Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Slavery Past and Present

April 20, 2013

This a reply to this “progressive” text I found on the internet: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/20

One thing about making comparisons of history is that, while obviously it’s good to learn from historical successes and mistakes, it is misleading if the present rests on a far different ground to the past. Slavery was a losing business proposition for the United States. Much of Europe had already abolished it. The free worker was simply better, and it was only in the interest of a class of slave owners that it be kept. What are the slave owners of the present age? The fossil fuel industry? They are the Bad Guys who are the only thing holding back the world from being sustainable? Somehow, I don’t think it’s all that easy.

The vast majority of people today live in an economic system called capitalism, and are dependent on wage labour. This is a pretty simple fact, but it’s in a way far from obvious – their ancestors were not. In any event, for most people, there seems to be no alternative to this arrangement – to turn a popular phrase on the head, money is everything. The analogy to slavery seems to be halting here, it is rather a more advanced slavery with no clear pretenders.

Yet, there seems to be obvious splinters in the wall. Capitalism is dependent on economic growth – to the people I’ve made this statement to, just about everyone who defends such a system agrees with this fact, but that this growth should somehow go on. In a finite world, that seems very problematic.

Perhaps they’ll go with the direct route and deny that the world is truly approaching its limits – the oil is much more plentiful than it seems to be, or the renewable energy sources much better than they appear to be. Perhaps they’ll deny that economic growth has to affect anything. Particularly in the Anglosaxon world, the idea of the postindustrial society is strong. In more crass terms, however, it is not postindustrial as much as it is deindustralised, debt levels, both public and private, ballooning. To go on to say that less energy is embedded in every GDP in such a situation is of course nothing but obscene.

Perhaps they have some sort of intellectual honesty in their spine and simply conclude that’s that and the demands of the economic system (or “what the people want” or whatever they want to call it) is going to go on until everything is dead. And that it seems to be all there is to it. Either we can hope for a better slavery that can somehow transcend its internal or external obstacles, or we’ll still have slavery no matter how bad it is. It’s slavery forever. To quote a certain Slovenian philosopher: “It’s easy to imagine the end of the world — an asteroid destroying all of life, and so on — but we cannot imagine the end of capitalism.”

The “abolitionists” of today do not desire the end of slavery, they do not in fact seem to understood what slavery is, and want to go from Slavery A to Slavery B. Or they are not abolitionists at all, but believe in the infinity of slavery. I wonder if we can’t get rid of slavery after all, or if it doesn’t just go away on its own.

Advertisements

Transportation Without Fuel

March 27, 2013

A comment made in response to this blog post: http://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/03/11/our-energy-predicament-in-charts/ , specifically the following part:

In order for a new alternative fuel to truly fix our current predicament, it would need the following characteristics:

  1. Abundant – Available in huge quantities, to meet society’s ever-growing needs.
  2. Direct match for current oil or electricity – Needed to avoid the huge cost of building new infrastructure. Electricity needs to be non-intermittent, to avoid the cost of mitigating intermittency. We also need an oil substitute. This oil substitute theoretically might be generated using electricity to combine carbon dioxide and water to create a liquid fuel. Such substitution would require time and investment, however.
  3. Non-polluting – No carbon dioxide or air and water pollution.
  4. Inexpensive – Ideally no more than $20 or $30 barrel for oil equivalent; 4 cents/kWh electricity. Figure 15 shows wage growth has historically occurred primarily below when oil was below $30 barrel.
  5. Big energy gain in the process, since it is additional energy that society really needs – This generally goes with low price.
  6. Uses resources very sparingly, since these are depleting.
  7. Available now or very soon
  8. Self-financing – Ideally through boot-strapping–that is, generating its own cash flow for future investment because of very favorable economics.

Well, assuming that there isn’t any fuel alternative, which I think is a rather good assumption to make, the question then becomes: can we do without fuel? While the personal transportation angle will be cause for some concern, it is rather trivial (most people know how to use a bicycle, after all) compared to how commodities are transported. Put simply, there are four modes of transportation today: Plane, ship, train and truck. To do an analysis on those:

Plane: While some cargo is transported by air, the primary function is the long-way transportation of people in a short period of time. While the lack of this option has some serious consequences in the latter sense, not so much in the former. I’d say most on here would agree that the age of the air is past, airplanes are impractical without fuel. While in a better world airships could pick up some slack, they need to be lighter than air, and the two options in that area are unfeasible: hydrogen has a nasty tendency to burn, and helium is too scarce. Let’s not even get started on vacuum…

Ship: Here’s where it gets dicey. Not only is it the only way to transport commodities across water without planes, ships are also the blood vein of the current system as it’s the far and above cheapest way to do it. While canal transportation should still be OK, and in fact very good through cheap systems like electric lines or towing the boats, for transoceanic travel it’s much more difficult. Better materials and other technological goodies should make sailing ships much better than in the past, but as anyone even slightly acquainted with boats know, sail power is hopelessly slow compared to the combustion engine. There’s also the obvious disadvantage that these ships are not even on the drawing table.

