About Fear

I love the banner for today’s post. Yeah, the more you know the less you fear and the more you realize that fear gets you nowhere, except for the case when you might be standing in the middle of a road and watching a Mack truck heading down on you. (ha).

It seems that “fear” has become our national pastime. Everywhere you look people are trying to convince you that bad guys are invading our country when the facts say otherwise. The current Oval Office occupant would have you believe that bad guys are charging across our borders with the intent of raping all our young girls. But, if you study the facts you will know that not to be the case. In fact, illegal border crossings are drastically lower than even ten years ago, and the vast majority of them are women with children trying to escape the carnage of their country of birth. The more you know, the less you fear.

All you have to do to be convinced that we are a country full of fear is to look at a typical day’s TV shows. It seems that NCIS-LA, for example, kills at least a dozen terrorist every week. That show, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Go to Netflix and count all the movies about terrorism and bad guys! I guess fear of terrorists is a pretty profitable staple for the movie and TV media and that fact alone could make someone paranoid. But, study how many foreign terrorists have invaded since 9/11 and you will find that the local variety of terrorists far far outnumber the ones who invade our country.

Two of my ten pillars are about learning the truth and questioning everything. Don’t just take for granted what you see in front of you or especially what some habitually lying person who doesn’t deserve an ounce of your trust tells you to believe. If you believe the facts instead of liars you will see there is less to fear than you fear.

Fear is kinda like hate, it can consume you if you let it. Shed that unnecessary fear and see more joyful things that will replace it. Turn off that TV once in a while and enjoy the other 99.9% of life around you.

The more you know, the less you fear.

The History of Autism

I know the title above is rather ambitious for a single blog post, but I do want to give you an idea of how it came about and how some of the statistics might be deceiving. I have been studying this topic for a few weeks now and thought I knew enough to put out a continuous series of posts on the subject, but as my snippet on This N’ That Sunday mentioned I just didn’t know how much I didn’t know. So, I am going to put out bits and pieces of what I have been learning as I go along. After all, a blog is not supposed to be novel length but instead snippet of info.

To the layman, it seems that “Autism” just came on the scene in the late 1980s. Before that is was almost unknown by the general public. In reality, the term itself was coined in 1908  to describe a subset of schizophrenic patients who were especially withdrawn and self-absorbed.

Hans Asperger brought it to the forefront in the field of psychiatry in 1944 when he describes a “milder” form of autism now known as Asperger’s Syndrome. The cases he reported were all boys who were highly intelligent but had trouble with social interactions and sometimes specific obsessive interests.

After World War II there was a lot of psychoanalytic work done on autism where researchers looked solely at the negative impact on life experiences.  At that time Autism was not considered biological or genetic. In 1980 “Infantile autism” is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time; the condition is also officially separated from childhood schizophrenia.

It was not until 1988 when the movie Rain Man is released which stars Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant that Autism became widely known to the general public. At that time Asperger’s Syndrome was not included in the DSM category.

Finally, in 2013, The DSM-5 folds all subcategories of the condition into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer considered a separate condition. I have some strong feelings about that but I will leave them to another post. ASD is defined by two categories: 1) Impaired social communication and/or interaction. 2) Restricted and/or repetitive behaviors.

Some say folding Asperger’s into the DSM category was a mistake since it is significantly different when it comes to life experiences from much of the rest of the autism spectrum. More on that in a near future post.

Footnote: The source for much of this history is from the Parents.com website.

Homeschooling

I will say up front here that I am not an advocate for homeschooling.  I think it deprives a person of some very necessary life experiences. What is the primary reason that parents give for homeschooling their children?

We control the curriculum.

With homeschooling, I can choose the curriculum that best meets my child’s learning style.

A relaxed atmosphere.
Homeschooling, for the most part, is a much more tranquil atmosphere than the traditional school system

It keeps me connected with my child’s education.

My home, my values.
Yes, I’m Christian, but this goes beyond my faith

More time with my kids.

Source: HuffPost

To me, the detrimental side of homeschooling is that the kid is not exposed to much of anything outside the family’s worldview and corresponding attached prejudices. Then when it comes to leaving the nest some are grossly unprepared for what they will face. They know nothing of simple life building things like being teased which builds character. They know nothing about the diversity of the world outside their mother’s reach. They know nothing about families who struggle from paycheck to paycheck.

I went through the first seven grades in a small Catholic school and then went into a small rural public school. The differences were starkly shocking. But even the final five years in a small rural public school did little to prepare me for the diversity of the world I would face in college. For the first time in my life, I was exposed to cultures very different from mine. I had a foreign roommate my first year who had a very different worldview than mine. I managed to cope in this new world and even thrive because of it. I wonder if a homeschooled would do the same?

