Monday, December 29, 2008

Lipodiesel Leftovers

A plastic surgeon-- Craig Alan Bittner-- is in trouble for allegedly using leftover fat from his patients to fuel two cars, (among other things which may be more serious). Apparently some law says this is a no-no. Myself, I think it is an excellent idea. Though if the fat in question was being sliced off of me, I would want it to fuel my own car. Of course, by time the idea runs through red tape, it won't be cost-effective anymore. Purifying the fat and rendering it sterile is the rub. Hmmm, perhaps the future holds plans for a fat factory.

There is indeed the possibility that Bittner's spiel on a website was a created fantasy.
More will be revealed.

radical sapphoq

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fussing over Christmas 12/25/08

Christmas is here and the commercialism factor continues to run high what with grown men in Santa suits, "must have for happiness" advertisements, and dwindling parking spaces at the malls. As usual, some stores have instructed their employees to say "Merry Christmas," others have instructed their employees to say "Happy Holidays" or nothing at all. People get up in arms over all of this. I understand why. As a non-believer I myself get sick of hearing about "the Reason for the Season" at 12 step meetings. As an atheist, I endeavor to extend to believers the tolerance for their beliefs that they often deny me for my unfaith. And there are those sincere Christians who grumble about the retail circus that Christmas has become. I have a solution that should satisfy everyone with a bit of work.

Quite frankly, if Christians want to "take back Christmas" I think they should be encouraged to do so. Here are some things I wish the Christians would do in order to reclaim Christ-Mas:

(1). The date that Christians celebrate Christ's being born should be changed. In this way, Christians can easily dissociate themselves from the retail madness that occurs every December.
Let historical research be done and let the Christians agree on some other date.

(2). Santa Clauses, Christmas trees, lights, decorations, the sending of Christmas cards, and presents should all be given the hatchet. Don't import the messy secular commercialism into the new date. Teach little Christian kids that only the ungodly indulge in such things in December and that as a Christ-like family, real Christians don't engage in worldliness. After all, the sacred and the profane shall not mix.

(3). Rename the new day. Christians can call the new holy day either Christ-mas [an old pronunciation] or simply "Christ's Birthday."

radical sapphoq

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting Out of Gitmo

Camp Justice in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is slated for closure. Fear strikes at the heart of this blogger. I will not deny that beating on the terrorists there was a bad idea. Nor will I condemn President Bush for his hand in creating Gitmo. All of that falls under "old news." In establishing that business not as usual, President-Elect Obama has picked on the one thing that is full of controversy.

The folks housed in Guantanamo Bay are not nice people. They are not P.O.W.s because they are not legal combatants and therefore not covered by the Geneva Convention. They are not American citizens and therefore not habeus corp writ material. They are human beings who like blowing up other human beings in vastly illegal ways. The International Herald Tribune (iht) article states that many of the prisoners there are without a country that wishes to take them. Otherwise, they are eligible for release back into society. Any countries wish to volunteer? I don't see why they can't go back to the countries that they used to live in if indeed some percentage of them are in effect free men being held at Camp Justice.

Some of the folks will get a sort of military trial, possibly on U.S. soil. Others will have a special justice system created for them as it seems they are the holder of secrets. These secrets are powerful stuff. Plans to blow up more Americans and all of that. Some human rights groups are all for getting rid of Gitmo and giving the land back to Cuba.

Quite frankly, my hawkish nature continues its ascent. The terrorists who are at Guantanamo Bay should be disposed of, as in terminated. They aren't protected under national or international laws. They do not have our best interests at heart. They wish us dead. Well, I wish them dead too. If there are any innocents residing in Camp Justice, let Mexico or Israel have them.

radical sapphoq

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Presidential Race in the United States

I dislike both of them.

Obama has more of my issues but I don't believe he can give the country the leadership we need.
McCain has the leadership but I am sick of religion (specifically but not limited to fundamentalist Christianity) being pushed into politics and what is happening to the separation of church and state.

*I think we have to drill for oil within the United States while continuing to develop the technology that (hopefully one day) will enable us to become totally free from foreign oil sources, environmental groups be dammed.

*I think that a public education should be exactly that and non-sectarian in nature. I am opposed to the use of taxpayer funds for school vouchers.

*I am opposed to having an office for faith-based organizations and charities and stuff.

*I am opposed to the government giving any sort of money or grants of any nature to religious organizations that are involved in social services programs of any nature.

*I am opposed to the privatization of social security.

*I am opposed to allowing people who entered our country illegally to have a path to citizenship.

*I am opposed to providing illegal aliens with drivers' licenses and permission to stay on because they marry a United States citizen or have a baby on U.S. soil.

