Sunday, December 30, 2007

The 2007 Ignoble Awards

Improbable Research

I think that my favourite this year is "LINGUISTICS: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.
REFERENCE: "Effects of Backward Speech and Speaker Variability in Language Discrimination by Rats," Juan M. Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, vol. 31, no. 1, January 2005, pp 95-100"

Who knew that rats had so many language problems?

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Friday, December 28, 2007

I hadn't seen this one for a while, and it always makes me laugh

(and yes, this is what having triplets is like!)

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Free-fall "zero-g dance" to be performed this weekend, inspired by Hugo-winning novel "Stardance" - Boing Boing

Free-fall "zero-g dance" to be performed this weekend, inspired by Hugo-winning novel "Stardance" - Boing Boing

Wow- this is COOL! I love both Spider's and Jeanne's work, so I'm very excited about seeing this. It's also neat to see that what we considered "science fiction" in the 70s is actually coming true. Cool.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Even with the best of motivations, sometimes organizations make mistakes. It sounds like The NYU Child Study Center had the very best of intentions with their new ad campaign, but it is unfortunate that it reinforces negative stereotypes of the very people that they are trying to help. Although we definitely have daily problems and worries associated with autism, and I wish that my kids didn't have to deal with it, they don't need "rescuing"...they need support and acceptance to make their lives better.

I find the idea of "ransom notes" particularly children are autistic- they were not "kidnapped", and have not been taken hostage by this is part of who they are. I would definitely prefer that they didn't have to struggle every day, but if they were not autistic they would NOT be the wonderful people that they are...they might be wonderful in a different way, but autism has not ruined their lives (or mine, for that matter). They are not a "detriment" to the people around them (check out the ADHD "ransom note")- in fact, I've been told many times by their workers and doctors that their lives are richer for having known them.

While I know that NYU is doing some great work, and I am sure that they had the best of intentions with this ad campaign, I find it incredibly frustrating that they are trying to make my children (and people who share a psychiatric diagnosis) objects of pity and fear. I have long ago come to some kind of acknowledgment within myself that they will never get all of the help and support that they deserve in order to help them live their lives to the fullest, but it is painful and appalling to me that the organizations who are most in a position to support them apparently still view them as objects of pity and scorn.

If you have a minute, please write a simple email to one of the addresses in the link. Changing social views of autistic people is a slow process, but it will make the world of difference to my kids, at least, and they deserve to be seen as the wonderful, talented, loving, and "useful" people that they are, and not just as people who have been taken "hostage" by a trick of birth.


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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Flying Puppets / Wonder Bread -

Flying Puppets / Wonder Bread - Boing Boing TV

Fun stuff- neat flying machines. I like the "Jules Verne" made out of Saran Wrap and drinking straws.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 � A Connection between Cell Phone Use and Autism? � A Connection between Cell Phone Use and Autism?

My new favourite "cause" of autism (sarcasm heavily on). So far my all-time favourite "cause" was one that I found the night that I was told that all 3 of my triplets had autism. We got home from the doctor's office in pretty much a state of shock...being who I am, as soon as I got them to bed that night I went online to find out what I could about it, as prior to then my only experiences of autism had been "Rain Man", and a friend who worked as an aide and got bitten every day by the child that she was working with.

Google didn't even exist at that point...I think that I used Hotbot to search. And the very first site that I read was a "wonderful" website which posed the theory that autistic children were actually emissaries for the aliens who had been trying to contact us for the last 50 years (unfortunately I think that the site is gone now, but this was is 1997, which is officially the dark ages as far as the internet is concerned)...finally the aliens had given up on stealing trailer trash on their way home from the bars and anal-probing them, and decided to breed a new race of "super-communicators" instead, hence, autistic children were created.

I live in hope that at some point most of the human race might be able to use their critical thinking facilities and stop coming up with these ass-brained ideas.

Cell phone use? Aside from the fact that this idiot seemingly has no idea of autism incidence over the last 20 years (look at for information on incidence and the "epidemic"), does this guy actually think that autism can be boiled down to one specific cause, especially one as minor as this?

