Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Zisk, Alyssa Hillary. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Zisk, A. H. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Language play off 因才而教

因才而教 is a pretty traditional Chinese statement on education. Confucius (孔子) said it. (A lot of traditional sayings come from him or from Lao Tzu (老子).)
因 is the same character from 因为, "because." 才 is from 人才, the person, the person's abilities. 而 is one of those complicated characters, but here the closest I can come is "therefore." In combination with 因 it's like "according to." 教 is to teach, or to educate. As a whole, 因才而教 is saying to teach according to the person's abilities, according to how the person learns.

Sound a lot like the ideas of individualized education, inclusive education, presuming competence? It should, because it is similar. That's not what mainstream Chinese schools are doing right now, but the idea has been around a while.

Anyways, now it's language play time.

The original statment:

Some things that I think are along similar lines:
因才而考: Assess according to the person's abilities.
因才而选话题:  Choose topics according to the person's abilities/interests.

Some things that the statement is really, really not.
因诊断而教: Teach according to the diagnosis.
因诊断而不教: Fail to teach because of the diagnosis.
因以为无才而不教: Fail to teach because of believing wrongly that there are no abilities.
因缺而教: Teach according to defects. (Not saying ignore the stuff that we're bad at. But don't choose to teach only to remedy percieved defects.)
因缺而不教: Fail to teach because of defects.

And of course, question the idea that the things we're thinking of as defects currently are deficits. What is valued, and what is not valued, are cultural ideas.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Letter of Interruption

We (I) interrupt talking about the awesomeness that is 李金生 (Li Jinsheng) for me to get some words out that I'd like to have said to my academic director, but that I know it would be a bad idea to actually send her. (So um if you read my blog, cause I think you have the link thanks to the transcript of my presentation linking to another post here, remember that I did know better than to actually send you these words and that no one here actually knows who you are. Haven't told them your name or anything, not even pinyin.)


You may have figured out at lunch today that the whole "sit in on one class, take one class" ending with my doing the finals for both was totally planned. At the least, you weren't happy that I was laughing about it. And yes, it was planned. I don't know how to fake a melt down, and I wouldn't try anyways, and I can't come up with deception during a melt down or anything- at the moment I suggested it, I was suggesting it for real as an act of desperation that I can't lose out on a thing I can do based on a thing I can't do yet again (this happened a lot in middle school and early high school, but by the end of high school I figured out what the weak points were so that my guidance counselors couldn't really pull that anymore.) But once I was calmed down the idea of taking both finals anyways occurred to me pretty fast and I decided to just go with it, and that telling you so would just be asking for trouble.

This is absolutely about that.
You said today that I shouldn't be laughing, because while there were gains (the reason I ignored you and did my two classes and the finals for both) there were also losses (true of every choice ever, yawn, give me news please.) I know full well what you think the losses were. You think the loss was to my grades in Chinese. You're wrong, and the fact that you still think my taking two major classes was the problem... well, your solution wouldn't have helped, and might have made things worse.

The problem wasn't my doing too many things. I've done heavier course loads before, actually, with better records at getting my homework in. The problem was insufficient scheduled transit time, or insufficient away time. Either one of those phrases, while they describe different things, would have been a partial solution. So what would really have worked? More major classes, strangely enough. Send me to the new campus daily, Sunday through Thursday, timed so that either I've got an hour or so of time between classes with nothing to do, or so that I'm going to get a seat on the subway in one or both directions. This needs to be because of an obligation, like a class or a sports practice, not just a thing that I'm doing because I think it's a good idea, or else it will fall apart quickly. That's why I say adding more major classes- it's something that could have been done, though it wouldn't have gotten approved in a million years.

I'd have needed something to do on campus, or on the subway. That would have been reading my class texts enough of the time to be helpful to my homework completion. [I know this works because transit has been how I've gotten homework done for quite a few classes over the years, and down time at an out of the way place where I don't really have time/means to go elsewhere during this time has gotten other homeworks done regularly over the years.]

