Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Notes on How to Get Employment During the Great Frustration with High Functioning Autism

There is good news and bad news in the job market. The bad news- with between 30 and 60 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, it's harder than ever to find a job, especially for autistics whose social skills are mere coping skills. But here's the good news- for the professional specialist, search engines like Dice, Monster, and Craigslist have become excellent places to find jobs to apply to. Initial application is now almost entirely electronic- no paper, no "putting yourself out there" in person.

One huge new behavior from HR departments is the electronic pre-screening, by either e-mail or website. Be prepared to actually spend MORE hours on a job search- I saw questionnaires ranging from 30 to 400 questions, covering technical skills, personality profiling, even a little bit of classic IQ testing.

Naturally, the more questions they ask you, the more likely even High Functioning Autism will be uncovered- so it's wise to self-disclose if you should get an interview after such screening.

Be prepared for long periods of unemployment, and be flexible when you get employment. My new job is a 1099 contract (self-employment) with invoicing my hours fo the first 3 months- with an option to become W2 FTE.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The real illegal immigration problem: Lazy Elitest Americans

The real problem with illegal immigration isn't illegal immigrants- it is lazy American Citizens who don't think others deserve the same standard of living they have, combined with ridiculously low fines for their arrogance and criminal behavior.

Case in point from the article:

Annette — who agreed to give only her middle name — owns a two-bedroom condo in Phoenix, which she rents out. Her last tenant, a smoker, just moved away, and in order to fix the lingering cigarette smell, she needs a paint job.

Annette's painter is not authorized to work in the U.S. In fact, he's not authorized to live here, either. His name is Raphael, and he's cheap. Annette says an American painter quoted her $1,200 for the job. Raphael charges $500.

Annette believes American prices are inflated, so paying Raphael the lower wage is justified

So Annette doesn't believe Americans deserve their standard of living- does she include her own family in that? Is she willing to lower her rent so that the poor illegal immigrants like Raphael can rent from her?

"If Raphael didn't come, he would work in a maquiladora in Juarez, and he would make $1 an hour or $2 an hour, whereas here he can make $500 in a matter of five hours," Annette says. "So I have no problem giving him the keys to this condo, because I know he'll do a good job."

Annette is breaking federal law. If caught, she could face a $375 fine. She's small potatoes to federal agents. But things are getting more hostile for people like Annette in Arizona. One provision of the state's controversial immigration law that went into effect last month makes it a crime to slow traffic while picking up day laborers. That's a common practice on some Phoenix street corners.

So let's do the math. Original American job cost, $1200. Annette's worst case scenario: $500 to Raphael, $375 fine. $875 is a lot less than $1200- so of course she's well ahead to hire the illegal immigrant.

I wonder if she'd care if the fine was $50,000?

But better yet- if she really wants to save money, why not learn to paint? I recently had to repair and paint my bathroom- so I asked my dad, a handyman, to help. Total repair bill $210, including a new fan/light/heat unit to prevent damage in the future. Doing the labor ourselves was the difference.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Bully and the Crazy Boy

Thanks to Marc Stiegler for permission to use this. I don't have his original story, so this is paraphrased.

I'm typing this from memory, as oddly I can't find it online. It was part of a sci-fi story I once read, but it's often a theme for outsiders.

There was once a bully and a crazy boy. Every day, the bully would threaten the crazy boy, for his lunch money. And every day the crazy boy would give it to him. One day, a homeless man saw this happening, and took the crazy boy aside, to give him the secret only outsiders to society know; that nobody wants to mess with insane people, for fear they will catch the insanity themselves.

The next day, the crazy boy had no lunch money in his pocket to give, on purpose, and got beaten up. The day after that the bully asked for lunch money again, and was refused, and the crazy boy got beaten up. The day after that the bully asked for lunch money again, and was refused, and the crazy boy got beaten up. The fourth day, the bully asked again, still the crazy boy had no money in his pockets, and got beaten up. On the Fifth day, the crazy boy refused again, but just as the bully was about to start whaling on him again, the crazy boy begged "Don't make me hurt you again!". And the bully suddenly felt his bruised knuckles from beating on the crazy boy, and felt the black eye where the crazy boy had gotten in one good punch, and realized that he had not broken the crazy boy's spirit. And in fear, the bully ran away.
Now here's the dangerous part of the story, from my own experience. Sometimes, even knowing this secret, to learn to banish his own fear, the crazy boy will sometimes use weapons. Effective, sure- a bully prepared for a fistfight certainly is scared of the man with the knife- but frowned on by society at large, and for good reason. The Columbine Killers and Kip Kinkel were such bullied crazy boys.

