Monday, March 31, 2008

Carl Sagan Explains The Drake Equation

Someone posted the part of the Cosmos episode where Carl Sagan explained Frank Drake's equation for estimating the number of intelligent, technological civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.

Toomanytribbles picked it up and mentioned this was before the many discoveries of extrasolar planets of the last few years.

I'm not sure anyone has had the time to see how what we do know about planets outside the solar system applies to Frank Drake's famous equation. For now I believe most of our extrasolar planetary discoveries have been of planets that orbit their stars quite rapidly and thus "shake" their parent stars so we can see the planets are there.

I'm guessing the major magnitudes of the Drake equation haven't changed that much over the last few decades.

In fact I was just watching the uncut Balance of Terror: Remastered Star Trek episode that Oprah Winfrey and William Shatner gave me last month and there's a scene in that episode where McCoy says to Kirk that there's a "mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets".

Parallel to Sagan's exuberant, "In the MILLIONS! MILLIONS of technical civilizations ..."

One wonders what they might be up to these days ...


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rush Limbaugh Facing Jail Time For Encouraging Voter Fraud

For those of you with Republican friends and acquaintences in Ohio, you KNOW what was going on at the primary.

McCain had the Republican nomination wrapped up.

The Democratic race was (and still is) neck and neck between Hillary and Obama.

Now the Ohio Republicans don't like Hillary in the slightest.

But they think Obama is a terrorist.

Straight up.

They say that if Obama wins the Presidency the 9/11 hijackers have won.

I'm not making this stuff up.

So they went to the polls.

In droves.

And perjured themselves in front of election officials.

They claimed to be Democrats in order to vote for Hillary.

Now, word on the street was that the chances of fingering them individually and challenging whether they had turned Democrat would not be a terribly productive use of time. In fact, one I interviewed declared his intention to commit perjury AGAIN in front of a judge that he had turned Democrat.

However, it looks like what Rush Limbaugh was up to is NOT going to go unchallenged.

He was actively ENCOURAGING Republicans to vote for Hillary and this constitutes a 5th degree felony in Ohio punishable by up to a $2500 fine and 6 - 12 months in jail.

And apparently the Cuyahoga County Board of elections IS going after individual voters when they put such foolishness on their Democratic conversion cards as "For one day only."

Oh, yes ... I hope they throw the lot of them in Lucasville for a year. They can listen to a live Limbaugh show from the chow hall every day at noon while they contemplate the depth of their depravity ...

Labels: ,

Wal-Mart Sues Disabled Woman

In another example of precisely how cold-blooded and downright inhumane large corporations, and particularly Wal-Mart can be, there's a story out that Wal-Mart has sued a disabled woman in order to snatch a trust fund set up for her care.

The story goes something like this ... back in 2000 Debbie Shank, now 52, suffered catastrophic brain damage in a traffic accident. Wal-Mart's insurance (yes, there was a Wal-Mart employee who HAD insurance - I found that shocking too) paid for her emergency care - something on the order of $500,000. Debbie Shank's family then sued the trucking company involved in the crash. They were awarded $1 million with more than HALF going to legal fees. The remaining $417,000 was placed in a trust for Debbie's long-term care.

Wal-Mart has now turned around and sued Debbie Shank to recover the money their insurance company paid for her emergency care.

There's a clause in the original Wal-Mart insurance papers that let's them do it.


They ought to have to sue the trucking company SEPERATELY.

But, even under the current situation, can you imagine the absolute lack of humanity present in the individuals who made the decision to continue with such a lawsuit?

Could you ever have imagined that "respected professionals" were capable of such brutality?

They make me sick.

Every g*dd*mn last one of them.

And people wonder why I have a bad attitude ...

Brain-damaged woman at center of Wal-Mart suit - CNN
Attorney Maurice B. Graham on Equitable Recovery - (this article explains pretty much that the trucking company involved was underinsured)
Latest on Deborah Shank Wal-Mart Story - Spiddlement
BOYCOTT Wal-Mart & Help Debbie Shank -
Lady with Brain Injury sued by Wal-Mart - From the North Side of the Square
Wal-Mart Dubbed “Worst Person in the World” - The Writin On The Wal


Friday, March 28, 2008

Amanda Baggs - Big Pharma Advocate?

Well, JUST when - I suppose out of sheer boredom more than anything else - a person is getting ready to say, "You know, I still think this guy is nuts, but I can see how someone might ask some of these questions upon first being exposed to this material," that person goes and displays to the world that, in addition to being unbelievably rude, his cheese is teetering ominously over the edge of the cracker.

Get this - if I understand this fool's last posting correctly, he seems to actually be saying that Amanda Baggs is merely "playing the part" of an autistic person in order to - get this - promote the agenda of the pharmaceutical companies.


I suppose the thinking goes something like this if you can call it thinking - he seems to be saying that the pharmaceutical companies put Amanda Baggs up to the task of promoting a viewpoint that autism is perfectly okay and people should stop trying to find a cause or cure, and, in so doing, promote the notion that vaccines are perfectly okay.

Oh, yes, Amanda's #1 Fan has lost it. Utterly.

I'm beginning to suspect Amanda's #1 Fan is autisic himself.

Talk about narrow interests.

Aside from a few brief mentions about horses, it seems this fool's entire life is consumed with the notion that his son's severe autism was caused by mercury derivative preservatives in vaccines and that Amanda Baggs is single-handedly attempting to cause deliberate harm to his son by advocating that his son NOT be treated like a horse.

[[Light bulb turns on over the Axinar's head]]


Although I haven't found anything to indicate his level of involvement with horses, it's possible that Amanda's #1 Fan TRAINS horses and might very well figure that such techniques might be effective on autistic humans.

Actually, the more I read of his spew, the more I REALLY begin to believe he is autistic himself and that his own parents brutalized him until he thought he wasn't. Unlike Captain Picard, he finally DID see five lights.

Now he's conditioned to think that ANY sort of autistic symptoms are right up there with demonic possession or something of the sort.

The government (and Amanda Baggs apparently by his thinking) have pretty much PUT A CURSE on his son and he seems to be on a quest to exorcise this curse.

And of course he's super-paranoid - even thinks Google is out to get him when there's not a shred of verifiable evidence that they have done anything against him at all.

You know, at the end of the day, I feel sorrier for him than I do for Amanda. Yes, not being able to consistently negotiate the ladies' room is one of the biggest indignities a human being can be made to suffer through, but I cannot imagine what it would be like for one's ENTIRE life down to the last second to be consumed with such intractable hatred ...