Train: Many rail lines are already electrified, so while already today many commodities travel by train, it should be able to pick up a lot of the slack left by the others. How much it costs to expand the train net will factor into how much it can be expanded, and for some countries which have the shame of not having looked after their train infrastructure very well (looking at you, US…) the cost of upgrading it will also be a factor.

Trucks: While long-distance cargoes by truck will probably be dead, they could be critical for transporting commodities “the last kilometer” as trains and ships will obviously not be able to transport things to exactly where they’re needed. Battery-driven trucks are prohibitively expensive, sharing many of the same flaws as their cousin the electric car, and are thus not much of an option. Trolley trucks, though, are a cheap option that will be fast to implement, and are even already used, mostly in the former East Block countries.

All in all I have to wonder if the transportation problem is really super-critical, sure there would be mass death if oil vanished overnight, but even in a small time frame it should possible to institute some sort of alternative, maybe not as good, but an alternative nevertheless. In some other sectors, agriculture and mining being the most obvious ones, the question of no fuel is a bit more worrying, though…

Pragmatism

February 15, 2013

“At the level at which the present development of the productive forces has reached, capitalism can only function as inverted capitalism. […] The thought that the dominant production system has already lost its fundamentals and now buys itself a last resort through transforming itself into a system of chain letters – this thought is unbearable for most people which have been socialised into commodity subjects.”
 – Robert Kurz (my translation)

The pragmatic. What is the pragmatic? Well, say you want to accomplish something. But, someone else is in the way. You cannot get through what you want directly, so you make a deal. You might not get everything you want, but at least it’s better than nothing. As time passes, however, you become far more dependent on this someone – you see this someone as the natural way to achieve your goals, even though this someone was opposed to it in the first place. When this someone finally becomes ill, you find that you have become so dependent that you cannot imagine yourself without it. You do your best to keep this someone alive, and finally you die together.

Last year, there were a couple of articles in Sweden were the argument was that low wages were good from an environmental perspective because it meant a lower ecologic footprint. This was widely criticized among left. When looking at who wrote those articles – rich people – it was of course clear for what purpose such arguments were used for. There was only one niggling thought in me, though. Namely, they were actually right. I found myself disliking a lot of the counter-arguments. “It successfully turns a left-wing perspective into a right-wing perspective”, was one Twitter comment. What sort of left is that, then?

They are the pragmatists. They have fully incorporated capitalism into their political thought. They are disgruntled with the way the bourgeois have handled the crisis, but their critique seems to be that they can do capitalism, save capitalism, far better with Keynesianism than austerity. The environmental crisis can wait until better economic times. “The jobs go before everything”, as it was recently proclaimed in the Swedish social democratic party’s manifest.

“With only 20% of the world’s population, they consume two-thirds of all metals and three-fourths of the energy produced worldwide. They have poisoned the seas and the rivers. They have polluted the air. They have weakened and perforated the ozone layer. They have saturated the atmosphere with gases, altering climatic conditions with the catastrophic effects we are already beginning to suffer.” So said Cuba’s Fidel Castro in 1992. The pragmatic of course wants that to stop, but can’t imagine that their own lifestyle should be affected much for that. This becomes very clear in the current Swedish debate (or well, as current debates can be today) on something as banal as meat. That the left can actually be so sick as to defend a meat tax on the basis that it hurts the poor most is just breath-taking. Of course it would. Without an enormous amount of subsidies, and indeed a incredibly willful blind eye towards the tremendous environmental consequences meat has compared to other sources of food. The usual line how nobody can survive without massive amount of protein was parroted, and only one half-hearted alternative, transporting legumes from the other side of the globe, was ever discussed. Don’t touch our meat, and that’s that.

The new geographic period Holocene has been discussed a lot the last couple of years. Civilization is having an even greater impact on nature, it is said. This distinction – civilization vs. nature – has never been true, though. Unlearn your inner mental images of pristine wilderness and frolicking deer. Nature is the energy and mass that makes up you and the rest of the planet, and the intricate network that ties it all together. We are reaching the limits – or, rather, they have already been reached. The amount of resources that industrial society is dependent of that are going to peak for the next half century are numerous indeed. That climate change is going to be bad is already a foregone conclusion, the only question is how bad it is. Still, see the priorities of the pragmatic. It is unfortunate that the current dominant economic system, capitalism, requires a perpetual amount of growth just to function. People will not only be unable to get to work due to a lack of gasoline (“it’s all OPEC’s fault!”), they will not have anywhere to go to work either (“it’s all the bankster’s fault!”). That will not only be the fate of the 80% the 20% are fairly apathetic towards, not only the children of the 20%, which, again, they’re fairly apathetic towards. It will happen to the 20% alive today. And that is when the tragedy of the pragmatic turns into farce.