Pattern recognition. It's something I'm good at. The classes I was most consistent at getting my homework done for were ones where I had enforced down time or transit time (or another class I didn't pay attention to, sorry, not actually a good student.) That doesn't happen by telling me to drop classes, by the way. That's happened when I've been ridiculously busy. Leave the house at 6 or 7 am and not get home until 8:30pm kind of busy, that was the best term and a half or so of the only year I ever got straight A's.

So yes. There was a loss from the way I handled my major classes, there's basically always a loss to every choice. So as for the loss: It's not a hit to my Chinese grades, that's mostly a function of how the class was structured (OMG so much homework, this is a problem) and partially a result of my not having that kind of stuck/down/transit time that let me get stuff done better in swim season than in not swim season. It's really, really not the Chinese grades, and you're probably not going to believe me no matter how many times I tell you that those aren't a result of my taking two major classes, not even a little bit, but that's the truth. There's exactly one day all semester where the major class I was supposed to audit but actually did the final for could have hurt my Chinese performance, and my homework was done that day- I'm talking about the day of my final presentation, when my paper was due. The paper was a one-night deal for pretty much the same reasons that my homework was an issue all semester.

No. Chinese grades weren't the loss. You probably no longer trust me not to nod along with what you think I should do, then ignore you and do what I want anyways. Which, I mean, you shouldn't trust me not to do that, because I absolutely will! It's not even the only deception-type thing I did this year- when they asked about disabilities for ADA reasons, I described way fewer effects than actually showed up over the course of this year because I didn't want to get kicked off before I even got here. But your idea that I'm pure or innocent? Yeah, I think that got lost. It's an acceptable loss, as far as I'm concerned. I'll keep laughing.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some more on Li Jinsheng (李金生)

So I am now finally talking about the ways that Li Jinsheng (李金生) and his taking the college entrance exams (高考) has been represented in some Chinese media. I'm looking at articles published online in Chinese, on China-based sites, something that I don't think most USA folk look at, and most of my readers are from the USA.
The articles are

  1. 盲人高考河南第一人参加体检 盲人试卷或将亮相 April 23, 2014 article, headline about the first Blind person in Henan (a province) to take the entrance exams.
  2. “河南盲人自考第一人”报名高考遭拒 自言不放弃 December 14, 2013 article, headline about the first Blind person in Henan to take the independent study college entrance exams (Li Jinsheng was that person a while back) planning to take the regular exams. 
  3. 黄诗欣:高考交白卷的权利 June 12, 2014 article, headline is the authors name followed by "the right to turn in a blank test on the college entrance exam" (Li Jinsheng turned in a nearly blank exam after being given a paper version- he'd practiced on and requested electronic versions.)
  4. 46岁李金生:今年全国唯一一名盲人考生 June 11, 2014 article, headline is 46 year old Li Jinsheng: The only blind person in the country to take the college entrance exams this year.
  5. 盲人高考白卷亦是一种公平与进步 June 16, 2014 article, headline is that the blind person's blank test paper is also/still a sort of progress for fairness.
  6. 交白卷无损盲人高考破冰意义 June 9, 2014 article reprinted from the Nanjing Daily. The headline says that turning in a blank test paper does not diminish the "break ice" meaning of a blind man taking the college entrance exams. Break ice here is figurative language for breaking down barriers in general.
  7. 盲人高考交白卷“破冰”还是浪费? June 11, 2014 article, headline asks if the blind person turning in a blank test paper is breaking the ice or wasting resources. The article goes for the ice breaking meaning.
  8. 李金生的高考,不是一个人的战斗 June 9, 2014 article, headline says that Li Jinsheng's participation in the entrance exam isn't just one person's battle. 
  9. 教育部发文部署2014年普通高校招生工作, a ministry of education release from March 28, 2014. I'm really only looking at one paragraph from this release from the 教育部, and it's the second to last one. That's where they changed from their old decision of not letting Blind people take the regular exam to allowing it and stating some available options. 
This is a lot of articles, so this is probably going to be multi-part. Ah well, suc
So, here's the quote from the department of education: 
As for what that means?
We've got what reads to me like fluff about how students and fairness are important, test structure needing to suit students, professionally serving the students who are taking the test, caring for test takers from "vulnerable groups." Then the second half of the second last sentence and the whole last sentence look more like meat, like actual statements. They're talking about "working for disabled people's equal participation in the test" and then the last sentence specifically addresses Blind people. "When Blind people are taking the test, they should be provided with a Braille test, an electronic test, or assistance from a worker." I'm guessing the assistance from a worker would be having the test read aloud, but I'm not sure.