*I am opposed to forcing AIDS educators to talk only about abstinence as a way to prevent the transmission of HIV, both in our schools and abroad. I think that high school kids, with parental permission, should be told that no sex is the best however that condoms is one way that can prevent AIDS (but not all the time as rubbers do break). I think that adults in places where AIDS is a huge epidemic should be told about other options besides abstinence and to quit frucking monkeys if any of that is still going on. I think that anyone who contracts AIDS should be counseled to consider never having sex again or only having sex with someone else who has AIDS. If someone who has AIDS decides otherwise, they should definitely be taught safer sex practices if they don't know them and to be reminded about condoms, dental dams, and other forms of barriers. Furthermore, I think that men and women who engage in oral sex should be told about dental dams. Women together know about dental dams. Let's talk about sex. Oh, wait. More another time. I'm no Dr. Ruth.

*I am opposed to giving people new mortgages, especially those who were not credit-worthy in the first place when they got their loans. I understand that I don't know much about economics and that folks more qualified than I have other ideas about what to do with the world economic crisis.

*I am opposed to the crooks who helped to cause the crisis getting away with their huge salaries and no jail time.

*I am opposed to the government giving us tax stimulus checks although I am not rich enough to be able to afford to send mine back.

*I am opposed to all the so-called fixing that has been done to Medicare and this "donut hole" shit which causes much financial hardship among our senior citizens and disabled folks on Medicare.

*I don't know what should be done about the medical insurances stuff. I only know that something needs to be done.

*I am opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incestuous rape, or to save the life of the mother. Although I am reluctant to go all the way with pro-life and outlaw abortion, I am equally reluctant to go all the way with pro-choice. A woman's life is valuable and a woman should be able to govern her own body.

*I am opposed to pharmacists not providing a pill to rape victims which would not allow the fetus to implant. I believe that once an egg and sperm unite, there is new life there. However, it is inexcusable that a pharmacist will not provide doctor-ordered medication to people on the basis of a religious belief. That a rape victim would have to travel to a different drug store is inexcusable. Better yet, let that pill be offered in every emergency room to every rape victim.

*The United States maintains a stabilizing military presence in many foreign places and the natives do not want us to leave. I believe that we should not pull out of Iraq all at once. I believe those decisions need to be made by military experts and not by the populace.

Nifty net polls tell me that the candidate who has the most of my issues (51%) is Ralph Nadar. I didn't even know he was running. I think I will write in my dog.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bugging Over a Frog

sung to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun" sort of:

There is a frog in Bolzano
hangs on a cross does he.
With a beer and an egg in froggie hands,
green death upon a tree.

Now the Pope has come to Brixon fair
in the mountains near South Tyro
where the province people are incensed
saying the poor dead frog must go.

Now Franz is on a hunger strike
though the museum moved the art
now Martin Kippenberger's frog is on the third floor
yet the Catholic reaction is off the chart.

You can call these lyrics ill-mannered and crass.
You can call me a Pope-hating scum.
You can call me a disrespectful atheist
Cuz I find the fuss to be dumb.

*radical sapphoq, all rites reserved*

After getting all of Pope Benedict's luggage loaded into the limo,

(and he doesn't travel light), the driver notices the Pope is still standing on the curb.

"Excuse me, Your Holiness," says the driver, "Would you please take your seat so we can leave?"

"Well, to tell you the truth," says the Pope, "they never let me drive at the Vatican

when I was a cardinal, and I'd really like to drive today."

"I'm sorry, Your Holiness, but I cannot let you do that. I'd lose my job!

What if something should happen?" protests the driver, wishing he'd never

gone to work that morning.

"Who's going to tell?" says the Pope with a smile.

Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel.

The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it,

accelerating the limo to 205 kph. (Remember, the Pope is German.)

"Please slow down, Your Holiness!" pleads the worried driver, but the

Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens.

"Oh, dear God, I'm going to lose my license -- and my job!" moans the driver.

The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches.

The cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio.

"I need to talk to the Chief," he says to the dispatcher.

The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he's stopped a limo going 205 kph.

"So bust him," says the Chief.

"I don't think we want to do that, he's really important," says the cop.

The Chief exclaims, "All the more reason!"

"No, I mean really important," says the cop.

The Chief then asks, "Who do you have there, the mayor?"

The cop says, "Bigger."

The chief asks, "A senator ?"

The cop says, "Bigger."

The chief asks, "The Prime Minister?"

The cop says, "Bigger."

"Blast it man," says the Chief, "Who is it?"

The cop says, "I think it's God!"

The Chief is even more put out by this. "What makes you think it's God?"

The cop says, "His chauffeur is the Pope."