Also available on YouTube ...

Labels: ,

Using Debit Cards For Gas Can Overdraw Your Account

John Matarese has a really good story in the "Don't Waste Your Money" series running on how you can end up getting undexpected overdrafts using debit cards at gas stations.

The story goes something like this - say you have $25 in your checking account and buy $12 worth of gas - you think you're covered, right?

Nope ... apparently what is going on with the price of gas being so high is that the gas stations are PRE-NOTING your accuont for $50!

So, yep, if you have $25 in your account and they pre-note $50 and then you go to charge $5 worth of take-out or something like that - guess what? - yep! - overdraft fees.

Doesn't it just give you a warm fuzzy when your favorite merchants conspire with the banks to rob you blind?

Scientology Strikes Back

Well, looks like there has been a counter-attack of some sort in the Anonymous - Scientology war.

At the March 15 protest in Los Angeles, if I'm reading this correctly, the Scientologists "outed" Anonymous participant Gareth Cales - apparently with a couple of dudes in hockey masks and a sign. Then they proceeded on what sounds like a 90 minute high speed chase around the L.A. area.

THIS was followed by a high-speed foot pursuit by Anonymous participants and the local media against the Scientology guys in the hockey masks.

Is it just me or does anyone else smell someone getting hurt at some point over all this?

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Biggest Diss In Human History

Holy cow ... to have a marriage proposal turned DOWN on national television ...

You think that poor devil is still with us?

Man ... kind of blows your mind ...

Oh my God ... and it's happened before!

UK Woman With Asperger's Has Baby Seized By State

Oh here's one that ought to make your blood boil - apparently in the UK having Asperger's can be grounds for having your baby snatched by the government.

The story is that a 21-year-old woman with Asperger's Syndrome had her baby taken from her IMMEDIATELY after giving birth because, if I understand this correctly, the government agencies there believed she was at risk of getting post-natal depression, and that there would be a distinct chance she would neglect her baby.

Now, I have never been able to quite figure out if my own mother is on the autism spectrum. She certainly has "malfunctioning" social skills, but she has usually be diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder.

However, I can certainly say my mother has a great many things in common with people with Asperger's. She's very intelligent. She MARRIED someone with an evident flaming case of Asperger's. She's quite outgoing but she is absolutely vacuously clueless about the effect that she has on people. She has a VICIOUS temper and she analyses the hell out of everything.

Now, tying this in with the UK story - yes - someone with such tendencies CAN get a nasty case of post-partum psychosis. My mother had a beut of a case - as I understand it, trying to assasinate the poor little Axinar with straight pins and then proceeding into a 48-hour screaming session. I'd presume this classifies as "neglect".

However, are such dangers justification for snatching someone's kid?

I don't think so.

Are they justification for providing such a person with extra support?

Oh, absolutely.

But heaven forbid we should do such things.

Such things make too much SENSE ...

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Disability As A Point of Pride

Now back to the other side of this coin as to whether or not someone would WANT to have a disability - as I have pointed out before, there is a certain very vocal contingency within the deaf community (oh, stop it ... you know what I mean) who believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being deaf - that certainly wouldn't want to be cured and, if I understand this correctly, if able, might DELIBERATELY try to have deaf children.

There's a deaf artist and designer named Tomato Lichy who explains it like this, "Being deaf is not about being disabled, or medically incomplete - it's about being part of a linguistic minority. We're proud, not of the medical aspect of deafness, but of the language we use and the community we live in."

Of course one wonders if this conversation can translate over to the autistic community - one really DOES have trouble imagining a couple "on the spectrum" DELIBERATELY wanting to have an autistic child.

On the other hand, it puts me in mind of my little teeny-tiny pocket-sized professor friend.

You see - she has a few Aspergian tendencies. Then again - I mean - I'VE never heard of a PROFESSOR with ASPERGER'S traits, have YOU.

But I believe she and I were once having a conversation about how much trouble she had when she was fool enough to try to work in private industry for a while. She was bitching quite precipitously about not being able to understand office politics and the like and I told her I always thought it was a fair trade.

She asked me what I meant by that and I told her that I had met a good number of people who did really well in private industry.

Not a one of them do I think was ever moved to tears by a piece of music.

Not a one of them could appreciate the piece of the Nick Meyer commentary track on Star Trek II where he says, "I'm not going to TELL you why Khan never takes off the other glove."

Not a one of them do I think ever had a "moment of transcendence" while studying Torah.

Not a one of them ever, as an adult, ever took a dump in the front yard either, but, like I said - these are matters of give and take ... :)

"I Don't Want To Be This Way But I Am"

Not meaning to give the "chelation" crowd any more ammunition, but I did stumble across something that REALLY caught my attention.

CNN in their continued interest in autism stumbled across a 13-year-old girl who I presume most people would consider having been authentically autistic since age 2 or so. They are running a video showing how she is beginning to generate quite complex writing with the help of specially equipped computers.

She is shedding some light on some of the physical "tics" - because, for instance, she sometimes feels like her skin is on fire.

But - and this almost knocked me out the chair - she wrote, "I don't want to be this way but I am."

Oh wow.

Yes ... looks like some people with autism would like to be ... well ... less autistic.

Others, however, do not ... and will fight you tooth and nail to be allowed to be themselves.

I don't think I fault either group.

It's a little like when we get to talking about end-of-life issues. Once someone has expressed a clear preference one way or the other on their wishes vis a vis "heroic measures", they should be honored. If someone has clearly expressed they want to be a "full code" you should throw the works at them until they either come back or don't. And, similarly, once someone has clearly expressed that they want to be a "no code" you shoud ... well ... you should put them down if that is their preference, but clearly that's another topic.

Each has his or her own preferences and that should be respected ...


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Batttlestar Galactica Top Ten List (David Letterman)


"Quirk" vs. "Disorder"

Occasionally one's Google Alerts for "Amanda Baggs" turn up something BESIDES raving lunatics.

For instance, there's a young lady who calls herself Susan E. who I believe is talking about her son Isaac who, if I'm making this out correctly, has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism.

She writes of some of her son's "quirks" and writes, "And so we are back to the eternal question of what is 'quirkiness' (lovable eccentricity) versus 'disorder' (off-putting)."

Which of course goes back to my observation of autism being a condition with two "victims" - the "patient" and the "observer".

What fascinates me about this is that it seems people have entirely different reactions to other dissabilities.

