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