SeroTalk 228: Go Freeze Yourself

Download SeroTalk 228: Go Freeze Yourself or use the audio player below the show notes to tune in.

This week’s book Audible recommendation is Unwind by Neal Shusterman.

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them.

Conner’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has
been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely
companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance.

If they can survive until their 18th birthdays, they can’t be harmed – but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a
world gone mad, 18 seems far, far away.

In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges listeners’ ideas about life – not just where life begins, and where it ends,
but what it truly means to be alive.

Download your free copy at


These are some of the recent headlines since we last chatted:

Cyanogen partners with Microsoft to integrate Bing, other MS services

What’s next for Microsofts Universal Apps

Google and Facebook change their algorithms

EU to investigate transparency of internet search results

Many Government Tiplines Not Encrypted’s HTTP-only login page puts millions of passwords at risk

Verizon introduces new ways to customize FiOS TV subscription

Facebook unveils phone app Hello

This ‘Smart’ Pillow Connects To Your Phone And Uses Speakers To Help You Sleep

MIT’s Media Lab develops new “NailO” fingernail trackpad

IKEA Introduces Wireless Charging Furniture; Going to Hit Markets Soon

FBI and TSA Warn Airlines to Watch Out For Wi-Fi Hacks

Accessibility Talk

Congratulations to this year’s AFB Access Award Winners

Including Microsoft, but what’s this opinion by NFB Computer Science President Curtis Chong claiming Accessibility at Microsoft More Challenges than Victories

And a response from Chris Hofstader: Accessibility and NFBCS: More Questions Than Results

But, don’t come down too hard on the NFB. Among other projects, they’re tackling Indoor navigation

And they’re not the only ones. Video Game found to help the blind navigate buildings

And this guy’s planning on replacing guide dogs with drones? Eelke Folmer uses human-computer interaction research to help blind and visually impaired people

Finally, some audio description! Netflics Dare Devil accessible to the Blind After Complaints Check out these additional articles for helpful tips. Instructions to toggle descriptive audio & control Netflix videos in Chrome on the Mac And, How to Enable Audio Description on Netflix for iPhone, Android, and Apple TV

Maybe it’s not such a bad time to be blind. What say you? What it’s like to go blind And Am I Really Blind? Adapting to Adaptive Technology

Human Interest

This guy says Disability will be conquered this century. Don’t believe him? Suit yourself, or, freeze yourself, because this 2 year old was cryogenically frozen by her parents.


We weren’t able to cover all the feedback in the recording, but here is some of the feedback that made it out to us before release:

From Jenine:

Hi Gang,

Yes, a couple of these robot guide projects have been done before, mostly in Japan.

Maybe this one though will prove a bit more realistic. It seems when people try these kinds of things with the focus on blindness, they allow all sorts of stereotypical experiences of blindness to interfere with the actual use of the device. even when they include blind people in the testing, their focus often goes wrong, sideways somehow if you know what I mean.

Having a larger sample of people and experience to work with, plus a pretty demanding population, First Responders who are used to their equipment working, as well as having life and death in the balance, will hopefully yield a bit more gravity to the product.

In other words, everyone can relate to being in a smoke filled building and needing help to find someone or the way out or stairs or whatever. They don’t inflict their own perceptions about things like blindness on to that experience as they would if creating for just “the blind”.

And hey, if this robot happens to also help blind people by becoming a robot guide, great!

I just keep thinking of K9 from the Dr. Who series.

Can I get one with anatomical features and fur? If so, I want a dire wolf guide, though I hear they are pretty big.

Sadly, given that most of the trouble with fake service dogs is with those claiming to be for emotional support or things like allergy detection, the robot guide wouldn’t help. Nice thought though.

Jenine Stanley

From Louis:

Hello Joe, Katie, and Laine,

I am listening to episode 227 as I’m typing this, and I’m enjoying the show immensely. I think each of you bring a unique opinion to the table, so keep up the great work and bring on the controversy!

