They Rounded Us Up

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“Made of Win”

Stupid Human Trick # 6,517: spraining my right ankle while walking on flat pavement into my rheumatologists’s office. Actually, my ankle rolled over sideways and I tried to step onto the dorsal (upper) side of my foot. The good news is that I got it iced immediately. I sat there on the bench seat by the doctor’s desk, one foot on the ground, and the other leg folded sideways with my foot on the bench by my hip. “You really are hypermobile, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I sighed, “hence the sprained ankle and shoulder subluxations and tennis elbow…”

She gave me an extra prescription pad sheet with a list of things to do, including one that said to use a cane. Since I was just about to go on a trip, that sounded like a good precaution. While getting some medication, I bought a new elastic bandage, an ankle wrap, and a cane.

Not just any cane, one with a built-in small compass (cheap, but it works), an equally cheap magnifying site (but I did use it to read a sign I couldn’t decipher otherwise), a wrist strap (an excellent feature, so I don’t leave it somewhere), and best of all, it folds up! This is truly “made of win”, as the kids would say.

The eldest was so impressed that I have been instructed to buy another should they be restocked. I also packed my weight-lifting gloves, as they allow for a better grip on luggage, and even give me a little sun protection: Read the rest of this entry »

Mend the Link

A horrifying news story: a little boy in Florida kindergarten class was publicly humiliated and ostracized by his classmates, at the urging of their teacher.

After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn’t like about Barton’s 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.

By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex — who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism — out of the class.

There are so many ways to mistreat those who ought to belong somewhere. These means of intolerance, of expressing prejudice, range from the most passive to the most active. But even the passive ones are cruel when they are intended to be exclusionary. The outright active ones are the most vile.

You can be Read the rest of this entry »

At the Chinese Grocery

Been on the road, more soon. But meanwhile, too weird for “Wordless Wednesday” picture … like, wow. We also bought a tub of lychee jellies, some Pocky, a pretty tin of oolong tea, a “Druce Lee” video and a Hello Kitty notepad with the curiously translated fortune,

“The most ashamed of the life is your.

disappointed, but not is your defeated.”

Image description: A collection of bizarre (filled) liquor bottles for sale, from Soviet Russia and elsewhere, including vodka in a glass “kalishnakov”, and brandy in an “Eiffel Tower”, something in a matreshka doll, and other figurines.

To Boldly Go

or for the grammar mavens, To Go Boldly.

I found a Bold Jumping Spider (Salticidae: Phidippus audax), inside the house, running around near a window. Don’t let the photos fool you — this cute little spider is smaller than a dime, about a centimeter long. This was quite a difficult animal to shoot — it kept bouncing around, and I had to herd it back towards me by touching the wall to one side of it, so the photo’s not in complete focus.

When I got close enough to take a photo, it reared back and waved its pedipalpi (the “feelers” under the face) over its iridescent green chelicerae (fangs), a threat display which certainly caught my attention. This is a very common species of jumping spider; like the others in its genus, it has those gorgeous iridescent green chelicerae (I’m a sucker for iridescent greens and blues, ooh shiny).

Salticids have four large eyes at the front, which gives them Read the rest of this entry »

Who’s Got the Button?

I did it again — I gave away one of my buttons (badges) to a student.  I’ve extras of some, but that was the last of this one, so I thought I’d place an order with NancyButtons.com and get a few more copies of it:

“I was born weird – this terrible compulsion to behave normally is the result of childhood trauma”

And then of course, I had to look through some of the new slogans to see what she had … (a Most Excellent Time Waster).  These caught my eye:

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts”

“Come on, brain! You & me together …”

“The problem with hammering a square peg into a round hole isn’t that hammering is hard work–it’s that you’re destroying the peg.”

“There’s no such thing as being overeducated.”

“I’m not performing any experiments on myself without a larger control group”

“There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased that line.”

“What do you get if you cross a tse-tse fly with a mountain climber? Undefined. A tse-tse fly is a vector and a mountain climber is a scalar.”

“But this IS the simplified version for the general public!”