For instance, Amanda Baggs' #1 Fan and his followers, given an entire menu of issues associated with some of their severely autistic children, seem to bring up one first that they have some concern over who will change their children's diapers once they're gone.

Well, would not they face a similar dilemma if they, God forbid, had a child paralysed in an auto accident or something of the sort? Might they not face such a challenge with somewhat more grace than their current situation that has their child afflicted with a condition that just happens to induce [[gasp]] socially unacceptable behavior?

A four-year-old with high functioning actism is practically a blank slate. Is he going to do "quirky" things for the rest of his days? Quite possibly. But keep in mind that one of those "quirky" things he might do is leave voice mail messages on his middle-aged SON'S voice mail prattling on about running short on paper towels when he's already stockpiled about 50 rolls.

High-functioning autism and Asperger's is like a box of chocolates ...

Well ... you know the rest ...


Thursday, March 20, 2008


In my continuing pursuit of notions of "opposites" in the autism arena, of course, somewhat at random, we start with Amanda Baggs as ostensibly the "most" autistic person currently getting substantive press coverage, and then move to a somewhat vocal band of individuals who are mad as hell at her.

Now, although I'm still collecting information on this topic, if I'm reading this correctly, the detractors of Amanda Baggs have a name for THEIR enemy - the "neurodiversity" movement.

There is a reasonable amount of blog traffic on this topic, but I think the clearest explanation is on a post on Autism's Gadfly that says, "Proponents of neurodiversity cling to the ... notion that autistics need acceptance and not cure and that if society would only change to accommodate autistics, autism would not be a problem."

Actually I'd have to say this should not be all that outrageous of a statement.

After all, autism is a condition with (at least) TWO victims - the person suffering the autism symptoms, and the person WATCHING the autism symptoms.

Take Amanda's #1 Fan for instance. Now, this may be an unfair statement, but somehow I'm wonder if SOMETHING ELSE caused precisely the same symptoms in his son - say a freak traffic accident or something of the sort - although still facing many challenges, somehow I'm thinking Amanda's #1 Fan would just "deal with it" better.

Instead we get rants that make ME look like Miss Congeniality.

Yes, autism makes the OBSERVER of the autistic person ANGRY whereas numerous other disabilities don't - or at least not to the same extent.

Cases in point - upon warning my n'erdowell cousin-in-law that Asperger's runs in our family big time, he took on a somewhat aggressive stance and said, "Look ... if it happens, we'll take the necessary actions ..."

When my wife and my aunt come into contact with my Old Man they sometimes get downright frantic.

A trained representative of Hamilton County's Adult Protective Services, however, when exposed to my dad hardly blinked.

So, yes, I'd have to say I do have some agreement with the neurodiversity movement.

Certain research into the condition should be continued. Over on another site someone was telling me that there is thinking that autism may be related to immunity issues.

Well, isn't THAT a co-incidence?

Do you think [[gasp]], it could be the ACTIVE INGREDIENTS in the vaccines that are contributing to autism?

However, at the end of the day, particularly with the adults, yes, the rest of us are going to HAVE to deal with it. Ultimately it is OUR problem - just the same that it is OUR problem if we can't deal with gays or Jews or even Joy Rolland ... :)

Labels: ,

On The Pursuit Of The "Opposite" Of Autism

As I've mentioned in the last few entries, a question formed in my mind recently - what is the "opposite" of autism?

If I'm picking up the lingo correctly from the autism community, the word they generally use is "neurotypical", but I'm pretty sure this is a euphamism for "normal" or "average", because of course these words in common usage are usually loaded with the connotation of "good" and "proper" and the like.

But I'm pretty sure that "neurotypical" on the true spectrum of behavior marks merely the mid-point - a set of behaviors that is neither particularly autistic, nor particularly anti-autistic.

Now where would one begin the pursuit of an anti-autistic? Well, one might try to think of someone who is hyper-social, very flexible to change, an impeccable dresser and NEVER gets angry EVER.

Of course there are numerous individuals that come to mind, but I got to thinking of another angle.

In the on-line world at least, it's arguable that the title for the highest-profile formally diagnosed autistic has passed from Temple Grandin to Amanda Baggs. Now, although obviously I am not completely up to speed on all the background in this community, one thing that strikes me as a fascinating difference is that Amanda Baggs has quite a throng of detractors, whereas I don't think Temple Grandin has any to speak of.

So might Amanda Baggs' detractors be the elusive anti-autistics?

Well, maybe, but almost immediately they themselves start to exhibit traits often associated with autistics.

The ostensible leader of the group, so far as I can figure out, has a severely autistic son and, per my analysis of the original "refrigerator mother" articles, someone with an autistic child is suspect not necessarily of bad parenting techniques but of HAVING AUTISM GENES HIMSELF.

And oh brother does this one put me in mind of some people I've crashed into in "high-functioning" support groups - getting thrown off message boards, going into death battles with Wikipedia and a whole list of other behavior that would likely get him shocked silly for a couple of days in a number of "behavior modification" programs.

And what has triggered this behavior? Believe it or not, if I understand it correctly, what I think he percieves in his own mind as a miscarriage of justice - that for some motive I don't even think I could invent in a bad sci-fi novel, Amanda Baggs and other members of the neurodiversity movement are conspiring to encourage government officials to keep autistic children in diapers for the rest of their days.

Now, just like Barack Obama recently had to attempt to clarify his relationship with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and, yes, Jeremiah Wright's mouth, would someone from the neurodiversity movement care to step forward and make some sort of formal "Potty Policy" statement to clarify this issue?


Monday, March 17, 2008

New Cincinnati Central Homeless Shelter Number: (513) 381-SAFE

Looks like Cincinnati area homeless shelters now have a central number: (513) 381-SAFE.

This new program was made possible by a $100,000 donatino from Carl and Edyth Linder and now makes it possible for people needing assistance to check on space availability at multiple shelters in the area from a single number.

Remind me to get this number into my cell phone in case I need the thing MYSELF one of these days.

One local homeless shelter is Bethany House and ...

Hey, y'all ...

They need a computer so the residents can work on resumes and check job listings and the like.

I KNOW one of y'all has to have a spare computer that can handle resumes.

If you have one to donate, you're supposed to call Julie at (513)921-1131 ext. 115.

Tell Julie that Axinar sent you ... :)


Have Hyperfunctioning Neuromediocrity - Will Travel

Someone under the handle "abfh" left and interesting comment that said they knew someone who really hated emails - that thought that his coworkers were "too lazy to walk down the hall to have a conversation."

