A most awesome letter from a parent of an Aspie

I am an Aspie.

I am married to an Aspie.

We have two sons – both of whom have been identified as Aspies.

Not surprisingly, I have some opinions about Asperger’s Syndrome and all the facets of life which affect Aspies.

Every now and then, I have written about the ‘Aspie experience’ and some of the tools I developed to help myself and my sons.  Judging from the bog stats, I really ought to focus more on this – aside from a few  posts (Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow and some of the sharia write-ups I’d posted).

Today, I got a most gratifying comment on a post I had written a while back about Aspergers and Writing.  I know, it is a serious self indulgence to wallow in praise, but, if refreshing the post with a new link to this fresh post helps more Aspies, I’m willing to take the flack!

Here is the comment:

I just found your blog.  Wow, wish I had seen this a long time ago.  It should be required reading for all special ed teachers.  My son was not diagnosed until the end of 10th grade (after failing English when previously a straight A student), and we have endured an often contentious relationship with the school’s special ed coordinator and the school psychologist during that time and since.  At the end of his 11th grade year we had the IEP meeting, during which the first one asked him, “can’t you just write something to get it done?”, and the latter called him a snob.  And this is a year down the road!!!  It’s clear that too many of the people that are supposed to be caring for our children in the public school environment are woefully undereducated, and  some also lack the empathy that the unfamiliar accuse the Aspies of not having.  We finally found a teacher in the school who undertstands Aspies (and who admitted privately that she cringed at those statements during the
meeting), and she is wonderful.  My question is why didn’t they allow us access to her last year, when my son had to be assisted by a special education “clerk,” who had no conception of his difficulties or abilites,  who badgered him with “do you want to fail?” comments, and who evidently never bothered to pick up a book and learn about it during that time.  I guarantee you, from my now huge Aspie book library, I know more about the condition than either of the people in that school that were allowed to make decisions about my son’s education, or the person that was directly working with him.  If they had read your post, which would take about 5 minutes, they would have understood.  I think you have explained exactly the problem from the Aspie side–I think this is what my son has been trying to explain to them for 2 years.  So, anyone else with problems with the school:  number one, don’t take it as long as I did, and don’t assume the people in charge will advocate for your child;
number two, print some information from this blog and give it to every teacher, the special ed department, and the principal.  You want to know a funny thing?  My son was one of about 15 kids in the county that was nominated for a National Merit Award due to his test scores on the PSAT (no writing portion, of course).  To apply for the award, the student must write an essay!!!!  He decided to write it about not being able to write essays due to the Asperger’s, and about his difficulties at school due to this.  Somehow I doubt he’ll win, but good for him.  Thanks for explaining something so difficult so well, and I appreciate the time it takes you, trust me!!!!

Prostituting the legal system….

Yesterday, a Toronto judge struck down as unconstitutional three laws which many Canadians regarded as the key legislation against prostitution.

I have been rather preoccupied in publishing the responses Ottawa Municipal election candidates have sent me as an answer to the questions I asked them (it took me about 50 hours to develop the list of questions itself – I was not about to slack off on posting any and all responses I got to it!!!).  As such, I have not really had much of a chance to see the reactions to the ruling…..  In other words, my ‘take’ on it is not influenced by having noted any of the reactions to it ‘out there’!

Well, the government which governs the least, governs the best!

The legal situation, as it was before this ruling, was ridiculous beyond belief!

The logic – if one can call it that – of the laws surrounding ‘prostitution’ in Ontario was so twisted, it is about time they were struck down!

‘Prostitution’ itself was not illegal in Canada.  Perhaps it was because even the lawmakers understood that their jurisdiction does not extend to governing our bodies (OK – they still need to figure this out with respect to what I choose to put inside it, from sugar or salt of hydrogenated oils to any other chemical compound), perhaps there is something else – I am simply not legally informed enough to know this. The fact remains that Ontario had no law which made ‘prostitution’ ‘illegal’.

However, there was a catch….

There were three laws which made it illegal to:

  • enter into a contract regarding prostitution (solicitation)
  • to accept, as payment, money earned through prostitution (living off the avails of prostitution)
  • to practice prostitution indoors (operate a house of prostitution)

Yes, for many people whose religious beliefs condemn prostitution, the term is highly charged.  If so, I would like to invite you to simply replace the term with something which will permit you to evaluate the legal situation more impartially.

Again, I stress that this is NOT to be an evaluation of ‘prostitution':  only of the legal mess ‘governing’ it.  These are two separate matters.  One is a matter of morality – something each person should arrive at their own conclusions about.  The other is the quality (or lack thereof) of laws Ontario and Canada have on this activity.