That's actually a decent thing to be saying, I think. My issue is that saying this is a reversal of the old policy, and that it was done really close to the test date, which seems unfair to a lot of people- Li not knowing how or if he was really going to get to take the test and the test-writers not getting a whole lot of notice (though given that the legal right was already extant and it was just policy makers ignoring this, I don't have all that much sympathy for them.) This should have been the re-iteration of an old policy, not a change in policy, especially considering that other already extant laws guaranteed the right to take the exam and all. But since it's a new policy, hey, at least there's progress?

Now to start on stuff that's not ministry of education legalese. Happily, the news coverage I'm seeing is talking about how the opportunity to take the test is more important than how well Li Jinsheng did, which is something Li himself has been saying since well before the test. It's mostly commenters who seem to be calling it a waste of resources to have let him take it at all, and according to the one article with numbers, even that's a minority. Loud minority, but minority.

And now it's time for sleep for me, given that I have an oral proficiency exam in the morning. They generally ask about news, so I'm totally going to be talking about Li Jinsheng and how he is awesome and such. Next bit about him is probably going to be me finding words he said to journalists from the various articles and translating them into English, because they actually have a lot of words from him! There's some history stuff, too, and some of his words are about that- he did a similar thing with the version of the exam for students who did independent study about 10 years ago, so he's got a history of being activisty around higher education for blind folks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


References to cure, death, and instutionalization


Cure, Death, Institutionalization.
Waiting for just one wrong move,
Just one bad step and it's the institution for us.
Death of our choices (Beware the choice! Beware refusing it!)
Cure for other's discomfort over our existence.
Institutionalization, Death, Cure.

Make us become so numb,
To be less like me, and be more like you.
Beware our choices, beware refusing them,
Instead choose to control and hide them.
Waiting for just one wrong move,
Just one bad step,
Prove we are failures, all, to you.
Then enforce the endings three.

This might seem a strange poem to put up on Autistic Pride Day, to submit to the Autistic Artistic Carnival for Autistic Pride Day, but there are reasons.
This poem is not an expression of my pride. I do that often enough, here and elsewhere. When I stim openly, in public (as I will also do, this Autistic Pride Day,) that is an expression of my pride, that I am proud of who I am. When I assert my right to exist, as I am, in spite of all the messages otherwise, I am asserting my Autistic Pride. This poem is something different. This poem is why we need Autistic Pride. This poem is what we're up against. And this poem is echolalic. I take other's words and turn them around to say what I want to say.

The cure, death, institutionalization pattern: I've used it before in The Ends, and I pulled it from an article written by a disabled person about the representation of disabled characters in fiction. I've since lost the article, but the words stayed, repeating in my mind.

There's some pulled from The Saturday Nights, or from a song they played two name changes ago, Strangers Fate, which I've also written about before. The line's I'm using are: "Waiting for just one wrong move,/ Just one bad step./ I'm a failure to you." Those are from the refrain.

"Beware the Choice! Beware refusing it!" is a Young Wizards reference. (Book of Night with Moon, Tetrastych XIV: “Fire Over Heaven”) It's by Diane Duane, and as long as you're sticking to the New Millennium Editions I really recommend the series. The print editions are mostly OK except book 6, which is terrible in the original version and awesome in the new version.

The last reference is from Linkin Park's Numb, in the refrain. "I've become so numb" is the first line of the refrain, and the last three lines of the refrain are "All I want to do/ Is be more like me/ And be less like you." I changed it around, because while I do, in fact, want to be more like me and be less like expectations of what I should be, I'm not talking about what I want here. I'm writing about what they're pushing, which is for us to be more like the expectations.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Or not

Looks like I will actually spend the day partially in the physics lab helping students and most of the rest preparing my report for tomorrow's presentation on nanotechnology in China.
Analyzing media about Li Jinsheng and the college entrance exams will have to wait.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Disability, China, College

Folks who've been around for a while probably know I'm studying abroad at Tianjin Normal University this year. That's in Tianjin, China. Folks who read so much as my sidebar or header know I'm autistic. So far as I can tell (as in, it's relayed second-hand but it's pretty much coming from the admins) I am the first openly autistic student they've had. Ever.

