Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in
Sunday, June 26th, 2011
Life navigation as an HFA Aspie A year or so ago, I filled out an Internet test and found I'm a borderline (mild) high-functioning autistic, also called an Asperger's Syndrome person, also called an Aspie.
Since then, I found an adult group that meets monthly in Manhattan. It's been illuminating.
I was once into sociology. I majored and went to grad school in it. I'm aware of theory of deviance, and I've been interested in the dynamics of identification (self and other) around deviance, such as with gay people and others. I've also been interested in the dynamics of rent-seeking as in declaring one to have a "disability" deserving special treatment.
Demographically, it seems 1% of the US population are identified (by having interacted with doctors or school personnel) as "on the spectrum". A study of South Koreans suggests the percentage of people on the spectrum is 2.6%. The South Korean study didn't depend on self-identification so I suspect it's much sounder.
Whereas gays claimed they were 10% of the general population but more likely (as measured by well done studies) they're 3% or 4%, people on the autistic spectrum are in an opposite status, if the South Korean study is correct and in the general population people on the autistic spectrum are more than twice as common as is generally acknowledged.
A number of Aspies I've met emphasize the importance to them of having got a diagnosis. For them, the diagnosis explained why they were different. They feel "normal" among people who are "like them".
I was never normal. I might have normal aspects, but in everyone's view, those were normal "aspects" of a fundamentally different person. Also, earlier, I guess, then some gay people, who come to a realization of their difference near onset of puberty, I was different at least from age 3. I was treated by teachers as special and a problem as soon as kindergarten and forever after.
In their minds, I was "smart". It always had an added meaning of socially maladjusted and subject to teasing and jealousy from other children. In the view of most of my teachers, it was also uncorrectable other than at the margins. When a child is smart, one doesn't correct it by making the child more stupid. I think many teachers wished I weren't in public school but were instead in a private school. Then I wouldn't have been their problem.
I like people and I'm curious about them. I also like trying to imitate people and to act "normal", mostly by being quiet, until I'm found out. I believe it's very important to live in more than one role. We live limited lives when we're stuck in one role. I also like to listen and to try to inhabit the roles other people live in.
I've subsequently found that my preference for egolessness and for imitation isn't unknown among Aspies, but it is uncommon. I've read accounts from Aspies such as Tony Atwood with similar characteristics, but I haven't met Aspies f2f with those habits. No doubt at some point I will.
Some have asked me why I haven't got a diagnosis. I don't see why to bother. I have co-workers who remark on how time changes me less than anyone else. I have habits that are very regular, such as eating the same meal on the same day every week over months. I'm unaffected by some major events such as illness of others, so I'm able to converse with ill people with no sense of emphatic sadness as if I feel myself in their situation. I'm overloaded in chaotic anarchic social situations such as mixers. Generally, when I'm overstimulated, I lose most of my ability to socialize past a very basic level. I often need headphones or other ways to isolate or regularize inputs. I don't understand flirting well, so I notice out-of-context behaviors that I shouldn't recognize, or I don't react in a non-verbal manner as I should. More basically, I don't need a psychologist to tell me these things.
I also have a different attitude about therapy than some Aspies do. I assume the smart way to go is not to learn lots of social skills. Rather, a smarter way is to have friends and colleagues as wing-men and wing-women, and to listen to their advice. There's no reason to act as if one lives on an island -- we don't. People should depend on us, and we should depend on other people. Perhaps for an Aspie that dependence is more conscious and not so "implicit". But so what, why not. I want my strengths to serve other people. I have faith that if I serve other people, they'll serve me back in complementary ways. Perhaps that's why I'm considered a mild case of autism. An analytic understanding of codependence doesn't require "theory of mind" or those other ineffable things that NTs (neurotypicals) supposedly have. I've had that sort of analytic understanding from childhood on. No one had to persuade me of the importance of codependence in late puberty or as an adult.
That may be where I hope Aspie therapy improves. Aspies should be taught codependence is important as early as possible, in my view. Teach them early, if they do a, they get b. Don't indulge their natural stubbornness as if it's narcissism (which it isn't). Don't wait till they're older to teach them to accept interdependence.
on Leni Riefenstahl Clive James penned a long piece on Leni Riefenstahl in the NYT Book Review coming out tomorrow. She outlived everyone, made it to 102 years. It's a mostly humorous piece, pointing at the surreal world Riefenstahl made any man pursuing her (there were many) say was real.