The gargantuan task of the 21st century, then, is to desperately try to find a way to get a comfortable life after the end. If the current leaders and societal climate is still in charge, then what we will get is fascism. “Workfare” for the vast majority, a slightly comfortable life for the 1%, and concentration camps for the scapegoats. We must try to fall with grace and dignity instead. Just like with the alcoholic – which is indeed a good metaphor for the present metaphor – that starts with admitting that there is a problem. The “optimistic” response, to hope that everything will turn out alright anyway, is too depressing for words.

Some labour critique

January 25, 2013

Just a little comment I wrote.

“I’d like to comment on the previous Drumbeat’s discussion on labour, being the resident labour critic and all.

We heard the usual comment that hunter-gathering required less work than an agricultural society. This is true enough, but what’s interesting is that the next step – industrialism – also required *more* work than agriculture. The amount of work done today is one of the highest in history – only the most brutal days of early industrialism really compares. This might come to a surprise to some. The key difference is the level of material wealth, and considering that there’s a resource crisis on the horizon and more material stuff seems to fail to entice our neurons now, there’s obviously a gap in what we consider to be valuable and what actually is valuable.

Now, there’s a difference between “work” and “labour”. Work is the effort done to achieve various things (be it survival or fun) and could be considered a vital component to existence. Labour, on the other hand, is a specific relation in capitalism where a person sells their labour force in exchange for money. While nominally voluntary, it’s fairly difficult to survive without this relation unless you’re a capitalist. Historically, it was not a voluntary process either. The amount of laziness among the pre-capitalized people were infuriating. Paying someone more to do something was not an incitament to do more, but rather less, as less labour was needed to do the same. Only through violence and coercion could such a change happen. This is all fairly “well, duh”, but judging by the previous conversation people seemed to ignore these facts.

Today, then, we’re starting to see a contradiction unfolding. The robots are taking over. The reflexive urge seems to be to blame *technology*. I must ask then, why is there this tendency in capitalism to automate labour, if it is ultimately anathema to its own existence? The tendency of capital is to accumulate, and if automation is required, so be it. On a less abstract level, companies which don’t are less competitive than those who don’t.

For those who wish to save this system, then, there are a few options to pursue. The method used by developed countries from about 1982 to 2008 is that of credit. It has been fairly successful from a middle-long perspective, but it seems that nothing lasts forever. It should be noted that 2008 could have been a whole lot of worse if different policies had been pursued. Perhaps the dot-com bubble, which was fairly benign, could have looked like 2008 as well? It must be understood that capitalism is in a -predicament-, which means there aren’t any solutions, only different outcomes. A few reforms that could be tried (instead of the unimaginative austerity workfare, which seems designed to finish off capitalism as soon as possible) is lowering the 8-hour day to a 6-hour day, with the same pay. The criticism to this seems to stem from the fact that it would cause a lot of problems. One has to ask how the transition from 12 to 10 and from 10 to 8 was managed without adverse effects, and why 8 to 6 is such a difference. There’s also the more controversial Basic Income Guarantee which distributes a sum of money to everyone (even the richest) without any need for qualifications. This is offensive to those with Lutheran work ethics, but it should be noted that Brazil and India seems to be on the way to do this. Why can developing countries do this and not developed? There’s probably a lot less dogma regarding what works and what doesn’t.

One final point: A member wrote that there’s a “reverse industrialization” going on and it’s because of lack of energy. False on both points. First, while oil is getting more expensive, energy itself, in the form of coal, is still cheap. Secondly, if there was a “reverse industrialization” going on countries like China, India and Brazil etc. wouldn’t be doing such leaps and bounds in automation themselves, which is exactly what is happening. The implication that less energy leads to more labour is rather strange, anyway, considering that production and consumption are two sides of the same coin.”

I’d like to comment on the previous Drumbeat’s discussion on labour, being the resident labour critic and all.

We heard the usual comment that hunter-gathering required less work than an agricultural society. This is true enough, but what’s interesting is that the next step – industrialism – also required *more* work than agriculture. The amount of work done today is one of the highest in history – only the most brutal days of early industrialism really compares. This might come to a surprise to some. The key difference is the level of material wealth, and considering that there’s a resource crisis on the horizon and more material stuff seems to fail to entice our neurons now, there’s obviously a gap in what we consider to be valuable and what actually is valuable.

