Friday, December 31, 2010

Googling around with synaesthesia

I've only just discovered Google's Ngram Viewer

I believe it shows how often particular terms appeared in a shitload of books, by publication date of the books. I'm no expert - do check this for yourself. I've found that the search limits can be altered to search through stuff as recent as 2008.

I have done some searches on the terms "synaesthesia" and "synesthesia". The results have been interesting, but probably not a firm basis for conclusions. I found that both graphs are a long, steady increase from roughly around the beginning of the last century, but are also quite different for each of these terms - one the American term "synesthesia" with the simplified spelling, the other with the quaint old spelling "synaesthesia" which is associated with British writers and researchers. Another point of interest is that I found little evidence of a resurgence of interest in synaesthesia as a subject of study in the 1980s, for either of the spellings. A big upswing in interest appears to have happened much later, in the mid 1990s in the UK, spreading later to the US, so I can only guess that British researchers or authors deserve the credit for the most recent upswing in interest in this scientific subject.

I did find a definite peak in the graph for "synaesthesia" (but not for the US spelling) around 1960, probably something to do with monkeying around in the UK with LSD for fun or under the banner of "therapy". Perhaps Syd Barrett and company deserve some "credit" here. I also found a decline in the graph after the year 2001 for the term "synaesthesia", not sure why. I have read some online comments on a recent UK media story about synaesthesia in which readers complained that they are bored with synaesthesia as a subject, so perhaps synaesthesia has not been the flavour of the month for a long time in the UK.

Many things need to be kept in mind about my searches using this tool - I don't think the viewer covers journal papers or other non-book publications, so I don't think it should be seen as a general reflection of scientific research. One also needs to remember that synaesthesia has been researched and written about under many different terms over a long period of history (see my article cited below), and searches on the modern terms will not retrieve those items. Sir Francis Galton was an early synaesthesia researcher, but I don't think he ever used the term "synaesthesia" (correct me if I am wrong). Boris Sidis, the psychologist and researcher father of the child prodigy William James Sidis, was also an early writer on the subject of synaesthesia, but he used the term "secondary sensation" in his writing.

Words that have been used as terms for synaesthesia in popular, scientific or clinical literature

And another New Year's resolution

I think I might let my subscription to New Idea magazine lapse and get No Idea magazine instead.

The Bouba and Kiki Effect in Music

Why is it that Axel F is such a spiky, star-shaped song, while lush orchestral music with lots of strings is billowing and bulging and round, like a fat white storm cloud on a humid summer's day?

As a stark contrast this is a YouTube music clip of Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. Note the choice of image for the cover art!

Another New Year's resolution

I think I might let my subscription to Time magazine lapse and get Waste of Time magazine instead.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lili's thought for the day

All of our children have lined up their toys, including a daughter who also loved to arrange her teddy bear's and dollie's tea parties around a square-shaped rug, with the table setting in a perfect four-sided rotational symmetry pattern.

New Year's resolution

I think I might let my subscription to New Scientist lapse and get Mad Scientist magazine instead.

I like this quote

“We don't have to talk. We can just share energy to be social.”

- Ellen, regular attendee at AACT, "a group run for and by adults with autism", described in this journal article:

Nancy Bagatell (2010) From Cure to Community: Transforming Notions of Autism. Ethos. March 2010. Volume 38, Issue 1. p. 33-55.

Article first published online: 11 MAR 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1352.2009.01080.x

Lili's thought for the day

Can autistic behaviours tell us something important about the origins of human spoken language? I've had a short discussion on the subject of ancient hominids today, as you do, and a thought came to mind. Some experts believe the thing that brought about the sudden leap from hominid type creatures to human type creatures could be spoken language. But how did spoken language start? There are many theories floating about, no doubt. I think there is one involving synaesthesia. Could autism give a clue as to how or why hominids started speaking? Obviously the basic anatomy is needed, but that doesn't evolve into anything fancy without already having some basic utility, so what started the process? Do we need to ask the question of why would a hominid start talking, in the absence of an established culture of talking and language? Wouldn't this be rather like talking to one's self? That's a bit eccentric, isn't it? Autistic people do this. Why do autistic people do this? Go ask and autistic person. So were the first hominid speakers a bit autistic? Now that's a novel thought!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Daryl Hannah in G magazine

It's lovely to see actress and committed environmentalist Daryl Hannah on the cover of the latest G magazine, Issue 29, November-December 2010.

The virtuous and attractive Ms Hannah is one of the amazing people who are in my big list:

A referenced list of 174 famous or important people diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition or subject of published speculation about whether they are or were on the autistic spectrum

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lili's thought for the day

I am so going to read Julian Assange's autobiography as soon as it hits the shelves! Get typing, Mr Assange!

Amygdala / psychopath theory of autism not travelling well at all

So sorry Professor Baron-Cohen, here is evidence that the amygdalas of autistic people work just fine, "at the perceptual level". And it appears that autists aren't emotion-blind psychopaths either. As the year comes to a completion and dies, so does another grand theory of autism. Let's hope that 2011 brings a better theoretical framework. And I believe in miracles too.

Eve-Marie Quintin • Anjali Bhatara •
He´le`ne Poissant • Eric Fombonne • Daniel J. Levitin

Emotion Perception in Music in High-Functioning Adolescents
With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
DOI 10.1007/s10803-010-1146-0

Published online: 22 December 2010

"The ability to recognize musical emotion as belonging to one of four categories(happy, sad, scared or peaceful) was assessed in high-functioning adolescents with ASD (N = 26) and adolescents with typical development (TD, N = 26) with comparable performance IQ, auditory working memory, and musical training and experience. When verbal IQ was controlled for, there was no significant effect of diagnostic group. Adolescents with ASD rated the intensity of the emotions similarly to adolescents with TD and reported greater confidence in their responses when they had correctly (vs. incorrectly) recognized the emotions."

"Thus, emotion recognition in music among individuals with ASD differs from that in patients with damage to the amygdala, in the sense that individuals with ASD can recognize some musical emotions that patients with damage to the amygdala cannot recognize such as scary and peaceful music. This observation, combined with the lack of group difference for ratings of emotional intensity, cannot be reconciled with the amygdala theory of autism at the perceptual level.
Emotion perception in music in ASD does not seem out of norms."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

An amusing quote that I stumbled upon

Retired at last! Retired at last! Thank God Almighty, retired at last!- Theodore Dalrymple, author and retired prison and hospital doctor and psychiatrist who worked for the NHS.

