KosAbility is a Daily Kos Group organized by and for people who live with disabilities, who love someone who has a disability, or who want to learn more about the issues they face. Part education, part support group, part open thread, and all people-centered, KosAbility has only one ground rule: Be kind.
Kindness in this context means more than superficial politeness. It means empathy and tact, as well as understanding and supportive acceptance. Often in KosAbility, conversations in comment threads will continue for days after the original story is published. As Besame writes, “We understand that commenters may not be able to show up on time and our meetings, held in comment discussions, can extend over several days. Group administrators moderate story comments to ensure our meetings stay positive and supportive, even when the discussion contains a magnet for trouble, such as alternative medicine topics.” Because diseases and disabilities challenge subjects, friends, and caregivers, fraught conversations sometimes need guardrails, which the Group admins provide.
The group’s “disability” focus is elastic and not limited to the conventional definition. Recent stories have dealt with medical trials, diabetic treatments, kidney disease, trauma, wellness, and COVID-19 long haulers, as well as more traditionally understood kinds of disability. In the open threads, anyone can ask questions, solicit feedback, or share information, and know they’ll get understanding and information in a supportive environment. Group admin Besame explains that, “KosAbility attracted me because acknowledging my disability was intrinsic to healing my life. I’ve had chronic Lyme disease since a 1999 tick bite knocked me flat and my healing began when I accepted the new reality: I am disabled and there’s no path back to my pre-Lyme status. Since the majority of measures that revived me were learned from other people with Lyme, I recognize the power of pooling life experiences and want to encourage others to share their knowledge.”
Shared experience is central to a successful support group system, and the collective knowledge of the KosAbility Community is a powerful resource that is open to anyone who needs information, education, or just a shoulder to lean on.
CathyM, another of the Group’s three administrators, writes that she found the “posts to be helpful and supportive. Sometimes it’s hard for non-disabled friends to really understand what (people with disabilities) go through, from major to trivial challenges, and it’s great to vent, and to get ideas and new sources of information. And it’s rewarding to see comments from newer members who have found help and community—it makes me feel like I’m returning the favors I got.”
Wilderness voice, the Group’s third admin, specializes in “deciphering medical studies. Particularly, if there are discrepancies between conflicting medical studies, gaining insight as to what is actually going on,” which is important when translating medical-ese into non-specialist language in all its nuance and implication.
KosAbility’s founding is shrouded in the mists of early Daily Kos, but the ancient texts indicate that it was one of the first formal Groups, founded in early 2010. More important is the work it’s done since and will do going forward. It holds official meetings on the last Sunday of each month at 4 P.M. Pacific (7 P.M. Eastern). The main story covers a subject of interest to the group, and meetings are discussions in the comments. Everyone is welcome; again, the only rule is: Be kind.
14 RESCUED STORIES FROM 1PM PT FRIDAY, APRIL 30 TO 1PM PT FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2021
In addition to awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, Rescue Rangers look at an author’s Community participation. We check if they comment on their own stories and comment on or recommend other stories. Because new members may not realize that a Community exists here, we don’t expect the same level of participation from new people that we seek in more experienced members.
In Giving COVID-19 shots, manoffire offers a three-part look at the arc of his vaccination experience. Part One comes early in the pandemic response: from establishing clinics, staffing, filling vials, managing information flow, to giving the vaccines. “For those 32 people putting fluid in arms (me), there are about 150 total people in the operation.” Part Two chronicles the flood of the would-be vaccinated: “This is really a human story. The people that come in. Happy. Elated. Scared to death. Afraid of needles. Rich and poor.” Although the clientele skews wealthier, manoffire sees wide diversity in the people lining up to be vaccinated. Then the lines wind down. Part Three covers the current situation: “People have stopped coming in. People have stopped getting shots at a rate that will save the country. Are the antivaxxers, the propagandists, and the Trumpists winning? I hope not, but I worry about this.” He ends with a plea to everyone to get vaccinated, warning that we are saving more than our own lives; we’re saving everyone else. Manoffire is a retired firefighter and returned-to-duty public servant who has authored 95 stories.
In Vaccinations and my Norwegian ancestors, Dbug recounts the history of the first vaccine, given by Edward Jenner, who inoculated people with live cowpox virus in order to build antibodies to smallpox. It worked, and as a consequence, the World Health Organization certified in 1980 that smallpox had been eradicated. Dbug begins with “a short history of smallpox vaccinations (plus a few notes about my Norwegian ancestors and some etymology of words thrown in).” Norway preserves the history of epidemics in its language and its church history, where churches kept vaccine records, and they were so important that, whether “you were moving 20 miles away to a new church parish or traveling across the sea to America, when you moved out of a parish, you got official papers from your preacher.” People are alive today because their ancestors were vaccinated, an observation that would be controversial in some unenlightened corners of our society now. A Norwegian-American, Dbug has written 219 stories, this being his 20th rescue.