*a joke traveling the internet*

Benjamin Collard is Collared in the Continuing Communion Caper Review

Repercussions from the communion caper of June 29th continue. Now Webster Cook's student-senator friend Benjamin Collard is being collared by the fundie Catholic Campus Ministries for the same thing as his buddy. He is being charged with identical charges in fact: misconduct, disruptive conduct, and giving false identification.

Andrew Cook was impeached by the Student Senate and may be voted out of that office. A separate body, not the Senate, may or may not decide to throw him (and his buddy Benjamin Collard) out of school as in expel.

Meanwhile, sanity prevailed at the University of Minnesota and nothing is going to happen to P.Z. Myers there. P.Z. took a stolen consecrated wafer gotten from anonymous and stabbed it with a rusty nail. He then chucked it in his garbage can along with pages torn out of both a Koran and a Richard Dawkins book, a banana peel, and coffee grinds. Mark Shea got pissed off about that and called P.Z. Myers crazy. To his credit, Mark Shea did acknowledge that not all atheists are like that. Bill Donahue's contribution was to call the wafer wasting a form of discrimination. And then the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (on July 29) said that P.Z. Myers had done a bad thing, made really bad arguments about how the rest of us aren't allowed to say bad things about other peoples' religions (gasp!), and called for a day of prayer and fasting sans sackcloth. Of course, P.Z. Myers should apologize with sincerity. The last just isn't going to happen. P.Z. Myers responded with a cartoon drawing with the caption, "Your crackers are not safe."

sapphoq says: In the style of LOLcats, P.Z. Myers might have done better to label the cartoon, "All yer crackers are belong to us."
If Jeebus would have just teleported out of the damned plastic baggie and then sent an e-mail assuring all of his followers that he was unharmed, the whole mediac mess could have been avoided.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Crackers over Crackers 7/13/08

"Once we all realize that none of us knows
what the hell any god might want or say,
and most especially not semi-literate, bigoted morons
who can barely speak, once we stop pretending
our books and mythologies are sacred enough to die or kill for,
or that we have the right to change anyone's mind by force or fervor,
then we might awaken to sunshine and laughter.
Until then, everything you know is bogus."

Thus Spake Guru Greenbaum, June 15, 2005

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

“It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ."
saith Catholic League president Bill Donohue over at:

because oh noes, a Catholic student at the University of Central Florida was taking a communion wafer back to his pew in order to show a non-Catholic friend and then got man-handled by a woman who ceased only after the student Senator Webster Cook put the thing in his mouth.
He took the wafer to his dorm room for a week where it resided in a plastic baggie.

Bloggers weighed in pro and con, including the illustrious P.Z. Myers (and the Catholic League is now after his yob for it) who called the host a frackin' cracker and promised to do bad things to any communion wafer sent to him by readers.

In turn some politician in Virginia became concerned for the safety of Catholics slated to attend the Republican convention in Myer's home state of Minnesota and wants extra security to protect them from him. (Gasp!)

The upshot was that student Cook returned the wafer after receiving death threats.

To answer Bill Donahue regarding:
“It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ."

radical sapphoq says:
Yeah Bill, here's one.
Roman Catholic priests who RAPE little boys and girls.
Roman Catholic Dioceses who then move the priests to different parishes in order to COVER THE RAPES UP.
Oh, that's two.

Hey, I was raised a Roman Catholic.
I've never had to endure any man of the cloth groping me or trying to sex me up at a young age.
I did endure at least one nun in school not believing me when I tried to tell her that my mother was drinking alcoholically and violent.
Water over the dam.
I survived my childhood and teen-aged years.
Okay, so Webster Cook was in violation of Roman Catholic protocol by not eating the wafer before returning to his pew. And putting the wafer in a plastic baggie and keeping it for a week in his dorm room was probably distasteful or even lacking a certain amount of tact expected of a student Senator.

Webster Cook was insulted by being manhandled at a Mass.
Bill Donahue and some Roman Catholics somewhere are insulted that he took the wafer away.
I am insulted that priests have gotten away with kiddie rape and molestation.

Here's a memory from the archives:
I was forced by my alcoholic violent vindictive mother to attend a Roman Catholic High School. At that school, I was introduced to drinking, drugging, cheating, heresy, and a tad of groping teen sex. I also had a best friend in high school.
One day, my best friend in high school showed me a cache of communion wafers. She said she knew where they were kept in the school chapel. She invited me on a raid and I went with her. That raid was the first of many that both of us went on together. We always had something to snack on-- those little communion wafers.
Readers, be outraged if you will.
1. The statue of limitations has long since run out on this one.
2. The priests. And uh, (tm) who is thinking of the CHIL---LUMS?

