Part 5 – My Venture Into Asperger’s – Eye Contact

Neuro BannerThis is Part 5 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s and it is a biggie for me. As usual I will start out with a personal story and then show how that links into Asperger’s. This post is primarily about my struggles with eye contact.

2016-09-24_13-59-05To most people eye contact, that is looking into the eyes of the person you are talking to, is a normal process. To me it is quite painful and it always has been.  It is as though I am looking into that person’s soul and that is just someplace I don’t want to go. Whenever I do it it is almost as if I freeze up and stop thinking.  I have never understood why I feel this way when so many others don’t.

Even in my early childhood I imagined that something was seriously wrong with me.  Why was eye contact so painful?  As I got older I managed to have “roving eye contact”. That is I would occasionally glance into someone’s eyes while mostly looking elsewhere . That worked pretty well for many but then there were those who almost glared at me when I did that. 

As I was graduating college and ready for the job interviews I knew I had to do something as people would find out I was defective during an interview if I didn’t look them in the eye. Fortunately it didn’t take too many interviews before I landed a job. I almost took the first offer officially given in order to not have to do anymore interviews.  Looking back I think the lack of eye contact was also probably one of the reasons I had few second dates.

When I became deaf at the age of forty  in some ways it was almost a God’s send. I could now just watch a persons lips and therefore didn’t have to look into their eyes.  People would understand that was what I had to do and therefore not expect eye contact. It actually made my life a little easier, at least in that issue…

Now lets see how this relates to Asperger’s:

An Aspie Point of View — Eye contact hurts.. no, not in the painful sense but it’s quite uncomfortable. I always feel that I’m revealing more than I want to with eye contact and that I’m receiving more information than I want to know.

Source: Life with Aspergers: Aspergers and Eye Contact

This was my primary “aha” moment in my discovery of Asperger’s. I found out that my pain in making eye contact was not just me but others felt it too.  It was soothing in a way to understand it might be a neurological problem shared by others.  I wasn’t totally weird after all. This revelation started my  journey where I discovered many other personal aspie characteristics.

I like being a unique person and in a way Aspergers helps me be just that. Wouldn’t it be boring if all of us were the same? I am now half way through this planned ten part journey into Aspergers but maybe it will go beyond that point and into a regular weekly post. It is that important to me and I hope you will get some additional insight into this syndrome.

My Visual World…

Being deaf my world is primarily visual. So one of my most endearing hobbies is photography. I got my first 35mm camera right out of college. It, besides my 1970 Mustang,  was my first extravagant purchase.  I  have upgraded cameras many times since then and now have a fully digital GPS enabled one sitting beside me on all of my micro-RV trips and even around the homestead.

Most of the posts here at RJsCorner are primarily words  but I do intertwine them with occasional pictures such as in my search of America.  I think it is about time to put more focused solitary pictures here that tune in to pure beauty.  And that is what I intend to do here and hopefully weekly in the future. It will be categorized as 5Star Pictures as that is how they are labeled in my Adobe Lightroom 6 libraries. Oftentimes beauty is beautiful in its own sake but sometimes it is equally about the story surrounding it.

I want to start out this series by going back to 1944. No, I didn’t take the picture as it would be another two years before I was even born. But it is one of those pictures that I truly love for its innocence and for the person photographed.

A Pretty Little 5 year old.jpg

This beautiful little girl would become my wife in a mere forty-two years from the time it was taken. To me there is something enchanting about that face. Beauty personified, but maybe I am prejudiced .

 

Zoar Village – Ohio

ISOA Banner  Recently I visited the Zoar Village in central Ohio that  is one of the few villages where the whole town is on the National Register of Historic Places.  As is often the case Zoar was platted by by Germans escaping religious prosecution by the Lutheran church in the early 1800s. It was a communal colony but unlike most did not discourage gawkers so it has a rich pictorial  history that I hope to bring you more of in future posts. For now just enjoy some of the buildings found there. It shamefully seems that many of these type sites are falling out of favor with tourists so if you are in the area give them a visit and maybe a small donation.

As usual click on any of the pictures below to see a larger slideshow view.

5 Steps To A More Creative Brain…

I strive to do something creative everyday. Being creative is not necessarily a natural process, especially to me, so it must be nourished. So, when I came across this article it got my attention…

Young believed this process of creative connection always occurred in five steps.

1. Gather new material. At first, you learn. During this stage you focus on learning specific material directly related to your task and learning general material by becoming fascinated with a wide range of concepts.

2. Thoroughly work over the materials in your mind. During this stage, you examine what you have learned by looking at the facts from different angles and experimenting with fitting various ideas together.

3. Step away from the problem. Next, you put the problem completely out of your mind and go do something else that excites you and energizes you.

4. Let your idea return to you. At some point, but only after you have stopped thinking about it, your idea will come back to you with a flash of insight and renewed energy.

5. Shape and develop your idea based on feedback. For any idea to succeed, you must release it out into the world, submit it to criticism, and adapt it as needed.

Put the idea in practice….

Being creative isn’t about being the first (or only) person to think of an idea. More often, creativity is about connecting ideas.