I was talking to someone the other day, and I expressed my frustration with how ignorant/oblivious the general public can be towards people with disabilities. I’m sure you’ve experienced the being talked to like a toddler treatment, or the let’s grab your arm and drag you in this direction treatment, just to name a few scenarios. The response I received was that the struggles we are experiencing are similar to the struggles women and African Americans experienced as they fought for equal rights. How do you feel about the parallels being drawn between the trials of these three groups?

As the conversation went on, we touched on the topic of blind people being compared to certain blind celebrities. For example, I had someone tell me that it’s great that Stevie Wonder can have people help him everywhere. If someone is a disabled celebrity, do you think they have a greater duty to show the world what we are capable of, rather than cementing certain stereotypes? Also, if they do not have certain skills, like say mobility skills or independent living skills, is it their fault for showing their inadequacies to the public and not seek the training that would make them more independent?

Last question, when is it okay to be mad/annoyed, and when should you just grin and joke about public misconceptions?

Thanks for reading my musings, and I hope to hear your thoughts.


From Josh:

Hello all. I really enjoyed Serotalk Podcast 227 and the Triple Click Home extra on the Apple watch. I wanted to share my opinions on assisted suicide and the usefulness of Braille. As a Bible believing Christian, I believe all human life is precious because I believe that God is the creator of life. I am therefore categorically opposed to assistive suicide regardless of the circumstances. As someone who has undergone two craniotomies as well as several other operations, I understand the agony and depression pain can cause. I also know that God has taught me many important life lessons through pain. While I will take advantage of a sight restoring method if one is created, I am also thankful for my blindness and problems, because they’ve made me a more mature person.
I also take some issue with Joe’s definition of literacy. As an avid reader of audio books, I believe that while reading is important, it doesn’t have to only mean recognition of how letters look. While I am not advocating for the use of audio books only, I don’t think the question should be either or, but both. I realized that reading textbooks in Braille was slo and absolutely inefficient for me in high-school. On the other hand, if I couldn’t read braille signage, I’d be in big trouble! Have a wonderful week,

Josh in Illinois

From Jesse, regarding the SeroTalk Extra Tech Chat episode:

Hello everybody,

I really enjoyed the special. It is nice to hear a bunch of people get together and hash things out. It was an informative, and sometimes slightly heated, debate. Overall, I thought it went well. Mike might have become a little aggressive in defending his opinion but that is just how it seemed from my end. I just wanted to give my thoughts on what was discussed in regards to the future of AT if we continue on this road to mobile devices.

While I think Apple should be held accountable for its actions now that it has become a provider of assistive technology, I slightly agree with Mike that we can’t hold them to the same standard. This is because Apple doesn’t have as much experience with accessibility as third-party assistive technology companies have. Most of these companies have been dealing in accessibility for a long time and also, they only make assistive products. To my knowledge, Apple hasn’t been dealing in this market as long as companies like Freedom Scientific or GW Micro and even though Serotek hasn’t been around as long as some of the pioneers, Accessible products is what they do. I do not, however, think we should continue to give Apple a pass. In this fast-moving world of technology, Apple has been in the AT business quite a while and it is time they really start getting it right.

I worry that we will have the same problem with Microsoft. I have not played with previews of Windows 10 but I have heard that Narrator is improved and I assume Windows wants to eventually have integrated accessibility like Apple has. If Matt Campbell says it is going to become difficult for third-party screen readers to “hook and hack” as we move toward a more mobile lifestyle, and who would know better than somebody who has to do the hooking and hacking, we may have to rely on an integrated screen reader. I see two solutions to the worry of having no other choice than substandard screen readers.

The first, which was mentioned on the podcast, would be for blind programmers to grab the opportunity and offer their services to these companies. I think this will be the answer to Apple’s problems.

The second would be for Microsoft to purchase one of the existing assistive technology companies or at least the screen reading and magnification sectors. These are companies with products which work already and who know a lot about what they do. This way, we could unbox our Microsoft product and have JAWS, System Access, NVDA or WindowEyes integrated into the OS. Sure, it would eliminate choices but it looks like that is inevitable anyway. It beats getting stuck in the same situation with Windows where we have a fully functional screen reader but find ourselves overlooking inexcusable mistakes because we are just glad to have access.