This got me to thinking about the frequent neurotypical need for in-person interaction in order to conduct business.

It reminds me of a comment that I once heard - "If I could travel I could make twice as much as I'm making now."

Generally speaking, in any given group of professionals, those who travel the most are the highest paid.

Why should this be the case?

Well, I suppose the easiest explanation is that it's generally considered the case that the "mirror neurons" in people with autism spectrum disorders are somehow impaired. Much like a blind person sometimes developing much more perceptive hearing, people on the autism spectrum often develop very strong abilities in OTHER forms of communication - 100+ words/minute typing abilities, etc.

But in the neurotypical I get the idea that certain things aren't "real" to them unless they're presented in person. And they don't seem to be sometimes all that much interested in the technical aspects of whatever is being presented to them. They seem much more interested in how the person presenting the material "projects".

Neurotypicals get obsessed with the STRANGEST things - as the creator of the Dilbert comic strip has often pointed out, certainly it can be the case that some management positions are only available to people with a certain style of hair. I've also observed that there can develop an almost obsessive concern with clothing, and particularly SHOES with these people.

Now, you really can't get around true in-person contact to do REALLY big deals with neurotypicals, but, perhaps, for some applications, people with autism spectrum disorders could make use of technology developed for the hearing impaired.

Now the hearing impaired have this really neat service that's just been developed in the last couple of years where the hearing person talks over the phone to an interpreter who translates to and from sign language via a webcam type interface.

PERHAPS we ought to give it a shot one of these days that a person with an autistic spectrum disorder (and I know just the person to try this :) ), would communicate via keyboard with a trained neurotypical person who would send a web-cam image to the intended recipient ADDING all the "appropriate" body language, etc. Yes, there would be some danger of the neurotypical interpreter injecting some of their own information, but, there is certainly a similar danger with sign language interpretation. Plus the notion of course that all translations are commentaries.

Such a set-up just MIGHT allow a great many people to be productive among the neurotypicals who aren't currently ...

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jeremiah Wright Sermon Videos

Now, you'll have to forgive me for not getting on this one sooner. Several incendiary sermons by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright from Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ were making the rounds on the conservative talk shows late last week.

I'm suprised it took them this long to find these videos.

What some of y'all don't know is that the Trinity United Church of Christ has a half-hour every Sunday morning at 7:30am Eastern Time.

Now THIS morning of course they played a decided non-controversial theologically- (as opposed to politically-) oriented sermon from the NEW pastor, the Rev. Otis Moss III.

Oh, and heads up - there's a message on Trinity's home page that there is going to be a LIVE web-cast from there from 7:00pm - 8:30pm (I'm presuming Central Time).

Now I TOLD y'all when I first found out about Obama's association with this church it deserved some scrutiny.

Their "About" page starts out "We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black ..."

Someone would entertain for a moment being ASHAMED of being Black?

Oh, EXCEPT possible for The Dean of course who seems to have some sort of issue with calling Obama or his OWN CHILDREN Black, but we'll get back to that topic some other time ... :)

However, in the context of Trinity UCC it DOES worry one a bit because [[sniff, sniff]], yep, I'm getting a whiff of Black racism here.

On the other hand, should the verbal diarrhea of Jeremiah Wright be held against Obama any more than the sermons of Rabbi Robert Barr and the Rev. Sharon Dittmar should be held against ME? After all, from a certain point of view both of them could be flirting with credibility issues - Barr for giving a Christmas Eve sermon at a Unitarian Church, for the love of God, and Rev. Dittmar having the audacity to get DIVORCED after dressing me (as well as the rest of her congregation) down for an entire hour about how she won't perform marriage ceremonies for "just anyone" and "marry your best friend".

Obama also doesn't strike me as a person who has the time to 1) go to church every week (and Obama claims he never heard these sermons), 2) TiVo TV One very much or 3) spend time surfing YouTube so I'm temped to give him a pass on the whole thing.

On the condition of course that he join Beth Adam IMMEDIATELY ... :)


How To Police A Good Anonymous Scientology Protest

Labels: ,

The Challenges Of The High-Functioning

There's a really great piece running on Asperger Square 8 about some of the difficulties people with the label "high functioning" run into.

Bev, the author of this blog, puts a fitting name to the Notlikemychild (NLMC) phenomenon. This is the theme that I have been picking up from the writings parents with severely autistic children that somehow someone who does not have the SEVERE self-injury symptoms somehow doesn't fit in the same "class" with their children. She makes an excellent point, however, that less severely autistic individuals may very well have a history of suicide attempts and substance abuse and that these should count every bit as much as someone who beats themselves bloddy with their own fists.

Then she brings up an area that I am somewhat fascinated with - that some would see hoarding and not paying bills as "laziness" rather than as symptoms of an underlying condition.

The next section has me thinking even more that I myself may be a part of this spectrum. She speaks of unemployment and underemployment being common among the high-functioning and specifically having difficulty relating to co-workers and mininterpretting business culture.

Yep - I'd have to say these are pretty good points.

Although how to accomodate Asperger's and high-functioning autism in most professionals settings has been something that has escaped me for a number of years.

I used to think that some of the "social mechanisms" in a work environment were somehow just an extension of what's sometimes thought of as "common politeness". After a great deal more thought, however, I've come to the conclusion that there are some deep discrepencies between very basic assumptions about work between the neurotypical and the high functioning.

I think some of it may be due to the very high levels of intelligence often present in the high functioning. The high functioning very often get lured by family members into doing "tricks" - complex math problems and/or memorizing whole poems in foreign languages by age 4 - and then the high functioning get lulled into this notion that such abilities have some practical monetary value.

Nope - your average workplace environment is all about appearance. Are your shoes shined? Do you have on clothing of an "inappropriate" color or design?

I'm still not 100% sure why the neurotypicals react so strongly to clothing issues? Is it actually a leftover autistic trait that someone showing up without the proper "uniform" is "disrupting a routine" in some way? Perhaps.

But, overall, good point - yes, someone capable of writing thousands of Internet messages and producing YouTube videos DOES have different abilities than someone who can't communicate complex ideas even with technological assistance, but does that detract at all from the fact that both are disabled to the point of needing extra assistance?

Labels: ,

Hyperfunctioning Neurotypicals

Very often people speak of the "autism spectrum".

The general notion is that both a little girl so intensely autistic that she nearly beats herself to death and someone, by some views, merely intensely eccentric suffer from different manifestations of the same condition.