I'm not the first disabled student they've ever had- there's apparently a student missing some fingers in the physics department, though I've never met him. I've never seen a wheelchair on campus, and I'm not convinced that many of the buildings and classrooms are actually accessible. I know the bathrooms generally aren't.

But, you know, the not accessible thing isn't unique to China or anything. Psuedoaccess, where there's a ramp theoretically there, or abled folk are claiming a place is accessible but you never see disabled people using it because the supposed access doesn't actually work? That happens all the time in the USA too.

So what I am writing tonight is really only about China in that the particular examples I'm talking about happened here. My personal experience as an autistic college student in China (a combination that apparently no one's ever heard of, my attempts at searching for other autistic college students via news articles found me nothing in mainland China and one autistic woman in Taiwan whose mother went to all her classes with her, and the article was more about the mom than the autistic woman who did college) has been pretty good. There's been icky stuff, but my residence and academic directors for the program I'm on have dealt with it for me and I haven't had to do any of it directly, which has been nice. I still know about some of it: before I arrived, there were administrators who said people like me shouldn't go to college, and they tried to get the program to un-accept me, and they tried to have me sent home.

But to my face people have been pretty good. I use AAC in class sometimes- specifically, when speech isn't working for me I'll type instead. If it's something I want the rest of the class to hear, I'll get a classmate to read it for me (they know I do this) because my laptop speakers aren't that great and my iPad's AAC is all English-based in addition to not being that loud. If it's something where I just wanted to make sure the teacher knew I understood how to use the language construction or how to use the word in question, I don't get it read out and just email it to the teacher after class. They'll count this for me instead of talking in class for class participation. Getting in and staying in was the hard part, day-to-day... well, I think that 面子, or face, is relevant? Directly insulting a person to their face isn't so much a thing. Makes it hard to know what people are really thinking of me, but it also helps shield me from the worst of the discrimination stuff- my residence director got to deal with it instead.

And what brought these thoughts up today? Well, I've been seeing articles about a Chinese man who took the 高考, the college entrance exams. He's blind, and he'd prepared on electronic versions, but in the end they gave him paper versions, using Chinese Braille. He wound up handing in nearly blank tests (On the test paper he apparently did write in a request for an electronic version) because electronic stuff is faster for him than Braille, both reading and writing. Didn't happen. Folks react. There's English coverage here and here, you can probably find more if you look. I'm not going to analyze the English articles, just point out where they are so you can look if you want. But tomorrow my plan is analyzing some of the Chinese coverage. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

SDS Neurodiversity 101 Presentation Transcript

This is a transcript of the video Alyssa Hillary SDS 2014 Neurodiversity 101, which is posted on Youtube as well as being my presentation at the Society for Disability Studies conference.

I'm Alyssa Hillary. Because I'm in Tianjin, China, you're getting a video of me talking instead of me actually coming and talking, and I'm talking about neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity has a few things that you could be talking about when you say this word. There's the scientific fact that not all brains are the same, and in fact, no two brains are 100% alike. Given the number of neurons and possible connections in a brain, it's really not surprising that no two brains are exactly alike. What would be surprising would be if there were two brains which were exactly alike. So that's the scientific fact. Brains are different.

