Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lili's utopian reverie of the day


One of the things that I find interesting about this online discussion about job recruitment practices is the level of polarization of the views some of the participants. I would categorize these two groups as "thinkers", of which there are only a few, and "w***ers" who seem to be better represented in numbers, but certainly not in the quality of their arguments. 

If people like MSchemist80 (see page 2 and later pages) ran our nation I believe we would now be living in some kind of utopia. Just imagine what might be possible in a society in which the leaders in government, education, business and industry were fully and directly in touch with reality, with the knowledge and intelligence to understand what it all means, and the ability to recognize ability. I bet we wouldn't have sloppy, useless medicos and bureaucrats allowing Ebola to spread in the United States. I bet we wouldn't have a climate denier imbecile blighting the office of Prime Minister of Australia. I bet we wouldn't have an alcoholic underclass being granted greater entitlement to accommodation and financial support than our best and brightest citizens who aspire to achieving a higher education. Things would be more meritocracy or technocracy than idiocracy. What would happen if there was an sudden outbreak of rationality? Can we even attempt to imagine what a rational and evidence-based world would be like, while so many of us continue to live within the mass delusion that this is already the way things operate? 



Lili's anti-neurosexist thoughts for the day


Neurosexist pseudoscience by Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen is still doing the rounds and has apparently had another airing recently courtesy of the BBC. It's a good thing we have commentators like Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett to bring us into touch with reality on the question of sex difference and the brain and behaviour:

It is indeed a worry that a person as influential as British broadcaster and doctor Michael Mosley has been "most strongly influenced" by Baron-Cohen: 



Sunday, October 05, 2014

Five awkward questions which will not be asked of Professor Patrick McGorry tonight on Q&A


Why did you fail to report any competing interests in many journal papers in which you are a co-author which were published before or after August 2008, even though you listed a number of competing interests in a journal paper written by you that was published in the British Medical Journal in August 2008? 

Why was your NEURAPRO-Q study closed down in 2011? 


Did you learn anything from that episode? 


Did you make a false statement or grossly exaggerate on Lateline in 2010 when you stated that "The evidence is very, very strong now that, not only does it improve outcomes, as you say - the early detection and comprehensive care in the first few years after diagnosis - but also it saves money." in relation to your early intervention model of care for psychosis, even though your EPPIC study was considered but excluded from a systematic review of early intervention for psychosis that was conducted by the highly respected Cochrane Collaboration international medical literature reviewing organization, and that review found some support for early intervention but a need for more research and questions about long-term outcomes, and inconclusive evidence regarding intervention for those deemed at risk of developing psychosis.


Why would an organization that is a provider of public psychiatric services, headed by yourself, need to have a "campaign manager"? Is it a medical service or a political organization? 



Thursday, October 02, 2014

Lili's outraged thought of the day


F*** you, Carnegie Science Center and f*** you too, Scouting Movement! Only one lame science workshop offered for Girl Scouts, while Boy Scouts have many choices of real science to study and experience. That is plain sexism. That is plain sex discrimination. It is indefensible, but the Carnegie Science Center offered a response, and the blogger who wrote about the issue seems happy enough with the response, even though all over the internet comments can be found from outraged people offering the simple and effective remedy of simply not segregating children by gender. If you don't even go that step of labeling kids by gender, gender stereotypes are not evoked. Why invite gender stereotyping to the party? Just don't apply the idea and then you wont have to manage the negative consequences of your imposition of gender as a category. I'm amazed that an organization that is supposed to be all about education and science has bought into this utter nonsense of gender segregation and gender stereotypes!

http://wonkette.com/562154/science-center-teaches-boys-rocketry-girls-makeup-internet-certain-to-be-pleased


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Lili's thought for psychiatry week

Let's stop using the term "mental health" as a euphemism for "psychiatry", "mental disorder" or "mental illness". And who was it who decided that the word "sick" is off-limits, to be replaced with the euphemistic-sounding "unwell"? Australians are a race of people who love to call a spade a spade? My arse! We are actually a race of people who invent and embrace euphemisms.

Could we also please stop crapping on about the importance of "mental health"? When someone claims that "mental health" is an important issue, that could be taken two ways. Either is is nonsense, because an "issue" is supposed to mean a problem, and health cannot be a problem. Alternatively one could take that statement as a sloppily abbreviated claim that the maintenance of good mental health is an important thing to be aware of, but this interpretation implies that mental disorders can be avoided by practicing healthy habits and doing approved activities, and for many mental disorders this simply is not true. There's plenty of evidence indicating that the more serious psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are caused by various factors, many of them beyond the control of the patient. We cannot choose our genes and we cannot choose the womb that gave host to our earliest development, but we can choose our lifestyle. If you feel dire are a result of unnatural sleeping habits, a diet of junk, alcohol usage or drug abuse, perhaps your problem isn't "mental health", more likely a quite ordinary problem of "physical health". To claim that we all need to take good care of our "mental health" is to trivialize the serious issues of a small minority of people, who are becoming lost among a sea of fools who aspire to play the victim one minute, the next playing the amateur psychiatrist. I can't wait for them to go find another hobby.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

La Vie En Rose by Grace Jones

I heard this on the radio yesterday morning and it gave me the most wonderful earworm all day long. If you would like to be exposed to a most inspiring cognitive contagion from the amazing 1970s just click on the "Go" button. 

