Saturday, April 27, 2013

At least followers of Islam are open about their gender segregation

Campus 'leaping back to dark age' by PATRICIA KARVELAS and BEN PACKHAM
The Australian. April 27th 2013.

I am simply amazed at the hypocrisy of the ALP and the Coalition in condemning the open gender segregation at some Islamic events held at Melbourne University. From beginning to end life in Australia is to varying degrees gender segregated. The only differences, as I see it, are that our segregation usually isn't formally compulsory (but there are often definite barriers and punishments for those who don't comply), and Australians like to pretend that non-Islamic Western forms of gender segregation don't exist. Which is the more honest position on the issue of gender segregation?

The problem for people like me who think gender segregation is every bit as bad as racial segregation or gross economic inequality is that in a stupid and dishonest country like Australia there is barely any acknowledgement that the problem exists.

New wave and old-fashioned sex segregation in everyday Australian life, and around the world

Interested in synaesthesia and Jani?

I know that many of the readers at my blog come here out of an interest in the sad life of Jani Schofield. Jani (January) is a young Californian girl who was diagnosed as a case of childhood-onset schizophrenia, put on the Oprah show by her parents, was the centrepiece of a media circus around the year of 2009 to present, and has been the subject of an "autobiography" written by her father. Jani also has an IQ of 146 according to her father's writing, which means she is in the category of highly intellectually gifted, and I have argued that the harmless neurological condition of synaesthesia is a more appropriate label for Jani than schizophrenia, possibly with a bit of autism as well. I have argued that some of the features of Jani's described inner life resemble a number of different phenomena, none of them mental illness. I am sure that sequence-space synaesthesia is a major influence on the way she thinks, in combination with personification synaesthesia, also known as ordinal-linguistic personification or OLP. Jani also clearly displays a huge imagination and has many imaginary friends, which is quite a common feature of childhood, and according to the latest research is in itself nothing to worry about. 

I'd like to point out some sources of interesting information on the subject of synaesthesia which might particularly interest those of you who also have been following the Jani Schofield story. Firstly, there is one presentation that is scheduled for the upcoming conference of the American Synesthesia Association. I refer to the presentation by author and academic Michele Root-Bernstein about an apparent link betcreween "worldplay", synaesthesia and creativity. The moment I first read this conference paper abstract I thought of Jani, even though this talk appears to be more centred upon grapheme synaesthesia than sequence-space synaesthesia. It appears to me that worldplay is exactly what Jani has been doing intensively and has been interpreted as an important symptom of a serious mental illness. I refrain from drawing conclusions without being able to see the full presentation. I regret that I don't have the time that should be spent looking into the possible relevance of this talk to Jani's situation, and I urge my readers to look into this themselves if they can. Here is the link:

I've noticed that the journal Cortex has once again published some interesting papers on the subject of sequence-space synaesthesia. This is a type of synaesthesia which I have argued is a major influence in the thoughts of Jani. In November-December 2009 Cortex released an issue with a number of important papers on this almost common form of synaesthesia:
and the latest issue also has some papers about sequence-space synaesthesia:
I personally don't think much of the argument in one of these papers (authors Mark C. Price and Jason Mattingley), as I've read it in the paper's abstract:
I don't think a focus on automaticity as a defining feature of synaesthesia is worth spending a moment on, because I am sure any multi-synaesthete will tell you that this is a feature of synaesthesia which varies in degree among the different types. In my case, my grapheme-colour synaesthesia isn't very automatic at all, (but is extremely consistent), while other types can be startlingly and amusingly automatic. So it's not a feature of syn that can bear the weight of an argument about the "abnormality" or otherwise of synaesthesia. Wrong or not, this research is for me most fascinating and worthwhile. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

A nice quote about memory superiority

"It is impossible to prove conclusively the absence of any strategy or method, hence the doubts about the underlying causes of Shereshevskii's and VP's superiority." 

- page 114 of Superior Memory by John Wilding and Elizabeth Valentine, 1997.

Another book revision in the works

Another revision of my ebook
Daniel Tammet: the Boy with the Incredible Story
is in the works. It should be a better read than the present edition with many additions, and if you have already purchased a copy of this ebook you should be able to download the newest version if you wish. Please let me know if you have any problem with this. Find my book here:

Nice work Tony

My amazement has grown over the way that journalists at the ABC's current affairs TV program Lateline have firmly challenged the inappropriate use of anti-psychotic drugs by Australian doctors and psychiatrists. In fact a very good argument could be made that there is no appropriate application of these dangerous and harmful drugs, but I think it would be too much to expect that this argument should be found on Australian TV.

In 2011 Tony Jones interviewed the powerful Irish-Australian psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry. At the time I thought this interview was informed but too soft, and the findings of research that has been done since this interview has shown that much of what McGorry claimed about the effectiveness and evidence-base of the interventions he has been advocating for many years was wrong. In 2012 Tony Jones appeared to be quite personally inflamed when he reported about elderly dementia patients having their lives shortened in Australian nursing homes because of the widespread over-prescription of anti-psychotic drugs. 

The last couple of editions of Lateline have examined the issue of a 600 per cent increase in the use of the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel in just five years by Australia's Department of Defence, presumably for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers. Allegations have been made that this drug is being used instead of proper and expensive psychological interventions, is being prescribed in dangerous high doses and is being prescribed inappropriately to treat insomnia symptoms of PTSD. Last night Tony Jones was steadfast in asking questions, recounting evidence and seeking answers in an interview with a clearly very irritated senior person in the Australian Defense Force, our Commander Joint Health and the ADF Surgeon General. The interview was a pleasure to watch (my life is full of incorrect pleasures). I am sure that there are heaps of journalists who would not have had the confidence to question the practices and administration of a qualified doctor and senior bureaucrat on an issue about the rights or wrongs of medical/psychiatric clinical practice. I am sure that many journalists would simply defer to authority, or be too intimidated to be seen questioning that great sacred cow of Australian popular culture; the "mental health" industry. Not Tony Jones. A good journalist should be hot on the inside, cool on the outside, filled to the brim with all the relevant facts, and able to recognize the truth beyond personal agendas. I think Mr Jones approaches that ideal. Nice work Tony.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lili's next thought for the day

Send your teenage daughter to be educated in an elite private Australian girl's school. Watch as she becomes thinner and thinner, as she absorbs the values of the daughters of trophy-wives.

