Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thank you for joining us on our journey

To my readers,

I wanted to let everyone know that I have decided to stop updating this blog. While I have regaled everyone with the boys' adventures for almost a decade, they have come to the point in their development that there really isn't much more to tell. Yes they are adults, and continuing to work on independence, graduate degrees, and job skills. Yes in some way they have a lot of work to do, and in others they far surpass their peers.

But, in truth, their day-to-day world doesn't change all that much and honestly, there is not that much more to add that I believe will help others. It is all the same information on advocacy, supports, and interventions, which can be found on this blog already. Don't forget to read the right sidebar pages and links for information. Also there is a list of individual topics on the left sidebar.  Everything is organized in a way that will help in the search for information.

So as the boys have now started their own adult journeys,  I think the time has come for me to seek a new adventure of my own.

While I will be posting interesting articles, information, sometimes a rant, and the occasional book review on my Facebook page (you can link from the sidebar), there will be no new blog posts. However, I will update any good news as it occurs on my Facebook page as well. So for those who have followed the boys' exploits I will let everyone know when good things happen in the future.



And as I say goodbye to this  blog, let's not forget life's ultimate question and answer from MrGS2's favorite book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy......because sometimes there really is no answer that makes sense.....



Thursday, July 20, 2017

TEDX- YorkUSalon Autism Innovations









There are 18 talks in all. Watch the rest of these important and informative videos HERE