I apologize that this message is long-winded but I really wanted to get my thoughts out there and ask the question of why Microsoft doesn’t just save a lot of hassle and buy something that already works. Great job on the podcast and I hope it can keep informing people for years to come.

Jesse Tregarthen

From Keith:

Hi everybody!

I found podcast 227 to be exciting and informative.

Regarding guidedog robots, that might possibly be interesting or maybe not, but because we don’t actually have them around to see what reactions are, its hard to say one way or the other.

Regarding what Joe had to say about that Social Security article, I find myself thinking that one day we will either have increased taxes, or one day actually no Social Security.
In 2016, we’re going to be seeing lots of babyboomers retiring.
Then we’ll see more and more continue over the next several years to retire, leaving the rest of us to deal with what economic situation this will ultimately create.
I for one, don’t believe that we’ll have Social Security forever.
And I think that it is about time that people started thinking about relying les on the Government to take care of tere futures mmoney wise, and started thinking about other ways of making a living so that you can be in charge of your own future.
Personally, I see entrepreneurship as the solution, I believe in empowerment of people, rather than employment being the ultimate answer.

However, that being said, I think that for those that choose employment, that’s awesome.

Whatever works best for you ultimately despite my opinion is what matters here.

But I’m curious what the rest of you think.

Does anybody agree or disagree or have any other thoughts about Social Security ultimately not being something that will continue to exist?
As more people lean on Social Security, I think we’re going to see money disappear from the program.

Pensions are an old concept as well that no longe rapply to most young folks today trying to find work.

Then we have the issue of defined contribution retirement vs defined benefit plans.
Most folks aren’t even putting anything in to their retirement plan.
And at the age of 65, the IRS will require taxes to be paid on those plans.

So, ast o if we’ll have enough money int he long term to keep thigns going the way they currently work?

I believe no, but would like to see what the rest of you have to say.

Thank you for another awesome podcast and I look forward to the next one.

I enjoy the stile of the new voices on the podcast as well, and like hearing all your different perspectives on the topics that come up for each show.



From Gary:

Hi Joe,

I listened to your excellent Serotalk podcast this evening. During your discussion of Braille, my impression was that you were coming very close to equating Braille and literacy. There is little question that were one suddenly able to become a proficient Braille user, few would decline the opportunity, including me. Braille is a skill I would like to have developed when I was young. However, when I did try to teach myself as an adult, my success was minimal. Even so, the little I did learn was very useful.

Having acknowledged the point that being able to use Braille efficiently would be a very good thing and further knowing that young blind children learning Braille would be a good thing as well, please do not suggest that learning Braille is the only path to literacy. The notion that not knowing how to read and write using Braille is somehow equated with not being able to become fully literate is silly and quite wrong.

I also think that is a deep rabbit hole you head down when you suggest that using readers or text to speech or other electronic methods is not reading. Since few written materials were originally produced in Braille, having them converted to Braille and then reading the Braille is not much different than having them converted to speech. You come close to arguing that your accommodation is better than my accommodation which is another one of those silly arguments.

Thanks for the time and effort you and the others devote to making the podcast available to those of us who enjoy it a lot. I always look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Thanks for the opportunity to provide this feedback.

Gary Crow

p.s. Your point about Braille and better spelling is quite likely very true.

From William:

i am pretty frustrated with Sero talk podcasts. I like getting information from serotalk but its become a chore to slog through long podcasts of often dubious conjecture about what Apple or Microsoft will do in the future in oreder to get to where some actual useful information is conveyed. How about splitting a 90 minute podcast into segments sent as separate episodes? That would allow us to spend our time on the stories and comments that were useful to us and skip over those stories or opinions that we may feel are wasting our time because they are of no particular interest to us?

Secondly, on the matter of Braille, an opinion was expressed and agreed upon, that if one did not learn Braille one was illiterate. That comment was surely not meant to be as offensive and bigoted as it sounded to those of us who loss sight later in life and have never learned Braille proficiently. One who takes advantage of electronic text and does not know Braille is far from illiterate. I assume this comment was made in an off hand manner and was not well considered.

I also found the comments on the future viability of social security disability benefits to be based in a lack of depth of understanding of this rather important but complex issue and seemed to reflect the commentators political bias then any real understanding of the issues involved.