Source: For a more creative brain, follow these 5 steps

I don’t think of myself as particularly a creative person but I do often follow these steps in my thought processes. Learning should be a must for all of us no matter our age. The first step is to admit that you don’t know everything. You don’t even know what you don’t know! Learning often involves reading the words of other who have studied the material much more than you have.  Some, including someone I know personally, just seem unwilling to accept that there are “experts” who know more than them. You need to get over that thought before you can really learn.

I often say and it has been said by others that I overthink too many things. I run them over and over in my mind to find just the right solutions. Most of my almost 3,000 blog posts here at RJsCorner sit in a draft bin for several days so I can mull them over in my mind and choose better words and thoughts. Looking at something from different angles often mean the very core of the post is completely changed in the process.

Most often I am in the middle of something else when a “better” way is suddenly discovered for what I have been doing.  I call it letting it stew for a while to become more tasteful.

Putting an idea into practice is sometimes the hardest part. I have trouble deciding whether to finally say it is done.  There is always that last minute detail that might be better. But the final stage any creative process is to finally finish it…

All About Fear…

Fear, and particularly fear of death, is a somewhat useless emotion. As the quote below mentions death eventually takes 100% of us so you shouldn’t fixate on it and waste your life in the process. Yes, every minute you are alive there is a chance, no matter how minute, that a terrorist or just some mentally disturbed person might end your life. But there is also a chance which is probably greater that you will be struck by lightening.

The simple fact of being alive means a constant risk of death, steadily growing to 100 percent. At any moment a blood vessel might pop in your brain, or your heart might give out, or you could be hit by a car crossing the street, killing you instantly. You might be felled by a silent gas leak, or your own cells gone haywire, or simply falling down in the shower.

2016-09-24_10-50-35.pngIn order to live any sort of reasonable life, you cannot be constantly flipping out about the inevitability of onrushing death.You’ve got to summon up some combination of looking past it, and accepting danger without panic — what we might call courage. Some unusually idealistic people have even been known to argue that mortal danger is worth chancing to preserve a certain form of government, where innocent people, no matter their ethnic or religious background, can go about their business free from state oppression.

Trump’s willingness to indulge unconstitutional bigotry to deal with terrorism is not courage, and it’s not “tough.” It’s nothing more than a weak, frightened man indulging the worst human instincts by enacting a worthless and unfair charade on the backs of an unpopular minority.

Source: The cowardice of Trump

The words above are pointed toward Mr. Trump and his obsession with instilling fear in each of us.  I like the idea of courage being accepting the inevitability of death and then looking past it without panic. Of course Mr. Trump has a wide audience for his obsession with fear. Too many of us are just down right cowards when it come to fear. I remain hopeful that his base is a small minority of us citizens that that he will be thoroughly beaten in about a month. He spent the last eight years on his birther conspiracy, I’m sure he will find something similar to do in the next eight, that is if he isn’t killed by terrorists in the mean time.

My father was one of those people who just didn’t want to talk about death in any form. Even toward the end when it was clearly in sight he simply didn’t want to talk about it.  That is not one of the genes I inherited from him.  Fear just doesn’t have much of a priority in my life. I know I am going to die and if my genes hold out it will be in the next decade or so but that fact just doesn’t occupy my mind very often.

I try to live and appreciate each day as it comes, even if it might be my last…

The Problem With Faith…

I must admit that I have a pretty big problem with faith. That is the faith in a omnipotent god who controls everything in the universe. Here is an article to start this conversation.

2016-09-24_12-16-23.pngChristians talk a lot about “faith.” At points of her life, Mother Teresa did not believe that she believed in God. Does that mean she didn’t have faith? Well, she was an ordained sister in the Catholic Church, and she devoted her life to following the teachings of Jesus. Objectively, she was a Christian, no matter what she subjectively believed. She practiced what a friend of mine once called “the faith of the body” as opposed to the “faith of the mind,” a concept captured by the proverb “Act as though ye had faith, and faith shall be given to you.

“If people ever stop trying to match what they subjectively believe with what they objectively do, yes, they become hypocrites. But until then, they are exercising what Aristotle called the virtues: the idea that our moral and psychological faculties are muscles, and that you need to practice them. What makes you a kind person isn’t how kind you feel, it’s the kind acts you do. And doing kind things for those around you, even when you don’t feel like it, even though it’s work, makes you a more meritorious person than someone for whom it comes easily.

Source: Mother Teresa sometimes didn’t believe in God. That makes her an example of faith.

I like the thought of “objectively” I am a Christian no matter what I subjectively think. The teaching of Jesus are central to my life even if I don’t run to a church every Sunday morning to be told I am a sinner but he loves me in spite of that fact. I just see too much conflict between the words of Jesus and the current religions that proclaim to follow him.

Maybe I am a Christian after all?  It is comforting to know that Mother Teresa had her doubts also. Maybe I am in good company.  I don’t know about Mother Teresa’s doubts but mine seem to be mainly about all the pain and suffering in this world. God knows she saw much more of it than I do. Why if God controls everything does he decide to make so many suffer? I know the standard answer is that “God works in mysterious ways that we don’t understand” but to me that is pretty lame. If God has pre-decided what I am going to have for breakfast tomorrow then why can’t he give all the starving children a bit to eat too?

