Brief asides


POSTED: Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Shriver's dedication changed the lives of many

She was the sister of an American president and U.S. senators, and the mother-in-law of California's governor — but she never held elective office. Yet, Eunice Kennedy Shriver's founding of the Special Olympics and lifelong work on behalf of developmentally challenged people could well be the Kennedy clan's most profound and enduring legacy.

Shriver's death at age 88 yesterday is a reminder of the power of one life, how a single person can effect positive change for countless others. “;In the 1950s, the mentally retarded were among the most scorned, isolated and neglected groups in American society,”; author Edward Shorter wrote in “;The Kennedy Family and the Story of Mental Retardation.”; “;Mental retardation was viewed as a hopeless, shameful disease, and those afflicted with it were shunted from sight as soon as possible.”; Eunice Shriver, whose sister Rosemary was born mildly retarded, was the force that helped change all that. With a lifelong passion and dedication, she moved a national mindset.



Franken's quick on the draw

Thankfully, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has not lost his sense of humor. At a victory party last week, a staffer of Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, noticed the newest member could quickly draw the 48 contiguous states, a feat he learned at childhood. Hearing about the demonstration, Begich requested that he add Alaska and Hawaii to his artwork, and Franken was quick to do so, although the Big Island comes out square.

Franken explained that he had not included the two newest states as a child because “;it wasn't until years later, sometime in the early to middle-'60s, I believe, that Hawaii and Alaska became full-fledged members of the union. Please know that I have assigned a staffer to get me the hard data on this ... And, so, henceforth, my marvelous hand-drawn map of the United States will include the 49th and 50th states, which are either Hawaii and Alaska or Alaska and Hawaii.”; He enclosed the new, more complete map.