I weep for the future of our kids at times...if half of the energy that was spent looking for "cause" was as devoted to accepting our kids, and figuring out the most appropriate ways to help them function in society as much as they need to in order to be happy and productive citizens, I think that we'd all be a lot better off. My blood pressure level would be, at least.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A nice idea if you're looking for a charity to donate to before Christmas. I know that one of my military triplet families benefited from this last year, and it was a great start to their Christmas season.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Father Slashes Autistic Son to Death

Father Slashes Autistic Son to Death

I can't even begin to understand this, and with my kids, I think that I've pretty much been to the brink of despair a few times.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Pretty impressive what a bit of eccentricity can accomplish

Eighth wonder of the world? The stunning temples secretly carved out below ground by 'paranormal' eccentric | the Daily Mail

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The Travel Justly campaign

SuicideGirls > News > Culture > Tis the Season: "the Jewish Funds for Justice, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and the Jewish Labor Committee [has] collaborated to launch the Travel Justly campaign. The effort is designed to call attention to -- and perhaps even improve -- the relatively crappy working conditions of many hotel housekeepers. Ninety percent of these workers are women."

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Denial - Psychology - Mental Health and Behavior - New York Times

Interesting article. I don't know whether I completely agree with it, but I do find that denial is helpful in a lot of situations. Sometimes refusing to think about something might be the only way that you can cope with it (cue thoughts of Dylan).

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why is peer review important?

A good, simple article on why peer-reviewed research is important. VERY important if you have autistic children.

Why is peer review important?

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Unanswerable questions on Snopes

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Unanswerables

I like the one where the guy asks is pre-packaged foods contain enough estrogen to turn him gay.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

‘Autistics': We don't want a cure

It's nice to see a pretty balanced article that looks at one of the growing divides in the autism community. ‘Autistics': We don't want a cure

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bring an axe to a gunfight, and look what happens

Robber Axed For It - October 24, 2007

This woman has sheer balls....I love the look of confusion on the robber's face.

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Story written using only Cat in the Hat words - Boing Boing

Story written using only Cat in the Hat words - Boing Boing

J Robert Lennon has composed a passable short story using only words found in Dr Seuss's The Cat in the Hat:

My mother was gone. It was a bump on her head, a big bump. I did not know; mother did not tell me. When she did, I fell. "No," I said. "No, not you! Do not go!" But there was no way. She sank fast, that was good. I let her go.

Then one day I saw Sally. We went out for fish. I had cat fish; Sally had something funny, with a big tail.

"What is that thing?" I said.

"This?" A bite. "Fish!"


A shake of the head. "No."

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

"Video of British Soldiers on LSD"

One of the funnier things I've seen.

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Stephen Fry 's latest entry

Stephen Fry � Blog Archive � I Give Up

This man is one of my gods...he's great.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Coming Soon: Facebook in Your Language

Wow- 1/3 of the Canadian population is on Facebook now? I knew that it was popular, but that's crazy.

Inside Facebook � Coming Soon: Facebook in Your Language

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Whoa- I'm awake now!

Kind of cute, in that ugly space alien way. The one on the right looks entirely too happy.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Could Facebook Become The Next Microsoft?

Interesting article...I always swore that I'd never be on a social networking site (and made fun of those who were...sorry Mark!) , but it definitely sucked me in. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Could Facebook Become The Next Microsoft?

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year class of 2010 and 2010..God I'm old

A note of explanation about the Beloit College Mindset List

To save readers the time and effort of writing to us about the Beloit College Mindset List, we offer four brief explanations reemphasizing elements contained in the introduction. We are aware that, in the reporting of the lists in the media or in email exchanges, the introduction is often removed or restated.

First, the Mindset List has never been a chronological listing of things that happened in the year that the entering first-year students were born. People who are listed as "always having been dead" have always been in that state of repose in the minds of one who is 18 years old. Those listed died the year before or after the year the students were born.