My view of God is that she set everything into motion and then allows “stuff” to happen. My last flavor of religion was very action averse.  They told me that I you only have to act like a Christian if you feel like it because “works” just don’t matter much to God.  Looking back how I stayed so long in that realm is almost shameful to me.  As the quote above says what makes you a kind (and therefore a Christian) person isn’t how you feel but the kind of acts you do. It really is as simple as that,  at least to me…

Roulette And The USPS…

Snippet Banner  The title of this snippet post might be confusing to some of you but bear with me.  I am not a gambler in almost any form but I have been playing roulette a lot lately. Mail Roulette.. It seems we have a new mail delivery person on our rural route. I’m pretty sure that all of them for the last half dozen years have been contract employees. That is they are not postal workers with life time employment as seems common to most governmental bureaucracies.

2016-09-24_16-37-14.pngOur last couple of carriers were less than amazing but this new one takes the cake. He just can’t seem to get all the mail in the box for the same address.  Last week all of our mail was delivered to our next door neighbor. This week half of it was to the neighbor behind us. Today I got something for neighbor number one in my box.  Now I can understand it in some areas on his route that don’t have any numbers on the boxes. I guess the people living there don’t get much company so don’t see a need to let others know where they live.🙂  But our boxes in my part of the road are all clearly labeled with at least three inch letters.

2016-09-24_16-37-46.pngI know the USPS is struggling to stay in business but maybe they need to find cost reductions elsewhere beside those who directly interface with their customers.  A better way would be to eliminate Saturday delivery entirely but of course politics would not allow that.  Answering to a dysfunctional congress they have a rough time even existing I guess.

But there is some serendipity to all this. It causes visits that might not otherwise take place. We get to know our neighbors a little better while playing roulette with them.🙂

Just a thought for this Saturday afternoon.

My Venture Into Asperger’s – Arrogance and Criticism..

Neuro Banner   This is Part 4 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s. As usual I will start out with a personal story and then show how that links into my study of this syndrome. This post will among other things be about my struggles with criticism.

As a young boy I had troubles fitting in to the group mode. I always felt like I just didn’t belong. Because I had a low self-esteem in those years I  compensated by just being by myself most of the time.  I couldn’t understand the behaviors of my peers so I withdrew from them.  As I grew older the “I am an Island” mode became a central part of my life. I was that kid who was off in the corner reading books and dreaming about the future instead of playing sports and such. While I didn’t voice my feeling often I sometimes thought critically of others.

2016-09-19_10-03-17One of the major things that has challenged me throughout my life is that I just don’t take criticism well! To avoid it I often studied things so that I was the semi-expert who spoke with knowledge that couldn’t be questioned. I now look back on my life and see where my sensitivity to criticism caused difficulties with interaction with others.  As an example, I was pretty much on my own for the first forty years of my life so I was just not used to being criticized.  That is until I got married and then I was exposed to criticism in spades.  My wife, like many others as I understand, was determined to fix me and I just didn’t think I needed fixing. Her attempts, which I most often take as criticism has been the central kernel  of conflict in your marriage.  I often have the feeling that “my wife doesn’t think I can even flush a toilet without screwing it up!” Since recognizing my sensitivity to criticism I have worked hard to handle it but with not much actual success. 

When I found that my IQ was 134 it didn’t mean anything to me but looking back I guess it caused me to appear arrogant in some of my actions and words.  I just thought things through more deeply than others and when I voiced my opinions they evidently came across as I didn’t intend them. 

How does this story relate to Asperger’s?

We know that the child with Asperger’s syndrome has difficulty with social integration with his or her peers. If that child also has superior intellectual ability, difficulties in social integration may be compounded. Those children who have exceptionally high IQs may compensate by becoming arrogant and egocentric, and have considerable difficulty acknowledging that they have made a mistake. Such children can be hypersensitive to any suggestion of criticism, yet overly critical of others, including teachers, parents or authority figures. The school or parents may turn to professional help with regard to the attitude and conduct of such children, leading to a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Referral to a behaviour management specialist may be the starting point of the pathway to a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.

Attwood, Tony (2006-09-28). The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome (pp. 20-21). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Recognizing my Asperger’s traits is helping me to understand how I may unintentionally hurt others with my words.

Our Religion Of Economism Is Bankrupt

I have to admit that I am not a “true” believer in the capitalist system belief that we must always consume more and more as the years pass.  My ingrained simplicity seems to be very counter to that idea.

2016-09-20_18-34-21.pngIn both religion and economics, absurd belief too often leads to atrocious action.While the consequences of misguided belief are well-documented in the study of religion, we rarely use comparable standards to critique the religious-like faith bestowed upon our current economic system. We believe that economic “growth” is the single most important key to unlocking the sacred doors of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, the facts of the matter and narratives of the masses reveal a far different picture. As our globalized fiscal cycle is now calibrated to impose repeated tragic failures, and because it seems to legitimize inequality and destruction of the Earth as virtuous and inevitable, the time is long overdue to expose the false beliefs and oppressive impact surrounding our contemporary economic edifice.

Source: Our Religion Of Economism Is Bankrupt

It is interesting to see the commonality between our current religious systems and our economic system. I have been convinced for some time now that religions as they exist today are out of tune with the times.  Most seem to be stuck in a 19th century mode of flat-earth and Victorian morality. There are just too many people, particularly in the religious realm,  who have failed to accept our national diversity and the corresponding social changes that have occurred.

