Sunday, February 27, 2011

Australia's chattering class discuss Julian

Suelette Dreyfus was interviewed by Julian Morrow and Annabel Crabb on The Drum on ABC News 24 today. The book about the hackers subculture in Australia in decades gone by, including Assnage known then by the name of "Mendax", titled Underground, has apparently been republished. Dreyfus and Assange are co-authors of this book, which is I believe available to read on the internet. I've had a look at bits of it, and these bits are either nonsense or waaaay above my head. I believe The Drum will be repeated later this evening.

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

Lili's thought for the day

Was the domino theory such a stupid idea, huh?

60 Minutes story absolute f***ing bullshit tonight – up to their usual standard

All autistic people have good reason to be furious about tonight’s incredibly dishonest 60 Minutes story about the Australian serial killer Martin Bryant. This typical example of 60 Minutes superficial stupidity that can barely be described as journalism presented the nonsensical claims of Bryant’s mother Carleen uncritically and without any mention of important contradictory facts. Carleen Bryant made two very controversial and wholly unsupported claims, that her son could have been innocent of the crime that was the massacre at Port Arthur in Tasmania, and that he has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome some unspecified time in the last few years. The claim about an AS diagnosis was mentioned twice in the story, once by the mother and once by the reporter, Charles Wooley. Absolutely no mention was made of who, when and where this unbelievable diagnosis was reportedly made. Was it a self-diagnosis? Did the mother diagnose her prisoner son after reading a story about AS in some women’s magazine? What were the professional qualifications (if any) of the person who made the supposed diagnosis? Did this person have any experience or expertise in the area of the autistic spectrum? What kind of professional reputation does this person have? Any conflicts of interest? This pathetic 60 Minutes story never went near answering any of these important questions.

The thing about this story that really makes me furious is that the notable forensic psychiatrist Professor Paul Mullen was interviewed for this story, and parts of this interview was shown, but there was no mention at all of the fact that this psychiatrist, who examined Bryant immediately after the crime and wrote the psychiatric report on Bryant as the prime and I believe only suspect (which can be read on the internet), way back all those years ago, gave Asperger syndrome his professional and expert consideration as a possible diagnosis for Bryant, and explicitly rejected it. I hesitate to summarise his conclusions about Bryant, but I believe Prof Mullen was of the opinion that the very low intellectual ability of Bryant’s combined with Bryant’s normal-looking appearance made him a social misfit, because he constantly failed to meet the expectations of others. The very important fact that Prof Mullen rejected AS as a diagnosis for Bryant was left out of the story, but the inclusion of an interview with a notable forensic psychiatrist in this story, in conjunction with the reporter repeating the mother’s absurd claim about Bryant diagnosed with AS, could easily confused the viewers of this idiotic TV show into believing that a diagnosis of AS for Bryant was made or endorsed by Prof Mullen.

I will not even start to challenge the idea that Bryant could have been innocent of the crimes, and I will not set out an argument that 60 Minutes should not have aired such an idea, or should not have given air time to such an assertion without making any effort to refute it explicitly. I am sure that many other people will feel outraged by these things and will make comments. I only hope that the combination of two absurd claims offered by the mother will make it clear to anyone who has a brain that is in good working order that this woman and her vile nonsense deserve not even one minute’s consideration.

I’m sure there are many people who know little about autism who might assume that just because Bryant was abnormal from childhood, was a social misfit, was unhappy, and was intellectually impaired, he must therefore have been autistic. In fact, this combination of characteristics doesn’t even go close to constituting evidence of autism. Autism is not a common condition, and to be considered for a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum one would need to display a group of much more specific traits than this collection of common characteristics. Autistic people invariably have one or more special interests, some area of learning or knowledge that the person is interested in and studies or experiments with to a very unusual degree. Even the most intellectually impaired autists will study some very narrow and specific thing repeatedly and intensely. I have scoured a number of books about Martin Bryant, and have found absolutely no evidence or suggestion of any type of special interest. An associated autistic trait is an ability to focus on the same thing for an extraordinary length of time. Again, Bryant’s story shows no evidence of this. Repetition in movements or behaviours is typical of autism, with “stimming” and a tendency to stick to the same everyday options in life, and to seek stability in life over novelty. Again, there is no evidence of any preference for sameness or any stims or any repetitive or odd movements in Bryant’s story. To the best of my knowledge, Bryant has displayed absolutely none of the distinguishing characteristics of autism. He is not autistic. He is an intellectually impaired misfit. The world is full of them. The majority of them are not autistic.