They say when you love your job you don't have to work a day in your life. It appears this was not the case with this moderately famous political author!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Val Lewton movies on the box, again

I've been raving on in this blog quite a bit about old movies produced in the 1940s by Val Lewton. If you are interested, I thought I'd let you know that the ABC is repeating them in the wee hours of the morning, this week, again. If you are not interested, too bad!

The movies are:

I Walked With a Zombie (2.50am Sun-Mon, not as bad as the title suggests)
Youth Runs Wild (2.55am Mon-Tue, not a horror movie)
The Body Snatcher (12.25am Wed-Thu, with the legendary Boris and Bella) and
The Ghost Ship (2.50am Thu-Fri, psychological).

ABC TV National Guide

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What are they calling Julian now?

I friend has kindly let me know about a most interesting blog post about the WikiLeaks thing, Bradley Manning and Assange. I'd be a whole lot happier with the piece if the word "sociopathic" was replaced by the word "autistic". It matters to me and it also matters to other people. For Pete's sake, the author of the piece is comparing Assange with "programmers, mathematicians, potheads and science fiction fans"! That does not sound like sociopathy to me. It does however sound like another well-known type.

The Blast Shack
Bruce Sterling

December 22nd 2010

Our Unique King of the Geeks

Did you catch what Dr Karl said on the episode of Sleek Geeks that aired tonight (during his eye examination)? Did you know he's also got prosopagnosia? I find this stuff interesting.

About Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Dr Karl’s web site:

About Dr Karl and Prosopangosia (face-blindness)

Molitorisz, Sacha (2008) Guinea-pig geeks get their revenge. Age. January 10th 2008.

Sleek Geeks. ABC1 Series 2 Episode 1 2010 Superhuman. broadcast November 11th 2010

Sleek Geeks. ABC1 Series 1 Episode 2 Mind Games.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A sure sign that you are autistic ....

When some pretentious political commentator affixes you with the label of "narcissist" it's a sure sign that you are on the autistic spectrum. Today on The Drum on the ABC's news TV channel Tim Soutphommasane told the viewers that Julian Assange is a narcissist, which pretty much confirms what I'd been thinking all along.

Narcissist is evidently one of Mr Soutphommasane's favourite words. I Googled his name along with the term, and got a results page with no less than 11 different articles by Mr S published in The Australian that included the term. This bloke seems to think the whole world has a personality disorder! I hope one day he will be able to find a planet inhabited by intelligent beings who are not generally cursed with an intractable mental illness with which he can share his philosophy.

I'm so glad I'm writing this post and not saying it.

Christmas scene from Tommy

Some autistic people don't love Christmas, with all the noise, the crowding, the colour red, the being misunderstood, the being disliked, the being felt sorry for ....

It is illegal to discriminate against autistic students in Australia - believe it baby!

Congratulations to Mandy and Andrew Mason of Perth, Western Australia, who took the Methodist Ladies College to the Federal Court and won. This exclusive private girls' school failed to renew the contract of an education assistant, preventing the Masons' autistic daughter from attending school for nine months. I am sorry that an Australian autistic girl's education has been disrupted because the people who run a school think their school can evade the responsibility that all schools have to meet the educational needs of all students, neurotypical and autistic, disabled and ordinary.

Private school loses autism discrimination case
ABC News
December 21st 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What was the deal with van Gogh?

Blumer, Dietrich (2002) The illness of Vincent van Gogh. American Journal of Psychiatry. 159:519-526, April 2002.
[does not mention autism or AS]

Campen, Cretien van (2008) The hidden sense: synesthesia in art and science. The MIT Press, 2008.
[evidence that suggests that van Gogh was a synaesthete on p. 54]

Erickson, Kathleen Powers (1998) At eternity's gate: the spiritual vision of Vincent van Gogh. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1998.
[author argues that van Gogh had psychomotor epilepsy/temporal lobe epilepsy, rather than schizophrenia]

Fitzgerald, Michael (2005) The genesis of artistic creativity: Asperger’s syndrome and the arts. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
[includes a chapter about van Gogh]

Gayford, Martin (2006) The yellow house: van Gogh, Gauguin and nine turbulent weeks in Arles. Fig Tree (Penguin Books), 2006.
[Author argues that bipolar was the explanation for van Gogh’s troubles and mentions other theories put forward by others. Also discusses van Gogh’s diagnosis of epilepsy at St Remy Asylum. Van Gogh’s synaesthesia described on p. 190, and Gauguin’s synaesthesia discussed on p. 191, the author incorrectly describing synaesthesia as a type of madness. No mention of autism/AS found]

Gogh, Vincent van and Bernard, Bruce (editor) Vincent by himself: a selection of his drawings and painting together with extracts from his letters. Time Warner Books UK, 2004.
[evidence of van Gogh's synaesthesia to be found in his choice of words in some of his letters]

Grandin, Temple (1995) Thinking in pictures: and other reports from my life with autism. 1st edition. Doubleday. 1995.
[Einstein, Wittgenstein, van Gogh, Bill Gates mentioned in connection to the autistic spectrum]

Grinker, Roy (2007) Unstrange minds: remapping the world of autism. Basic Books.
[Bobby Fischer, Vincent van Gogh, Leo Kanner mentioned in connection with the autistic spectrum]

James, Ioan (2005) Asperger syndrome and high achievement: some very remarkable people. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
[includes a chapter about van Gogh]

Maur, Karin von (1999) The sound of painting: music in modern art. Prestel, 1999.
[van Gogh quoted on page 22 "Painting...promises to become more subtle-more music and less sculpture-in short, what will come is color."]

About Julian Assange

See my most recent post about Julian Assange here:

"That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards."

"I'm a combative person. So I like crushing bastards. So it is deeply, personally, personally, deeply satisfying to me."

"Real bastards are people who have power and abuse their power to afflict people who are weaker than they are.”

Barrowclough, Nikki (2010) The secret life of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Sydney Morning Herald. May 22, 2010.

Cadwalladr, Carole (2010) Julian Assange, monk of the online age who thrives on intellectual battle. Scot Network. August 5th 2010.

Dreyfus, Suelette & Assange, Julian (researcher) (1997) Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier. Reed Books Australia.