This ‘exercise’ is only meant to address the laws themselves – not the practice they address.

So, we have:

  • an activity which is not illegal

BUT

  • entering into a legal contract regarding this legal activity is illegal

In what world does THAT make sense?

We also have

  • a perfectly legal activity

BUT

  • even though it does not present any greater danger to participate in said activity indoors (like, say, storing bbq-gas-tanks would), it is illegal to have an indoor place to participate in it

D-ugh!?!?!?!

Again, this is a logically inconsistent law.

Oh, I understand the intent of it!  After all, when it is -40 degrees outside, being forced to perform sexual acts outdoors tends to shrink the practice….

But that is, at best, a dishonest law!  The lawmakers knew they could not get away with outlawing the practice, as it would breech a person’s inherent rights to do with their own body as they please, so they try to slime their way out of it!!!  Shame on them!

And, perhaps most ridiculously, we have

  • a perfectly legal activity to earn income

BUT

  • it is illegal to spend any money earned this way AND it is illegal for a person to accept, as payment for services rendered, any money earned through this activity by their customer

In other words, if a prostitute hired a book-keeper, and this book-keeper accepted (as payment for her/his services in providing bookkeeping) money that their client earned through prostitution, it is the book-keeper who had committed an illegal act!

Of course, book-keepers are not the only ones who could be criminally charged not because of anything THEY did themselves, but because their clients earned their money through one specific – perfectly legal – activity!!!

If a prostitute had a cleaning-lady, the cleaning-lady (or cleaning-gentleman:  I once knew a couple who earned their living this way together, so I want to make sure to be inclusive here), this person could ALSO be facing criminal charges.  NOT for something he or she did  – but because of the specific legal way their boss earned the money he or she paid them with.

Same goes for cooks, babysitters, body-guards, hairdressers, or any other service provider.  WHAT they did was irrelevant.  HOW their client earned their money could  make them face criminal charges!

THOSE WERE BAD LAWS!!!

(…and that is using very mild language….)

Aside:  Please, remember ‘Xanthippa’s First Law of Human Dynamics’ – each and every law (or rule) WILL, eventually, be applied to its maximum potential illogical extreme!

Under these laws, a lawyer who was hired to represent a bank-robber – and was paid with illegally acquired money – would NOT be breaking the laws…..but a lawyer hired by a prostitute and paid with LEGALLY EARNED money COULD face criminal charges!!!!

However you look at it, these laws were in serious need of being struck down.

So, what about the morality of prostitution?

What does THAT matter?!?!?!?

Governments must NEVER be permitted to legislate MORALITY!!!!

…blogging has been light…

When I said that ‘blogging will be light’, I had not realized just HOW light it would be….

However, technical difficulties aside, I have started posting the replies to my questions which the Ottawa municipal candidates have been kind enough to send me.  I must admit I was pleasantly surprised just how many responses I received, as well as with how well many had answered…

I am still posting the answers (and ward by ward overviews of who’s running, their website (if I know it) and a link to the response to my questions), so more ‘stuff’ will be popping up, but if you’d like to check the site out, you can do so here.

In the meantime, I’ve been asked for the link to this interesting article by so many people I’ve mentioned it to, I’d better post it here for your entertainment!

Blogging will be light…

…as I am working to set up a new blog on which I will post the responses which I received from the Ottawa Municipal Elections 2010 candidates – responses to the questions I had sent them.

Why?

Because I have never seen this many people actively taking an active part in the democratic process of election – especially on the municipal level!  THIS IS AWESOME!

These people deserve all the help they can get in getting their message across:  especially the newcomers to the political world.

For those unfamiliar with the Ottawa municipal scene:  during the last election, the people of Ottawa had elected a maverick-of-a-mayor, a newcomer to the political scene, in order to ‘bring about change.  But, being the cautious folk we are, we had elected every single City Councilor who ran for re-election – the very crowd that had built the status quo and loved it!

Exactly….

This election, we are seeing a definite change:  at no time in my memory have so many ‘ordinary’ folk from all walks of life (read, not just ‘professional politicians’ and lawyers) and running both for the position of Mayor as well as for the City Council.

So many, in fact, they are getting ‘drowned out’!

With over a hundred people running, it is difficult for mainstream media to give us in-depth analysis of each candidate (provided their ‘impartial reporting’ would actually do more good than harm) – so, an pre-canned sound-bite here and there is about the best coverage most of the candidates are likely to get.  (CFRA is trying – but, there is only so much coverage one lone radio station can give.)

How is a three-second cookie-cutter sound-bite supposed to tell us who the different candidates are and what they stand for?

