murder of Asa Sullivan. There is just one week left to raise $1000, please contribute now by clicking HEREAsa Sullivan 1


Posted in Activism, Death, Disability Justice, Mental Disability, Police Violence, Race | Leave a comment

When A Board of Directors Goes Bad

Listen 29 min

Stephen Drake

Stephen Drake of “Not Dead Yet”

When the Board of Directors at the Disability Rights Legal Center in L.A. announced that it had hired an executive director with a history of lobbying for physician-assisted suicide, gasps were heard nationwide.  

All of the major national disability groups have taken a position to oppose bills legalizing assisted suicide as a matter of public policy.  In September of last year, twenty six disability organizations and prominent individuals wrote a letter to the L.A. Board of Directors asking for a meeting to discuss their hiring of Kathryn Tucker.  They received no response.

That controversial hiring decision didn’t happen in a vacuum. 

Today, we talk to Steven Drake, research analyst from “Not Dead Yet,” about disability non-profits and the boards that are responsible for their oversight.

The L.A. center’s board is filled with white employment defense attorneys who identify as non-disabled.  These are people who built their careers fighting for the Big Guys.  The board of “Not Dead Yet”  has many members who live with a disability — and many seasoned disability activists — among its ranks.Disability Rights Legal Center

Hosts Eddie Ytuarte and Adrienne Lauby, talk to Stephen Drake about the policies and hard work needed keep our beloved institutions healthy.  We only have to look at the “Disability Rights Legal Center” for an example of what happens when they fail.Not Dead Yet Logo

(Despite repeated requests, the Disability Rights Legal Center declined to appear on this program.)



Masked? FaceGroup exhibition in which artists with and without disabilities artists claim and define their own identities, experiment, and make their own rules

Group Exhibition on view March 24–April 23, 2015. Free admission during gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday, 12–7 pm and Saturday, 12–5 pm.

Dis/Play Opening Reception
Visual art opening reception features live participatory painting, comedy, and interactive installations including musical instruments.

Thursday, March 26, 6–9 pm. Comedy at 7pm.
Click here for more info. 

Axis Dance Performance & DIS/PLAY Artists Panel
Wednesday, April 8, 6–9pm. 6 pm exhibition tours, 7 pm performance, film screening, 8pm panel. Free with RSVP on EventBrite.

Click here for more info. 

Dis/Play Closing Reception
Visual art closing reception features a poetry performance & screening of “Sins Invalid”

Thursday, April 23, 6–9pm. Free with RSVP on EventBrite.

All events, and the exhibit itself, are free, but some need an advance RSVP.  Everything is wheelchair/ADA accessible.  ASL interpretation will be provided during each of the events.


Next Thursday, March 26, is the opening reception for the exhibit Dis/Play at the SOMArts Cultural Center.  This exhibit is an unusually large and exceptional gathering of artists who work within the disability culture.   It opens next Tuesday and runs through April 23 at 934 Brannan Street—between 8th and 9th streets in San Francisco. SOMArts is easily reached by car or public transportation.  

Sally Lewis,  The Swinging Castle, silk free-form

Sally Lewis, The Swinging Castle, silk free-form

The opening reception from 6-9 pm next Thursday includes hands-on art exploration and a 45-minute performance by “The Comedians With Disabilities Act.” 

On Wednesday, April 8, there will be a performance by the Axis Dance Company, and the closing night, April 23, highlights film and poetry performances.  The late Casper Banjo is one of the artists featured in the exhibit.  As many of you know, Casper Banjo was killed by an Oakland police officer in 2008 and this is a rare opportunity to see his work.  

Before you decide NOT to go, take a look at this expanded description.  There’s a lot here you probably don’t want to miss.

Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Disability Organizations, Eddie Ytuarte | Tagged , , , , , , , | | Leave a comment

The First Time You Felt Your Disability

Listen (29 min)

dolls with white cane wheelchairWhen was the first time you really felt your disability? Not some doctor telling you about it, not some family member crying about it; not even you, doubting your ability to prevail and grow; but the first time you ran smack into the wall and landed on your bum with the wind knocked out of you?

And when you were able to breathe again… what did you do?FItness- People moving across gym floor, wheelchairs, canes






Hosts Sheela-Gunn-Cushman and Adrienne Lauby open the phones to hear your history.   

Stars Out:  Asa Sullivan and Idriss Stelley

Also, special guests, Nomy Lamm and Lisa Genser, play and discuss their new song, “Stars Out,” in memory of Asa Sullivan and Idriss Stelley.  Both men were killed by police during a mental health crisis. 

