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|03-03-2013, 05:10 PM||#1|
Ubi bene ibi patria
Member Since: Aug 2007
The Crime of His Childhood
Link to original article.
"On an October afternoon 40 years ago, on a beautiful block in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a crime occurred in a split second that was as permanent as it was cruel. Grown-ups tried to make sense of it, even use it as a cautionary tale for their children, but in the end, many just put it out of their minds. How could they not? It was just too awful, its lessons too hard to fathom.
The victim was named Josh Miele. He was 4. On that day, Oct. 5, 1973, he was playing in the backyard of his family’s house on President Street while his mother, Isabella, cooked in the kitchen. The doorbell rang, and Josh sprinted to get it.
Standing on the other side of the heavy iron gate beneath the stoop was Basilio Bousa, 24, who lived next door. Josh unlocked it. Then he slipped his two feet into the gate’s lowest rung and grabbed hold with his hands so his weight would pull it open. But Basilio just stood there. So Josh stepped out, into the open.
And then, he couldn’t see. He didn’t know why. He felt around with his hands, grasping for the walls. With great effort he forced his eyes open and glimpsed the wood paneling in the vestibule. It was the last thing he ever saw. "
" Josh Miele lives today in Berkeley, Calif., on a beautiful block of 1920s cottages, with his wife, Liz, and their children, Benjamin, 10, and Vivien, 7. Josh was deeply ambivalent about participating in this article. We sent e-mails back and forth, and met for coffee in the fall while he was staying with his dad. I was a little nervous: I wondered how I would react to his appearance. But I found it less off-putting than fascinating, his intelligence and sense of humor blazing through, and he quickly put me at ease. By the time I went to his house for dinner, the children running around, I had ceased being conscious of any difference between us.
Josh has a degree in physics and a Ph.D. in psychoacoustics from the University of California at Berkeley. He took several breaks, years long, while getting his undergraduate degree, and worked full time for the technology company Berkeley Systems on software to help blind people navigate graphics-based computer programs.
He worked for NASA on software for the Mars Observer. He is the president of the board of directors of the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind. He plays bass in a band. And he works as an associate scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, a nonprofit research center. “It’s not that I don’t want to be written about,” he said. “I’d like to be as famous as the next person would, but I want to be famous for the right reasons, for the work I’ve done, and not for some stupid thing that happened to me 40 years ago.”
He has helped develop tactile-Braille maps of every station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, exquisite things with raised lines of plastic and Braille labels. They elegantly lay out information that can be heard by using an audio smart pen.
His enthusiasm for the Braille maps is infectious, but it’s nothing like the way his voice goes up when he describes his latest project, a cloud-based software program, the Descriptive Video Exchange, that in theory will let anyone narrate any video or movie to describe what they see for those who can’t. It’s a kind of crowd-sourced service that would allow, for example, a Trekkie to describe a “Star Trek” episode in a way that other devotees would appreciate. The first version, out this month, will work for any video on YouTube."
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