I guess the suggestion that autism isn’t the same thing as being a social misfit might confuse many people, as the media is full of images of autistic people being social misfits. Perhaps this image of the misfit autist is one way that society copes with the idea of the social outsider. There is the hope that all human social dysfunction can be pinned down to autism, ADD and a handful of mental illnesses, with intellectual impairment taken care of with prenatal screening and improving parenting and educational standards. Once the boffins find a cure for all mental divergences from normality, we can all be happy little human clones living in harmony. I’m so pleased that reality of human mental diversity could never be this easy to pin down and control. Go to any medical library and find a dictionary or an encyclopaedia of genetic and congenital syndromes. Even better, look up OMIM on the internet. You might find dozens, scores or even hundreds of different disorders and syndromes listed, conditions that cause more types of physical deformities, divergences from the norm and illnesses than you can imagine. And I can assure you that a good proportion of these disorders and developmental anomalies can and do cause differences in the brain and the mind and the personality. Maybe most or even all of them do. The truth is, no one knows. And no one knows how many rare or subtle developmental and medical syndromes are out there unknown to science. We are talking about the vast unknown, things that many people don’t really want to know about, because many people don’t want to know that we are the products of genetics, whatever environment we were provided when we were developing in the womb, and pure blind chance. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of different ways to be different, abnormal, disordered or mad, and they are not all autism. If you wish to come to grips with the way things are in the real world, you’ll have to do much, much better than watching 60 Minutes on a Sunday night.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

WikiLeaks everywhere you look

Australian Assangeophiles and WikiLeaks obsessives might wish to tune in to SBS1 tonight (Saturday) at 9.30pm to watch WikiRebels, a documentary about WikiLeaks and Assange.

I have heard that some Angus and Robertson book stores are selling the paperback edition of Danile Domsceit-Berg's book Inside WikiLeaks at a bargain price.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Two Lane Blacktop movie on the box tonight

Tonight ABC2 will be broadcasting an old movie that inspired the name of a NZ rock band that had the famous autistic musician Pip Brown, now known as Ladyhawke, and formerly known as Lux Curfew, as a member. The name of the movie is Two Lane Blacktop and it is a US-made 70s cult classic road movie. If this is a favourite movie of Brown's I'd say she's not your typical young lady. It doesn't sound much like a "rom-com" or a "chick-flick".

An old quote from "Lux Curfew":

"Movies give us a wealth of material to draw inspiration from, evoke emotion and basically let us write great songs without any need for personal feelings and stories of love and loves lost etc. We like to think of our songs as something of an alternate soundtrack to the movies we choose."

Quote taken from this old interview published at NZ Musician:

Lili's other thought for the day

Dr Norman Geschwind wasn't wrong. I know so many left-handers who are full of allergies and asthma (and many more right-handers who aren't).

Lili's thought for the day

Those eyes, those eyes, what is is about those eyes? Is he reading aloud words that are written on a screen in his mind's eye, or is he just on drugs?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lili shocked at NZ earthquake disaster

I've only just found out about the earthquake disaster affecting New Zealand. I'm shocked and I'm sure most Australians are also shocked by this terrible thing that has happened to our Kiwi friends.

The joy of misanthropy on the radio today

Nothing warms my heart and brings a smile to my face like a generous serving of misanthropy, as long as it isn't directly aimed at myself. What is the word for the opposite of patriot?

Adam Kirsch on Thomas Bernhard.
Presenter: Ramona Koval
Book Show. ABC Radio National 810am
February 21st 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lili's thought for the day

In my eye, nothing kills a man's sex appeal more effectively than dressing him in formal attire. Yes, you do look "smart", but "smart" and sexy are two entirely different things. Suits are all about minimizing the differences between ruined and non-ruined bodies. Suits are all about pretending. When I look at a photo of a wedding party, I'm thinking "glorified apes".