Hosenball, Mark (2010) Special Report: Julian Assange versus the world. Yahoo News. Reuters. December 13th 2010.
[includes a claim that Assange has described himself only partly in jest as somewhere on the autistic spectrum]

Kenber, Billy and Whitworth, Damian (2010) Pied Piper Julian Assange brooks no dissent in land of WikiLeaks. Times. December 18, 2010.

Rintoul, Stuart, Parnell, Sean, Elks, Sarah, Rout, Milanda & Owens, Jared (2010) Julian Assange, wild child of free speech. Australian. December 11, 2010. Weekend Australian. December 11-12 2010. p. 1, 8.

Wikipedia contributors (accessed 2010) Julian Assange. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Almost a news story about Julian Assange

I really do wonder about the motivations behind the writing of journalism like this story about Julian Assange. I guess everyone is curious about the man and his motivations at the moment, and an article like this seems to offer some clues, but it just seems to raise more questions than it answers. I've got to wonder about the role of words such as "eccentricity", "dictator" and "idiosyncratic" in this article, when there is little in this article to explain why such labels might be applicable to Mr Assange. Some people don't like the man, and he has had disagreements with people he has worked with. So? Enough insinuation.

Kenber, Billy and Whitworth, Damian (2010) Pied Piper Julian Assange brooks no dissent in land of WikiLeaks. Times. December 18, 2010.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Request for advice

Please help, I am only a humble housewife, and I can't figure out how to search the WikiLeaks database. I can't find a thing about Australia among all the diplomatic cable documents. I have no trouble finding stuff about Azerbaijan, but I'm not interested in Azerbaijan, (no offence, Azerbaijan). What am I doing wrong? I tried asking a teenager who is obsessed with politics, and even that didn't help. Help!

Lili's thought of the day

I spend much of my waking hours these days driving kids to and from parties. In that respect, they are not chips off the old blocks.

Cheap Christmas gift toy ideas for the young autist

Here are some ideas:

Spirograph - a toy that makes perfect and precise and repetitive geometrical patterns, the technical mathematical terms for which are hypotrochoids and epitrochoids. I've seen a basic set on sale at Toyworld (Australia) for $15.00. One word of caution - this toy is a bit fiddly and tricky to use well, maybe not the best toy for a child with fine motor issues, but if they are keen and persistent, it might be good training.

Hopper / Space Hopper / Hopper Ball / Bounce Ball - The perfect gift for the young child who has lots of bounce but has no trampoline. A day full of bouncing is a good day, I say! I've seen this toy on sale recently for only $8.00 at K-Mart.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lili creates new blog for all to ignore

I'm going to try to limit much of my carping on about politics to my newest blog, and I also plan to republish the odd thing or two there as well.

Blond Ambition

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A timely quote

Consumption today consists of people spending money they don’t own, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.
- Dr Clive Hamilton

I have a collection of favourite quotes here:

Monday, December 13, 2010

What kinda bloke is Julian Assange?

See my most recent post about Julian Assange here:

I saw an interesting portrait of the world's currently most famous Australian, the Wikileaks whistleblower Julian Assange, in the Weekend Australian. It appears that he is an unconventional bloke who hasn't had a lot of luck in relationships, the son of an unconventional mother who hasn't had a lot of luck in relationships. Assange had a childhood that was apparently partly itinerant and partly an idyllic lifestyle, unsullied by schools and institutional education on Magnetic Island off Townsville. I have visited this island, and I was utterly enchanted by it. Heaven. Moments to treasure forever. I recall this island was also a favourite haunt of the ill-fated Michael Hutchence and Paula Yates.

Assange is very obviously intellectually gifted, and was also homeschooled for a lot of his childhood. I thought the comments by the author Suelette Dreyfus about Assange and the hacker set that he used to hang out with in his younger years were particularly interesting with regard to gifted young Australians not fitting into the education system and society in general. Assange used to hang around libraries and study without much regard for graduating. That's a lifestyle that I am most familiar with.

In Australia we have a proud history of outsider whistleblowers, with notable Australians such as our autistic Deborah Locke, formerly known as Debbie Webb, who's scary career in the police force was a feature of the very popular Aussie TV series Underbelly.

"Julian Assange, wild child of free speech."
Stuart Rintoul, Sean Parnell, Sarah Elks, Milanda Rout, Jared Owens
December 11, 2010
The Australian
December 11-12 2010. p. 1, 8
Weekend Australian

Watching Deborah Locke watching the detectives

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas makes me want to scream!

I guess the festive season isn't all bad, but the crowds, the cost, the rushing to wind up the year, the consumerism, the stodgy, fattening food everywhere you look, the retailers flogging boxes of chocolates that are going to melt in the summer heat before they get given as gifts, the the second-rate crap on TV and the radio, the everyone important being unavailable till January, the suspension of important services, the being expected to work at Christmas and New Year if you are a casual worker (voiding the essential meaning of the word "casual"), the absurdly unsuitable European traditions and the lack of time for the things in life that really matter, I don't need. Sometimes I just feel like chucking the shits in a style that only an autistic person can achieve, like these guys....

Mono by Courtney Love

Get Free by The Vines

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Stop the Press!

I can't believe that the TV news broadcasts in Australia today have had as a leading story Wikileaks revealations that Kevin Rudd is a control-freak. This is news? We need to discover this through leaked diplomatic cable messages?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Lili's thought for the day

It's such a great thing to have a technical mind - it makes one so popular.....when people have a car or a computer that doesn't work.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

I love this quote

“This is another man I can never know because I can never talk with him, for I am a mute and cannot speak. I am cut off from other men, but in my own silence I can hear things they cannot hear, know things they can never know.”

- Finn the Mute, a character played by Skelton Knaggs, from the 1943 movie The Ghost Ship, produced by Val Lewton.

Memorable fictional characters portraying autistic traits or themes

(unfinished article) Val Lewton, producer of classic horror movies - have I solved a mystery?

Just as I suspected

Some recent Christmas-related socializing has confirmed my suspicion. Sometimes one finds out more about a person when that person is not present at a gathering. Just as I thought - the person that I find the most instantly likeable, the only one that I feel as though I could really belong to the same tribe as, is to a degree disliked and disrespected. It's not as though the other normal, savvy, sensible folk are not nice and polite to me - they are all polite to my face, and some are very friendly and genuinely decent and good people. I don't hang out with rubbish people - a misanthrope like myself is especially choosey about who I hang out with. I don't like people in general, so if I do spend my time in the company of homo sapiens, they have to be fine specimens of the species. The sensible, moderate nice folks are good people, no doubt at all, but they aren't my people. I always feel instinctively as though, of the nice people, it is the rare autistic among the other smart altruists that I would most like to have as a friend. Yep, I'm a completely f***ed-up individual. So if you ever get the feeling that I really like you as a person, it's time to get worried.

