One of THOSE Discussions / God, Free Will and Absurdities

This post has gained momentum from having one of those “late night” discussions with a friend – the type that is popular when one is in college, a bit drunk (or otherwise deranged) and which, as one gets older and wiser, one vows to never again participate in. The gist of the argument was:

Determinism (God) is totally compatible with Free Will (The Declaration of Independence), so we have both.

I could stop right here, because this “set up” is thoroughly American “wacky” thinking. It demonstrates the absolute belief that “America” is a special case = exemption from reality, that was/is made possible by American Democracy (in case you weren’t aware, democracy is not a political creation of human origin) which came about by an Act of God. “Freedom” is a basic American goal: Free Will is therefore a mandatory human endowment (by virtue of the word Free appearing in both “concepts”). God created everything, so he must have created Free Will. Jesus is a kind of “sponge” that suffices to “soak up” all those bad choices Free Will allows, that is, if you turn over all your choices, decisions and Free Will to Jesus.

The irony is that this absurd, pointless discussion “cleared the air” over previously unspoken conflict with a dear friend, like blowing up the Berlin Wall; getting it out of the way, and establishing that friendship is not “rational” at all, but an agreement about what really matters; good intentions carried into actions, loyalty and a simple “rightness” – agreement on what constitutes “good behavior” on the part of human beings and a pledge of one’s best effort to stick to that behavior.

This entire HUGE neurotypical debate is nonsense.

God has nothing to do with Free Will, the Laws of physics, or any scientific pursuit of explanations for “the universe”. The whole reason for God’s existence is that He, or She, or They are totally outside the restrictions of “physical reality”. That’s what SUPERNATURAL means. So all the “word concept” machinations over “God” and “science” – from both ends of the false dichotomy – are absurd. Free Will is also a non-starter “concept” in science: reality proceeds from a complex system of “facts” and mathematical relationshipsthat cannot be “free-willed” away.

Total nonsense.

If one believes in the “supernatural” origin of the universe as a creation of supernatural “beings, forces and miraculous acts” then one does not believe in physical reality at all: “Physics” is a nonexistent explanation for existence. One can only try to coerce, manipulate, plead with, and influence the “beings” that DETERMINE human fate. Free Will is de facto an absurdity, conceived of as something like the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, (inspired by God, after all – not really by the intelligence of the people who wrote it). In American thought, (political) rights grant permission to “do whatever I want”. The concept of responsibility connected to rights has been conveniently forgotten. Free Will in this context, is nothing more than intellectual, moral and ethical “cheating”.

So, the immense, complicated, false dichotomy of Determinism vs. Free Will, and the absurd 2,000+ year old philosophical waste of time that has followed, and continues, is very simple (at least) in the U.S. 

Whatever I do, is God’s Will: Whatever you do, isn’t. 

 

 

 

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The most important “developmental” fact of life

is death.

It just happens: We grow old. It’s a natural progression, without doubt. But not in the U.S., of course, where openly denying death is a frenzied passion. Getting old is a crime in a society terrified of “growing up” and becoming adult.

Old people are proof of the most basic facts of life, so much so, that being old has become taboo. And if one lives to the “new” expectation of 80 or so, that means 30 years of life beyond the new “old age” of 50. That’s a long time to “fake” being “young, beautiful, athletic and sexy”. 

Growing old is tough enough without a “new” set of instructions; don’t look old, act old, get sick, become feeble or need help (unless that help is covered by insurance.) Don’t remind younger people, by your very presence, that there is an end; it is believed now that one can “look good” until the end – which will entail a short, or long, period of degeneration. This period of “old age” is rarely seen as a “good” time of life as valid as one’s childhood, young adulthood, or middle age, unless one has the funds to at least pretend to be “youngish”.

Contrary to popular American belief, it remains a fruitful time of personal development. As long as our bodies continue to function, learning and thinking continue to be what humans do.

If life has been one long illusion that only “social” rewards count, and life has been a display of materials owned, status achieved, people “bested”, then one will likely keep up the illusion, with whatever “solutions” the anti-aging industry has to offer.

I live in a town in which most people are “getting old” – not much opportunity for the young to work, to develop a career, to join the circus of material wealth and ambition. Traditionally, young people have returned to the area after college, and a stint in corporate America, time in the military, or success in finding a spouse. Having “grown up” in this unique place, it was where they chose to establish families and to be close to loved ones. The Wyoming landscape and lifestyle have always been a fundamental fact in this choice to return, and it pulls relentlessly on those who leave.

Disastrous policies, and frankly criminal wars, prosecuted from Washington D.C. in league with corporate-Wall Street crooks, and funded by abused taxpayers, demonstrate the general belief on both coasts that the people who inhabit the “rest of the U.S.” just don’t matter. We are indeed worthless and disposable inferiors willing to enrich a ruling class that despises them, and to literally die for “blood” profits in their service.

Our town needs new people to survive as a community; we need children and young families, but opportunity is lacking. Small businesses are closing and not reopening: the owners have retired and are dying off. Competition from online retailers has siphoned off local spending and old people have very little to spend anyway. Every dime goes to necessities and the obscene cost of healthcare.

The American dream left our town long ago. Wyoming’s existence has been plagued by Federal and corporate control from the beginning, when the railroad opened the West to outright looting of it’s resources by far away “global” entities. Pillage of the land and it’s resources funded the American coastal empires; exploitation of immigrants provided cheap labor. “Colonialization” by U.S. and European nations was not limited to the invasion of “foreign lands” but happened here also – and continues to this day.

Native Americans (not being suited to corporate life and labor) were killed off with conscious purpose – a policy of mass murder; the remnants confined to “reservations” where their descendants are expected to remain “invisible” – to whither away and to eventually die off, by a slow suicide of formerly unique human beings. Diversity? A smoke screen.

These thoughts occupy my meditations as I pass through a human being’s last opportunity for personal development. It’s a time of recognizing that the universe goes on without us; that our deepest questions will not be answered. It’s a time to understand that the individual cannot correct or improve much that goes on in an increasing cluttered and entangled social world, which doesn’t mean that we ought not try to improve our ourselves and our small areas of influence.  Our lives are eventually “finished” for us by nature, in disregard for our insistence that our life is essential to the universe and therefore, ought to go on forever.

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It is shocking to confront the fact that so much human effort, inventiveness, hard labor, suffering, and resource depletion was, and still is, devoted to the imaginary “immortality” of a few (not so admirable) individuals; Pharaohs, emperors, kings, dictators, war lords, ideologues, criminals, Popes and priests; not the best of humanity, but often the worst.

The big lie is an old lie: Immortality can be purchased. 

Yes, there is a pyramid for immortality-mortality also: The Pharaohs of our time will not be mummified. (A crude process of desiccation, which however has been wildly socially successful! They continue to be A -List celebrities that attract fans of the “rich and famous”.)

Today’s 1% equivalents will not be made immortal by being dried out like fish, cheese or jerky – no, they will be made “immortal” by means of “sophisticated” technology. What an advancement in human civilization! 

These immortality technologies, and lesser life extension, of replacements of organs and skeletal architecture, part by failing part, are being promoted as “mankind’s future” – What a lie! As if the today’s Pharaohs really intend to share their immortality with 15 billion humans!

timecover

2045: The year Man becomes Immortal. Right: All estimate 15 billion of us.

A few elite at the top may manage to purchase immortality of a limited sort: machines designed in their own image.

The mortal King Tut, a product of incest who died at age 19. How much human talent and potential has been wasted on fulfilling the fantasy of immortality for a predatory class of individuals?

It’s not King Tut, the Insignificant, who is immortal, but the lure of his “real estate” holdings, elite addresses, golden household furniture and knickknacks, layers of stone coffins, granite “countertops”, Jacuzzi bath tubs, fabulous jewelry, and rooms with a view of eternity, that keeps the envious modern social tourist coming back. 


This is not King Tut. This is a fabulous work of propaganda made by artisans, (Pharaohs had to impress the Gods in order to become a god – you wouldn’t show up for “judgement day” in anything less than the most impressive selections from your wardrobe) who rarely get credit (nameless) for their “creation of brands and products” that supply the magical connections necessary for supernatural belief in the pyramid of social hierarchy as the “definitive and absolute model” of the cosmos.  

