Book review: “Zeus is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure” by Michael Munz

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I don’t think it too much of a spoiler to tell you that Zeus was dead to begin with. It goes without saying then he was REAL as well and had put himself and the rest of the also very real pantheon on what was intended to be a permanent hiatus. When he dies, all Olympus breaks loose upon the present day complete with squabbling siblings, grotesque monsters, cupid arrows, spinning fates, and sundaes.

It’s what I expected.

Apollo is buried in email.

Muse Thalia is fed up with script writers and producers mangling literature.

There are deadly bat winged, poison spitting kittens flying about.

Monster hunting reality shows are a thing.

Did I like it?

Yup.

IT WAS FUN.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven’t read a fictional/fantasy comedy I’ve enjoyed this much since Douglas Adams. Usually I get a few chapters in and just fizzle. This one I read in my free time till it was done. I liked it that much.

Munz continuously breaks the fourth wall down to a pile of rubble. There are many references to ancient greek and modern geek culture, but they are not necessary to know it to enjoy the book.

Not only is it all you would expect from ancient gods in modern life, it’s a rather intricate story line with a fun mystery. I couldn’t in my wildest dreams imagined the ending.

How does it rate from a Disability Perspective?

My readers know I always look at media from a disability perspective. I have panned books that had merit because they failed miserably in this.

Like much of present day culture the book contains ableist language from “wheelchair bound” to “idiot.” (People are not “bound” to wheelchairs, they are tools of independence, this is better conveyed by using the term “wheelchair user”)

It also, unless I am remembering incorrectly, does not contain any disabled characters.

That said, I did not find anything about it glaringly offensive. If I had it’d be in the recycle bin.

Is it a book for kids?

No.

Just as the original uncensored myths are not for children, (I lost count of the number of disemboweling in the Iliad) so too are the modern goings on best left to the thirteen and up crowd.

Before I finished the book, my teenager (a fan of myth, comedy, and a budding writer of both) began reading it.

I told the boy, “Its got profanity in it. I’m sure you’ve heard those words before but just to review, You must never say these words in polite company, and don’t let me ever hear you call someone an idiot.”

“Gotcha.”

If the others are interested in reading it, they’ll have to wait till older.

My six year found the deadly kitten creatures on the cover “adorable.” She was disappointed when I told her there were no plushie toys available.

 

 

Face Blind Tortured Bunnies and Eidetic Supertramp

Memorization though tortured bunnies

When my oldest child was little and I was new to homeschooling, resources for non-Christian based homeschooling were few. I often bought religious themed curriculum plans and either modified, added to, or threw out entirely what seemed unnecessary, too shallow, or unhealthy.

One suggested method for training the memory was memorizing and reciting lines of scripture and famous speeches. Instead we learned poetry from the popular down to the obscure and sometimes strange.

Here is one of the strange ones.

I love it for its multisyllabic run of strange words and the notion that something must be artificially modified in order to be “safe.”

It sounds crazy, but how often do we attempt to alter natural states into something more acceptable? respectable?

(logical…cynical, vegetable. great. supertramp is my head. again. ohh well. theres worse I suppose)

While I think its a fun thing to have a few interesting bit of poetry in ones head, this is NOT really how we commit most things to memory at all.

Photographic Vocabulary and the Eidetic Reader

Memory is more about building connections via associations to things we already know.

My memory almost got me into trouble in high school.

After my first vocabulary test  I was kept after class  by my English teacher.

“You wrote your answers word for word from the my study sheet. Do you have a photographic memory?”

“Yes.”

(quite a bit of staring and silence followed)

“Prove it.” she said, and handed me a blank test form.

And so I sat with her hovering while I rewrote everything I had previously.

While I do  have an impeccable memory for things I have read, sometimes even remembering what the page looked like, I do not have a photographic memory. What is called photographic or eidetic, is in reality just good chunking and encoding.

Ever wonder how autistic people become seemingly expert in arcane subjects quite quickly? A determined focus and good encoding is the answer.

Think of it like google.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but lets run with it.

If you search for something using general terms, you retrieve a lot of garbage.  Using quotes and specific tags helps make results more accurate.  So too if you build upon knowledge with more and more specific knowledge, you can remember quite a bit of information, and the more specific the encoding the better the retrieval.

This is why, when raising children,  we must provide a rich enough environment that there are many different opportunities for making and expressing (very important) connections with things already learned.

This is real learning, not parlor trick recitation.

Knowing how to efficiently learn doesn’t make a person some super human recording machine.