“You put your hand on the Bible and swear to protect the Constitution, not the other way around”

“Knowledge corrupts. I spent ten years in school. Run!”

That explains everything; after acquiring 230+ credit hours, all of my code is corrupted…

 

 

Hate Speech: Not Just For Strangers Any More

(Apologies for unsettling anyone’s recent meal.)

My news aggregator came up with this doozy of a quote the other day. It was an editorial reply to an article about Kathleen Seidel, and I’m not going to quote the entire letter. (Follow the link to read it yourself — if you want to reply to the author, do so on that newspaper’s reply page.)

I am one of those parents who has watched my autistic son go from being a vegetable to becoming human, thanks to chelation.

Okay folks, let’s get this straight.

These are vegetables:

These are children:

It is quite insulting at the personal level, and damaging at the social level to describe people with autism or another other condition as being “vegetables”. Doubtless the author believes that their child has improved due to the effects of an unproven “treatment” for an unsubstantiated diagnoses (e.g. autism as mercury poisoning from vaccines). But even if the diagnosis and the treatment actually had any factual basis, that would still not make such comments appropriate.

How would YOU feel if your parents described you as a “vegetable”?

Or as “having rotting brains”?

Or as a “train wreck”?

Or that your condition “relentlessly sucks life’s marrow out of the family members”?

Or as “an empty shell”?

Or as “soulless”?

Or that “Autism is worse than cancer in many ways, because the person with autism has a normal lifespan”?

Or as having “mad child disease”

Or that you “would have been better off aborted” because regardless of your aptitudes or potential skills, your existance is automatically assumed to be a “burden on society”.

I’m not making these terms up; you can google them. People with disabilities face enough stereotyping, discrimination, abuse, bullying, and are murdered more often than those without. (I’m not using hyperbole; click here or here.) Describing disabilities in such sensationalistic terms and derogatory ways does nothing to help people become better educated, better integrated into society and employed, or become better accepted in their schools, workplaces, social organisations and families.

More than that, one really has to wonder, What kind of parent describes their child in such insulting ways? And does so to the entire world? Such treatment to children over their lives does not bode well for their psychosocial development, that’s for sure.

When you hear people describing their family members, their students, peers, coworkers, or anyone else they know in such terms, take a moment to ask them,

  • Why they use such descriptions?
  • Do they really believe it, or are they just repeating something they’ve heard?
  • Would they want to be described that way?
  • How else can they describe their frustration or disappointmnet with events in life without insulting people like this?

But most of all, we need to be mindful when we speak up about such hate talk, and not use similarly disparaging terms. We don’t want to become that which we despise.

(A request to people commenting: please use appropriate language — follow the guidelines described in this post.)

Are You “Slow”?

“I, myself, was always recognized . . . as the “slow one” in the family. It was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was . . . an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day.”
~Agatha Christie

“I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race.”
~Sir Winston Churchill

A recent post on the ASCD Inservice blog describes “Myths That Haunt Students”. The authors reference three points from Allison Zmuda:

* They see learning that comes quickly as a sign of intelligence and learning that requires effort as a sign of their own lack of ability.
* Students think school and life are disconnected.
* They think learning is an orderly process rather than a messy, recursive, ongoing struggle. Even high-achieving students will shy away from challenging tasks and embrace routine assignments, which they find more comforting, Zmuda noted.

These are fabulous points, and I would rush to buy the book referenced, if only I had the money and the time to read it (my current reading stack would literally be a meter high, were I so foolish as to stack the volumes in one place).

When we mistake speed for ability — or rather, lack of speed for lack of ability — we misinterpret a person’s intelligence and their ability to learn. Students who have difficulty processing multiple sensory modes will frequently have problems keeping up with lectures or rapid-fire instruction. Adult students who have been out of education for some time will also have problems because Read the rest of this entry »

Forms Most Beautiful

“CATS ARE NICE.”

“I meant,” said Iplsore bitterly, “what is there in this world that makes living worthwhile?”

Death thought about it. ‘CATS’, he said eventually, “CATS ARE NICE.”
~ Terry Pratchett

Two great videos about two great things we love, Geeks and Cats.