Let the comments begin maybe.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Drinking on the Holidaze

A bunch of folks in a bunch of places got arrested for driving while intoxicated over the holiday weekend. I used to drive around drunk and high years ago before I became abstinent. Based on that and subsequent experience with a stoned driver resulting in my t.b.i. later on, I have to say, "This is uncool, people." We have Mothers Against Drunk Driving; we have D.A.R.E.; we have Alateen; we have billboards with pictures of now dead people on them. None of it is enough.

I know a few people will say things like one can get a drunk driving charge from using mouthwash or the tests were biased or fixed or it was only once and blind dumb luck.
Quite frankly, I am tired of the excuses.
Folks who get drunk during the holidays, whether at barbecues or at bars, should stay put.
As in don't leave. As in take a cab or bus or sleep on the barroom floor or go home with a
friend or whatever.
Some towns have free taxi service for drunken prom kids or rowdy New Year's Eve
Will places have to provide this stuff on other holidays because grown-ups can't police themselves???

Disease be damned.
You drink and drive you should serve some time in jail before being certified for a drug court program (if you are lucky enough to qualify for one).
You drug and drive you should serve some time in jail before being certified for a drug court program (if you are lucky enough to qualify for one).
Sorry folks.

What part of "drunken/drugged up drivers do kill people and cause permanent damage in the lucky survivors" don't you get?

radical sapphoq

306 Arizona:

1704 California:

692 Ohio:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More on Victoria and the Psychic 6/21/08

credit: xkcd comics at

Actually, the psychic was really really wrong. Victoria is equipped with a G.P.S. system (because the school had "lost" her a couple of times before apparently) with a listening-in device.

And there is no male between the ages of 23 and 26 that Victoria is around. I tend to agree with some of the folks who commented on Daylight Atheism that if Victoria's mother had a boyfriend or relative or neighbor of that age (and Victoria hadn't been equipped with a listening device), that man would be sitting in a jail right now.

Those of you who are for the psychics will not like what Daylight Atheism readers have to say about it. The only thing I can tell you is that yes Virginia, psychics have been known to do some harm with their predictions.

radical sapphoq on Victoria and the psychic

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Politics of Autism; and a Story of a Psychic and an Autistic Child

What's not in the news: the organization Autism Speaks (tm) is having shit fits again over anyone who dares to use their name. Some folks may remember when the organization went after an autistic girl for launching a parody website. The website is currently living at I encourage anyone who cares to go there and see what upset the organization Autism Speaks (tm).

Now Autism Speaks (tm) has issued a takedown order to Zazzle //and Zack of Aspie Web demanding that his teeshirts be pulled from the Zazzle site. The uh offending trademark violating (smirk) teeshirt can be seen over here at Aspie Web: . Zazzle did write back to Zack stating that Autism Speaks (tm) did indeed contact Zazzle:
Zack made some other stuff now and it can be found at:

An excellent post by Amanda over at:
explains how Autism Speaks (tm) derives its' numbers and other stuff-- worth reading.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Benjamin Arnold has secured the domain where he plans to focus on self-advocacy issues of autistics everywhere and particularly in Europe where autistics have a nice record of speaking out.
For one example see:

radical sapphoq says: Zach is correct. Autism Speaks (tm) does not speak for us yet the organization feels free to include us who can talk and wipe our own asses in their numbers. Something stinks there. Over at google news, there is no mention of the legal crap that Autism Speaks (tm) is pulling on Zack who is not supportive of their particular message. You know the one. The one that says that autism can/should/will be cured. That mercury in vaccines causes autism (has been disproven so thoroughly by scientists that it appears that Autism Speaks (tm) backed down on that one). That autism is a tragedy. Oh, wait. Only the kinds that make for a kid to be non-verbal and needing all kinds of extra help for activities of daily living. The rest of us can go rot. And since we won't quietly go away, Autism Speaks (tm) can conceivably come after any one of us that it can. Pissed off? Doesn't begin to describe my emotional state at the moment.

The blogger sapphoq is not affiliated with the organization known as Autism Speaks (tm) in any way, the blogger sapphoq did not ask Autism Speaks (tm)
if she could use their trademarked name, the blogger sapphoq is not sponsored by Autism Speaks (tm) in any way. The blogger sapphoq has opinions.
It is difficult to blog about what an organization is doing without mentioning the name of the organization.