Learning not to be afraid and take it is hard, but much better. And still better is meta-morality, the art of taking the morally superior high road by knowing one's philosophy well.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Searching for an old duet

I'm not even sure I have the CD anymore- just a few MP3s of my favorite songs from their CD on my phone. Don't know how to spell their names either- I think it was Sammuson & Tomassi, weird spellings from a weird city at a weird time.

It was 1996. I was a single guy back then, very liberal at the time. Spent a lot of my time at The Beanery coffee house in Salem, OR. A lonely geek, three years before I'd figure out women enough to meet my wife and get married, four years before I'd actually find out what was wrong with me with my Asperger's diagnosis.

Fourteen years ago.

One night, a singing duo came into the coffee house. Good 'gonie folk rock, they sung about the values I grew up with as in a Tom McCall Republican household- conservation, living off the land, lots of respect for Native Americans. Some new age thrown in, but I didn't mind that as I hadn't discovered what an Old Age religious guy I was yet.

Wonderful music. At that time in my life I was fairly rich ($36,000/year is a great income for a single guy) so I bought their CD. Only thing I can find on the web now is some old Google links to a couple of concerts they did in the early 2000s. 5/24/2003 seems to have been their last concert.

Good songs on it. Songs that still resonate with me today. Like this one- which you will not find the lyrics to anyplace else on the web (I know, I've tried):

Edge of the Empire

I've worked in the factories and down in the mines
Stood in the rain in the welfare lines
Slept under bridges, lived on the street,
and carried the pain of a thousand defeats.

I've dug in the ditches I've filled out the forms,
And did what I could to try and stay warm,
I've paid all the taxes, the fines and the fees,
I've earned all the titles and all the degrees.

I'm going out where the highway ends,
I'm going out where the world begins,
I'm going over the edge of the empire tonight,
I want to tear the whole thing down,
And start all over again,
I'm going to go out over the edge, tonight.

They've taken the forest and left only stumps,
They've damed up the streams, and they filled in the swamps,
They've plowed all the prairies, the meadows and fields,
And fully perfected the art of the deal,
They've leveled the mountains and hauled them away,
They've paved all the places we used to play,
They've poisoned the pond where we used to swim,
They've done it before and they'll do it again.

I'm going out where the highway ends,
I'm going out where the world begins,
I'm going over the edge of the empire tonight,
I want to tear the whole thing down,
And start all over again,
I'm going to go out over the edge, tonight.

I saw the words on the pumphouse wall
Robin Hood was Right
I saw the signs I heard the call
I felt the movement in the night

I'm going out where the highway ends,
I'm going out where the world begins,
I'm going over the castle wall,
To the land of the water fall
Out beyond the last outpost
Among the spirits and the ghosts
I want to breathe that cool night air
Out beyond the streetlights glare
I want to hear my totem's voice
I got to go I've got no choice

I'm going out where the highway ends,
I'm going out where the world begins,
I'm going over the edge of the empire tonight,
I want to tear the whole thing down,
And start all over again,
I'm going to go out over the edge, .
I want to tear the whole thing down,
And start all over again,
I'm going to go out over the edge,
I'm going to go out over the edge,
I'm going to go out over the edge,
I'm going to go out over the edge, tonight.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Advice for Parents of the Newly Diagnosed

This is written in response to this Call for papers on the subject of autism.