Now, there’s a difference between “work” and “labour”. Work is the effort done to achieve various things (be it survival or fun) and could be considered a vital component to existence. Labour, on the other hand, is a specific relation in capitalism where a person sells their labour force in exchange for money. While nominally voluntary, it’s fairly difficult to survive without this relation unless you’re a capitalist. Historically, it was not a voluntary process either. The amount of laziness among the pre-capitalized people were infuriating. Paying someone more to do something was not an incitament to do more, but rather less, as less labour was needed to do the same. Only through violence and coercion could such a change happen. This is all fairly “well, duh”, but judging by the previous conversation people seemed to ignore these facts.

Today, then, we’re starting to see a contradiction unfolding. The robots are taking over. The reflexive urge seems to be to blame *technology*. I must ask then, why is there this tendency in capitalism to automate labour, if it is ultimately anathema to its own existence? The tendency of capital is to accumulate, and if automation is required, so be it. On a less abstract level, companies which don’t are less competitive than those who don’t.

For those who wish to save this system, then, there are a few options to pursue. The method used by developed countries from about 1982 to 2008 is that of credit. It has been fairly successful from a middle-long perspective, but it seems that nothing lasts forever. It should be noted that 2008 could have been a whole lot of worse if different policies had been pursued. Perhaps the dot-com bubble, which was fairly benign, could have looked like 2008 as well? It must be understood that capitalism is in a -predicament-, which means there aren’t any solutions, only different outcomes. A few reforms that could be tried (instead of the unimaginative austerity workfare, which seems designed to finish off capitalism as soon as possible) is lowering the 8-hour day to a 6-hour day, with the same pay. The criticism to this seems to stem from the fact that it would cause a lot of problems. One has to ask how the transition from 12 to 10 and from 10 to 8 was managed without adverse effects, and why 8 to 6 is such a difference. There’s also the more controversial Basic Income Guarantee which distributes a sum of money to everyone (even the richest) without any need for qualifications. This is offensive to those with Lutheran work ethics, but it should be noted that Brazil and India seems to be on the way to do this. Why can developing countries do this and not developed? There’s probably a lot less dogma regarding what works and what doesn’t.

One final point: A member wrote that there’s a “reverse industrialization” going on and it’s because of lack of energy. False on both points. First, while oil is getting more expensive, energy itself, in the form of coal, is still cheap. Secondly, if there was a “reverse industrialization” going on countries like China, India and Brazil etc. wouldn’t be doing such leaps and bounds in automation themselves, which is exactly what is happening. The implication that less energy leads to more labour is rather strange, anyway, considering that production and consumption are two sides of the same coin.

US Part III: Socialism With American Characteristics

April 8, 2011

The title of this post is a wordplay to compare with the “communism with chinese characteristics” or “capitalism with Asian values” that was pioneered in Singapore and taken to greater heights by the great reformator Deng Xiaopeng. What it really means, in practice, is authoritarian capitalism. Free from the shackles of labour laws, free spech etc., commanding respect with a strong state, China seems set on emerging as the new superpower (if they can fix the energy problem). American leaders must look on this country with envy, even though outwardly they show their disdain. Recall what George W. Bush said: “A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there’s no question about it.”

With this in mind, what are we to make of this?

The results mean that a number of the world’s major emerging economies have now matched or overtaken the USA in their enthusiasm for the free market. The Chinese and Brazilians, 67 per cent of whom regard the free market system as the best on offer, are now more positive about capitalism than Americans, while enthusiasm in India now equals that in the USA, with 59 per cent rating the free market as the best system for the future.

I think we should keep in mind what happened during the financial crisis. The response by Europe and America differed a bit. While Europe is like a good patient which takes its pills according to the doctor’s prescriptions morning, day and evening, America is like a junkie, constantly searching for the next thrill. The bailouts, contrary to popular belief, began during Bush’s presidency. The first proposed one unfortunately flopped because of a sort of rebellion within the Republican party, the results of which were to be expected. When Bush finally could vote through a bailout, the damage was already underway.

Misunderstand me correctly now. The bail-outs were a perverse reversal of the Robin Hood logic, taking from the poor and giving to the rich I fully agree with what Michael Moore when he said that the bail-outs were “the biggest robbery in the history of this country”. But, it would’ve been worse for all the workers if the banks had been allowed to fall. We can thus say that the bail-out was the right thing to do for the wrong reasons, while not bailing out the banks would’ve been the wrong thing to do for the right reasons.

We can use the popular mental mind-map Americans use: The contrast between Wall Street and Main Street. “Wall Street” here stands for financial capitalism while “Main Street” stands for the more “proper” market capitalism. As a communist, of course, I am equally critical of both. Anyway, in this mental mind map Wall Street is seen as a parasite on the fresh body of Main Street. What they don’t realize, however, is that while the interests of Wall Street and Main Street are not necessarily the same, if Wall Street turns ill Main Street will turn ill too.