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Some interesting quotes from the book The Mind's Eye by famous prosopagnosic Dr Oliver Sacks

"But I think that a significant part of what is variously called my "shyness," my "reclusiveness," my "social ineptitude," my "eccentricity," even my "Asperger's syndrome," is a consequence and a misinterpretation of my difficulty recognizing faces." (p. 85)

"(Though Temple is a "visual thinker" and can easily visualize complicated engineering problems, she seems to be no better or worse than average at recognizing faces.)" (p. 92, footnote about famous autist Temple Grandin)

So, we've got a supposedly non-autistic Sacks who can't recognize faces, and a definitely autistic Grandin who is apparently perfectly normal at recognizing faces. This doesn't conform to one idea about autism that is put forward by some autism experts; the concept of the face-blind autistic. Are such experts sloppily confusing the effects of pure prosopagnosia (face recognition disability) with autism/Asperger syndrome?

On the subject of Oliver Sacks and Asperger syndrome, here is a quote from a 2010 interview with Sacks from the website of Time magazine:
"[People say] I'm an honorary Tourette's because I tend to jerk and I occasionally [suddenly say something]. I am also an honorary Asperger. And I'm an honorary bipolar. I suspect we all have a bit of everything."
Sacks, Oliver (2010) The mind's eye. Picador, 2010.

Mind Reading: An Interview with Oliver Sacks
By Maia Szalavitz October 27, 2010.

What can you do?

I was snooping around the magazines at the supermarket again, and inside Frankie magazine I spotted one of those little filler articles in the back pages all about how creative mentally ill people are, and it gave the obligatory list of famous creative people who are supposed to be or have been as crazy as a box of frogs. Among the list I saw Syd Barrett, listed incorrectly with some other people as a schizophrenic. Syd Barrett was never, ever, ever diagnosed with schizophrenia. It just never happened, no matter how many times people say it is so. And he didn't have it. And there is good evidence, that can be found easily in books and articles, that he didn't have it. And nonsense like this misrepresents schizophrenia and mental illness. And it also misinforms on the subject of creativity. And it defames someone's memory. But don't let all that spoil your stupid little filler article for a girly magazine!

The Interesting Case of Syd Barrett


I still hate Hillary

As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a speech about freedom of expression etc a protester is arrested right in front of her. This is a meme that is sure to spread all over the internet.

Daniel Domscheit-Berg interviewed on Lateline

Daniel Domscheit-Berg has been interviewed on Australian TV discussing Julian Assange. A picture was created of an Australian leader who is highly intelligent, autocratic, eccentric, "not really a team player", someone who doesn't quite belong in human society, a control freak who operates on fear and anger, who prefers to surround himself with compliant and uncritical people, and a bloke who let fame go to his head.

And just for good measure, Domscheit-Berg dropped a big hint in the direction of the autistic spectrum, without actually saying the word "autistic":
"So, on one hand he's a very intelligent person and he's very good with, for example, understanding systems, which is I think key to why WikiLeaks was created in the first place, and understanding of how a system works, how society works, how the media works and all these things. But on the other hand, he's not really good, as I found out, with dealing with humans and accepting criticism, for example."

I wonder, has Mr Domscheit-Berg been taking lessons from David Marr?

WikiLeaks' Assange 'paranoid and autocratic'
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 16/02/2011
Reporter: Tony Jones

Things People Say About Julian Assange

CJB is getting to grips with the question of Julian Assange and the autistic spectrum.

Lili's thought of the day

My name is Lili, I'm from Hell, and I'm here to make trouble. :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Autistic study subjects outperforming controls

"Whilst adults with AS did not differ from controls in their judgments of causality, or in their blame judgments in relation to non-mentalistic factors, they showed heightened sensitivity to mentalistic considerations in their attributions of blame. They made greater differentiation than controls between intentional and unintentional actions, and also between actions that the protagonists believed to be likely versus unlikely to lead to negative consequences."

Judgments of Cause and Blame: Sensitivity to Intentionality in Asperger’s Syndrome.
Shelley Channon, David Lagnado, Sian Fitzpatrick, Helena Drury and Isabelle Taylor
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1180-6

Four Corners worth a look tonight

By Jove, Four Corners about the plight of Private Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks was worth a look tonight, but I certainly didn't like the way Adrian Lamo's AS was cited uncritically as a reason why he should be regarded as an unreliable witness, and the way AS was uncritically spoken of as if it is a form of mental illness. I noticed there were two hacker blokes interviewed who both had the habit of blinking a lot and could both be described as having inflated egos - Lamo and Assange. Don't know what to make of that.

