Category Archives: Uncategorized

Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

A couple of years ago, at the age of 57, after a year-long journey of discovery, I was looking at an official report. Buried in lots of other words was:

DSM 299.0 Autism Spectrum Disorder

Obviously in the course of that preceding year I had accumulated enough evidence to seek out a professional opinion.

So there I was.

Somewhere I read

“If you know an autistic person, you know one autistic person.”

I’m inclined to think that is true. Though there are obviously common characteristics (which define the diagnostic criteria) and there are stereotypes, the simple fact is we don’t yet know anything about autism except that it defines a series of non-typical responses to social and intellectual situations.

For me, though, in that moment I felt three things.

  • Relief. I have something to embrace, and I can (sometimes) step back and just chuckle at my weirdness vs. wondering why I feel so different.
  • Self-consciousness. My work requires me to interact with people and read their responses very quickly. I know I miss some really obvious stuff. Being “on stage” all day, or for weeks at a time, is stressful. At least now I now why. I have to be hyper-vigilant to pick up on cues that most people collect and process sub-consciously.
  • Sadness. Not for the present, but for the 6 year old kid who hung out by himself during recess in 1962. Nobody was looking for those kids back then, so I don’t blame anyone. This isn’t sadness about me in the hear and now. That little kid might have been me at the time, but I can separate my hear-and-now from his experience of the world 50+ years ago and wish I could go hold his hand and reach out to him.

I’m not alone. In my (characteristically) obsessive research, I found a lot of late-in-life adults who had recently been diagnosed, and more who at least suspected that they would get a diagnosis if they sought one out.

So here I am. Have good weeks and not-so-good weeks. I can’t sort out a single conversation in a room full of people all talking. Sometimes background music in stores really pushes my stomach in. I get into gridlock trying to write stuff like this. I brush people’s fur backwards without realizing it, by blurting out the truth. I have an edge when I talk, even if I don’t mean to (unless I am trying not to, then I speak so softly nobody can hear me.)

I will pick up the cadence and accent of people I am talking to and mirror it back. After three days in Canada, I sound like someone who was raised there, eh?

I am pretty good at the eye contact thing when I remember to do it. But sometimes I just don’t bother because I’m trying to process too much other stuff.

If I am interested in something, I have to know how it works.

I love puns, have a dry sense of humor that many don’t “get.” But sometimes I am slow on the uptake with a metaphor or expression I haven’t heard before. I don’t “get” a joke when I’m tired or stressed, and hate practical jokes with victims with a passion.

I am not Rainman. I am not a math prodigy by a long shot. I am verbally articulate, sometimes to a fault.

When I finally told my mother why I asked her to talk to this therapist on the phone, I said autism is something you “are” not something you “have.” That’s my feeling about it, others may disagree.

So this little brain-dump is just to maybe reboot this long-idle blog, and maybe I’ll find interesting things to write about.

Thanks for reading this.

 

Italy once again proves it is a third world country.

An Italian court has held three Google executives “criminally responsible” for the content of a (contemptible) online video.

What about the person who published the video in the first place by uploading it? I don’t see any action there. Isn’t that the act that compromised the identity and dignity of this person? But then, a prosecutor gets a lot more political mileage out of a high-profile defendant.

Clearly, Italian law (so far) supports the conclusion. But, just like the Amanda Knox case from last year, Italian law seems to follow the court of public opinion more than actual principles of justice.

While the Italian press gloats over taking down a “big corporation,” are they thinking about the precedent for them?

Are they totally accountable for the content of any ads that are taken out on their TV stations or in their newspapers? What if someone is offended by the product, or the tone of the ad? Could responsibility for the content be extended to the media that hosted it? They are one step closer.

How about comments in an online forum? Do they hold the host responsible? How about the person who owns the server? What about the utility company that owns the wires that carried the message into the home? They could be asking the same question about Google, for that matter.

The offensive video was viewed several thousand times before it was taken down. How about any sites or emails that had links to that video saying “Hey, look at this!” Are the people who wrote and sent those emails culpable? How about the email delivery system? After all, they delivered this content to others.

Why are none of the other agents of the infrastructure the target of prosecution?