Magic consists of the “transfer of power” between the “immortal mask” and the unimpressive person; the “mask” has become King Tut in the belief system of the socially-obsessed viewer.  

 

 

J.E. Robison / Where has all the Autism funding gone?

I don’t follow John Elder: I do understand that he’s tried to work within the “official Autism community” to produce change. It seems he’s finally waking up to the exploitation-for-profit program that is the Autism Industry.

Sex, Lies, and Autism Research—Getting Value for Our Money

How can we get tangible benefit from the millions we spend on autism science? (No, it’s not science; it’s a business.)

The U.S. government is the world’s biggest funder of autism research.  For the past decade I have had the honor of advising various agencies and committees on how that money should be spent. As an adult with autism, sometimes I’ve been pleased at our government’s choices. Other times I’ve been disappointed. Every now and then I turn to reflect: What have we gotten for our investment?

Autistic people and their parents agree on this: The hundreds of millions we’ve spent on autism research every year has provided precious little benefit to families and individuals living with autism today. Over the past decade the expenditures have run into the billions, yet our quality of life has hardly changed at all.

It would be one thing if massive help was just around the corner, but it’s not. There are no breakthrough medicines or treatments in the pipeline. Autistic people still suffer from GI pain, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues at the same rates we did before any of this research was funded.

I don’t mean to suggest that nothing has been accomplished.  Scientists have learned a lot. They know more about the biological underpinnings of autism. Researchers have found hundreds of genetic variations that are implicated in autism. We’ve quantified how autistic people are different with thousands of studies of eye gaze, body movement, and more. Scientists are rightly proud of many of their discoveries, which do advance medical and scientific knowledge. What they don’t do is make our lives better today. (Sorry John, that you feel you still need to “support” a corrupt system by buying into false claims of scientific progress or the value of bogus research.)

Why is that?

In the past I’ve written about the idea that taxpayer-funded research should be refocused on delivering benefit to autistic people. What I have not written about, is why that hasn’t happened, at the most fundamental level.

The answer is simple: Until quite recently, autistic people were not asked what we needed.

There are many reasons for that. Autism was first observed in children and no one expects children to have adult insight and self-reflection. When autism was recognized in adults, they were assumed to be too cognitively impaired to participate in conversations about their condition. Finally, in the spirit of the times, doctors often assumed that they knew best. They were the trained professionals, and we were the patients (or the inmates.) (Are we confusing “medical” doctors with non-medical psychologists? )

So doctors studied every question they could imagine, and then some, seldom seeking our opinions except in answer to their research questions. They assumed they knew what “normal” was, and we weren’t it. Countless million$ went down the rabbit hole of causation studies, whether in genetics, vaccines, or other environmental factors. Don’t get me wrong—the knowledge we’ve gotten is valuable for science. (Not really! It’s been valuable for the funding of universities, academics and research institutions) It just did not help me, or any autistic person I know. (It wasn’t INTENDED to help “autistic” people or their families).

Millions more have been spent observing us and detailing exactly the ways in which we are abnormal. Only recently have some scientists began to consider a different idea: Perhaps “normal” is different for autistic people, and we are it. Again the studies enhanced the scientists’ knowledge (of how to profit from human suffering) but didn’t do much to help us autistics.

Then there are the educators and psychologists. They observed our “deviations” and then considered therapy to normalize us. That led to ABA and a host of other therapies. Some of those have indeed been beneficial, but the money spent on beneficial therapy is just a drop in the bucket when considering what we taxpayers have funded overall.

Want a different and better outcome? Ask actual autistic people.

We can tell you what our problems are, in many cases very eloquently. I’m not going to re-state all our needs here. I’ll tell you this: Whenever this topic comes up at IACC (the Federal committee that produces the strategic plan for autism for the U.S. government), the priorities of autistic people seem rather different from those of the researchers our government has been funding for so long. (It’s a corrupt system; part of the general policy to redistribute wealth “up to” the 1%).

Autistic people have many disparate needs, but they all boil down to one thing: We have major challenges living in American society. Medical problems, communication challenges, learning difficulties, relationship issues, and chronic unemployment are all big deals for us. The issues are well laid out and many.

Before autistic people began speaking out in great numbers, all we had was parent advocacy. We should not dismiss that, and parents still have a role today, particularly in advocacy for small children and children who are older but unable to effectively advocate for themselves.

Even as we thank parents for their service, it’s time to recognize autistic voices (some of which belong to parents too) should be taking the lead.

As much as parents did for us, they also unwittingly contributed to harm. Parents misinterpreted harmless stimming, and encouraged therapists to suppress it, leaving us scarred in adulthood. Many autistics of my generation remember being placed into programs for troubled children with parental encouragement in hopes we’d become “more normal.” We didn’t. Parents have given us bleach enemas, and some of us have died from misguided chelation and other treatments to “cure” our autism.

I don’t blame parents for any of that. They did their best, given the knowledge of the day. But it’s a different day now. The children who grew up being “normalized” can talk about how it affected them, and parents and clinicians of today would be wise to listen.

Autistic voices are finally speaking in large numbers and it’s time to pay attention. No one else knows life with autism. Parents and no-autistic researchers are sometimes listening. Hard as this may be for them to hear, they are always guessing. With autistics speaking out all over the world, that’s no longer good enough.

For the first time, IACC has recognized this in the 2017 Strategic Plan Update. They say it’s time for a paradigm shift in how we do research. We need to focus on the needs of people living with autism today. That’s a realization that I appreciate, and it’s long overdue. (OMG! Please don’t fall for this universal neurotypical ploy: We wrote it down: SEE? End of story.)

So what’s the answer to why we’ve gotten so little return on our autism research investment: No one asked the autistic people what we wanted. It’s that simple. Had we been able to articulate our challenges, with the framework of knowledge we have today, and had we been listened to, we’d be in a very different place today.

Today is gone, but tomorrow isn’t here yet, and it can be different.

(c) John Elder Robison (Thank-you John for “stepping up” to the truth.)

John Elder Robison is an autistic adult and advocate for people with neurological differences. He’s the author of Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, Raising Cubby, and Switched On. He serves on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and many other autism-related boards. He’s co-founder of the TCS Auto Program (a school for teens with developmental challenges), and he’s the Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and a visiting professor of practice at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
The opinions expressed here are his own.

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What more does the Autism Industry need?

Director of the Institute of Mental Health declares that Autism is a “real” epidemic and not due to changes in labels, diagnostic criteria and fear-mongering. No objective evidence needed when you have the Federal Government working FOR YOU. 

TACA is an “interesting NON-PROFIT – check out their website and the financial statements they provide. Hard to find out how much $$$ actually filters down to real people outside the “charity”. Here’s their “agenda”. Note the cliché about someday finding a “cure” which is not going to happen: creates a classic “American Non-Profit” demand for “donations” and funding in perpetuity. Think of all those “charities” that have collected billions for “research” etc, without a “cure” in sight.

I need to clarify my “view” of Asperger’s “the thing” in 2017

This is not going to be easy: I’ve been in a foul mood for days. Sick from reading, reading, reading the awful literature “about” Autism; the myriad denials, excuses, pompous exclamations and explanations of what?

Damaged Children.

