>Well, time for an embarrassing confession: I’m a writer. Not a professional writer, a published writer, or even necessarily a good writer. Just a writer. I write fiction and poetry, and I’m enrolled in a creative writing class this semester, which is one of the reason this has been a stressful, but rewarding, semester.
>Trigger Warning for discussions of depictions of domestic abuse
>For many relationships, sex is the glue that keeps people together and ensures good workings in most other aspects of the relationship. And let’s face it, sex is good for you. It’s a stress reliever, a form of exercise, it helps you sleep better… What a wonderful thing! (Also applies to masturbation)
It’s an upsetting, horrible realization of what was inevitable all along; in a society that did not respect Lou’s disability, it would be only a matter of time before he was pressured by one thing or another into accepting the “cure” that was made available in the story.
But that doesn’t mean that this was a bad book, or that Elizabeth Moon, the author, was condoning the disablist notion that autistic people would be better with a cure. Far from it. Lou’s fate is tragic, and she makes this clear. He loses interest in the things he loves doing, he becomes detached from his friends, and his life takes on a bland desperation.
It leaves a grim impression towards the end, but before it slid down that sad road, I greatly enjoyed my journey with Lou, and felt great sympathy for him, living in such an uncertain world for people like him. I can relate as another autistic person who is extremely disturbed by the eliminationist rhetoric which surrounds conversations about autism in the mainstream. In one way, I envied the world Lou inhabited, because he received workplace accommodations I could only dream of. But he was in a hellish world for me, the last of his kind, and facing a future where it is certain that after he dies (or is “cured”) there will be no more like him. There are no autistic elders for him to seek consolation or advice from, and no autistic children to guide and offer help to. A true nightmare, being an endangered species.
Lou seems content with many aspects of his life though, and has friends who are both neurotypical and autistic like him. He holds down a job doing pattern recognition, and is given the necessary tools to have a job, like a gym to stim, colourful accessories for his office, and breaks to listen to music. Heavenly.
However, in the eyes of one of his bosses, this is considered a nuisance, and he seeks to “cure” the auties working for his company in order to minimize what he sees as unnecessary expenses, to fund an expensive space project. This space project ends up being a sort of Chekhov’s Gun for Lou after he is given the treatment, it is significant that it is the original catalyst in pushing for him to be cured.
As the novel progresses and it becomes unclear whether Mr Crenshaw, the boss, will have his way with the autistic employees, Lou’s life is revealed to be one of orderly calm. It is disrupted, however, by this news of Mr Crenshaw’s scheme, and his love for a neurotypical woman, which becomes a central point of his life as he grapples with whether to ask her out or not, and he feels the fallout of another man’s jealousy, which takes a violent turn.
There are many other plot points in the story which seem unresolved or are simply dropped once Lou is “cured”; his relationship with a neuro-atypical woman named Emmy who sneers at him for hanging around “normals”, but seems to harbour a crush on him, the autistic brother of another boss, Mr Aldrin, and the potential Lou has to become a fencing champion. All sort of sputter and die once the treatment drops the ball.
The writing isn’t what I would call airtight, I mentioned earlier broken threads, and there is some meandering to the writing, and sometimes tangents which don’t advance the story or plot, such as when Lou contemplates the fate of someone who attacked him. In this century, there’s a rather Alex DeLarge style treatment used which cures violent impulses of criminals, and Lou spends much time musing on the implications of such technology, but never really comes to a fine point on how this relates to his upcoming treatment, and how his brain will be altered.
But the strength of Lou as a character, his tragic fate, and the pro-neurodiversity message outweigh the weaknesses. It may have an unhappy ending, but it is not the end for autism. Moon wrote this before the burgeoning of autistic self-advocacy, and I get the feeling that works like these which plea for understanding rather than hasty disablist cures will aid a rosier future for people with autism become a reality.
Before I get rolling on this, here’s a tidbit from Wikipedia to help you stay on the same page as me:
The secondary meaning of Mitzvah refers to a moral deed performed as a religious duty. As such, the term mitzvah has also come to express an act of human kindness. The tertiary meaning of Mitzvah also refers to the fulfillment of a mitzvah.
Alright. Good. We got that out of the way. Goyishe readers, you’re welcome.
“The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice and the desire for personal independence — these are the features of the Jewish tradition which make me thank my stars that I belong to it.