Rural America – Appalachia

Before I get into the New York Times quote below I want to tell you about my visit to the Museum of Appalachia from a few years ago. I didn’t know what to expect before I went but was blown away by what I found. There seems to be a lot of pride in their folksy past and art. Some would never consider leaving their “holler” and are proud of their Appalachian culture. It showed the light side of Appalachia, the stories below show the dark side.

I’m from Appalachia, where getting into the working class was an aspiration. I was raised “up the holler” and know the culture intimately. You have no idea of the amount of anger, self-righteousness, bigotry and willful ignorance you’re dealing with. I have seen a blighted small town use a corrupt sheriff and judge to run off a business owned by a black man. I have been present when an entire community looked the other way when a gay couple was burned out of their home.
They support Trump and the reason is simple: He acts just like they would if they had money. There is no saving this culture, nor should you want to save it. The people who could have revitalized it have either left for better opportunities or been run off. It’s a breeding ground for hatred and despair, dying with a Bible in one arm and a heroin needle in the other. Let it die. — Peregrinus, Erehwon

Source: New York Times

Here is another story about the dark side:

HERE ARE LOTS of diversions in the Big White Ghetto, the vast moribund matrix of Wonder Bread–hued Appalachian towns and villages stretching from northern Mississippi to southern New York, a slowly dissipating nebula of poverty and misery with its heart in eastern Kentucky…

Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short …

There is here a strain of fervid and sometimes apocalyptic Christianity, and visions of the Rapture must have a certain appeal for people who already have been left behind. Like its black urban counterparts, the Big White Ghetto suffers from a whole trainload of social problems, but the most significant among them may be adverse selection: Those who have the required work skills, the academic ability, or the simple desperate native enterprising grit to do so get the hell out as fast as they can, and they have been doing that for decades. As they go, businesses disappear, institutions fall into decline, social networks erode, and there is little or nothing left over for those who remain

Source: The Week – January 2104

A very big part of the current populist movement occurs in Appalachia. 95% of the Appalachian counties voted for Trump in the last election, but what is unclear is just what they expect a “new” version government to do? An even bigger question is can anything be done for areas of the country like this other than to provide an easy exit for those wanting to escape.

Not Mine To Carry…

I’ve learned a valuable lesson in the last month or so. It is a lesson that I embarrassingly should have learned ages ago but was just too stubborn to accept. Much of my, and I’m sure many other’s depression, is from letting stuff weigh me down that is really not mine to carry.

There are dozens of stories every day about the idiocy taking place in the current Oval Office. I used to worried about it as if I could actually do something about it. I know from the first amendment that it is the responsibility of the press to carry the reporting load and I salute them for doing it so well in spite of all the trash-talk lies about them being “enemies of us people”.

For the last couple of weeks, I have basically ignored all news about the extreme narcissist in the Oval Office. I know from personal experience that if you really want to diss a narcissist the thing to do it to pretend he doesn’t exist. His whole life is about bringing attention to himself.

I still see the headlines about this guy in my daily feeds but I have not once in that period of time clicked beyond the headlines. He is no longer in my life, at least until I see something about the “i” word.

I have been a political junkie for 50+ years so it is just too hard to skip that topic entirely. I will continue to read and talk about the other branch who’s role it is to be the checks and balances for the executive branch. Of course with the current leadership in the Senate stalemate is almost guaranteed but at least the House will once again be trying to do their job. If and only if the GOP Senators grow a backbone and seek another leader will they be able to do the same. But that is a story for next Monday’s political post…

In 2019 I will work hard to shed of the feeling that I need to carry dead weight of other’s incompetence. It is simply not mine to carry.

Not Appreciated…

One of the things that bothered me much when I was in the corporate world was that I often felt unappreciated. I put in more hours and produced more output than most of my fellow employees but seldom got any praise from my bosses. All of us need a pat on the back once in a while. Most of my bosses just seemed incapable of giving me that, at least to the extent expected.

So, when I came across this post from my friends over at the Drabble it got my attention.

We live in a new age, but old unspoken traditions trail us like a snake. Your smile disappears when your boss approaches her instead of you. They share a giggle about nothing. His touch on her arm lasted longer than it should. He praises her work as yours receives none.

You try to stow the fire raging inside knowing your seventy hours a week meant nothing to him. The money you earned for the company meant nothing compared to short skirts and tight blouses. You nearly boil over and unleash your anger when he announces your name. You made partner.

It’s nice that the story above ended up on a happy note. Not all of them do. I’m sure all of us have workplace stories we could give as examples of being unappreciated in the workplace. Many probably include sexual harassment.

I know things have changed pretty rapidly in the last decade when it comes to the workplace, so maybe I have no idea of the conditions. But, there are some things that just don’t change due to time. Appreciation is one thing and reward is another. It seems that what has changed is the very creative job titles around today. No one is just a secretary, factory worker, or office worker anymore. One of the TV shows I watch on a regular basis, the people hunting for a new house always give their job titles when they describle themselves. It takes a few seconds to translate the “double-speak” into job description from my work days. 🙂