Our economic system of more and more seems to be in that same mode. It is not good enough for a corporation to provide a healthy dividend year over year to it stockholders, they must now grow to a bigger and bigger bureaucracy. This never big enough mentality is primarily responsible for much of the outsourcing that has been going on. You must maximize profits in EVERY way possible or you will go down in the dustbowl of history.

Maybe it is time to say “enough is enough”. Maybe it is time to bring back the three-legged-stool where the customers, the workers,and the stockholders have equal weighting in corporate decisions.  Maybe it is time to realize that growth for its own sake is killing our capitalistic system.  But how do you accomplish that and who will actually be the first CEO to institute it?  That is the major question of our times.

The George W. Bush White House ‘Lost’ 22 Million Emails

Thank heavens that this political savagery will finally be over in less than 50 days.  I have almost given up on reading or watching any news sources as they are totally flooded with Mr. Trump and his malicious rhetoric.  Hillary using a private email is one of the main topics for ages now.  If you are one of those who doesn’t see this a purely political then the quote below if for you;

Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails. “It’s about as amazing a double standard as you can get,” says Eric Boehlert, who works with the pro-Clinton group Media Matters. “If you look at the Bush emails, he was a sitting president, and 95 percent of his chief advisers’ emails were on a private emailsystem set up by the RNC. Imagine if for the last year and a half we had been talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails set up on a private DNC server?”

Source: The George W. Bush White House ‘Lost’ 22 Million Emails

It just amazes me how Bush/Cheney administration got by doing mostly illegal stuff with no admonishment from congress or other agencies.  It is indeed a double standard when it comes to GOP representatives.

I am thinking seriously of just stopping all my news sources until November 9th. I don’t need the agony in my life right now. On that day Mr. Trump will go back to his casino empire and leave the serious stuff to the real people.

With all the voting stuff being changed by my very red State I am also looking to do an absentee ballot this year for the first time in my life. For Primary day this year I had to wait in the voting line for over an hour because of the changes they have made.  I imagine that the wait will exceed 3 hours this coming election. Up until now I have never had to wait more than 10 minutes where I live now.

Being a responsibly citizen of this country sure takes a lot more work than it used to…

Take Me Home, Country Roads..

ISOA Banner   When I was hearing I enjoyed the songs of John Denver, especially his 1971 album with “Take Me Home, Country Roads”  about West Virginia. I certainly enjoyed my visit to WV in 2011 and yes it did have a lot of beautiful country roads.

Click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

An especially delightful time was at the State Museum in the capital city.  I think it is the best I have ever visited.

Zoar Village, Ohio

ISOA Banner  There will be much more later but I wanted to give you a quick pic of my recent three day adventure into central Ohio and particularly the Zoar Village.  If you are into history it is an awesome place.

Zoar Ohio.jpg

John Cho compares ‘Star Trek Beyond’ to U.S. political climate.

 

I have to admit that I am a huge Star Trek and Star Wars fan!  I just love looking into future possible worlds.  I hadn’t considered Star Trek as being a social commentary but after reviewing the source article here it does seem to accomplish that at least on some level.

Star Trek Beyond features the Federation facing off against the villainous Krall, an alien who thrives on conflict, in direct opposition to the Federation’s mantra of unity and peaceful coexistence. This dynamic is not unlike the current state of U.S. politics (with some politicians obsessing over all the different people supposedly coming to kill us, and others calling for unity in troubled times), a fact that star John Cho says was not lost on him or his Beyond castmates.“I think it does make the themes of the movie more resonant with us,” Cho told The A.V. Club in a new interview. “Oddly, the tumult of this year reminds me of the late ’60s, when Roddenberry created Star Trek. It was a similarly divisive time in America … Times seem similarly dark. The message of Star Trek, if there is one, seems to be that we should try to live up to the very best that we’re capable of.  Star Trek seems to be an appeal to our better nature, the side of ourselves that works toward peace and cooperation and understanding and knowledge and yearns to seek out knowledge rather than the side that wants to divide and control one another.”

Source: John Cho compares ‘Star Trek Beyond’ to U.S. political climate | EW.com

I think what attracted me to Star Trek was that is showed a positive future for our world. A future where diversity would become the norm, not just among humanity but those beyond humanity. Yes, there will always be some who think differently but in the end good will always conquer evil.

Given that this is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek there have been a lot of old episodes of the 1960s series on TV.  It has been a pleasure to see them again. I am looking forward to see the latest movie when it comes out in dvd.

Logic & Expression of Affection..

Neuro Banner   This is Part 3 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s.

As usual I will start out with a personal story and then show how that links into my study of this syndrome.

My father was a very stoic man who simply never showed much emotion. He was much like his father in that regard. I don’t know why that was, I just accepted that that is who he was. In my later years I came to fully understand that he loves me and he even told me so a few years before  he died at 78 years of age.  

My mother was a narcissist who had little room for love of other people.  Since she abandoned us fairly early in my life so she just didn’t have much of an affect on the person I would become.

2016-09-12_16-12-27.pngI admit that I am very “Spock like” in my approach to the world.  I always seek a rational understanding of my surroundings. Logic drives my life and I simply can’t understand how others can sometimes be so illogical.  I,  for instance, can’t understand why anyone who has ANY exposure to Mr. Trump would think he belongs in the Oval Office.  There is simply no logical way to rationalize that vision. It has to come from someplace I don’t recognize.