There's also an activism and advocacy type movement. That started off as a subset of autistic advocacy. It's sort of a civil rights movement that started off with autistic people and has expanded. You can talk about that with bipolar now, with ADHD, with dyslexia, with a lot of the more common things that called learning disabilities. I've also seen some related to Down's Syndrome, dyspraxia... It seems to be doing fairly well in the UK, they have a Developmental Adult Neurodiversity Association.
[Cut to another shot, and there is a black box with white text above my head which reads “I am now talking about paradigms. 3rd meaning of neurodiversity)”]
Pathology is a way of looking at how brains are wired. That's the idea that there's one right, normal, or healthy way for a human brain, mind to work, or a small range, where you're close enough, that's okay, and that if your neurological configuration and functioning, and as a result, your ways of thinking and behaving are substantially different from this dominant stanard of normal, that is a sign of there being something wrong with you. That's pretty much the default way of looking at neurological differences at the moment, as opposed to the neurodiversity paradigm.

There's three main ideas for that.i One, neurodiversity, the scientific fact, the diversity of brains and minds, is a natural, healthy, and valuable form of human diversity. Two, there is no normal or right style of human mind, any more than there is one normal or right ethnicity, gender, or culture. And three, the social dynamics that manifest in regards to neurodiversity are similar to the ones that manifest in regards to other kinds of human diversity, so race, gender, culture, sexual orientation. This includes power relations like inequality, privilege, and oppression, as well as the dynamics where when diversity is embraced, creative potential and other good things happen in society.

And for some definitions of other words I'm going to be using. There's neurotype. This is culturally and socially constructed, in that no two brains are exactly the same, but if they're close enough, they'll probably be put under the same neurotype. Examples would be neurotypical- close enough to the currently privileged “normal, right, healthy” under the pathology paradigm, autistic, bipolar, dyslexic, are all examples of neurotypes. The neurotypes that are not “neurotypical”are considered neurominorities, and you can also use neurodivergence or neurodivergent to apply to said neurotypes that aren't neurotypical. So if you're autistic, or if you're epilepticii, or if you have ADHD, or if you're some combination of these, you're neurodivergent, and you could also talk about those things as forms of neurodivergence.

Along the same lines as this neurodiversity paradigm and the privilege relationships, there's also differences in how somebody behaving in the exact same way will get constructed and viewed very differently depending on the person's neurotype, and depending on the environment that they're in. This is similar to how the same behavior across genders or across cultures can be viewed very differently. A gifted student... a student who is considered gifted and is now at a high-level university who lies down on the floor at a club meeting is generally going to be treated very differently than a developmentally disabled person who lies down on the floor in their school. The person who's at, say, MIT, is probably not going to get in trouble. The person who's labelediii as developmentally disabled is very likely to get in trouble. Or how in many cases, a person who is labeled as autistic is also going to be held to a higher standard or eye contact because of the neurological differences that make it harder for us to do eye contact.
If this neurodiversity paradigm looks a lot like the social model of disability, that's not a coincidence. The neurodiversity activist movements and scholarship are very much built on broader disability scholarship and activism, in that... for one thing, we are, under the social model of disability, neurominorities are disabled. And we recognize this, and we built and apply the way that the dynamics work when its specifically a case of a neurological difference, as opposed to a difference such as a mobility issueiv. And. So. It's not a coincidence. We very deliberately have been using broader disability (and yes, neurodiversity activists who are talking about neurodiversity paradigm as opposed to groups which may, and activists which may be simply moving the line of what's considered an acceptable brain type rather than attempting to get rid of the hierarchy) those who are attempting to get rid of the hierarchy and are actually using the neurodiversity paradigm typically do recognize that we are disabled and typically do recognize that our being disabled has more to do with societal barriers than with our actual capabilities and support needs.

And similar to how disability studies in the broader sense will often talk about representation in media, both because it reveals how people are currently thinking and because it can influence how people are thinking, neurodiversity activists and neurodiversity scholars will talk about representation of neurodivergent characters in media, both those who are explicitly labeled as such and those who, while not explicity labeled, can easily be read as neurodivergent. The ones who are being read that way but are not explicitly labeled tend to be better representations than the ones who are specifically stated as such due to stereotypes and stigma and pathologization of neurominorities, in much the same way that a physically disabled character will often be treated as a plot device rather than as a full character. And much like this treatment of characters who are disabled but neurotypical is very closely interrelated with how characters... with how real disabled people are treated, these connections can also be made when the disability is neurodivergence, when it's a neurodivergent character.

