Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hypochondriacs often live the longest

When I did my ECDL course in 2007, on it was this guy whose favourite topic of conversation was his illnesses, and all the operations that he had. He sat next to me, and mostly, he said his back hurt, his neck hurt, he had stomach pains and whatever else. Another thing he often said was how much he did for charity, and what a great guy he was, despite his suffering. Yet he went to the gym three times a week. If he could do that, he wasn't exactly at deaths door was he? It is actually often the case, that hypochondriacs live to be 104 years old and die in their sleep of old age. Whereas, those who really are ill in life suffer in silence.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Convention and Lunacy aren't far apart

They say listen to conventional wisdom. Convention means nothing. Centuries ago conventional wisdom was that the earth was flat and that the sun went around the earth. Today's convention is tomorrows lunacy, or if you look at it from a different angle, todays lunacy can be tomorrows convention.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Numbers and Functioning

I have, over the last nine-and-half years, being asked what life is like having Asperger's Syndrome. All I can say is I don't know what life is like not having it. It would be interesting to live a month as a NT, and then switch back, just to see the differences between the two. However, I am, as of yet, unable to do that, so I can't tell you what life is like having AS. This is all I know and it is all that I have ever known.

Another thing that I have always known is that the higher the amount of people around me when I am doing something, the more I struggle. When I have to interact with a great deal of people at once, my behaviour deteriorates and becomes erratic. I always fare better when there are less people around me. This is not because I am wilfully obnoxious or anti-social, but because I like to focus on what I am doing. I can become confused when a lot of people are around me at once.

That was one of the primary reasons why, though I didn't particularly like or enjoy my time at Junior School, I fared a great deal worse when I went to Secondary School. If there had been say, six hard-working, friendly and helpful pupils in a class, I would fared a lot better. It has been one of reasons why I have found it difficult to hold down a job, and is primarily one of the reasons why I don't go to functions or why I dislike parties. I also don't like fuss. My choices in life are I either do something that requires concentration and don't speak, or I speak and then bugger it up. Get it right and be accused of being rude, or get it wrong and be sociable.

NT's function on a multi-channel system. I function on a single or low channel system. Neither is right. Neither is wrong. Aspies are Aspies. NT's are NT's. However, I admit I prefer a multi-channel system of functioning. It can be a damned nuisance when you have my operating system. Trust me.

Imagine that you are a building with a PBX (private branch exchange) and you have, say, twenty lines to handle calls. But other buildings around you have as many as thirty or forty lines at their disposal. And your building is one of the 1.5% of the properties that has this call-capacity problem. You will be unable to handle all the calls that a 40-liner can handle at any one time, even though it may only have 25 incoming calls at that time. It has 15 lines free for information transfer outwards. The autistic person is like the 20-liner, in that there is this reduced capacity for information transfer in both directions which means that communication is difficult.

In life, I can be forgetful. This isn't because I am particularly absent minded or in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, but because there are that many things going around me at times. On Tuesday 13th October I went to the gym. That was the final time I ever go with shorts that don't have covered pockets. I lost my locker key and though the manager opened it with a master key, I felt a bit of a Tw*t. Another problem occurs with me. When I am engrossed in something, everybody and everything else almost becomes irrelevant.

Friday, 16 October 2009

ASC's and ageing

Stereotypes are for lazy minds. They reduce one's ability or capacity to think, and when one uses stereotypes, people are lumped into categories or boxes, and as a result, individual differences aren't allowed for or taken into account. That said, I have noticed, from my experiences at least, that as a whole, people with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome seem to age well, and often look younger than what they are.

At Secondary School, I remember some of the girls bragging about getting served alcohol in pubs at the age of 14. Whether they were telling the truth or not I have no idea. However, I do know that if I had gone into a pub at the age of 14 and asked for a pint of beer, I would have been laughed at! I was challenged about my age by a barmaid in November 1994, three months after my 18th birthday. I had to argue very hard to convince the barmaid that I was old enough to purchase intoxicating liquor at a bar.