On many occasions when I get into a “discussion” with my wife I try to use logic to state my case and it never seems to have an affect on her. She simply believe what she believes, logic has nothing to do with it.  When logic fails I simply don’t know where to go from there.

Continuing this thought, I don’t think I really understand the concept of love,  that is as most others seem to recognize it.  Speaking from the heart I’m not sure if I have ever really felt it. I love my wife in the fact that I am committed to her via our wedding vows. Even though we are opposites in many regards I value her as an important part of my life and do almost everything I can to make her happy.  But she still  often questions wether I really love her. I say “I love you in my own way.” But that just doesn’t seem to satisfy her..

How does this sync with Asperger’s? As usual we will go to Tony Atwood’s book:

A recent survey of women who have a partner with Asperger’s syndrome included the question ‘Does your partner love you?’ and 50 per cent replied, ‘I don’t know’ (Jacobs 2006). 2016-09-07_15-03-04What was missing in the relationship were daily words and gestures of affection, tangible expressions of love. People with Asperger’s syndrome have difficulties with the communication of emotions, and this includes love (see Chapter 6). When a partner said to her husband with Asperger’s syndrome, ‘You never show you care,’ he replied, ‘Well, I fixed the fence, didn’t I?’ The person with Asperger’s syndrome may express his or her love in more practical terms; or, to change a quotation from Star Trek (Spock, examining an extra-terrestrial: ‘It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it’) in Asperger’s syndrome, it is love, but not as we know it.

Attwood, Tony (2006-09-28). The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome (p. 307). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Are my expressions of effection a part of Asperger’s? I am beginning to believe so…

Simplify…

The last few years the concept of simplicity has been a major theme for me.  I have spent much of the last year decluttering my life and all the stuff I have unnecessarily collected. That included a closet of clothes never worn in several years and a 30×60 foot barn with decades worth of accumulated junk.

For some reason I now find it much more satisfying to live a cleaner life without so much stuff.  I don’t know if this is because I can see the end of the tunnel or if this has been a lifelong endeavor that is finally risen to the surface. Either way I am glad to welcome it into my world.

I searched out my photo library for what I think is the very idea of Simplify and came up with the following photo. Living simply does not mean living without beauty…

2000 297.jpg

I’m Dreaming Of Pittsburgh

ISOA Banner  When I came across these pictures in my database I began dreaming of Pittsburgh and particularly the Heinz Museum. Don’t miss it if you are in the area.  Pittsburgh is different from any other major city I have visited. It has a raw edge to it that is a legacy of it steel industry heritage.

Click on any picture to see a larger slideshow.

Inside America’s war over political correctness

Being politically correct is one of those phrases that actually means something quite different than the words indicate. Here are some thoughts about that from my friends over at the Week.

bullhorn_final_9_6But over the past few decades, as the country has developed a more multicultural common culture, national institutions that tend to be based in diverse, cosmopolitan cities — especially the federal government and mainstream media — have attempted to foster greater social cohesion by promulgating a civic ethic of tolerance and sensitivity regarding an ever-lengthening list of potential points of tension or difference.

The consequence? For one thing, it’s probably much less likely than it once was that a Jewish kid or black kid or Puerto Rican kid or gay kid will have to endure being called any number of slurs… It’s far less common today, and for that we can thank political correctness — which for those of us who live in diverse communities amounts to nothing more objectionable than the background presumption that we will treat each other with a minimum of respect that includes the avoidance of gratuitous insults and other forms of social cruelty.

But what about the people who live in places that remain as homogenous as they were decades ago — and who very much want it to remain that way? When my wife returned to her hometown in 1988, her reprimand merely provoked an eye-roll from her parents. Today her town is still overwhelmingly white and Christian. The nearest gay bar is more than 30 minutes away on the interstate. Yet the government and mainstream media continually push the message that mores need to change to reflect a country filled with blacks and Jews and Latinos and Muslims and gays and the transgendered. To the white Christian residents of rural eastern Ohio, this sounds like unnecessary moral fussiness mixed with condescension and backed up by the threat of coercion.

Source: Inside America’s war over political correctness

I can relate to much of this story. I too came from a hometown that was overwhelmingly white and Christian and regularly heard the “jokes” about all those other people. Like the author I didn’t think much about them until I went to college and saw a different world, but even before then the jokes embarrassed me. I wondered how they could talk about someone as if they were not even human?

When our world moves from a very homogenized one to a diverse one you we basically have two options. One is feel threatened by the existence of those “other” people and the other is to celebrate the diversity of our new world. It seems too many choose the former today.  These are the folks who make up the Trump “base”.  I am hopeful that the majority of us are in the diversity camp and will actually show up in the polls in about 8 weeks to shut down the fear mongers among us.

I think politically correct means we treat others, even those quite different from us, as we would like to be treated.  But then again I do agree that like everything else there are fringes out there that need to grow a thicker skin…

Tax Cuts And Other Things.. Bill Clinton Style…

I must admit that my life was good while Bill Clinton was in office. My 401k flourished and allowed me to retire early instead of looking for another job after being downsized by a Chinese company that bought our our division of business. I also appreciate his logical thinking. He just seems to have the right words for every circumstance.

