Thursday, October 27, 2005

Autistics or People With Autism?

I came across a list of "Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew" by Ellen Notbohm, via Reflections of a mom living an Autistic child. The first item claims the following:

"I am a child with autism. I am not "autistic." My autism is one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)?"

I've read others who claim the exact opposite. They say that saying they "have autism" or are "people with autism" is derogatory, since it sounds like a disease. Like "people with cancer" or who "have cerebral palsy". In their opinion, if you are referred to as autistic, it means that it is just part of who you are.

So, who's right? First of all, definitely not Ellen Notbohm. She claims to speak for every child with autism, but most of the autistics on-line have written they consider themselves autistics and not people with autism for the reasons I wrote above. So if you go by self-determination, most autistics (at least the adult ones who participate in the blogosphere) have decided against the "with autism" label. Saying they are autistic doesn't mean they are only autistics. Try comparing it with other minorities - if you're Jewish or African-American, that isn't all you are.

That doesn't mean the "anti-with autism, pro-autistics" are right. I don't think that saying someone has autism is derogatory. If a person has X or is a person with Y - the X and Y won't necessarily be diseases or anything negative.

In other words, I think that both options are acceptable. Autistics are people with autism and vice versa. Neither one is a negative term.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Title

"Emmanuel Schiff and the Masters of the University" was a title created when I got to the conclusion that the original title, "Emmanuel Schiff: Fake Name, Real Person", was redundant. The new name was supposed to be a play on one of my favorite childhood TV shows, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I'm not sure how many people made the connection, so now I'm simplifying things. I'll just be E-man, instead of my full name (which is an alias anyway).

Americans Reject Evolution

I love America and Americans, but sometimes they scare me. I find it very disconcerting that according to a CBS poll only 15% of Americans believe in Darwinian evolution. 30% believe in intelligent design (a creationist version of evolution). But most troubling - a majority of respondents believe in classic creationism.

Again, I turn to a comparison with Israel. There's no uproar about evolution being taught in schools. The creationist version is presented in bible classes, where it belongs. Israel is perceived by many as a religious country, but it's much less religious than the United States. I once saw statistical data that showed that more than 40% of Israelis called themselves secular, while another 30% said they were "not so religious, but traditional", which is quite ambiguous. But I assume a lot of them mean they aren't religious but still celebrate Jewish holidays, like me (though I am secular). I have a feeling an evolution poll would show that a vast majority of Israelis believe in evolution. I googled for such a poll but couldn't find one. It would be interesting to see if I'm right.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Abortion in Israel

A discussion on another post of mine made me think about the difference between the centrality of abortion in American politics and its total marginality in Israeli politics. It's interesting that here in Israel there isn't much of a debate about abortion. It's legal (though you have to go through a medical board, but if you say the right things you'll usually be allowed to get the abortion). Nobody seems to be fighting to illegalize abortions or to liberalize them by getting rid of the medical panel. Sometimes there are reports about religious women giving pregnant women pictures of fetuses at abortion clinics. But that's about it. Most people are content with the present situation.

You'd think that the fact that all of Israel's coalitions (except for one or two very brief periods) included religious parties would have made abortion a hot-button issue like in the States. But I guess that when you're worried about being blown to bits you concentrate on protecting the living rather than worrying about the unborn. Maybe the issue seems less divisive because of the fact that it's regulated by a law legislated by the elected Knesset rather than by a ruling of the unelected Supreme Court justices? Dunno.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Random Question

A while back I said I'd change my profile's random question once in a while. Well, it turned out to be a very long while - 15 months. Now I've changed my profile question (and answer), and here is what I had till now.

You're wearing a sweater that stretches down to your feet. What color belt do you put on?
White - to match the looney jacket they'll take me in for dressing like that during the summer.

And a reminder from July 2004, my first random question:

You've got to make contact with the alien leader. How will you tell when the conversation is finished?
When limbs start flying.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Miers for White House Counsel

Harriet Miers is doing a heck of a job as White House Counsel. I don't know whether she's actually doing a good job or if it's a Brownie kind of a heck of a job. Whichever it is, Miers should remain in her current position. I hope the Senate rejects her nomination for the Supreme Court. She's both unqualified and a member of the BCCRWN (Bush Close Circle of Right Wing Nuts).

I find it amusing that some Republicans are worried she may not be conservative enough. I'm sure she's way too conservative, but I hope the Senate conservatives will keep up the worrying and vote against her. On the other hand, the best thing would be if even Republicans voted against her just because she's unqualified, not because of how she'll decide abortion cases. The US Supreme Court is too political. The whole debate over nominations should be focused more on the nominees' professional qualifications than on how they'd decide certain issues (some of which should be decided by Congress, not by the courts).

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sky News: Harold Pinter Dead, um, No, He's the Nobel Winner

I was wondering who won the Nobel Prize in literature, and both CNN and BBC were discussing the horrible earthquake in Pakistan. So I reluctantly turned to Sky News. Good thing though. A very confused anchorwoman had this amusing monologue to say (more or less):

"British playwright Harold Pinter is joining us now. [pause]
[in a grim tone]: Harold Pinter has just died. [another pause]
Harold Pinter has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sorry about that. More about Pinter later."

Oh, the beauty of live, unedited television!

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I, Radical (?!?)

People have a tendency to think that if someone disagrees with them on a hot-button issue, he'll probably disagree with them on most issues and is a radical of the opposing side. That's especially true when the person doing the assumptions is a radical himself, of the side opposite his opponent. At least that's been my experience.

A recent discussion I had here reminded me of this. It seems that since I am not impressed by the IAEA or because I support Israeli nukes, readers thought I'm a radical right-wing Bush-loving Sharon-worshipping kill-all-Arabs fanatic. That's so far from what my real views are that it's almost comical.

When discussing Israeli politics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bush, Iraq etc with right wingers they tend to brand me as a naive leftist bleeding-heart Palestinian/Muslim-loving extremist. Again, that too is so far from my real views that it's almost comical.

I'm very much a centrist. Maybe you could call me a hawkish dove or a dovish hawk. When people think I'm a right/left-wing fanatic, almost always they are fanatics of the opposite side. The question is whether I tend to take a more extreme stance than I believe in when I argue with fanatics, or maybe I just counter the radical views so I don't get a chance to say anything centrist. Also, the problem could be with the radicals and not with me. I don't know which option it is.

Remember this: just because I don't think the United States, Israel, and the West in general are the source of all evil - it doesn't mean I'm a radical right winger. Also, just because I support the creation of a Palestinian state and think Bush is the worst US president since who-knows-when - it doesn't mean I'm a radical left winger.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Economics Nobel Awarded to Israeli

Prof. Robert J. Aumann (or Israel Aumann, his Hebrew name) of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has won the 2005 Nobel award for economics, together with Thomas Schelling of the University of Maryland. The committee said they won "for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis".

This is an Israeli's second Nobel Prize for economics, coming three years after Daniel Kahneman won the award. Just last year two Israelis, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, won the Chemistry Nobel. Back then, the winning chemists spoke about the lack of funding for sciences in Israel, and the fact that the government wants to further diminish that funding. I hope Aumann's win this year will help Israeli universities and research institutions fight budget cuts, as well as inspire more private contributions.

Congratulations Prof. Aumann!

In your face, academic boycott proponents!

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Nobel Peace Prize 2005

U.N. Nuclear Agency and Its Chief Win Nobel Prize for Peace

I was under the impression that prizes, especially the most prestigious ones, are supposed to reward success and remarkable achievements. I was wrong. As it turns out, inaction and repeated failures may not prevent a person and/or organization from winning.

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