[Shot change again, volume decreases and it now looks like a selfie video because it is one.]

When using oral speech, I tend to go on tangents and miss things, so addendums.

One: In terms of history, a lot of people think of Jim Sinclair's piece, Don't Mourn For Us, as being the start of the neurodiversity did not get coined until several years later in an honors thesisv. In its initial use, it was applied to a much narrower range than it is currently applied to. Things change.

[Cut back to being videoed from a distance, with higher volume.]

Addendum two: Neurodiversity paradigm absolutely stands in opposition to the societal pressures of pushing everyone to have one sort of mind or to fake having that sort of mind, behaving like the neurotypical norm, if they do not actually have that sort of mind. And we absolutely oppose treatments chosen by others meant to enforce this sort of conformity. We also recognize that these forces are not the same thing as an individual choosing to do something that modifies how their neurology or cognition work based on an individual preference. These are different things. Even if one influences the other, and they often do, they are not actually the same thing.
[Cut back to selfie video and lower volume.]
Addendum three is a quote from High Wizardry, a young adult novel by Diane Duanevi in the context of the creation of a new species:

"Dairine would start making them different from one another. But they were going to have to be different on the inside, too, to do any good. If some danger comes along that they have to cope with, it’s no use their information processors being all the same: whatever it is could wipe them all out at once. If they’re as different as they can be, they’ll have a better chance of surviving."

This is, to some extent, the basic idea. It's not about one kind of information processing, one kind of sensory processing being the best, it's about needing to have as many different kinds as possible.
[Cut back to being videoed from a distance and higher volume.]

Addendum four, um, there's absolutely parallels between thinking about neurodiversity versus pathology and social model versus medical, charity, and moral models for disability, in that the medical model, moral model, and charity model are all pathology types, and the social model is not a pathology type. It puts disability as something that's created by social forces, much like the neurodiversity paradigm says that the issues people have based on being of a different neurotype, such as by being autistic, have a lot more to do with societal barriers and discrimination than with the actual status of having different needs than what's expected of a neurotypical.

[A black box with white text reads: “There is stuff that's hard. But tech and teaching focusing on convenience for dominant folks instead of helping with what we think needs to happen I society. So I still say society is the bigger issue.]

Addendum five: “Our minds are fine”, and “Our bodies are fine” are just ways of moving the line of what's acceptable. “All minds are fine”, “All bodies are fine” actually takes out the hierarchy that put abled folk on top, and this is a much more effective way of challenging ableism as a whole than just chosing a different subset of disabled people as a whole to be thrown under the bus in an effort to get rights for oneself, or to get better representation for onesself.
When we want to get out from under inequality, working together gives us more numbers, and also, we're all disabled. We should not be throwing each other under the bus. The way that physically disabled people are treated when people assume cognitive disability isn't right when the person actually is neurodivergent, and opposing that as the right way to handle neurodivergence is very important.
[Speaking ends. There is now a black screen with white text which reads:

I want to thank Rita Kwan from American Council's Tianjin Flagship program for helping me with the recording of this presentation. The parts that don't look like iPad selfie videos were recorded in her home and office, using her camera.
I would also like to thank my classmates and teachers this year in general. Considering that I'm apparently the first openly autistic student at Tianjin Normal University, this year has gone very well. This ha a lot to do with my classmates and teachers. Most of what they're doing right really should be the default, but it's not and I recognize that they're unusual. [I also loudly complain about the fact that it's unusual.]
And of course, I thank all the writes and activists and thinkers whose work I'm building off. There are a lot of you.
If you have questions for me, wnt to see more of my work, have ideas of how I could be more accessiblevii, or just generally want to talk to me, you can reach me at]

i I'm not quite using Nick Walker's definition verbatim here, but it's pretty close.

ii Kassiane Sibley, the person who coined the term “neurodivergent” is Autistic and epileptic. She created it because, “Autistic isn't the only way to be neurologically interesting.”

iii I'm saying labeled here because it's often the same kinds of people doing the same kinds of things, for the same reasons, and the only difference is what label other people put on it. Also, thanks to Mel Baggs for writing about her experience with this on Tumblr.

iv Sorry, I mean mobility difference or mobility disability. This is why I prefer writing to speaking.

v Judy Singer's thesis, “Odd People In.”

vi I do suggest the whole series, so long as it's the new millenium edition e-books. Both editions have good characters who can be interpreted as neurodivergent, but only the new editions represent the canonically autistic character well once he comes along.

vii This is for serious. I might need assistance doing some of the things because of my own disabilities, but I will do what I can myself and find help where needed.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Things to Do

I have a lot of things that need doing. I'm hoping that if I write them down I will actually get them done.