Saturday, July 1, 2017

In Congress, July 4, 1776







The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America


When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
— John Hancock
New Hampshire:
Josiah BartlettWilliam WhippleMatthew Thornton
Massachusetts:
John HancockSamuel AdamsJohn AdamsRobert Treat PaineElbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen HopkinsWilliam Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger ShermanSamuel HuntingtonWilliam WilliamsOliver Wolcott
New York:
William FloydPhilip LivingstonFrancis LewisLewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard StocktonJohn WitherspoonFrancis HopkinsonJohn HartAbraham Clark
Pennsylvania:
Robert MorrisBenjamin RushBenjamin FranklinJohn MortonGeorge ClymerJames SmithGeorge TaylorJames WilsonGeorge Ross
Delaware:
Caesar RodneyGeorge ReadThomas McKean
Maryland:
Samuel ChaseWilliam PacaThomas StoneCharles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George WytheRichard Henry LeeThomas JeffersonBenjamin HarrisonThomas Nelson, Jr.Francis Lightfoot LeeCarter Braxton
North Carolina:
William HooperJoseph HewesJohn Penn
South Carolina:
Edward RutledgeThomas Heyward, Jr.Thomas Lynch, Jr.Arthur Middleton
Georgia:
Button GwinnettLyman HallGeorge Walton
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
*****
We are at a great crossroads in our nation’s history. It’s not about the amount of taxation and the ineptitude of the government. That can be changed with the power of the vote and honest elections. Our issues lie in the fact that too many in our nation take for granted the guarantees within the Bill of Rights and the Constitution without truly understanding them. Remember… our rights given by nature and nature’s God.
It is time that We The People understand once again our responsibilities as citizens of a free country and demand that our government adhere to the Constitutional principles that they have so casually desecrated.
Freedom and the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God (originally posted May 9, 2014)
…Our rights come not from other men, but from an omnipotent all-powerful ruler of the universe who has decreed right from wrong, good from bad, justice from evil. No one human being can deny another these rights. Hence, the usurpation of these rights is a just cause for revolt against your government, ruler or liege lord….
What happens when rights are not given by virtue of existence, but with the largesse of the political class? These rights then are not rights as delineated in the US Constitution (Bill of Rights), which as rights cannot be taken away and can only be denied under a limited scope of governmental authority. In fact, rights that come down to us by virtue of the good will of a ruler are not real rights at all, but a grant of favor by a dictatorial government. As long as you stay in good stead with the power elite then you are entitled to your humanity. But as soon as you cross that threshold of noncompliance with these overseers, then your rights, property and even your life become forfeit.
Moreover, to actually believe that mankind itself defines the ultimate reality in the Universe is the modern hubris of a limited, vacuous mind and an outreach of malignant egos. To say that in the vastness that is the Universe humankind is the epitome of what can and does direct TIME itself calls into play the rationality and sanity of the purveyors of a God-less world. It does not even have to be about an Omnipotent being as much as it is about Nature and the power of the Universe and the acknowledgement of the unknown.
To say that there is no deity above ourselves is to give ourselves the moniker of almighty God. We can now decide what is right, wrong, good, bad, justice and evil. We, the human beings of this world, are now the sole masters of all that is before us without boundary, limit or consequence. To say that God is an anachronism and that humanity is above the immutable forces that have created the galaxy, is to advance upon the human race powers that belie the mortal human being.
When we turn from the concept of something, or someone, greater than ourselves, we have no rights beyond that which we bargain for within the context of our daily lives. Life becomes a merchants market, a bazaar of old. Where for  the right argument, and the proper coin, you can buy yourself freedom for the time being. If you are lucky enough to be allowed manumission at all.
In such a world, our rights are defined by those in control of the world, rather than rights being defined by those that live in the world. Therefore, if you believe that humans are born free and that it is only mankind that created the chains of slavery, real or virtual, the concept of giving your self-worth to those who are devoid of righteousness, or honor, those who convolute democratic action with obsequiousness, demands an act of revolution. However, in the end, you need the foundation by which to challenge your servitude when you live in a world of political class tyranny, oligarchical triumphalism and identity tribalism. Therefore, you need Nature and Nature’s God. You need to understand that your humanity, your freedom, your existence is yours by right and not something you need to bargain for against an evil specter.
That foundation of the right to freedom comes from the acknowledgement that all within humanity have rights inherent in their humanity. Given to them by their uniqueness as unique individuals. It is Nature, and Nature’s God, that defines these rights so necessary for society to flourish, grow and develop. The right to proceed with your own existence and humanness in a way that is both beneficial to the self and society becomes the task of the free person and those free enough to think that it can and must be done.
It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanbeings throughout history have perverted the gift of choice and thought that they were given by the Universe.
It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanbeings revert into barbarism and decadence when given freedom. It is that same human weakness that causes mankind to destroy itself and then ask to be relieved of all responsibility for the choices made.
It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humans throughout history prefer an infantile existence of dependency and supplication to the hard work inherent in the existence of free expression and self-governance.
It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humans have allowed themselves to be led by the inadequate, the cruel and the profoundly evil.
It is not the fault of Nature’s God that when confronted with evil’s challenge, most times throughout history humanity has faltered, in the end thereby losing all that it means to be human.
It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanity perverted Nature’s message in order to enslave, dehumanize and destroy other humanbeings.
It is not the fault of Nature’s God that it is easier to invoke the yoke of tyranny than it is to travel the path of Nature’s truth.
Responsibility for ones actions, distancing yourself from a scapegoat and taking the reigns to an uncertain future is frightening. On the other hand,  it is a sign of profound weakness to cower in the dark, allowing others to decide your fate, your reality and your worth. It is sheer cowardice to succumb to the fear of the unknown and allow your children to be enslaved because of your own ineptness.
We learn that democracies are the rarest form of government in the history of human kind. For each democracy born was short-lived, either due to corruption, mendacious leaders or complicity in the destruction of that with which we are endowed by the virtue of the human soul. Humans allowed fear to win over freedom. Humans allowed fear to win over individuality. Humans allowed the political classes to declare themselves above Nature and Nature’s God. Humans allowed the political class to manipulate the true blessings of Nature and Nature’s God in exchange for bread and circuses and life without responsibility.
Those who wish to make a Godless society, those that wish to deny Nature’s blessings upon humankind are the enemy of freedom, of liberty and justice. Those that decide that our rights come from the will of a self-perpetuating narcissistic ruling class rather than the exigencies of humanity’s right to existence are the enemies of a free people.
Those who presuppose that they are more powerful than the Universe run roughshod over humanity’s inherent rights. Those that denigrate the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, denigrate our greatest gift. Be careful of those that put themselves above the wonders of the Universe. For they will laud themselves over you, making of themselves a new deity while decrying the freedoms we hold so dear.

*****
I wanted to wish everyone a joyous Independence Day. Let us not forget those that sacrificed so much so that we, their posterity, would enjoy the freedoms to which we are entitled under the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.

By the way, just one of those obnoxious asides, the vote on the Independence Resolution, aka the Lee Resolution, actually took place on July 2, 1776. The Declaration was not read to the public until July 4, which is why July 4th is the day that we celebrate our Independence.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Vaccine Truths on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

John Oliver takes on the antiVaxxers.