Sometimes this is expressed as a line that extends from "low-functioning" to "high-functioning", with - if I understand it correctly - the lowest functioning being those utterly incapable of meaningful communication with speech, signing, or computers, and the higher functioning being individuals who can speak but would be utterly incapable of knowing what to do if a smoke alarm went off.

Now, suppose we extend this line. Suppose we extend this line through the "hopelessly average" - the ones called "neurotypical". Of course here we find people who CAN speak, CAN order food at McDonald's, CAN make eye contact, CAN make small talk, but - if you want to think about it this way - actually start to pick up some "deficits" - the inability to precisely remember long lists, for instance.

Now, suppose we extend this line even FURTHER. Of course this is a little difficult to get a handle on because, when contemplating autism issues one might speculate that if one has conquered the issues of Activities of Daily Living AND employment that one has "gotten to the finish line", but, just as one person can be hyperglycemic and another can be hypoglycemic, I'm wondering if one actually can go too far "the other way" on traits associated with autism.

Believe it or not, there is a group of people that come to mind.

What I'm thinking of course is that as we contemplate, say, one just starting to slip from "neurotypical" to "autistic" (and, unlike certain people, I DO believe this can happen in adolescence or adulthood), usually the first thing that starts to break down are issues associated with employability.

In other words a person can be PERFECTLY capable of driving a car, paying taxes, ordering food from a restaurant, making a speech in front of hundreds or thousands of people and yet be UTTERLY incapable of understanding or coping with the BIZARRELY complex set of relationships that go on particularly in a white-collar environment.

That being the case, in our quest for what might be the "opposite" of someone with low-functioning autism, we are possibly led not to the hopelessly average neurotypical, but rather a HYPERFUNCTIONING neurotypical - someone who does exceedingly well at the very first thing someone with an autism spectrum disorder would have trouble with - work issues.

Now who would be a candidate hyperfunctioning neurotypical? Well, of course someone who is exceedingly good at forming complex social relationships and good at making sickening amounts of money. Many sales managers come to mind as well, of course, as President Bush.

Now I got to thinking what's remarkable about these individuals is that they actually start to pick up some traits ordinarily associated with autism - communication issues for instance. They tend NOT to be terribly eloquent. They certainly have SEVERE issues working with the written language.

And yet somehow they are absolute masters of non-verbal communication. Somehow through a skillful combination of clothing and projectile vomiting, in their own choppy use of the English language, reactionary tripe that would make Hitler blush, they are able to pursuade anywhere from several hundred to several million people to give them hundreds of thousands to MILLIONS of dollars.

So perhaps, although the communication issue is generally the thing that "catches someone's attention" about autism, that may not it's most important trait at all.

Perhaps, at the end of the day, it is primarily an anxiety disorder that is just so intense that it causes communication issues ...

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 15, 2008

On The Other Hand, Maybe We Should Slow Down On These Digital Converters

So in the process of reasearching all these Digital to Analog TV Converters, the thought crossed my mind, what's going to happen to WBQC?

WBQC is the low-power TV station in Cincinnati that used to carry Star Trek: Enterprise.

Well, if I understand this correctly, WBQC is STAYING ON ANALOG!

Uh oh.

There are apparently only a handful of digital converters that will do analog pass-through:

Echostar TR-40
Magnavox TB-100MG9
Philco TB150HH9
Philco TB100HH9
Digital Stream DX8700
Digital Stream DSP7700T
Kingbox K8V8

So far as I can tell, NONE of these are available yet.

Now here they got Mrs. Axinar all wound up and she had me ordering these flipping coupons the first SECOND they were available. They're only good for 90 days and now we come to find out the pass-through converters aren't even AVAILABLE yet.

That bites.

Strikes me as conspiratorial, too.

Did the full-power stations collude with the government to set it up to trick everyone into spending their coupons on converters that won't be able to pick up WBQC and hundreds of stations like it around the country?

I say there needs to be an investigation!

I say these coupons need to be extended to expire sometime AFTER the full-power broadcasters sunset their analog transmitters!

This is an outrage!

Wait a minute ...

I don't think I've watched WBQC since Enterprise went off the air ...

Have any of you watched anything on WBQC since Enterprise was cancelled??

Labels: , ,

Circuit City Has Digital to Analog TV Converter Boxes Also!

Okay, I have been caught up on my nomenclature here.

It turns out they are not calling these things "HDTV converters" because they don't, strictly speaking, GENERATE an HDTV picture. They certainly RECEIVE HDTV, but because they generate a conventional 480i NTSC signal on the back end they're just calling them "Digital to Analog Convertors".

The one that Circuit City is carrying is made by Zenith, model # DTT900.

Now, I haven't had a chance to try this one out yet, but I probably will be getting one as I do have to shop for these things for several family members and the coupons are only good for 90 days.

The coupons from the government's site are good for $40 and Circuit City is also offering their convertor for $59.99 plus tax.

Nice of the government to short us all $20.

The Zenith model pretty much looks IDENTICAL to the Insignia model - same connections, same remote control.

What I don't know is if the software is the same and WHY these too boxes look so much alike. Is everyone just licensing the same design from some common company?

Looks like Wal-Mart is carrying two different models of the converter, one made by Magnavox that looks to lack any controls on the box itself in case you lose the remote, and also has some bad reviews that it lack "universal remote" features ... in other words you can't control your TV's volume with the converter's remote. Wal-Mart is selling the Magnavox for $49.87 or $9.87 net after the coupon.

Wal-Mart is also offering a Thompson RCA DTA800 model. This one has much better reviews than the Magnavox. It also has the ability to be installed on a vertical brace. It has front panel controls and a somewhat different remote from the Best Buy and Circuit City offerings. Wal-Mart is also selling this one for $49.87 - $9.87 net after coupon.

Looks like all-in-all, judging from most of the reviews everyone has been as surprised as I have that so many signals do come in. I guess the local broadcasters have had time to tweak their signals and maybe there has even been some work on the tuners because I remember the very early adopters griping precipitously about how hard it was to tune over-the-air HD signals.

Well, in any event, for those of you who still watch over-the-air programming, it looks like for as little as $10 you will STILL be able to watch over-the-air programming, but you gotta get your relatives to go on or call 1-888-DTV-2009 before they run out of coupons!

Labels: ,

Friday, March 14, 2008

On The Axinar's (And The Axinar's Old Man's) Verbal Abilities

Well, we do have quite a fascinating little comment discussion going on surrounding the topic of how some people with autism spectrum disorders can SING perfectly fine, but, if I'm catching the lingo correctly, can't facilitate any other meaningful communication through speech.