First off, I need to caption this Youtube video and write a transcript for it, and soon. Because that's my presentation for Society for Disability Studies, and that means it needs to be accessible and that means captions and transcript. Probably transcript first, then caption. Right now you can't search Youtube to find the video, but I'll make it public (as opposed to unlisted) after it's captioned and SDS is over. So, you know. I totally want it shared all over the place, just not for another day or two.

I also need to write my math final- it's Differential Geometry, it's in Chinese, and it's takehome. It's also due in 9 hours. Erm. Better get writing.

I feel like I should get back into blogging more, so that's kind of what this is. I'm putting a thing on my blog, even if it's not super-relevant to autism or disability. But that's OK, because this is actually my personal blog and not an autism-specific blog or a disability-specific blog. (I have posting privileges on some blogs like that, such as We Are Like Your Child, this just isn't actually a blog like that.)

I'm apparently getting interviewed tomorrow related to activism and Autistic Pride Day. That'll be cool. I'll find a link once that exists, because yay things.

I've got a final paper about nanotechnology and society and China to write. In Chinese. I don't really want to write the paper that I'm supposed to be writing, though there's a paper kind of like it that I totally do want to write. We'll see which one actually comes out, depending on how well I manage to care what my teacher thinks of the paper. (Ehhh... considering that a C and an A transfer back to my home institution the same way, I'm probably not going to be able to make myself care that much. Which isn't great, but I'll live. And pass. And all that other good stuff. I have gotten really tired of this teacher telling me that I always speak and write too informally, especially since I am opposed to the idea that formal speech is inherently better. Technical terms are great because they're useful, big words for the sake of sounding smart annoy me, being told that I should use big words for the sake of sounding smart will just make me angry.)

I'm reading stuff about cross-cultural communication and disability, written by 王莉皓 and 李志远 (Wang Lihao and Li Zhiyuan.) There's two shorter journal articles, about 3 pages each, that are in Chinese, one of which I essentially liveblogged except it's not on my blog yet (if I put it up that goes towards the blogging thing so I probably will. There's also 李志远's masters thesis, which is in English. It's very Chinese-style English (No, I don't mean the accent that people like to make fun of; this is written work anyways. I mean a style of speaking and writing that I don't really know how to describe, but that you'll be familiar with if you spend time in China speaking English, or if you've read a lot of things written by Chinese people who've learned English mostly from other Chinese people. It's about word choice and sentence structure and the ideas that are being communicated and paragraph structure and just the whole thing.) Anyone who wants any of the articles can poke me, I do have PDFs.

In terms of people wanting the things: The title of the thesis (the only English article) is Intercultural Nonverbal Communication Between the Group of Disabled Co-Culture and the Group of Dominant Nondisabled Culture in China. The Chinese title is 中国残疾人共文化群体与主流非残疾人文化群体的跨文化非语言交际 (Zhongguo canjiren gongwenhua qunti yu zhuliu feicanjiren wenhua qunti de kuawenhua feiyuyan jiaoji.)

The Chinese articles, neither of which have English titles or abstracts (this is actually kind of unusual, but the fact that this is unusual is a sign of problems I'm not going to talk about right now,) are: 残疾人共文化群体求学过程中的交际障碍及应对策略 (Canjiren gongwenhua qunti qiuxue guochengzhong de jiaoji zhangai jiying dui celue; Disabled people co-cultural group [study results? in study? I'll fix it after I read the article for context] communication barriers and challenges) by 李志远 and 王莉皓 and 中国残疾人问题研究现状及应对策略——基于跨文化交际视角 (Zhongguo canjiren wenti yanjiu xiankuang jiying dui celue——jiyu kuawenhua jiaoji zhijiao; Chinese disability research problems, status, and challenges: The angle of cross-cultural communication) by 栾岚 and王莉皓.