Well, if they were willing to put in the effort to run, the least I should do is to provide them an opportunity to differentiate themselves.  So, I emailed each and every one of the candidates which lists an email address my email interview questions.  Over 120 of them.

For those who do not, I posted the questions here – they are free to get them, fill out the questions and submit them to me.  Either, they can do so as a comment, or they can send me a comment with their email address and I’ll contact without publishing the comment with their private info.

Since the very first ‘full’ reply got most of the answers ‘perfectly right’, I fell uncomfortable about publishing the results as they come in:  the later- answerers would have the benefit of becoming ‘enlightened’ by this one particular set of answers (NOT from a front-runner – YET!).

So, instead, I will set up a page for the Mayoralty race and a separate page for each Ward, in which I’ll list all the candidates, their websites (provided they took less than 5 minutes on Google to find:  with 0ver 140 candidates….but if ANYONE knows a website link I missed, please let me know and I’ll add it), their response to my questions (I say ‘response’, because some of them are honest, well thought out answers while others range from very polite questions of their own to not so polite PFO’s from their underlings).

I may (or may not) also note official endorsements and ‘slates’.  But, as I am an Aspie (and therefore very slow at this because I tend to get sidetracked….I have the attention span of a gnat on antihistemines), I have already put well over a hundred hours to setting it up, so, as they say, we’ll see!

So, that is ‘coming soon’.

Until the construction is done, blogging here will be light…

Thank you for your patience.

Videos from Watson/McGuinty accountability rally 18th of September, 2010

My photos are here.

Here are the videos from BigBlueWave:

VideoManOttawa also has videos from the rally: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, her, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Danno’s channel (The Unsustainable Taxpayer) also has videos:  Part 1 of 3 (intro), 2 of 3 and 3 of 3(will update when link is up).

Thank you, all, for posting the videos!

‘Collaborators’ will be lined up against a wall and blogged!

Thank you, Suzanne from BigBlueWave!

Photos from Watson/McGuinty protest rally on September 18th, 2010

(Updated to include a video link)

Today, there was a protest at Jim Watson’s election office. I was there, taking photos.

(And, yes – they even let me say a few words….but I was so nervous, having NEVER spoken in public before, I covered barely a quarter of the stuff I prepared.  Some people took videos – I’ll post them when I see them.) As always,  the ladies organizing the rally were there (and I DO use the term ‘ladies’ in the best sense).

Debbie Jodoin:

Shirley Mosley used puppets to illustrate how Mr. McGuinty’s puppet, Mr. Watson, hippety-hoppeties from Municipal to Provincial to Municipal politics:

Mr. Nick Vandergraght was a crowd favourite:

As was Sharon, also from CFRA:

Ruth Parent, a behind-the-scenes helper to Debbie and Shirley during these protests also said a few words:

And, ‘Debbie’s sound guy’ – who has a YouTube channel called ‘TheUnsustainableTaxpayer’ where he uploads the videos from the protest, also spoke passionately:  

Despite technical difficulties, Sam also spoke:

A very pleasant surprise was that ‘Calculus’ (as he is known on this blog) came and said hello (our first real-life meeting ever): Suzanne from BigBlueWave also said hi to me:  when her video is up, I’ll post it! And, of course, there were many ‘disgruntled citizens’, exercising their freedom:

As usual, if you want any of these (or of the 200 or so other pictures I took) in higher resolution, comment and I will contact you with the pictures requested.

The videos will be posted as they come online.

Binks is back – but others are still endangered

This is a blogger’s nightmare:  an anonymous, uninformative letter tells you ‘somebody’ complained about ‘something’ on your blog, so your provider froze it and locked you out….

No info on what the offending material was…

No means to remove it…

It’s a blogging version of that creek and lack of paddles…

Luckily, Binks is back!

Read about his struggle – and the still ongoing battle others are engaged in.  It is informative.  There are whole companies ‘out there’ making a living by harassing bloggers…

(FYI – This is why most bloggers start out anonymously.   Unlike journalists, we do not have any employer to shield us from harassment, lawfare, or worse.  Only after a blogger develops a regular readership and the online support network that goes with it do we dare reveal our real-life names.)

H/T:  BCF

Email interview for Ottawa Election Candidates 2010


The following set of questions will be emailed today to all the candidates who list an email – the rest can find it here, should they be interested.

If at least 10-15 of the candidates do respond, I will set up a separate blog at which I will post all the responses I receive (by Mayor/Ward#).

This election is likely to see many changes in the municipal political scene – and so it should be. Still, it can be confusing for the ‘regular voter’ to know who’s who and what their defining values are.