Poor Hillary!

I've read that Hillary Clinton is currently as busier than a one-armed taxi driver with crabs, issuing apologies to all and sundry about stuff that is coming out of Wikileaks. She is reported as saying that after her term of office expires she will leave politics, and she is speaking about her career in the past tense. I am bent double with laughter. Couldna happened to a nicer curebie.

Clinton says no more politics after State Department

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Was I right about Hillary Clinton?

Creepy, creepy, creepy. That is my opinion of Hillary Clinton.

"Hillary Clinton ordered US envoys to spy: WikiLeaks documents"
Times Staff Writers
November 29th 2010

"Hillary Clinton in Australia - how creepy"
Lili Marlene
Incorrect Pleasures
November 6th 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More additions to Syd Barrett article

I have just added more bits and pieces to this popular article:

The Interesting Case of Syd Barrett

It's quite a monster of a thing. You might want to brew up a nice big cup of tea before you tackle it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lili's thought for the day

Obsession forces one out into the world, against one's better judgement.

Coloured Aura and Coloured Emotion Synaesthesia in an Autistic Person

I had to laugh when I read a recent article from New Scientist about coloured aura synesthesia. In an effort to try to make the boy more normal, a mother of an autistic boy asked him to reflect upon his emotions (autistic people are believed to be unable to understand emotions), and assign a colour to each of his emotions. She only succeeded in provoking the genesis of two different types of synaesthesia - coloured emotion synaesthesia and coloured aura synaesthesia. What is the moral of this story? Attempts to remake autistic people as normal people are futile and will often have the opposite effect.

"Is this proof that spooky auras are real?"
Helen Thomson
Short Sharp Science
New Scientist

A Disturbance in the Family

Who are they? Where did they come from? Where did they go? Was there something not quite right about that level of involvement of siblings with each other’s lives? Did they find whatever it was that they were looking for? Do they drink? Where do they worship? Some mysteries are perhaps better left unsolved.

The Deranged Cousins, by Edward Gorey. Music by Erik Satie, Piéces Froides.

Psycho Killer, performed by The Kransky Sisters, written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads.

About Edward Gorey

He “found almost everything about human nature absurd. Politics, sports, trends and fads. International news. He was a born isolato...”
– Alexander Theroux, a friend of Gorey’s

Baxter, John (2010) Primal scenes: Tim Burton: the exhibition. Monthly. July 2010 p.52-55.
[includes a quote from Alexander Theroux about Edward Gorey]

Gorey, Edward (2001) Ascending peculiarity : Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey : interviews. (selected and edited by Karen Wilkin). Harcourt, 2001.

The Edward Gorey documentary

Theroux, Alexander (2000) The strange case of Edward Gorey. Fantagraphics Press, 2000.
[a book about Gorey written by a friend]

About Erik Satie

“Whatever was orthodox, Satie hated … his chamber pieces were designed to make the chamber uncomfortable.”
-Clive James

Fitzgerald, Michael (2005) The genesis of artistic creativity: Asperger’s syndrome and the arts. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
[includes a chapter about Erik Satie]

Fitzgerald M. (2003). Erik Satie: An autistic musical brain. In: Proceedings of the Social Brain Conference, Goteborg, Sweden, 25th – 27th March, 32.
[unchecked reference]

Gillberg, Christopher (2002) A guide to Asperger Syndrome. Cambridge University Press.
[Satie mentioned]

James, Ioan (2005) Asperger syndrome and high achievement: some very remarkable people. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
[includes a chapter about Erik Satie]

About David Byrne

“I was a peculiar young man — borderline Asperger's, I would guess.”

Purcell, Andrew (2007) Imelda: the nightclub years. Guardian. January 29 2007.,,2000888,00.html

Seed (magazine) editorial staff (2007) David Byrne + Daniel Levitin: the singer/songwriter and the neuroscientist meet up to discuss music. April 30 2007.

Memorable fictional characters portraying autistic traits or themes

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Die Ärzte - Nichts in der Welt

The Germans invented the word "earworm" and they also invented music that gives me an earworm.

Wikipedia contributors (2010) Earworm. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Wikipedia contributors (2010) Nichts in der Welt. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Quote for the day

"You know, if it weren't for the caffeine, I'd have virtually no personality whatsoever." - David Letterman

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Vines in second line-up for Big Day Out 2011

"THE VINES feel their story is only half written. Wanting to make it up to their loyal fans for a cancelled Big Day Out slot in 2009 the band are all set for BIG DAY OUT 2011."

And guess who has tickets? HA HA HAAhahaha!!!!!!!

Just in case you are interested - there will be one diagnosed autistic in the line-up - Craig Nicholls from The Vines, and (at least) one synaesthete as well - Justin Chancellor from Tool.

Big Day Out

(I love Paul Schaefer's comment at the end of this clip.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stalker or Savant?

One might think that having an exceptional memory could only be a great asset, but I've recently read about some situations in which having a savant-like memory ability can get one into a bit of trouble socially. In a 2007 journal paper about synaesthesia and memory can be read an account of the experiences of A. J. M., a synaesthete study subject with an exceptional memory. A. J. M. has been written about under an abbreviated name to protect his identity, as is the convention in science journals. He has found that casual acquaintances have become a bit uneasy when they discover that he has perfectly retained their birthdays and mobile numbers from a long time ago. The poor bloke was probably thinking they would be impressed by his super-human mental powers. There is no pleasing neurotypical people! M. R. is a male computer programmer with an exceptional ability in face recognition who was written about in a 2009 journal paper about super-recognizers. Super-recognizers are people who have outstanding abilities in identifying and remembering faces. They are the opposite of prosopagnosics. Hapless M. R. has made people feel uncomfortable by revealing that he has recognized them from fleeting contacts made a long time ago, and he has found that it can be easier socially to pretend that he doesn't recognize people, to avoid being labelled a stalker. Sometimes its just easier being average.

Yaro, Caroline and Ward, Jamie (2007) Searching for Shereshevskii: what is superior about the memory of synaesthetes? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2007 May;60(5):681-95.

