Heather’s Homily – Driving And Physical Disability

Today’s homily was inspired by the quote below, which is from this tweet from Owen Barder.

I am fed up with the way we are all being frogmarched towards driverless cars. What I really want is carless cities.

I understand there are a lot of people who feel like that, and I can see their point of view. They’re not wrong in general, but there’s a problem with their Utopian view of what our cities could be like.

They forget about the millions of people like me.

They don’t think of themselves as inconsiderate. If you asked them about the rights of those with disabilities, they’d be in full support.

The problem is, they don’t understand what it’s actually like to live with a disability, or even to to be elderly and have a mobility problem.

In their minds there are two types of people – those who can walk and those who are in wheelchairs. They don’t understand that most people with a physical disability actually don’t have wheelchairs. We can walk, but for one reason or another it’s difficult for us.

And it’s not the same for all of us. There are a range of issues: pain, slowness, shortness of breath, uneven gait, only able to work short distances and more. Different people will have a different problem or problems.

For us, the sight of a beautiful, wide open, plaza where it’s illegal to take a vehicle can be depressing. We’re not going to be able to use it, and it’s going to prevent us getting where we need to go.

I’m not saying, of course, that I want a stop to the wonderful efforts to make our cities greener in every sense of the word. I just want planners to remember that most people with a physical disability aren’t in wheelchairs and we need to get around too.

And I can’t wait for driver-less cars. They’ll extend the range I’ll be able to travel in comfort, especially on my own. At the moment there’s a limit to how far I can drive because of the pain it causes. I know my limits, and I know how far I can go before the pain means I’m not an entirely safe driver. I look forward to being able to travel greater distances in greater comfort.

There’s a lot of amazing technology out there that’s not too far away.

But please remember the millions of us with mobility problems, and bring on driver-less cars!


Political Tweets

Yes!!!!! Unfortunately though, it’s unlikely to mean positive change for the people of Zimbabwe.


More Big Brother issues in the US which affect his all.


And this.


Over the last few days I’ve written a fair bit about the fact that the sexual abuse of women should not be a political issue. I put tweets about the subject in the Human Rights Tweets section. I say it makes no difference what the politics of the perpetrator are, and there are just as many “baddies” amongst the Democrats as the Republicans. Perhaps I was wrong:


This is outrageous! It’s another reason to get Roy Moore off the ballot in Alabama because the only way Republicans could win the seat if they did that would be to put Jeff Sessions in as a wrote-in candidate. (Not that I want a Republican to win in Alabama of course – Doug Jones is obviously the better candidate.)



Human Rights Tweets

It blows me away that in a modern democracy a state has to take this action to protect women’s rights from a reactionary conservative government. I thought there First Amendment of the US Constitution meant Church and State were separate. That doesn’t seem to stop a bunch of conservative religious politicians forcing their religious views on others, and allowing employers to do the same. Good on you Massachusetts.


In the US, police officers are 40% more likely to commit sexual violence than the rest of the population. That, I suspect, is because they can get away with it. We used to have a major issue with this in New Zealand. Then there was a landmark case with a very brave woman named Louise Nicholas. She now trains police officers in how to deal with sexual assault victims.

Good message.


History Tweets

Not the romantic part of the city!

I’ve never seen this before, but it makes me think of Mr Steed and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg of course!) I’d love to see that series again.


Scenic Tweets

There are always more beautiful places to discover in Italy.




Entertainment Tweets

That’s actually a nice pic of Bowie! All hail the mugshot!


Love the hair! (Sarcasm alert!)




Art Tweets

I want some! I wish there was a link in the tweet!


Science Tweets

It would be so cool to own a 3-D printer! Now that’s a nerd gadget!


Environment Tweets

How cool is this?!


Marine Tweets

Very cool! I didn’t know this.

Amazing pic!

Another new marine creature!


Insect Tweets

(Insects includes all creepy-crawlies on Heather’s Homilies!)

Cool art!


It doesn’t look real! It looks like a paper cut-out.

Australia’s Christmas cicadas have started emerging.


Other Animals Tweets

I found a new account to follow! It’s all otters!


More of the adorable dormouse!


Look at the size of this snail!!!


This cute wee hoglet fits in the palm of a hand!


I wish all the weasels in New Zealand to die a painless death because they spend their lives killing our flightless native birds. However, this is a nice pic.