  1. In my considered opinion, Aspergers “as I know it”, both by experience and investigation, is a PERSONALITY TYPE in modern Homo sapiens.
  2. “Disturbances” in behavior result from the extreme rarity of this personality in the modern social context.
  3. Asperger’s is closely associated with the MBTI “introverted thinking” types.
  4. Asperger’s as the “pathology” (which is identified-defined by modern social demands for conformity to “approved human behavior” – dictated by Western psychological theory) is “real” in that Asperger children  experience social trauma from a very early age, resulting in anxiety, withdrawal from social interaction, focus on private mental experiences, and resistance to “dog-training” methods of socialization; reward – punishment schemes that let’s face it – are the limit of American imagination and effort when it comes to raising children. “Dog-training” is suitable for domestic animals. 
  5. Positive characteristics such as advanced maturity (independence, self-motivation and learning), curiosity, visual thinking, and reliance on a specific egalitarian set of values that determine, for us, “proper” human interaction, are denigrated, attacked, and falsely represented as “defective” “subhuman” “inferior” and symptoms of developmental disability. These values are basic principles of democracy; fair play, justice, equality and honest human communication were, until recently, principles at least promoted to children as goals to establish “good character” and necessary to a stable and free society.  Now? It’s social warfare that it is demanded; any and all ugly behavior is sanctioned in the battle for power over other human beings.
  6. Asperger’s was ‘eliminated’ from the DSM – 5. Why? The “reasons” are rather mysterious. “It’s simpler to have socially problematic people under one big diagnostic umbrella,” seems to be the official explanation. The “Autism Spectrum” is imaginary; an inflated pool of behavior “problems” with myriad presentations, sources and causes. It’s a “sanitizing” word-concept that covers up the damage done to fetuses, infants, toddlers and children by careless and selfish adults, and by random “mistakes” inherent in natural processes. Many of these “causes” are preventable, but the “cult” of denial of personal responsibility for reproductive choices is in control in the U.S. today. It’s so much easier to “blame God” for a mind-boggling supernatural system of “baby-making disasters”, which have  preventable “real” causes. God must be fed up by now with being blamed for human social behavior. 
  7. Irrational, painful, disastrous – but Autism is a highly profitable imaginary realm for psychologists who function as ‘middle men’ in a vast industry built on fear. ASD is the latest version of a socially-motivated growth industry: Convincing human beings that they are inherently “defective” – and must obey the priests who can supply “salvation” (for a price; a sacrifice, a donation – cash or insurance). Psychology is def facto, a religion. And – so thinly disguised that it is embraced without question by highly religious Americans. 
  8. Asperger’s “the thing” has become a joke. A fad, a novelty, a tool for discrimination; a shabby “socially-approved” label for “disobedient”  children upon which people can safely express prejudice, hate, bigotry, ignorance. Asperger’s, the pejorative label, has been co-opted by the great American pop-culture machine, which trivializes anything and everything “culturally distinct” out of existence. (Assembly-line “Mexican” food anyone? Gang signs and tattoos for suburban moms? Camo clothes and toy AK-47s for soldier-toddlers?) Asperger’s isn’t a diagnosis; its an extreme minority designated as traditional outcasts; the list of “designated targets” – those scapegoats who can be blamed for society’s failures, is very long in human social history.

Who will be next?

The mentally ill, disabled and “social defectives” are once again front and center in the Eugenic Dream to perfect humanity – a distinctly American Dream. A resurgence of traditional Eugenic focus  is rapidly expanding to include “genetic” mistakes – at the most deterministic level – “cleansing of the human genome”. “Autistic” children are being used to identify defective genes which will be “removed”. 

Wyoming Edition / “Survival Journal” Day 8030

If Asperger people all got together and signed a declaration that says, “Yes, we’re terrible, anti-social deviants and we apologize for victimizing normal people, so please forgive us;  we’re just lowly sub-humans who don’t deserve to exist in your perfect world,” would Neurotypicals leave us alone? NO. 

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Sun! There is sun this morning. I peek out from beneath my “tent” improvised from an old quilt and a lightweight sleeping bag.

Sunlight; red and amber bark edges the trees outside the window, and beyond, through streaks of flat gray clouds: Blue sky.

The dog is somewhere in the pile of warm coverings: I find her head and pat it: “C’mon, Old Lady. Time to face the wilderness.”

She’s not convinced. Why would an 80-year old dog want to be disturbed?

My feet hit the ice cold floor; bare wood with a dirt “hole” directly beneath. Years ago I set the thermostat to 62* at night, and left it there. I could reset it, but for some “Aspergerish” reason, don’t. I could wear socks or slippers; I don’t. Bare feet feel normal.

I shuffle to the kitchen; boil water and make a cup of instant coffee. A specific brand a “gourmet” instant that a cook friend gave me one day, to save me the trouble of using a percolator or other coffeemaker. I think she got tired of seeing “the mess” of grounds, spilt coffee stains and, “once again” a broken carafe in the trash. I’m still drinking the same concoction 35+ years later. She is long gone, but still present in my cold, primitive kitchen each morning when I take my first sip of “that awful crap you call coffee” as normal people with pickier palates refer to it. The sight and taste of the hot concoction conjures images from that long ago time; days of happiness. Why would I change?

The dog peeks around the door; is there breakfast in her dish? I divert her to the porch and open the back door; to the east, brilliant silver light washes the odd collection of “housing” in the neighborhood. Brilliant flares emanate from sagging power lines; telephone poles rise like relics from a failed attempt at civilization.

I have to literally shove the Old Lady dog out into the ice-frosted gravel yard. While she’s out, I fill her water bowl, and empty a big glop of that “manufactured from anything that will fit in massive grinder” canned food, into her bowl, which she never refuses to “wolf down”. In two seconds she’s back to bed; asleep in a moment; a big sigh. Life is good.

The sky is blazing blue above the roof top next door; another cup of “coffee extraordinaire” and I’m at the keyboard. What now?

My “unconscious mind” is already at work during the ten minutes or so taken up by my primitive morning routine, so some topic, or feeling, or question will float into focus; I can count on that.

This morning, I started laughing, while drinking my second cup of coffee: Why I was laughing took a few seconds longer to arrive. It’s like that: it’s automatic. A “cloud” may linger over my body – a gray amorphous feeling that something is wrong, or just the opposite: I’ll feel energized, enthusiastic, “delighted” by the ordinary look of the kitchen or the scene outdoors. No reason. “Normal” people jump to the conclusion that some “pathology, disorder” is in evidence: they are wrong.

My body feels thoughts long before my “word conscious processing” knows what’s going on. Like an old telegraph system sending Morse code. The “wires” are alive with the electrical signal that is being transmitted, well before the “little man” sitting at a desk hundreds of miles away, hears the tap-tapping of the telegraph key, and jots down the code. Anyone in the room at the time, may be pushing him: “What does it say,” but he still must translate the dot-dash code into “words” for the “neurotypical” bystander, who is pestering him to hurry up. 

This may seem to be an inferior, archaic system in the judgment of people, whose foremost interest is in speed. They don’t care what the act of communication “feels like” – what the experience of “thinking” in pictures, sensations, or movements has to offer; how it enriches the “message” by connecting it to timeless “truths” or by revealing heretofore unknown patterns.  

Neurotypicals want to know if their package from Amazon will arrive at 10:02 am as promised, and they want to know it now. Right now, because being demanding makes them “feel” important. And being “too busy to care about other people” is mandatory: at 10:03 am a “scheduled” text from the dog-walker is due, which won’t arrive until 10:05 am, providing the perfect opportunity to excoriate a “lesser being” on the social pyramid. And at 10:06, a phone call from the dog-walker’s boss, apologizing for the inexcusable 2-minute delay will result in further degradation of a “peasant”. WOW! How important can one human being be!

Meanwhile, back in Wyoming, I stop typing and open the refrigerator door. Breakfast? Yes, another boring same-old-same-old choice. Ham and eggs; sausage and eggs. Potatoes, ham and eggs; cheese on top? Or a banana smoothie made with yogurt, carrot juice, and something to “sweeten” it up? I like these foods for breakfast. Maybe a wild departure in winter for a creamy-hot bowl of oatmeal. No one to scream at; no subservient types to step on. I must be totally unimportant, unfortunate, disordered and disabled.

Why would I “force myself” to eat anything else, just to satisfy some imaginary “judgment” made by a gang of social typical busybodies who have decreed that a “lack of embracing novelty” has cosmic meaning? Oh – I forgot: To be considered “a normal human” I must take a “selfie” with a slice of watermelon,  on an otherwise naked plate, and post it on social media with the earth-shaking declaration that I’m trying a new “slice of watermelon” diet. The goal? So people I don’t know, or will ever encounter in real life, will declare that I’m SOOOOO skinny already that I don’t need to loose weight. They must say this, even if I weigh 300 pounds. Like any proper neurotypical, I throw the watermelon slice in the trash and devour a tray full of “low fat” croissants.