From the point of view of a synaesthete and a person who studies synaesthesia I find two things about this music clip notable. The word "rose" in French might mean "pink" or "magenta", and the fashion worn by Jones in two appearances singing this song match that kind of colour, but the clothes certainly don't match the colour of the singing, which to my mind is saturated red, with the soaring parts of the music becoming yellow. The other thing I find interesting is the way Jones' arms go up as the pitch of her singing goes up, a definitely cross-modal or perhaps synaesthetic mode of artistic expression in which location equals musical pitch. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Of course, the best lies are the ones that reveal the truth


I guess it should come as no surprise to see Helen Dale becoming even more involved with Australian politics. I wrote about Dale as one of the fascinating Australians in one of my lists of famous people, lists which I no longer bother to keep up-to-date. She might never live down her fame in Australia from the 1990s as the literary hoaxer who made the Australian literary establishment look like the bunch of dicks that they always were, but I would argue that other Australians have also had a lend of the world of arts and letters, but those other fakers never got flayed alive in the town square. 

I've read that Paul Fenech, Australia's king of low-brow comedy television and film came in as the winner of the short film competition Tropfest one year, the film submitted under a name that would suggest that he was a lady of Jewish heritage rather than a Maltese-Indigenous Australian man with a subversive sense of humour. This stunt was reportedly pulled just a year or so after the "Demidenko Affair" but folks don't hate Fenech, in fact he's very popular in some parts. I put that down to sexism. Women aren't allowed to pull the wool or have a lend, because women are expected to occupy the moral high ground, in the most whiny and humorless manner possible.

And who would not agree that there is more than a passing resemblance between the deception pulled-off against Australia's literary crowd by the late author Elizabeth Jolley, and the curious incident of the platinum blonde in the embroidered peasant blouse? Jolley and husband were pillars of the world of books and the bookish in Perth in the 1980s. National Living Treasure Jolley was a mentor to the iconic Western Australian novelistTim Winton. Jolley had such a lot to answer for, but in my mind it doesn't get too much lower than writing a letter impersonating the abandoned daughter of one's husband to keep alive a prolonged and odious deception among family. Anyone who would dream of such a trick is certainly a different breed of human being than the apologetic dill that was Jolley's persona, both as a writer and a public figure. Turns out Jolley was a Living National Lie but there was no big cuffuffle, because her real story didn't break while the herd still held her close to their hearts. Out of Jolley and Dale/Demidenko, who was the biggest liar, I ask you? A genuinely odd Aussie lass who wrote a novel from a politically unpopular POV while pretending to be an ethnic, or a first class creep, liar and home-wrecker in private affairs playing the part of a lovably unfashionable borderline-autistic creature of the keyboard to an audience of cabernet-soaked dickwits? Myself, I've always had so much more sympathy for the undercover oddball than the fake autist. 


Monday, September 08, 2014

Lili's tip of the day

If you are reading this post in Sydney at the time of publication you only have to wait a half an hour to view a creepy old Val Lewton movie on ABC television. And what are you doing up at this hour? 

Lili's commonsense thought of the day

The very first question that they should ask in any career guidance questionnaire is "Do you fall to pieces at the sight of blood?". And question number two should probably be "Do you generally find people irritating?". 

Friday, September 05, 2014

Lili's older and wiser thought of the day


I volunteered for that crowd for months, and the communication I got from them was housekeeping stuff to do with shifts and asking extra favours. Then I parted with some money to pay online for someone else's ticket to one of their events, and now my inbox is regularly graced with chatty newsletters from the CEO, in which he wishes to convey how much management value their people above all else. 


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Lili's sad thought for the day

They've left another young asylum-seeker to die. Another man in his twenties, his whole life ahead of him, lost his life in an entirely preventable and foreseeable chain of events, the result of imprisonment at the infamous Manus Island detention centre. Both young men were in the custody of the Australian federal government/the Abbott Government/Team Australia, call it what you will. Neither had committed any crime. They sought refuge. Instead the worst possible thing happened, and Australia is to blame. If you don't do anything to change things, this shit is just going to keep on happening over and over again. Do you give a damn? 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A quote from an Aussie genius of rock


"I cope with it alright… It’s a strange thing because it’s really hard to know what [Aspergers] means and what it does and what it’s doing and what it’s done… so, yeah… I cope with it just by being a loner.” 

- Craig Nicholls in a recent interview article by Dominique Sisley for DIY magazine
http://diymag.com/2014/08/31/the-vines-craig-nicholls-interview-if-i-didnt-have-music-i-dont-know-what-id-do 


Doesn't Craig deserve some semblance of an adequate explanation to go along with his highly stigmatizing label? Doesn't Craig, along with all people labelled as autistic, deserve better? Is this the best that modern Australian psychology/psychiatry/disability advocacy can offer? Seems very lame to me. 



Saturday, August 30, 2014

A link between these two concepts?

I was just reflecting on the heavy use of inflated hype words in the first couple of pages of the book Struck by Genius by Jason Padgett, in the collection of one-paragraph book reviews by big names in autism, savant and synaesthesia pop science writing. I refer to words like "remarkable", "extraordinary", "immense", "incredible", "unforgettable", "sudden genius", "medical marvel", "tremendous", "astonishing", "unfathomable", "unleashed", "irrefutable"..... and then I was mucking about in the internet and I came across this article in New Scientist, which explained that a team of researchers have found an association between the dodgier pieces of science writing by one particular scientist and his increased use of  words categorized as "amplifiers".