Quit (Intentionally) Startling CP Folk



In addition to a bunch of other shit, folks with Cerebral Palsy don’t process sudden stimuli correctly. We’re “jumpy”, for lack of a better term. When we’re startled, our heart rate jumps, our (super spastic) muscles contract and, frankly, it fucking hurts. It’s a lot like getting briefly shocked with electricity. 

So if you know someone in a wheelchair who startles easily, do all that you possibly can to avoid starting them. Above all, don’t intentionally cause a reaction because then you’re just being a fucking asshole.

To avoid accidentally startling someone with CP:

  1. Approach from the front, not the back or the side
  2. No touching. if you need to get their attention, do it from the front.
  3. If you do accidentally startle them, just move one. Don’t make a thing of it.

CP Folk: anything you wanna add?

I don’t have CP, but due to autism and a messed up autonomic nervous system, I have a hell of a startle reflex, and yes, it hurts. And leaves me feeling crappy for ages afterwards while my body calms down from the massive unecessary adrenaline dump. It’s not funny to startle people. Plus, frankly, you might get hit when I reflexively flail and lash out, and neither of us wants that.

Is it possible to dress up like a ghost and fool people into thinking they’ve seen the real deal? Happily there is published research to answer this question, research carried out at no lesser institution than Cambridge University. For six nights in the summer of 1959, members of the Cambridge University Society for Research in Parapsychology took turns dressing up in a white muslin sheet and walking around in a well-traversed field behind the King’s College campus. Occasionally they would raise their arms, as ghosts will do. Other members of the team hid in bushes to observe the reaction of passersby. Although some eighty people were judged to have been in a position to see the figure, not one reacted or even gave it a second glance. The researchers found this surprising, especially given that the small herd of cows that grazed the field did, unlike the pedestrians, show considerable interest, such that two or three at a time would follow along behind the “ghost.” To my acute disappointment, “An Experiment in Apparitional Observation and Findings,” published in the September 1959 Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, includes no photographs.

Several months later, the researchers revised their experiment, changing the venue and adding “low moans” and, on one occasion, phosphorescent paint. One trial was set in a graveyard right off a main road and clearly in the sight line of drivers in both directions. Here observers hid in the bushes not only to record reactions, but to “avert traffic accidents” and “reassure anyone who became hysterical.” But again, not a single person of the hundred-plus who saw the figure thought it was a ghost, including two students from India. “Although we are superstitious in our country,” the men told one of the researchers, “we could see his legs and feet and knew it was a man dressed up in some white garment.”

In their final effort, the research team abandoned traditional ghost-apppropriate settings and moved the experiment into a movie theater that was screening an X-rated film. The author of the paper, A.D. Cornell, explained that the X rating was chosen to ensure no children were traumatized by the ghost, as though that somehow explained the choice of a porn theater as a setting for a ghost experiment. This time the “ghost” walked slowly across the screen during a trailer. The phosphorescence was not used this time and presumably low moans were deemed redundant. No mention is made of the specific images showing on the screen behind the ghost, but clearly they were a good deal more interesting: The audience was polled after the film, and forty-six percent of them didn’t notice the man in the sheet. Among those who did, not one thought he’d seen a ghost. (One man said he’d seen a polar bear.)

Spook, by Mary Roach (via astheshadowslovethecastle)


The whole net neutrality discussion seems to be focusing on download speeds and access to particular services, but does anybody remember back in 2006 when AOL got caught blocking people from sending or receiving emails that expressed criticism of AOL? There was no sign that it was happening, and the emails would appear to be delivered – AOL’s mail servers would even report a normal “accepted for delivery” status code – but they’d just never show up in the recipient’s inbox. Or how about the incident a year earlier where Telus imposed fake service outages for websites expressing support for the
Telecommunications Workers Union? Again, no indication that any blocking was taking place: just a error page falsely claiming the affected sites were down.

Under the proposed deregulations, this sort of thing would be explicitly permitted, and we know it’s possible because it’s been done. Now consider how much more communication happens via the Internet in 2017 than in 2005/2006. It’s not even email or websites; big chunks of the telephone network now pass through ISP-mediated VOIP channels, and those conversations would likewise be targetable by faked outages.

Like, this isn’t some dystopian sci-fi scenario; we’re talking about horseshit that major ISPs were getting up to on the sly over a decade ago, and are now about to be told can be engaged in without regulatory penalty.

That’s a new one.

Though, maybe that’s an idea. With the number of staff bleeding out of the system now, the recruiting people might not want to ask too many questions. And I could certainly do a better job than either of the last GPs I saw.


Last night I had a dream where I was in an adventuring party and our bard used a wheelchair and this witch was trying to get us to come into her evil death arena but there were these skinny and steep stairs in order to get there and we were like “how do you expect us to get there when not all of us can use the stairs?”

And we just hear her yell “Igor! How dare you not activate the accessibility spell? We’re evil, not assholes!”


It’s definitely a positive thing that all these sexual predators in Hollywood are getting outed, but I hope we’re also prepared to make the connection between these allegations and exactly why so many former child stars end up dead or institutionalised before they turn 30. These are not unconnected phenomena. Like, I realise the whole “former child star meltdown” meme is a comedy goldmine, but maybe some awareness of what we’re really laughing at?