Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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In my experience, the two biggest impacts tend to be these:
- If you have them when other people are around, those who are not (yet) accustomed to them can freak out. Even though I try to explain to people that all they need to do is roll me out of the way of traffic and let me sleep for a few minutes.
- If you have them other then when asleep, the Department of Motor Vehicles will likely decide that you cannot drive until and unless they are controlled by medication. (How a doctor decides that they are "controlled" when they occur at random, and long, intervals is not obvious.) But the DMV, not unreasonably, would prefer not to have drivers on the road who are losing control of their muscles unexpectedly.

Otherwise, as you say, not a big deal. I've been living with them for decades -- fortunately at 3-4 month intervals and virtually always at 3 or 4 AM, so usually only my wife is in a position to notice.

amba (Annie Gottlieb)

Yup. Thanks. Direct testimony is worth quite a few medical-news articles.

DeNile is a River

He's not a bartender.

He's a Chief Justice. Brain work.

2nd seizure. No more driving -- you don't know when another could occur.

2 warnings: let's end the denial.

Some say the man's an epileptic. Nothing wrong with that.

But let's not politicize and say 2 seizures is "not a big deal".

Sorry. 2 seizures doesn't indicate a healthy and fit man to me. And he's not just a freelance writer either.

amba (Annie Gottlieb)

DeNile: You're clearly the one who's politicizing. Plus, you have a huge unexamined bias and misconceptions about seizure disorders. Go and inform yourself before you sound off, if your agenda will permit.

Whether or not he's "epileptic" is a matter of semantics. My husband's sister had epilepsy. He had/has what appeared to be a much more diluted expression of the same gene(s). He had one seizure when he was about 17 and a prisoner in Russia (triggered by the visual effects of pushing a wheelbarrow over gravel). I met him when he was 44, and in my time with him he had one seizure, another one 3 years later, and then 9 years with none. Each time he saw a neurologist, and each time they did not see a need to medicate him because his seizures were so rare. Then he had 2 seizures 2 weeks apart after his best friend, who saved his life in Russia, died. Only then was he put on medication, in 1991, and has never had a seizure since.

Justice Roberts' seizure disorder sounds like it's even less intense than that. People live and function in all kinds of jobs with much worse. Mental functioning is unaffected unless the person has a rare prolonged seizure (status epilepticus) and the brain becomes oxygen-deprived. Nor did medication affect my husband's mental functioning. So what's the big deal?


Perhaps more to the point, the part of the brain that deals with physical movement is not the part that deals with thinking. (For most of us, anyway.) So the impact of a seizure on his brain work is most likely going to be about the same as the impact of having worked out really hard for a while:
- some tiredness. But unless you are having them really frequently, not a significant problem.
- possible low blood-sugar, which could be a problem for brain work. Until you eat something and deal with it. How hard is it to grab a glass of juice or something?

Which leaves only one actual possible issue regarding his serving as Chief Justice that I can see: If he had a seizure while listening to oral arguments, it would disrupt proceedings and he might miss part of the presentation. Dealing with that requires only a willingness (should it happen, which looks unlikely on his pattern so far) to reschedule the oral argument in question. And if he doesn't ask questions during oral arguments (I'm not familiar enough with who on the Court does and who doesn't), simply making a video would do it without rescheduling.


I have a very good friend who's had epilepsy since about age 7. It's almost completely controlled by medication. I can tell you, the public and quite a few laws are often still quite archaic.

Take the drivers' license restrictions. Sure, it's understandable in one sense that the DMV doesn't want to give a license to someone who could have a seizure at any moment. But the discriminatory treatment of those with epilepsy is revealed when you compare their treatment with many other classes of people, equally likely to be dangerous drivers.

Fresh out of drug rehab? You can drive. Even if you relapse and start getting dead drunk every night, you can STILL keep your license, up until the time you get busted for DWI. You don't have to get a doctor to certify that you're fit to drive.

Got a serious heart condition? There's generally no legal requirement that it be disclosed to DMV and that your doctor certify you as fit to drive, even though you could have a heart attack or heart failure at any moment.

But if you have epilepsy or any other condition which sometimes manifests with "loss of consciousness," then many states require, by law, that YOUR doctor rat you out to the state, through the Department of Motor Vehicles. This page on narcolepsy has more about these requirements.

That's right, your own doctor must report on your medical condition to the government... Even if your epilepsy is completely controlled, manifests itself extremely rarely, gives you ample warning (so that you could pull over), whatever, once you're diagnosed with that condition, your doctor has to tell on you. That's just wrong... and it's very dangerous to patients' health.

I know from my friend that she has on many occasions not given her doctor the entire truth about her condition, because he would then be required to report it. Sometimes, she hasn't reported a seizure, so the doctor wouldn't have it in his records. We theoretically have doctor-patient privilege to prevent this, so that no person ever feels compelled to lie to his or her doctor, compromising his or her health. But if you have epilepsy, and just about only epilepsy (except for communicable diseases), doctors are required to become government informants.

(By the way, my friend has been driving for almost 30 years now, and she's never had a seizure while driving.)

I'm glad the Chief Justice is ok, and I hope that more people take the opportunity to learn about, and destigmatize, this condition. Keep in mind, particularly, that although they're lumped together under the same name, in fact the symptoms and types (and frequency) of seizures experienced by "epileptics" vary widely.

Dave Schuler
Whether or not he's "epileptic" is a matter of semantics.
Not quite. The technical medical definition, i.e. “epilepsy” as a term of art, of epilepsy is two or more seizures.

“Benign idiopathic seizure” is doctorese for seizure without known anatomical causes that didn't seem to do any damage. It sounds so much more professional than BTSOM.


"Epilepsy" may currently be defined medically as "two or more seizures." But when I first went to a neurologist about mine (in the mid-1980s) he look at the EEG results and said "I don't know what is causing these seizures, but is isn't epilepsy." Which sounds to me like, at least at that time, there was a definition of epilepsy which specified somewhat more than just "two or more seizures" for diagnosis.


Dave, that's certainly the definition the newspapers have been citing the past couple of days, but it doesn't seem to necessarily be the definitive medical definition. Using Google's define: epilepsy feature returns a slew of definitions much more complex than "2 seizures at any point in your life."

amba (Annie Gottlieb)

When Jacques went to a neurologist after an isolated seizure in the 1970s, and reported that he'd had one as a teenager, the doctor did not say he had "epilepsy." He called it an "idiopathic seizure disorder." I think he saw some minor anomaly on the EEG (in the response to flashing lights? I don't quite remember). Jacques' older sister had recognized epilepsy (it's why she died so quickly in Russia: no medication, constant stress, sleeplessness and low blood sugar), so clearly the tendency was genetic and familial. There was some whispering about one of the grandmothers -- it was a hush-hush thing in those days.

Reminds me, we knew three half-Russian sisters from Jacques' village, two of whom stayed there, one of whom moved to, I forget, maybe Vienna, and the difference in the way they talked about his sister was almost a textbook illustration of the redemptive power of education. One of the village sisters took me aside and said in a harsh, superstitious stage whisper, "Sie hatte das Hinfallende!!" (literally, "She had The Falling-Down" -- Shakespeare's Caesar's "falling sickness"). While I remember the sister who'd escaped peasantry -- and survived prison camp -- sitting on her couch saying, "Die Edith ist mir an der Hand gestorben" ("your sister died holding my hand") and then, in a tone of compassionate-dispassionate understanding, "Sie hatte die Epilepsie."

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