The Forgotten Man
Reporter: Quentin McDermott
Four Corners. ABC 1.
Broadcast: 14/02/2011

Lili's uncharitable thought of the day

You will probably not be surprised that I have kids who hold strong views on many issues, and now and then I hear one of them say stuff like "Oh, I wish such and such pretentious/crooked public figure would die a horrible slow death in an oil fire.", and being a good parent who wishes to set a good moral example, I say, "Now, don't say such things, that isn't nice." But sometimes I can't help feeling similar sentiments.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lili keeps a tally

In the spirit of the eccentric Victorian possibly autistic statistician Sir Francis Galton, while I was having a top time at the BDO, I kept a tally of the cases of Gilbert and George syndrome that I spotted in the crowd. I identified a total of 12 cases (12 pairs of people of the same gender hanging out together wearing identical or near-identical outfits). I found an even sex ratio (6 sets of males and 6 sets of females). In general, these wannabe twins were generally fairly young people, so I am guessing this might be a phenomenon that is to do with a lack of fashion confidence, as people who are beginners in any area of skill often start by copying, then develop their own style and original work. Perhaps it is something like this but more pathological, originating from a lack of confidence or something stranger. I have heard of some rare and bizarre mental disorders that involve a pair of people of the same sex copying each other. I guess it could also be about friendship and bonding. I wouldn't have a clue about that. People are interesting, at a safe distance.

Lili's third thought for the day

The autist who chooses to withdraw from a society that shuns and mistreats might appear to be a coward. The autist who fights to have a place in that society can at times appear to be a naive fool who has an unfortunate habit of walking into trouble. There are also too many autists who find that bullying is an effective way to deal with others. But we must always keep in mind the fact that most people will never have summon up the courage required to make a choice between these poor alternatives.

Lili's other thought of the day

When one goes to a party, and the women are chattering together animatedly at one end of the room and the menfolk are discussing technical issues or other serious matters down at the other end of the room, I hate that for two reasons. Firstly, there is no place for me in such a gathering, as the women's business bores me to tears, but if I should stray to the wrong end of the room for my gender, the womenfolk could well start giving me the evil eye, as they will assume I am out to make myself too popular with the husbands.

The other reason why I hate this is what it seems to reveal about heterosexual relationships. The men are so happy in their manly world, sharing manly interests such as machines, technology, politics and work with their man friends. The ladies seem to be even more delighted to dwell within the world of womanly interests such as people, kids, babies, workplace gossip, social gossip, home renovations and cooking with their female friends. This is the vast nation in which Oprah is the queen. So one has to start wondering, in this horribly polarized world, what holds these marriages together? It surely couldn't be shared interests. What do these couples discuss when they are alone together? Nothing very interesting one would think. Is there really much more to these marriages than shared commitments and jiggy-jiggy? No? I think that would be pretty lame.

Lili's thought for the day

When a wife (and it is usually the wife) has a twinkle in her eye for her dear hubby because he reminds her a bit of some celebrity that she has the hots for, I think that is a bit lame. Just sayin'.

Assange overexposed

Assange-watchers are having a feast at the moment, with the release last week of the book Inside Wikileaks by Daniel Domscheit-Berg who was once a major figure in the controversial organization, and an article about Assanage and WikiLeaks in the February 2011 edition of Vanity Fair magazine. On Sunday night Assange was featured in an interview from the US 60 Minutes show that was broadcast on the Australian 60 Minutes. On Monday the Australian current affairs TV show Four Corners on ABC 1 will be running a story about WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo. The Australian newspaper has started publishing a series of excerpts from the book by Domscheit-Berg in the Weekend Australian.

Inside WikiLeaks: exclusive extract. Australian February 12, 2011.

Assange on the box

Australian Assange-watchers might want to tune in to ABC News TV 24 right now to see an October 2010 interview with Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg at the Frontline Club, broadcast in a WikiLeaks special on Big Ideas.