The market fundamentalists/right-wing populists would’ve wanted the banks to flop – they think that it’s not that the free market has failed, it’s just that the market just wasn’t free enough, which is a perfect recipe to totalitarianism, and has nearly suicidal tendencies. These new critics of the free market, however, is what I’m most concerned about. The spirit is good, but the system critique is missing. They want to take money away from the “evil bankers” and give it to the poor. But, as I elaborated upon in the last paragraph, that isn’t possible in the current economic system, due to Main Street’s dependency on Wall Street. What one must question, of course, is what system makes such a dependency arise?

The reason I wanted to contrast socialism with American values with capitalism with Chinese values, is that the Chinese Communist party adopted capitalism to further stabilize their power. In the same way, I argue, American capital will have to adopt socialism, or at least socialist measures, in order to save its own ass. The most direct action is the bail-outs, but I would also argue that the new health care is an example of that. President Obama is the perfect man to do this, and I think he is better than McCain would be in keeping the Bush years’ legacy alive.

The modus operandi of socialism, one must realize, is to use the State in various ways to ensure the survival of capital – the socialists who claim otherwise do not comprehend the social character of it. This either comes in the form of the human face of capitalism characterized by social democratic regimes, or in the form of further State repression. There is a strange misconception that the State in laizzes faire capitalism would be “weak” – would they just let go of riots, demonstrations etc.? Capitalism does best when aided by strong autocratic State, no matter the illusions of neoliberal ideologists. China has understood that.

It thus appears as if America, and the rest of the world, stands at a cross road. Do they tread the path of upholding the status quo or picking up from where the civil rights movement left in the 60’s and 70’s? Do they tread the path of nationalism and exclusion or globalism and inclusion? A system where “freedom” actually means security, or a system interested with the equality and liberation of everyone? Socialism or communism? I know where my heart lies.

Aging

July 30, 2010

I was in Stockholm yesterday. I wasn’t really sure about how the subway system worked, so I inquired the lady behind the counter about it. Laying out some information about it, she mentioned that people 20 and over travelled cheaper, but said I was surely over 20. My answer was no, and she seemed quite surprised about it. I suppose I seem old. I’m not sure why, perhaps my receding hairline and my moustache has something to do about it. A few years ago, I must’ve been 15 at the time, I had PRAO at Stockholm’s university with my sister and the student council there (I think?), and at some point one of her colleagues proposed I follow her with some class from one of the schools in Stockholm on a little tour there. Sure enough, I went there. The class seemed a bit rowdy. Anyway, at the end of it it seems at least some of them had thought I was a teacher at the university…

Now, today one of sisters have her 29th birthday. Tomorrow will be my grandmother’s 86th birthday, which is why I’m up in the north again. I’m currently 18. I do not feel I have the emotional maturity of a young adult. And when I turned 18, suddenly I have been started to be treated as a responsible human being overnight. I guess I have that teenage feeling of, at the one hand, having left behind my childhood and, at the other hand, must enter the grown-up world.

In the past, adolescence was quite different from the modern way. It was less of a struggle to enter the world of adults, and more of an age of work. In this sense, our current times has both more and less responsibility. I get a feel from the class I’m in that a “successful” person of my age not only gets good grades, but also has a job and an extensive social network. More balls to juggle. And one is expected to distance oneself from one’s family eventually in a way which was not the same in the past.

I’m wondering why I feel old, or am afraid of getting old. It’s not about inevitably dying. It does not faze me, and is a somewhat silly thing to be worried about because it is inevitable. I think it is more about what I mentioned earlier, that I’m not really sure where I’m going and what I’d like to do. I’m starting the third and last year of upper secondary school this year, and after that I have to have chosen a university to attend or a subject I want to pursue (it’s not obligatory, I suppose, but I think going to the university right afterwards is the safest way). And then there are other questions, as to where am I going to live, how am I going to make ends meet, and so on. It is something I feel really insecure about. Also the bonds I have with my family are subtly stretched more and more. I suppose this is a symptom of post-fordism.

Aging has been described as a sort of process of humiliation as one’s body is gradually becoming degraded. I guess one has to experience it to really be sure of how it is, but it doesn’t seem to worry me very much. I guess I’m about to reach a zenith, where my body is at greatest capacity. No matter. I guess a lot of it with many men is that they start to become less virile sexually. Obviously, this wouldn’t have much of an impact on me.

OK, it’s pretty late at night and this isn’t really the best piece I’ve ever written. But I hope it has inspired some thought.

Our Aspies Are Different

June 25, 2010

I’m having a lovely vacation in Jämtland. It’s been its own nation and is the second largest province in Sweden, so it’s not too far-fetched to think of it as the Texas of Sweden. Only with only one not particularly large city (compared with the numerous large cities Texas has considering its population). Well, I never said it was a good comparison.

