Am I being rude or is my autism not being understood and accommodated for?

A valuable thread that explains many of the differences that make autistic people seem “rude” to neurotypicals (who are more comfortable with unspoken rules, fuzzy categories & eye contact, and who get annoyed by unfiltered honesty, stimming & requests for clarification). Am I being rude or is my autism not being understood and accommodated for? – a thread. /1 — Emily♡ (@ItsEmilyKaty) July 31, 2021  

The insect apocalypse: ‘Our world will grind to a halt without them’

It is 50 years since I first collected those caterpillars in the school playground, and every year that has passed there have been slightly fewer butterflies, fewer bumblebees – fewer of almost all the myriad little beasts that make the world go round. These fascinating and beautiful creatures are disappearing, ant by ant, bee by bee, day by day. Estimates vary and are imprecise, but it seems likely that insects have declined in abundance by 75% or more since I was five years old. The scientific evidence for this grows stronger every year, as studies are published describing the collapse of monarch…

The Value of Truth: We are living through an epistemological crisis.

In the jargon of academia, the study of what we can know, and how we can know it, is called “epistemology.” During the 1980s, philosopher Richard Rorty declared it dead and bid it good riddance. To Rorty and many other thinkers of that era, the idea that we even needed a theory of knowledge at all rested on outmoded, Cartesian assumptions that the mind was an innocent mirror of nature; he urged that we throw out the baby—“truth”—with the bathwater of seventeenth-century rationalism. What’s the Use of Truth?, he asked in the provocative title of his final book (published in 2007).…

Most Americans have a high opinion of the humanities, and 81% use at least one humanities-related skill on the job

While some survey respondents were unfamiliar with the term “humanities” (apparently guessing that it had to do with the study of the human body), once they were given the definition “studying or participating in activities related to literature, languages, history, and philosophy,” most respondents had a high opinion of the subject. Predictably, people who were educated at liberal-arts colleges were the most favorable towards the humanities, but science and engineering graduates who had little personal exposure to the humanities “appeared to be among the most likely to use humanistic skills at work.” Of seven skill areas included in the survey…

Thomas Jefferson on “newspapers without government” vs “government without newspapers”

Those darn founders with their darned respect for the free press. So biased! I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to…

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The Offspring (StarTrek:TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 16) Data Experiences Fatherhood

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. Data builds an android derived from his own positronic neural pathways, and intends to raise it as his child — a prospect that invokes Picard’s iconic facepalm. Picard (to admiral conjured up by writers who needed an antagonist): “There are times, sir, when men of good conscience cannot blindly follow orders. You acknowledge their (Data’s and Lal’s) sentience, but you ignore their personal liberties and freedom.” Chills! The last time I saw this episode, I wasn’t a father, so I shrugged off the montage where Lal learns to smile, play catch, etc. But this…

The Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations

Possibly, in a few months, we’ll return to some version of the old normal. But this spring won’t be forgotten. When later shocks strike global civilization, we’ll remember how we behaved this time, and how it worked. It’s not that the coronavirus is a dress rehearsal—it’s too deadly for that. But it is the first of many calamities that will likely unfold throughout this century. Now, when they come, we’ll be familiar with how they feel.

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The Bonding ( ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Three Episode 5) — Character-driven analysis of grief

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After a member of a landing party dies an accidental, senseless death, Picard must break the news to her young son. “Jeremy, on the starship Enterprise, no one is alone,” says Picard. “No one.” Numerous times on my rewatch, I’ve wished episodes would devote less time to scanning and probing and navigating around the Sci-Fi Thing of the Week, and more time on how the characters interact. This episode hits the sweet spot. Worf, feeling responsible because he led the away team, is eager to help the boy deal with his grief through a Klingon…

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Who Watches the Watchers (ST:TNG Season Three Episode 4) Rationalist, talky mythbusting

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After a primitive, rationalist society mistakes Federation technology for supernatural power, Picard must do whatever it takes to undo the resulting cultural contamination. Fortunately for Picard, that involves lots of talking. A grim scene in sickbay memorably demonstrates that humans in the 24th century can sometimes delay but cannot defeat death. A cleverly subversive climax has Picard calmly determined to deliver the Mintakans from the burden of their newfound faith. The original Star Trek occasionally touched on religion: belief in the “Son” is spreading on a parallel Earth where Rome never fell; Kirk tells…

In “World Drama” I’m adding the absurd, optimistic “The Skin of Our Teeth” (dropping bleak “Waiting for Godot”)

In light of current events, I’m dropping the bleak Waiting for Godot from my World Drama class (actually I’m making it optional; students could drop a different play) and adding Thornton Wilder’s absurdist but optimistic The Skin of Our Teeth.   Writing while World War II was still raging, Wilder depicts a representative American family facing a series of calamities — an ice age, a global flood, an a world war — and warns his audience against resorting to tribalism and selfishness in the face of a crisis.  His play invokes this passage from Plato:   Then tell me, O…

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Pen Pals (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 15) Data Hears a Who

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation A new-to-me “Data Hears a Who” character story, featuring a multi-layered philosophical jam session in Picard’s quarters, a substantial B-plot for Wesley, and some tacked-on science-fictiony frippery for the groundlings. I started watching the show late at night, and lost interest when Wesley was steeling himself in the hallway before addressing the geological survey team he had assembled. When I restarted the episode the next day, I was pleasantly surprised when the scene ended as soon as he walked through the doors. That was a good call — we didn’t actually need to see…

Shen Yun Chinese dance troupe

One of seven touring groups devoted to sharing China’s traditional culture. The name means “beauty of divine dance.” Much emphasis on acrobatics and fluid motions. A recurring theme was interaction with the divine, and one number set in the present day focused on two brothers, one a police officer and one who falls in love with a woman who practices Falun Gong —  a forbidden faith which, at least as dramatized in the dance, emphasizes meditation, harmony, healing and a Buddhist-like state of enlightenment. The civilian brother is arrested and blinded as a medical procedure (organ harvesting, perhaps?), the police…

Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.

Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy. Some basic concepts: What is Newsworthy? Recent events that are unusual, nearby, have widespread/significant impact, or involve celebrities are more newsworthy than events that are stale, distant, have limited/trivial impact, or happen to average people. (9 min audio.) Objectivity: Traditional journalism reports fairly from all sides of an issue — even the side the reporter thinks is wrong. The Inverted Pyramid: Start with whatever is most important, not with who spoke first at the meeting you were assigned to cover. A traditional news story does not build to…