This wasn't an isolated incident either. In January 1993, aged 16 years and five months, I tried to get served in a pub close to my home, and I was refused. Then, in March 1994, I tried to get into a nightclub for the first ever time, and was turned away. I succeeded a month later, but I never have cared for nightclubs, and don't go to them nowadays, so I guess it was of no great loss to myself.

Theories I have for this, if true, are that perhaps Aspies and Autistic people are less likely to smoke, binge drink alcohol. As with regards for getting into illegal drugs, they are unlikely to have the social contacts in order to do so. Perhaps they age as much as NT's. Perhaps I am simply going on my own observations and experiences. Perhaps there are Aspies and Autistic people out there who do look older than their chronological age.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Learning and Information Procession

I always learn better when I teach myself how to do things, as opposed to other people learning me, mainly because they can, or have been know to go to quick for me to process information at their rate, or because my mind and learning is ahead of theirs. Some people in the past have either called me a genius or stupid. In fact I am neither. Just that they have misunderstood me, my condition and my thought processes.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Sun Newspaper

I learned on the six-o-clock news last night that the "Sun" newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, is going to support the Conservative Party in the coming general election, which is almost certainly going to be held in May 2010.

Though Murdoch, the papers owner holds hard-right views, the "Sun" has refused to endorse the Conservatives in Scotland, because they are unpopular there. If the "Sun" had told its readers in Scotland to vote Conservative, sales could have drastically declined, just as they may have in England and Wales if they had taken this stance for the 1997 General Election.

You may think that this stance represents a damascene conversion of a newspaper that has finally had enough with a tired and discredited government. Think again. Despite what the "Sun" might tell you, this decision was reached because Murdoch now a USA citizen, and who hasn't paid income tax in the UK since 1987, thinks that the Tories are going to return to power. The "Sun" was not a radical, socialist tabloid for the previous 45 years. It unequivocally and vociferously supported Margaret Thatcher during the General Elections of 1979, 1983 and 1987, and the Conservative party between May 1979 and November 1990. It vehemently supported the police and the Thatcher government during the 1980's miners strike, and made misleading or even outright false claims about those on strike.

The Sun strongly supported the introduction of the controversial Poll Tax and labelled those attending public protests opposing the tax as "thugs". It fiercely attacked those who opposed Margaret Thatcher in the November 1990 leadership contest in which she lost power. Though it frequently expressed its disillusionment with John Major after Black Wednesday, the newspaper repeatedly called the implementation of further right-wing policies and promotion of hard-right ministers, with leaders such as attacking the government for not going ahead with Post Office privatisation (November 3, 1994) and demanding social security cutbacks, with leaders such as "Peter Lilley is right, we can't carry on like this" and "We want more of the Redwood, not deadwood", and calling for Michael Portillo to become Prime Minister.

As late as January 1997, the Sun attacked the planned "Windfall Tax", calling it wrongheaded. Then a month later, it attacked the National Minimum Wage and Social Chapter. By this stage however, it was blatantly clear that there was no chance of the Tories returning to power, so it switched sides to Labour, who were proposing many of the policies the "Sun" was attacking! Four years later, the Tories went into the 2001 General Election with a hard-right manifesto. The manifesto of the Tories during that election campaign, and political views held by the "Sun" were almost identical. It was a case of spot the difference. Yet the "Sun" backed centrist Labour as opposed to the hard-right Tories. Why? Because the Tories were unelectable in 2001, and the "Sun" would have been seen afterwards to have called for the election of an unelectable rump

I am a solidly working-class Aspie. No matter how rich or successful in life I become, or how far I sink, I will always be working-class, and will always be an Aspie. Both are essential ingredients of my character. I am not a middle-class "Guardianista". Far from it. I come from a mining and steel community. However, because I am working-class, I resent how I am stereotypically supposed to read newspapers like the Sun and Daily Star.

