Monday, October 02, 2023


I have been reading a good deal online about autism, especially high-functioning, and especially women, and scratching down some things for a post. Yet I might not actually write it. While this was spurred by some observations I think are are new (or at least uncommon) and interesting, it's mostly just learning the topic myself. My knowledge is barely systemetised and I doubt I can provide any summary that is not better done by a hundred others.  I'm not bringing a lot of product to the market, here. 

On the other hand, this group already has a lot of knowledge about the topic (I very much hope the valuable ana maria is still lurking), and starting off a discussion might provide a dock for others to launch from. 

On the other, other hand, this is a topic near to my personal life. I don't think any friends, family, or acquaintances have a formal autism diagnosis. But if we take the wheel rather than the linear spectrum approach to ASD, I fit some aspects, and plenty of people in my circle fit others.* Feelings could be hurt. There's no point in that. I come from a generation that resents anyone thinking they have a diagnosis (of OCD, of ADHD, of anxiety or depression - anything behavioral, actually), but the trend now is that younger people are actively seeking diagnoses, some on flimsy evidence. Frankly, I can't navigate between the two.

So we'll see.  I'll probably put up something, but it doesn't justify the time spent away from the blog. Ah well, this has happened before. We recover.

*It's one of the problems of the diagnosis at present, that most of the behaviors occur in people who in no way have ASD, and some actual ASD behaviors can be either hypo or hyper something - or they can just be more intense versions of what everyone does. It's a real phenomenon, but a mess to discuss intelligently.

Saturday, September 30, 2023


We get given a mixed picture of carnies in the arts. 

Wait a minute, my information is 40 years old.  I have no idea how carnies are portrayed now.

There was one thread, that they were the decent folks, no worse than the normies and perhaps even better, because they had a clannish, supportive network. It was we normies who were the sick ones for rejecting them.

The other thread was that they were cheats with contempt for outsiders, with low-rent morals in every way.

Going to the Deerfield Fair the other day, I suddenly remembered that I had a patient around 1980 who was a carnie, about 35 years old with at least one child.  She was depressed and suicidal, and there was a difficulty because the whole family was moving on to the next fair, but she still wasn't safe to leave. Her story was that she had grown up in a carnie family, eventually marrying a boy she had played with throughout her childhood. This was not unusual. She shrugged at the incest and violence toward women.  It was normal. The drinking and dishonesty, same. She said those who only came on for a season or so, were both better and worse. 

There was a code, as many criminal groups have, that talking to the police or the outside authorities being absolutely forbidden. You grew up being told that the outside world hated you and would never accept you, so you were better off putting up with whatever is handed you by your family and associates. 

The documentary descriptions suggest that it's not anywhere near so bad now.  The law has penetrated and much of the abuse has been eliminated. It used to be that the police took a hands-off approach, figuring they were going away, and were going to be nothing but trouble if you arrested them and held them over for trial. It was asking for violence from the others. The same happened with gypsies in Europe. Just let 'em move on.  People should know the risks dealing with them.  Social workers?  They would need to find a place to keep the women and children while they waited for the dangerous others to get far enough away. Not gonna happen.

I think movement is part of the unenforced law.  The local gendarmes are concerned with the safety of the local citoyens. Their job is to keep the peace in Cheshire County. It is enough to keep a lid on it for five days, tolerating a fair bit, because there is a reason the fair is there - the people want it, and pay money for it. Whatever the hell happens to those girls that we don't see is not our problem. The police were more violent, also. Sometimes "solving" the problem through rough justice. That, of course, only strengthens the insistence that the boundary between carnie and outsider be maintained by internal violence.  The strong in the clan had the primitive justice that such people, usually men, had.

We were talking last night about the old Rochester Fair, and some of the scams the midway would play on customers, fending off any objections to getting cheated with hefty bouncers who suddenly appeared as the realisation that the cash wasn't being given back sunk in.

There were cultures throughout the country years ago that operated like this, with more violence, more isolation, more covering up for each other. Was it worse than in the general population? Almost definitely.  A lot worse? Well, that's a tougher question. There were plenty of people who had been in town for generations who did terrible things, or people that moved into the nicest apartments in the city that beat their wives and cheated people. Those people usually cheated at a much more expensive level, too, and had a longer reach for wives trying to run away.