Second, the list is a general statement of the experiences and events that shaped the view of the world maintained by entering students. We take a risk in some cases of making general statements, particularly given that our students at Beloit come from almost every state and dozens of nations. We inevitably find someone who still has an 8-track tape player or whose television station still signs off with the national anthem. Some of these events occurred some years after they were born, but they are important events in shaping the mindset of the entering students. Our effort is to identify a worldview of 18 year-olds in the fall of 2006.

Third, the "Class of 2010" refers to students entering college this year. They are generally 18 years old. We recognize that some students may vary slightly in age and may have been born in a year other than 1988.

Finally, the list is phrased to identify the experiences and event horizons of students as they commence higher education. It does not indicate anything negative about their education. (They know about the existence of the Soviet Union for instance, yet they never experienced a world with two super powers engaged in a cold war. These are things they will come to know better in the years of education before them.)

We welcome correspondence, ideas, suggestions, and requests regarding the Mindset List and do our best to respond as soon as possible.

Ron Nief
Tom McBride


Beloit, Wis. - A rite of autumn is under way with the arrival of first-year students at thousands of colleges and universities for registration. Most 18-year-old students entering the class of 2010 this fall were born in 1988. They grew up with a mouse in one hand and a computer screen as part of their worldview. They learned to surf the internet as they learned to read. While they were still in their cribs, the 20th century started to close as the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet bloc disintegrated, and frequent traditional wars in Latin America gave way to the uncontrolled terrors of the Middle East.

Each August since 1998, as faculty prepare for the academic year, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Beloit College Mindset List. A creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it looks at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students.

According to McBride, this year’s entering students form “a generation that has always been ‘connected’ and is used to things happening in ‘real time,’ like live satellite coverage of revolutions and wars, instant messaging and movies on demand. They expect solutions for every problem, from baldness to diseased organs. To the chagrin of teachers and parents, they’ve developed their own generational means of communication.”

The Beloit College Mindset List is used by educators and clergy and by the military and business in their efforts to connect with the new generation. Beloit creates the list to share with its faculty in anticipation of the first-year seminars and orientation. “It is an important reminder to faculty, some of whom are only a Ph.D. older than their students, that what we call ‘hardening of the references’ can set in quickly,” according to Nief. "It is meant to be thought-provoking and fun, yet accurate. It often provides the base for good opening seminar discussions as faculty and students address the challenges of examining important issues from differing perspectives."


Members of the class of 2010, entering college this fall, were mostly born in 1988. For them: Billy Carter, Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Billy Martin, Andy Gibb, and Secretariat have always been dead.

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5. They have grown up getting lost in "big boxes."
6. There has always been only one Germany.
They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.
8. They are wireless, yet always connected.
9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.
10. Thanks to pervasive headphones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.
11. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.
Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.
13. Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.
14. The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.

They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
16. DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.
17. They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the supermarket.
18. They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.
19. "Google" has always been a verb.

Text messaging is their email.
21. Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.
22. Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.
23. Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.
24. Madden has always been a game, not a Superbowl-winning coach.
25. Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway.
26. "Boogers" candy has always been a favorite for grossing out parents.
27. There has never been a "skyhook" in the NBA.
28. Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents' attics.
29. Computerized player pianos have always been tinkling in the lobby.
30. Non-denominational mega-churches have always been the fastest growing religious organizations in the U.S.
31. They grew up in mini-vans.
32. Reality shows have always been on television.
33. They have no idea why we needed to ask "...can we all get along?"
34. They have always known that "In the criminal justice system the people have been represented by two separate yet equally important groups."
35. Young women's fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.

They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.
37. Brides have always worn white for a first, second, or third wedding.
38. Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
39. "So" as in "Sooooo New York," has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else
40. Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series.
41. They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.
42. Ken Burns has always been producing very long documentaries on PBS.
43. They are not aware that "flock of seagulls hair" has nothing to do with birds flying into it.
44. Retin-A has always made America look less wrinkled.
45. Green tea has always been marketed for health purposes.
46. Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.
47. Small white holiday lights have always been in style.
48. Most of them never had the chance to eat bad airline food.

They have always been searching for "Waldo."