Asa Sullivan’s family is raising money for a trial transcript so they can appeal the court’s decision in his wrongful death trial.  You can help them out here.


Sins Invalid free this Sunday and Monday at UC Berkeley

Mourn the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living
March 8th and 9th, 2015

There will be no charge for these events.

Sun, March 8, 5:30 pmAltar construction with community, 120 Kroeber, UC Berkeley

Mon, March 9, 4:30 pm Performance,Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley.  Sins Invalid artists confirmed for this performance include: Leroy Moore, Kiyaan Abadani, Patty Berne, Nomy Lamm, Lisa Ganser, Todd Herman, Micah Bazant, Olegario Martinez, and Damon Johnson.

Nomi Lamm from Sins Invalid

Nomi Lamm from Sins Invalid

Sins Invalid is a disability justice based performance project that celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized. Led by disabled people of color, we develop and present cutting-edge work where paradigms of the “normative body” are challenged, offering instead a vision of beauty and power inclusive of all individuals and communities.  By creating high-quality artistic work by disabled artists of color/disabled queer artists, we alter the cultural context in which individuals with disabilities and disability communities are seen and experienced, nurturing an aesthetic vision which honors all bodies are recognized as sacred and beautiful. *

 “Disability Liberated” is an artistic expression acknowledging police violence against people with disabilities and the disabled people killed by imprisonment or other forms of carceral institutionalization.  Disability Liberated includes an altar to those killed in conjunction with Sins Invalid performance, centering the stories and voices of people at threat of and surviving violence within the intersections of ableism and the prison industrial complex.

Disability Liberated” was curated for Disability Incarcerated, an event hosted by UC Berkeley’s Carceral Geographies program, bringing together scholars, students, activists, and community members to map the intersections of policing, imprisonment, and the disabled body.  This event seeks to step into the conspicuous void within critiques of the “prison industrial complex” – namely the absence of discussion of disability oppression, despite the disproportionate representation of people with disabilities within prisons and gated institutions.


original air date:  3-6-15
Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Arts, Call In Program, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment

What Lies behind the Wish to Hasten Death?

"We are Time" by Santiago Caruso

“We are Time” by Santiago Caruso

By Stephanie Sugars

We can begin with What Lies behind the Wish to Hasten Death? (1)  a basic introduction to the inner workings of those considering “things I really don’t want to live through before I’m dead”.

Pop Quiz:

Where do you or your loved one stand in your intentions toward dying? If you too are considering your own dying, answer the questions for yourself. If your loved one is approaching death, then imagine her/his answer to each statement.

I used a mental toaster slide lever – cool, warm, hot – for each category.

1)  Wish to live
–Acceptance of dying

2)  Wish to die.

a.  Not considering hastening death

  — Looking forward to dying
–Hoping that dying happens more quickly
–Desiring to die (but hastening death is not considered)

     b.  Considering hastening death

Hypothetically considering hastening death (in future, if certain things happen)
–Actually considering hastening death, but at the moment (for moral or other reasons) it is not an option
–Actually considering hastening death, hastening death is a (moral) option

3)  Will to die
–Explicit request
–Refusing life-sustaining support (such as food or treatments) with the intention of hastening death
–Acting towards dying (such as suicide or assisted dying)

How’d you do?

Whether you believe in the “right to die” or the “sanctity of life” or “preservation of life at all costs,” I hope this gave you pause to consider more subtleties than our culture’s polarized debates around euthanasia, the good death.


Art by Moki.  http-//


Advanced Study

The authors of that study of 30 terminally ill patients in Switzerland (2), wrote a longer, fuller exploration of the same group. (3) I feel this is brilliant and important for anyone with or anyone serving those with terminal illness. (study participants died on average 23 days after their “exams”).

The depth of exploration is exciting and the authors’ open minds and hearts are reflecting in their approach to the participants and the study results.

The depth of exploration. T he authors seem to have open minds and hearts with their patients/study subjects. Their openness extends to their study results.

Here’s an excerpt:

Meanings of wish-to-die statements (open list):

A wish to die can be a wish

1. To allow a life-ending process to take its course

2. To let death put an end to severe suffering

3. To end a situation that is seen as an unreasonable demand

4. To spare others from the burden of oneself

5. To preserve self-determination in the last moments of life

6. To end a life that is now without value

7. To move on to another reality

8. To be an example to others

9. To not have to wait until death arrives

Take the toaster slide lever quiz on this one too.