Russell R, Duchaine B, Nakayama K (2009) Super-recognizers: people with extraordinary face recognition ability. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 2009 Apr;16(2):252-7.

Whatever happened to Dr Hans Asperger's patients?

Thank you to Michelle Dawson at her blog The Autism Crisis for informing us about an interesting and important recently-published study that has investigated a particularly nasty myth about autistic people - the unfounded idea that we are more likely to commit crimes. This baseless belief most likely has its origin in the many stupid but popular ideas about loners - that bunch of old cobblers about loners being serial killers and serial killers being loners. Its a crock of crap, but simple folks love these stories. Never mind that a fair number of serial killers have been husband and wife teams (hardly loners who are unable to form relationships). Some examples of husband and wife serial killer teams that come easily to mind are Fred and Rosemary West and the Birnies. Ivan Milat has been incorrectly described as a loner despite not actually having a personality that is anything like a loner, and he had and still has a charismatic influence over some people, and many believe he killed in company. Being a serial killer clearly does not have to be a lonely lifestyle.

Anyway, in the land of rational scientific thought, some researchers from Austria and London have done a study following the original patients of Dr Hans Asperger in Austria. They have checked the penal register for the records of these patients who were diagnosed as autistic when they were children. This is what the researchers found:

"In this original cohort of Asperger’s patients, convictions were no more common than in the general male population."

And the nature of the crimes that were found were not different to the norm. No serial killers. No sex offences either. Very boring.

Kathrin Hippler • Essi Viding • Christian Klicpera • Francesca Happe (2010) Brief Report: No Increase in Criminal Convictions in Hans Asperger’s Original Cohort. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. (2010) 40:774–780. Published online: 19 December 2009.

The Autism Crisis

Jani Schofield is not the only victim

I've been reading a not-particularly-good mass media article from the US about synaesthesia. As is often the case with articles that are on the internet, the comments from the public are as interesting, if not more interesting, than the piece itself. This one has over 200 comments, many of them personal accounts of synaesthesia. One of these comments stands out as not quirky or funny or simply interesting. This comment is an account of a terrible case of medical malpractice involving misdiagnosis and synaesthesia.

Take a look at the comment by someone named Zoe. Zoe experiences (or experienced) the type of synaesthesia in which people appear to have a halo or aura of colour. There is nothing supernatural or flaky about this synaesthesia, it is just colours associated with things. That's not to say that people wont or can't interpret this type of synaesthesia with a supernatural explanation - I know one person-colour synaesthete who comes from a deeply religious background and who interprets this experience in religious terms. For some, maybe most people who experience person-related colours, the colours are associated with a perception of some quality that people have or are percieved to have - "bad" people might have a particular colour, or sad people might have a colour etc. For me there is a small group of unusual people who all share the same colour, which I "see" in my mind's eye when I see or imagine their images. For me everyone else lacks colour.

Anyway, poor Zoe has written that as a result of telling others about her synaesthesia, she was "was falsely diagnosed with early onset skitzophrenia" and was messed up for years by large doses of a completely unecessary psychiatric drug. Zoe's story is worryingly similar to the very tragic treatment of the young intellectually gifted, probably autistic American synaesthete Jani Schofield, who has had most of her young life blighted by heavy psychiatric intervention following a highly questionable diagnosis of child-onset schizophrenia. I have been advised by a professional in psychiatry that this diagnostic category itself is controversial.

What has happened to Zoe and Jani should never have happened, and must not be allowed to ever happen again. There is no excuse in the world for any psychiatrist or doctor to not know about synaesthesia and ordinal linguistic personification, and mistake it for psychosis or symptoms of psychosis. Scientists have been studying synaesthesia at least since the 1800s, and have been writing up descriptions of the various types of synaesthesia in science journals since that long ago. In 1881 a paper titled "The Visions of Sane Persons" by Sir Francis Galton was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Institution. It was a paper about one type of synaesthesia. Scientific knowledge of synaesthesia and knowledge that it is not insanity are most certainly nothing new. When you call yourself a doctor and claim to be a highly educated professional, ignorance is no excuse at all.

On the Brain: When numbers have color: Synesthesia
by Elizabeth Landau Health

One of my articles about Jani Schofield:

Galton, Francis (1881) The visions of sane persons. Proceedings of the Royal Institution. 9 (May 13) : 644-55.

A recent article from New Scientist about coloured aura synaesthesia:
Is this proof that spooky auras are real?
Helen Thomson
Short Sharp Science
New Scientist

Old Val Lewton movie on the box late tonight

I've noticed that another movie produced by Val Lewton is scheduled to be broadcast in the very early hours of tomorrow morning on ABC1. Bedlam is a 1940s horror movie starring Boris Karloff, one of the greatest horror flick actors. It's not the best Lewton movie, but it has its moments. Fifty-nine years after his death Lewton's clever psychological horror films are being broadcast often, because they are still just as special as they ever were.

As a long-time Lewton fan who experiences ordinal linguistic personification (OLP), a fancy-sounding sub-type of synaesthesia that is often found along with grapheme-colour synaesthesia, which I and some of my kids also have, I was delighted to discover evidence on page 55 of the book Val Lewton: the reality of terror by Joel E. Siegel that suggests that Lewton had OLP himself. Along with the nice pile of evidence that I've found in my reading that also suggests that Lewton was on the autistic spectrum, its making me wonder if I've got more in common with one of my horror movie heroes than I had realised.

My unfinished piece about Val Lewton:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lili's thought for the day

We are the people who society casts aside with a joyful flick of the wrist.

Lili's thought for the day

When the rubbish tip smells like a jar of kalamata olives, does that say something good about the tip, or does it say something bad about kalamata olives?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lili's thought for the day

If you are so weird or original that people do not know how to hold you accountable, marginalisation cannot be too far away.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Still obsessing over list of fictional characters

I saw a repeat of the delightful classic French movie Amelie the other night, and I really like the way that the obsessive, detail-oriented collecting hobbies of the character Nino are very original and do not fit the stereotypes about the hobbies of autistics. Nino's odd forensic hobbies seem to be scientific enquiries into the lives of people, they are not just cold, impersonal systemizing, and I found them similar to many of the most eccentric research projects that were undertaken by the obsessive Victorian oddball scientist Sir Francis Galton, who could well have been on the spectrum. A lot of the cultural products in fictional genres that are foist upon us by Hollywood and the big publishing houses are nothing more than a collection of stereotypes, but now and then there comes along a special book or a clever movie that helps us to look beyond the stereotypes and the dry textbooks.