50. The really rich have regularly expressed exuberance with outlandish birthday parties.
51. Michael Moore has always been showing up uninvited.
52. They never played the game of state license plates in the car.
53. They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.
54. There have always been live organ donors.
55. They have always had access to their own credit cards.
56. They have never put their money in a "Savings & Loan."
57. Sara Lee has always made underwear.
58. Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.
59. Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia.
60. They never saw Bernard Shaw on CNN.
61. Beach volleyball has always been a recognized sport.
62. Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti have always been luxury cars of choice.
63. Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.
64. LoJack transmitters have always been finding lost cars.
Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time.
66. Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.
67. Disposable contact lenses have always been available.
68. "Outing" has always been a threat.
69. Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss has always been the perfect graduation gift.
70. They have always "dissed" what they don't like.
71. The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.
72. Richard M. Daley has always been the Mayor of Chicago.
73. They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest they die.
74. Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober.
75. Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics


1. Ricky Nelson, Richard Burton, Samantha Smith, Laura Ashley, Orson Welles, Karen Ann Quinlan, Benigno Aquino, and the U.S. Football League have always been dead.
2. They are not familiar with the source of that “Giant Sucking Sound.”
3. Iraq has always been a problem.
4. “Ctrl + Alt + Del” is as basic as “ABC.”
5. Paul Newman has always made salad dressing.
6. Pete Rose has always been a gambler.
7. Bert and Ernie are old enough to be their parents.
8. An automatic is a weapon, not a transmission.
9. Russian leaders have always looked like leaders everyplace else.
10. The snail darter has never been endangered.
11. There has always been a screening test for AIDS.
12. Gas has always been unleaded
13. They never heard Howard Cosell call a game on ABC.
14. The United States has always had a Poet Laureate
15. Garrison Keillor has always been live on public radio and Lawrence Welk has always been dead on public television.
16. Their families drove SUVs without “being fuelish.”
17. There has always been some association between fried eggs and your brain.
18. They would never leave their calling card on someone’s desk.
19. They have never been able to find the “return” key.
20. Computers have always fit in their backpacks.
21. Datsuns have never been made.
22. They have never gotten excited over a telegram, a long distance call, or a fax.
23. The Osmonds are just talk show hosts.
24. Undergraduate college athletes have always been a part of the NBA and NFL draft.
25. They have always “grazed” for food.
26. Three-point shots from “downtown” have always been a part of basketball.
27. Test tube babies are now having their own babies.
28. Stores have always had scanners at the checkout.
29. The Army has always driven Humvees.
30. Adam and PC Junior computers had vanished from the market before this generation went online.
31. The Statue of Liberty has always had a gleaming torch.
32. They have always had a PIN number.
33. Banana Republic has always been a store, not a puppet government in Latin America.
34. Car detailing has always been available
35. Directory assistance has never been free.
36. The Jaycees have always welcomed women as members
37. There has always been Lean Cuisine.
38. They have always been able to fly Virgin Atlantic.
39. There have never been dress codes in restaurants.


Doctors have always had to deal with “reasonable and customary fees” and patients have always had controls placed on the number of days they could stay in a hospital.
41. They have always been able to make photocopies at home.
42. Michael Eisner has always been in charge of Disney.
43. They have always been able to make phone calls from planes.
44. Yuppies are almost as old as hippies.
45. Rupert Murdoch has always been an American citizen.
46. Strawberry Fields has always been in New York.
47. Rock and Roll has always been a force for social good.
48. Killer bees have always been swarming in the U.S.
49. They have never seen a First Lady in a fur coat.
50. Don Imus has always been offending someone in his national audience.

In all fairness it should be understood that students entering college this fall do have a few items on their own lists that will separate them from many of their mentors:

1. For many of them today, it’s all about the “bling, bling.”
2. They know who the “heroes in a half shell” are.
3. Peeps are not a candy, they are your friends.
4. They have been “dissing”and “burning” things all their lives.
5. They can expect to get a ticket for “ricing out their wheels.”
6. They knew how to pop a Popple and trade a Pog.
7. They can still sing the rap chorus to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the theme song from Duck Tales.

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