Anyhow, as I was sitting in the car on the way up I got bored and thought about doing a kick-ass blog post about Asperger’s Syndrome. When I finally got to the familiar house of awesome relatives, my second cousin revealed that she, too, had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Well, that seals the deal for me, I’ll try to write this carp.

It’s no coincidence my second cousin is an aspie as well. AS has a very strong genetic component and is overrepresentated within certain families. This means that the odds of an aspie meeting another aspie is quite high relative to the actual number of aspies, especially if a population is particularly homogenous. AS is not caused by mercury poisoning or whatever quack theory you can come up with it.

Many people have strange ideas of what an aspie is. I’d like to address some of these conceptions.

Aspies get good grades

Perhaps it’s because of the Freudian notion of someone who doesn’t fare well in social contacts will compensate with better grades, or an aspie is generally bright and has a natural inclination for certain things, which would mean better grades but this doesn’t seem to add up with reality, at least as upper secondary school goes. As I was talking with the principal at my school once, he decided to lay it all out for me. Those who are the most successful as grades go are those who get together with others – there is a quite strong social component involved. If there are a lot of diverse subjects, an aspie will most likely be good in some but not so good in others. I don’t think the social aspect of school is bad as such since it resonates with how life beyond school actually is. I have quite a few reservations about how the education system works, but that’s a topic for another day.

Aspies are male

In the media aspies are almost exclusively portrayed as male, for the simple reason that there are more male aspies than female ones. A notable exception is Lisbeth Salander, the main character of the Millenium Trilogy. I think the number of female aspies is underestimated, partly because females in general have an easier time as social contacts go. I’m not saying that there’s a 50-50 ratio as gender on the spectrum goes, just that there’s a lot more female aspies out there than most think.

Aspies have no sense of humour

To actually claim this, one would need little or none exposure to aspies. Perhaps there’s this notion because aspies aren’t as inclined to laugh at those really lame or nonsensical jokes which people laugh at because it’s a social thing. Have a gander at this.

Aspies can’t lie

It’s totally true. (What are we, George Washington?)

Aspies have to suffer

I don’t think it necessarily has to be so. While I suppose most neurotypicals wouldn’t be very comfortable with the mentality I have (but then again, would they really be the same people if they did?), I’ve had it all my life. AS is so much more noticeable among young people because they are trying to get to terms with the world, and I too have had to struggle. But gradually I suppose you get to terms with who you are, and a supportive environment works wonders towards that, as well as a diagnosis itself. Some people have an easier time than others. I had the good fortune of being raised by wonderful parents and in a social democratic society, so I naturally have had it easier than other aspies.

Aspies are übermensch

For some reason, some people have got the impression that aspies are inherently superior to neurotypicals. Patently absurd. What has made humanity so great is our ability to cooperate with others. There are absurdly large tribes like China, India, the EU and the US which simply can’t hold together by instinct alone. It’s far more complex than any eusocial way of organization. Aspies aren’t all supergeniuses, either. There are some savants, yes, but they are just the tip of the iceberg and not representative of aspies as a whole – though media could give another impression. Anyway, hanging around at the Wrong Planet forums for a while should neatly dispel any illusions as the alleged superiority goes.

Aspies must be diagnosed

As much as I loathe self-diagnosers who’ve just read the Wikipedia article and agreed with a few select parts, there are reasons why a diagnosis has certain restrictions. America, for example, has a crappy health care (unless Obama gets the ball rolling) which means it will most likely cost a certain amount of money just to meet with a psychologist. In developing countries it can be even worse. It’s incredibly difficult to get diagnosed in Egypt, for example. Only a few psychologists make diagnosises and one has to be very ingratiating towards them to even have the chance to get one, and it costs an exorbitant amount of money. In Scandinavia, by contrast, meeting a psychologist and eventually getting a diagnosis is free. This would explain why there as seemingly so many aspies in Sweden – it has nothing to do with genetics or problems accomodating with the culture. (As culture goes, it would rather suggest the opposite; Swedes are more silent than, say, the French.)

The most important thing to remember is that aspies are people. Despite such a small group, which is seemingly so similar in behaviour, it has an extreme diversity in people as ideas and values go. There is a contrieved image of the stereotypical aspie, but each of us have dreams, opinions, a driving force of our own. Though I suppose so it is with everything in life. Every day I can see something new about people on the spectrum, and I am sure there’s still much to learn.

If you think there are any other misconceptions one should adress, post a comment.

EDIT: Adding some suggestions:

Aspies are violent

Perhaps one of the most infuriating stereotypes is that of the violent aspie. We apparently murder someone at the drop of a hat, we are cold and unemotional, kicks and punches are the only language we understand. Well, somewhat needless to say, it has no basis in reality. It’s another one of those things the media does in their quest of profit.

Populous Update #5

May 22, 2010

Click here to go back to the index.

