Mockery Not Glockery: Why I Must Become A Lone-Wolf Terrorist, Part 2

For Part 1, see Mockery Not Glockery: Why I Must Become A Lone-Wolf Terrorist, Part 1.

Adam Lanza Was Autistic…

…but other than that I actually know quite little about the guy. In my mind he’s more of a frightening myth than anything — an infamous mass murderer, or maybe a bogeyman, or even a comic book super villain. Of course, I know that he was anything but a myth for the families of the 26 people shot to death by Lanza in 2012 — most of whom were young school children. I know that for his victims and their families, Lanza was a very real and monstrous madman. And I also know that that once it became known that Lanza was autistic, the first thing many tried to do was make it clear that his atrocity had nothing to do with autism. I think they were understandably worried that the vast majority of utterly harmless autistic people would be stigmatized by Lanza’s actions, and so these well-meaning people tried to shift the topic of conversation to that of Gun Control and Lanza’s personal armory, as if Lanza’s obsession with guns was not a true example of the sort of “restricted interests” that are an autism stereotype; as if his school house massacre was not obviously a rare but virulent form of “autistic meltdown” and in no small measure a disastrous consequence of a lifetime of having been marginalized, ostracized, and rejected.

What am I missing here? In what sense did Lanza’s own idiosyncratic version of autism have absolutely nothing to do with his monstrous deed? It looks to me like it had a great deal to do with it.

Frustration Art: A Kinder, Gentler, and Occasionally Hilarious Form of Lone-Wolf Terrorism

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Is this art? Or just a drop cloth? In my opinion, Jackson Pollack was a master frustration artist. Image Credit: Jackson Pollack, Convergence, 1952

If my autistic neurology grants me anything like a superpower, surely it’s my freakish ability to frustrate the shit out of at least some human beings. (Many others seem more or less immune to my gifts, and of course most people have simply never met me).

Although quite mystifying (especially for me), of course there’s really nothing magical about this ability. It doesn’t make me bullet proof, nor allow me to fly, nor see through walls. And I didn’t acquire it after being bitten by a radioactive bug. It is simply a natural consequence of the fact that I live in a very different world than do most, both conceptually and perceptually.

Technically or psychiatrically speaking I am not considered delusional nor am I hallucinating, but it’s almost as if my whole brain has an unusual astigmatism that makes some things seem much larger and more important, figuratively speaking, and other things seem smaller and more trivial than they might seem to a so-called “normal” person (whatever that is). You might say I suffer from various kinds of value delusions — by which I mean that my values (what I consider more or less important or trivial) are so very out of sync with the values of most other people in my life, that the disconnect often interferes with my ability to function in society: to maintain healthy collaborative relationships, hold down a full time job, etc. Of course, everybody suffers from this more or less to some extent, but with autism the differences are often more striking and consequential. It’s one thing to argue with people, but quite another to argue so much and so often and about stuff that seems so utterly ridiculous to them that few can stand to have anything to do with you.

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Frustration Art at it’s best — a kinder, gentler form of terrorism that happens to be hilarious. Image Credit: ABC 7 Chicago.

For example, back in March (2018) I turned down an opportunity to sell my signature for $37,000.00. All I had to do was sign my name on a standard settlement agreement, and MetLife would have given me $37,000.00! But I couldn’t do it. I tried to do it. I almost did it. In fact, I shudder now when I think about how close I came to signing that damn thing. But in the end I just couldn’t do it. I had to really think it through — bake it thoroughly in my thought furnace — and I did, but I realize now that it would be easier for me to chew out my own tongue than to sign that settlement agreement.[1]

And why? Well, subjectively speaking it’s just this feeling I get. It just feels wrong — really wrong, like I’m making a deal with the Devil or something, an unholy alliance.

That’s the subjective and executive summary, but I can at least try to articulate my reasons. This isn’t the place to go into all of them, but I will tell you that one of them begins with the fact that I once spent a good two years of my life obsessing about Actuarial Mathematics and still know how to calculate an Actuarial Present Value (APV) — essentially a rational estimate in today-dollars of some future payment (e.g. salary), accounting for interest and random events that might impact the final amount paid out — and when I did that for the MetLife career opportunity that was essentially stolen out from under me last year by roughly a dozen autism-ignorant individuals working for the company, I came up with an estimate of $1.7 million, which is a hell of a lot more than $37,000.00. So, one really important reason I couldn’t sign is that I knew these 12 or so individuals were trying to rip me off to the tune of $1.7 million dollars, give or take.