He's careful, though, to place the athletes Riefenstahl shot well (before Sports Illustrated stole her insight and created its swimsuit editions) in a real world. Very strange, in this era of steroids ...
As an inveterate analytical philosophy essay reader, I couldn't not notice however that no cridet (or is it credit)? was given to all the analytic philosophers who provided the jokes in the essay.
Minor cridet goes to Nathan Goodman who wrote a classic essay on truth and the phrase "the moon is made of green cheese."
But major cridet has to go to Saul Kripke, and I'm sure Clive James is fully aware of that. Kripke spent a significant part of his lectures reprinted in NAMING AND NECESSITY (which had a very long article about it years ago in the NYT mazagine, which made Kripke a minor celeb) on why
"Richard Nixon is a crook"
is a necessary statement. By a necessary statement is meant that just as there is no possible world where a tiger is a robot rather than an animal, there is no possible world where Nixon is not a crook. If one were to imagine such a world, one would not be naming Nixon, one would be naming a person recognizably not Nixon, who couldn't be Nixon as we know him.
As a result of Kripke, "Richard Nixon is a crook" is no longer just a statement, it's a launchpad for philosophy.
James gives the statement:
"Leni Riefenstahl is an anti-Semite"
the same Kripke treatment, step by inexorable step. But I give James extra credit for elaborating a little on why people would prefer Leni's surreal life story: because she'd accede a little to their advances if they did. Alas, he should have gone further there, since that sort of willingness to suspend contradiction was a key part of the Reich, it wasn't just Riefenstahl's trick. The thugs trick of demanding loyalty by asking people to accept falsehood in order to get in the door, and their willingness to do so, and their recommending to others that they should also do so, and suspend credulity to get ahead, was a signature of the Reich. Fortunately, at the national level, the same suspension of credulity was key to the mis-estimation of logistical difficulty on the Eastern Front that cost Germany the war.
Perhaps James didn't go further, since the same trick is commonplace in Hollywood, and associating a signature of Hollywood and the Reich would offend readers. Which never stopped Riefenstahl of course, and that was part of (hate to say it) her greatness.
A wonderful video of Bryan Ferry singing Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" with Anna Nicole Smith in the background, from 1992. Here's a review of it I wrote on Echo:
I'm both a Carole King and a Roxy fan, so I can't ignore a track like that, but I can't easily judge it either.
I know listening to it, I got back in my early-mid teen state of mind, which was all about setting, production and arrangement, and their indirect effect on mood. I'd played piano, and I learned all of Carole King's album Tapestry on piano. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" for me is from then. It's easy to fit to many contexts.
Roxy to me is very British and class system related. Like Bowie, it's about making tantric moves from working class boredom to posh seduction by knowing sexual placement --- gigolo life. In its late life, tho, Roxy shifted to a "success, regret and fate" dynamic. Bryan Ferry settled there. But he knows where he came from.
Putting Anna-Nicole Smith in the video is a big change from his muse Jerry Hall in his early years. Jerry Hall was the dominant rich girl, Bryan was her arm candy, and the two together had a vibe of "I got him, you can't have him". In contrast, ANS isn't his new permanent muse. She's still auditioning, and she's just doing her job, while Bryan is a boss who remembers when he was like ANS. He's confused now, so he sings the Carole King song, as if he's in her shoes. But she's not wearing shoes, she's in her stocking feet. And his "sympathy" gets no echo or understanding. Why should it? He knows that too. So he sings for th voyeurs --- us. And ANS knows he's not looking at her right then, so she marks time doing lazy knee bends while sitting, with restraint, so her look isn't mussed by exercise.
I liked the attention to independent views, with different interests. Blunt, but one could see compassion in showing it.
review of Factory Girl as a Warhol fan who considers him world-class but who hated the prats and sycophants in the Ken Burns docu-blowjob, i thought this film was good. i suspected, reading some reviews of it, that the critics wanted to tank the film, but i've long had confidence in Sienna Miller's good taste. she's a Gwyneth Paltrow without insecure snobbery and introversion.
it's a trajectory film, what else, duh. but it's not grand guignol sid & nancy alone against the world. it shows many people making well-considered decisions to write Edie Sedgwick off.