I also have a memory problem.

I find myself continuously forgetting names (always) and faces. It has been my whole life, that I have a hard time remembering people, especially outside of context. My work around has been to talk to them about general things until hopefully something they say helps me remember them. The most embarrassing time was when I didn’t recognize my sons’ speech therapist at the grocery store, and she had to remind me.

I also have problems attending to spoken communication (music is an exception) with no visual component. I forget phone conversations. My mind, as something reminds of something else continuously, strays in conversations. I have trouble attending to lectures without numerous visual aids. I forget mundane things.   I was told after IQ testing/psych eval.  that I have an astounding working memory, but that I don’t attend well to incoming auditory or visual information especially in social contexts.

I can remember century old poetry and often forget I put the kettle on. I’ll get so absorbed I forget to eat.

I manage this via

  • keeping lists and a schedule
  • repeating back things said to confirm and writing down
  • avoiding phone convo. when I can help it
  • asking questions, focusing on interesting details when talking to others
  • mind mapping lectures and other projects
  • attending to tasks in the kitchen if I have a burner on

A priority I have is to teach ALL the children how to manage daily tasks via organizational tools. I don’t want them to have figure it out like did, through embarrassing trial and error.

I mean he seemed so…”normal.”

Morning.

It’s cold.

This morning it was 8 (F) with  a windchill of -7.  Its a balmy twelve degrees now.

A couple years ago this spring I had a conversation  with someone who insisted that “obviously” a man who killed his daughters and grandchildren did it because he was “suffering” from PTSD, because he was an Vietnam war vet. That was it. PTSD from a war decades ago could be the only explanation.  Oh and I was creepy for thinking murder is normal behavior.

News agencies speculate as to whether or not  the man who killed a young Muslim family  had mental issues, because parking.

“Top professionals” decided Putin must be autistic because he’s an ass in social situations (any situation?)

All of these suppositions come from an underlying belief  that the mentally well are good law abiding people and that it takes a mental disorder to disregard others. It doesn’t matter whether or not the person in question is actually diagnosed with anything. Obviously, there must be some disguised  “illness. ”

We see evil doers as strange and isolated. The disfigured (or disabled) and insane bad guy boogey man lurking in the shadows. We look for ways they must not be “one of us.” This is in order to distance, because surely one of us cannot be capable of hurting others.  When they do happen to be we say “oh he must have just snapped” or “he seems like such a typical guy.”  “He just seemed so…normal.”

Most of the time, people who commit violent crime are considered “normal” by society.  While the loner sociopathic or delusional killer is featured most in our television, most  perpetrators of crime are quite mundane.  Investigators generally don’t have to look beyond friends, family or associates of the victim with motive being greed, pride, jealousy, rivalry, or hate. People who prey on our children are usually their “wonderful” teachers, coaches, ministers and family members whom we wouldn’t suspect. We reserve our fear and suspicion for those we don’t consider “normal.” When people hurt others, we look to see how they must have been different.

Typical people hurt and kill others.

Typical people lie, and steal, and cheat.

Typical people exclude and judge, and attempt to coerce and manipulate.

Typical people perceive others who are different from them as threats.

Typical people hate and let anger boil into murderous rage.

I have to say it so often, and I’ll keep saying it,

People with mental disorders are not inherently more dangerous that typical people.

We must consider how we perpetuate stigma when attempting to arm chair diagnose every violent criminal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silence – Adventures of an undiagnosed kid (Selective Mutism)

Afternoon Internet,

Its Wednesday… the week is moving along.

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Tessa using kintetic sand to model the “isthmus” landform.

The kids are busy with their numerous work that fills our days.

Having hit a wall,

wall

I’ve felt at a loss for words for writing and blogging

as well as feeling paralyzed in dealing with a stressful situation.

I thought today might be a good day to talk about “Selective Mutism.”

It is not a feature of autism but it is something that autistic girls and women do often report as co-morbid.

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“The Silence”  -John Henry Fuseli (1799)

My earliest memories of school were from “Capitol Christian Academy” a  13 year private school that boasted high academic performance and really itchy uniforms. Being grade levels ahead of our public school peers (if you live outside the U.S – “private” is your “public”) was an expectation.

My communication problems were apparent at this time, a time before our Dad left and life at home turned from stressful to abusive. It’s important to mention, because it is easy to assume many of my difficulties were because of abuse.