Prophet unpacks vaccine hesitancy and the real numbers behind effectiveness rates for COVID-19 vaccinations in So what’s stopping you? Most vaccine hesitancy appears to center around a lack of understanding about vaccine development and its effectiveness, although the author has a few choice words for the microchip crowd, who are probably unreachable. For the rest of us, a 95% efficiency rate sounds pretty good, although a Michigan State study concludes that, in reality, “Of the 1.8 million people who were vaccinated, three people died of COVID-19 (these three were most likely hospitalized). Three out of approixmately 1.8 million is 0.000163%. Subtract 0.000163 from 100 and you get (with rounding) 99.9998% (if you rounded up from that, you’d get 100% and that’s just silly). The COVID-19 vaccines kept 99.9998% of those vaccinated from dying.” That is, as Prophet puts it, “not too shabby.” Given the virus’ propensity to mutate quickly, however, this remarkable vaccine efficiency works best when everyone gets the vaccine. Prophet joined Daily Kos in 2004 and has authored 60 stories.
In the snarky Mother Nature has revealed her master plan, ladyrima concludes that the Earth has put up with our nonsense long enough. “She has told us in no uncertain terms to clean up our act, or we must face dire consequences. We have (as a species, not as individuals) completely ignored Her warning, and now She’s had it with us. She’s stopping the car and turning around because we can’t play nice in the back seat.” As the owner of a small retail business, ladyrima deals with customers daily, and knows they fall into two categories: “A) May I please come in? I’ve sanitized my hands, my mask is worn correctly, and I just got my second vaccine shot two weeks ago” and (B) ‘Masks are stupid, I’m never getting the vaccine because baby-parts/tracker-chips/I’m-Not-A-Scientist-But-I-Still-Have-Questions-I-Wouldn’t-Understand-The-Answers-To, and you’re a Nazi for even asking me about any of this.’” In Mother Nature’s master plan, ladyrima concludes, COVID-19 will deal with one of these types, and the other type will survive. Ladyrima has written 28 stories, with this being her first rescue.
Viragette calls out the gulf between ideology and behavior in I’m losing my social skills and I don’t want them back as she recounts her experiences in discrimination as transgender faculty in a supposedly progressive academic department. “Even in the academic world, many—including supposedly ‘liberal’ and ‘enlightened’ faculty members and administrators—seethe with resentment, however veiled, toward anyone whom they believe to have ‘jumped the line.’” The workplace hostility she encounters from people who think themselves liberal and the cost of remaining positive and compassionate in the teeth of aggression has made pandemic isolation a respite she is not anxious to leave. Virgette has written two stories, and both of them have been rescued.
THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY
In a vignette by Robert Dobbs, The inconvenience store is one side of his garage that has never held the family car. It instead stores the family’s staples, now in short supply due to the pandemic. “We restock our kitchen from it daily, making sure each week that the lumbering truck from the supermarket leaves just a little more than we require. And thus the surplus grows.” Although he’s no disaster prepper, Dobbs sees his inconvenience store as a hedge against the world humans have created and all its threatened horrors: pandemics, wildfires, droughts, power blackouts. “And the author of this disaster novel is … civilization itself. For building a world where a worldwide plague was absolutely going to happen, and not preparing for it. For spawning global warming, droughts, and famines. For not allowing forests to burn naturally, so that when fires do take hold, they are fierce and fast, merciless and deadly.” Robert Dobbs joined in 2012 and has written 52 stories, with 27 rescued.
In I am the bag man, Daverhagen writes, “Earth Day is every day at our house. We don’t want to be wasteful, and really believe that plastics are a toxic curse upon the Earth. So we wash and re-use our baggies for lunches and many other small tasks.” Trying to live a life that minimizes waste can be time-consuming and tedious, he muses as he washes plastic bags and leaves them in strategic locations to dry. Those strategic locations tend to multiply as the bags pile up. It’s such a small part of pollution, so why do it? Because “Earth Day is every day,” and because “actions speak better than words.” Daverhagen has written nine stories for Daily Kos, with four rescued.
In Back to the Future: Dystopian Version, sufeitzy remembers the cutting edge technology of the 1970s: house-wide intercoms, central vacuums, “Electric Eyes” and rooftop television directional controls. While each was amazing for its time, and either didn’t exactly work as advertised or were rather easy to disable when convenient—especially in the case of the intercoms—none of the technology intruded on personal privacy. Sufeitzy compares these relatively innocent technologies to the convenient electronic assistants like Google’s smart speaker. “Today, imagine, for only $300 per room, for all the trimmings—about $50 in 1970’s money—you can invite the largest digitizing/transcription and archiving service in the world into every room of your home to listen to conversations.” The purposes to which all your private information can be put points to a truly dystopic future. Sufeitzy writes often about science and especially about COVID-19, and has written 69 stories.