In the news: an autistic girl in Canada. Seems the educational aide went to a psychic who asked her, "Are you working with a girl whose name starts with a V?" (yes). "She is being sexually abused by a guy between the ages of 23 and 26." The school did the only logical thing-- Children's Aid Society was called. (Americans: think Child Abuse Hotline or D.S.S.).
Mom was then presented with a list of "behaviors" that could possibly constitute signs and symptoms of sexual abuse. Mom protested. Victoria is severely autistic. The Children's Aid Society fortunately was not willing to put stock in a psychic's tip. The report was taken and then quickly dismissed. Mom has sought legal advice regarding the possibility of lawsuit. Meanwhile, Victoria is not going to school. Mom is not going to work. The two are home together all day.

radical sapphoq says: What stupidity! The "for entertainment only" psychic prompted this whole thing. And as almost always, it is the kids who suffer. Victoria was in a self-contained classroom with five other kids. She is non-verbal, entering puberty, lacks inhibitions. The principal interpreted licking a table and gyrating against staff bodies as being indicative of sexual abuse. Some people don't have the sense they were born with.

The psychic should be prosecuted as being fraudulent, the teacher's aide should be fired, and Victoria should be going to school somewhere.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Alex Barton, Asperger's and General Public MisEducation

The family of Alex Barton, the little Aspergian misbehaving five year old kindergardener, has decided to sue the school district for his treatment by teacher Wendy Portillo. It is reported that although he enjoyed talking on television, Alex is still evidencing signs of trauma. An attorney from the Liberty Legal Institute's Dallas branch office states that the suit is not without merit. Public opinion as expressed at the end of another article-- published by the T.C. Palm on June 7, 2008 range from "Oh noes Alex will have to goto court and that sucks," to "Give 'em a buck and be done with it," to "Yup, there is a case there." The blog Thinking in Metaphors over at
comments/page/2/ is the place to go for a better understanding of the legal issues involved.

Autism, along with many other disabilities, continue to be misunderstood by the general public. Now I know that the general public does not have to understand every disability. But kids in a regular classroom should have the benefit of some accurate information. The real bother of the whole thing is that while "inclusive education" is the current buzzword, kids in general are not given any explanations about the conditions and disorders that may be effecting a few of their classmates. Thus a good friend of mine was left recently to explain Tourette's to his nine year old son. Nine year old was accused of not demonstrating an, uh, inclusive attitude because he had yelled "shut up" when a classmate kept cursing in the classroom one day. Apparently some regulation or concern about private medical information prevented the teacher from offering any useful information. The same reg or concern prompted the teacher to claim (erroneously in my estimation) that my friend did not have a right to explain Tourette's to his son either. Talk about insanity. If kids cannot talk about their differences, how are they ever going to come to an understanding of those differences? In my estimation, "Don't ask, don't tell" does not work when it comes to building community.

Now we have a teacher who decided to have a bunch of five year olds tell another five year old what they don't like about him or his behavior. Uncool for any child to have to go through. That teacher needs to find a different line of work. And in light of the lawsuit, the Florida school system would do well to inservice all of its' teachers on autistic spectrum disorder. Autism is indeed a broad spectrum of disorders. The three that illustrate a wide range of intellectual prowess and behavioral manifestations are classic (Kanner's) autism, Asperger's, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (P.D.D.-nos). [There are two other disorders included in the spectrum which probably should be moved to a different category.] Having been forced to sit through a few "sensitivity training sessions" myself, my own prejudice is that they don't do much. I still hold that the information should be offered to teachers as well as to the students and their parents. It is at least a beginning. Furthermore, any teacher who works in an inclusive classroom ought to be dually certified-- in special education as well as in elementary or secondary education (or whatever their primary field is).

The general assumption that "all people with autism" are screaming self-stimming innocents and perpetual children is one that I personally am a bit tired of dealing with. Just last night on secondlife dot com, my avatar tried to explain to someone who was annoyed with my adopted cousin's verbal behavior that yes indeed Aspergians can be verbally obnoxious just like anybody else. The avatar to whom this short explanation was directed had protested, "He doesn't have autism! Autistics don't provoke people." Interesting how any of us can suddenly know more than the neuropsych people who have spent years in testing and observation and diagnosing of a variety of disorders and conditions.

Autism in all of its' manifestations is not something that needs curing as the Autism Squeaks parents would have us believe. Nor is it something that should be celebrated in all of its' aspects. If the Aspergian bank teller wishes to keep his job, he needs to attend to matters of personal hygiene just like the rest of us. An autistic adult who is not able to communicate her basic needs or desires certainly has a tough life journey that not many of us would envy or want to emulate. Similar things could be said of any disabling condition or disorder. There was a time when I thought that traumatic brain injury was the worst thing that could happen to me. Then it did happen through the actions of a driver who really should not have gotten stoned before getting behind the wheel of his automobile. Traumatic brain injury is not the worst thing. And autism is not truly the thing that needs curing. The worst thing is ignorance and it is ignorance that needs healing.

radical sapphoq


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wendy Portillo Speaks, after a fashion

Here is the link:

According to Wendy Portillo:
1. Alex was voted out of the classroom for the rest of the day, not for good.
2. Alex was under a desk, pushing it up with his feet.
3. Second discipline referral that day.
4. Ms. Portillo wanted Alex to hear from other kids the impact of his behavior.
5. Ms. Portillo stated there are inaccuracies in a written report.