I have been doing more work on my list of fictional characters who have autistic traits. I've been adding stuff from Val Lewton movies, and other bits from here and there. Lewton is a current interest. I have an ancient copy of The Reality of Terror by Siegel in my hot little hand. It cost a fair bit second-hand and it looks like it has been to hell and back, but its nice to have it.

Memorable fictional characters portraying autistic traits or themes (fictional characters who have Asperger syndrome, nerd fictional characters)

Lili's thought for the day

The fusiform gyrus is the part of the brain that is most likely to harbour ghosts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lili's reflective thought for the day

It is a sad and creepy thing to witness autistic people playing games of social exclusion, because these are people who know full-well what they are doing. Reasons or justifications can always be found, but it still looks ugly in my eyes. I know what a beautiful feeling it can be to be a member of an exclusive group; it is most seductive, but for me a seat that someone else should be sitting in never feels very comfortable.

Lili's thought for the day

Atheism does not guarantee immunity from a crisis of faith, because we all have stories that we live by, or crusades that we live for.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Still working on Val Lewton article

He was a control freak and he had the habit of taking over the roles of people that he worked with. He had a bad temper and (at least) two different personalities. He often worked strange hours. Details were important to him. He has been described as a "chronic dawdler". There was a lack of empathy in some of his working relationships, particularly with women. He was arguably hard done by in his career. It has been observed that his paranoia had a basis in truth. And he had absolutely nothing to do with Australian politics! Such an interesting man. Val Lewton. I hope to one day complete my article about him.

What's on Lili's Bookshelf

Lloyd, John and Mitchinson, John (2009) The QI book of the dead. Faber and Faber, 2009.

Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Babbage, Jeremy Bentham, Salvador Dali, grapheme-colour synaesthete scientist Richard Feynman, Henry Ford, Buckminster Fuller, Francis Galton, Oliver Heaviside, Howard Hughes, Alfred Kinsey, Ada Lovelace, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla and H. G. Wells are some of the unusual people discussed in this book. Newton is identified as a possible case of Asperger syndrome, based on his obsessiveness, on page 14. Tesla is identified as autistic with OCD on page 344. An entertaining and interesting book full of eccentricity, but not a work of great scholarship. Recommended for informative fun.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good letter about giftedness in New Scientist

I'd like to congratulate Merrilyn Watson for having a great letter published in the latest edition of New Scientist magazine. The letter is a necessary criticism of a poor and often-misleading article about giftedness in children and education that was inexplicably published in New Scientist a few weeks ago. This article was an interview with some psychologist who I have never heard of, despite my fairly broad reading on the subject of gifted kids, gifted adults and the education of gifted kids, including the Australian government report that Ms Watson made reference to in her letter. Perhaps I am being unfair on the supposed expert who was interviewed for the article, as Ms Watson and my family are in Australia, while the interviewed psychologist of the article is British. But still, negative stereotypes about giftedness are surely just as wrong on one continent as they are on another.

Curse of giftedness (letter)
by Merrylin Watson
New Scientist
November 3rd 2010
published in Issue number 2785, November 6th 2010, p.28.

More possibly useful links about giftedness

The education of gifted and talented children
Parliament of Australia: Senate

Gifted Education Professional Development Package (downloadable)
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

Vulnerability of young gifted children
Dr Kerry Hodge
Early Childhood Education Conference, Melbourne, June 2006
[interesting article by Dr Kerry Hodge listing indicators of giftedness in young children, possible indicators and also non-indicators, and child and family characteristics that can mask giftedness]

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ari Ne'eman interviewed

"...not everything that is autistic is bad and not everything that is normal is good..."
- Ari Ne'eman, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

This quote is taken from this recent article:

Autism Diagnoses Increasing, But So Are Questions
Sheryl Rich-Kern
November 8th 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Lili's thought for the day - number 3

When a tornado rips the roof off an empty church atheists have a jolly good laugh.

Lili's thought for the day - number 2

When the eccentric nun of the family wears a strange and exotic habit to a wedding, she runs a serious risk of upstaging the bride.

Lili's thought for the day

When someone asks for a CD by Portishead for a birthday present, you've got to wonder how happy a birthday it could possibly be.

No rest for the obsessive

I've done some more work on my old list of autistic fictional characters, giving it a spruce-up and adding stuff. I hope it now looks a little bit less ancient and neglected. This list of mine features many Australian fictional characters. It also boasts a varied range of characters of both genders from a broad range of media and genres, including but not limited to stand-up comedy, a vulgar Aussie TV comedy show, literary novels and short stories, detective fiction, hard science fiction, not-so-hard sci fi TV and film, foreign cinema, a chick lit novel, horror movies, kids' movies, children's literature, a 1970s rock musical, an animated comedy TV series for teens, British TV comedy, a violent action movie, a Jane Campion movie, a Mel Brooks movie, and more. This list is not complete, my lists are never complete and I always have a back-log of more material to add, but it ain't bad, and there's nothing else like it on the internet.

Memorable fictional characters portraying autistic traits or themes

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Hillary Clinton in Australia - how creepy

Hillary Clinton has been recently given a warm welcome to Australia by Australia's Foreign Minister and self-identified nerd Kevin Rudd. Just in case any of my Australian readers are getting all excited about the US Secretary of State visiting our nation, below is a link to a reminder about why I'm not pleased or happy or chuffed about this visit. In the past Hillary Clinton has apparently declared her intent to "prevent and cure anything along the autism spectrum." Sounds like genocide to me! Does "anything along the autism spectrum" include nerds and geeks? Does this include nerdy former prime ministers? The irony isn't lost on me.

Are you impressed by Clinton's much-publicised feel-good feminism-inspired ideas about "it takes a village to raise a child"? Well, let me ask you, do you like the idea of having your child raised by the village idiot? Whenever you drop your child off into the care of incredibly lowly-paid child care centre workers, or government primary school teachers who could be the end-product of decades of incredibly low entry standards for teaching as a profession, that is exactly what you could be doing. Do you think this is good enough for your kids? I know it isn't and wasn't good enough for our kids. When you leave the raising of your kids to "the community" you expose your children to all of the flaws and dangers of inept, ideological, one-size-fits-all and fad-based child-raising and education, and it definitely doesn't work for a large minority of children.