Warning: Bad language and sexual innuendos....well it's late night and it's John Oliver.....


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Review: Code 7- Cracking the Code for an Epic Life

Code 7-Cracking the Code for an Epic Life, by Bryan R. Johnson, is a charming book with seven vignettes that propose situations whereby an elementary, or a middle  school, child could learn, discuss, and articulate actual real life issues they may be presented with in school, and among their friends. They get to see and experience the possible outcomes of choices made by their peers. Moreover, to go along with this intriguing book, there is a website complete with a discussion of the issues presented in theses stories, and a challenge in which any child would like to participate.


If you are looking for a way to connect with your child, or broach subjects of an ethical and moral import, this book is definitely a nice way to begin. It is gentle, easy, and a wholesome way for any child to be led into a discussion over issues that can effect their choices throughout their lives.

Code 7 is the brain child of self-made millionaire and entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, whose personal foundation hopes to

"inspire youth to architect pro-social aspirations and a shared responsibility of our future."

Bryan, himself, attempts to lead a positive and forward looking life. The creativity of his tech company is dedicated to inventors and scientists who aim to benefit humanity through quantum leap discoveries at the operating system, or OS, level.




This book has testimonials from Kirkus Review and Charles BestCEO of Donor's Choose.






Monday, June 12, 2017

Music- Chained to the Rhythm

As I said before, you need to stop and listen to the music...


And Yes this one has been around since February, but I like it.




Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman...a resounding YES

I will be honest and let everyone know I have not seen any of the comicbook/superhero movies. I was not a fan of the Bat Man movies, even the George Clooney ones, and I had no desire to see any of the updated Superman movies. Christopher Reeve was and will always be Superman to me. I have not really seen either the DC or Marvel films. I may have glimpsed some of them when they were replayed in my house, by the male members of the family, but I really had no desire to see any of them. I will say however, that I have watched the TV show Marvel Agents of Shield and I do enjoy the show Legends of Tomorrow, probably because of the time jumping. So I come to this review as an outsider, someone with very little expectations and very little knowledge about this film genre.

Well let me tell you. This.Film.is.Great! And I don't mean great in the sense that it is highbrow dialogue or tells an involved mystery. It is not an art house film, where you are left talking about the movie for days trying to figure out all the nuances and underlying meaning of every movement or action. This is not an Ingmar Bergman film. I think it is so much more.

Not only is the female lead a strong, intelligent, sweet, and gentle person, but she packs quite a good right hook as well. She is beautiful and powerful. She is kind and she is tough. She has a moral and ethical underpinning, and is not afraid to fight for what is right, good, and best for humanity. Yes, this is the role model you want for your daughters. This is also the role model of a woman you want to show your sons. In fact, all the women in this movie are strong in their own way, whether they are Amazons, or they are women living in the very patriarchal world of WWI England (there is a quick mention of suffragettes and the misogyny of the men is very apparent). Each woman survives in her own way, and brings a selfawareness about who they are and their purpose in life.

What we also see in this movie is the concept of the hero. Not just of Diana, but the simple selfless heroism of the average everyday human being. Here, not only is the superhuman, demiGod the hero, which would be an easy reach for someone with extraordinary power, but those frail and fallible human beings are shown to do great things if they need to. That is after all what being a hero is all about, and why to this day our nations gives out medals and honors to those who go beyond what we think of as our limits as human beings. Bravery above and beyond the call of duty.

It reminds me of those that still serve, and answer when their nation calls. I am reminded of those that do right and good and put themselves into harms way for others. We are reminded that humanity, while there can be darkness, there can also be so much light.

Now I do want to answer some rather idiotic kvetches about the movie. Let me start by saying there are some women who simply need to branch out beyond their own echo chamber. When you can't enjoy a film without having a political meltdown, or fixating on armpit hair, you are doing life wrong.

First they complained about how Wonder Woman is dressed. There are those who are annoyed that she is dressed in armor, and grieves, basically in very classical battle dress. Apparently, these faux-feminists have never seen the pictures of the Amazons drawn on ancient greek pottery. They are dressed in very few clothes, as all soldiers were dressed in the ancient world.