Alex's short list of crimes accused of by other students as noted by Alex to a police officer:
1. eating paper
2. picking his nose
3. eating his boogers
4. biting his shoelaces

Alex's list of bad things about Ms. Portillo as noted by Alex to a police officer:
1. She told Alex Barton that she hates him [at the time of the incident].
2. She scratched him.
3. She stepped on his shoelaces.
4. She pulled his shirt collar.

N.B. Ms. Portillo and other kids in the class refuted the last three allegations from Alex.

At least one parent has stated that Ms. Portillo is:
1. exceptional
2. caring
3. top-notch

My good friend Jeremy Crow (and those who are unfamiliar with his writing really ought to seek out his blogs) does not defend the teacher however he does point out that there has to be more to this story than is written. To that I certainly agree. I have to wonder if this incident was isolated or if it was a larger part of a long chain of incidents. Perhaps there have been other on-going issues and problems and this was the end result.

What the teacher did, as reported-- in my opinion-- was morally and ethically wrong.
This situation does bring up questions about inclusive education, the availability of aides in each classroom, teacher supervision, and the accuracy of testimony of children. I don't have any answers, just a bunch of thoughts and suppos-eds.

Seems to me that this incident surely was not the first indication that Alex Barton and Ms. Wendy Portillo were having a problem. As the adult and a teacher, Ms. Portillo has the responsibility to seek out supervision when there is a child that she finds extremely vexing in her classroom that she is either unwilling or unable to deal with.

The questions of inclusive classrooms vs. resource room pull-outs vs. special education classes I shall leave to those better qualified to answer.
My own observations are anecdotal in nature only and thus aren't anything to base a course of action on. Here I must point out that Alex Barton was in the process of testing on May 27th and now has been labeled as having Asperger's and A.D.H.D.

The question about the accuracy of testimony of children-- children are not always very accurate. There are court cases and things written about elsewhere that point this out. To wit, the McMartin case and the children satanic sexual abuse scares of the 80s and 90s hold some examples.

The question about the accuracy of testimony of the accused-- let's just say that adults have been known to be reckless with the truth in a cover-your-ass world. What will come of this remains to be seen. I gather from perusing other blogs that the Dr. Phil show folks
have called Melissa Barton, looking for an appearance on his show. And that Alex's mother is talking about suing.

Ms. Portillo continues under administrative duties as of this writing. And Alex continues to not attend school, apparently due to his mother's wishes. He did get to talk on the telephone with a schoolmate and will get to visit this summer.

radical sapphoq

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Voted Out of Kindergarten-- Alex Barton

The blond-haired little boy stared back at me from a photo distributed on the w.w.w. [w.w.w. = world wide wasteoftime]. In a parody of democracy in action, Alex Barton was voted out of kindergarten for the remainder of the school day last Wednesday. His crime? Having a neurological condition called Asperger's and some associated behavioral problems. The teacher-- a Wendy Portillo-- cajoled her class into voting. And reportedly had children describe what they didn't like about young Alex. One reported adjective was "disgusting." Two kids voted to keep Alex in the classroom that day. The majority voted that he be excluded. Alex who was just returned to the class from the principal's office for his behavior spent the rest of the school day in the nurse's office. Needless to say, Alex has not been thrilled about his experience.

Although folks on both sides of the issue have resorted to name-calling, what I find even more repugnant are the public comments which support Wendy Portillo in her actions. Her excuse ran something like teaching the children about tallying. I wasn't there but I have an opinion anyways-- bovine fecal matter to that. Was the teacher lying about the whys and wherefores of her ill-advised election activity a la Survivor fashion? Nah, she was just being reckless with the truth.

Yes, I know how difficult it can be to maintain reasonable discipline and order in any rowdy bunch of human beings. Been there, done that. Yes I am intimately acquainted with the cluster of symptoms which comprise Asperger's. Of course I know how aggravating it is to herd cats.

I also know the frustration of living with atypical neurology.

I do not belong to the Autism Squeaks camp. [Autism Speaks but not for me, a curebie organization of unhappy parents]. I don't understand why forcing eye contact is such a big deal to neurotypicals, don't wish to blend in, will not give up my passions, and certainly will continue to celebrate diversity. I hate all clothing that is not cotton. I detest polyester and nylon in particular. I don't use makeup or wear high heels. I used to stare at the dust specks illuminated by the sunlight pouring through a window. I was clumsy rather than graceful and the last to be picked for any gym class team. I have been accused of staring too long, daydreaming, having obsessions with the things that are of intense interest to me, being intense or too intense or thinking too much about weird things or the wrong things, eating food in a specific order rather than varying what is on the fork from bite to bite, eating the same thing for breakfast daily, not making small talk, not caring about small talk or the lives of celebrities, being a geek or a space cadet or pedantic, not fitting in. And worse, daring to be content with my own company and my own internal focus and my own way of being.