Now this in and of itself is a topic worthy of some discussion.

For instance, a Torah reading in a traditional synagogue is canted, or sung. In fact, recordings of this canting can be played here.

And, yes, these are memorized verses, but one can arguably say useful information is being related in this way. In fact, whole cultures have been based upon this information.

Now, it's common knowledge that people with various forms of autism and Asperger's have trouble with small talk - eye contact, picking up body language, etc. However, the topic at hand is how someone might come to abandon speech altogether for the purposes of carrying out, as The Old Man's case worker explained the phrase to me, Activities of Daily Living.

So, I tried to figure out what many would consider a "simple" situation where one would use ordinary speech to obtain something related to Activities of Daily Living - for instance, oh, making an order at Mickey D's

Now, a new contributor, AnneC, painted the picture that she might very well start to place the order if she had been able to figure it out before approaching the counter, but if anything went wrong at all (what she wanted being out of stock, etc.), things just might come to a crashing halt.

Oh I certainly recognize this behavior from The Old Man. If something even trivial goes wrong an entire mission can get aborted. I remember once when my grandmother was in the hospital or something of the sort he abandoned a whole cart full of groceries because he brought the wrong check book or something of the sort. I think by that time I was in college and had a credit card with a $500 limit or something like that and was able to save the day. I think he had plastic on him too, but of course the whole concept of adapting to changing circumstances escaped him.

I do suffer from a touch of this myself. In the MickeyD's scenario, if they were out of the thing that I wanted I might very well have to step back out of the line and think for a second how I wanted to proceed next. There have certainly been thousands of times that a phone call hasn't gone the way that I wanted and it may be many minutes, hours, or even days before I have been able to work out a "Plan B" in my head and call the person back.

But probably the most fascinating comment comes from Amanda herself - "speech is that stuff that generally comes out totally unrelated to what I'm thinking when it comes out at all."

Oh that's REALLY beginning to sound like me.

Particularly the last few years people have stopped me in mid-sentence over and over and over again and told me I was not making any sense whatsoever.

Of course, as many of you have noticed, quite often my TYPING doesn't make much more sense.

AnneC also mentions that she thought eventually e-mail would replace the telephone because, to her anyway, typing was much easier and more straightforward than talking. Interestingly enough, there are certain areas of business that were almost exclusively conducted on the telephone that now go on almost exclusively in email. I'm pretty sure it's not because any of the participants are on the autism spectrum. Quite frankly I think it's because of the ring and voice mail time. Pretty much, if you type fast enough, there's no "wait time" while trying to "push" a message via email. Between the ring and the "greeting", you can be looking at an investment of a couple of minutes or more on each phone call.

In any event, yes, what started out as someone questioning an autism diagnosis has gotten me thinking even more strongly I have a touch of it MYSELF ...

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Best Buy Has HDTV Converter Boxes!

Just got my TV Converter Box coupons from and marched up to Best Buy and picked up the Insignia NS-DXA1 model they are offering.

Okay, here's the basic game plan, people:

If you've been paying attention you know that you have less than a year before the analog TV spectrum goes dark.


Each household is entitled to request two HDTV converter box coupons through

They are fairly easy to hook up - similar to hooking up a VCR. You connect rabbit ears or an outside antenna to the antenna in connector and then either run an RF line to your TV's antenna in to use analog Channel 3 (like with the original VCR's from the early '80's - remember those?) or you can go more sophisticated and connect your video, audio right and audio left RCA lines to your TV or even the Video/Audio input lines of your VCR.

You can do an auto-search as you would do with your analot TV tuner to find out what local channels you can pick up.

The general rule is this - if you have a fairly strong analog signal for a particular channel (little snow), you're going to have a really good signal on digital. If you have a good signal on digital the picture will be ROCK solid - no snow, no ghosting, etc.

If you have a QUESTIONABLE analog signal, you may or may not get anything on digital. For instance I can pick up all the full-power Cincinnati channels, but only a couple of the Dayton channels.

Also, when an digital signal starts to go south (weather conditions, passing traffic, etc.), it doesn't turn to static. First that seems to happen, believe it or not, is that the audio starts to cut in and out. THEN you get "digital noise".

Yes, your picture starts to "melt" like something out of The Wizard of Oz. Big clumps of pixels start to fall out of the picture and then if it gets REALLY bad the picture will go out altogether.

However, like I said, if it was a strong signal on analog, it's going to be a strong signal on digital.

For each analog channel there are generaly 2 - 4 digital channels. This is particularly true of the PBS channels. I think the way it works is that you can have have one HD signal running simultaneously with two SD signals or four SD signals simultaneously.

In any event, if you are in an area where you can pick up a good number of strong analog stations, you need to get you one of these converter boxes and check out all the stuff they're running.

Some of the PBS stuff even looks decent.

Oh, yes, and some of this HD and SD "sub-carrier" traffic IS on cable and satelite. For instance, some people don't realize that the "CinCW" is a sub-carrier of WKRC. It's on cable and satellite of course, but there are a great number of other stations (Channel 43 for instance) that I am able to pick up with this box that are decidedly NOT on cable. Although it looks like Channel 43 is carrying FOUR religious channels that I'd just as soon not watch in the first place, but you get the idea.

Anyway - check it out and report back to me on what you're able to pick up!


On Amanda Baggs' Verbal Abilities

Okay, Amanda Baggs herself has contributed a little more information about the video that I found on the blog of her #1 Fan that I wrote about yesterday.

If I'm following this correctly, "Being able to sing, or to repeat words that someone else is saying to you, is not the same as being able to use speech for communication purposes."


This is a phenomenon present in a great number of exotic BIRDS, but again, deserving of a bit more explanation in this case.

And what I mean by that is that the TOPIC is deserving on an explanation. Amanda as an individual doesn't owe anyone anything, except to the extent of anyone who has chosen to be in the public eye and present information that leads to some real head scratchers.

She does mention some blog posts she has made on the subject. However, Amanda is quite probably the most prolific writer I have stumbled across since Isaac Asimov and it is frequently difficult to digest large portions of this writing without the equivalent of a trained staff of paralegals.

Now ... back to the original intention of my post ... :)

Does anyone else reading this suffer from a similar phenomenon?

Is it just stage fright to a much greater degree?