Historically, Amazons first really appear in the story the Iliad. They come to the aide of Troy. They are mentioned as warrior women from the "mountains." Many historians believe that Amazons really existed, and lived near the Black Sea. This would have made them if not Greek/Macedonian, then Serb or Slav.


Those who are offended by how Diana is dressed in the film, have no real background in ancient history, battle garb, nor weaponry. That the movie version may be a little sexier than say, a real life gladiator, well I am sure that in Troy Eric Bana, and Brad Pitt had a little sexified armor as well. In fact, the lack of clothing in Troy on the male stars, was one of the reasons most women I know liked the film. We won't even get into the lack of clothing in the movie 300 with Gerard Butler. And by the way, the Spartans really did wear next to nothing.



Then there is the nonsense, that faux-feminists were insulted that apparently Diana wouldn't want to save the world without having a romantic relationship with a man. The movie played the romance up really sweetly. It was innocent, and it was gentle. It was respectful. It was a new idea and experience for Diana. There was nothing wrong with it. Her innocence was refreshing and his respect for her lovely. The entire movie was about Diana's love for humanity and her hopes for humanity's future. Love becomes her ultimate strength.

Is it not the love that we have for our families, and especially our children that propels us to do extraordinary things so their world will be better? (Some complained that she was overjoyed to see a baby, too. They have no babies on her island.) Do we not fight for those we love, so that they may live the lives of joy and happiness that they are entitled to live? Diana, because she had no experience with the world of mankind, needed romance to understand ultimately what it is to be human. She needed to understand what humanity fights for, and what ultimately gives us the strength to fight another day.

And yes, if there is a movie with Chris Pines in it, there has to be a romantic angle. We may all like strong women characters, but let's be honest, we strong women, also like really cute men.

If you want to see a thoroughly enjoyable movie, that has a nice message, and shows a strong woman character this is the movie for you.






Saturday, May 27, 2017

On Memorial Day: Remind Your Children That Brave Patriots Died to Defend Freedom, Not the Cowards Right to Punch Someone Withwhom They Disagree

Well, society seems to continue to diminish itself in the era of Trump. Apparently, a republican candidate for Congress from Montana decided that he did not like the questions a reporter from The Guardian was asking him and decided to respond by body-slamming the reporter, and then proceeding to punch him once he was down on the ground. Our illustrious President responded the next day, when the criminally charged GOPer won his race, to congratulate him on his win without any mention of the felonious incident.

You could actually say that Trump's job as head of the Republican Party is to unify every GOPer and to promote those that win their House seats. On the other hand, he is also the head of the country and somehow it just seems disgusting that he did not mention the attack. It is immaterial that the republican apologized the next day. Of course he apologized, he is facing jail time. Hopefully he will spend some time in prison before heading to Capital Hill. On the other hand, if he thinks being a bully is how to get things done, then he is going to meet his match in Congress. In fact, I would hazard a guess that he is going to be a little bully in a very big bully pond.

Of course, a few days before the GOPer body-slamming show, the thugs who call themselves bodyguards of the President of Turkey, also attacked peaceful protestors outside the Turkish embassy and Trump also said and did nothing. In fact, he greeted Erdogan with aplomb and his State Department never even mentioned the incident or took action against Turkey. In most cases, the ambassador would have been brought it and given a dressing down or asked to remove himself from the country until there was an apology or financial compensation to the victims. I remind you that Turkey removed it's ambassador from Israel after the Mavi Marmara incident and refused to send him back until Israel paid compensation. That those on board were terrorists, or terror supporters, trying to break the blockade of Hamas controlled Gaza, didn't seem to matter much, not to Turkey or to the Obama administration. Israel, at the behest of the Obama administration, ended up paying compensation. Now we found out last month that one of those compensated was arrested on terrorism charges in the UK. So much for Israel being wrong in protecting it's boarder.

But the point of the matter is that there are international norms that should be followed and when someone steps outside those norms in another country, diplomatic immunity or not, there are ways for the offended nation to air it's grievance. But apparently the Trump administration feels it's just fine if peaceful US protestors are violently attacked, and if reporters, exercising their first amendment rights are assaulted as well.

But what does this mean for our children? How do we explain to our autistic children, who have issues with social norms to begin with, that someone elected to public office thinks it's ok to punch another person or that the President of the USA turns a blind eye, and that they are still in their offices, at their jobs, and people elected them despite their illegal actions.