That idiotic scenario dispensed with by a millisecond of thought, I scandalously “fry up” a mess of sausage; add eggs, cheese, leftover potatoes; make toast with gobs of real butter on top – add jam – and pour more coffee. Life is good. The Old Lady dog hears the usual morning commotion and wanders in. She stares at my plate.

Of course; I always share my food with her. Just the stuff that suits her canine digestive system. She loves vegetables; I don’t. She eats most of the vegetable matter that I cook. I drink carrot juice, and other vegetable juices. Easy, fast, efficient. Asperger. 

Nearly forgot: What was I laughing about earlier? The fleeting realization, that superficially, I live like one of those “outdoor extremists” who (supposedly) are abandoned in the wilderness and forced to show off their well-honed skills for survival: no “cheating allowed”. By the book; ancient survival; burning up hundreds of calories and precious fluids by “doing things the hard way”. Burning daylight, creating emergencies, eating worms, doing stupid, high risk things – looks good for the camera and drives the repetitive clichéd plot, as if “being there” in stupendously beautiful and interesting landscape, is totally without merit. They certainly do work hard! The goal? A pre-arranged rescue: back to civilization. Totally phony – neurotypical “playing at” survival. Our wild ancestors weren’t airlifted back into town for a hot shower, fresh clothing, and a sit-down meal with friends. A soft bed, and a paycheck.

The difference between how I live, and these “romanticized novelty shows” made for neurotypical entertainment, is the GOAL: I don’t live “way out here” in Wyoming to prove anything. I have no interest in “testing” how close I can get to dying by hypothermia; or in showing the “audience” how “macho” my eating habits are (bring on the grubs, old shoe leather, and potentially deadly fungi). Or in getting lost, needing rescue, or any other “stupid” calamity that has a “magical resolution”.

It seems to me, that possibly, out of the vast wasteland of incomprehensible  misunderstanding by social typicals regarding Asperger-type behavior, the negative judgment of our penchant for efficiency (which NTs interpret as “being boring, stubborn, lazy, self-centered, resistant to change, developmentally disordered, and disabled; weird, geeky, timid, fearful and unacceptable”) is the most insulting. The incessant yatta, yatta, yatta of every conceivable “incorrect explanation” for our embrace of simplicity is exhaustive, and exhausting. These pejoratives are indeed apt to be hurled at any “thinking person”, Asperger, or not. 

Here’s a crazy idea: Maybe for some humans, “thinking” is civilized; it is society that is the dangerous wilderness.

Thinking is not some terrible affliction; it’s normal, pleasurable, exciting and rewarding. To be “free from social interference” – that is, free to learn about the “real planet earth“, and beyond, is to be free to explore the possibilities inherent in the “mental realm” (as neurotypicals must name it). It is to live in PARADISE. 

The goal, for Asperger types (unlike appearing to be socially “dominant” in the neurotypical world, with behaviors that “achieve domninance” being of utmost value), is then, to experience the “joy of thinking”. What to social people is a terrible and deviant sacrifice (thinking) is interpreted in Aspergers as “magical signs of disorder, illness and evil”. 

Here’s news! “Being a social human” is not new, novel, unique, brave, or original; it dooms the individual to perpetual dissatisfaction with one’s “place” in the social hierarchy and to endlessly repeating the conformity of behavior demanded by the social order.      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help Site / Meltdowns / Hmmmm….

Hmmm… some insights, but also some strange assumptions about “cause” and strategies for “dealing with”…

Autism Meltdown-Management 101: Key Points for Parents and Teachers

A meltdown is a condition where (in which) the youngster with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism temporarily loses control due to emotional responses to environmental factors. It generally appears that the youngster has lost control over a single and specific issue, however this is very rarely the case. Usually, the problem is the accumulation of a number of irritations which could span a fairly long period of time, particularly given the strong long-term memory abilities of young people on the autism spectrum. (This implies that the “cause” of the meltdown is not trivial) 

Why The Problems Seem Hidden—

Aspergers kids don’t tend to give a lot of clues that they are very irritated: (We do, but these clues are non-standard and ignored) 

  • Often Aspergers child-grievances (!) are aired as part of their normal conversation and may even be interpreted by NTs (i.e., neurotypicals, or people without Aspergers) as part of their standard whining. (Another new symptom: Aspergers whine 1. sometimes 2. a lot 3. constantly (?) 

  • Some things which annoy Aspergers kids would not be considered annoying to NTs, and this makes NT’s less likely to pick up on a potential problem. (Only NT children count) 

  • Their facial expressions very often will not convey the irritation. (Ditto above) Hint: ever notice the Blank Stare? 

  • Their vocal tones will often remain flat even when they are fairly annoyed. (Goes with the blank stare)

What Happens During A Meltdown—

The meltdown appears to most people as a temper tantrum. There are marked differences between adults and kids. Kids tend to flop onto the ground and shout, scream or cry. Quite often, (Hearsay – I’d bet that the #1 behavior is yelling) they will display violent behavior such as hitting or kicking.

In adults, due to social pressures, violent behavior in public is less common. Shouting outbursts or emotional displays can occur though. More often, it leads to depression and the Aspergers man or woman simply retreats into themselves and abandons social contact. (A “logical” reaction, given the circumstances) 

Some Aspergers kids describe the meltdown as a red or grey band across the eyes. There is a loss of control and a feeling of being a powerless observer outside the body. This can be dangerous as the Aspergers youngster may strike out, particularly if the instigator is nearby or if the “Aspie” is taunted during a meltdown. (An acknowledgement that it takes “‘two to tango” – ie bullies – child or adult- love to pick on Asperger kids)  

Depression—

Sometimes, depression is the only outward visible sign of a meltdown. (Then it’s not a meltdown) At other times, depression results when the Asperger youngster leaves the meltdown state and confronts the results of the meltdown. (A state of SHOCK may be a better description than depression.) The depression is a result of guilt over abusive, shouting or violent behavior. (This sets up a peculiar situation – one can feel disturbed, awful, guilty, contrite, etc due to one’s “bad behavior” but still be left with the UNRESOLVED issues that caused the behavior; everyone dismisses REAL HURTS AND COMPLAINTS as “not legitimate” because of the “offensive” character of the Asperger outburst. This sets up a life long recurring feedback: the ORIGINAL problem never gets addressed – the child’s feelings are routinely and automatically ignored, rejected and delegitimized by parents, teachers, and other children.)

Dealing With Meltdowns—

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do when a meltdown occurs in a child on the autism spectrum. The best thing you can do is to train yourself to recognize a meltdown before it happens and take steps to avoid it.

Example: (This sounds like a common “test” used by dog trainers to assess a puppy or adult dog being fit to be “adopted”. If you can “mess with its food” and it doesn’t growl or snap, it’s tame LOL) Aspergers kids are quite possessive about their food, (really?) and my “Aspie” will sometimes decide that he does not want his meat to be cut up for him. When this happens, taking his plate from him and cutting his meat could cause a full-blown meltdown. The best way to deal with this is to avoid touching it for the first part of the meal until he starts to want my involvement. When this occurs, instead of taking his plate from him, it is more effective to lean over and help him to cut the first piece. Once he has cut the first piece with help, he will often allow the remaining pieces to be cut for him. (What would an adult do if you rudely removed his or her plate, cut the meat into pieces, and then gave it back? Maybe Asperger kids are more adult than other children; they’ll ASK if they want help.) 

Once the youngster reaches an age where they can understand (around age 4 or so), you can work on explaining the situation. One way you could do this would be to discreetly videotape a meltdown and allow them to watch it at a later date. You could then discuss the incident, explain why it isn’t socially acceptable, and give them some alternatives. (Life as pedagogy: shall the child take notes, write an essay,  confess their social offenses and vow, “Never again, Sir / Madam!” Asperger children are highly sensitive to the “crude tactic” of humiliation. Please do not do this.)

Meltdowns And Punishment—

One of the most important things to realize is that meltdowns are part of the Aspergers condition. (We have the acknowledgement that meltdowns are not INTENTIONAL) You can’t avoid them; merely try to reduce the damage. Punishing an Aspergers youngster for a meltdown is like punishing someone for swearing when they hit their thumb with a hammer.