Big Ideas (TV show)

Julian Assange: WikiLeaks
Big Ideas. 08 Jun 2010.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A real reason to celebrate today!

Muslims, Christians and atheists today celebrate the defeat of Mubarak as the dictator of Egypt, because we all know that unrepresentative government is wrong. The people of Egypt are an inspiration for the rest of the world.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Just thought I’d point this put

While the clinical literature cites an absence of pointing gestures as a form of non-verbal communication as a sign of autism in young children, I don’t think the clinical literature recognizes that pointing can be a pointer indicating the weird diversity of autistic adults. Some autist grown-ups appear to be trying to make up for a gestureless childhood by pointing at anything and everything, and sometimes pointing at nothing at all, and by Jove, they don’t do things by halves. Thumbs and forefingers are conscripted to the job, with pointing ahead or behind over the shoulder and any which way. For reasons that I can’t guess, identical mirror-image pointing with both hands in is the “in thing” with some autists. Maybe this is done to emphasize the point. It isn’t an overstatement to say that over-used and odd gestures can look most odd, and this personal strangeness can be quite unnerving at a visceral level.

What’s with all the pointing? Perhaps it is simply the case that many autistic adult pointomaniacs have barely a shred more of a clue about the social meaning of pointing than they did when they were uncommunicative kids, but the concept of gestures and non-verbal communication might have a lot of appeal if it is seen as an easy means for making others comply with one’s wishes. Sadly, there is no magic gesture that can give an autistic autocrat the power to rule mankind. Dream on.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Our wild colonial autistic boy

We have been waiting such a long time for the opportunity to see one of our most favourite Aussie bands live. In the past touring has been something of a pain in the bum for their autistic frontman Craig Nicholls, but The Vines have got their shit together at last and it was most definitely worth the wait. I can think of no finer way to start the day at the Big Day Out than listening to The Vines pounding out their most ferocious hits such as Ride and Get Free for an enthusiastic mid-morning crowd, then enjoying the spectacle of Nicholls on a slow-motion rampage, destroying his guitar then methodically trashing the drum kit piece by piece, leaving the drummer, who has a remarkably calm temperament, to make the most of whatever he had left to work with. Nicholls won no brownie points at all for demonstrating respect for property or for having well-groomed and tidy hair or for observing occupational health and safety principles. Dear, dear me.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Lili out to lunch

Dear readers

At the moment I've been overwhelmed by a tidal wave of stuff that needs doing or should be done, most of it due to the foolish decision to breed that I made many years ago. Bloody kids never stop asking for things and requiring things! So if there isn't enough new stuff here for a while, feel free to amuse yourself by browsing my label collection.



Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Award logo won't work, but still the infection spreads

It is probably for the best that I can't for the life of me get the logo thingumy to cut and paste for the lovely Memetastic award kindly bestowed upon this humble blog by Rachel over at Journeys With Autism:

Part of the curse of this award is the obligation to divulge 5 things about one's self, 4 being utter falsehoods. Then I must find 5 other poor souls who have blogs to give this award to. The second part might have to wait awhile, as I am in a state of utter beduddlement in the midst of getting brats ready to return to the school semester in a diverse range of educational institutions that arrange matters to cause maximal inconvenience and cost to both parents and students. Perhaps you tell by my choice of words that I have reverted to pendantic-speak. This is a symptom. I'm perilously close to failing the Turing Test. I'm starting to write like Kevin Rudd speaks. It's not good.

So here are five things that you didn't know about the Lil:

1. I am Oprah's number 1 fan in Australia!

2. I know how to crack a bull-whip, and I'm not afraid to use it.

3. I was Julian Assange's librarian-mentor during the days of his lonely itinerant autodidact youth in Australia.

4. I knew Syd Barrett well back in the 1970s. We were like two peas in a pod. I can't understand why I'm not mentioned in any of the autobiographies.

5. I attribute my great popularity to my skills as a contortionist and a sword-swallower.

Night all!

Hello again!

Decisions have been made about which bloggers I will pass on this award/meme to (a meme being a thing that has many features in common with a viral infection).

Adelaide at Halfway up Rysy Peak

Krex at
There is no B in Aspergers

Sharon at

Casdok at Faces of Autism

Justthisguy at Peeking Under Bandages

Don't thank me people!