That sums up just about everything I love about it, thank you, Dr. Einstein.
Hooray! Hooray! It looks like there is finally going to be a nerdgirl movie! I09.com’s interview with the author sounds absolutely promising. Someone who collected Bajoran earrings as a teenager can’t be a bad person. Period.
One Con Glory is a story about life, love, and action figures – and one woman’s obsession with avoiding the first two while seeking the third. It follows Julie, a nerd culture reporter covering a giant comic book convention. A little too much drinking on the first night leads to antics that leave Julie with an ill-gotten classic action figure, a new relationship, and a blood feud against another reporter.
>For those of you who aren’t students at my University, recently it was decided to make the campus tobacco-free, starting Fall 2011. If you want to smoke, chew, or use snus (all three are popular here) then you have to leave campus to do so. There’s an exception in the rule for the ceremonial use of tobacco by First Nations for particular spiritual or social functions. Which is excellent, if they hadn’t, it would have been an absolute failure of a policy. But in my view, it has a major flaw, which I will detail now.
Now, when I first heard about this rule, I was extremely worried, because my boss at the time was a heavy smoker who regularly took smoke breaks. This boss also hated my guts and made my life miserable, and I was dreading how mean she would be to me when she was going through a nicotine withdrawal. It would have been hell on earth.
Then, I quit my job, and found a new one, and I was able to focus on the long-term implications of the rule outside of me being treated like dirt. And I decided I was in favour of it. Smokers at UM have designated smoke areas, and are forbidden from smoking closer than 25 feet (7.62 m) to a building entrance, for obvious reasons. But many, my former boss included, disobeyed this ruling, and smoked right outside the building. This means that anyone who was exiting a building after class was treated to a humongous cloud of cigarette smoke right in their face.
I have sensory issues with certain scents, but tobacco isn’t among them for me personally. For other people with SPD, or those with allergies or asthma, this is more than an inconvenience, it’s a threat to their health. One which some smokers completely disregard for their own convenience. I concluded that, if banning tobacco outright was what it would take to stop this, then so be it. My right to good health outweighs the right of a smoker to engage in their habit.
I maintained this stance, offering a shrugging “too bad” to anyone who complained about the ruling. A few times, I saw a “When UM bans tobacco I will still smoke here” bulls-eyes on the sidewalks of campus, and didn’t think much of it.
After visiting the University of Victoria though, I’ve decided that the tobacco ban will have unintended consequences for the University, not only for the campus, but the town of Missoula at large, if not the whole state, in terms of environmental health.
See, Victoria, according to my significant other, also has a tobacco free policy. She told me this after I was inquiring at the disgusting sight of cigarette butts scattered all over campus, concentrated outside buildings entrances. Apparently, in the discouraging of smoking on campus, UVic decided to remove the ashtrays that mark entrances of buildings to UM. So smokers have decided to instead, dump their butts wherever it strikes their fancy.
I should mention, for the geographically un-inclined, that Victoria is situated on an island, one where it rains. A lot. Meaning that each time it rains, those damn butts probably wash into the ocean surrounding the island, giving a big ol’ dose of butts courtesy of inconsiderate UVic students, to the fish, whales, and other sea life which populate the Pacific Ocean in the Northwest. Lovely. Just lovely.
Missoula, to contrast, is inland, but has a river running through it. If the smokers at UM follow UVic’s smokers’ example after the ban goes into place, then UM’s butts will wash up in the Clark Fork river, a nicotine treat for the turtles, fish, and waterfowl.
Since a group of UM’s smokers have demonstrated before that they care very little about the well-being of fellow humans, I doubt they will extend any courtesy to the animal life of UM and consider the consequences of dumping their butts wherever they like. And once those ashtrays are gone, I’m almost certain some of those butts will end up on the ground and then in the river.
It’s a G-d damn pity that we would have to accommodate the obscenely rude behaviour of a couple of selfish, pathetic individuals. But that is the case, sadly, and that’s why ultimately, I’ve decided not to support banning tobacco at my university. It will go into effect no matter what, but it’s my hope UM will at least take initiative to ensure that butts don’t get dumped.
>Hi everybody! I’m on vacation with my lovely girlfriend right now in Victoria, checking out all of the terrific things about Uvic, in spite of the pouring rain.