Thursday, July 21, 2005

Autistic Pride: I Stand Corrected

I apologize to the Autistic Pride movement for misrepresenting their position on curing autism and intervention. As it turns out, they support intervention, but don't seek a cure. They don't think autistics will or should be cured, but they should get all the help they need to have as independent and as good a life as possible.

As it turns out, I agree with the goals of the Autistic Pride movement. I simply misunderstood them. I don't believe my nephew will ever be totally cured. So I guess "reports about my nephew's way out of autism" (the last part of my blog's description) is a bit misleading. I never meant he would cease to be autistic. It's more of a metaphor describing his way from his own isolated world (which was never completely isolated, since we all jumped around him when he was a baby, not knowing that we were forcing him out of his shell) into regular society.


Supreme Court Justice JR Ewing?

When I first saw John G. Roberts, my reaction was "I wonder if he's related to Larry Hagman". A brief search on Technorati showed me I'm not crazy - a lot of people think the two look very similar.

On a more serious note, Roberts seems like an acceptable choice so far. After all, nobody can expect Bush to nominate a liberal. The J(G)R Ewing look-alike makes a centrist enough impression. Still, senators should grill him to make sure he isn't a wolf in sheep's clothing.

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Rebels Declare War of Attrition

Most of the anti-disengagement protesters have left Kfar Mimon. However, Benzi Lieberman, head of the Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council has declared that instead of a mass march into Gaza, they will try to infiltrate into Gaza one-by-one or in small groups. He also asked some of the protesters to stay at Kfar Mimon to keep police forces there. He wants to wear them down.

Infiltrating an area illegally and wearing down security forces. Does that sound familiar? It's a war of attrition. The Yesha Council is now using Palestinian tactics. This is a rebellion. These are rebel leaders: Benzi Lieberman and other leaders (including rabbis) calling for the infiltration of Gaza and the attrition of those who usually bust their butts protecting them. They see themselves as above the law. They should be behind bars for incitement of violence and of an uprising.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Nephew's Cinematic Experience

My mother took my nephew to see Madagascar yesterday. This is the kind of little experiences that show us how much he has improved. He was like a normal kid. He didn't mind the crowd on the ticket line, and sat through almost all the film. About five minutes before the end, he wanted to leave because something in the movie pissed him off, something that may anger intelligent (emotionally and smart) kids. You wouldn't normally expect an autistic to be bothered by it.

Spoiler warning for those of you who still intend to watch the movie:

The lion gets hungry and bites his friend the zebra in the ass. This shocked my nephew. "He bit his friend?!?" He saw this as a grievous breach of trust. So he asked my mother to leave, and they did. But he sat there more than an hour before that. When he was younger, he could barely sit for five minutes. Besides, he gets along well with children. Sometimes he gets mad at the other kids for things most children don't get upset about, but that is getting rarer as time goes by.

He's such a genius. He saw a book, where a character inside it is reading the same book. He said, "and inside this book, there's book, and in that one another book, and in that one another..." What kid would think about that? He also decided he doesn't believe in evolution. "I don't think our great-great-great grandparents were apes. My great-great-great-great grandchildren might think I was an ape, and I'm not." What other 5-year old thinks about himself as being a father in the future, let alone a grandfather or great-great one. The examples of his immense intelligence are endless.

I really don't understand the "Autistic Pride" advocates who seek no cure for autism. My nephew, through the hard work of his family (including me) and professionals, is now more or less cured from the worst symptoms of autism. Would the "Priders" rather we didn't do all that hard work and that he'd still be unable to communicate and fear company? Maybe I misunderstand them and they don't see the ABA treatment my nephew received as a cure, and it seems acceptable to them. I don't know.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Search for the Autistic Gene

According to an article in Discover Magazine, researchers have loacted the "neighborhood" of the gene that causes autism. It's on a section of Chromosome 17 called 17q21, and they hope to find the gene itself within the next four years. The same article also cites the results of a study that found that autistic children's immune systems are somewhat weaker than usual.