This is sweet.


Bird Tweets

More cuteness!


What a gorgeous creature!
(Via Ann German.)


I don’t think I’ve ever seen this unusual looking parrot before.

How’s that for a tail?!


Dog Tweets

This is a great story, but it makes me laugh that they refer to this dog as a “senior” dog. We even have to have political correctness for dogs now? We can’t even call him an Old Dog? Quite frankly, I find the phrase “senior dog” ridiculous.


When the horses lie down with the dogs …



Cat Tweets

What a sweet kitty!


Another cat that likes the water!


Good news.




This is fun!
(Via Ann German.)


This is the kitten I want!



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16 Responses to “Heather’s Homily – Driving And Physical Disability”

  1. Ullrich Fischer says:

    Driverless cars will actually mean a much closer approach to carless cities as it will facilitate ridesharing, carshring, and will vastly reduce the number of individually owned cars. Why own 100% of a car with all the financial burden that implies when you can join a car sharing group and summon a car for the 5% or less of the time that you actually need one? Once cars can reliably drive themselves to where they are needed, it will be silly to have your own personal car sitting idle 95% of the time and taking up space and registration fees.

    • You’re right of course. Good thinking. And especially once they’re electric too this will be even more true. Vehicle management companies will be a new type of business for that sort of thing.

      A lot of the current jobs are going to go with robotics etc, but i think there will be plenty of new ones that we can’t even imagine just yet. The trick will be keeping yourself broadly educated and versatile.

  2. Yakaru says:

    Germany was very quick to embrace electric cars, but people with disabilities still have to fight the most absurd bureaucratic battles just to get a parking permit close to their home. I guess all societies are like this, but as a foreigner I notice it more quickly here, how some aspects of society evolve, and some are stuck in a time capsule. Though maybe the modern and the regressive are both unusually distinctive in Germany.

    I used to watch black cockatoos when I lived in the bush near Melbourne. I loved seeing them fly through the valley and squarking their extraordinarily loud and hearty squarks. Their feathers are gold-tipped.

    • Being younger (and having more space) means we don’t have the beautiful old cities to deal with like in Europe. All housing here has to include off-street parking at the very least.

      Getting a disabled parking permit isn’t much of a hassle. My GP has to fill in a form and I have to send it to the agency that deals with it with the fee, which is nominal. The permit arrives in the mail a few days later. They have to be renewed every five years. There are various short term ones too for people with temporary injuries.

  3. Lee Knuth says:

    Totally agree with you on the car aspect. As one gets older and reaction times diminish driverless cars would be wonderful.

    • There would be a lot less accidents. Most people aren’t as good at driving as they think they are, and besides, you can’t rely on the reactions of the other person in a given situation.

      I’ll never forget c. 30 years ago someone coming towards me on the wrong side of a wide corner on a deserted road. It was obviously a tourist who’d drifted naturally to the right with no other traffic around. (We keep left.) I flashed my lights at him several times etc without him reacting and I wasn’t sure whether to avoid him or wait for him to realize he was on the wrong side of the road. Pretty close to the last second he did realize, but what if he’d realized and I swerved to avoid him at the same time? What if it happened on a blind corner? It wouldn’t have happened with driverless cars.

  4. Federico Bär says:

    —It wouldn’t have happened with driverless cars.—
    Interesting, Heather! Do you think a driverless car could avoid a collision when both the robot and the human driver take the “wrong” last-second decision?

  5. Mark R. says:

    Since in America, this is the beginning of Thanksgiving, I’d like to be a little sentimental and speak out for what I’m thankful for.

    I’d like to make the backdrop last year at this time. Personally, I was depressed and despondent. What I thought America was and Americans were was dissolved in an orange miasma of deceit and ugliness. Blech. Trump elected…wtf? Every morning I woke up generally happy (after all, I consider myself an optimistic fellow) then Trump loomed over me and with him a black cloud. But since I had no idea of his real agenda (did he have an agenda beyond personal-wealth and brand-recognition?) I could at least relax since Obama was still in charge through the holidays.

    Then the tyrant (I didn’t actually know he was a tyrant at the time) was installed. But after a year, I feel the resistance is strong. America isn’t a majority idiot state quite yet and many who voted for trump (basically ALL the independents) regret it. Trump can only run on television-tactics and false-promises for so long. Time is ticking away for him. And now it’s finally been a year. Mueller is another wave he can’t avoid…we’ll see.