Andy's mom is there! (as a well fleshed out person)
the women's side of the film was done well. there's a sophisticated "take back my story of exploitation" presentation of evidence that to me draws on Tracey Emin. i'd speculate the decision to put Andy's mom in the film was backed by Tracey's inclusion of her Turkish dad in her autobio.
Hayden Christiansen as Bob Dylan is an interesting choice too. Mena Suvari has a good role as Edie's last friend.
domestication On a pilgrimage to Mt Angel Monastery in Oregon, I happened upon an excellent guide to what religiosi really do: "A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict's Teaching on Humility," by Michael Casey, a male Cistercian monk from and based in Australia. See here on Amazon.
Especially interesting is when it discusses the spiritual troubles and obstacles of those who have already spent years uncluttering and refocusing their minds and bodies, i.e., failing adepts, one might say.
A check on Amazon by searching with the string "humility benedict" also reveals there are women monks ("oblates") in Roman Catholicism now, at least among Benedictines. A 2004 book on humility written by a Carol Bonamo is among the links.
It has an excerpt about how she hates Christmas due to the winking and nodding between those who pretend to keep the gifts flowing and those who pretend to bolster their marketing of innocence, even when both sides at the small game level know it's a game.
As a child who at age 6 would tell my younger sister she was stupid to believe in Santa (her recall, as related by her friends to me ...), when my heart was "purer" I felt that too.
Part of my childrearing was to have dad say "see the wild cows out there?" while he was driving and I was reading in the back seat. If I said yes, he'd laugh and call me stupid. When I was a little older, I'd occasionally say yes, I did see a wild cow, not because I believed in any, but because I got tired of the monotony of his repeating the question whenever we'd see any cows. His reaction was as predictable as the question of course.
It was my first major insight into how to shepherd adults and not be caught. No doubt we all know some domesticated adults.
Interesting day today. After being up $800 and losing $500 the next day, today I lost $1000.
The main event has incredible equity. 44 players paid $900 plus $150 registration fee but the organizers added $100,000 to the prize fund, so each player had $139,000 divided by 44, or $3159 equity for $1050 paid in. The organizers made a huge error estimating number of players expected. We're amazed the added money is still being offered.</p>
The division of the extra $100,000 was $80,000 added to first prize and the $20,000 balance added to the other prizes (second prize and consolations).
I'm friends with reputedly the best player there, having played him for four years 'round three times a week in the early 90s. He and his "bizness partner" were crowing at the equity, praising the director for allocating almost all of it to the winner.
After this player lost in the first round, putting him out of contention for first place, I sat with him and other Americans at the Calcutta auction dinner, and asked, "Dave, now that you're a loser, what do you think of the socialist idea of dividing up the added $100,000 evenly between all the players?"
A French player with us thought the joke was rude ... a glimpse into how French think. Seemed like a light barb to me, compared with those Germans who mouth off "play like a pussy, die like a pussy" at painful cube take/drop decisions. Germans play too much Internet backgammon. It ruins their etiquette.
Today was better. I was lucky.
Next day was bad again. I guess I'll leave with a moderate loss. So it goes ...
Explain to me how I can have no messages on my phone answering machine at home and at work be a clowning Maven/Connector figure one could write up in Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point.
A wonderful thing happened this week. While taking a course on project management, I happened to be in the neighborhood of a former employer. So in a nostalgic mood, I lunched at a cheap Chinese joint nearby, going upstairs to a floor of 40 tables with two TV screens above, about 6 people sitting at three tables in toto: a family of 3 (mother and two boys); a green-uniformed service guy, maybe a janitor; two men in ties, I'd guess middle-level clerks; and me, plus one screen running NY1, the Time-Warner Cable news station, and the other running a Maury Povich show on fat babies, where the first example is 2 years old and 75 pounds and the second one is 4 years old and 200+ pounds, both utterly disgusting cheap shots at the greater genetic diversity of the African continent.
