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You've got to be kidding me!

That was my first reaction to the news that celebrated Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius had shot his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, dead in their home in South Africa. Pistorius is the famous Blade Runner, the sprinter who runs with a pair of curved carbon legs, and fought his way through the qualifiers, and the courts, to be the first double-amputee runner in the Olympics. He's a hero to many South Africans, and to many disabled people. I gasped while watching him run in the 4x400-meter relay. I believe his team came in last, but I was all smiles. The world felt changed from when the starting pistol had sounded.

Hero worship is a losing proposition. The house wins out eventually. In other words, what goes up must come down.

None of us are perfect. We are all human. When Michael Jackson was around, I used to wish aloud that he would lock himself in a recording studio at some undisclosed location, away from his hangers-on and other dramas and distractions, so he could churn out album after album after album, because therein lay his brilliance. How much music did we lose from his untimely death, or from Amy Winehouse's? How many fabulous books by F. Scott Fitzgerald or Nelson Algren, were lost to alcohol?

But you can't do that. These were human beings, they were more than only work. If they were computers, they could work 24-7, producing nonstop. But they're not.

Oscar Pistorius is not. Lance Armstrong is not. I am not, which is why I'm going to stop here.

Oscar and Armstrong are both entitled to their days in court. I won't be paying much attention to either, though. I can't afford to. Time is tight when you've got a progressive illness. So is hope, and it must be safeguarded and preserved.

Lesson learned. What heroes I keep will be close to home, small-scale but genuine. Regular people whom I know are pushing their boundaries, daring to shine. Those who suffer setbacks and pick themselves up again, dust themselves off and put their shoulders back to the wheel. One friend battling addiction and a horrendous job market into the foreseeable future, showing the strength to keep on the straight and narrow, day after day, for as long as it takes. Another who in midlife has become a reverend and is sparking forth like a star. Those people who journey to Chicago for Skydiving for MS and go up in the airplane with trepidation and touch down again beaming with elation and pride.

This reminds me to remove Mr. Armstrong from my book, which is fortunate because the paperback edition is running a little bit long and I faced a hard decision on where to cut. My hero!


God Says Let the Disabled Die, Al Stefanelli,

A short, informative presentation about stem cell research, its successes and its detractors. The writer makes a noteworthy point: Considering all the early successes in this line of research, those who continue to oppose it are saying that God values eight-cell blastocytes as highly as men, women and children suffering with spinal cord injuries, MS, Parkinson's, ALS or any of scores of wretched disorders that someday might be treatable. Sound like a harsh statement? It's not.

I'm sympathetic to the concerns of stem cell opponents. They're not monsters. For instance, I understood the 2001 Bush decree on stem cell research. Some were displeased on both sides of that decision. What are you going to do? It was a tough call to make.

In a few years the situation had changed. Research scientists indicated that the available material was inadequate, limiting. We also learned, through a counterproposal, that hundreds of thousands of blastocytes were routinely being destroyed by fertility clinics every year. In other words, healing stem cells flushed and wasted. If a fertilized human egg deserves honor, how is that reflected by flushing it down the toilet? I mean, shouldn't it do some good, its "life" serve some purpose? Especially with fully-developed humans everywhere already suffering and desperate for treatment? This should be a no-brainer, right?

But no matter. The anti forces had dug in their heels. More triumph of dogma over reason. Politics is fought not in the mind, but in the heart. Not from logic, but from feelings. At the time I was outraged, but politically I was a more optimistic person then.

It didn't help that all of this was being debated in an election year. To John Kerry's credit, he pressed this issue. But rational argument makes little impact in the face of partisan, tribal appeals. When 1 + 1 = 3 becomes a Frank Luntz talking point, then one-quarter to one-half of Americans will gladly unlearn their first day of arithmetic.

This is another issue to keep in mind as November looms. It's ironic, and smart, that the far Right so disliked Mitt Romney during the primary season that they would support absolutely anyone else. Here is a candidate so craven for the presidency that he will change his stance multiple times in a single day. Now the far Right has put the fear of god in him. When they beat their tribal drums on this, one of their pet issues, do you think the marionette will not do their dance?

With the Supreme Court decision upcoming, watch this clip from The Young Turks cataloging some choice comments by leaders of the wackadoodle circus, as they describe what devastation and utter apocalypse will take place--was already supposed to have taken place--when Health Care Reform was passed.

Besides the parade of stupidity on display here (you've really got to see this), my favorite part comes at the beginning when Cenk Ugyur makes the great point that it's only until this year that (some) Democrats decided they should try defending this thing instead of slinking in the shadows. Think about it: Democrats lost the PR war to the gang making the open and ridiculous falsehoods you see here. Cenk is at his best and most passionate on these type of issues. Where is your blood? Show me something!

Dramatic Findings About Women as Alzheimer's Caregivers, Alzheimer's Weekly. "6.7 million women caregivers devote some 10 billion hours per year--working out to about $126 billion in unpaid labor." One of those women is my friend Trudi, who suffers the effects of MS while she cares for her mother with dementia. There's a lot of desperate, hurting people out there.

Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's Night at the Park fundraiser raises $200,000 for MS, Washington Times. Zimmerman's mother has MS.

Hundreds of videos from disabled people, living their lives. You can do it.

Marine John Peck, who lost arms and legs at war, goes skydiving, WITH VIDEO, Fox6 Milwaukee (thanks to my friend Helen at Skydive Midwest, Racine WI)

Jack Osbourne denied job because of his recent MS diagnosis, New York Daily News. Celebrity news, that brings attention to real-life problems. Wishing you godspeed and strength, Mr. Osbourne. If you happen to be reading this, consider coming to Rochelle, Illinois, on September 8 for Skydiving for MS. We'll show you what to do with that MS.

The Coolest Thing I've Seen All Week: Welcoming to the world my brand new niece! Of course I knew well beforehand that I would love her, but as I took her, only days old, into my lap, feeling her life, sharing her breath, remembering vividly the night (not so very long ago) that her own mother was born, I could feel my heart expanding and conforming to hers. To life!


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