As important as these findings are, they certainly won't end the debate over the causes of autism. Some claim it's comletely genetic. Some say it's completely the work of toxins such as Thimerosal, a form of mercury added to certain vaccines. Those who think it's genetic, usually think the toxin theory is a load of crap, like Kevin of Left Brain/Right Brain, for example.

A few months ago, when my niece had to be given the usual shots babies get, my sister decided not to vaccinate her. I was angery at her. I thought she was doing something totally irrational, looking for blame where there was none. "Your son is autistic because he was born that way, not because of the shots", I told her. I decided to do my own research on the internet to prove her wrong. All that I found just confused me. There's a lot of research out there, most of it says there is no connection between thimerosal and autism, some of it says the opposite. Who should I believe?

After a while, I came to the conclusion that this isn't all black and white. I think the risk of autism is genetic. If you don't have the "autism gene", you won't be autistic. But if you do have it, you won't necessarily be autistic. Contact with toxins may trigger the gene, and may effect where you'll be on the autistic spectrum. There may be additional factors.

Maybe my sister was right. It is possible these vaccines aren't dangerous for all babies, but ones related to autistic people are at risk. It's a question worth investigating.

Nephew Update: He's doing great. He's in a regular kindergarten and the kids love him. He has very few autistic features left. He's a genius, too. More on him some other time.

Note: Amazingly, I haven't mentioned my nephew (nor autism) for almost a year, and the last time I said anything about my niece was when she was born. I've barely blogged, and when I did, it was usually about politics. Now I'm back to regular blogging and also to more personal topics: like autism and my nephew.


New Logo

What do you think of my new personal icon? Somewhat unprofessional, I admit, but I like it anyway. The pen and the sword (the Thundercats sword, no less!) may generate any number of interpretations. I'll let you come to your own conclusions...

I just signed up with Technorati, so I thought creating my own personalized icon would be a bit more professional blogging (a phrase which might be a paradox). I have a feeling Technorati is what got me my first comment in quite a long time - since I added a tag (which is like a post's category) that probably led one of my fellow bloggers to my previous post. I also added a search feature, powered by Technorati (see my sidebar), in case you want to look for something particular in my blog.

I'm tagging this post as . It qualifies, doesn't it? Categorizing every post may be a bit tricky, but I think it will get me more readers.

Monday, July 18, 2005

By Any Means Necessary

Today's Haaretz editorial (see also the original Hebrew version) is going to anger a lot of people. It says that today's anti-disengagement march might turn into a violent riot. If protesters try to break through into the Gaza Strip to settle and stay there to fight disengagement next month, "there may be no choice but to use crowd-dispersal equipment, just as the police and army do on other occasions. The danger to the state reflected in the march on Gush Katif is no smaller, and in practice is even greater, than the danger posed by other demonstrations that the security forces have been forced to handle." In other words, they're saying "shoot them, if necessary".

I applaud Haaretz. Though I see the disengagement plan as a victory to the Palestinian extremists, its cancellation would be a victory to Israel's extremists. At this point, success by our own radicals would not replace that of our enemies, but rather it would be a victory of the No Compromise Wing of both sides. That's why we need to crush the Settler Uprising just like we did with the uprising by Palestinian citizens of Israel in October 2000. Besides, if the army has no problem shooting rubber-coated bullets at Palestinians and Israeli Leftist Jews who violently protest against the security fence in the West Bank, they shouldn't have any problem doing the same with violent settlers.

I know I sound a bit like a fascist today, or like a settler-hater. But I'm not. I just see the extremists among the settlers as a danger to Israeli democracy.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Fake Bulwer Lytton Winners

Any day now the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest results should be announced. This "worst opening line to a fictional novel" contest can be really hilarious sometimes. Even though there was nothing new on the contest's website, I decided to google "Bulwer Lytton 2005". I was surprised to discover a list of winners that appeared on several blogs. They seemed familiar and since they also didn't show up on the official site of neither the competition nor the SJSU English Dept. which runs it, I became suspicious. A short inquiry led to the revelation that it's some hoax that has come up every year and presented as the new winners. Since almost every blog said something like "I got this from..." I assume the bloggers are innocent chain-mail victims.