As I have mentioned before, Trump is the example of DO NOT for our children. It is sad really when you think about it. The President is someone you are supposed to teach your child to respect. You don't have to agree with him, but you should respect him. Well if not him, at least the Office of the President of the United States. Unfortunately, even respecting that office is becoming a hard thing to do. That a Congressperson is a jerk, like the new one from Montana, isn't really going to effect anything. Congress has a 9% favorable rating at the moment. They really don't have much farther down to go.

Of course the real question is, after this incident, how did anyone actually vote for the  person with anger management issues? Heck, if you punched someone at your job, not only would they call the police, but you can bet, you would loose your position, not be given a raise. In fact, autistic children as young as 5, who assault people in school, have been arrested. Parents are taken into family court and even threatened with loosing custody of their children, if a child is such a miscreant that the police need to be called to school. So how does anyone in society vote a violent person into Congress?

One person actually answered ..."who hasn't made a mistake?" It brings to mind when Jesus asked, "who here is without sin, let them cast the first stone." Now to point out the obvious, but neither the newly elected congressman from Montana nor the jackass that voted for him are Jesus. In fact, I would actually have to think that Jesus might not have voted for the violent guy, but would have sought the more peaceful inner reflective person as his representative. But hey, I'm Jewish so what do I know?

The truth of the matter is that we need people in Congress who have the ability to negotiate, and deal with the press. We have a right to have the press give them a hard time. They do not have the right to skirt answers, refuse to comply, nor do they have a right to ignore the Bill of Rights. If those elected to Congress cannot function in the limelight to which they have aspired, then they have no right to that position.  No one asked that man to run. We do not need another jerk in Congress. But perhaps he is more emblematic of those that elected him, and that is why so much of what we hold dear in this country is in danger.

Whether it is the right or the left that is acting, violence seems to be the way most people are handling political discourse in today's day and age. Whether it is the Leftist students attacking speakers, as what happened in Middlebury College or the riots of the antiFa crowd at Berkley or during the Presidential inauguration,  regressive leftists have decided that they have a right to be violent if they are displeased. We also saw riots in Ferguson, Missouri, which people decided to excuse, rather than hold them up to the standard of MLK. (P.S. don't say that I don't support the concept of Black Lives Matter. I do. What I don't support is the violence, and the antisemitism of their platform. Moreover, the civil rights protestors of the 1960s had it unthinkably worse than today and they never devolved into violence. Those ignoble actions were left up to the race-haters. But riots (Watts, Detroit, DC) did occur and society did not excuse them. Society attempted to address the issues presented, but people were held to account for their actions.)

Now what did the world think was going to happen in the longrun when it excused the violent actions of the Regressive Left? Did they think that the Left was going to continue to attack people and that the Right was not going to do the same? Simply because you decide that you have a right to #punchnazis doesn't mean you do, and doesn't mean in the USA, with freedom of speech, that you have a right to curtail anyone else's speech. The way civilized nations behave, when faced with political challenge, is to argue, and debate. If you have the need to hit someone because of how they think, then you automatically loose by your actions. You never even have to say a word. And remember, we do not have laws in the US that prevent someone from speaking their mind, no matter how hateful or stupid. Freedom of speech is not for the coward nor for the light of heart. Stand by your convictions. Shout at the top of your lungs so others can hear you. That is how it is done. Being afraid of words and challenging those words is how you stop hate. Laws curtailing speech is not how to fight hate. When you send hate underground eventually it does rise to the top. The history of the 20th century is replete with those examples.

So what are we to do in a world that have both extremes deciding that they get to be violent? What do we do in a world where the President thinks its ok to behave like a fascist goon? What do we do in a world that has decided that those without any modicum of civility are the people to follow?

Honestly, on a worldwide scale, not very much. You can't control the actions of the world, you can only control what you do and what you teach your children. Teach your children to speak their mind. To stand by their convictions and above all, make certain they read the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

This Memorial Day remind your children that those that died, died to protect their right to speak their mind and to defend their convictions. Our American Patriots died for :

Freedom of religion
Freedom of speech
Right to assembly
Right to petition the government
Freedom of the press

No American patriot died so that the President or Congresspersons can attack these rights. Remind your children who they are and where they come from. Remind them of the sacrifices of past generations. Remind them that they owe it to the future, to ensure that democratic norms remain and that a leader who disdains decency is a blip on the radar, not a harbinger of the future.