It won’t do any good whatsoever and can only serve to increase the distance between you and your youngster. My advice? Write this down and place it where you can see it EVERY DAY. READ IT.  Believe it. 

______________________________________________

In addition, meltdowns aren’t wholly caused by the current scenario, but are usually the result of an overwhelming number of other issues. The one which “causes” the meltdown is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Unless you’re a mind reader, you won’t necessarily know what the other factors are, and your Aspergers youngster may not be able to fully communicate the problem. (Or has been ignored so many times that he or she has given up.)

Every teacher of Aspergers students and every mom or dad of an Aspergers child can expect to witness some meltdowns. On average, meltdowns are equally common in boys and girls, and more than half of Aspergers kids will have one or more per week. (Hearsay again. Pay attention to YOUR child, not made up anecdotal guesses)

At home, there are predictable situations that can be expected to trigger meltdowns, for example:

  • bath time

  • bedtime

  • car rides

  • dinner time

  • family activities involving siblings

  • family visiting another house

  • getting dressed

  • getting up

  • interactions with peers

  • mom or dad talking on the phone

  • playtime

  • public places

  • visitors at the house

  • watching TV

Other settings include:

  • answering questions in class

  • directives from the teacher

  • getting ready to work

  • group activities

  • individual seat work

  • interactions with other children

  • on the school bus

  • the playground

  • transitions between activities

Hmmm… this focus on locations is “strange”, especially as it includes EVERYPLACE a child may “go” and is vague, generalized and “barking up the wrong tree”.

Meltdowns are “triggered” by exasperation, frustration, and total overload of sensitive sensory receptivity – “flooding” of the senses by environmental stimulae. This can happen anywhere that there are “people” who (from our point of view) have “blunted sensory capabilities”. They hear, see and sense nothing: an atom bomb detonated in the room wouldn’t get their attention. 

From time to time, all Aspergers kids will whine, complain, resist, cling, argue, hit, shout, run, and defy authority figures. Meltdowns, although normal, can become upsetting to parents and teachers because they are embarrassing, (the truth lies here) challenging, and difficult to manage. Also, meltdowns can become particularly difficult to manage when they occur with greater frequency, intensity, and duration than is typical for the age of the Aspergers kid.

There are nine different types of temperaments in Aspergers kids: (I have never encountered this set of “labels” in any other article or paper.) 

1. Distracted temperament predisposes the Aspergers kid to pay more attention to his or her surroundings than to the caregiver. (The narcissistic obedience thing)

2. High-intensity level temperament moves the Aspergers kid to yell, scream, or hit hard when feeling threatened. (Like any HEALTHY animal)  

3. Hyperactive temperament predisposes the Aspergers kid to respond with fine- or gross-motor activity. (Some kids are fidgety or run around like young animals.)

4. Initial withdrawal temperament is found when Aspergers kids get clingy, shy, and unresponsive in new situations and around unfamiliar people. Yeah – use jargon instead of simple English; like other children, we may hide behind mom’s skirt, clasp her hand, and not say anything to a stranger until mom or dad reassures us that the person is “okay”. Being “shy” in a hypersocial world is a crime) 

5. Irregular temperament moves the Aspergers kid to escape the source of stress by needing to eat, drink, sleep, or use the bathroom at irregular times when he or she does not really have the need. (No other human beings demonstrate these behaviors: the U.S. does not currently have an obesity, alcohol / drug addiction, or other stress-induced self-destructive epidemics.)

6. Low sensory threshold temperament is evident when the Aspergers kid complains about tight clothes and people staring and refuses to be touched by others.

(Okay – this drives me nuts! Where did social typicals get the idea that children OUGHT TO ALLOW any and every adult to “handle a child’s body”?  Isn’t this exactly what children are told NOT TO ALLOW in order to protect themselves from pedophiles, rapists and child abusers?) 

7. Negative mood temperament is found when Aspergers kids appear lethargic, sad and lack the energy to perform a task. (This is ridiculous – again – no other human beings do this.)

8. Negative persistent temperament is seen when the Aspergers kid seems stuck in his or her whining and complaining. (No “normal” children ever whine or complain – all those kids, in the line at the grocery, who not only whine, but scream, screech, throw packages, run at 90 mph down the aisles, run into and knock down displays and old people, ARE ASPERGER) 

9. Poor adaptability temperament shows itself when Aspergers kids resist, shut down, and become passive-aggressive when asked to change activities.

Around age 2, some Aspergers kids will start having what I refer to as “normal meltdowns.” These bouts can last until approximately age 4. Some parents (thinking in terms of temper tantrums) mistakenly call this stage “the terrible twos,” and others call it “first adolescence” because the struggle for independence is similar to what is seen during adolescence. Regardless of what the stage is called, there is a normal developmental course for meltdowns in children on the autism spectrum. (The “we’re more adult than other kids” thing. Could someone please “congratulate us” for being more mature about being independent, instead of “condemning” this behavior?)

Aspergers kids during this stage will test the limits. They want to see how far they can go before mom or dad stops their behavior. At age 2, Aspergers kids are very egocentric and can’t see another person’s point of view. They want independence and self-control to explore their environment. When they can’t reach a goal, they show frustration by crying, arguing, yelling, or hitting. When their need for independence collides with the parents’ needs for safety and conformity, the conditions are perfect for a power struggle and a meltdown. A meltdown is designed to get the parents to desist in their demands or give the child what he or she wants.

WOW! What happened to meltdowns being INVOLUNTARY reactions to sensory overload? Neurotypicals must revert to seeing every human behavior as being socially motivated: a power struggle for status and control. 

Many times, Aspergers kids stop the meltdown only when they get what is desired. (A projection of typical manipulative neurotypical behavior onto an Asperger meltdown.) 

What is most upsetting to parents is that it is virtually impossible reason (???) with Aspergers kids who are having a meltdown. Arguing and cajoling (lies, threats, punishment are not “reasoning with”) in response to a meltdown only escalates the problem.

By age 3, many Aspergers kids are less impulsive and can use language to express their needs. Meltdowns at this age are often less frequent and less severe. Nevertheless, some preschoolers have learned that a meltdown is a good way to get what they want. (OMG! This is so ignorant! And from whom do “social” children learn this manipulation? – Neurotypical adults!

By age 4, most Aspergers kids have the necessary motor and physical skills to meet many of their own needs without relying so much on the parent. At this age, these young people also have better language that allows them to express their anger and to problem-solve and compromise. Despite these improved skills, even kindergarten-age and school-age Aspergers kids can still have meltdowns when they are faced with demanding academic tasks and new interpersonal situations in school.

It is much easier to “prevent” meltdowns than it is to manage them once they have erupted.  Here are some tips for preventing meltdowns and some things you can say:

(These are tactics that “work” on NEUROTYPICAL CHILDREN. Asperger kids are SMART.)

1. Avoid boredom. Say, “You have been working for a long time. Let’s take a break and do something fun.”

2. Change environments, thus removing the Aspergers kid from the source of the meltdown. Say, “Let’s go for a walk.”

3. Choose your battles. Teach Aspergers kids how to make a request without a meltdown and then honor the request. Say, Try asking for that toy nicely and I’ll get it for you.”

4. Create a safe environment that Aspergers kids can explore without getting into trouble. Childproof your home or classroom so Aspergers kids can explore safely.

5. Distract Aspergers kids by redirection to another activity when they meltdown over something they should not do or can’t have. Say, “Let’s read a book together.”

6. Do not “ask” Aspergers kids to do something when they must do what you ask. Do not ask, “Would you like to eat now?” Say, “It’s dinnertime now.”

7. Establish routines and traditions that add structure. For teachers, start class with a sharing time and opportunity for interaction.

8. Give Aspergers kids control over little things whenever possible by giving choices. A little bit of power given to the Aspergers kid can stave-off the big power struggles later. (Neurotypicals see EVERYTHING as a struggle for power; this is hierarchical social system thinking that is ALIEN to Asperger types.)  (e.g., “Which do you want to do first, brush your teeth or put on your pajamas?”).

9. Increase your tolerance level. Are you available to meet the Aspergers kid’s reasonable needs? (Being a parent is just like being a dog owner) Evaluate how many times you say, “No.” Avoid fighting over minor things.