More Evidence Africans Need to Help Themselves

10,000 E. African albinos in hiding after killings – Yahoo! News

This story could be an elaborate hoax I suppose. But let’s say for the time being that it isn’t. Here is the gist:

The report says the market for albino parts exists mainly in Tanzania,
where a complete set of body parts — including all limbs, genitals,
ears, tongue and nose — can sell for $75,000. Wealthy buyers use the
parts as talismans to bring them wealth and good fortune.

While the whole story turns my stomach, the thing that really sends a message of “hopeless” are the words “wealthy buyers.” The well-to-do are willing to part with money to buy parts of people who they know have been murdered.

Folks, as much as we would like to fix this, we can’t. There is nothing, nothing at all, that outside intervention can do here. It is up to the Africans themselves to decide when they want to move past the 12th century. As long as “wealthy buyers” – presumably the most successful members of this “society” are willing to have people murdered for superstition’s stake, no law, no amount of force, no amount of money is going to change what happens in Africa.

*sigh*

Reporters like drama, But scientists know better.

Suicidal planet seems on death spiral into star – Yahoo! News

Hellier’s report on the suicidal planet is in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

“It’s causing its own destruction by creating these tides,” Hellier said.

Suicidal? Hopefully that is just a reporter’s word. A piece of rock, even a big one, cannot be suicidal.

But then it is Dr. Hellier who gave this piece of rock a will of its own. It’s “causing” its own destruction? Sure, the basic laws of physics are interacting to pull its orbit lower and lower toward the star. But it is those interactions, inevitable and predictable, that are “causing” the “death” of this planet, not the planet itself.

Maybe I am quibbling here, but I guess I am a little tired of the pervasive victim language in the popular press today. When it starts showing up in science reports, I get a little irked.

AP IMPACT: New meth formula avoids anti-drug laws

AP IMPACT: New meth formula avoids anti-drug laws – Yahoo! News

The lead:

This is the new formula for methamphetamine: a two-liter soda bottle, a
few handfuls of cold pills and some noxious chemicals. Shake the bottle
and the volatile reaction produces one of the world’s most addictive
drugs.

So now, rather than a big, complicated and dangerous meth lab, the stuff can be made in a small, simple, and dangerous 2-liter soda bottle. It’s small, it’s portable.

But I think the hidden story here is more profound – this is going to have a huge negative financial impact on the wholesale manufacturing, distribution and sales of meth.

Users can cook their own now. They can buy legal stuff, and combine it to make their own meth.

They no longer have to deal with other criminals to get their drugs.

The users no longer have to finance the gangs and cartels.

How are the traditional distribution channels going to deal with a wholesale devastation of their business?
They traditionally deal with competition through violence, but that isn’t going to work here.

Loaded Guns Do NOT “Go off”

‘LOADED HANDGUN’ FINALLY GOES OFF – New York Post

I care little about the content of this article. It is the headline I object to.

It carries on a tradition of “victim language” in the press.

“The gun went off”
“The gun just fired”

A gun is an object, not a subject, of the verb “to fire.”

Someone fires the gun.

“He pulled the trigger.”
“He fired the gun.”

The closest you could get is to use passive voice:
“The gun was fired.”

But guns do not fire themselves. Ever. Someone, or some thing, has to initiate the process.
Yes, that initiation may be unintentional, but it must be there nevertheless.

Real Self-Defense

This fantastic little piece by Tamara in Indianapolis is titled “How to not get killed.” She really understands that, long before you worry about defending yourself from attack, there are simple things that avoid being attacked in the first place. This is all common sense, isn’t paranoia, but surprisingly, a lot of people think themselves immune.

Take, for example, using illegal drugs. However you feel about the law, there is one important fact that she points out that if you, harmlessly, in your own home, use drugs you must get them somewhere. You must buy them.

This means that to get any for your own use, you have to come in
contact with some one who is, by definition… class? Anyone? That’s
right, a criminal.
[ . . . ]
They’ve demonstrated the willingness to break one law; what others do they break? What other criminals do they associate with?

The logic is really air tight, as much as a lot of people like to think otherwise. Read the rest of the essay It is really good.

Yes, you have a right to go pretty much where you please, when you please, in the pursuit of lawful activity. That doesn’t make it smart. Show some discretion and everybody enjoys their freedoms tomorrow.