Anyway, though they aren't the real winners, they are no less amusing than the ones in the real thing. So here they are:

* As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it.

* Just beyond the Narrows, the river widens.

* With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.

* Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: "Andre creep... Andre creep... Andre creep."

* Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved.

* Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store.

* Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.

* Like an over-ripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.

* Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word 'fear'; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death -- in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.

And the [fake] gran prize winner:
* The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, "You lied!"

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Broken Dick (Nishbar Ha'Zine)

There's a saying in Hebrew slang - "my dick broke". This phrase, used by both men and women, expresses the feeling of being fed up, sick of something or angry. That's a good description of me right now, just without the angry part.

My final semester is over. I've done pretty badly (in the low 80's) on my tests, and I'll have two more tests to improve my grade in the courses whose first tests I screwed up. I have a lot of papers to write - some about 10-15 pages long (due by August), two 30 pages long (due by the end of September). Today I checked my MA registration status and it said I'm in the mid-range of grades needed to be accepted. That isn't good. I need just one last push these next few weeks to raise my average above 90.

But, alas, my dick has broken. I'm sick of studying. I need a vacation! I have to pull myself together, stop watching TV (even though I feel like watching Ewan McGregor's "Long Way Round"), stop using the internet (after all, rekindling my interest in blogging now, of all times, is just a bad idea) and study my ass off!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Belated Happy Anniversary to My Blog

I'm about a month too late, but Happy Anniversary, Emmanuel Schiff and the Masters of the University (or as it was known in its early days, Emmanuel Schiff: Fake Name, Real Person)! I don't have any intention of checking out the monthly statistics and saying when I wrote the most and when the least like I did last year (which I did out of curiosity back then, since I doubt I have any significant audience). All I can say is that I've been lazy with the blog this year. For the first year and a half I always had at least one post per month - and in 2005, so far, there are two postless months - January and June. Maybe I have something against months with J's, N's and U's in them.

I changed the layout of the blog. The new template is much nicer than the bland old one. Whoever chose the previous one is a... Oh, actually that was me, too.

By the way, here's a curious tidbit: The word "blog" isn't recognized by Blogger's Spelling Checker. Ironic, isn't it?

London 2005, London 2012

I was going to write something about London winning the privilege to host the 2012 Olympics, and then came today's terrorist attacks in London's subway system and in one double-decker bus. All I can do now is repeat what I wrote in March 2004:

"The terrorist attack in Madrid last Thursday was a horror that I believe will occur again around Europe and any place the radical Islamists see as full of infidels. I miss the days when international organizations bent on destruction were just the figment of scriptwriters' imagination."

My little defiance against the terrorists is simple. I'll do what I originally planned - write about the Olympics.

I was rooting for New York, as a former New Yorker. But my second choice would have been London, or anything but Paris. It's something psychological and totally irrational. For one thing, from all the reports, Paris is readier than London on the ground, though the London presentation in Singapore was reportedly better. As an Israeli, I feel animosity towards the French that should probably be equally directed at the Brits. After all, it was a British university professors' organization that briefly boycotted Israel institutions. When it comes to the people, Britons are as anti-Israel as, if not more than, the French.

It all comes down to this - the governments. Blair is a likeable fellow. Jacques (as I pronounce it - Jackass) Chirac isn't. So we like the UK more because of their leaders. But Chirac isn't popular in France, and neither is he popular in Israel, while Blair isn't as popular as he used to be in the UK, but he's popular in Israel. Wouldn't that make us Israelis closer to the French?! Well, okay, not really. Frenchmen and Britons are united in their dislike for both the leaders.

So, anyway, London 2012. Tel Aviv 2016? No way! Maybe 2048.