Now, if this is the first time you’ve ever encountered the concept of an APV, you’re not alone. Most folks have not, and unfortunately, if you have not and you’re response to all of this is anything like “WHAT ARE YOU NUTS!?!?” then I’m sorry to say that you’re simply wasting your time. For me, “what are you nuts”, with or without the caps and punctuation is simply not an argument against a given APV estimate. In order to challenge such an estimate, you have to challenge the assumptions that undergird it, which you cannot do with the “what are you nuts” tactic. If the best you can do is “what are you nuts”, then you might as well be trying to convince me that Santa and the Easter Bunny are both real and are in fact the true authors of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette. However crazy I might seem to you because I turned down an opportunity to make $37 thousand in exchange for a signature, you seem to me something like 46 times more crazy than that for suggesting that I might sell off an opportunity to earn $1.7 million for just $37,000.[2]

Like I said, because I am autistic, I live in a very different world than most, both perceptually and conceptually, and sometimes these differences can frustrate the shit out of people. This sort of thing happens a lot with me, and it’s all due to my autistic neurology.

To be continued…

[Note: When Part 3 is published, I’ll post a link to it here. In the meantime, here is a link to a short and entertaining promo about a documentary being made about the inspirational Cocks Not Glocks protest movement.]


[1]For an overview of my MetLife fiasco, try An Open Letter to A Certain EEOC Deputy District Director, although when I wrote that I hadn’t yet begun referring to the events in question as a form of gang rape, and I was still protecting the identities of MetLife and the company’s Seyfarth Shaw attorney Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith. In that document, the  “gang rape” was described more literally as a Civil Rights violation, MetLife is called the “XYZ Insurance Company”, and Mr. Smith is referred to as “Batman”.

[2]The number 46 is just the ratio of my APV estimate of $1.7 million to the $37 thousand offered by MetLife to replace it. That is $1.7 million/$37 thousand ≅ 46.

Image Credit: Pixabay, unless otherwise specified.

Am I Really Autistic? — Towards A Solution to Diagnosis Doubt, Part 1

It was only in November 2016 when I first got diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”, “autism”), and even today I struggle to cope with a weird consequence of that event: my own diagnosis doubt or skepticism about my own ASD diagnosis.

This skepticism usually takes the form of two types of questions. First we have what we might call the “nice” questions, such as:

  • Am I really autistic?
  • Was I somehow misdiagnosed?
  • Did my doctor(s) maybe misread the evidence?
  • But I  have such a good sense of humor!
  • But I can detect and use irony and sarcasm with great subtlety and nuance!
  • Yes, I can be fiercely blunt, but it’s only an accident sometimes; for the most part I usually know when I’m being too blunt, and I only do it when the person really deserves it!
  • How come I have no serious sensory processing issues?
  • How come my memory isn’t that great?
  • What if I am autistic, but autism is not really what’s wrong with me?  What if my real problem is ADD or ADHD? Bipolar Disorder? Etc.

But then we have the “not nice” questions, for example:

  • What if I’m really just an asshole?
  • What if I’m just lazy and stupid?
  • What if I’m just a lazy and stupid asshole?
  • What if all I really need is more rejection?
  • What if all I really need is to be scowled at or scolded some more?
  • What if all I really need is to get fired again?
  • What if there’s really nothing wrong with me that can’t be fixed with a good beating or maybe some jail time?

In particular, I find these latter “not nice” questions to be most revealing. For one thing, they’re all very subjective, value laden, and context dependent. Also, they’re all based on an antiquated theory concerning the value of cruelty and coercion — the preposterous idea that punishment is somehow a performance enhancer. Really these “not nice” questions appear to be grounded in the sort of unscientific world views most commonly associated with laypersons, bigots and other ignoranthropites.