I simply can't stand this Hillary Clinton and her stupid ideas, and I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her. When Clinton was going against Obama as the potential president of the USA, I believe neurodiversity activists were generally all on the side of Obama. So please get back onto your broom and go home Hillary!

Hillary Clinton's Final Solution
April 26, 2007
Whose Planet is it Anyway

Shopping for kids' picture books?

Are you going to be buying picture books for Christmas gifts for children this year? Well, if you are you might like to take a look at a list that I published at my other blog a while ago. It is a list of my favourite kids' picture books. They aren't just for kids!

I also have a recipe for a nice Christmas cake over there at Incorrect Attitudes.

Lili Marlene's List of Delightful Children's Picture Books

Incorrect Attitudes

An autistic eccentric loner genius saint? Why not!

In my massive list of famous autistic or possibly autistic people I've got a heap of Nobel Prize winners, a couple of Fields Medal winners, quite a few "Sirs" and others who have been given prestigious national honours, a former US President, a couple of former Prime Ministers, and more big-wigs and notables than you can poke a stick at, but so far no saints. But that could change.

The Pope will soon consecrate the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, a massive project designed by the eccentric genius architect Antoni Gaudi that has been in construction for nearly 130 years, and is still not due for completion until the year 2025. People have been campaigning for the beatification of the late solitary Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi for a number of years, but it is thought that the Pope's visit to Barcelona could bring forward sainthood for Gaudi. In the later part of his life Gaudi lived a very humble life, devoted to his work and God. His legacy are stunningly strange buildings with an organic and ornate style. Gaudi's style is one that people either love or hate. I believe the famous writer George Orwell disliked Gaudi's distinctive work, which has been described by some commentators as kitsch.

Gaudi has briefly been identified as autistic in two books by Professor Michael Fitzgerald. A quote from a 2000 BBC News article: "Gaudi, like other creative geniuses, found that his obsessive energy and quirky lifestyle were often taken as signs of madness." Yeah, I get that too.

Pope arrives in Spain

Pope Benedict XVI visit to Barcelona could fast-track Saint Antoni Gaudi.
Barcelona Reporter

'Saint Gaudi' movement gains momentum
BBC News

My massive list:

Friday, November 05, 2010

Rallies for Same-Sex Marriage Rights - Starting Tomorrow

Tomorrow a series of rallies for marriage equality start around Australia, with rallies in Canberra and Perth on November 6th 2010, and many more planned around Australia later this month. Be a part of it and help make history!

Equal Love - National Year of Action on Same-Sex Marriage

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Greetings

I do hope my readers have a lot of fun this Halloween. We have tried pumpkin pie for the first time, and hmmmm, it's an interesting taste, but maybe not on the menu for next Halloween. Maybe it just needed more brandy and cream. I might try that. It still isn't dark, and I'm feeling too lazy to do much. How about lollies for dinner kids?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lili's thought of the day

Control-freaks are born, not made. I've just been told which skirt I must wear to a party, by a four-year-old (and I must say, it was a very appropriate choice). This kid has more fashion-sense at four than I had at 24 years. It's easier to just do what the kid says.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

List updated

I've just updated and added stuff to one of my popular lists. Enjoy.

Clever, Creative, Controversial: A referenced list of 37 famous living people who have been identified in any way as autistic, to any degree, during any period of their life, including famous people diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (AS)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lili's thought of the day

In the story of our family there are lots of characters, not a lot of action, and we lost the plot many years ago.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ari Ne'eman interview article in Wired

I've just found out about a fantastic interview article at Wired magazine, in which
Ari Ne'eman from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network is interviewed.

Exclusive: First Autistic Presidential Appointee Speaks Out
by Steve Silberman
October 6th 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Give a nerd a break! - what Lili thinks about the Quarterly Essay David Marr Kevin Rudd saga – as if anyone really cares what a housewife thinks

I’ve been having a read of the latest Quarterly Essay, not for the essay itself, but for the correspondence and author’s response to correspondence about the essay in the last issue, David Marr’s controversial piece about the career, reign and character of the former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd. I’m interested in this stuff .... because it is interesting. Rudd was always an interesting politician and PM, and the political assassination of Rudd as PM has been described as “one of the four big stories in Australian politics in 50 years” along with The Dismissal and Harold Holt’s big swim. It is also true that the spectacle of a large group of people conspiring against one person is a theme that will have a lot of resonance with any person (like me) who is on the spectrum. From the school playground to the workplace, this scenario is all too common.

It was easy to predict the tone of some of the letters about Marr’s essay. Annabel Crabbe’s letter is sympathetic towards Rudd and light-hearted in one part. The piece by Chris Uhlmann, political editor of the ABC News 24 channel, gives a most negative view of Rudd, not a surprise to me after I’ve been viewing the condescending Mr Uhlmann on the new publicly-funded news channel, with his apparent fondness for tut-tut-tutting political figures who have fallen from popularity on display during the recent federal election when the former ALP leader Mark Latham was getting a lot of news coverage. Laura Tingle’s piece is interesting and fair, in my hugely unqualified opinion. Was that quote from a frontbencher on the bottom of page 77 serious or a joke? Laura Tingle is the reason why I don’t feel too peeved when the Australian Financial Review is the only grease-smudged newspaper left to read at Maccas.

The letter that perhaps offered the most new insight into Rudd as a person was the one by James Boyce, who wrote about Rudd’s Christian hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer apparently argued that Christians should follow their faith wherever it may lead “in the world beyond the safety of the church”. I find this interesting considering that in Rudd’s family there are a couple of people who considered a life away from the mainstream of society (one took the first steps towards a life as a nun), but they thought again and chose otherwise. I couldn’t form any opinion about the possible significance of all this without first reading Rudd’s essay in the Monthly about faith in politics.

One letter that did surprise me in QE39 is the response to correspondence from David Marr. A few things made me wonder. About David Marr. Marr has clearly not learned his lesson. He’s dredged up psychiatric term as an explanation for the peculiarities, greatness and weakness “of leaders like Kevin Rudd”, and to make matters worse, he’s fixed upon one of those quaint, antiquated, unscientific Freudian concepts; “narcissism”. Marr explains that he is a critic of Freudian biography, then three sentences onwards he drops a Freudian term as an explanation. Marr should take his own advice and stay away from this psychoanalytic nonsense. A quick check of the Wikipedia page for the term “Narcissism” and the first thing one reads is that it is supposedly a “personality trait”, but anyone who has studied the real science of psychology will know that “narcissism” has no place at all in any modern, scientifically accepted model of personality dimensions or domains, such as the “Big Five” or Cattell’s 16 personality factors. To quote a writer recently published in New Scientist magazine, psychoanalysis “is the psychology of those who have not bothered to learn psychology”.

