Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Six Million Dollar Redneck

This is such a great story, I had to comment about it:

Double amputee uses thought-controlled arm

Pioneering bionic arm technology may offer hope for injured veterans

DAYTON, TENN. - Jesse Sullivan has two prosthetic arms, but he can climb a ladder at his house and roll on a fresh coat of paint. He’s also good with a weed-whacker, bending his elbow and rotating his forearm to guide the machine. He’s even mastered a more sensitive maneuver — hugging his grandchildren.

The motions are coordinated and smooth because his left arm is a bionic device controlled by his brain. He thinks, “Close hand,” and electrical signals sent through surgically re-routed nerves make it happen.

I have to say, the story brought a little tear to my eye, to think that this guy could do so much that was never possible before. I love that technology (my nerd side) can help people live richer, fuller lives (my country side).

Beyond how genuinely cool and uplifting the story is, of course, I also had to laugh because it's about time a real redneck got some of the benefits of high tech. I say redneck because consider what we learn about Jesse in the article:

  1. He's wearing a "Dollywood" baseball cap

  2. He's used his bionic limb to crank the lawnmower (breaking the arm in the process), paint the house, crack walnuts, and control a Weed Whacker

  3. His grandkids call him "Paw Paw"

  4. Greatest wish for the future use of his arm: going fishing

Finally! That six million dollar body was wasted on Steve Austin, who was a pampered rich-boy astronaut/test pilot. He didn't need a six-figure extreme body makeover, he already had all the advantages. Jesse, on the other hand (no pun intended), was an electrical line worker whose wife was a caterer, a real working man. Here's a guy who really needed the high-tech help, and he got it. And then he uses it to keep on living the good country life! What did Steve Austin ever do, catch some spies? round up bad guys? I bet he never even WENT fishing once he got all dolled up.

City slicker.

What's really great, but the article doesn't go into, are the enhancements planned for the arm in the future:

  • Built-in Pocket Fisherman

  • Integrated channel changer, so you can just point your finger, think "ESPN" and bam, there goes the tv

  • Palm-mounted bottle-cap opener, for when you're out on the boat with a cooler of Buds and "someone" (and you know who you are) forgets the opener back on shore

  • Speaker and digitial recorder, so when your grandkids "pull your finger" a realistic fart-noise is actually generated

  • "Gimp Mode", an on-command feature that renders the arm completely limp and useless until you're ready for it to come back, so when your wife wants you to do something odious like take out the garbage or clean the toilets, you can say "Dangit, the stupid thing went out again! Sorry hon."

The possibilities are endless, and if the developers would like to consult with me and my country friends on other enancements we'd be happy to advise.


Anonymous said...

You nearly sent twin streams of Coca Cola goodness spewing from my nose. And without the benefit of bionic arms to clean up the mess afterwards! Very funny stuff.

Allen said...

This application of technology is nothing short of fantastic. But just think to what uses this sort of thing could be put to for the otherwise able-bodied. I'm excited by the idea that, one day, I could think, "mow the lawn" from my couch and at the same time miss not even one play of the game on TV.

Oh, what a brave new world of bionic armchair quarterbacks we would have then.

Adam H said...

this is awesome! where are our lightsabers?!

Sharon said...

Do these recent articles ring of "appendage envy" to anyone else?

Simian or bionic.....

Trey McDonald said...

I believe we are witnessing next year's winner of WWTBASH!