No Child Left Behind. One Child Voted Out.

radical sapphoq says: A huge phooey to Wendy Portillo. As an adult and as a teacher, I cannot believe that she didn't have other options for dealing with a misbehaving five year old.
While I support reasonable discipline and consequences for one's actions, I abhor what happened to Alex Barton. I sincerely hope that he will find a new classroom where he is valued for who he is, a teacher who knows about the issues that people on the broad autistic spectrum face and who has a better arsenal of tools for keeping order in a classroom.

Bev over at Autism Square 8 has an excellent list of who to write to should anyone feel so inclined:

Educate yourselves if you wish to. Here is a partial incomplete list which includes two news articles from the same newspaper in Florida and some other bloggers who are blogging about this crapola:

excellent thoughts about this whole mess

Laura Hershey

the politics of exclusion


an interview with Alex Barton and his mother

two Palm Beach Post articles-- links working as of 5/28/08


Saturday, May 10, 2008

No I didn't die

I've been one of the clone-drones participating in Linden Lab's SecondLife:

where indeed there are political discussions and pretty much everything else in the virtual world as there is in real life. There is even a group or two who protest the rampant consumerism that exists in SecondLife. Anonymous is there, replete with flying phantom boxes and pictures of old men getting it on with other old men and bedsores. Anonymous has land there on SecondLife (no I won't say where. Let's just say that as a bisexual woman, I am willing to ignore the ribbing of gays and feminists because I support Anonymous when it comes to Scientology.) A.A. meetings are there. So is an active Aspie community as well as some t.b.i. survivors.

A brief synopsis of what I think about some of the current events going on:

1. It appalls me that President Bush welcomed the Pope with such open arms. Used to be that fundamentalist Christians were equating the Pope and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church with such things like the Beast, the mark of the Beast, and going to hell. Okay, so politically the President couldn't snub the Pope I suppose. But did Bush really have to go pick up the Pope himself? On the plus side, as far as I know, no rounds of golf were shared by the two of them during the Pope's stateside visit.

2. I am sorry that the government is giving most of us a rebate check because the country is in financial debt. On the other hand, I could use the money. Anyone who really hates the idea is welcome to send me their cash.

3. I am weary of the Clinton/Obama run-off. I want them to get it over with and just pick whoever is going to run on the democratic ticket. And I am not convinced that the country will be better off with either of those two as president (if the Democrats "win.") I mean, some folks wanted a Democrat-controlled Congress. So far I haven't seen any great things come out of this Congress.

4. I hate VESID.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Don't Panic Folks. Antidepressants Still Do Work. 2/28/08
<--- That is the link to the print-friendly version (easier on the eyes to read) of an article regarding the literature review in question that has been popularly and erroneously reported by the press with inflammatory headlines such as "Gasp! Oh noes! Anti-depressants do not work."

[N.B. will yield several user names and passwords that one can utilize to view the article.]

According to the Medscape article Study Identifies Bias in Favor of Publishing Positive Antidepressant Trials
written by Marlene Busko, "The team identified the phase 2 and 3 clinical-trial programs for 12 antidepressants approved by the FDA between 1987 and 2004, which involved 12,564 adult patients. They also determined whether the FDA judged the studies to be positive or negative with respect to primary end points."

Actually, the literature review (which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine on January 17, 2008) maintains that S.S.R.I.s are more effective than placebos; however not so much more effective as the public has been led to believe. In other words, this review says yeah the stuff works but maybe the difference between the drugs and the placebos are not as great as the public has been led to believe.

a).The FDA uses the data that is favorable to the purposes of the FDA (in deciding to license a drug for use).
1). Negative results are sometimes used by the FDA as showing positive results.
2). Negative results are sometimes ignored by the FDA.

b). A bias may exist in reporting or people do not always have access to negative research study results.
1). Peer review journals may not accept negative research studies' results for publication at a similar rate to the acceptance of positive research studies results.
2). Some researchers for whatever reasons may not submit those studies.

In terms of the numbers of test subjects, in many cases more people were used in the discounted research studies than in some of the studies that were reported/factored into the FDA decisions to license a drug. The discounted studies often had a higher reliability factor than the ones that the FDA based their licensing decisions on.

This particular study was a review of the literature available rather than its' own research study using . The reviewers found that a bias exists in the public reporting of results rather than that the "antidepressants don't work" as incorrectly reported by the popular press.