“When nourished, the tendrils of plants can grow long, strongly grasping other objects and, in a way, connecting them. Other intangible things can forge these connections as well.” Intangible connections of family, history and love, all powerful and enduring, cross continents, decades and lifetimes in bookgirl‘s review of Linda Rui Feng’s novel, Swimming Back to Trout River, in Contemporary Fictions Views: Sending out tendrils that connect to others. The intersection of the characters, with their longings, obstacles and their complexities, makes for a reading experience “that shows the heart and mind of any discerning soul can be connected, and that they can reach out to others in ways to move other souls.” Bookgirl has authored 261 diaries, most of them for her Contemporary Fiction Views series in the Readers and Book Lovers Group. This is her 98th rescue.
AdmiralNaismith gathers three disparate books for review in Monthly BookPost, April 2021. The first is a problematic classic, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Savage Noble: Tarzan of the Apes, which he notes has not aged well. “The book is at its best when he has no more than animals for company, and he swings through the trees on vines, calling his yet-to-be-trademarked Tarzan yell.” The second is a Hugo nominee, Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, which is experimental and defies easy description. “Please trust me that it was well worth the read and earned its spot on the Hugo list. Or don’t trust me, and gamble a couple of hours of your time to find out for yourself.” Finally, turning to non-fiction, he describes Mariana Mazzucato’s The Value of Everything, and its evaluation of “rent-seeking activity by billionaires who bribe their media and government sock puppets to chant that billionaires are too important to have to pay taxes.” Mazzucato is a highly readable economist whose work is both popular and important. AdmiralNaismith, who writes often for the Readers and Book Lovers Group, has authored 325 stories. This is his 34th rescue.
Wealth = power is an abstract construct that RandomNonviolence works to make concrete in Even among the world’s billionaires, wealth is skewed toward the super-super-rich. The release of the Forbes list of wealthiest individuals reports 660 more billionaires in the world than last year, with a combined wealth of $13.084 trillion. The world’s 2,755 billionaires accumulated $5 trillion more wealth than they had last year. But wait—there’s more! Because even among the richest people in the world, most are “poor” billionaires, with a tiny sliver (Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, et al) sitting atop the pile. “In a world in which money conveys power, it is dangerous to have 2,755 billionaires who are each more than 140,000 times as powerful as the average person … and then to have the richest of these billionaires be 177 times as powerful as the poorest billionaire.” RandomNonviolence, who joined Daily Kos in 2007, has written 123 stories.
Dickkscott advises us to Stop fetishizing the Founders, latex is a bad look on them. He reminds us that the Constitution is an open, living document, and that the Founders were flawed people who nonetheless “left a loose and open framework so that We the People can be our own government and determine the today and tomorrow of our lives. They intentionally left a loose and open framework knowing that time flows forward, society changes, mores evolve, culture adapts, nothing stays the same for long.” Dickkscott has written 33 stories for Daily Kos.
OceanDiver chronicles the coming of spring in The Daily Bucket: Tulips & transition season on the Skagit flats, highlighting not only what happens in nature but also why it happens. Agriculture in Washington’s Skagit Valley is remarkably beautiful, including the cultivation of tulip bulbs as well as other seeds for growing across the country and the world. “Now that the delta topsoil is no longer muddy from winter rains, you can see farmers plowing, planting and cultivating all over the county. Primary crops are potatoes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pickling cucumbers, cole crops and veg seed.” Along with flower and vegetable production, Skagit is known for its bird sanctuaries, home to heron rookeries, eagles nestings, and water birds. The season is in transition, with summer birds arriving and a few wintering species still lingering on. In all, it’s a portrait of a region that both highly productive farmland and largely pristine nature preserve. OceanDiver has written 697 stories for Daily Kos, most of them for The Daily Bucket.
Devoted pet owner Sally DeLurks tells the story of true love in the adoption of two rescue kittens to add to her two border collie household in Nittens are in the house: Prologue. Nittens “refers not only to baby cats, but to older cats when they do silly, kittenish, or other amazing things. It’s a term of endearment.” As the nittens settled in, their personalities emerged and they established themselves in the household, especially in the safe havens from the noisy dogs that their humans established for them. Sally writes, “These may well be the last kittens I’ll have. I want to capture their youth.” This is her second story, and her first rescue.
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).