This first one is captioned; Data is trying to train his cat, Spot. Well, that was the plan …

One of our cats is named Spot, after Data’s cat. Our Spot is also a very smart kitty.

Alas, the second one is not captioned, but is a hilarious video by a couple of engineers on cat care.

It’s Final Exams week over here; everyone’s up to their touchis in studies. Back to more serious blogging soon on the usual education-, disability- and insect-related issues.

Maths * Chem = Ranting^2

Why are so many math books poorly written? Even many of the physical sciences books seem to have this terrible dichotomy between the text explaining the concepts, and the text explaining the calculations. I suspect it’s partly because one person is writing the conceptual text, and another person is writing the calculations text. I also suspect it is because both are written by people who are naturally good at the subject, just like most maths, chem, and physics teachers are naturally good at the subject.

Well, you do want people teaching who are good at the subject. But as many of us have noticed, being naturally good at something frequently results in people who cannot understand why others aren’t equally good at it. Once in a while those adepts become snobbish, because obviously the rest of the world just isn’t smart enough to get the stuff like they are. Many of the others simply have little patience with students who “must be stupid because they can’t figure out easy things” and can’t understand the material from having the previous explanation repeated again.

Duh! If it didn’t make sense the first time around, why would repeating the same explanation make any more sense the second or third time around? What we really need is Read the rest of this entry »

You Don’t Say

“How can you not tell me when you are flunking English?!”
“Can’t you ever do anything right?”
“Do you really want to fail 8th-grade math and take it over again?!”

There is no answer that is going to be acceptable to anyone. I mean, would you go up to your parents and say, “I really want to fail beginning algebra so I can sit through units on order of operations and inequalities all over again”?

Of course not! What makes these so hard to answer is that they really aren’t questions at all. They’re accusations: You are flunking a class and didn’t care to tell me about it. (Given that my mom was angry and yelling and all but shaking me in an arm-bruising grip, it’s not surprising that I did not care to divulge the news.)

Because these are not questions, they are not really spoken to elicit answers. Woe to the literal-minded aspie child who tries to make up for the transgressions by actually attempting to answer, “I’m trying—”

“You certainly are! You’re a very trying child.”

What is being demanded is a promise that somehow everything will be made better. You wish that were so, too, and feel even more powerless to change the situation. Beyond feeling inadequate to the task at hand, you also know that attempts to communicate problems will also be met with anger, hostility, contradictory messages, and impossible demands. No matter what you do, you won’t be able to succeed.

How do you answer questions like that?

The answer is that you can’t. These are Read the rest of this entry »

Erudition / Inteligibility Check

I have a question for you all! Shall we take a vote?

So. The other day I came across the following widget on someone’s blog and found it intriguing; you can get your blog rated for its reading level! I plugged my general blog URL in, and got this, which I then posted on my blogroll:

blog readability test

That was well and fine, until Sunday, when I thought to myself, “Gee Self, I sure use a lot of polysyllabic words, and more obscure and technical words, too. That’s pretty erudite for the average high-school reading level.”

So then I typed URLs for specific posts, and got several different stories! My post for Blogging Against Disablism Day (“BADD But Not Rude”) earned a higher level: Read the rest of this entry »

It’s A System For Tubes

The Florida Swamp of Superstition

I swear, this country is getting more nucking futz every week.

In Land O’ Lakes, Florida, a substitute teacher named Jim Pikulas was fired for wizardry. Meaning, he briefly showed a class how to do a bit of sleight-of-hand.

Pat Sinclair, who oversees substitute teachers in the Pasco County School District, was on the phone. She told Piculas there had been a complaint about his performance at Rushe Middle School in Land O’ Lakes.
He asked what she meant.
“She said, ‘You’ve been accused of wizardry,’ ” Piculas said.
He said the statement seemed bizarre to him, like something out of Harry Potter.
Piculas said he replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He said he also told Sinclair, “It’s not black magic. It’s a toothpick.”