10. Keep a sense of humor to divert the Aspergers kid’s attention and surprise him or her out of the meltdown. (OMG!)

11. Keep off-limit objects out of sight and therefore out of mind. In an art activity, keep the scissors out of reach if the child is not ready to use them safely.

12. Make sure that Aspergers kids are well rested and fed in situations in which a meltdown is a likely possibility. Say, “Dinner is almost ready, here’s a cracker for now.” (Dog parent again)

13. Provide pre-academic, behavioral, and social challenges that are at the Aspergers kid’s developmental level so that he or she doesn’t become frustrated.

14. Reward Aspergers kids for positive attention rather than negative attention. During situations when they are prone to meltdowns, catch them when they are being good and say things like, “Nice job sharing with your friend.” (How much more “phony” can this reward / punishment psychology get?)

15. Signal Aspergers kids before you reach the end of an activity so that they can get prepared for the transition. Say, “When the timer goes off 5 minutes from now, it will be time to turn off the TV and go to bed.”

16. When visiting new places or unfamiliar people, explain to the child beforehand what to expect. Say, “Stay with your assigned buddy in the museum.” (Sure: This will block all the PHYSICAL triggers in the environment that cause meltdowns) 

There are a number of ways to “handle” a meltdown that is already underway.  Strategies include the following:

1. Hold the Aspergers kid who is out of control and is going to hurt himself or herself (or someone else). Let the Aspergers child know that you will let him or her go as soon as he or she calms down. Reassure the child that everything will be all right, and help him or her calm down. Moms and dads may need to hug their Aspergers kid who is crying, and say they will always love him or her no matter what, but that the behavior has to change. This reassurance can be comforting for an Aspergers kid who may be afraid because he or she lost control. (Aye, yai, yai! NONSENSE. This is neurotypical thinking.)  

2. If the Aspergers kid has escalated the meltdown to the point where you are not able to intervene in the ways described above, then you may need to direct the Aspergers kid to time-out. If you are in a public place, carry your child outside or to the car. Tell him that you will go home unless he calms down. In school, warn the Aspergers student up to three times that it is necessary to calm down, and give a reminder of the rule. If the student refuses to comply, then place him in time-out for no more than 1 minute for each year of age. (This is neurotypical insistence that the Asperger meltdown is “disobedient, manipulative and intentional.” This “lab rat psychology” doesn’t work on typical children)

It’s that point again: Neurotypicals are idiots!

3. Remain calm and do not argue with the Aspergers kid. Before you manage her, you must manage your own behavior. Punishing or yelling at the child during a meltdown will make it worse.

4. Talk with the child after he has calmed down. When he stops crying, talk about the frustration the he has experienced. Try to help solve the problem if possible. For the future, teach the child new skills to help avoid meltdowns (e.g., how to ask appropriately for help, how to signal an adult that he  needs to go to “time away” to “stop, think, and make a plan” …and so on). Teach the Aspergers kid how to try a more successful way of interacting with a peer or sibling, how to express his feelings with words, and recognize the feelings of others without hitting and screaming.

Just tell the child to STOP BEING ASPERGER. Act normal. While you’re at it, tell black people to stop being black, and gay people to stop being gay.

This stupidity is guaranteed to produce incredible hurt and frustration in any Asperger, adult or child.

5. Think before you act. Count to 10 and then think about the source of the Aspergers kid’s frustration, the child’s characteristic temperamental response to stress (e.g., hyperactivity, distractibility, moodiness, etc.), and the predictable steps in the escalation of the meltdown. (Yeah – don’t be a parent; be a cold, distant psychologist) 

6. Try to intervene before the Aspergers youngster is out of control. Get down at her eye level and say, “You are starting to get revved up, let’s slow down.” Now you have several choices of intervention.

7. You can ignore the meltdown if it is being thrown to get your attention. Once the Aspergers kid calms down, you can give the attention that is desired.

8. You can place the Aspergers youngster in “time away.” Time away is a quiet place where he goes to calm down, think about what he needs to do, and with your help, make a plan to change the behavior.

9. You can positively distract the Aspergers kid by getting her focused on something else that is an acceptable activity (e.g., remove the unsafe item and replace with an age-appropriate game).

Post-Meltdown Management—

1. Do not reward the Aspergers kid after a meltdown for calming down. Some kids will learn that a meltdown is a good way to get a treat later. (Intentional neurotypical manipulative behavior interpretation, AGAIN. 

2. Explain to the Aspergers kid that there are better ways to get what she wants.

3. Never let the meltdown interfere with your otherwise positive relationship with your child. (What relationship: your kid is being treated like a lab rat!)

4. Never, under any circumstances, give in to a meltdown. That response will only increase the number and frequency of the meltdowns.

5. Teach the Aspergers kid that anger is a feeling that we all have, and then teach her ways to express anger constructively.

Rates of Disabililty in U.S. have Skyrocketed / What’s Up?

____________________________

From NPR:

http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed. The rise has come even as medical advances have allowed many more people to remain on the job, and new laws have banned workplace discrimination against the disabled. Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government.

The federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined. Yet people relying on disability payments are often overlooked in discussions of the social safety net. The vast majority of people on federal disability do not work.[1] Yet because they are not technically part of the labor force, they are not counted among the unemployed.

In other words, people on disability don’t show up in any of the places we usually look to see how the economy is doing. But the story of these programs — who goes on them, and why, and what happens after that — is, to a large extent, the story of the U.S. economy. It’s the story not only of an aging workforce, but also of a hidden, increasingly expensive safety net.

For the past six months, I’ve been reporting on the growth of federal disability programs. I’ve been trying to understand what disability means for American workers, and, more broadly, what it means for poor people in America nearly 20 years after we ended welfare as we knew it. Here’s what I found.

much much more… http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

Somewhere around 30 years ago, the economy started changing in some fundamental ways. There are now millions of Americans who do not have the skills or education to make it in this country.

Politicians pay lip service to this problem during election cycles, but American leaders have not sat down and come up with a comprehensive plan. In the meantime, federal disability programs became our extremely expensive default plan. The two big disability programs, including health care for disabled workers, cost some $260 billion a year.

Disability payments are being used to keep “phony” unemployment figures low, (people on disability do not count as unemployed) and to hide the huge number of uneducated, unemployed and poor in the U.S. …. 

The “Racket” that saves states Beaucoup Bucks:

A person on welfare costs a state money. That same resident on disability doesn’t cost the state a cent, because the federal government covers the entire bill for people on disability. So states can save money by shifting people from welfare to disability. And the Public Consulting Group is glad to help.

PCG is a private company that states pay to comb their welfare rolls and move as many people as possible onto disability.

“What we’re offering is to work to identify those folks who have the highest likelihood of meeting disability criteria,” Pat Coakley, who runs PCG’s Social Security Advocacy Management team, told me. The company has an office in eastern Washington state that’s basically a call center, full of headsetted women in cubicles who make calls all day long to potentially disabled Americans, trying to help them discover and document their disabilities:

“The high blood pressure, how long have you been taking medications for that?” one PCG employee asked over the phone the day I visited the company. “Can you think of anything else that’s been bothering you and disabling you and preventing you from working?”

The PCG agents help the potentially disabled fill out the Social Security disability application over the phone. And by help, I mean the agents actually do the filling out. When the potentially disabled don’t have the right medical documentation to prove a disability, the agents at PCG help them get it. They call doctors’ offices; they get records faxed. If the right medical records do not exist, PCG sets up doctors’ appointments and calls applicants the day before to remind them of those appointments.

PCG also works very, very hard to make the people who work at the Social Security happy. Whenever the company wins a new contract, Coakley will personally introduce himself at the local Social Security Administration office, and see how he can make things as easy as possible for the administrators there.

“We go through even to the point, frankly, of do you like things to be stapled or paper-clipped?” he told me. “Paper clips wins out a lot of times because they need to make photocopies and they don’t want to be taking staples out.”

There’s a reason PCG goes to all this trouble. The company gets paid by the state every time it moves someone off of welfare and onto disability. In recent contract negotiations with Missouri, PCG asked for $2,300 per person. For Missouri, that’s a deal — every time someone goes on disability, it means Missouri no longer has to send them cash payments every month. For the nation as a whole, it means one more person added to the disability rolls.