Lili's thought for the day

Logie Awards for best actor and best actress only go to actors in Australian TV drama shows. This has got to change. Comedy and satire shows on television make us laugh, while TV drama series make me want to puke, especially ones that have Asher Keddie in them. This year, the Logies should go to the character actors on Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell. Just check out the Satanist in the clip below. So creepy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How typical was Tammet/Corney's commercialization, in the context of other memory sport competitors?

After reading this page I've been wondering how common it is or has been in the past for claims to be made about neurodevelopmental conditions and disabilities and memory sport champions. I've also been wondering how common it is for such champions to use their status to promote businesses that offer self-improvement courses, talks or books or packages or all of these.

Lili's next thought for the day

I'm saving a bottle of plonk for when Bob Hawke drops off the perch. 

Lili's thought for the day

What will or what has Scott Barry Kaufman written about Daniel Tammet in this upcoming book?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A nice quote

Most people would rather die than think; many do.
- atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lili's consumer thought for the day

Why the heck would you want to own an electric kettle, if you have gas? 

Lili's jaded thought of the day

Don't you love doctors who can't be arsed reading the medical record of a patient, and don't you just love recruiters who don't bother to read the resumes of job-seekers? 

Lili's unnecessary thought of the day

Wayne Swan, could you please give that grouper-fish it's face back?

Lili's thought for the day

You are important to us. We have no idea how our thoughtlessly-designed system operated by sloppy-minded people has caused you inconvenience. You are probably the problem. We will investigate the matter and get back to you within 14 business days. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lili's thought for the day

Choose to piss off someone with excellent communication skills and you choose trouble.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lili's next thought of the day

Google "Christopher Pyne" and look at the photo.

Lili's thought of the day

I was watching the savage poodle of Australian federal politics Christopher Pyne doing a press conference from Adelaide today, and it occurred to me that he's one of the more exciting things to come out of that city. If Queensland is the Sunshine State, and WA is the State of Excitement, then South Australia must surely be the State of Desperation. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lili's thought for the day

If you're a woman and you reach the pinnacle of politics, you're going to be called a witch. Is this sexism or is this about the type of woman who is capable of reaching the pinnacle of politics? 

(Please don't burn me at a stake for asking this question).

Lili's next thought for the day

Why is Jessica Watson a hero to Australians, while Tamil asylum-seekers in boats are regarded by many as a pests?

Lili's thought for the day

An old Ramones cassette can make the difference between an infuriating traffic jam and an entertaining traffic jam. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Autistics linked to Neanderthals by archaeologist, and of course the spin is all negative

I've just noticed a February story in New Scientist that might interest, or have interested, enthusiasts of the Neanderthal theory of autism. Archaeologist April Nowell has argued that the more rapid growth pattern and  relative lack of discovered "symbolic material culture" of the Neanderthal race compared with those attributed to "early humans" indicates that the European race was lacking something in the mind and had less childhood play than the standard model of humans, whatever that might be. Nowell then went on to compare Neanderthals with autistics. What Nowell didn't do was explain what is so fabulous or important about statues and paintings of creatures that are half-human and half-animal, or figurines carved with geometrical patterns. The fact is, we cannot assume that there was anything at all inferior about the Neanderthal race, simply based upon the fact that they are now extinct, because archaeologists still have no clear idea why they were replaced by a different stream of humanity. There are many competing theories, and there is also much debate about whether or not we should regard the Neanderthals as extinct, given the fact that some of their genetic material survives in live people with European ancestry. To offer a post hoc analysis that the Neanderthals must have been inferior because they are now thought to be extinct is the same kind of argument that indigenous peoples such as the Tasmanian Australian Aborigines must have been mentally deficient in some important way because as a racial and cultural group they have been decimated and pretty-much destroyed by other races. I think that kind of argument no longer flies in polite company, but I think what matters more is that it doesn't hold water logically. It's racism, plain and simple, just as much of the writing about the Neanderthal race and also much of the writing about autistic people is more prejudice than science. 

All work and no play: Why Neanderthals were no Picasso.
by April Nowell
New Scientist. 27 February 2013 Magazine issue 2905. p.28-29.

Monday, April 08, 2013

I wish, I wish, I wish....

I wish I had the time to write about the many astonishingly interesting implications of the studies outlined in this list of abstracts of papers to be presented in an upcoming synesthesia conference in Canada. I wish, I wish, I wish..... If you are going, half your luck!

Recent essay arguing against the categorization of mirrored sensory experiences as synaesthesia

Synaesthesia researchers Rothen and Meier argue that "mirrored sensory experience" or mirror-touch synesthesia is not synaesthesia. If you have an interest in the theories about "mirror-neurons" and empathy, or the debates on these themes, you might find this piece of interest. In past posts I have criticized these researchers, but I'm inclined to agree with them on this point.

Why vicarious experience is not an instance of synaesthesia.

Yes, something is missing

I would like to be able to find the time to re-do my list of fabulous and useful and informative links. It had some technical issue with my links list. Realistically, re-posting might not happen for a long time. 

Lili's thought for the day

Daddy, please buy me another planet! This one's kinda wrecked.