Meanwhile in the same state, there’s a bill approved by the (Florida) House:

After a long and sometimes testy debate, the House voted Monday to require teachers to include a “critical analysis” of evolution in science classes.

Proponents said the bill is needed to protect teachers and students from academic reprisal for challenging Charles Darwin’s theories, while opponents said it was a veiled attempt at sneaking religion into the public schools.

Rep. Tony Sasso, D-Cocoa Beach, warned requiring teachers to critically analyze Darwin’s findings would inevitably evolve into a discussion of biblical teachings.

“It’s about finding holes in evolution and allowing teachers to be able to do that, which in my mind, tracking this, will lead to a discussion of creativity — which ultimately will lead to a discussion of religion,” said Sasso. “We’re opening the door to religious discussion by doing this.”

What’s the deal, Florida? Is the collective rational intelligence for the entire state concentrated around Cape Canaveral?

What can’t this country drag its collective ass into the 21st century? Is there any reasonable hope of getting a job teaching real Biology without being harassed by IDiots?

Home on the Range

It’s spring, and with spring we were once again entertaining the invasion of the Little Black Ants*. (Yes indeedy, sometimes the common names of insects are actually straightforward, and we have things like Little Black Ants or Soft Brown Scale.) Every year I put out the bait traps and spend several days sponging most of the 3 mm. arthropods off the counters and drowning them in the sudsy dishwater, until the rest of the wee bastards have taken enough poison back to crash the colony.

Don’t get me wrong — I like ants. I think they’re fascinating, and spent many happy hours of my childhood watching them. I just don’t want them in my house any more than they want me in theirs.

It’s tiresome for me, and it’s tiresome for the family who are subjected to mum’s infobites about the Formicidae, although this past week the kid finally understood why the alien race from the Ender’s Game books was called the Formics. (However, ants have nothing to do with Formica plastic, which just goes to show that etymology is as convoluted as entomology.)

Ants will of course, leave trail-pheromones for other ants to follow, and these were all energetically tracking around in their proscribed invisible-Tube map pathways around my sink, the faucet, the countertops, the splashback tiles, the Kitchen-Aid mixer, the breadbox, the cutting board, the knife block, the dish (draining) rack, the electrical sockets and switches, the toaster oven, the stovetop (range), the sugarbowl and butterdish (both of which have lids — hey, we’re not immaculate, but we’re not stupid), the coffee and filter cannisters, and anything else that the human residents had left sitting out.

(Insert clichéd maternal nagging to family about not cleaning up after snack-making.)

The other afternoon when I was doing the washing-up, I stood there and observed their peregrinations until I was able to finally pinpoint the ingress spot. Underneath the window ledge was a slightly chipped spot in the grout, and I waited to observe two ants disappear into the hole and not re-appear (which would have indicated a dead-end). Ah-HA! So yesterday I tracked down the remainder of the tube of tub caulk and clotted up the hole. I swabbed up the remaining immigrants (after photographing them). The good news is that no more ants have appeared today, which likely means that there’s not another hole. Maybe I’ve licked the problem once and for all.

Or, at least until another weak point develops in the grout.

* These could be Monomorium minimum or some species of Crematogaster, but they were running around too fast to get a really good macro shot to tell which. I want a microscope of my own!

Catapulting to Conclusions

Because you can get there so much faster if you use a big machine to throw you right over annoying factual hurdles in your way.

I’ve been meaning to dissect this issue for over a week, but a lot of things have been happening over here. A recent news story has prompted a lot of discussion, some of it rather ugly. The short of it (and the news article in the Chicago Tribune is not terribly long) is that a 29-year old woman identified only as “K.E.J.” has been granted an appellate opinion in her favor. The woman experienced a traumatic brain injury as a child, and according to the wording of the article, “cannot be left alone to operate a stove or perform most household chores”, although by having that bit of information alone, our perceptions of her are biased because it does not mention what she is capable of doing. Her legal guardian, an aunt, had filed a petition with the court to have her (fallopian) tubes tied. All three judges on the panel were unanimous in their decision against this action.