Memorial Day

We sleep well at night because rough men [and women] stand ready to do violence in our name…George Orwell








Thursday, May 25, 2017

Anne with an E- The New Anne of Green Gables on @Netflix

Before I decided to watch the latest version of Anne of Green Gables, I had read some pretty nasty reviews of the Netflix version. Many of the critics here complain that this version is a darker unnecessary rendition. But I see it as true to life. Not everything is always peachy. There are trials and tribulations. Moreover, to have a life affirming story, reality does need to make it's way into your narrative.  To those reviewers I simply ask, "what was it that you watched? For I think this version is lovely."

For those who have never read the books, or have seen the original movie, Anne with an E is the story of an orphaned girl Anne Shirley who is bright, precocious, imaginative, and quite a challenge. Thrilled with every aspect of life, despite the hardships she has endured, Anne makes a wonderful first impression. Well at least to our modern sensibilities. Anne is not always welcome in the much more reserved, staid era of "children shall be seen and not heard, especially girl children."

But luckily for Anne she is sent to live with the Cuthberts. An aging sister and brother couple that actually had asked the orphanage to send a boy so he could help with the farm chores. Yes confusion ensues, but Anne being Anne, does her best to charm, cajole, and enamor the Cuthberts into allowing her to stay.



We not only fall in love with this version of Anne, but we also are drawn to the Cuthberts. They have their own story, which actually mirrors Anne's. The truth is that these three people desperately need each other, and over the episodes we witness the blossoming of a wonderful family. Some complain about the inability of the characters to deal with their emotions. But that is also the beauty of this version. These three people are able overtime, to come to trust each other, so that they are not afraid to be vulnerable.

Now as I wrote above, not everyone in the story loves Anne. In fact we are witness to the ignorance that abounded during the turn of the 20th century. Orphans were misbegotten. They were either see as farmed out servants, or na'er-do-wells. Descent society would turn their noses down at an adopted child. We see in an episode, even the minister is bigoted against Anne because of her status in life.

I will admit, the episode I ended up skipping was the one where Anne was bullied in school and the teacher allowed it. It was funny, because while I could deal with the stupidity of the adults in society, it was the cruelty of the schoolroom that truly upset me. Not that it isn't resolved happily in the end, but I simply could not watch it. Perhaps in some part of my world, it reminded me of things that were all too real for myself and my own children. Bullying is not a new problem by any stretch of the imagination.

One of the more interesting aspects of the show is how it presents life in rural Canada at this time as well. We, in the US, forget, that at the time that our ancestors were settling the West, as in Little House on the Prairie, much of Canada was being settled in the same way. Here we witness the life of those who lived in our neighbor to the North. For those who like historical fiction, this is truly a fun series.

In the end, Anne with an E, is an enjoyable retelling of the Anne of Green Gables story. It is not all mushy and gooshy. It has a real life quality about it that makes it an interesting and enterprising program. But this is also not a version for small children. It is best for preteens or older. There are some scenes with adult cruelty towards children, which are rather upsetting, and a coming of age episode where Anne gets her menstrual period.

I did binge watch most of it. And yes, it sets up an interesting cliff hanger. I am looking forward to season 2.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Malibu

It is important, that no matter what is happening in your world, to always take a moment to breathe.

Sweet new love song from Miley Cyrus. Listen I know she can be a little out there as far as behavior, but the girl can sing.




Saturday, May 6, 2017

@Speechless_ABC Revisits the "R" Word

Once again the ABC's Speechless showcases common advocacy issues championed by the disability community. The latest episode examined society's view of using the word "retarded" as a put down or self-deprecating insult. The interesting take on the issue though, did not involve J.J. directly, but Ray.

The show opens with Kenneth, J.J.'s aide, out to dinner with the DiMeo's and he overhears someone using the "r" word in conversation. He turns to the family and says," it's my turn." In other words, advocacy time, and a teachable moment for someone in society. Speechless being a comedy, Kenneth comes back slightly chastised, saying they were talking about "re tarring their driveway." Funny yes. And of course,  it sets up the rest of the episode. (Watch the episode HERE)

In this episode Ray finally was about to get to kiss the girl of his dreams. Someone he had had a crush on noticed him at the Prom, and wanted to go take him behind the bleachers. Well, all of us having grown up in the US, knows exactly what that means....kookookachoo.  But right before they began to kiss, the girl uses the 'r" word to describe her own mixup.