2016-09-11_18-19-08.png“I know when the last time we followed the same economic policies he’s [Trump] recommending — cut the taxes like crazy on the richest people in America, double the debt and have no money left over to invest, stop regulating the financial institutions, repeal the healthcare law with nothing to replace it, stop enforcing all these environmental laws, global warming is a hoax invented by China — Last time we did that kind of stuff, it didn’t work out too well for us,” he said.Clinton later added:

“What do we have to lose? Give me a break.”

Source: Clinton Holds Steady Against Trump as Campaign Enters Final Weeks: Poll – NBC News

I guess Bill had to pick from Trumps ever changing “strategies” to make the comment above but this one does sound like the Reagan years with tax breaks for the rich so that it will trickle down to the rest of us.  That is was started the middle class deterioration that continues even today.  But then of course Trump being on the receiver end of those breaks makes perfect sense to me. Everything about him yells  ME, ME, ME…

It is amazing to me that Bill can put so many thoughts in so few words. I pride myself in doing that but only in the written mode and even that requires many edits for me to accomplish.

It will be interesting to see what role Bill plays when Hillary is sitting in the Oval Office next year. He already said he would step away from the very successful Clinton Foundation so he will need something else to do.  Unlike Mr. Bush who retired after him he will need something to take up his time besides vegging out and watching sports. I suppose they will give him some “first husband” duties but that will likely not be enough for Bill.

Feminine vs Macho…

Neuro Banner   This is Part 2 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s.  In my previous post I reported how I was a late-bloomer in the relationship field. This time I want to talk about feminine and ‘macho’ things.

2016-09-07_07-01-07Even as a young child macho was a very negative trait to me.  Simply speaking I hated it.  I’m sure the word macho means different things to different people so to the right is the definition that I use. IN my mind macho is almost synonymous with being a bully. There is nothing manly about it. I knew being a boy I was supposed to be macho but the idea of aggressively dominating others with a self-conscious attitude was just not possible for me.  It was against every fiber of my being.

Instead I mostly often worried about others and their places in life.  Because of the machoism and the fact that I was a frail child,  most sports were something I avoided and still avoid seventy years later. Even watching it has not been on my agenda for a very long time.  

In fact because of the damage sports does to many I think it has an overall negative effect in this world. I have jokingly come to the belief that no one over the age of 15 should be allowed to play sports. There are far too many kids who spend all their energies trying to become the next Micheal Jorden when in reality doing that often means a wasted life because of the fact that they do it to the exclusion of everything else including academics. 

Thinking about others instead of thumping my chest and strutting around feeling superior was what I was.  I knew that was considered feminine and that probably alienated me from some  possible friends but I just didn’t care.  I was not a macho guy and I never would be.

Changing subjects to another area, I was almost forty years old before I married and the courtship was as fast as the marriage was late. Our first date was in December and we were married in April. My wife of thirty years said  to a friend after our first date” this is the guy I am going to marry” and indeed she did. 

2016-09-07_15-03-04A man with Asperger’s syndrome appears to have a ‘feminine’, rather than ‘macho’ quality – the ideal partner for the modern woman. The man with Asperger’s syndrome is usually a late developer in terms of emotional and relationship maturity, and this could be his first serious relationship, while his same-age peers have had several long-term relationships already….

Attwood, Tony (2006-09-28). The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Being anti-macho and having feminine characteristics was a strong part of my early life and remains so today. I am proud of that fact. But now I also recognize that it may be part of the Asperger’s Syndrome…

To The Regulators….

I am one of those who believes that our government has a very important role in our society. It seems human nature to be self serving before anything else now. To seek common good is above and beyond what happens in society.

We may well hit the next financial crisis before the regulatory response to the last one is fully implemented. Why? Legal scholars finger a culprit called “regulatory ossification,” referring to the grinding slowness of today’s federal rule-writing apparatus — largely because regulatory agencies are strangled by endless paperwork and frivolous lawsuits.

tightrope_1ahkxtwFully tackling this problem will probably require congressional action. Luckily, there are many things a president can do to partially alleviate the problem. Since she’s looking increasingly likely to take the White House, Hillary Clinton would be well advised to start taking this problem seriously.

One of the finest pieces of policy journalism ever written is “He Who Makes the Rules,” by Haley Sweetland Edwards. It’s an in-depth look at the bureaucratic trench warfare that causes the years-long delays in rulemaking. Laws like Dodd-Frank generally don’t contain specific regulations saying what must happen; instead they instruct federal agencies to write rules within specific parameters, with the overall process governed by the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act.

As Elizabeth Warren pointed out in a recent speech, what is needed is someone with the opposite view — that regulations are a huge net benefit that are absolutely critical to protecting the American economy and citizenry. Slow-walking regulation of finance or climate change with onerous cost-benefit nitpicking when Wall Street just obliterated the economy and American cities are suffering clockwork weather disasters is completely idiotic.So given that Republicans stand a good chance of hanging onto Congress, if Hillary Clinton wants to achieve anything during her presidency, appointing people who believe in quality government to key regulatory posts might be the single smartest and easiest step she could take.