I guess this is the last mission in this solar system… planet system?

Intelligence reports the Soviet Union is about to plant robot missiles in Cuba. This would greatly threaten American security. We have established a plan of action.


Let’s investigate our starting position. We’ve got four Warriors. The Totem Pole requires six peeps in total to, er, load it up at optimal speed. The Stone Head is easier to appease as it only needs one. There’s an Outpost which puts you in position to influence the island north of it in some way.

We’ve already got three Swarm spells, so Thunderbolt (which is the name for the spell I will use from now on, as “Lightning” is just not as cool, plus Thunderbolt is the best Electric attack in Pokémon) will be prioritized.

We’ve got fifteen minutes (or technically about five seconds more) to complete this mission. The Shaman takes position in the Outpost whilst the Warriors head for the Stone Head.

These newly converted Braves will pray at the Totem Pole and see what happens.

“De gamle”? That’s not grammatically correct. Anyway, a boat pops out of nowhere.

Chicken Itza, the giant cock god of climate change and fertility, is in an extra grumpy mood today.

An army is hastily assembled.

This Stone Head yields two Landbridge spells. Hmm…

A part of the army follows the Shaman as we make a probing attack.

The attack goes so-so. At least it works as a distraction.

By using the Landbridge spells, the Shaman has found a way into the very heart of Cuba…

Beachhead established. Bombing may begin.


You gotta admit that looks badass.

Fidel Castro gets a bit of a bite in the butt.

The Angel of Death sure is awesome. Will be quite a while since we see him/her/it again, though.

Alternative way of completing level.

1. Get the Shaman on the boat.

2. Land right next to the statue using Swarm(s) as cover.

3. Declare victory.

Brave 1: “We’ve been here for one month now.”
Brave 2: “The Shaman will come back for us.”
Brave 1: “But what if she don’t?”
Brave 2: “Um… the Shaman will come back for us.”
*awkward silence*
Brave 1: *eyes Brave 2 hungrily*
Brave 2: *uneasily fingers knife*

Mondays

March 30, 2010

Mondays are fairly crummy days. I used to have six damn classes on this particular day, but from this week forward I have luckily only five. If we present week days as Monday being in the middle:

Friday – Saturday – Sunday – Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday – Thursday

It would make sense to say that Thursday and Friday are the best days of the weeks, since they are as far removed from Monday as possible, given the massive crumminess value of Monday. Of course, the rest of the week days have their own plethora of unique craptastic obstacles as well.

The Monday last week (which would be the 22nd of March 2010) was a particularly craptastic one, at least from my point of view. It was the final Physics test that day. But not only had I forgotten to take the Physics book in school over the weekend, leaving me uncertain whether I could pass it, I had also no idea where it was going to take place. It’s usually in the assembly hall or the auditorium, but since my program, SMNV, is doing a bit of its own race, this was not the case. I decided to lock myself in a public bathroom and call my mother and inquire my mother about what to do. I began to cry. I hadn’t cry in a long time, so it felt… relieving. My mother finally told me to go to the school office and tell them I would go home earlier. I stood there in the bathroom a while after the call had ended. Just look into the mirror and observe that person standing there. And then, with renewed determination, I finally headed for the office. I walked there very deliberately and carefully, feeling like I really shouldn’t supposed to be there. I spotted the principal of the NV, SMNV and TE programs filling up his coffee in the teacher lounge, all alone as well. I finally gathered some courage and walked up to him. I wondered where I could call in sick. He told that he could write it down himself no problem. He asked me whether I had a stomach ache, a fever or something like that. I hesitated a second or two, and then finally said that it was more like depression. He asked me to come to his office. He inquired me about any problems I had in school, and I told him about not only the problems I had with Physics, but also that I was falling behind in the Mathematics C course. He said he would talk to my Math and Physics teacher about it, and told me to go home, but urged me to return on Tuesday.

Fast-forward to the Monday of this week. The day before, Sunday, I had had a headache. I didn’t really feel overly enthusiastic about going to school, but figured I better should. The night was somewhat uneasy. I went to the bathroom about 3-4 times. And after I had gone to bed I suddenly decided to aimlessly stroll in the kitchen, since I had a lot on my mind. I think I was near lying down on Vodka (one of my two kittens) at one point, but fortunately he walked away. I finally fell asleep. Now, on this particular Monday, I had an oral English presentation. It was so set-up, that there were four subjects. Randomly chosen subjects, which one was supposed to have formed an opinion of. I would then gather with a small group of students, and the teacher would record everything. I was quite nervous. The subject was finally “Genetic engineering should be used to create good citizens”. The three other students took turns in speaking, and then it was my turn to speak, I started out with saying something like “it puts a price tag in people”, and then I just froze. It wasn’t that I was ill-prepared for it, I lost my train of thought. The teacher finally stopped the recording. I mumbled something about being nervous, and the teacher said I would get a second chance to say something later. And so the recording continued, and the discussion continued. After a while, the teacher finally asked me to speak. This time, I actually managed to say something. I invoked Godwin’s Law, said something about a group full of ADHD students with one neurotypical, mentioned how, in Sweden, people had been forcefully sterilized from the 1920’s to the 1960’s and then talked about myself as an aspie. And so the discussion was over.