Ray is in a conundrum. He doesn't know what to do. Every male hormone in his body is telling him to kiss her anyway, but his brain and his heart is telling him that he needs to make this a teachable moment. So he turns to J.J. to ask permission to forget about advocating at the moment, and to simply be a teenage boy. J.J. being a good older brother, tells Ray to go for it. Kiss the girl! (See below *)

But there is a snag. Instead of her actually accepting the fact that she did something wrong, she argues with Ray how political correctness is tiresome and that since she didn't mean anything bad by using the word, he should not be upset. Now Ray's hormones wanting to forget that the entire incident occurred is momentarily taken along for the ride, until dignity gets the better of him.

Ray attempts to still teach her how hurtful using the "r" word is, yet she simply does not want to hear it. In the end, she decides to go kiss someone else. The upshot of the encounter is that the girl in question is not a flighty stereotypical teenage girl, but a bright, straight A student destined to go to an Ivy league and to enter the world of intellectual thought and accomplishments.

The audience's teachable moment is the reality that simply because someone is highly intelligent, and can make a cogent argument about Constitutional rights, it doesn't mean they are right, moral, or ethical. They also may not be someone you want to kiss either, no matter how "hot" they turn out to be. Sometimes the brain is better than the hormone when making a decision about with whom you want to associate.

It is important that within society, we also teach that simply because you have the right to do or say something, doesn't mean you should do or say these things. Words are powerful instruments of society. They need to be used carefully and with forethought.

Tolerance is important. Allowing others with different view points to speak is the hallmark of our republic. Now it doesn't mean we don't challenge these speakers. It doesn't mean what they say doesn't make us angry. But we are supposed to allow them to speak (unlike what is happening on college campuses in the US today if you are pro-Israel).  Honest, open debate is good for society. It is healthy. It helps us grow as a people.

But it is also important to understand when you use a word that someone finds deprives them of their humanity and their right to self-determination. When anyone in society uses the "r" word, it not only dehumanizes those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, it makes society less of a welcoming and an accepting place.

It is difficult enough for those with disabilities to find welcome in our world. That is why 85% of those with autism are either underemployed or unemployed. Understanding how language is a weapon in the war on disability rights is one of the first steps in gaining true civil rights for the disabled.

*Now another point in the story: When Ray asked J.J. for absolution if he went ahead and kissed the girl who used the "r" word. That was not cool. Not by a long shot. Taking responsibility for your own choices is what makes us grownups. Sartre said, "we are our choices." And he was right. The choices you make define who you are and what kind of person you will be. Seeking an "indulgence" to your own poor choices teaches a person absolutely nothing.

Moreover, sometimes society tends to think that every disabled person is the arbiter of what the disability community thinks, wants or needs. That is not so. Disabled people, as with everyone in the world, are individuals. They do not all agree on every cannon of thought or idea proposed by the grand poobahs of any movement. Can you believe that there actually is a variety of thought in the disability community about every topic, subject or controversy, except one: that those with disabilities are human beings and are deserving of being treated with respect.

Disabled people are people. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are kind. Some are miserable human beings. Some are people you would want to know and others you wouldn't want to be with under any circumstances. In other words, disabled people are human. But what they also do not need is someone looking to make themselves feel better by asking for a dispensation from doing the right thing.

The disabled person in your life is not the Pope. If you know it is wrong to do it, simply don't do it. Asking the disabled person in your life if it is ok to be an asshole when it comes to disability rights, is not ok. Even if you are a teenage boy with raging hormones. OK?

In the end, the part that I like best about Speecheless though, has very little to do with disability rights as opposed to showing the world that families with disabled members are simply that, families. Nothing special. Nothing more moral, ethical or inspirational. But simply people, trying to do their best on a day-to-day basis with the hand that they have been dealt.

Yes, it's nice if someone recognizes that there are extra needs at times for our families. But it would be nicer if instead of the pat on the head or telling us that "God only gives us what we can handle," is if someone asks us to lunch (or cup of coffee), to play a game of tennis (or squash, bridge, mahjong, or chess), or to join their book club and not read any books about disabled people at all (my personal favorites are spy novels especially the Gabriel Allon series).