In nearly every school situation, I was without words. Where I would be talkative with my sister or others I felt comfortable with, I would have little or nothing to say in other situations.  This is called selective mutism. It s not that I chose not to speak, there is no choice in the matter. It is “selective” in that it is not in all environments.

I would get into trouble for it. I was considered obstinate most often. Other times it was assumed I was a snob.

One instance I remember was in music class.  I never raised my hand to speak or participated in class. One day though we had to “repeat the beat” with rhythm sticks. My teacher would walk along  to each student and beat out a rhythm the student then needed to copy on their sticks.

sticks

they were just like these, bright red glossy lovely-ness they had a nice smooth feel

When she got to me, I was lost.  I couldn’t no matter how I tried follow along nor would any words come out to explain that I didn’t understand. I felt hot and sick and am sure I was red.  She kept repeating it over and over getting angrier and angrier herself until I ended up in the corner with threats of a paddling. I was stupid and being difficult. (which is it? am I clueless or naughty, cant be both)  I would stay after until I followed her rhythm.  After class she kept me insisting I copy her but by then I just stood there.

Eventually, my main classroom teacher came to collect me, and I don’t know what she said but I escaped a paddling in the principal’s office.

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Repeat the beat can be a fun activity to encourage joint attention, as long as you aren’t a jerk about it.

THESE DAYS…

As an adult I have occasionally found myself at a loss for words in extremely stressful or completely unpredictable situations. I find myself unable to respond in a timely manner to stress, or feeling hurt by others.  In these cases my silence is taken as passive aggressive or “pretending everything is fine”   My ( ex) mother in law once said to me, “I know you don’t like some of the things I say, but you pretend you don’t care. I just want to make sure you know, I know, and I don’t care.” It’s more like, stress completely short circuiting the ability to put together a coherent sentence.  It sinks the ability to say what I mean. Not that I bothered to explain, (once again, no words)  I doubt very much she’d accept any explanation outside of her own theories.

Yet even friends don’t really understand.  “You speak at ease with me.” Sure I do. It doesn’t mean I can will myself to be at ease in other situations. I say this, but I don’t think they understand that its not something solved by a pep talk.

It used to be a source of shame for me. Its still quite frustrating, but I know its not a personal flaw.

 

How many vaccines did Putin get? Immediate threats and bait.

Morning Minions!

Did ya miss me?

[crickets chirping]

I thought so.

Autism is in the news again, well, if it ever really left.

Recent tweets on twitter suggest that anti-vaccers must think their children are better off dead than autistic.

It’s not the case.

Those who do not vaccinate over autism concerns, in general, love their children very much, and of course would not rather have them dead.

Its not that they think measles and death is preferable. It is that autism seems more of a present immediate threat than the chances of being infected. Autism is a hot topic. Thanks to ableist media autism is perceived as a money draining, marriage ruining, dehumanizing curse. Even with the recent cases, measles seems much less a present threat.

If take fear fed by media, add anecdotal stories concerning vaccines, and mix in a lack of critical thinking, you get people unwilling to vaccinate.

On the off chance those occasional celebrities, politicians, and quacks with conspiracy theories may be on to something, they don’t want their kids growing up to be Putin.

This week CNN and USAToday broke “news” about a governmental think tank in 2008 suggesting Putin has aspergers. If you missed it, consider yourself blessed. The headlines went “Does Putin have Aspergers Syndrome?” This amazing governmental “think tank” concluded he has aspergers by analyzing his movements in social settings, and said they couldn’t know for sure without a brain scan. Brain scan isn’t used in diagnosis and neither is movement/non-verbal analysis  in social situations solely indicative of autism spectrum disorder.  There is also a theory it was major prenatal injury  that caused his disorder.  Ahem. We don’t know as yet what causes atypical brain development that leads to ASD symptoms.

The “expert” who signed off on this report backpedaled rather quickly, stating “his analysis was that U.S. officials needed to find quieter settings in which to deal with Putin, whose behavior and facial expressions reveal someone who is defensive in large social settings. ” http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/04/putin-aspergers-syndrome-study-pentagon/22855927/

So why make “news” over a 2008 report with no scientific merit?

Autism is clickbait.

Putin is clickbait.

Combining them  drives traffic.

I am amazed that no one has questioned how many vaccinations little baby Putey received. That could really increase traffic whether or not it makes any sense.

I’ll let you know next post if it worked. ;-)

Rock stars, Bandages, and Rimes

 

Miss Tessa, our resident rock star,  turned six this week. My baby is six.  She is always thinking, creating, and on the move.