In order to help the voters identify which candidate stands for what, I have put together a few questions which I would appreciate if you would answer. In order to identify everyone’s stand on some of the issues which are important to the Ottawa taxpayers at this time, some of the questions are provocative, pointed and otherwise biased in order to highlight each candidate’s uniqueness.

If you would like to answer any or all of my questions (feel free to pick and choose), I will post each reply on a dedicated blog. It might not get a lot of traffic – but, then again, it might take off. All I ask is that the questions be answered by the candidate and not their political staff and that they be honest, direct and heartfelt.

(If some of the questions make you mad – please, say so: they are meant to! Which questions make you mad just may help voters identify with your core values! If none of the questions get you ‘hot under the collar’, then I have failed and I apologize.)

Part 1: tell us about yourself

1.1

Why did you decide to run for public office now – as opposed to another time?

1.2

Why did you decide to run for the Municipal level of government, as opposed to the Provincial or Federal?

1.3

What makes you the best candidate for this job?

1.4

What separates you from all the other candidates?

1.5

Whom do you admire and why?

Part 2: decision making

Each of the following questions will present you with 2 options: sometimes, these may be congruent, sometimes not. It does not matter. This section is meant to highlight, if elected, how much relative relevance you would give these considerations in YOUR decision making.

Dividing ten points between the two choices in each question, please indicate how many you would give to each of the two options presented (ensuring the sum adds up to 10).

Example: When considering a snack, how would you rate ‘healthy’ vs ‘convenient’?

Healthy __6___

Convenient __4___

(A snack can be both healthy and convenient – this just tells us, the voters, which quality you would consider more, and by how much.)

Please, feel free to comment as well.

2.1

To whom is the primary responsibility of the City Council?

City employees _______

Taxpayers _______

2.2

When introducing new initiatives (or evaluating existing ones), what should be the relative importance of these to each other?

‘Environmental good’ _____

Taxpayer burden _____

2.3

When introducing policies intended to change the behaviour of the citizens of Ottawa, how would you balance the following?

Advice of experts _____

Voter feedback _____

2.4

When motivating citizens to use public transit, how would you balance these two approaches?

Making it easier, more convenient and especially safer to use public transit _____

Introducing penalties/fees/traffic tie-ups to discourage the use of private vehicles _____

2.5

Who is responsible for the welfare of children?

Parents _____

Public officials (including all variety of school programs) _____

2.6

What is the relative importance of these?

Individual (including property) rights _____

‘Public good’ _____

2.7

What should be the relative focus of any government?

Providing services to citizens _____

Enabling citizens to provide for themselves _____

2.8

When implementing a policy that may not be popular, which is preferable?

Legislating behaviour _____

Permitting those citizens who wish to ‘opt in’ to do so, with no penalty to the rest _____

2.9

What is a better way to help people with ‘drug problems’?

Needle exchange/safe injection site programmes _____

0 tolerance of illegal drug users (including marijuana) _____

(I specify drug ‘users’, as opposed to ‘dealers’)

2.10

In policing, what is the relative importance of:

‘Public Good’ initiatives – such as ‘driver sobriety spot checks’ by police _____

Respecting the constitutional rights of citizens (random police checks illegal) _____

2.11

Who is entitled to decide the fate of trees?

The property owner (whose house may be getting damaged by the tree) _____

The community (as represented by City Officials) _____

2.12

Which is more harmful to the environment?

Raw Sewage _____

Carbon Dioxide _____

2.13

If ‘security’ and ‘freedom’ are in conflict, which should take precedence?

Security _____

Freedom _____

2.14

If a city official (such as a police officer or a by-law officer) is attempting to carry out an illegal order or to enforce an illegal law/by-law (one which contravenes the Canadian Constitution), what should be the reaction of the citizen?

Shut up and obey, like a good little slave _____

Place the city official under citizen’s arrest _____

2.15

Where do rights originate from (and thus reside with)?

Individual _____

Society _____

Part 3: Short and to the point

Please answer the following questions in 10 words or less.

3.1

What is the main purpose of government?

3.2

What is the main purpose of fines?

3.3

What is the proper role of by-laws?

3.4

Currently, the average salary (and benefits) of the City of Ottawa employee is roughly double the average salary (and benefits) of private sector employee (this average includes the high salaries of CEO’s and other executives – as shown in multiple studies). Under what conditions is this justifiable?

3.5

In many City of Ottawa departments, the workers and managers are members of the same labour union. Is this proper?

3.6

Should the City of Ottawa have departments which duplicate the services (and often undermine the policies) of Provincial and/or Federal departments?