Source: How to make big government agile again

Regulating our free enterprise system is critical to keeping our citizens in control of our government. Without regulations the greed endemic in a capitalist system would quickly get out of control.  Just look at late 2008 for evidence of that.

Elizabeth Warren is one of my few political heroes now. She thoroughly understands this important duty. Given the current GOP “stall everything” approach to government many of the regulations that have been passed because of the 2008 meltdown are still ery slow to be implemented.

Public servants, especially at the lower level, get little recognition and support by our citizenry but they do a gargantuan job of reigning in corporate greed and bringing some level of compassion into our way of handling wealth.  Often times they are outnumbered 50 to 1 by those in corporate America.  I don’t know how they accomplish what they do.

Thank you for your service….

Thinking Of The St. Lawrence Seaway…

ISOA Banner  For some reason I have been thinking about my last Canada trip in 2011. Maybe it is because I envy them that they don’t have to listen to all the ugly things coming out of Mr. Trumps mouth. Or maybe its because I might consider moving there if he is actually elected. We traveled along the St. Lawrence seaway for quite a bit of that vacation.

Click on any picture to see a full size slideshow

A Bad President Can Do An Enormous Amount Of Damage…

I’m sure I am not the only one to see this presidential election as the strangest of all the fourteen I have voted in. And I’m also sure that I am not the only one who is planning to vote for the least of two evils. The source article below proves that fact:

2016-09-04_15-14-49.pngI’m far more frightened about a Trump presidency than I am enthusiastic about a Clinton presidency. And why shouldn’t I be? The prospect of Donald Trump being the most powerful human being on Planet Earth is genuinely terrifying…. Among other things, Trump is impulsive, ignorant, vain, petty, bigoted, insecure, and possessed of an almost pathological narcissism. Every president faces crises during which the lives of large numbers of people, both in America and around the world, depend on that one individual’s judgment and calm. It’s little exaggeration to say that in the wrong circumstances, Trump’s copious personality defects could result in absolute cataclysm.

So when 80 percent of Trump supporters and 62 percent of Clinton supporters tell pollsters they’d be “scared” if the other candidate won, but only 29 percent of Trump supporters and 27 percent of Clinton supporters say they’d feel “excited” if their candidate won, we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, even a great president won’t turn America into Shangri-La in four or eight years, but a bad president can do an enormous amount of damage in the same time. And that’s more than a good enough basis on which to decide your vote.

Source: Why voting out of disgust is as American as apple pie

I have pretty much read about all the presidents in my life time. LBJ was pretty much a bully who liked to intimate those around him.  He got off on yielding power. He was one one of my least favorite presidents but he did get a lot of important things done. There was the Great Society, Civil Rights Acts, and Medicare. He was not a great person but he accomplished great things. And then there was the Vietnam war…

Even though Nixon was a very paranoid person he also accomplished quite a bit in office. That is until Watergate brought him down.  Reagan was a dichotomy of sorts. He ran on a balanced budget but in reality spent like a drunk sailor.  His extreme spending on military things is what caused the Soviet Union to collapse and that was temporarily a good thing.  George W. Bush ran as a compassionate conservative and on a business platform but the stock market was actually considerable lower and in much worse shape when he left office than when he started and he proved to be anything but compassionate.  I can’t really say that he accomplished anything that I thought worthwhile during his time. And then there were the two wars and resulting “off the book” spending that drove deficits ever higher.

Obama was the one that I pinned my hopes on to turn things around. He seemed like a compassionate guy but in reality he has been merciless in his deporting immigrants and seemingly indiscriminate killing with drones. And then there are the two continuous wars that seems impossible for him to get us out of…

What I have learned from my fourteen times voting for president is that you don’t have to like the person you are voting for but you do need to at least tolerate  what they stand for.  I can say there is not a single thing about Trump that makes me want to vote for him.

So here I am voting for the least of two evils again…. 63 days and counting until this madness ends…. Thank God….

 

Stop Using Sign Language Interpreters…

IMG_0542-crop.pngThe title above may seem strange coming from a deaf man but I really do think we have to stop using sign language interpreters for public announcements.  Its time to move on to better ways. Way better ways…

The facts show us that the ASL interpreters who are often behind a public official announcing something is understood by less that 20% of the people who are deaf and less than 2% of those who have hearing impairments.  But there is a technology that is understood by probably 90%+ of that population. That technology is captioning.  It is cheap, it is reliable and most of all serves the vast majority of those of us who are deaf/hearing impaired.  Here are some facts to back up these numbers:

The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is one of a few national surveys that regularly collects data identifying the American population of persons with hearing loss or deafness. Estimates from the SIPP indicate that fewer than 1 in 20 Americans are currently deaf or hard of hearing. In round numbers, nearly 10,000,000 persons are hard of hearing and close to 1,000,000 are functionally deaf. More than half of all persons with hearing loss or deafness are 65 years or older and less than 4% are under 18 years of age….

Source: How Many Deaf People Are There in the United States? Estimates From the Survey of Income and Program Participation

More than half the folks who are deaf went deaf as a result of the aging process and know very little or nothing about any type of sign language. I have been deaf for about 30 years now and have become quite proficient in understanding signed English, at least me and my wife’s version. ASL is just beyond my comprehension. One of the problems with ASL is that it is not an English type language in syntax and many adjectives are facial expressions instead of signed  words. Depending on the interpreter there can be many different ways to sign the same thing. Some, who do use ASL, sign it one way some another. Here is an example of that:

Syntax[edit]The basic word order of ASL is disputed. Most linguists agree that ASL is a subject-verb-object (SVO) language with various phenomena affecting this basic word order. Basic SVO sentences are signed without any pauses:

FATHER – LOVE – CHILD”

The father loves the child.”