We made very pink cupcakes

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. I say “we” but I cut myself early in the affair and Little Bee (11) had to take over.  For awhile I wondered if I’d need stitches but it seems to be finally on the mend. Good thing too, its one of my main clicky fingers. To read more about all that see my review of BAND-AID Activ-Flex bandages. (I don’t get paid for product mentions)

I have been turned down for two writing gigs, and had to turn down an offer due to principles  in just the last week. I know it is the way of writing. I do. This process is generally meant for twenty somethings with no attachments/responsibilities. It’s harder to shrug off when attempting to support children.

School work has started back up with us with my three lower elementary kids learning about ecosystems, interdependence, and adaptations through study of crustaceans and mollusks.

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Pete is working on fact families (all four arithmetic operations) and exponents.

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We’re looking at compound words as well.   Miss Bee is tinkering away with her “stemist” kits, on Khan for math and programming, and reading “Kidnapped.”  Aidan is working through book eight of “key to geometry,” and studying the romantic era from music to lit. We’re reading Coleridge out loud on Fridays.

I love Coleridge, and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner is my favorite of his.

I prefer poetry that is either macabre, dripping with description, or witty in its wordplay. Rime of the Ancient Mariner works for the first two.

Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a DEATH? and are there two?
Is DEATH that woman’s mate?
Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.
The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
‘The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!’
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.
Love those lines.
Aidan cam up with an idea of writing a parody of the story for his blog featuring the characters and universe he is developing.  Works for me.
We’ll cover some Keats and Shelley this spring as well.
I’m sorry that the blog has been quiet, I need to get back to a good writing schedule.

 

 

 

 

Visual Strategies – Mapping lectures, outlines, and projects

Happy Saturday,

I hope its going well.

Mine has been busy as always, and like many days, I am fighting a headache.

I have it down to a low ache, so am at least upright.

My Duke course started this week.

Here are this morning’s lecture notes:

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I find that making a visual or “mind” map of a  mostly verbal (spoken) lecture helps me to better remember it than typical note taking style . While I listened to the lecture I used a pencil to map out the main ideas in one word or short phrases as well as, in some instances pictorial representations. Afterwards I color coded each section and went over my writing in marker and ink pencils.  Then I erased the pencil.

While looking at this again will jog my memory, the very act of creating it helps me to move this information into long term memory.

Visual strategies have been useful not just in my learning, but for the children as well.

Last year Aidan and I created a large character map for the graphic novel he is working on.

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It works for taking notes and outlining ideas, but also for presenting projects.  While I like to hand-draw maps, the kids like to use popplet . It is intuitive and does not take long to learn at all.

Click t o see a popplet project of Lily’s from last  year about Benjamin Banneker.

Peter also uses popplet for making maps related to things such as likes and dislikes, his family tree, and animal classification.

An application with more options that I like to use is “Mindomo.” My mindomo visual map about parenting focus and the neuro-divergent child is here.

Both are free use for three maps and then if you want to make more, it costs.  I am not receiving any kind of compensation for recommending them, I just like them.

In the future I’d like to discuss how we use schedules and checklists now, as well as the visual strategies we used before Peter began to read and write.

 

Sunday Silliness

When I first saw the word #shelfie I didn’t think of pictures of shelves. Oh no, I thought of people posing with sea shells. Which is of course absurd and so then I began to think of other absurd new selfie themes.

I really think the #skullfie could take off, don’t you????

 

shelfie

The Autism Mommy Blogger Trap

Morning Minions!

Its cold, rainy, and dark today.

At least it isn’t icing or snowing.

Very soon, my autistic son Pete is turning  thirteen.

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Pete getting ready for the day, love that smile.

I do not often blog about Pete specifically beyond about his learning.

WHY? It’s a potential trope trap.

Autism mommy bloggers (and Dads) often fall into these trope categories when they blog about their children:

  •  THE BITCHING BLOG : child and/or autism as family destroying, suffering and creating suffering, Sainted mommy martyr shares every detail of what a monster junior is

 

  •  THE SAINTED BLOG : child is special, (kid and mom get to be saints) mom only talks abut how amazing junior is and shares their and their child’s continuous saint like insights about autism, life, the universe, everything!!

 

  • THE PITY BLOG: child as being a toddler in the body of an older person. Mom documents her child’s struggles. Its ohh, ohh so hard, but they can’t help it.  *sniff* It’s so inspiring.

 

  • THE WARRIOR BLOG! : child and family in a battle against time! Mom pats herself on the back for the child’s every single acheivement

These and other depictions DO NOT tend to portray the kid as a whole person.