3.7

Many businesses in Ottawa claim the amount of ‘red tape’ they have to go through simply to exist is excessive. Is this a problem?

3.8

Under what conditions is it justifiable for a government to financially subsidize one business, but not another?

3.9

Is ‘reverse discrimination’ also a form of discrimination?

3.10

Under what conditions should governments be permitted to fund non-core, non-essential programmes/services?

3.11

Does accommodating sensitivities of ANY/ALL religious groups by the City of Ottawa a breech the separation of ‘government’ and ‘religion’?

3.12

Should elected city officials be subjected to a specific term limit? If so, how long?

3.13

Similarly, should city employees (perhaps with the exception of front-line police officers, firefighters and paramedics) face a similar cap of a maximum number of years in the civil service (say, 15 or so)? (This would help bridge the public/private sector gulf and enrich both, as well as slow the destructive trend of emerging ‘privileged class’ of civil servants we are seeing in our society.)

3.14

Why should the City of Ottawa permit the operation of businesses (such as clubs) which ban a citizen from becoming a member based on their gender (or which set aside hours of operation for members of a specific religion)?

3.15

Should the City of Ottawa tolerate the practice of gender discrimination in any form, including ‘gender segregation’ on City property? (In privacy/modesty situation, the existing measures such as ‘family changing rooms’ and ‘family rest-rooms’ are a perfect accommodation to all without implementing gender apartheid.)

3.16

Should City of Ottawa financially support public events (including sports competitions) which practice gender apartheid? Should it tolerate such intolerance in City owned facilities?

3.17

It is difficult for most non-communications specialists to be ‘perfectly bilingual': still, it is even more difficult to be ‘perfectly trilingual’. As such, the current City of Ottawa language policy unfairly prevents non-linguist allophones, mostly from immigrant backgrounds (such as myself) from even seeking employment with The City. If elected, will you work towards a more inclusive, tolerant workplace which only requires ‘functional bilingualism’, and only in ‘front-line positions’ for personnel which is directly serving the public?

Part 4 – deeper questions

Please, answer the following questions.

4.1

The classical role of government is defined as protecting territorial integrity (not applicable to a municipal government), protecting the security of person and property of its citizens and providing an impartial and objective judiciary. This is a much narrower role than what the modern governments tend to play. Most citizens would likely agree that the role of municipal government also includes supplying clean water, proper sewage treatment/waste (garbage) disposal and road infrastructure.

Should a municipal government to provide any service other than listed above? (Please list.)

Why/why not?

4.2

This will be difficult to put in practice, but…

Do you support, in principle, the assertion that since civil servants are paid from the salaries of ‘regular citizens’, the average civil service salary should not be higher than the average salary in the private sector?

If elected, would you work towards implementing this principle into practice?

4.3

Multiple studies over decades have established that people who regularly use public transit suffer from many more infectious illnesses than people who don’t. If elected, what measures will you pursue to minimize this public health hazard?

4.4

Public transit is used by downtown commuters more than any other group. Yet, most of the people who work downtown are civil servants – whose salary is, on average, already roughly double that of people working in private industry. As such, concentrating on providing increased public transit service to downtown is an additional subsidy to already overpaid civil servants. When the property taxes are rising to unprecedented high levels, forcing people from their homes, how can such a blatant subsidy to already overpaid bureaucrats be justified?

4.5

Cities which have light rail public transit are increasingly converting their systems to uses buses. Since the accommodation to the unions states that no rail system which the City of Ottawa might implement would reduce the number of drivers/commuters had been made, there will not be any cost savings on the salary of operators if a rail-based transit system is brought in. Yet, the construction of rail-based transit systems is much higher than of bus-based systems while at the same time it lacks the flexibility inherent to a bus-based transit system. If there is a justification for a publicly run transit system (which is far from established), will you oppose all the hair-brained schemes involving rail-based system in favour of a reasonable, bus-based system?

It looks like they’ll let me say a few words…

While I am not one of the organizers of the September 18th demonstration in front of Jim Watson’s office (and, yes – it is rumoured that Mr. Watson himself plans to attend the protest rally), they WILL let me say a few words…

Mr. Watson has been campaigning on the premise that he works through ‘consensus building’ – something he claims is a ‘positive’ thing which his opponent lacks.

I intend to say a few words as to what exactly that means:  and why governing through ‘consensus building’ is anti-democracy!

If you want to learn more, please, come to the rally (if you can):

Date:  September 18th, 2010

Time:  High Noon

Place:  Jim Watson’s campaign office, 1355 Richmond Rd., Ottawa

UPDATE: They did!

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