I was able to track down 王莉皓's email address, and since one of the problems she mentioned in her work was that disability research is consistently done from the standpoint of nondisabled people, I figure there's at least a shot that she'd be willing to talk to a disabled disability scholar. Fingers crossed, though I want to read and liveblog-type respond to all three relevant articles (she was 李志远's advisor, so his thesis is relevant to her too) before I talk to her. I do my research!

Oh, and I probably could be convinced to translate the Chinese articles into English, but it'd probably need to be paid. But that's not really likely to happen, is it? /sigh.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thoughts on X-Men: Days of Future Past

References to pretty major violence, genocide. Some spoilery stuff for X-men movie.

Or the title was something like that.
Anyways. Thoughts.

I saw it with my Chinese tutor, who is pretty cool.

First off: People who watch a lot of movies know the shot directors or producers or whoever is in charge of this bit tend to use for revealing the big thing that's going to save everyone. Having the big thing that's going to save everyone be a wheelchair is huge. It really is. There's a lot of stuff in the movie that isn't great, like why is the metaphor about marginalization using so many white people who, sans superhero-like metaphor status, would not otherwise be marginalized? (The professor is complicated in this sense, since he's only disabled when he has his powers, and his powers don't cancel out his disability. But he also kind of creeps me out, given what his powers are. And Magneto is portrayed as an antagonist, if not outright a villain, so I have trouble counting him as a positive representation of this sort even if I disagree with the idea that he's purely a villain.)

The bit about the wheelchair being the saving weapon, or the physical representation of it in any case, is still huge. It's important. Technology that helps disabled people do stuff can look and feel like that big important weapon to lots of us, even when we're not actually in a science fiction movie and getting superpowers at the same time that we start using the obvious technology. My computer, which lets me type even when speech isn't working, absolutely feels like that for me. The technology we use to get around and do things isn't a prison, it's the tool that lets us do stuff, just as important as the professors chair.

I also love the chair that the professor is using in the 50 years into the future time, because I am a science geek and levitation technology is awesome. I want to know how it works in-universe, and I want to figure out a way of making it happen in real life, because that could be seriously useful.

Now, onto Magneto. He's trigger-happy in ways that tend not to actually help. That's a very different statement from "violence is always wrong," by the way. There are absolutely times when violence is justified, like when, you know, people are trying to kill you, which is happening in-universe! I don't think assassinating the guy who created the Sentinel program would have been morally injustifiable for a mutant, to be honest. I just agree with the protagonisty people that it was a really bad idea. Because it just made everyone think the program was needed, and backfired, and the fact that it did that? Not surprising. So my issue with Magneto isn't "Violence is always wrong." It's "He keeps using violence in places where it makes the situation worse, not better. This isn't helping." Different tools are good for different jobs, and Magneto overuses the violence tool. (The professor, on the other hand, seems to be unwilling to touch it even when it's the best, or only, tool for solving a particular problem.)
And, you know, the whole thing where Magneto is apparently willing to commit genocide against non-mutants. That's really not OK.

Also I really don't like the divide between Magneto's people and the Professors people as a two-choice thing. It shouldn't be. There should absolutely be a choice where violence is a last-resort type thing, and mutants aren't being told they need to hide themselves until the non-mutants are ready. I'm sure there's mutants with opinions in the middle, who think their powers are awesome and shouldn't need to be hidden and are good for humanity, but not a next step in evolution or other such things, not mutant supremacists. But we don't really get to see them, and that's not good.

Oh, and now Google is partnering with Autism Speaks to look at autistic DNA. This reminds me a bit too much of the Sentinels. Who also use DNA to go after mutants. This is pretty significantly a problem. [So I know autism wasn't one of the things the X-men were made as a metaphor for, but it fits here. Especially on the identifying genes, wanting to identify the genes that mean you could have an autistic kid/a mutant kid. It's scary. Can we not go there?]