There is often also major violation of a child’s privacy. Intimate day to day details are shared.

Sometimes parents also do this with typical children.  Often it is  obtain attention, to vent and get support or pity.

Parenting is hard.

I know that some people do not see issues with sharing personal information about others.

It is against my rules of engagement.

I feel that venting and ranting about private matters is something that should be done in private, with people who understand the situation not for the whole world to read. (acknowledge there are exceptions especially with abuse)

When I share about Pete or the other children I need to be careful not to fall into those categories or violate their privacy. Pete is exceptionally tricky, because language barriers keep me from knowing if I have his consent.

I ask myself,

How can I share without compromising privacy, giving a one sided view, or otherwise exploiting them?

I cannot share too much detail which leads to the possibility of his being perceived as less than a whole person. If I share only achievements and positivity,it puts me in the position of the sainted blogger.  I cannot see how I could avoid it.

Pete is not a toddler in a teenager’s body, a saint, a demon,or spiritually special.

He’s a thirteen year old autistic teenager.

He’s beginning puberty so it goes without saying, he’s a sweetheart and a turkey with developing individuality and self concept.

We have good days and not so good.

When people make snap judgments about my son based on shallow information, they miss out on understanding and knowing  a funny and complex guy.

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Recently Lego Creator kits have become very cool.

I wish I could share this young man with you more but I fail to see how I could avoid the trap.

 

 

Movie Review: The Imitation Game

Last year I posted a review of  “The Enigma” the book which the movie “The Imitation Game” is said to be based.

The day after Christmas I went to see the movie.

That’s right, I went out to the mall on THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, which is only slightly less tortuous to my psyche than “Black Friday.”

I wanted to see it that bad.

I also wanted to like it SO BADLY, I waited nearly a month to write this review.

The Imitation Game is entertaining, well acted, and keeps one’s attention from start to finish.

Benedict Cumberbatch does an excellent job playing the character.  I loved the interactions between his character and Charles Dance’s as well as he and Matthew Goode. I have no objections to his best actor Oscar nomination.

“The Imitation Game” has a good message concerning judging differences and acceptance. It does. I tried to convince myself this and the acting and cinematography were good enough reason to like the movie and review it positively.

I did like the movie. I cannot review it positively.

Why?

It isn’t is the real story of Alan Turing or the work of Bletchley park.

Now I had heard ahead of time that there were changes to the story. I’m cool with that. I understand that when adapting something to the screen its often necessary to change things for time or story flow.

Believe me, “The Enigma” doesn’t flow well.

I also heard it was changed to make the issues in solving the code to be more simplistic. This I also get. Having read the book, I can attest the average movie goer isn’t going to want to sit through the explanations I read through.

I walked away from the movie wondering just what book this was supposed to be based on. It is not accurate to the book, nor to the time period. It doesn’t  realistically represent the work at Bletchley park, Alan’s relationships there, or most especially, the role Joan Clark played in Alan’s life.

The movie reduces Joan to a shallow plot vehicle. It is incorrect in how they met, how she was hired,  her parents lack of support, why and how they were engaged, how the engagement was broken off and the amount of time they spent together. Essentially, they erased Joan Clark’s legacy in order to give a shallow representation of Turing’s.

The same can be said for Alan’s childhood friend/love Christopher.

Christopher’s storyline is interspersed and also shallow. I don’t believe it accurately portrays their relationship nor the depth that his loss had on Alan as much as establishing he was bullied and gay.

There was also a spy story thrown in. I guess to make it more exciting? I don’t know.

This movie could have been made significantly better by using the same cast and making it a miniseries so as to fully explore the story.  I think real life stories can be dramatic, and also fairly accurate without being documentaries.

I am sure the movie will lead some people to learn more about Mr. Turing. However, many will walk away thinking that the story is spot on and not bother to dig any deeper.

It seems the “message” was more important than the actual man.

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As an aside, many watching and reviewing the  movie want to label Alan Turing with aspergers or autism spectrum disorder.  I do not think diagnosing the dead on second and third hand information is either accurate nor beneficial to living people with autism spectrum disorder.  Unlike Cumberbatch, my objections having nothing to do with ableist notions of “false hope” or speculation as to childhood neglect but because diagnosis is simply more than a relatives opinion or interpretations of interpretations of second hand reminiscences of behavior. Its like some crazy game of historical telephone where misconceptions and the stereotypes they re-enforce are no game.