If a person is capable of singing and speaking French, it looks like the raw connections from the Broca's area to the vocal cords are intact - then where is the "pipe clogged" that would prevent a person not from, say, speaking in front of a crowd of 3000 people, but rather, say, simply from walking up to the counter and ordering a Big Mac or some such?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Amanda Baggs SPEAKS?

Okay, NOW I think we have some genuine room to question what might be going on with Amanda Baggs.

Turns out she has been active on LiveVideo as well as YouTube.

With one interesting difference ...

A comment under her video handle of "silentmiaow" dated January 23, 2007 states that the voice in this video is HER OWN and not generated by a computer.

Very, very interesting.

Yes, this one I think IS deserving of an explanation.

Or at least some speculation.


Labels: ,

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Oh This Is BAD ...

The Amanda Baggs Wired Article

So I finally get around to reading the Amanda Baggs article in this month's Wired only to find out, of course, that the thing is posted online.

I think the most fascinating thing in the article is mention of the closest I have seen so far to a SECOND Amanda Baggs - namely someone named Michelle Dawson.

Now unfortunately Michelle Dawson doesn't blog as often as Amanda, but there was something about the article that really caught my attention. It said, "Michelle Dawson doesn't drive or cook. Public transportaion overwhelms her."

Interesting ... now The Old Man drives and cooks, although the way he drives and cooks would scare the average person on the street to death. And public transportation certain has overwhelmed him from time to time.

Of course, if you have any Google Alerts on "Amanda Baggs" set up for the last couple of weeks you have been treated with a most FASCINATING barrage of "Oh what a fascinating video Amanda made," peppered with the usual ranting of a certain individual who seems convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Amanda is not autistic AT ALL.

Now there has been some traffic associated with some of those posts that have caught my attention because the concepts have come up before. Mainly it seems to be that many people with autistic children don't believe Amanda's case is very applicable to the situation of their own children at all.

Yes, there does seem to be a WIDE range of functionality associated with this condition.

There have been those of course who have complatined severely that the Dustin Hoffman performance in Rain Man was not very representative of real-life people with autism, and yet, let me tell you, I shot almost bolt-upright in my seat when I saw that movie - "That's The Old Man!"

Minus the not knowing what to do when a smoke alarm goes off.

On the other hand - I take that back.

If a smoke alarm went off The Old Man might not stand there and beat his head, but I'd put 80:20 odds that he would have to call ME first before figuring out that he needed to call 911.

Are these people "low-functioning autistics", "high-functioning autistics" or severe Asperger's cases?

Amanda once told me, "Here's the deal ... I think it's ALL autism." But, even if it's not, how anyone can say that a person exhibiting such behavior is not in need of assistance is quite beyond my capacity.

And perhaps it's not - perhaps whatever has afflicted my father, my cousin, my great-uncle, and countless other people I have known has NOTHING to do whatsoever with the condition that leaves children utterly unable to communicate and constantly frustrated to the point of needing to hurt themselves.

But even if that were the case, that doesn't change the fact in the slightest that those individuals should be entitled as human beings to the understanding and assistance they need ...

Labels: ,

Friday, March 7, 2008

Autism / Vaccine Case Not The First

Despite a certain blogger practically dancing in the streets yesterday about this case where this 9-year-old girl's family was paid from the federal vaccine injury fund, apparently the case is not unprecedented in the slightest and still considered quite rare.

What is interesting though is that, yes, based on this case and a handful of others, it does appear possible that SOMETHING in the childhood vaccines IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER CONDITIONS can trigger autism symptoms.

Of course the reason that I've been dubious of a strong connection between thimerosal and autism is that nowhere near EVERYONE who gets vaccinated gets autism.

Also, the thimerosal preservative has been in used since before the Second World War, has been reduced in usage in recent years and the number of autism cases CONTINUE to climb.

Not that I wouldn't like to see a certain person compensated for the injuries to his son. God only knows the attitude in this country that there are too many environmental regulations has caused more human suffering than is ordinarily imaginable, but by this absolutely single-minded fixation that thimerosal is the ONLY cause of autism discourages continued hard research into the OTHER factors that may be involved.

My father and uncle were born 5 years apart, shortly before and during the Second World War.

They have both parents in common.

They received the same thimerosal-laced vaccines.

The one travels all around the world, visits his children and grandchildren regularly, and maybe once a year calls me at odd hours to get genealogical information.

The other couldn't even go to his own niece's wedding due to a crippling fear of being stranded in Dayton. He threatened a long-time friend with kidnapping charges for offering to take him to lunch. He nearly had a full-blown "Rain Man" scene when Kroger's stopped carrying a certain brand of high-bran cereal. He calls and wakes people up at 4am to tell them about a 50-year-old movie he watched the night before.

Let's not even get into his housekeeping habits.

There may be any number of factors involved. This sort of behavior is common in our family and almost always strikes the oldest male in the family. Although it strikes the oldest male through any combination of "gender flips" (in other words, the three major cases in my family have mothers from different families - reducing the possiblity of mitrochondria correlation). Sometimes the oldest female in the family will be affected, but to a much smaller degree.

So, at first glance, there would appear to be SOME genetic involvement.

And - are these family members of mine AS disabled as someone who cannot speak at all and spends all day banging his head against the wall? No.

Are they disabled to the point of needing special services?



End of story.

We need to continue to aggressively research ALL the factors involved in these conditions ...

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Golden Rule - World Edition

Esther Mira To Play Parminder Nagra Body Double

I tell you Google Alerts is a fascinating thing.

Today's truly fascinating bit of info is some apparently aspiring actress named Esther Mira posted a quite authentic sounding blog that she has a gig starting tomorrow playing Parminder Nagra's body double for an episode of E.R.

Wait a minute ...

This is MAJOR news.

This means:

1) E.R. is filming again.

2) The character is Neela Rasgotra is going to do something where she NEEDS a body double.

Crankshaft will be so excited by this news she may actually soil herself.

Yes, a cursory examination would tend to indicate, depending on the lighting, that Esther Mira could do a body double for Parminder Nagra - although Esther looks quite a bit lighter and taller than Minder.

Yes ... hopefully Esther will be able to tell us when this episode is airing she is filming tomorrow ...

Remember ... you heard it here first, folks! :)

Labels: ,

How Do You Pronounce "Vaad Hoier"?

Speaking of religious beliefs and practices that sound decidedly odd to secular American ears, each and every week one can look forward to the ad from the kosher sub-section of the Blue Ash Kroger's in The American Israelite featuring such items as glatt kosher lean fresh ground chuck for $2.99/lb., Aaron's Best All Beef 100% Marit Ayin Franks 2/$7, Aaron's Best Over Roasted Turkey Breast $3.99/0.5 lb., and so on.