The big investment opportunity…in autism? / CNBC (Money)

The leading autism nonprofit (Autism Speaks) and Google have teamed in an attempt to link private investors like venture capital, private equity and even hedge funds to inject innovative autism-related business development.

Thanks to increased awareness and diagnosis of autism, it’s now known that one in every 88 American children is born with some level of the disorder. That’s more than those affected by diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome—combined. (Wow! A great big “THANKS” and share of the profits, to human behavior “experts” for this amazing “gift” to corporate greed!!!) 

But products and services for autism are woefully inadequate, according to advocates. $$$$$

The big money is starting to take notice of investment opportunities that both could generate profits and help the autism fight. (Should we not then call this “war-profiteering”?)

Private equity and venture capital firms TPG Biotech, Shore Capital Partners, Bay City Capital, Great Point Partners and Google Ventures, plus hedge fund Scopia Capital Management are among the investors slated to attend the 2014 Autism Investment Conference next week in San Francisco.

The event is organized by Autism Speaks in partnership with Google, which is offering a separate workshop for entrepreneurs doing autism-related work.

 

“While autism has always been part of our population, as our economy has shifted from agrarian work, where everyone could contribute, to urban, social workplaces, this group has moved backward due their social disability. As an investor, I see the opportunity to capitalize on the talents and availability of this group of workers,” said Brian Jacobs, co-founder of venture capital firm Emergence Capital Partners.

Translation: “There have always been retarded, dumb, and low-quality riff-raff around to do shit-work for us, but now that there’s less shit work to do, we have to figure out how to exploit these people in a modern high-tech environment.”

“And the stupid American public will believe that we’re ‘really caring people; just like family’ instead of being ruthless corporate assholes.” 

One area where autistic individuals excel, Jacobs says, is software testing. He expects to back start-ups in the sector as an angel investor. Jacobs’ initial interest comes from his son, who has Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism that allows relatively high function. (Oh yes; drag out the “I have an autistic child” prop to “counter” the disgusting notion of exploiting disabled people.) 

“I am attending the conference in hopes of learning about additional entrepreneurial endeavors in this area,” Jacobs said. $$$$$

Business opportunities range from drug development $$$$ to educational iPad applications (and sales $$$) to employment and residential services. $$$$

Finding products and services to benefit (or exploit) those with autism fits into a rapidly expanding segment of the health-care industry: human behavior.

 

Thinking and Calories / Supernatural NT “Science”

SciAm Mind

This is one of those articles that sets up the problem (in a rambling sort of way) rather than answering the question posed. The question of how many calories are “burned” during specific brain activities would seem to be no more difficult than measuring – calculating calories burned during specific “physical” activities (brain activity is physical!) Apparently not. The question is, why?

What this whole problem boils down to, is that our  brain is smarter than we are!

Does Thinking Really Hard Burn More Calories?

Unlike physical exercise, mental workouts probably do not demand significantly more energy than usual. Believing we have drained our brains, however, may be enough to induce weariness

By Ferris Jabr on July 18, 2012

Temporary mental exhaustion is a genuine and common phenomenon, which, it is important to note, differs from chronic mental fatigue associated with regular sleep deprivation and some medical disorders. Everyday mental weariness makes sense, intuitively. (Does it? Or are we taught to believe this?) Surely complex thought and intense concentration require more energy than routine mental processes. (Which processes are “routine?) Just as vigorous exercise tires our bodies, intellectual exertion should drain the brain. (Oh dear – that mythological neurotypical brain / body split again!) What the latest science reveals, however, is that the popular notion of mental exhaustion is too simplistic. The brain continuously slurps up huge amounts of energy for an organ of its size, regardless of whether we are tackling integral calculus or clicking through the week’s top 10 LOL cats. x

Although firing neurons summon extra blood, oxygen and glucose, any local increases in energy consumption are tiny compared with the brain’s gluttonous baseline intake. So, in most cases, short periods of additional mental effort require a little more brainpower than usual, but not much more. Most laboratory experiments, however, have not subjected volunteers to several hours’ worth of challenging mental acrobatics. (Why not?) And something must explain the feeling of mental exhaustion, even if its physiology differs from physical fatigue. (WOW! Two types of  “physical fatigue” 1. MENTAL (suspiciously separate from “the body” – supernatural – as opposed to 2. REAL physical, physical fatigue!) This distinction may seem “picky” but this conceptual separation follows from the “duality” of body and mind that is an and ongoing superstition  in NT thinking,) Simply believing that our brains have expended a lot of effort might be enough to make us lethargic. (How?)

Brainpower

Although the average adult human brain weighs about 1.4 kilograms, only 2 percent of total body weight, it demands 20 percent of our resting metabolic rate (RMR)—the total amount of energy our bodies expend in one very lazy day of no activity. RMR varies from person to person depending on age, gender, size and health. If we assume an average resting metabolic rate of 1,300 calories, then the brain consumes 260 of those calories just to keep things in order. That’s 10.8 calories every hour or 0.18 calories each minute. (For comparison’s sake, see Harvard’s table of calories burned during different activities). With a little math, we can convert that number into a measure of power: —Resting metabolic rate: 1300 kilocalories, or kcal, the kind used in nutrition —1,300 kcal over 24 hours = 54.16 kcal per hour = 15.04 gram calories per second —15.04 gram calories/sec = 62.93 joules/sec = about 63 watts —20 percent of 63 watts = 12.6 watts So a typical adult human brain runs on around 12 watts—a fifth of the power required by a standard 60 watt lightbulb. Compared with most other organs, the brain is greedy; pitted against man-made electronics, it is astoundingly efficient. IBM’s Watson, the supercomputer that defeated Jeopardy! champions, depends on ninety IBM Power 750 servers, each of which requires around one thousand watts. x

Energy travels to the brain via blood vessels in the form of glucose, which is transported across the blood-brain barrier and used to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main currency of chemical energy within cells. Experiments with both animals and people have confirmed that when neurons in a particular brain region fire, local capillaries dilate to deliver more blood than usual, along with extra glucose and oxygen. This consistent response makes neuroimaging studies possible: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) depends on the unique magnetic properties of blood flowing to and from firing neurons. Research has also confirmed that once dilated blood vessels deliver extra glucose, brain cells lap it up.

Extending the logic of such findings, (Uh-oh – is that “logic” or NT speculation ahead? The following is a chain of assumptions that may “seem obvious” to NTs, but that exercise is not “logic”) some scientists have proposed the following: if firing neurons require extra glucose, then especially challenging mental tasks should decrease glucose levels in the blood and, likewise, eating foods rich in sugars should improve performance on such tasks. Although quite a few studies have confirmed these predictions, the evidence as a whole is mixed and most of the changes in glucose levels range from the miniscule to the small. In a study at Northumbria University, for example, volunteers that completed a series of verbal and numerical tasks showed a larger drop in blood glucose than people who just pressed a key repeatedly. In the same study, a sugary drink improved performance on one of the tasks, but not the others. At Liverpool John Moores University volunteers performed two versions of the Stroop task, in which they had to identify the color of ink in which a word was printed, rather than reading the word itself: In one version, the words and colors matched—BLUE appeared in blue ink; in the tricky version, the word BLUE appeared in green or red ink. Volunteers who performed the more challenging task showed bigger dips in blood glucose, which the researchers interpreted as a direct cause of greater mental effort. Some studies have found that when people are not very good at a particular task, they exert more mental effort and use more glucose and that, likewise, the more skilled you are, the more efficient your brain is and the less glucose you need. Complicating matters, at least one study suggests the opposite—that more skillful brains recruit more energy.* (What this laundry list of non-satisfying “results” indicates is poor experimental design and  too many clichéd assumptions, not enough “objective physics” questions considered. This question of calories – energy use is “hard science”!)