So who suddenly sits in front of me as I'm shoving lunch in, but the main person I worked with at this former employer 12 years ago, as nattily dressed and hair primped up as ever. Both our eyes (his one eye and my one eye, this is online so I shouldn't hide my infirmities) popped wide open at recognition. Then three other workmates of his show up, and one of them is someone else I remember well from 12 years ago.
We sat together, had lunch, got up to date, and exchanged cards. The other guy said he still has the copy of Red Dragon I gave him way back then. Our common boss, it turns out, died a year ago of brain cancer after kidney trouble --- he was my hero and still is. He was 74 I think. His daughter has moved on from this previous employer to another, according to one, and at one time was in charge of an army of 100, but the other guy said it wasn't an army, it was a herd. Apparently, I really should buy a Power G4 Mac. I related that I'm thinking of moving to Amsterdam, which (un?)earned the retort, it must be for the sex, you can window-shop there.
Another person in our group, the bossy woman consultant mom, has apparently moved on from being a management consultant to becoming an ordained minister (of what sect I don't know, probably Methodist or Presbyterian) in Minnesota.
Let's see, I also found out what an ossuary was, if it really is some kind of box in which bones are placed ("a bento-box coffin?" I asked).
So, this course. Let's just say the express intent of the course was to relieve us of our sense of overresponsibility and let us recognize that we're in work for ourselves too, and our experience is critical to doing what we do well. Of course as usual, my quietly skewering the bullshit while conceding main points led to the usual issues of strained tolerance.
I know the game of following something obvious with someting ridiculous as if the two are related. I say, teacher, I don't think the two are related. Then I grab their wrapped candy drops of wisdom and unwrap them, before they thought they were unwrapping them. Is this a dance of the seven veils or a class? Then I help them out some, by asking why they're expressing a matter as they are when they could do it more pungently, thus (insert story about Lyndon Johnson, my dad, or both):
Needless to say, I was rechanneling the childhood they wanted us to recover. At the end of the days of fun, I asked them if they might go to my management and tell it that I might be a good teacher, to which they replied, one can't tell if a person is a good teacher when they're a participant and not a teacher, but I might be. They didn't know me well enough from three full days and one hour of being together to tell.
It seemed like a favor worth asking for. I still have to write an evaluation of the experience for my mgmt.
A close relative visited recently with his girlfriend. I gave up my studio apartment to the lusty couple for three nights and stayed with a friend.
He's something of a gun collector who likes to flaunt his street legal knowledge to the men in blue, so I was happy he didn't bring a gun with him. For fun, I asked him if he'd heard Eminem's last CD and then played the part where Eminem's manager tells Eminem to leave his fucking gun at home and tells him not to shoot his fucking gun.
Still he managed to flaunt his legal chops later. After he left, he and his friend slept in the car in a forest near Atlantic City and were woken up by a man in blue tapping on their car window at 6am. Of course they were asked why there was some Bacardi rum in the front seat and my street smart relative replied, they had a drink before they went to sleep. The cop asked them four times if it really was so that they weren't American citizens, then let them go on their way.
I just started a marvelous big book called Radical Enlightenment, on the spread of Spinoza's ideas all over Europe from 1650 to 1750. Am learning some great terms, like les libertin erudit (who "however seditious, were essentially precursors of the Radical Enlightenment operating behind a dense layer of camouflage"). The invective launched at Spinoza's followers is thrilling to read. A dodgeball addict would love to be a spinosisti.
Encyclopedias were big then. Why accept a clergyman when you can crack open a book? Today, I go to Barnes and Noble and what do you know, there's this huge book on Business from B to B edited by Daniel Goleman, another big encyclopedia (Harvard imprint).
buried there are: a girl baby who died shortly after birth, and Michael Revorido, a young man, age 25 or so.
Photos of each, two plastic angels, a small cross with rosary beads on it, and this handwritten poem..
"An Unjustified Death, We'll Miss You Rev"
They tried to justify despair
When we believe they did not care
You took our friend away
On this Christmas Day (1997)
With so many friends who loved you
And yet you died alone
With no one there to hold you
Memories are all we own
Why did it have to be
God put his arms around you
And whispered "come to me"
With tearful eyes we mourned you
We could not make you stay
A golden heart stopped beating
With nothing left to say
A young loving man is now at rest
God broke our hearts to prove to us
He only takes the best.
new motto of the day: write a service level agreement your mom would like.