So why am I asking them? Well, how about because sometimes such ignoranthropites can become quite powerful and influential (e.g. our current President), and when they do they invariably abuse their power and influence to control access to certain resources, and I’m seriously worried that when I have to ask these people to provide said resources, they’re just going to start asking these kinds of questions, and if I am to have any reasonable chance of convincing them to share with me those resources, then in theory I need to be able to answer these questions in a way that satisfies their apparent curiosity. Therefore, it would appear that I am asking these questions not because I seriously believe them to be good questions, but because I’m worried I may actually have to answer them at some point even though they aren’t!

But is that even possible? I see good reason to doubt it. These are not typically the kinds of questions people ask in search of objective answers — those would be the “nice” questions in the first group above. Really the “not nice” questions are just empty rhetorical devices, and their only value is that they reveal the poser’s prejudiced answers: “you’re just an asshole”, “your just lazy and stupid”, “…need a good beating….”, etc. When a boss seriously wonders whether all you need is to be fired again, then he or she has surely already decided to fire you, and is just looking for the right excuse to do so.

I can see no good reason to prepare oneself to answer questions that aren’t actually questions to begin with. I do think some kind of preparation is needed, but it doesn’t involve answering any questions. Rather, I’m pretty sure that the best and really only way to prepare for these kinds of “not nice” questions is to train yourself not to need whatever resources you think you need and which are currently being held hostage by the potential posers of the “not nice” questions in question.

I’m pretty sure that no matter what you think you need, if it can only be obtained with the validation, approval or permission of an ignoranthropite, then you are probably much, much better off with out it.

To be continued…

[Note: when Part 2 is published, I’ll post a link to it here.]


Image Credit: Shutterstock

 

Mockery Not Glockery: Why I Must Become A Lone-Wolf Terrorist, Part 1

Adam Lanza was not born a monster…

…He became one. He was born as innocent as any of us — a slippery, naked, screaming victim of that naive and narcissistic parental urge to feel validated by a child. Though I recoil as much as anyone at the monster he eventually became, my heart sincerely breaks for the baby he was born; it breaks every bit as much as it does for the 20 children and 6 adults which that baby eventually grew up to murder. If this “sympathy for the Devil” that I feel for baby Adam seems aberrant or repellent or frightening or like a good reason to reject me, then you too have my sympathies, because that strongly suggests that you are at least as arbitrarily harsh and judgmental not just with yourself, but especially to those who struggle to love you. If that’s a true statement about you, then I sincerely hope one day you find your way to accepting whatever it is about yourself that you only imagine to be so awful.

After all, we are each of us only human.

Oh, Relax, Please, I’m Not “literally” Becoming a Lone-Wolf Terrorist!

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Beware the lone wolf! (Kidding! It’s just a sheep. Awww, givess a kiss, Mr. Sheep.) Image Credit: Pixabay

In case you haven’t heard, last year I got gang raped, but “only” in a figurative sense. This year I’ve decided to let that nasty ordeal transform me into a lone wolf terrorist, but also “only” in a figurative sense.[1]

That seems fair to me. Nobody literally gang raped me, so I’m thinking I really shouldn’t let a “merely metaphorical” gang rape transform me into some actual lone wolf terrorist. Holy cow, yeah, that would definitely be taking things too far!

And just like my rapists did not literally gang rape me, but rather “only” violated my Civil Rights, well, I too have something that I’m going to do quite literally, but which I think can be fairly characterized — figuratively speaking, mind you — as lone-wolf terrorism.

Once again, that’s SO TO SPEAK lone-wolf terrorism (especially if you happen to work for the the FBI, DHS, or maybe if you just seriously believe that Donald Trump should win a Nobel Peace Prize)…

We might call it Frustration Art, which I see simply as the conscious and artful elicitation of feelings of frustration in an observer for the purpose of elevating, educating, illuminating, and bettering Humanity, in general, and of course in particular the given observer (the one actually feeling the frustration). It has only been a few weeks or so that I’ve been able to recognize this as an especially good way to interpret one of the grand themes of my life. And now, finally, after many years of arduous diligence and struggle, I believe I am finally ready to do this work professionally, in fact, that I must do so.

Continue with Mockery Not Glockery: Why I Must Become A Lone-Wolf Terrorist, Part 2.