I would love to see SPN use its fantastic resource of talent to do “how to” podcasts”. How to use our dvices to the fullest, how to navigate unknown places, how to use excel as a blind person, for example, or any number topics where your resource of knowledgeable talent can be put to use making great tutorials. I think that would make SPN a real winner.


William Austin

Special Note

In response to the Braille feedback, there’s a blog post response here you can check out and join the dialogue.

Get in Touch!

Want to connect with our hosts? Tweet us! Katie @holnan, Laine @laine_amoureux, and Joe @ScribblingJoe.

For comments, questions and criticisms of the show, please leave a comment on this post, e-mail them to resources (at) serotalk (dot) com, Tweet them @SeroTalk, or use your iBlink Radio app to send us an iReport!

About Joe Orozco

Joe Orozco is the Communications Director for Serotek Corp. He is also Managing Director for AlphaComm Strategies. When he isn't writing web pages, proposals, and online marketing materials for social and commercial entrepreneurs, he enjoys reading and writing about technology, financial management, and strategic planning. Follow Joe on Twitter @ScribblingJoe
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2 Responses to SeroTalk 228: Go Freeze Yourself

  1. William Austin says:

    Joe should understand that I did not say he was a bigot as he laughingly proclaimed on today’s podcast. I said his ~comments~ on literacvy were bigoted, an dhis claim that braille is that if a blind person does not learn braille is illiterate is offensively so. Any person who can write by definition is not illiterate, whether they know Braille or not, and many blind people who do not know braille are not illiterate.

    On the topic of social security repeating your political philosophy does not make you appear anymore informed about this important topic. I would urge you to get some guests if you wish to cover this topic in an informed manner. There is no long term demographic problem for the disability trust fund because baby boomers will be leaving working age and entering retirement age in great numbers stabilizing th number of sSDI recipinents per worker in time. There has been a short term issue with SsDI as unemployed workers used SSDI as a replacement for unemployment benefits during the economic downturn. Joe should be aware that entitlements are called that because we purchased those benefits with defined payroll taxes, they aren’t gifts, we paid for them so we are entitled to them. Reducing thos benefits would be reneging on a social contract. No one can accurately predict what future politicians will do, but perhaps the most likely solution to be adopted would be increasing or eliminating the payroll cap for high incomes.

  2. Joe Orozco says:


    Calling my comments bigoted is the same as calling me bigoted, unless you’re suggesting my mouth occasionally takes a vacation from my brain.

    I’m sorry you find the word “illiterate” so offensive. That line of thinking, however, suggests the many studies out there measuring literacy are equally bigoted because they dare call large segments of the population illiterate. Writing is not the sole determining factor for literacy as I’ve already laid out. If you disagree with me, I suppose we’ll have to be content with that.

    On social security, I did not merely repeat my political philosophy. I expanded on my previous comments to explain how despite my political philosophy, I could see the concerns of people with disabilities relying on the benefits. I suggest you look past your disagreements with my political views and see my points for what they were. That could lead to a more intelligent debate, since your personal reasoning on the subject is flawed, to put it courteously. You simultaneously argue that the greater number of retirees will help supplement benefits like SSDI, then argue that the recent economic downturn has put a dent in the program because more people are drawing from the fund. In both scenarios, if I’m understanding them correctly, the availability of funds is diminishing either from consumption or from lack of tax influx. Will it completely disappear? I doubt that. As I also stated in the podcast, it is likely that benefits could be cut between a third and one half depending on your age range. Your reliance on this concept of a social contract for benefits like SSDI to endure is frankly dillusional. There is no social contract if there is no money, but if you want to go on believing that just because you paid your taxes, the money will be there, you go right on ahead and plan that way. I have slightly more faith in my pension plan than I do any social security benefits, and I don’t really put that much stock in my pension surviving so that kind of gives you a sense of my faith in the system. My investments are the only things I trust, and even with investments you have to plan carefully. Increasing or eliminating the payroll cap on high income earners could be one way to put a bandaid on the problem, but social security is not the only social program in need of a vast revamp under the liberal way of approaching issues.

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