May 25th, 2009



I wanted to go to this Discordian meetup thing at Laurelhurst park on Saturday. I went to Laurelhurst and found there were DOZENS of groups of people. Even after calling Brooke to look up better directions for me, I couldn't find them. They had no sign up, and I did not like the idea of asking every single group there if they were Discordians, nor of wandering around with a picture of a "Fnord" or golden apple or something until someone spotted it and said, "Hey, over here!" So I gave up. I was saddened and annoyed.
Little Girl in rain By lj user never_end

English = The Slow Language?

You know what I've noticed? I've noticed that native speakers of most languages I've heard (especially Spanish and Japanese) tend to speak very very rapidly. I remember I once tried to learn Spanish by watching Telemundo with the subtitles on - it was like trying to count the feathers on a hummingbird's wings while it's flying around.

What's more, I rarely hear English spoken with anywhere NEAR the rapidity of other languages. A conversation between two Hispanic women in Spanish often looks to me like those scenes in that ST:TNG episode where the Bynars were speaking in rapid binary, where a conversation between two women in English - even at its fastest - is leisurely and sedate in comparison.

So now I find myself wondering why this is. I considered it might be a bias caused by the fact that I can understand English and can't understand other languages, but then I thought about it more and found that the words-per-minute in fluent Spanish really does tend to be much higher than the WPM for fluent English. So now I'm trying to decide if it's cultural or an inherent quality of English. I'm leaning toward the latter, because English is a hybrid language: part German, part Latin, part Greek, with bits and pieces of dozens of other languages in it because it's the language that robs other languages in dark alleys for spare vocabulary. I think the chimera nature of English, along with its wacky syntax rules, just makes it harder to speak, even for fluent native speakers, which in turn equals a slower conversation speed. And more evidence for this just occurred to me: some people CAN speak English as rapidly as many Spanish speakers speak Spanish... but when they do, no one can understand what they're saying because very few people can process English that fast. For example: 1. Those commercials from the 80's with that guy who talked a mile a minute. 2. The character "Six" from "Blossom."

What do y'all think?
Sitting Pretty

Yes/No meme

The Y/N Meme, gakked from kengr

1. You can ONLY answer Yes or No.

2. You are NOT ALLOWED to explain ANYTHING unless someone messages or comments you and asks. -- and believe me, the temptation to explain some of these will be overwhelming as nothing is exactly as it seems.

Now, here's what you're supposed to do. . . Copy and paste this into your notes, delete my answers, type in your answers and tag as many of your friends as you'd like to.

Kissed any one of your LJ friends? --- yes
Been arrested? --- no
Kissed someone you didn't like? --- no
Slept in until 5 PM? --- yes
Fallen asleep at work/school? --- no
Held a snake? --- no
Ran a red light? --- no
Experienced love at first sight? --- yes
Totalled your car in an accident? ---no
Been fired from a job? --- yes
Fired somebody? --- no
Sang karaoke? --- no
Pointed a gun at someone? --- no
Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? --- yes
Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? --- no
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? --- yes
Kissed in the rain? --- no
Had a close brush with death (your own)? --- no
Seen someone die? --- no
Played spin-the-bottle? --- no
Sang in the shower? --- yes
Smoked a cigar? --- no
Sat on a rooftop? --- yes
Smuggled something into another country? --- no
Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes? --- no
Broken a bone? --- no
Skipped school? --- no
Eaten a bug? --- yes
Sleepwalked? --- no
Walked a moonlit beach? --- yes
Rode a motorcycle? --- no
Dumped someone? --- yes
Forgotten your anniversary? --- yes
Lied to avoid a ticket? --- no
Ridden on a helicopter? --- no
Shaved your head? --- no
Blacked out from drinking? --- no
Played a prank on someone? --- yes
Hit a home run? -- no
Felt like killing someone? --- yes
Cross-dressed? --- yes
Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? --- no
Eaten snake? --- no
Marched/Protested? --- no
Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? --- no
Puked on amusement ride? --- no
Seriously & intentionally boycotted something? --- yes
Been in a band? --- no
Knitted? --- no
Been on TV? --- no
Shot a gun? --- no
Skinny-dipped? --- yes
Gave someone stitches? --- no
Eaten a whole habenero pepper? --- no
Ridden a surfboard? --- no
Drank straight from a liquor bottle? --- no
Had surgery? --- yes
Streaked? --- no
Taken by ambulance to hospital? -- no
Peed on a bush? --- yes
Donated Blood? --- no
Grabbed electric fence? --- no
Eaten alligator meat? --- no
Eaten cheesecake? --- yes
Eaten your kids' Halloween candy? --- no
Killed an animal when not hunting? --- no
Peed your pants in public? --- yes
Snuck into a movie without paying? --- no
Written graffiti? --- no
Still love someone you shouldn't? --- yes
Think about the future? --- yes
Think about the furniture? --- yes
Believe in love? --- yes
Sleep on a certain side of the bed? --- no
Elle Fanning

