Autism and the Measles Vaccine Debate

Really, there is no debate. As Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” My opinion, which is based in decades of scientific research by people way more qualified than I am, is that unless you have a compromised immune system, have an allergy to a vaccine’s ingredients, or have some other contraindication based on actual medical science, you should get your ass vaccinated. On time.

I know this is an unpopular opinion in some circles; I’ve lost friends over my resoluteness in this matter. When people cite Andrew Wakefield, my response has always been this:

“Even if vaccines did cause autism, I’d rather my kid be autistic than dead.”

My recent discovery of a decades-old autism diagnosis does not change my mind one bit. And it looks like I’m in good company. Sarah at The Archipelago wrote about the very topic of autism vs. measles. She took the words right out of my brain. I wouldn’t be surprised I’ve said exactly the following at some point:

Vaccines don’t cause autism. But even if they did, is being like me really a fate worse than death?

Please read it, no matter which side you’re on.

Link: The Archipelago – I’m Autistic, and Believe Me, It’s a Lot Better than Measles.

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Layton Brothers Mystery Room

layton

I’m a bit late to the party, I know. Layton Brothers Mystery Room was released in 2012 in Japan, and 2013 in the US. However, it’s new to me because I didn’t get an iPad until May of 2014, and it took me a few months to realize that the game was actually available in the English language. Better late than never, right?

I’ve found Level-5 games to be a bit quirky, and this game is no exception. On one hand, you’re in the Professor Layton universe. On the other, you’re not an archaeologist solving puzzles, but a new detective constable assigned to work the toughest murder cases with Alfendi Layton, son of Professor Hershel Layton.

The game feels more like Ace Attorney to me than like Professor Layton, due to the clicking about, examining clues, and comparing the evidence to witness statements. It’s perfect for tablets. The main difference is that there are no attorneys involved. It’s Order without Law. It’s difficult to go into much detail without spoiling the story, but it’s pretty true to the Layton formula. Another plus is that there’s no penalty for incorrect deductions, which is good because some of the leaps in logic didn’t make much sense to me.

It’s a short game; I finished in under 10 hours. The first third of the game is free, while the rest is split into two inexpensive DLC packs that cost a total of $4.98 US. I can’t help but notice that this format leaves a great opening for more add-on content. At the end of the game thus far, there are still mysteries left unsolved, such as:

  • Who is Alfendi’s mother?
  • Where’s the other Layton Brother?
  • What’s the Professor up to now?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Layton Brothers Mystery Room official site

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I Have Asperger’s and I Read Your Comments, Too.

The following is a comic from Emphathize This. It’s so powerful, I am reposting it without comment.

A comic about an Aspie woman reading online comments about Autism. Transcript follows image. [The comic is an abbreviated version of the following text. ~d]

I have a host of mental differences. I suffer from depression and anxiety. I experience emotions more intensely than my peers. But the diagnosis that I most identify with is Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

I think of Asperger’s as being born without Social Language. By social language, I mean mostly non-verbal communication (facial expression, gesture, tone of voice), but also social niceties, like small talk. Social language gives context to spoken words, and reveals others’ emotions. Because my knowledge of this language is so uncertain, I’m constantly second guessing myself, trying to pick signals I barely recognize and follow rules that I don’t know.

I think I cling to the diagnosis so much because it speaks to the loneliness and isolation I’ve felt so often. There were plenty of years when I had no friends. I used to play this game in my head: What would I trade to have friends? The natural beauty my mom said I had? My singing voice? My math skills? My ability to walk? My ability to read? Use of the left side of my body? The right? Sight? Hearing? Anything to not feel so alone. It was a stupid game. I felt like I would trade everything just to be accepted, liked, loved, and valued. But you don’t get to trade, and what I wanted most was to be able to have all those things…without having to change a single thing about myself.

I’ve been in therapy since I was thirteen. In therapy I learned a way around social language. I can talk about deep things fairly easily. I can listen to people talk about emotions and ask for clarification gently. I can understand emotions once people are really talking about them, once we’re past the superficial. I am training to be a psychologist because, when we’re all speaking close enough languages, I can empathize well. I also learned that I can tell and understand stories. Books will always be on my side.