Later that day, my English teacher asked me to come to her office. She talked about how she would take my Asperger’s Syndrome into account, how I did manage to say something in the end, how I was doing good in English orally, and how it was highly unlikely I would get anything else but the highest grade in English. Ah, that’s a relief then. I don’t care overly much about my performance in other subjects (or at least that’s what I somewhat unsuccessfully try to convince myself), but English is fluckin’ personal.

Also, during the Psychology class that very same day, we took a small test to see what our degree of coherence in our lives were. The test, and the teacher himself, told us that we shouldn’t dwell overly much on it since they are heavily dependent on what mood one is in at the time of taking the test. Fair enough, I thought. The average score for Swedish students, as well as American, was 130. 110 was considered low and 160 high. I scored 104. True, it wasn’t the grandest of my days. But the test also mentioned that Israeli officer candidates had an average of 160, because they were and extremely selected group who were convinced of the meaningfulness of what they were doing. Now, if I had to compile a list of groups of people across the world I thought were doing a jolly good job, Israeli officer candidates wouldn’t be anywhere near the top. Even America is falling out with Israel these days. I gotta wonder about people who have such a great coherency in their lives. Do they never stop and consider if what they’re doing is good or meaningful? How can they be so certain about the direction their lives are going? To quote Oliver Cromwell, “I beseech you in the bowels of christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

And so, we’re on Tuesday. The good thing about Tuesdays is that Monday is behind it, giving one strength to get through the rest of the week. This Tuesday was the first day this semester in which I was supported by a teacher in Mathematics. She had been my Chemistry teacher. I had failed Chemistry last year, but with her help I was able to pass it, if only by the margin of a strand of hair. I’m quite happy she takes the time to explain things with me. I feel that I understand things much better when she points things out for me. I might just be able to pass both Physics and Mathematics.

What have I been trying to say with this blog post? Hmm, natural science isn’t my forté. Mondays suck. But, perhaps most importantly, things are perhaps not as bad as one think it is. Perhaps one can overemphasize on one negative thing, and feel bad about it. To say in a cheerful manner “after rain comes sunshine” (oh, the cliché) and realize that perhaps one’s life isn’t ruined, that’s, well, vital. Cough. Anyhow, that’s all the mad raving from me I can offer for now.

Pilot Post

February 27, 2010

I realize that the term “pilot” is referred to the first episode of, for example, a sitcom. Is this term also used in reference to the first post of a blog? Perhaps not, but I see that the term will work perfectly well in reference to a first post on a new blog. Even though I could simply say “first post”. But that reeks of those YouTube-style first post thingies. Besides, it looks way cooler. Coolness, as well as awesomeness, always prevails in these matters, in this is also the tune this blog will dance to.

I am, which you might already have guessed, really good at procrastinating. It’s my foremost skill, one might say. Regardless if there might be more important matters I must attend to, I will choose to do other, more satisfying things like visiting forums, chatting or, yes, blogging. I am made up of 81% water, 45% procrastination, 14% dairy products, 20% sheer moroxity and 17% sugar. Yes, that’s 177% in total. Mere limits of percentage cannot contain me.

I’ve got this little thingy called Asperger’s Syndrome. A “mild” case, but aspie enough to be radically different from your average person. In the sense in which a Mexican (yes, a Mexican for the sake of metaphor, not that I’m perpetuating national stereotypes or anything) who makes super-hot sauces would call “mild”. Oh dear, it sounds like I’m having a cancer or something. I’m just fine with having AS, though communication with other people certainly is a challenge.

I’m Asexual. No, I’m not an amoeba. I’ve got a “lack of sexual attraction”. To be blunt, I have no desire to practice these acts of sexuality, though I am somewhat paradoxically interested in the sociological effects of sex and so on. If you’re interested, check out the site asexuality.org.

I’ve got Swedishness. My passport clearly states that I’m a Swedish citizen. While I consider myself a cosmopolitan, I cannot deny that I have a slight obsession with Sweden. Given the chance, I will happily go on about Sweden and the finer intricacies of the Swedish language. Interesting fact: “hardcore Swedish” is an oxymoron.

I’m also a Secular Humanist and a Democratic Socialist, which I shall elaborate upon in future posts.

Creeped out yet? Good. (The answer is “good” regardless of whether you say yes, no and/or maybe). 🙂