Yet I don't think you would hear my patient's story of closed violent societies so much anymore.  We were shocked at it then, considering it to be something from an earlier era, surprised it still existed. The frontier functioned in this way to a fair extent. We romanticise it, but my great-grandmother didn't much romanticise her husband heading west and changing his name, leaving her with three children. It wasn't all just restless eccentrics who were misunderstood by the folks in Medina, Ohio.

We disapprove of the surveillance state, but being able to check paternity with DNA and track down deadbeats has been a good thing for women and especially children.


 When someone asks you what your pronouns are.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Primitive Prayer

We think God should give it to us because it is so small and unimportant, such a little thing.  C'mon God, it's not going to disrupt your plan for the world much, if at all. Why not give us this little thing, which would make us disproportionately happier for little effort on your part. We are almost asking in annoyance.  Not almost.  I have asked in annoyance before.

Yet we also think he should answer it because it is so large and import. Jesus, this is my wife I'm asking for. I would trade everything I own for this. 

I think God is pleased when we come to him in prayer of any sort, because it shows we are slowly understanding reality. But beyond that, I don't know his opinion of our different prayers.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Speaking of ACX

His book review winners for the year are up.

The Dawn of Everything - Again

 When Graber and Wenfrow's The Dawn of Everything came out about a year and a half ago I described it in some detail, with no real criticism of it. I had heard Patrick Wyman interview one of them with enthusiasm, and I generally like his stuff. The idea that prehistorical societies were in fact more varied and experimental was one that appealed to me. Commenters who had read it were less enthused. I came back to it about a year ago because it was reviewed in detail at ACX, and people there really didn't like it.  Rob Henderson now reviews it, with much the same disapproval - essentially that the examples and data don't fit their conclusions nearly so well as their preconceived notions fit their conclusions - including the scathing takedown from Freddie deBoer that I also quote in link #2.

I wouldn't bother with something that had so little new information for you except that Henderson tells an anecdote from academia I found interesting.

Some years ago, I watched an interactive course taught by Yale political science professor Ian Shapiro. Shapiro posed a simple question to his two students, a young American man and a young woman from a developing country: “If there were no government, no state at all, what do you think life would be like?”

The woman replied, “Well, from my experience, I come from the world of the failed state. And this much I know: It’s not pretty and it’s gruesome violence. . . . It’s just humiliating, I would say, for human beings to live in a state without structure, without real authority.”²

The man then said, “I think for the most part humans are generally good, they’re good natured and I think it’ll be all right. . . . I have a rosy picture of the human condition, I think.”

The woman stifled a laugh, turned to the professor, and said, “I say that he is American. He’s American. This is why he thinks that.”

Tuesday, September 26, 2023


 This took me a minute

Goethe's Three Questions

My post from 2006 on the subject has over 12,000 hits and is the second-most visited on the site.  It is not my wisdom about the subject, but that others are looking to learn about the topic.  I thought of it during the Ann Althouse discussion of Leonard Cohen berating critics who didn't like Bob Dylan because of his singing voice. He trashed people who liked sweet singing, basically.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe directed that Three Questions be asked about any work of art. They must be answered in order.

1. What was the artist trying to do?

2. How well did he do it?

3. Was it worth the doing?

The point is, until one answers the first two questions, one should not be attempting to answer the third. It is a check on over-hasty judgement, and provides a structure to see things with new eyes.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Dead, Dead, The Child I Lov'd So Well

 Charles Wesley. 

1. Dead, dead the child I loved so well 

Transported to the the world above

I need no more my heart concel

I never dared indulge my love

But may I not indulge my grief

And seek in tears a sad relief?

2. Mine earthly happiness is fled

His mother's joy, his father's hope

Oh had I died in Isaac's stead

He should have lived my age's prop

He should have closed his father's eyes

And followed me to paradise

3. Those waving hands no more shall move

Those laughing eyes shall smile no more

He cannot now engage our love

With sweet insinuating power

Our weakened unguarded hearts ensnare

And rival his creator there

4. From us, and we from him secure

Caught to his heavenly father's breast

He waits, till we the bliss insure

From all these stormy sorrows rest

And see him with our Angel stand

To waft, and welcome us to land

Saturday, September 23, 2023


 Show all Dunkins near me. (Works better clicked)