You might also enjoy watching this video by a true Frustration Art master practitioner,  the late Andy Kaufman:


[1] The “Mockery Not Glockery” part of my title for this post is a reference to the name of the Cocks Not Glocks movement. I see their clever and hilarious use of dildos to expose the absurdity of gun culture as an inspired example of Frustration Art. Their core technique of “fighting absurdity with absurdity” is an important device in any frustration artist’s toolkit.

If a Company Can’t Even Accept Dreadlocks, How Could It Ever Accept Autism, Bipolar Disorder, and Other Forms of Neurodiversity?

I just came across this story about a woman who was denied employment because she had dreadlocks. I find it notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the EEOC deemed it worth taking to the Courts back when Obama was President, but rejected my own (autism related) case under President Donald Trump. But perhaps most significantly, the story reminds me of yet another of MetLife’s dirty little secrets:

MetLife Has a “No Hats” Policy.

cute_baby_with_hat_315x210NO HATS??? That’s right, MetLife employees are in violation of the company grooming policy if they wear hats during the work day. It’s OK to wear them to and from work, apparently, but if you’re caught sporting a fashionable beret or deerstalker while working, you can be written up for violating the company’s dress code.

With the dreadlocks case, the EEOC tried to argue along the lines that dreads were commonly worn by African-American people, so discriminating against dreads was effectively discriminating against African-Americans, and the Courts rejected that approach because dreadlocks are a choice, while being African-American is not a choice.

But I think another argument could be made based on the premise that company policies against trivial stuff like dreadlocks and hats gobble up limited policy-enforcement resources that would be better invested into enforcing the company’s policies against discrimination. The idea here is that if a company is wasting its limited policy-enforcement resources on hairstyles and headdresses, then how on Earth can it hope to enforce more important policies, such as those that prohibit discrimination against, say, people with Autism, Bipolar Disorder, etc.

dreadlocks-business_woman_315x210I don’t remember if MetLife discriminates against people with dreadlocks, but I do know the company discriminates against people who like to wear hats. Perhaps if the company could be persuaded to allow hats (dreadlocks, etc.), it might subsequently become more tolerant of the neurodivergent…

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

Diversity Acceptance Consultant, At Your Service! — Another Open Letter To The Folks Who Recently Fired Me Illegally For Being Autistic

Dear Folks Who Recently Fired Me Illegally For Being Autistic:

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This is not really a picture of the laptop I’ve stolen, but it does exemplify the kind of excellent care I am taking of the real device. Everyday I take it out for some fresh air and sunshine. Image Credit: Pixabay

First, it’s been a good 10 days now since I’ve confessed to stealing your laptop in order to protest your decision to fire me illegally for being autistic, and I must admit that I feel surprised but fundamentally relieved that I haven’t been arrested yet.

Although I am psychologically prepared to “do the time” for this civilly disobedient cyber crime I’m committing, of course I’d much rather you all just come to your senses and give me back the job you stole from me. But if you really want to send an autistic man to prison over this, well, then rest assured I’m really prepared to go. But in the meantime, every day that I don’t go feels like a gift, and I’m grateful and fundamentally relieved to receive it.

I don’t know what’s taking you all so long to figure out what to do about our predicament, but as long as you’re mulling things over, I would like to suggest a third option — a kind of compromise, really — if it will make things easier for everybody. Basically, I’m wondering if you might like to become my very first paying clients for my new Diversity Acceptance Consulting business.

Please allow me to elaborate:

The obvious (to me) fact that you all fired me for being autistic strongly suggests that despite your company’s being one of the more autism friendly places to work, it nonetheless has some growing it might do with respect to its current Diversity and Inclusion Strategy — especially as this strategy addresses the autism issue, specifically, but probably also the more general issue of psychiatric disability as wellIn my opinion, and I hope you will agree, your company could really benefit from the help of an actually autistic person such as myself — someone who has the skills, background, and experience necessary to challenge your own complacent (let’s face it) and self-congratulatory (just being honest here) status quo, and to lead you all towards greater awareness, understanding, and especially acceptance of autistic people and more generally the psychiatrically disabled as well.