Graphic by Rob White, from:


This is from the article’s conclusion:

Without detailed understanding of the specific intention of a [wish to die] WTD, and without insight into its specific meanings, reasons and functions, it will be difficult to understand what a patient actually wants and why wishing it is important to her or him…caregivers have a triple responsibility: first, to cultivate the skill of active listening; second, to reflect on their own ideas and fears; and, third, to facilitate both the patient’s inner dialogue and discussion of his or her wishes about life and dying.


Dying has changed in my lifetime and it will continue to change. Those with access to extreme medical treatments will have to wrestle with those risks and benefits, while most will continue to be medically underserved. How we die is often a consequence of how we’ve lived.

But dying is not a medical event, it’s a consequence of being alive.  And, in the best of all possible worlds, it’s a communal event.  I’d like to see wise elders who’ve developed the insight and skills to stay present with dying – whether their own or their loved ones.

I’m not afraid of death, but to be there when it happens, the dying itself, well, I’ll need human and divine companionship for that ultimate adventure.

Thank you, dear readers for staying with me through this long discussion. And thank you for reflecting on lessons from the dying.

Oh, your final exam? The next deaths in your life!

My study tips – show up, pay attention, be open to the mystery.

Head for the light!


The Five Remembrances

* I am of the nature to grow old. I cannot escape growing old.

* I am of the nature to have ill health. I cannot escape having ill health.

* I am of the nature to die. I cannot escape death.

* All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature of change. I cannot escape being separated from them.

* My deeds are my closest companions. I am the beneficiary of my deeds. My deeds are the ground on which I stand.


Painting by Catrin Arno.

Painting by Catrin Arno.

(1) What Lies behind the Wish to Hasten Death? A Systematic Review and Meta-Ethnography from the Perspective of Patients

a free full text article


(2) Intentions in wishes to die: analysis and a typology–a report of 30 qualitative case studies of terminally ill cancerpatients in palliative care.

a free full text article

(3) What a wish to die can mean: reasons, meanings and functions of wishes to die, reported from 30 qualitative case studies of terminally ill cancer patients in palliative care.

a free full text article


This article first appeared in a slightly different form on Stephanie Sugars’ LifeLine Blog.  It’s an excellent place for thoughtful,  factual and emotion-filled explorations of issues related to chronic illness and dying.

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Physician-Assisted Suicide Debate

Listen (29 min)

Graphic by WBNS Ch10 T.V.


Physician-assisted suicide is in the California news again.  In a flurry of media coverage, Brittany Maynard traveled to Oregon to die.  A  doctor-prescribed suicide bill was introduced in California at the end of January. 


Now, a new court case is arguing that terminal patients have a right under the California State Constitution to a doctor-prescribed drug to kill themselves.


Marilyn Golden.  Photo by Sacamento Bee

Marilyn Golden. Photo by Sacramento Bee

It’s a good time for a debate.


Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, argues against allowing any authority figure to participate in the death of disabled or other individuals. Golden fought for the Americans with Disabilities Act and is an expert in its application.


She has represented the disability community in many debates and dialogues opposing the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia, authored articles explaining the issue, and worked to defeat assisted suicide legislation in Hawaii, Vermont, and California. None of these bills have passed.


George Eighmey

George Eighmey

George Eighmey, J.D., Vice President of the Death with Dignity National Center, maintains that it is a human right to have control of our own death, with assistance from those who normally help us in the medical world.  

He supported Oregon’s right-to-die law as a state legislator in 1997 and again as executive director of Compassion in Dying of Oregon (which later became Compassion & Choices of Oregon.)


Listen in as these two national leaders, and host Eddie Ytuarte, consider an issue that is truly one of life and death.

Posted in Death, Eddie Ytuarte, Politics | Tagged , , | | Leave a comment

Mission statement

Pushing Limits is produced at KPFA radio in Berkeley, California, by a collective of unpaid staff members. It airs the 1st, 3rd and 5th Friday of each month at from 2:30-3 pm
from KPFA radio, 94.1 fm. Collective members are people with disabilities.

Our mission is to produce a radio program by people with disabilities that reflects the culture and thought of people  with disabilities in the Bay Area and beyond.  We are a
proud part of the disability rights movement and approach our program from the left side of the political dial.  Our guests are almost exclusively people with disabilities because we
are generally the most expert people on the issues of our lives.  

Pushing Limits began airing on KPFA in October of 2003.  Our topics range from personal stories about individual disabilities to national and international political and policy
questions.  We analyze our problems, voice our outrage, celebrate our strength, and spend a fair amount of time laughing.

To learn more about what we do, go to our website and browse the archives (since 2009).

Contact us:
(510) 848-6767 ex 636

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