“Tubal ligation is a particularly drastic means of preventing a mentally incompetent ward from becoming pregnant,” Judge Joseph Gordon wrote in the 36-page opinion. There are “less intrusive and less psychologically harmful [birth-control] alternatives.”

The readers’ comments were much longer than the article, and many were downright rude. This situation is so fraught with over-generalisations and false dichotomies and conflations that it fair makes me dizzy. The biggest and most common fallacy of the lot was the combined Read the rest of this entry »

Potpourri

Updates on several stories:

In a post from almost a year ago (“That Kind“), I discussed three cases of discrimination against autistics. Cindy Earnshaw was an animal control officer and has Asperger’s, and is now filing a suit against her former employer, the city of Overland Park.

Another old post (the wheels of law grind v e r y slowly, indeed) was about “Waiting For GINA”, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.  The bill passed the House of Representatives last year, and has just been passed (unanimously!) by the Senate, and awaits signing by Dubya.  Keep your digits crossed or whatever …

More good news:  just in case you were flying ’round the dark side of the moon and somehow missed the news, Kathleen Seidel has won her Motion to Quash the absurd SLAPP-type subpoena against her, which also required information related to dozens of bloggers from her of the Neurodiversity.com Weblob blogroll, including myself. w00t!

An update to a recent post, “A shot in the arm, A slight kick in the butt” about vaccine hysteria and rising rates of highly-infectious and dangerous diseases.  A couple years ago we had mumps breaking out in several states, and now there is largest outbreak of measles since 2001, with at least 72 people in 10 different states around the country reported as having been infected (mind you, that’s just the rate of officially diagnosed and reported, which may be less than the actual prevalence), and of those people, 14 are so ill they had to be hospitalized.  The article states,

Before a vaccine was introduced in 1963, more than half a million people got measles in the United States and 500 died annually. Thanks to the vaccination program, measles is no longer endemic in the United States, and ongoing transmission of the virus was declared eliminated in 2000.

Of all the infectious diseases that can be prevented by vaccine, measles was and still is the most deadly, and is the cause of half of the one million deaths that could be prevented. The World Health Organization says that,

Children usually do not die directly of measles, but from its complications. Complications are more common in children under the age of five or adults over the age of 20.

The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (a dangerous infection of the brain causing inflammation), severe diarrhoea (possibly leading to dehydration), ear infections and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death associated with measles. Encephalitis is estimated to occur in one out of 1000 cases, while otitis media (middle ear infection) is reported in 5-15% of cases and pneumonia in 5-10% of cases. The case fatality rate in developing countries is generally in the range of 1 to 5%, but may be as high as 25% in populations with high levels of malnutrition and poor access to health care.

I’ve also previously described the various fallacies around the conspiracy theories related to vaccines in my post, “Epidemics of bad science, vs Epidemics and bad science”. There have been studies done in four countries showing no causality between vaccines and increased rates of diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders.

Well, off to deal with the crisis du jour … more later.

“i’m going to ghana, why take garlic pill”

Now if you guessed that cryptic headline means this is another issue of Weird Search Terms, then you’re right! (I’ve plenty of serious posts to write, but am not feeling spiffy, so I’m posting this instead.)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with such, about once a month I make “Dada-ist” poems out of the most peculiar weird search terms that landed people to my blog. (Each line is a different term; the Web seems to be used by a lot of very odd people.) These are guaranteed to stretch your brain all out of shape, so set your Grammar Editor aside, and engage the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

  • it was a dark and stormy night
  • casual conversation for aspergers
  • star trek galaxy class wallpaper
  • change of barometric pressure causes
  • stimming in normal children
  • how to make a phone call in 70 easy steps
  • cats drawing
  • port stain birthmark metaphysical meaning
  • insects are our friends
  • words disabled people don’t mind hearing
  • superstitions ain’t the way
  • inclusion in the 4th grade classroom
  • need more chocolate brownie
  • why i would be a good counselor for
  • arachnids and tics
  • speaks well, high scores in tests poorly
  • stimming spinning strategies
  • signed I+love+you
  • bedroom bugs