Putting aside any reservations about Freudianism and other obsolete theories of the mind, one could ask whether narcissism a fitting label for Rudd. I don’t know if it is, but I doubt it. Maybe one needs to meet Rudd in person to understand where Marr might be coming from. I would think a tendency to behave like a narcissist could well be an occupational hazard for any politician, as this job is, more than any job, all about building up a spiffy image and trying to win everyone’s admiration. I’ve found that people’s personalities are often very much shaped by a job that they have been doing for years, sometimes in unhelpful ways, and I’ve often wondered why psychiatry and psychology have apparently nothing to say about this important mental phenomenon. I know a person who has spent all of a long career teaching, and who has the unfortunate habit of speaking to adults as though they are children, and being thoughtlessly-prescriptive in their dealings with others. I know a person whose job description for many years has included rescuing people, who also rescues in their private life. I once met an old lady whose anti-individualism appeared to have been shaped by her national service during the war, in which orders were not to be questioned. I know a former librarian who can’t stop recommending books to people. It’s sad. What does a long career in politics do to the mind or the personality? I hate to think. Of course, it is always possible that people pick careers (and religious philosophies and political orientations) to fit their pre-existing personalities and motivations. Scientists should study this. Why aren’t they?

My big objection to Marr’s suggestion about Rudd and narcissism is that it is simply not the right thing to do to drop a label like this without giving supporting evidence or argument to back it up. No matter how much one might dislike a person or know about them, a decent person who expects to be taken seriously does not casually drop the name of a supposed personality disorder like a bomb without taking pains to immediately justify one’s use of such a term. That is the type of caper that I might expect to find in the ethics-free atmosphere of a playgroup session among a clique of gossipy mums sipping coffee together in the kitchen, but I expect rather more from a journalist and a biographer. Mr Marr seems to be unable to include a description of personal oddities and a label for such personality traits within the same piece of writing. Maybe there is some legal reason why Marr can’t seem to follow through.

My other surprise about Marr’s letter is that he has, for at least the third time, written about his puzzlement at Rudd’s demeanour “on the night he won office”. Marr claimed that Rudd showed a peculiar “inwardness” and lacked rapport with the crowd. Presumably Marr is referring here to Rudd’s victory speech at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on November 24th 2007. I have had a look at all three sections of Rudd’s 2007 victory speech that are available for viewing on YouTube, and I thought Rudd’s performance was completely appropriate and a near-perfect political performance. I do not think this was an edited version. As far as I can tell, at no point did Rudd lose the audience during this speech. One of his ministers was moved to tears. Rudd made a joke that went down well. The only fault I could find was his slightly preachy comment that “... without family we are nothing.” This is offensive to people who don’t have family for whatever reason. Rudd said stuff to please his Queenslander crowd and he said lots of things to please members of his own party and the union movement, and he thanked all the people one would expect him to thank. Before and after the speech there was much smiling and kissing, as is expected of politicians.

Even if we take seriously Marr’s assertions that Rudd’s demeanour was not celebratory or extroverted enough, we would not need to resort to any explanation about personality flaws to explain such a thing. While finalizing his preparation to make this speech, Rudd texted a final reply to a message of bad news from journalist Matt Price, who was apparently some type of friend, who was dying of cancer. Rudd attended Price’s funeral in Perth a few days later. Such a thing could kill a celebratory mood. Rudd also mentioned Bernie Banton AM in his victory speech, who was also dying at the time, of asbestos-related diseases.

A careful re-reading of Marr’s Sydney Morning Herald article dated November 26th 2007 suggests that Marr’s negative view of Rudd as a public speaker was formed on the basis of a reportedly lacklustre press conference held on the afternoon of November 25th 2007, the day after the big victory speech and mass celebrations. I dimly recall viewing a media appearance of Rudd (was it on the Rove TV show?) in which he came out from his home to meet a euphoric crowd and the TV people on a night sometime around the time of his election victory. At the time I thought Rudd’s demeanour was oddly subdued and insulated from the mood of the crowd, in a way that mirrors the accusations that Marr has made. But Rudd’s performance during the election victory speech I can barely fault. So Rudd was not a sparkling performer on the day following what must have been a thorougly exhausting election campaign, and is not constantly in connection with the emotional tone of whichever crowd he is amongst. So what? Give a nerd a break! It is clear that Marr’s bias against Rudd goes back a long way.

I would still recommend, with some reservations, Marr’s essay in Quarterly Essay Issue 38 as an interesting piece about the interesting and controversial former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, but it is also clear that much of what Marr has written about Rudd says more about Marr than it does about Rudd.


Kevin Rudd speech – part 1 of 3

[Check for yourself - are Marr's criticisms baseless?]

Macklin, Robert (2007) Kevin Rudd: the biography. Viking, 2007.
[see pages 45 and 72-73 about Rudd’s family members]

Marr, David (2010) Power trip: response to correspondence. Quarterly Essay. Issue 39 2010 p.100-102.
[This short response can be read in full through Google Books.]

Marr, David (2010) Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd. Quarterly Essay. Black Inc Publishing, Number 38, June 2010.

[A biographical and political essay]

Marr, David (2010) We need to talk about Kevin ... Rudd, that is. Sydney Morning Herald.
June 7th 2010.

[an edited extract from Marr’s Power trip essay]

Marr, David (2007) Pray the passionless Messiah is not channelling brother grim. Sydney Morning Herald. November 26th 2007.

[Marr’s negative comment piece about Rudd’s 2007 victory speech]

Price, Matt (2008) Top Price: the Australian’s Matt Price on sport, politics, music and life. HarperCollins, 2010.
[includes a chapter about Kevin Rudd with an introduction by Steve Lewis]

Quarterly Essay.

White, Hugh (2010) Power shift: Australia’s future between Washington and Beijing. Quarterly Essay. Issue 39 2010.
[Correspondence on pages 75-102 includes seven letters about Marr’s controversial essay about Rudd in the previous issue, and also Marr’s response to correspondence.]

copyright Lili Marlene 2010.