Interesting observation

I'm reading "Still She Haunts Me" by Katie Roiphe, and there's a couple sentences on the second page that caught my attention:

It was a tricky game, a diary. A completely and utterly private document that went to great lengths to explain itself to others.

How true. How true.

Also reading "Great Sky River" by Gregory Benford.

Study: Aspies might not lack empathy

Neat article, it says:

A groundbreaking study suggests people with autism-spectrum disorders such as Asperger's do not lack empathy – rather, they feel others' emotions too intensely to cope.

People with Asperger's syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, are often stereotyped as distant loners or robotic geeks. But what if what looks like coldness to the outside world is a response to being overwhelmed by emotion – an excess of empathy, not a lack of it?

This idea resonates with many people suffering from autism-spectrum disorders and their families. It also jibes with the "intense world" theory, a new way of thinking about the nature of autism.

As posited by Henry and Kamila Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the theory suggests that the fundamental problem in autism-spectrum disorders is not a social deficiency but, rather, a hypersensitivity to experience, which includes an overwhelming fear response.

My thoughts:

The whole "Aspies lack empathy" thing never made any sense to me. Especially in my own case. Sure, I have trouble reading body language, but I have long been able to feel people's emotions like a sixth sense. And a few years ago, when I was still living with my parents, I spent a year or more caring a lot about what was going on in the world... in fact, I cared so much I drove myself to the brink of madness, even having fits of paranoia and other phobias I'd never had before. Events in my life forced me to get off that kind of thinking, thankfully. But even now I tend to care too much about the crap going on in the world around me and I have to either shut my emotions off for awhile to cool down, or balance out the effect with good news.

The hyperstimulation from social situations theory makes a lot of sense also insofar as Aspies tend to have at least one sense that is hypersensitive. Mine is vision: I notice things most people don't, and I can memorize places to a bizarre level of detail so much so that I can still remember precisely what the Buffet at Terrible's Lakeside Casino looked like before they remodeled, and that was way back in 2005. I can also remember all the details of every stage of the remodeling, even if it was up for only a day (as long as I was there that day). My room-mate's hyper-attuned sense is her hearing: music I can barely hear when it's playing right in front of me, she can hear loudly and clearly three or four rooms away. My Dad has a similar hyper-attuned hearing, one of the many reasons I suspect he might be an Aspie too.

It also makes sense because I can barely tolerate my own emotions sometimes. Also, I used to think I was a loner by nature but have since discovered that I need other people in my life, especially where I can touch them... touching, especially cuddling, is so important to me that when I lived by myself in Osceola and had almost no physical contact with anyone, I nearly went crazy. (I had other issues, too, but that was a BIG one.) I've since figured out that I'm not a loner: I just need to be by myself sometimes to recharge, since other people's emotions just overwhelm me; it's exhausting being around other people sometimes. (Though when they're happy, I can be around them longer usually.)

A ponderment

I was just thinking again about the article in the post this links to, and a thought occurred to me. I've often heard Asperger's called "the geek's disease" because of how many Aspies are geeks, and how many geeks are Aspies. Pondering the study's finding that Aspies are possibly overwhelmed by the emotions of others, it stands to reason that, as a result, there would be a high degree of introverted people amongst Aspies, since the effects would tend to drive Aspies away from other people so that, at the very least, they could recharge and recouperate. Which leads me to ponder: maybe Asperger's turns people into geeks. Obviously, it doesn't account for *all* geeks, but it stands to reason that, driven away from other people because you can't cope with their emotions, you turn to other interests. There are many different kinds of geeks, after all - computer geeks, language geeks, art geeks, gaming geeks, pokemon geeks, etc - so it seems to me that if one can't be around other people for long, one becomes introverted and potentially geeky regardless of how they might have turned up if not for being an Aspie.