Thursday, June 26, 2008

Proust for Everyone

I got this from the Occassional Superheroine blog.

The opportunity to talk about myself while simultaneously ripping off a blog I like? Sign me up!

1. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Eternal nothingness.

2. Where would you like to live?
I don’t really care where I live, so long as I have internet access.

3. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Spontaneously acquiring tons of money and being able to live like The Addams Family.

4. To which faults do you feel most indulgent?
Procrastination.

5. Who is/are your favorite hero/heroes of fiction?
The Doctor, MacGyver, and Batman.

6. Who are your favorite characters in history?
Andy Warhol and Emperor Joshua Norton.

7. Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
The leaders of the feminist movement.

8. Who is/are your favorite heroine/heroines of fiction?
I think Metroid is a real cool guy, eh hunts monsters and doesn’t afraid of anything. More seriously, Chell from Portal, Captain Janeway of the starship Voyager, and Samus Aran from Metroid.

9. Your favorite painters?
Yves Tanguy, and Salvador Dali.

10. Your favorite composers or musicians?
In the interests of brevity, I’m just going to limit this list to musicians in my favourite stack (which also means only people whose CDs I own and am still in possession of the cases for). In no particular order, OK GO, Paul and Storm, Screeching Weasel, Beth Kinderman, Soggy Potato Chips, Carrie Dahlby, DJ Particle, ABBA, The Ramones, Dream Theater, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Tiny Tim, Cream, Buddy Holly, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, and Weezer.

11. Which qualities do you most value in a man?
Intelligence and a sense of humour.

12. Which qualities do you most value in a woman?
Intelligence and a sense of humour.

13. Your favorite virtue?
Not taking oneself too seriously.

14. Your favorite occupation?
Professional nerd (i.e. indie musician).

15. Who would you have liked to be?
Myself.

16. Your most marked characteristic?
My sense of humour.

17. What do you most value in your friends?
I don’t have enough friends to know.

18. What is your principle defect?
I’m sometimes rude when I don’t mean to be, but that’s less my principle defect than my only one.

19. What is your favorite color?
Black.

20. What is your favorite flower?
The Orchid.

21. What is your favorite bird?
Penguins, for they are truly the Sinatra of birds.

22. Who are your favorite prose writers?
Douglas Adams, Norton Juster, Neil Gaiman, and Oscar Wilde.

23. Who are your favorite poets?
Shel Silverstein, Jonathan Coulton, Paul and Storm, Patti Smith, and Alexander Pope.

24. What are your favorite names?
Yo-Yo Ma, Heidi Klum, and Wikipedia.

25. What is it you most dislike?
“Things I dislike” is too broad a category for me to pick just one thing.

26. What historical figure do you most despise?
That guy who shot John Lennon.

27. What event in military history do you most admire?
Britain standing against the Nazis during Word War II.

28. What reform do you most admire?
I don’t know enough about reforms to answer this question.

29. What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Naturally cool hair.

30. How would you like to die?
After having lived a good life, doing something worthwhile.

31. What is your present state of mind?
Happy.

32. What is your motto?
“Life is to short to waste your time thinking up stupid mottos, instead you should waste your time doing something else.”

Effectively wasting time elsewhere,

Stephen

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Truth and Consequences: Take 2

I like the song Nethack by Rob Balder. I request the song Nethack on my favourite Dementia Radio shows. A lot.

Through no fault of my own, Blasted Bill had a fight with Rob and won't play any of his songs, including Nethack.

Through some fault of my own (an none of DJ Phoenix's), DJ Phoenix has gotten tired of my requests and wants to play any song other than Nethack.

On a completely unrelated note, I suck at Nethack (the game not the song).

I have to get this under control before they stop playing Nethack on the Dementia Radio random cast too.

Or, before they ban me altogether!

If at first you don't succeed, perseverate.

Solidly on the spectrum,
Stephen



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Neurodiversity

I have been loosely following a debate between Autism experts and neurodiversity proponents. Essentially, the autism experts want to "cure autism" and rid the world of this disorder and its consequences while the neurodiversity proponents want to "celebrate atypical brain function as a positive identity, not a disability" (Solomon, 2008).

Education Week reporter, Christina Samuels, asked this question from an educator's perspective in her On Special Education blog:

What would that mean for educators, I wonder? "Anti-cure doesn't mean anti-progress," said one of the leaders of this movement, Ari Ne'eman. And a mother quoted in the story says that some of the treatments her son has undergone are a waste of time, and she'd like to see better services for him.

But Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, cautions against "romanticizing" and "trivializing" mental disorders. Children with autism are not merely shy loners, he says.

I think we can all get behind the idea of treating a child as something more than a bundle of defects that must be fixed. Is the idea of neurodiversity and groups like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network moving too far in a direction that leads away from appropriate treatment?


I don't usually take sides on these kinds of things, but here is my response:

"I think we can all get behind the idea of treating a child as something more than a bundle of defects that must be fixed."

Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly that I and children like me, are much more than the sum of our parts - and those parts are not deficient. Autism affects my personality but it is not a defect.

"Is the idea of neurodiversity and groups like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network moving too far in a direction that leads away from appropriate treatment?"

However, this question offends me. Neurodiversity isn't simply an idea or a proposed policy - it is an actual reflection of life as it is. Human beings ARE diverse. Physical differences, mental differences, emotional differences exist and play out in myriad ways. Neurodiversity is simply another manifestation of the human condition.