Not so simple sugars

Unsatisfying and contradictory findings from glucose studies underscore that energy consumption in the brain is not a simple matter of greater mental effort sapping more of the body’s available energy. Claude Messier of the University of Ottawa has reviewed many such studies. He remains unconvinced that any one cognitive task measurably changes glucose levels in the brain or blood. “In theory, yes, a more difficult mental task requires more energy because there is more neural activity,” he says, “but when people do one mental task you won’t see a large increase of glucose consumption as a significant percentage of the overall rate. The base level is quite a lot of energy—even in slow-wave sleep with very little activity there is still a high baseline consumption of glucose.” Most organs do not require so much energy for basic housekeeping. But the brain must actively maintain appropriate concentrations of charged particles across the membranes of billions of neurons, even when those cells are not firing. (Like a military “readiness posture” in peacetime) Because of this expensive and continuous maintenance, the brain usually has (maintains a small energy surplus) the energy it needs for a little extra work. Authors of other review papers have reached similar conclusions. Robert Kurzban of the University of Pennsylvania points to studies showing that moderate exercise improves people’s ability to focus. In one study, for example, children who walked for 20 minutes on a treadmill performed better on an academic achievement test than children who read quietly before the exam. If mental effort and ability were a simple matter of available glucose, then the children who exercised—and burnt up more energy—should have performed worse than their quiescent peers. The influence of a mental task’s difficulty on energy consumption “appears to be subtle and probably depends on individual variation in effort required, engagement and resources available, which might be related to variables such as age, personality and gluco-regulation,” wrote Leigh Gibson of Roehampton University in a review on carbohydrates and mental function. Both Gibson and Messier conclude that when someone has trouble regulating glucose properly—or has fasted for a long time—a sugary drink or food can improve their subsequent performance on certain kinds of memory tasks. But for most people, the body easily supplies what little extra glucose the brain needs for additional mental effort. (That is, almost all mental tasks are simply not taxing in terms of additional energy needed)

Body and mind

(Are NTS ever going to grasp that this duality is imaginary? It’s all one system!)

If challenging cognitive tasks consume only a little more fuel than usual, what explains the feeling of mental exhaustion following the SAT or a similarly grueling mental marathon? (This is a cultural statement that reflects the anti-intellectual bias of Americans. If American education were ADEQUATE, the SAT or any other test, would not be “grueling”! Scores are as much a “test” of educational failure on the part of the Ed system as they are measures of student learning. The two cannot be separated) One answer is that maintaining unbroken focus or navigating demanding intellectual territory for several hours really does burn enough energy to leave one feeling drained, but that researchers have not confirmed this because they have simply not been tough enough on their volunteers. (Ditto above! Standards and requirements that in ‘foreign” countries that are everyday expectations are considered by Americans to be “cruel and unusual punishment) x

In most experiments, participants perform a single task of moderate difficulty, rarely for more than an hour or two. “Maybe if we push them harder, and get people to do things they are not good at, we would see clearer results,” Messier suggests. Equally important to the duration of mental exertion is one’s attitude toward it. Watching a thrilling biopic with a complex narrative excites many different brain regions for a good two hours, (Aye, yai, yai! Is this imaginary anecdotal “audience” to be considered as a legitimate “control group” for all these other studies?)  yet people typically do not shamble out of the theater complaining of mental fatigue. Some people regularly curl up with densely written novels that others might throw across the room in frustration. Completing a complex crossword or sudoku puzzle on a Sunday morning does not usually ruin one’s ability to focus for the rest of the day—in fact, some claim it sharpens their mental state. In short, people routinely enjoy intellectually invigorating activities without suffering mental exhaustion. Such fatigue seems much more likely to follow sustained mental effort that we do not seek for pleasure—such as the obligatory SAT—especially when we expect that the ordeal will drain our brains. If we think an exam or puzzle will be difficult, it often will be. Studies have shown that something similar happens when people exercise and play sports: a large component of physical exhaustion is in our heads. In related research, volunteers that cycled on an exercise bike following a 90-minute computerized test of sustained attention quit pedaling from exhaustion sooner than participants that watched emotionally neutral documentaries before exercising. Even if the attention test did not consume significantly more energy than watching movies, the volunteers reported feeling less energetic. That feeling was powerful enough to limit their physical performance. In the specific case of the SAT, something beyond pure mental effort likely contributes to post-exam stupor: stress. After all, the brain does not function in a vacuum. (Brilliant!) Other organs burn up energy, too. Taking an exam that partially determines where one will spend the next four years is nerve-racking enough to send stress hormones swimming through the blood stream, induce sweating, quicken heart rates and encourage fidgeting and contorted body postures. The SAT and similar trials are not just mentally taxing—they are physically exhausting, too. (Again – mental activity is held to be “supernatural” – meaning that it takes place in a dimension outside of physical reality) (A SOCIAL PROBLEM: maybe we could ask, “How much energy is being wasted by Americans in dealing with social stress; energy that could fuel learning and other “satisfying” and health-promoting activity?) 

Blah, blah, blah! NONE of this is relevant to determining how much energy the brain needs or consumes during specific activities

A small but revealing study suggests that even mildly stressful intellectual challenges change our emotional states and behaviors, even if they do not profoundly alter brain metabolism. Fourteen female Canadian college students either sat around, summarized a passage of text or completed a series of computerized attention and memory tests for 45 minutes before feasting on a buffet lunch. Students who exercised their brains helped themselves to around 200 more calories than students who relaxed. Their blood glucose levels also fluctuated more than those of students who just sat there, but not in any consistent way. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol, however, were significantly higher in students whose brains were busy, as were their heart rates, blood pressure and self-reported anxiety. In all likelihood, these students did not eat more because their haggard brains desperately needed more fuel; rather, they were stress eating. Messier has related explanation for everyday mental weariness: “My general hypothesis is that the brain is a lazy bum,” he says. “The brain has a hard time staying focused on just one thing for too long. It’s possible that sustained concentration creates some changes in the brain that promote avoidance of that state. It could be like a timer that says, ‘Okay you’re done now.’ Maybe the brain just doesn’t like to work so hard for so long.”

Here’s a hypothesis:

All this rambling “supernatural” conjecture that encumbers “so-called analysis” of human physical reality, wastes vast amounts of time and energy, but gets us NOWHERE in useable research. What it does is create a prolong a bunch of “belief in  nonsense”  that prevents productive lines of questioning and legitimate research and persists in orienting our thinking to rely on cultural clichés.    

 

American Myths about Gender / Math, Science, Engineering

Status of Women in the states: Wow! Terrific interactive info website.

https://statusofwomendata.org/?clid=Cj0KCQjwp_DPBRCZARIsAGOZYBSSGeZ4By-i2O9k6lV-1ozjIYJoRRsAdpoWHX24PQuvsofwWTgGxmkaApRhEALw_wcB

Why dirt and rocks? They’re not people.

American psychologists continue to propagate the bald-faced lie that “girls” have the wrong kind of brain to be scientists, engineers or mathematicians; that even if we  can manage to “do the math”, somewhere in our genetically determined “femaleness” we lack a gene for curiosity, competence or interest in “the real world” of strictly “guy stuff”. Women like me, who pursued science as my academic choice, “aren’t real females” – our brains are actually “male”. Psychologists say so, so I ought to believe them. Fortunately, I have a “science” brain. It’s a female brain. They’re liars.

How do Americans explain this?  Countries and cultures that we think of as “highly prejudiced and cruel in their treatment of women” (Islamic) produce as many or more female as male scientists, engineers, mathematicians (and medical doctors.) So despite the usual misogyny, Islam apparently doesn’t buy into the “male brain = science brain” BS. 

And Asia…

How does the U.S. compare?

Way down here at 39th – and that’s counting both male and female graduates! 

And this chart says it all: Aptitude between males and females is about equal: opportunity is not. It’s the lack of opportunity and “nasty” anti-female culture in academia and business that drives women out of science and engineering into “low pay; low status” jobs in human services. Because we don’t value human beings, jobs that “deal with people” are low pay and low status. That includes education and childcare – the female ghetto. 

Note that “psychology” is a female-dominated field; it’s not actually “science” so has little status compared to “the Sciences”. That’s how the gender pay-gap works. The propaganda that male brain = science, math, engineering ability and that the female brain = “helping people” (being non-competitive and emotion-driven) serves to support and maintain economic gender discrimination.