1. Don't Panic. Ok, I know it sounds like the slogan of a certain comedy science fiction book, TV Show, Radio Show, and Movie that a lot of geeks like, but it's true in this case too. That's the first thing you shouldn't do. There are a lot of "charities" and "doctors" out there right now in the internet and in society that are hoping that you'll panic at your child being diagnosed with autism, and accept their cure. Not all of their advice is bad, but not all fits all autistic children or people. And some of their more expensive recommendations are downright awful. So don't panic, do your research, and NEVER accept a single opinion on what is right for your child. ALWAYS ask to see the data.
2. Heavy metal poisoning is the #1 crackpot theory out there today, and there's good reason for it- it's co-morbid with up to 75% of autism cases, depending on whose numbers you believe. However, there's great danger involved here as well; chelation therapy is downright dangerous in the wrong hands, and some are willing to fake lab results to charge you big bucks to kill your child. Be VERY skeptical here.
3. Ok, on to my more standard and positive advice. Autism has as many gifts as it does curses- it's not all bad. One of the best things is obsession. It may seem like a social negative, but for many autistics, it's the key to getting enough money to get one's needs taken care of while staying out of the asylums. Look for your child's obsessions. Find the one you can turn into a hobby, and that has money making potential, and encourage it. One day it will turn into the career that makes all other social problems go away, or at least, pay people to do them for your child.
4. Religion- I used to say that autistics need heavy liturgy. But after reading Autism and Alleluias, I'm revising that. *SOME* autistics are nice and quiet, and they need a heavy liturgical religion, to get the neurotypicals also in the congregation to be quiet enough for the autistic to listen and pay attention. *OTHER* autistics respond in other ways- in the book, young Joel responded best to music- and did best in an African-American Baptist service where he could sing and dance along with the rest of the congregation. Pay attention to your child, and make no assumptions that they will follow the traditions you grew up with. Oh, and this all holds true for non-Christian religions as well; it's not limited.
5. Do Not Be Afraid. Like #1, this is important. If you fear autism, it will overwhelm you. But if you keep optimistic, you'll learn more than you ever dreamed possible- your child will show you a whole new world.
6. Patience is a Virtue. That's true of all special needs parents, but especially true of the autistic. If you react to your child with anger, he'll react back to you with anger. But be patient, and he'll have fewer meltdowns.
7. Sensory issues are probably the #1 true cause of autistic behavior. Find a room in your house that your child can hide in- doesn't need to be much bigger than a closet, most autistics are claustrophiles anyway. Big enough for a recliner or a bed. The autistic should be able to control light, sound, and temperature in this room, and this room should always be available. This is the best way I've seen to control meltdowns. Related, for those with auditory issues, are Red Headphones- the construction site headgear that cuts down sound about 200 db. I know many autistics that has helped.
8. If at all possible, stay together as a couple. The biggest predictor of success in early intervention is if the parents stay married; 50% more vocabulary if the father is in the house. Don't let this split you up. You need each other, so stay together.
9. Related to #8- take time for yourself. Your autistic child's needs can become all consuming- destroying the rest of the family. You can't help him if you're falling apart yourself, so take time away from your autistic child every day.

That's all I can think of right now. I might post more later.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sure wish the anti-Catholics would make up their minds

So, is the Roman Catholic Church too judgemental? Or too merciful?

Or is it just that some people who want it to be merciful for *THEIR* favorite sins, don't like it when the Church is merciful for *OTHER PEOPLE'S* favorite sins?

We're Catholic. We're supposed to believe in *forgiveness* more than sin. But being merciful to a child abuser, apparently, is the unforgivable sin among some Catholics.

Friday, April 2, 2010

An alternative, if crazier than usual, conspiracy theory

The Vatican is claiming that they're being attacked by a Witch Hunt from the New York Times. Well, after reading a few rad-trad Catholic sites and doing my own reading of the NYT's so-called document trail, I think it might go deeper than that, at least if you're schizophrenic, paranoid, and off your meds:

In 1963, the Masonic Pope John XIII convened Vatican II to get the Roman Catholic Church to change it's teaching about God in a very fundamental way. God was no longer the wrathful judge and strict father figure we had grown to love, no, suddenly he's smokin' ganga and handing out mercy to any sinner who asks.

Fast forward 10 years, and a priest in Wisconsin by the Name of Fr. Murphy has been hiding in the confessional, molesting deaf boys during the infamous American Hippie Summer of Love (well, he ended in the Summer of Love, he'd really been doing it for a lot longer before that, but he's clearly a dirty hippie and a member of the vast Masonic Conspiracy against the Church). The families complain to the secular police, but, this being 1974 as the hit TV Drama "Life on Mars" (either American or British Version) would remind us, the secular police figure deaf boys are not credible witnesses and do nothing. The Archbishop removes Fr. Murphy from his post to protect deaf boys in the future, and sends him home to live with his mother for the next 20 years.

Fast Forward to 1996- the Gay and Active Homosexual Archbishop Weakland finds out about the sins of Fr. Murphy- which stopped in 1974. Playing with deaf boys is apparently too much for Archbishop Weakwrist- so he writes to Cardinal Ratzinger for help. After badgering Cardinal Ratzinger for 8 months, the CDF gives in and orders a defrocking trial for Fr. Murphy- who hasn't said a Mass in public in 22 years anyway.

Fast forward another 2 years, and Fr. Murphy is near death. He writes out his confession and sends it to the CDF- claiming to be repentant for his past sins and begging for Mercy (remember, that's what the liberals wanted for the Church- preaching a more merciful God, back in Vatican II). He gets his mercy- the CDF stops the trial- and dies two days later, still a priest (despite the fact that the trial would have ended in his defrocking, had it continued and had he not died before the Prosecution had finished interviewing witnesses).