I'm reading this telecom-friendly handbook on "service level agreements" with customers and it doesn't even discuss MCI Friends and Family. The handbook preaches "end to end," but its writers think the user of a telephone is the set you plug an RJ cable into.
Maybe that is the user to a telecom repair person, but: your telephone set won't write a check to MCI.
UPS years ago found that a studly delivery man has more worth in terms of the customer's decision to use UPS than a thousand on-time deliveries. So there. My mom knew this way back in the 70s.
In 1979 I think, my sister was a student at Parsons School of Design, and she'd done a spring project in fashion over spring break at home in Massachusetts. She asked mom to ship it UPS to New York. UPS dawdled sending it.
Sister panicked, called mom in tears. Project arrive way too late! Mom called UPS and did more than bawl. She found out the delivery route of the truck with sister's project in it, and arranged for my sister to meet the truck on a Manhattan corner.
So sister met the truck, retrieved the project, and got it in on time.
found a web site that asserts the first Catholic Church canon against priestly abuse of children was issued by the Spanish council of Elvira in 309.
Canon 71 of Elvira says that among those who can be denied their last rites communion (which forgives sins in life, like a "last chance to get into heaven for free" card) are "those who abuse boys."
Supposedly 38 of the 81 canons promulgated at Elvira concern sexual sins.
A pedantic note. The source (quoting Sex, Priests, and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis, author A.W.Richard Sipes (Brunner-Mazel, 1995)) claims Elvira (called Elmira on the web site) was the first council. But a friend of mine has been systematically reading all the councils. I thought she told me she'd been reading councils starting in the 200s!
My home reference, Henry Chadwick's The Early Church, supports Sipes. Chadwick's says councils followed on a "long-standing tradition of provincial synods." But the first council it mentions is Elvira.
Now I have a reason to get together with my friend on Tuesday, beyond just checking on the condition of my mom's best friend so I have something to talk with mom about next week. I can ask my friend to refresh my sucky memory. Maybe she started with provincial synod records (?).
Anyhow, here's Chadwick's on Elvira: "Early in the fourth century a vivid picture of the by then vast extension of the Church and of its contemporary problems of moral laxity is provided by the canons of the Council of Elvira." Uh, huh.
having lunch at Le Zinc ... decided after much hesitation and backtracking to eat before instead of after going to see SHREK. Coworkers told me bout SHREK and Lord Farquahd, whose character fits a boss at work. Wish I could say more ...
motto of the day: don't get to the point, let your friends in on the deal! ... wow, it's 12:28pm, 2 minutes before SHREK starts, and there's no one in the theater! oh, now come in 3 or 4 others.
lunch@Le Zinc was cheaper before noon!
SHREK was good! Which made me think about the motto of the day.
Sure, I could just define a hyperlink right here, from SHREK to the local porn site. But that would be too much to the point! Better to make an indirect link to my friend's site which then redirects you to the SHREK site and gets my friend a discount or a free deal or even some money (yeah, sure) if you buy the DVD or VHS.
Here's another motto: the difference between [insert here] and artichokes is: artichokes have hearts! If you've seen SHREK you know that [insert here] refers to onions. But hey, it's a slot, a role, Anyone could fill it.
"Schreck" (a homonym for SHREK) means "horror" in German (Yiddish?). The stage name of one of the first Draculas was Max Schreck, natch. Now SHREK is a Disney (no! Dreamworks) film. Is this a trend? I remember when "Angst" became a potato chip in Switzerland.
SHREK was fabulous! Wow, a film about machers (Yiddish for "doer"s). Men with potbellies and too much earwax! But obviously large endowments. Otherwise they wouldn't make all those jokes about diminutives, I guess.
If someone had asked Harry Cohn in the 50's to choose between Marilyn Monroe now or a film romanticizing machers 50 years later, he'd surely have said, gimme both! And so it is. Marilyn got her film ("Bus Stop", I think). Now Harry's got his film.
You think there's some overcompensation in the title, SHREK?