I am currently pretty much friendless, but I have hope for the future. I am not normal, but I’ve found a way to function. Life hurts, but I want to live and I feel like I can actually live and live well.

I go online because it’s easier online, and I research autism because I want to learn more.

But what I read hurts.

I find stories of mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers of people who have autism. The person who has autism rarely tells the stories. The stories focus on impairments, and how the surrounding family is affected. Even the awareness campaigns feel like allies and caregivers reaching out to more allies and caregivers. It does not feel like people with autism coming out to the world and trying to find more people like us, people who speak our language.

The stories I read often describe people who cannot speak for themselves. These voiceless humans are treated as objects of inspiration and burden – objects, not people. The families have suffered, and though we don’t mean to inflict pain on them, we are the center of their sufferings. It is understandable that we would seem – even to those who love us – as pitiful, as selfish, as lesser, or weak. It’s true that caretakers can feel this way, and they should be allowed to express their struggles too.

But it hurts, reading your stories. I’m human. I read. I feel. I function. How could you think that no one like me would ever read your stories? How could you think that we would never know? How could you think we wouldn’t get angry, reading about how we’re burdens on your otherwise normal life? How could you think that we wouldn’t feel ashamed?

I listen to your stories and all I want to do is make it better, be better. But I don’t know how to make you happy.

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Open Apology to E.L. James

Let me start out by apologizing to E.L. James, and then I’ll tell you how I got to this point.

I was lying in bed, playing Final Fantasy X HD Remaster, hanging out in Mt. Gagazet, killing some bandersnatches. The word “bandersnatch” reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch. I then remembered a picture I saw a couple of weeks ago that shows his natural hair color, with is surprisingly gingery. That led me to think of the bias against red-headed men, and how they’re supposedly considered unattractive, so ginger actors often dye their hair for their roles. I remembered that Christian Grey, the title character of Fifty Shades of Grey, is described as having “copper” hair, yet he is portrayed in the movies as being quite brunet. “Gosh, that was a horrid piece of fanfiction,” I thought, “it was such a train wreck toward the end of the second book, I couldn’t stand to get the third one.”

I then remembered the moment when I thought Fifty Shades had truly jumped the shark. It was at the very end, when Anastasia’s former boss is revealed to have tampered with Christian’s plane in a murder attempt. The man was trying to get his revenge because Grey stopped him from sexually assaulting Anastasia. Oh, and Grey had bought out the publishing company Ana and Jack worked for.

“How convoluted,” I thought. “How could anyone consider this to be remotely realistic?”

Then I thought of GamerGate. People are having their private details published all over the Internet. Police are getting false alarm calls to homes of people who disagree with “Gators.” Women are getting rape and murder threats, ostensibly because of “ethics in journalism.” In actuality, a bunch of boys feel threatened because some are calling for more inclusivity in the video game industry.

It’s a lot like a man who ostensibly is angry because he was fired from his job, but, in actuality, is pissed off because he was out-alpha’ed by a rich, powerful guy who got the girl he wanted. Or it’s about ethics in publishing.

Either way, that whole scenario in Fifty Shades seems a hell of a lot more feasible, now that life is imitating art.

Once again, I apologize, Ms. James.

But I still think your work is crap.

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2014 GOTY

It’s not very easy to decide on my personal 2014 Game of the Year. First, I have to figure out all the games I’ve played in 2014. It also includes games that came out in previous years. This isn’t a ranking, but a recollection of the games I’ve started this year:

  • 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (DS)
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright (3DS)
  • Super Smash Bros (3DS)
  • Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
  • Fantasy Life (3DS)
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)
  • Disney Magical World (3DS)
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3)
  • Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
  • MLB 2014 The Show (PSVita)
  • Persona 3 Portable (PS Vita)
  • Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies (3DS)
  • Bravely Default (3DS)
  • Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)
  • Tomodachi Life (3DS)
  • Guacameele (PSVita)
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (PC/iOS)
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time (iOS
  • Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSVita)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics (PSVita)
  • Vib Ribbon (PS3/PSVita)
  • Final Fantasy X Remastered (PSVita)

Yeah, unfortunately, I did not play a single new PC game in 2014. Most of my PC gaming time was spent on Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

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