There is no appropriate discussion to be had on whether groups such as the Autism Self Advocacy Network are moving in the "right" direction. Self-advocacy is, by definition, defined by those who are advocating on their own behalf. No one outside the group has standing to determine what group members feel is important to advocate. As a member of the target class, I can tell you that advocating for acceptance of who I am, as I am, is incredibly important just as it is in any civil rights struggle.

My bias in this discussion is that I am a 12 year-old kid with Asperger's/autism. I am considered "highly functioning" and a gifted learner but I do struggle with functioning in society and social situations. I failed dismally in public education. Or rather, public education failed me.

I experienced little acceptance and no respect from the educators I encountered in public school. The emphasis in all of the IEPs, behavior modifications plans, and treatments ever written on my behalf were to make me and my behavior "normal". It was more important that I appear like everyone else than it was to help me understand social conventions and determine whether I needed/wanted to conform in any specific instance. Adults are generally given the opportunity to choose from among numerous avenues of acceptable behavior within society, but children are not. Children identified as special needs have even fewer options - their only goals are defined in terms of how well they meet norms, rather than how well they develop, grow, learn and expand as individuals.

I empathize with parents whose children cannot interact or function as a result of autism or other disorder. However, respect for differences and diversity not only offers a starting place for those children to grow, live, and thrive - it also opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for achievements and accomplishments that would not be possible for a neurotypical child.

"Appropriate treatment" is not possible unless and until educators adopt a policy of unfailing respect for the individual. Progress is more important than a cure. Acceptance of difference is more important than achieving normalcy. Tolerance is not good enough because it demands change or at least movement toward an external norm.

I deserve acceptance and respect as I am.


Stephen


TrackBacks:

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2008/06/neurodiversity.html
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=5033594&page=1
http://nymag.com/news/features/47225/

Monday, June 02, 2008

Yet another parody of "Still Alive"

Here are the lyrics to my new parody of Jonathan Coulton's Still Alive. I actually thought about writing Still a Nerd - but I thought that would be stupid. Now, of course, I've learned that Tom Smith wrote it anyway, I'm really glad I didn't do. I don't want to compete with Tom Smith!

So, without any ado at all, here are the lyrics to my new song:

This Song's not Funny by Gifted Gear:

This song’s not funny
I’m sorry, I tried, I did my best
It’s hard to overstate my frustration
With my lack of humour
The one joke I had just didn’t scan
And I’m sorry to report that even that joke was bad

So, I’m sitting here thinking about what I should write
I’ll just keep on trying if it takes me all night
I’ll find the right rhyme for a decent punch line
and upload this song onto the FuMP

Why am I trying?
Writing this song won’t make me rich
It’s not enough to bring me fame or fan girls
But, maybe an album
That could be just the start I need
But first I have to think of something funny to write

They say there is nothing new beneath the sun
All the jokes coming to mind have already been done
Nobody cares about the chicken or why he crossed the road
Because that joke is really, really old

Go ahead and say it

These jokes are lame and old and stale
I need to find a funny new perspective

I need something novel
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Who cares! It’s been done

Anyway the sun is up oh look at how the time flies

Here I am still talking, when there's more I should write
I’ve got nothing done although it took me all night
I’m running out of time and I still can’t find a rhyme
I guess it’s time that I give up!


This Song's not Funny is the first tune in my new rock opera. Code name: Faust for Dementites. A dude who wants to be a comedy singer sells his soul to the devil to be able to write the funniest songs ever. Some other stuff happens and then the dude challenges the devil to a "rock-off". I'm hoping for guest stars.... I'd love to hear Tom Smith cover Sympathy for the Devil as the villain-introduction song!

Humming 80's chords,
Stephen

Inane babblings...

It's Friday night... The Show With The Funny Name is over, I’m expecting to hear the Doctor Who theme...

What I heard was a techno remix of the Happy Days theme followed by Working For The Weekend by Loverboy. The sheer unexpectedness of this made it one of the funniest things ever. It turned out that it was actually an hour earlier than I thought it was, and that Mr. Tuesday now has a show on my favourite day of the week (that would be Friday, BTW). Now, more than ever, Friday is made of win!

I have a question for my more Dementia-savvy readers: Is the song Dear God by Worm Quartet a biting satire about the kind of people who pray about every little thing or is it just ShoEboX being weird? I mean, we are talking about the guy who wrote Pac-Man Is Naked And So Should You and Call Me Jennifer And Steal My Stapler. He’s also the guy wrote the excellent satirical songs C Is For Lettuce and What Your Parents Think All Your Music Sounds Like… so, yeah.

Another question for my readers: What would happen if an unstoppable force found an immovable object in it’s way?

Nightwish is going to be performing in Dallas in a couple of months, hopefully I’ll get to see them.

I went to see Iron Man and lo, it was good.

I wrote a song (well I parodied a song that Jonathan Coulton wrote, anyway), I just need to get some music for it and get it recorded and it shall be on the FuMP Sideshow in no time.

I’m trying a to start a podcast, but I need to find some software to record it on. Suggestions are welcome.

There’s a chance that I might get to go to Con On The Cob.

I shall, at some point in the semi-near future, start selling Gifted Gear t-shirts.

I’ve been drawing a comic strip, I just need to stop being lazy, scan them into the computer and post them on my blog.

So, anyway those were all the things I wanted to get out there, but didn’t think were worthy of a post all on their own.

And now: Bob Dylan






Um… yeah,

Stephen