What makes the Sun think that it holds such great influence anyway? We live in a multi-channel, Internet age. 2009 isn't the 1980's. If anyone does vote for a political party because a newspaper tells them to, then they are dense, ignorant and stupid beyond belief.

Here are some other examples of the "Sun's" lies or two-facedness.

* Attacking Benny Hill for having topless women on his shows whilst having topless teenagers on page 3! I didn't find Benny Hill funny but that to do that strikes me as gross hypocrisy

* In 1983, during the general election campaign, the Sun ran a front page featuring an unflattering photograph of Michael Foot, claiming he was unfit to be Prime Minister on grounds of his age and appearance, as well as his policies, alongside the headline "Do You Really Want This Old Fool To Run Britain?". If the Sun had attacked Foot's policies, then its attack could have been credible, but it was personal. Foot was born on Wednesday 23rd July 1913, so he was nearing his 70th birthday when this personal attack occurred. Even Margaret Thatcher blocked a proposed advert by Saatchi and Saatchi referring to Foot and his age, saying that it was "Too personal".

A year later, in 1984, the Sun made abundantly clear its very strong support for the re-election of Ronald Reagan as president in the USA. Reagan was born on Monday 6th February 1911. So if Foot shouldn't have been elected as Prime Minister on account of his age, Reagan shouldn't have been re-elected as President on account of his age either.

* In April 1989, the "Sun" wrote, four days after the Hillsborough stadium soccer disaster, in which 96 football fans were crushed to death: "Some fans picked pockets of victims"; "Some fans urinated on the brave cops"; "Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life". The story accompanying these headlines claimed that "drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims" and "police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon".

I am not the most socially skilled person in this world, but even if this had really happened, and it didn't, publishing a story detailing it, only four days after the disaster had happened, was tasteless and insensitive in the extreme. Even I can F**king see that. The Sun apologised in July 2004, but to this day, many people in the Liverpool area refuse to buy the Sun as a matter of principle, and the paper's sales figures within Merseyside are even now, very poor.

* In July 2003 the Sun lied about Asylum Seekers killing Swans and planning to eat them. All swans belong to the Crown. Injuring or killing one means a £5,000 fine or six months in jail. I am against mass, uncontrolled immigration. I am against it even more now we have a severe recession, and any asylum seeker committing a crime must be deported as soon as s/he has finished their sentence, but I am also against lies told about asylum seekers.

* On Monday, 22nd September, 2003, when the ex-World Heavyweight champion boxer Frank Bruno, who had been admitted to hospital after suffering a breakdown, the Sun carried headlines saying "Bonkers Bruno Locked Up". However, they changed it to "Sad Bruno in mental home" due to an adverse public reaction.

The "Sun" purports to be a working-class paper. It isn't. It has, for the last 30 years at least, supported policies which have mainly benefitted the elite in society, and have harmed the poor and working-class. It showed its working-class credentials recently, when it told the Postmen to return to work and stop striking!

Whatever the faults are of this present government, and they do have a few, I remember what it was like when the Tories were in power in the 1980's and 1990's, with 3 and half million unemployed, the poll tax, the destruction of communities with mining, steelworks and mill closures, attacks on local government, single parents, massive tax cuts for the rich, all of which the Sun vehemently supported. The Sun said that money would tricke-down from the rich to the poor. However, human nature is very selfish, and it never really happened.

Under the Tories there was no minimum wage, no free bus-pass for the over 60's, no free TV licenses for the over 75's, free-market policies, agency workers not being paid holiday pay and sick pay, no government intervention, and an internal NHS market. All of this will either go or return when the Tories will probably return to power, and there will be further cuts in the welfare state, and public spending, to pay for tax cuts for recession causing bankers and the rich. Yet the Sun is telling the working-class to vote for this? The irony of this of course, is that the working-class will suffer through such measures.

Working-class paper? My arse, as Jim Royle would say. More like a hard-right, war-mongering, big business supporting, union-hating, bigoted (Pulpit poofs and bonkers bruno), unprincipled, lying rag.