Fast forward 12 more years- Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope, and the liberal New York Times suddenly, 12 years after the fact, breaks this story. But apparently times have changed, and the liberals are no longer for Mercy- so they're suddenly asking the Pope why he gave Fr. Murphy mercy on his death bed.

No, I don't believe the above conspiracy theory either- but Fucking Dirty Hippies seem to have caused *both* the scandal in the first place (after all, Fr. Murphy's sins took place, at the end, during the "Summer of Love" when we were supposed to free ourselves here in America from all sexual morality), and the response (Mercy for past sins! Forgiveness for all!), and the response to the response (The Pope must resign for his coverup! He didn't defrock this priest!). Which leaves Pope Benedict XVI, not a perpetrator, but a VICTIM!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are we our brother's keeper?

Opposition to providing every human being with health care *of some sort* is Cain and Abel all over again.

I *am* my brother's keeper. Matthew 25 says I will be judged by how I treat him. By what stretch of the imagination can we be greedy and say "I don't care what happens to him"?

And the wages for this sin aren't far behind. In today's world where oppressed people commit acts of terrorism, the lack of health care is a HUGE defensive hole that fails to be filled. If I were al Qaida, I'd be concentrating on highly contagious diseases. Far better than a suicide bomber with a vest of dynamite, is one guy with a cough and a bunch of frequent flyer miles in a country with inadequate health care.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My life gets VERY weird

Or at least, some people I'm close to are getting strange.

Christopher's godparents are getting a divorce- and she's cracking up, been diagnosed with a whole host of mental illness problems.

Our pastor at St. Clare's has decided at 57 that he no longer wants to be alone the rest of his life- at least he's doing the right thing by resigning from the priesthood instead of causing a scandal by breaking his vow of celibacy. I admire his integrity in this choice, but what timing! He'll be lucky to have a job again in less than six months- right now the average unemployment period in Oregon for *anybody* is more like a year or two. Six applicants for every job. OTOH, for his direct problem of loneliness attached to his vow of celibacy- he's the man, he's the man, he's the man- who doesn't exist. Moral, upright, never been divorced because he's never been married, and over 50, an age where single women outnumber single men 2:1. I suspect he'll have a girlfriend or six within a week of saying his last mass on Sunday.

Deadlines at work this week mean I have no time to process the above, and whammo- my car died on the commute this morning. Spent an extra $45 for a rental car for today- but I fully intend to return it this evening. Luckily next week is spring break- Shannon can help ferry me around somewhat, and Trimet can take care of the rest.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Terrorists Have Won

An interesting post- and an interesting point. The War on Terror has been utterly, utterly lost, and:

It doesn’t matter either way. Dead or alive, Osama bin Laden is the greatest strategist in the history of human conflict. With no navy or air force or anything that resembles a formal army, he’s managed to whip the world’s mightiest nation like a rented camel. Our economy is shot, the best-trained, best-equipped military in history has been proven impotent, and our moral standing in the world has gone through the sub-basement.

I seem to remember making a similar point before the 2004 election- that the Republicans, as war makers, were a failure to invade Iraq, and that one old guy in a Turban with a kidney condition had effectively beat the US military all hollow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Hope for Autism

A wonderful alternative to Autism Speaks, A Hope for Autism, is having a fundraising dinner April 10th at the Benson Hotel in Portland.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why pro-lifers should have supported the ERA

The original Equal Rights Amendment was simple- the law should have no gender differences.

A man makes his decision to become a father the instant he has consensual sex, at least, under the law. I should emphasize the word consensual; we're not talking about rape or incest here, we're talking about normal sex, inside of some form of committed relationship.

He can't back out past that point. Yet Roe V.Wade allows a woman to. This creates a difference in the law- a difference in parental rights.

Yeah, I know, women try to justify it with "It's my body and I have to give up 9 months of my life for the child". But I'm talking cusps here- the moment of decision. And the moment of decision, legally, should be the same for a man as for a woman.

And that moment shouldn't be *after* the fact.

Non-consensual sex, like incest and rape, isn't included in this. In fact, I consider abortion due to incest and rape to be murder- and the murderer to be the rapist, just as much as if a bank robber shot a pregnant woman in the uterus.

Life of the mother decisions also aren't really included in this- when a gun is held against your head in other circumstances, the law doesn't call your actions a choice, and neither should it for a woman whose life is threatened by a pregnancy.

Health of the child decisions are the pure evil of eugenics; just talk to any parent who lost a child in the first few weeks of life and ask if they had it to do over again would they choose abortion. You'll find even the tiniest, shortest, human lives have great meaning.