However, other word orders may also occur, as ASL allows the topic of a sentence to be moved to sentence-initial position, a phenomenon known as topicalization.In object-subject-verb (OSV) sentences, the object is topicalized, marked by a forward head-tilt and a pause:

CHILDtopic, FATHER – LOVE”

The father loves the child.”

Even more word orders can be obtained through the phenomenon of subject copy. In subject copy, the subject is repeated at the end of the sentence, accompanied by head nodding, either for clarification or emphasis:

FATHER – LOVE – CHILD – FATHERcopy

“The father loves the child.”

ASL also allows null subject sentences, where the subject is implied rather than stated explicitly. Subjects can be copied even in a null subject sentence, in which the subject is omitted from its original position, yielding a verb-object-subject (VOS) construction:

LOVE – CHILD – FATHERcopy

“The father loves the child.”

Source: American Sign Language – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Let’s quit pretending that an ASL interpreter satisfies the needs of the deaf/ hearing impaired community and move on to providing captions through a monitor to vastly increase the reach to this population.

Teach theology, not religion

The quotes below come from input from Irish high school students when asked about having religious studies in their school system. The wisdom of these kids’ words are way beyond their years.

2016-08-29_17-39-25.pngBy giving all children the opportunity to learn about the beliefs and values of diverse groups in society, the government would be providing for their education in some of the liberal democratic values on which the State itself is based. They include openness to a range of views along with inclusive and respectful citizenship.

MANUS CHARLETON

Perhaps, as religion is one of the greatest causes of conflict in the world, rather than teach religion in schools we might study theology and get a greater understanding of our fellow man.

CIARAN McNAMARA (age 16)

Source: Teach theology, not religion

The Irish certainly know something about religious strife having lived through decades of Catholic/Protestant war in the north of their country.  They are basically proposing the teaching of theology instead of a particular religion. Theology has a very high brow look to many of us but it is really quite simple. It is the study of religion.

Given that there are currently about 39,000 different versions of Christianity alone we need to study and learn why so many have deemed it necessary to leave one version of their religion for another.  Then there is the Shia, Sunni, and other versions of Islam that need to be understood.

Everyone seems to be almost seeking their own private version of God. Maybe it is time to study that fact instead of insisting that “our” version be the only one to consider.

I imagine that there are many inside all the various religions who fear that if their kids learn that their parents religion is not the only one out there that they may lose their souls. But the reality is that whether they like it or not their children do not “inherit” their parents faith. They must come to God on their own terms. Seriously teaching them the entire religious spectrum may be better than trying to force them to join a particular version with no knowledge of other options. Everyone must come to God on their own, no one else can do it for them.

Just a thought for this Sunday morning…..

 

Part 1 – My Venture Into Asperger’s

Neuro Banner   Autism is something that I have never studied or understood to any degree. I have always wondered why I never even heard of it until the last few decades. Did it just pop up or was it just known as something else? This post will start a study into the Asperger’s Syndrome which is officially part of the Autism spectrum. I was recently shocked to learn, at least from a layman’s standpoint, that I have several characteristics that are common to Asperger’s Syndrome.

For this study series I have decided on using a consistent format for my venture into Autism.  I will be giving you a personal story about my life and then will relate it to characteristics of Asperger’s. So, here goes…

I was called a “shy” kid as I didn’t relate very well to other kids or even many adults. I seemed to be the most comfortable in a world of my own.  Even now, some of my most pleasant memories are of sitting alone on a starry night looking at the sky and dreaming what my life would be like in the future. I was a late bloomer to the teenage years and never really had an official date until my senior prom. Even in college I was just not be comfortable around  the opposite sex.  I just couldn’t figure out what women were about or what they wanted. I dated some  in those years but for the most part lived in my own inner world.

I never understood why I was just not able to form any significant level of friendship even with other guys. Something just didn’t click for me.  I was just missing the necessary connections.   I always blamed that on not having much parental guidance growing up.  My mother left dad, my brother and me, for greener pastures when I was about ten years old. Like most kids of divorce I blamed myself for that happening. My dad was just not much of a communicator.

As I have aged, particularly in the last couple of decades, I now tend to speak my mind on many issues especially those having to due with social justice.  I have called myself an empath but just can’t seem to move that to a personal level to any degree.

Then came my first glances at Asperger’s:

Men with Asperger’s syndrome can also be admired for speaking their mind, having a sense of social justice and strong moral convictions. They are often 2016-07-18_17-22-29.pngdescribed as having ‘old-world’ values, and being less motivated than other men for physically intimate activities, or for spending time with male friends.

Attwood, Tony (2006-09-28). The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The words above are just a small part of my awakening. The striking similarities between these words and my personal life hit me like a two by four so to speak. I definitely had an “aha” moment that maybe there is a physiological reason I behave how I do? Maybe I am not just totally weird after all.

Much more on that in future posts in this topic.

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