Of course if you ever sneak down there on a Saturday afternoon when the proprietors are presumably home or at shul praying, you can get the sticker shock of your life on $15/lb. roast beef and all sorts of fascinating stuff.

However, of course, again, to secular American eyes, the most jarring part of the ad are the watchful eyes of "Mendy" and "Menachem", the Mashgiachim of the establishment.

Now, I was studying under various Humanist, Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis pretty heavily for about six years and did more than my fair share of time on the Yahoo Jewish Chat channel and I NEVER heard the word "Mashgiach" until the kosher wing of the Blue Ash Kroger's opened.

However, the other reference of course I HAD heard of before - Vaad Hoier. In fact I think I stumbled across their office in the back of Golf Manor once whilst on my way to an appointment with a sofer.

How the heck do you pronounce "Vaad Hoier" anyway??

They're mentioned quite a bit in another article from the March 6, 2008 American Israelite about a restaurant in Dillonvale called the Kinneret Café. Vaad Hoier presumably is a group of gentlemen so frum it hurts that certify that restaurants and grocery stores are kosher beyond a reasonable doubt.

This Kinneret Café apparently has a "dairy license". If I understand it correctly, because of the strict orthodox Jewish prohibition against the mixing of meat and milk, a commerical restaurant can be certified to serve meat or milk but not both. The late Pilder's brunch had a "meat license" allowing them to serve some truly yummy fried chicken but at the expense of not being able to dope up the french toast with even a drop of milk. Apparently though "kosher dairy" restaurants are opening at a much faster rate than "dairy meat" because people are turning vegetarian by the boat load.

Now, despite six years of intense study and about 10 years in all bouncing in and around the Jewish community I had STILL not quite gotten a handle on the kosher thing. Oh, the rules are pretty simple - fresh vegetables are presumed kosher, fish with fins and scales is kosher and parve (neither meat nor milk), eggs are parve(unless they have a drop of blood in which case they're meat), meat (beef, lamb, goat - having split hooves and that chew cud) must be slaughtered by a specific method, meat and milk cannot be mixed, etc.

However, I'm still not entirely sure I'm real grounded on what exactly the PENALTY in Judaism is for inhaling half a platter of jumbo shrimp and chasing it with a triple bacon cheeseburger.

Of course the Christian tradition for "breaking the rules" is that you're going to BURN IN HELL, presumably for all eternity, but I never did get a clear picture even from the ultra-frum Jews I studied with where one might find one's soul deposited for sitting down to a 50 lb. lobster at Amor de Brazil or some such.


But it does bring up the possibility that if we start mixing civil and religious law that a trip to the Golden Corral or some such might get WAY complicated ...

Labels: , ,

Secret Service Blocking Sikh / Pope Meeting

And in another beautiful example of religion and state trampling all over one another, apparently the US Secret Service has put the kibosh on a meeting between the Sikhs and the Pope over the ceremonial "kirpaan" dagger Sikhs are required to wear in their religion.

There are a group of Sikh gentlemen who sell me my lunch on a fairly regular basis who tried to explain this device to me once, but I think this article sums it up pretty well - "The kirpaan 'represents the Sikh commitment to resist oppression and injustice' and is to be carried 'only in a defensive posture and never to initiate confrontation,' according to the World Sikh Council-America Region."

Sounds like a reasonable symbolic manifestation of "concealed carry" to me.

"Commitment to resist oppression and injustice."

I kinda' like the sound of that.

I wonder where I can go sign up ... :)

Party pooper Ed Donovan, a representative of the Secret Service, said, "We understand the kirpaan is a sanctified religious object. But by definition, it's still a weapon. We apply our security policy consistently and fairly."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can you just PICTURE a conference full of Sikhs trying to filet the Pope with those things?

Somehow I'm not seeing it ...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Proving You're Jewish

Looks like there was a really great article in the New York Times Magazine over the weekend about the frequent need in Israel to prove you're a Jew.

The whole concept sounds pretty bizarre to American ears.

Setting aside for a moment The Dean's recent tizzy about trying to figure out whether or not his own son was Black, generally ethnic identities in the United States are just kind of "generally understood" but usually not defined in the way that one might define, say, the atomic weight of hydrogen.

And it's a foregone conclusion that you can change your religion twice daily without anyone paying much attention - well, except for Anonymous.

The rest of the world is quite different.

Recently even the Archbiship of Canterbury got educated that in most of the world matters of particularly marriage and divorce are handled by religious instead of government authorities. Of course because he specifically mentioned the notion that sharia law may one day share jurisdiction with British law, people lost they minds.

One in fact need look no further than Israel to discover a society where the religious authorities are in charge of who can get married and who can't.

There is no civil marriage in Israel. Yes, that strikes American ears as BIZARRE. It's as American as baseball and apple pie to tell your folks to go perform an anatomical impossibility on themselves and run off to marry someone who's religion has as much in common with your own as, say, Renegade Evolution has in common with President Bush, and find some poor unsuspecting Justice of the Peace or small-town mayor to perform the ceremony.

Not so in Israel.

Only Orthodox rabbis can perform marriage ceremonies.

And they will not perform the ceremony on anyone unless they are PROVEN Jewish.

Generally that means the ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) of your parents.

Heaven help you if, like the young lady mentioned in the Times article, your parents had a civil ceremony in the United States.

Yes, my friends, as my "Judaism 101" instructor, Rabbi Gary Zola of Hebrew Union College, once explained to me, you can, say, be adopted by Orthodox Jewish parents, go to Golf Manor each and every Friday night and Saturday morning, attend Brandeis university, make 650 trips to Israel every year, and still not be halachically (according to Orthodox Jewish law) Jewish.

On the other hand, you can be born of a Jewish mother and wind up getting raised by neo-Nazi's, regularly paint swastikas on people's homes and businesses, and still be absolutely, 100%, T-totally Jewish to the core of your being.

I know - it didn't make sense to me either when Zola first told me.

But, yes - this is the kind of foolishness we have to look forward to if ANY sort of sharia / halakha / religious law starts intermingling with civil law.

The First Amendment is there for a REASON, people ...

Labels: ,

Monday, March 3, 2008

George Carlin on Religion: IT'S MAKE BELIEVE!

Labels: ,

21 English Accents

eXTReMe Tracker