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Again, not your laptop, per se, but yours is comfortable and in the company of friendly and familiar objects. Image Credit: Pixabay

Now, I realize you’re probably skeptical, of course. I know my methods are somewhat eccentric or unconventional. Heck, I bet I’m the only service provider you’ve ever encountered who is actually willing to risk going to prison in order to offer his services to a prospective client, am I right?

But if you know anything useful about autism, you know that if I were truly capable of doing things the way normal people do them, I would have done so long ago. I didn’t choose to be the way I am. Nobody chooses to spend his life with his nose pressed to the glass wondering what its like to be a “normal” person. And nobody should be surprised when an autistic person does something unconventional, eccentric, or just plain weird. If my methods surprise you, then clearly you haven’t spent enough time with autistic people, and that’s a problem I was born to help you solve.

Also, I think if you are honest with yourselves — if you take a good hard look at the facts —  you’ll see that much of my work with your company has already been completed. I’m sure that if you all take careful stock of what you’ve learned about autism in the past few weeks — learned with my help, and, I might add, at great personal risk to me and my family — if you really open your eyes to how you now feel about autistic people (perhaps not me, per se, but at least other autistic people) and especially the whole situation vis-a-vis autism in general, I’m quite sure you will see that I definitely deliver the goods. I’m sure you are now much more aware, understanding, and accepting of autistic people than you were.

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Image Credit: Pixabay

I’m all about customer satisfaction, and oh, did I mention that I offer a 100% money back guarantee?

Yes, that’s right, you understood correctly — a 100% money back guarantee!

Due to the unorthodox nature of the service I offer, for now at least I have chosen to use an entirely tip-based business model. Like a waiter in a restaurant or a street performer, first I deliver my service to my customers for their complete enjoyment, and only after they’ve had a chance to fully benefit from that service do I offer them the opportunity to pay me, with absolutely no obligation to do so.

Yup, you understood that correctly: if you are not completely satisfied with my Diversity Acceptance Consulting service, then you don’t have to pay me a dime. Of course, if you are, say, 30% satisfied, then my hope is that you will pay me 30% of what you would have paid me if you’d been 100% satisfied, but I will leave all of those details entirely to your discretion. The upshot here is that because I’m running a tip-based business with all this, my customers have total control over whether and how much I get paid or not.

In any case, that’s the compromise I’d like to offer you. If you simply cannot give me back my job, and you simply cannot bring yourselves to press charges against me, then how about taking a middle road by becoming my first paying customer for my Diversity Acceptance Consulting business? If you do that, I will still keep your laptop as a souvenir, but you can definitely deduct the cost from whatever you were going to pay me.

I hope that makes things easier for you all. As I said, I am all about customer satisfaction!

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

Diversity Acceptance Consultant — at your service!

flying_walrus

 

 


Image Credit: Shutterstock (colored blocks)

The Zipper Merge

I just came across this video. For years I have been “that guy” who actually drives the full length of the remaining available right lane before merging into the left. I’ve never been able to articulate why this is actually the correct and polite thing to do, but this video does a great job.

Or Should I Say: Autism Is Like When Your Car’s Steering Wheel Is Perfectly Balanced, And All The Roads Are Curved…

…and whether the roads curve a little or a lot, you must always adjust for their curvature, and nobody should be shocked if sooner or later you land in a ditch.

Sincere Apologies For Yesterday’s Ableist Version

I wish to apologize for yesterday’s ableist version of this post, which by  putting the source of the need for adjustment in the “unbalanced steering wheel”, suggested implicitly that there’s something wrong with being autistic. Although I must admit that I was aware of the problem even when I posted it yesterday, I’m frankly so enamored with the analogy, and believe it to be so useful that I thought it was worth posting anyway.

In any case, I hope you will agree that today’s version of this analogy actually does a much better job at what it’s supposed to do — illustrating some core and problematic issues with autism (it’s is only a “problem” because all of the roads are curved), while simultaneously pointing toward effective solutions (i.e. straight roads!) , and it does so without the implicit ableism.

However, I’m not going to take down yesterday’s post, because I think that a comparison of the two does a nice job of illustrating some core issues with ableism. I will, however, add a disclaimer to that post.

I sincerely beg your pardon for my confusion.

🙂