Friday, April 21, 2017

Teaching Behavior in the Era of Trump

Much has been written over the last year about the tone of the Presidential race. And now much has been written about the tone of the President himself. Interestingly enough, a recent article actually castigated comedy news such as Comedy Central and Samantha Bee for creating the acceptability of the Trump tone. I kid you not. The acceptance of Trump's behavior, apparently, according to those who cannot accept blame for their own failures, is now the fault of comedians. Comedians whose job it is, is to be obnoxious, and caustic, and condescending. Apparently, according to these pundits, the American people are simply too stupid to differentiate between funny-ha-ha and not-so-funny-social-malingerers.

Samantha Bee and much of Comedy Central, (which I don't particularly enjoy), is a sarcastic look at the world in which we live. They do not run the world, but comment on it. They do not make policy, but comment on it.  Yes, Bee made a horrible mistake with the youngman at CPAC. But she later apologized. Perhaps she learned a lesson, which is that even in the world of comedy, fact checking is a useful tool.

So here is the problem: how do we as parents of autistics teach appropriate behavior to our children in the Era of Trump? For most neurotypical children it is easy for them to decipher social rules of engagement. Not so for every child on the spectrum. It is not easy for our children to distinguish between what is, and is not, always appropriate. And to make matters worse when those in the limelight act out in inordinate ways, and garner huge amount of accolades and attention, then what are our children supposed to think?

I have written about this BEHAVIOR conundrum before (of course). You can find a full list of my articles on the subject HERE  and HERE.

The only thing I can think of is that my sons' are decidedly antiTrump. They view everything he does through a lens of contempt. They have decided that not only is he a boor, but that his manners, his lack of decorum and his puffed up ego are not things they wish to emulate. So for them he is a walking BillBoard of "not."

In a world where becoming the most powerful person on the planet is viewed as a worthy goal, but the person who holds that office as of today is thought of as the Court Jester of the world, this truly is not a good thing. The idea that the President of the United States would be held up as the butt of jokes for his behavior, and lack thereof, is not good for the country and it is not good for our children. Yes, the comedians of the past also made fun of former republican Presidents, deriding Reagan, and both Bushes. But these President's held themselves to a socially appropriate standard of behavior. So all comedy aside, no one could attack them for their decorum, and we all knew it. (Whether you agreed with their policies or not is not the issue of this post.)

But what is a parent to do about the behavior issue, if your family, your child, supports Trump? How are you supposed to explain appropriateness to your child without destroying their right to express a political opinion? And no, everyone who supports Trump is not a racist, misogynist, antiMoslem, white supremacist nutjob. Many are simply that part of the Obama coalition, that were forgotten by society. They are the middle class that were promised a future, but found that in  their reality there was no future. So they thought to go another way. Something different. Something untried. Yes, desperate people make desperate leaps of faith. If society truly cared about others in our world we would have seen Trump coming. But we are so self-indulgent that we simply did not. Yes, Trump's election is everyone's fault. It also didn't help any that the Democratic candidate was horrible as well, and for so many other reasons.

My take on behavior management over the next few years is simple. You can teach proper behavior without destroying someone's hold on what they feel is important vis-a-vis society and their own future. Do not denigrate the political ideas (arguing whether they are correct in their views is another matter), but model appropriateness. Talk to your children about differentiating between the man and the position. Whether we liked the POTUS of the moment, or not, we always honored the position, but did not necessarily respect the decisions of the man holding the position.

Yes, it's a tightrope and a fine line to walk with your children. But we do it every day when it comes to music, clothes, movies, and TV, when we try to teach our children the proper way to view the world around them. We don't like everything that culture creates, or has decided is good and better for our world. Holding up the present POTUS to scrutiny truly is no different.

I suppose in many respects it is also a good thing. Cult-like adoration of any politician is anathema to a democracy. We do not elect a King, but a temporary holder of a position, and that goes for Congress, governorships, judges, and state legislatures as well. It is why impeachment of any public official is an essential part of our society. No one who is elected is omnipotent, beyond fallibility, or excused from decorum.

Unfortunately, though, when the present leader of the free world lacks any social norms, it does make our job just a little more harder than normal. Sigh......