Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Return Of Amanda Baggs

Well, it looks like the main blog of Amanda Baggs is back up again, and she even stopped by to make a few comments on mine.

First, she takes umbrage with my impression "I can't recall one video, blog entry, or Usenet posting that would imply anything other than the fact that she is largely in constant motion 24/7/365."

Yes, I would have to say I did not phrase this as well as I should have.

I was making a comment in reply to an article from a presumably small Tennessee newspaper that said, "Amanda Baggs, who is seemingly in a vegetative state, uses a typing device and has gone through college."

I was just really struck by the use of that term "vegetative state".

In fact, Amanda herself says she doesn't think the term "vegetative state" should ever be applied to a mammal.

However, she does say there are long periods of time when she is quite still, including recently when she says she's been flat on her back for a number of weeks recovering from a nasty bug.

However, what I'm wondering about is how Gina Gallutia from The Tullahoma News got the idea that "vegetative state" would apply to Amanda in the first place.

Of course arguably the most famous work of Amanda Baggs is In My Language, a video that features a level of motion that, well, causes some people to even get a bit freaked out.

The other that comes to mind is Happy Dance. This one, at least according to Amanda, was even officially diagnosed as an "inappropriate emotional display".

"Inappropriate", BTW, is a neurotypical euphamism for "You're freaking me the f*ck out."

Another one that comes to mind, and has received, IMHO, an "inappropriate" amount of critical attention :) is How to Boil Water the EASY Way.

Alot of motion.

Not necessarily disturbing, but potentially confusing.

There are 27 videos in all on Amanda's YouTube site.

There are an additional nine on her LiveVideo site including of course Because You Are Not One Of Us that not only includes some VERY energetic, almost frantic motion, but also a certain "nervous energy" in Amanda's own voice that certainly does not bring to mind anything approaching "vegetative state".

Let's not even get into the THOUSANDS of Usenet postings, hundreds of blogs and blog comments, the CNN and British TV appearances, the conference appearances, and probably a few dozen other things I haven't kept up on.

Yes, sometimes my own judgement is not all that accurate, but, as a matter of first impression, you get the distinct idea that Amanda has a level of activity somewhere between that of a sitting United States Senator and William Shatner.

And, just a wild guess but I'm figuring this reporter from Tennessee has not been keeping up with Amanda's battles with plumbing contractors and various other issues since 2002.

And that's not even taking into account Amanda's being literally embroiled in a federal case involving - apparently - Kathleen Seidel and a PIZZA ...



At April 21, 2008 at 10:41 AM, Anonymous Amanda said...

Uh, one, I'm hypergraphic, which takes the form of not just compulsive writing (the obviously literal interpretation), but compulsive creativity in general. That'll explain the volume of output, and keep in mind I generally type at a speed that Dave Hingsburger once described as "too fast to be legally allowed" or something (fast enough that what slows me down is thinking up words). So I'm a compulsive writer who types really fast. If this were pre-computers, I'd be one of those people who dies and leaves behind ridiculously detailed diaries of pointless minutae only of interest to historians years later. It's so bad that if I run out of things to write, I'll start rewriting word for word things I've written before, or (especially when I was a kid and didn't have a lot of ability to go from the inside of my head to words), writing lists or writing things straight out of books. If I'm moving at all, I'm likely to be writing or up to something else creative.

Keep in mind, secondly, that, as I said, if I'm making a video, or in a new environment, I'm more likely to be in frenetic motion than in my more usual resemblance to a lump (although new environments can turn me into lumps as well, they just require more motion if I want to be comfortable).

And, keep in mind, thirdly, that I've actually had the (physiological, not emotional) stress levels that various motions cause me measured. Aside from involuntary stimming (tics not included), the only movement that doesn't cause me measurable stress is typing. Other people can't get measurable stress from any kind of movement, I watched people demonstrate this. For me, it's all voluntary movement that does it to me, even wiggling a toe is more physiologically stressful than typing.

Which is to say, you can't judge my entire level of motion by the least stressful movements for me to undertake. :-P

(And in fact many people have pointed out to me, long before there was any objective measurement to back it up, that I move only those parts of me that are necessary, which reflects the fact that voluntary movement and various aspects of motor planning have become more difficult over the years, and in fact so difficult that they induce the kind of physiological stress that a person can only take so much of.)

As far as inappropriate emotional display, that really did happen. Even my parents caught the reference to the precise shrink involved when CNN played part of that video. He was an all-around asshat, although last I talked to him he still claimed it was all for my own good (of course few other professions get to excuse asshattery as a form of assistance, so too many asshats seem to notice that and flock to it).


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