Thursday, February 24, 2011

This Escalator Will Be Repaired Retroactively

Today, not for the first time, I saw a sign saying that a Metrorail escalator will be repaired retroactively. This escalator at the Suitland Metro Station has been undergoing repair for several weeks. According to the sign, it will be repaired in 2009.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Jenny Sanford is a "Bad Girl"

I've read some reviews of Jenny Sanford's book, "Staying True." It seems that, beginning with their courtship, Mark Sanford was abusive. Ruth Marcus has catalogued some of his transgressions here. So, given Mark's mistreatment of her, culminating in his redefinition of "walking the Appalachian Trail," why did she bother to marry and stay with him? The answer is simple: Jenny Sanford is a "bad girl" because she has sex, even with her husband. Therefore, she feels she must be treated as such. I saw a lot of this in college: American women dating and even marrying abusive men. I'll give two examples that stick most prominently in my mind. The first was a woman who had been appointed to the Student Government Senate. Three men proceeded to ask her disrespectful questions and generally act like jerks to her. I apologized for their conduct and asked her a serious question. Later, I saw her clinging to one of her tormentors. On another occasion, a man bragged about his sexual exploits in front of his girlfriend. Rather than take offense, she clung to him with a big smile. She seemed to be expressing, "Isn't he wonderful?"

The idea that only "bad girls" have sex is an example of American sexual repression. It is not without reason that Irene Kassorla wrote "Nice Girls Do." This was one book I did not need to read. After all, how could any process that produced me be bad? BTW, I've never had an American girlfriend.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Does Gilbert Arenas Have Borderline Personality Disorder?

Before proceeding to the title of this post, I need to make some disclaimers. I have no training in psychology and have never met Arenas. Only a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist can actually make a diagnosis. All I can do is observe symptoms and form hypotheses. Even the symptoms I observe are hearsay, based on what I have read. If I make a mistake anywhere, my hypothesis falls apart.

When I read of Arenas' behavior, I originally thought he was just another narcissistic athlete. Upon reading about the incident, several details make me suspect that he has Borderline Personality Disorder, possibly with traits of or in combination with Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Gilbert Arenas allegedly got into a dispute with his teammate, Javaris Crittendon, and brought 4 unloaded guns to the Wizards' locker room Verizon Center with a sign "Pick One." Crittendon drew his own gun and chambered a round. (source) This could have been a low-risk suicide attempt (DSM-IV criterion #5: recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior). According to Sally Quinn, he is "a man with sharply veering moods, whose sense of self is highly unstable. These match criteria 6 and 3, respectively, affective instablity and identity disturbance. According to Colbert King, Arenas has "three children with his on- and off-again girlfriend." This matches criterion 2: A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships. Thus, we have evidence for 4 symptoms of BPD, 5 are needed for a diagnosis.

As for the Antisocial Personality Disorder, Arenas' increasingly boorish pranks may show a disregard for other's safety (criterion A.5). He lacks remorse, as evidenced by the "joking" gunplay pantomime (criterion A.7). He was very charming as a child. APD often produces superficial charm. The other criteria and characteristic behaviors are very hard to judge at a distance.

So, what should be done about Arenas? It's better for him to be treated than to be in a prison cell. (This is also true of far too many convicts.) So, the law should force him to have a mental health evaluation and give him a suspended sentence to enforce his treatment. The NBA should ban him for life, with the ability to apply for reinstatement. The last may very well be the strongest incentive.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Case Study in Media Coverage: The ASAN Protest Against Autism $peaks, Washington, DC, 10/31/09

One thing I've learned at work is that journalists write the stories they want to write. WJLA-TV wanted to do a feel-good story about people coming together to do something about (defeat?) autism. We saw the TV truck and one of us got the crew's attention. The result is "Autism Walk on National Mall Stirs Controversy." WJLA's feel-good story was spoiled and ASAN got its message out.

Contacting the media beforehand is very useful. Howard University's student newspaper, The Hilltop Online, published "Autistic Plea Less Pity" with the byline "People with autism speak out for equal treatment in society." Given Howard University's history of being the flagship black university, the civil rights/equal treatment angle is to be expected. This article negates any feel-good aspects of the Autism $peaks walk.

WAMU-FM did a short radio interview with Ari Ne'eman, ASAN's President and published a short article, "Locally-Founded Autism Group Protests D.C. Walk for Autism." In the interest of balanced journalism, WAMU interviewed an Autism $peaks spokesman. All he could say about Autism Speaks' lack of autistic board members was, "We're working on it." And they will continue to work on it until the apocalypse comes.

Later, Time Magazine published online "'I Am Autism': An Advocacy Video Sparks Protest", an indirect result of the Washington protest. This article attacks Autism Speaks' atrocious video "I am Autism" and publicizes ASAN and its efforts. It has links to the video and some parodies. Autism $peaks does not look good.

BTW, ASAN is the acronym for "Autistic Self-Advocacy Network."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Deceased Sandwich Thrown at ASAN Demonstrators by an Autism Speaks Walker, 10/31/2009

I was one of the Autism Self Advocacy Network's demonstrators at the Autism Speaks fundraising walk yesterday. Early in the walk, one of the walkers launched his sandwich at us. This is its remains after landing. What a waste! It would have been better off in someone's stomach.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Words, Just Words

A lot of people have been gushing and bloviating over Obama's inauguration speech. Yesterday, Oprah and her guests were in full-gush mode. All I can say is, "Wait!" One speech at the beginning of a Presidency means nothing in the context of the whole Presidency. This was not Lincoln's "with charity towards all and malice towards none" of his second Inauguration in which he warned against seeking vengeance against the South.

Now for a little spot of analysis:

Quoth Obama: "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified."

Let's start with the part before the dash. It is not always clear what "too big" or "too small" means with regard to the size of the government. Does it mean size in terms of employees, employees and contractors, or scope? For example, one may simultaneously oppose agricultural subsidies and support a more rigorous food inspection regime. The scope of the government will decrease by removing it from intervening in the agricultural sector while government employment increases if the gain in food safety workers exceeds the loss of agricultural subsidy support workers.

Now, for after the dash.
  • "helps families find jobs at a decent wage" Is it the job of the government to find jobs for workers? Or is the government's job to create conditions whereby jobs are created. In other words, should the government actively intervene in the market or not? What does a "decent wage" mean? This term is hopelessly vague. If you want wages to be sufficient to support families, does that include one or two wage-earners? What about those who are not supporting families or even themselves?
  • "care they can afford" What does "affordable care" mean and who is to provide it?
  • "a retirement that is dignified." Again, what does this mean? How do reconcile this with the increasing burdens of Social Security and Medicare?
  • Finally, the things unsaid: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Are these not important metrics? Is not a strong defense from threats to liberty, foreign and domestic, essential? Without these, life and liberty are lost. Is not the government's job to enforce the law and fight (or prepare to fight) enemies? What about all of the other things that governments produce, from emergency services to information of all kinds?
Again, I will reserve judgment until I see what Obama does. His State of the Union address will be a far more important speech because, by necessity, it will have substance.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Latest State Secret: The Youth Inaugural Concert

The Youth Inaugural Concert is to be held Monday 1/19 at the Verizon Center. It is free, but tickets are required. And this is all the Presidential Inaugural Committee will tell you.

My daughter wants to go, so I trolled the internet for information. I have learned that it will be a Disney production featuring Miley Cyrus and/or the Jonas Brothers, runs 8-9:30 p.m. and that it will honor military families. That last bit means that only military families will get tickets, so my daughter is out of luck. The Disney Channel listing provides the conclusive information.