No, I'm solely talking about the evil of using abortion as backup birth control here- and that includes the overdose of birth control pills known as the morning after pill. If women TRULY want to be equal to men, then they need to accept that consensual sex, even with the use of modern birth control methods, contains the slight chance of a pregnancy- and that's the risk they take having consensual sex to begin with. The decision to be parents, is contained in the sex act itself; if you don't want to be a parent yet, don't have sex.

And that's the lesson we need to hammer in to all of our young people- male and female.
Correcting some logical assumption holes in the above, thanks to some questions I ran into on slashdot:

It's more the idea of the ERA- that we shouldn't be writing gender differences into law. Well, being allowed to choose whether or not you're going to be a parent after having sex is a HUGE gender difference- one which should not be allowed except in rare cases, and even those rare cases should be either the *sole* decision of an emergency room doctor or having the man involved prosecuted for murder, same as any other crime that causes the death of a fetus.

On the Eugenics is Pure Evil, I thought that was pretty much a given based on Godwin's law. But I can think of three reasons not related to facism, so here they are:
1. For any given species to survive and evolve, it needs genetic diversity. Species that don't have genetic diversity have a tendency to run into trouble with double recessive and double dominant genes. Eugenics, in the search of the "perfect child", reduces genetic diversity.
2. Who gets to decide what the perfect human looks like anyway? Parental achievement is no indication- many geniuses come from impoverished or even mental illness backgrounds. Many crooks come from upper crust backgrounds. There are no good indicators.
3. The labeling of disabilities with good quality of life as preventable genetic diseases. A good example of this is Achondroplasia Dwafism, which is a rather benign form of dwarfism as long as your child isn't double-dominant; most Achondroplasia Dwarfs live long and happy lives. Yet it's on the list of normal human variety to be wiped out in the next generation by abortion.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Clarification on Marriage Laws: the serious version

I'm Roman Catholic. To me, that means marriage is a sacrament designed to last, and even divorce should not be permitted.

Recently I participated in a joke post on somebody else's blog, playing devil's advocate:
Why California can no longer afford divorce

But I fear it might have left my real position confused.

So here goes- the gay agenda has highlighted one thing in particular. Writing marriage into civil law comes dangerously close to violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Which causes a conflict for me between faith and patriotism.

Thus I propose this answer: We split civil recognition of marriage into three parts.

First of all, Sacramental marriages may no longer be recognized by the State at all. They are fully in the province of religion, and follow the rules of the religious sect of the person who officiates at the marriage. The person officiating at the ceremony has the full right to require premarital classes and counseling, and based on the results of that reject doing the ceremony.

The Second recognizes that the State does indeed have an interest in promoting procreation. For that purpose, we use the word marriage as we always have, but with a twist. This marriage cannot be dissolved by divorce while there are still children under the age of 18 in the household, except by reason of physical abuse. Also, the state reserves the right to annul any marriage that does not produce children, and refuse a marriage license to any couple either not intending to, or incapable of, producing children. The exception to the right of annulment on the part of the State is an active intent to adopt, with the adoption process already in progress.

The third recognizes and solves the discrimination of the second. The State also has an interest in encouraging cohabitation for the combining of household resources. But this isn't marriage- this is Civil Unions. Civil unions should not discriminate based on race, color, creed, sex, gender, sexual orientation, species, age, or number of participants. Civil unions may, or may not, have a term limitation not exceeding 30 years, renewable five times. Civil union contracts may be dissolved before the term limitation for any reason. Civil unions effectively create a corporate household in which all members share all benefits of contracts signed by the household equally, including power of attorney and right of visitation for each other.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sometimes, the consumer isn't king

Or rather, in certain industries in the United States, the consumer isn't the customer. Yeah, that's right- especially in Debit and credit cards apparently, the consumer isn't the customer, the bank is. VISA and MasterCard especially, but also smaller networks, sell their brand name to banks. To get banks to buy their brand name (for which they get a few pennies off of every transaction) they have been pushing up the fees in a perverse price-inflation competition, which returns those interchange fees to the banks. Which raises the price on EVERYTHING else you buy- because it is the consumer that ultimately pays these interchange fees.

In other words- a certain business has learned how to enact a completely legal, hidden sales tax. von Mises must be spinning in his grave- it's a case of laisez faire competition raising prices and creating inefficiencies equal or greater than any government bureaucracy.

Funny how the Roman Catholic Church predicted something like this- this was the reason usury was considered a sin to begin with.
Creative Commons License
Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at http://outsidetheaustisticasylum.blogspot.com.