    But back to my Thanks. It is people like you Heather, who write and cite and illuminate and elucidate from far, far away that has kept my balance and sanity during these trumpion years (it’s going to be a f’n “era” I just know it). I’m very thankful for an outside critique of America and the world at large. You take on the world, and do an excellent job, and I hope you’re proud of that accomplishment of assimilated knowledge. I regard you and Jerry’s WEIT as my two internet grounds to sanity. What is amazing is that I don’t need three. Your Homilies and WEIT is all I need for my social-media (don’t like that phrase) satiation. To be honest, both your wonder-twin powers are more than I can consume on a daily basis.

    Well, if you haven’t got the hint by now, my most sincere THANKS for your efforts and splendid endeavors. I don’t know how long this trumpian/republican nightmare can go on, but I’m looking forward to your tweets and homilies that confirm my liberal bias and relieve my metaphorical pressure valve 🙂 Sanity exists!!!

    Also the non-Weltschmerz side is therapeutic. Evolution’s endless wonders. This includes all the science and animal tweets and especially the cats and dogs and parrots.

    Cheers and Happy Turkey Day from at-the-moment dim-America! I’m back at the stove. As I mentioned before, my wife broke her arm, so I’m on cooking duty. I enjoy it actually. I seem to drink more wine though. Oh well, tis the season.

    • Linda Calhoun says:

      I would like to add my thanks to Heather for this site.

      We have three weeks to enjoy it in its current form before net neutrality goes away.

      After that, sites like this one will become painfully slow to access, or else will be extinguished altogether, or else will become prohibitively expensive if we can still get them.

      State and local governments will not be able to enforce their own net neutrality laws, or provide internet access to their constituents via their own governments.

      There has been an accusation that the “repeal” side has falsified comments under real names; people who never actually commented appear to have had their names used by “bots” or other real people. This accusation has not been investigated because the FCC is refusing to turn over their records to the New York Attorney General. (Gee, I wonder why not?)

      As of now, there will be a requirement for “transparency”. The big telecoms will be forced to detail what they are providing, and for how much. But, if the lesson of Citizens United serves us, those proponents also supposedly supported transparency, but when push came to shove, transparency went away, because, as the Supreme Court noted, some people might get upset if their real intentions were to become public.

      I’m sorry to be such a wet blanket, but history tells us that the control of information is vital to a functioning democracy. Ours is on the brink of being lost. The large majority of citizens are against the repeal of net neutrality, but our voices don’t count anymore.

      The oligarchy is upon us.


      • Thanks so much for your support Linda. 🙂

        I would have thought that not guaranteeing net neutrality was unconstitutional in the US. I assume there will be a challenge coming. I suspect that if Obama hadn’t signed such a law, Trump would be introducing one and criticizing Obama for not doing it. As it is, it gives him the feeling of the control he thought he would have as president but doesn’t.

        I feel really sorry for Melania. She will be bearing the brunt of this. I think the third divorce will come within a of year of his leaving office.

    • Thanks so much Mark. I appreciate your kind words very much. They mean a lot to me. It’s people like you that keep me going. 🙂

      Best wishes to your wife for a speedy recovery!

  6. nicky says:

    Indeed, Zim got rid of a 93 year old dictator, but his replacement, Mr Mnangagwa, is not promising. He was deeply involved in the Gukarahundi ‘massacres’ (basically a genocide) in Matabeleland in the early eighties. He is a ZANU-PF apparatchik (also already 75 years old) specialised in security and intelligence. He did not steal his nickname “the Crocodile”. Maybe things will improve, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • I find it a shocking that people are celebrating someone who deservedly has the nickname crocodile. All that dancing around with toy crocs is a bit scary.

      • nicky says:

        Did they really dance with little crocs? They must be desperate, that being said, during his first days of presidency, Mr Mnangagwa appears to say all the right things until now. maybe we should be holding our breaths?

        • They weren’t very little! Quite a few were a metre long and they wore them on their heads! They were chanting stuff like “the crocodile is coming” as they danced, and they were clearly thrilled at the prospect.

          He is saying the right things, but I think of it a bit like the few times Trump says the right thing. He’s getting on in years himself, and he hasn’t changed yet.

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