The team was quoted in the Busko Medscape article as saying:
"Each drug, when submitted to a meta-analysis, was superior to placebo. On the other hand, the true magnitude of each drug's superiority to placebo was less than a diligent review of the literature would indicate."

There was no mention in the original literature review of the distinction between those who are clinically depressed and those who are experiencing situational depression. The purpose of the original literature review was not to take a side on the shrinks rule and N.A.M.I. mommies know best vs. the anti-psychiatry debate.

The reporting of this literature review by the popular media (e.g. newspapers) has been absolutely horrible and inaccurate.

radical sapphoq

cross-posted to some other places.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Leak on Wikileaks, Leak On

Any of you who have been following the drama over at Wikileaks will be glad to know that following this here linkage: will get you there (a mirror site from Sweden) for the time being anyways. Alternate linkage outside of the United States was part of the original plan-- to have sites set up in various countries should the courts of one country succeed in getting a shutdown order. Here's another one, this one is based in England: .

Wikileaks protects whistle-blowers from corporations (or governments) who would much rather not have folks tattling on any suspicious practices. Recently, a Swiss bank challenged Wikileaks and now the site is facing a court battle with the United States versus responsible exercise of the First Amendment. Bloggers across the internet have protested the February 15 court decision and this blogger too joins in the fray. Buzz-flash has quite a few things to say about this whole mess over at: .

Quite amazing to me is that the court case took place in the United States. While the order to erase the D.N.S. from U.S. servers will certainly not hold up on appeal,
2008/02/us-court-order-shuts-down-activist-site.html<--- here
it is disconcerting that this case involving documents regarding a Swiss bank doing business in the Cayman Islands made it court on United States soil. Still, we are far better off living here than in places like Egypt where one can be severely physically beaten for dissident web-surfing and document leaking or in Red China or even Vietnam where folks have been imprisoned for similar activities.

radical sapphoq
cross-posted all over

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Autistic Kids Grow Up...

Christopher DeGroot had autism. Because he reportedly would bolt from the apartment that he lived in with his parents Nicolaas and Agnes, they locked the windows and doors. Because they needed to go do things like feed their horses without their son, they left him alone in the apartment which was secured against his escape into traffic. Their 19 year old son who had severe autism was left alone in
their apartment for several hours a day so they could go do chores. In my opinion,
leaving a severely disabled man alone in an apartment without supervision is wrong
on so many levels. Even if Christopher DeGroot possessed the knowledge of what to
do during an emergency, the deadbolt on the door and the locks on the windows precluded any means to get out. And if he was unable to act during an emergency on
his own behalf due to his disabling condition, he should have had a (hired if necessary) caretaker supervising him in his parents' absence.

On Sunday May 14th, 2006 the apartment did indeed catch on fire. Two family cats were saved. One firefighter was injured. 77K of damage was caused to the apartment building and stuff inside of it. Christopher, then 19, had to be airlifted to a hospital in Portland, Oregon. The burns covered 80% of his body. He died on Friday May 19th, 2006.

Nicolaas and Agnes reported to the police station as requested for questioning. They were charged with first-degree arson and first- or second-degree manslaughter. (Report of the manslaughter charges differ in degree). The fire was thought to be caused by arson, specifically by Nicolaas and Agnes DeGroot setting fire to paper in the middle of the living room floor and then leaving their son to burn while they left to feed the bloody horses.

Yeah, they had their day in court where they (via separate attorneys) were allowed to Alford plea the charges. An Alford plea means that the defendants admit that the State can prove its' case against them, but falls short of admitting any guilt on the part of the defendants. The original charges were pled down to criminal negligent homicide.

Two people testified that Nicolaas and Agnes De Groot were cool and devoted parents. Nice to their autistic son, caring about his needs, blah blah blah. The judge decided that the parents did not intend any bad vibes when they left their severely autistic son alone in the apartment without any supervision. He sentenced Nicolaas and Agnes DeGroot to six months in the county jail.

This is a case that in my opinion should never have been allowed to be Alford plea'd.

Autistic kids do grow up to be autistic adults unless their uh devoted parents kill them.


Parents charged with first-degree arson and first- or second-degree manslaughter:

Alford pleas and a sentence to six month in the county jail:

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Good Mourning Stupor Tuesday

Teens used to be given ice pick lobotomies. I once knew an old man. He was given one back in the day. He was a rebellious teen. Among other "horrid" transgressions, he smoked cigarettes. He still does. Years wasted on the back wards. Oh bloody hell. Shove him into a group home. The food is better there at least. Here's some more pills. We don't know if you truly would have needed them as an adolescent but you sure do need them now.

Every label is a catch-all. So the labels will keep devolving.

Briefly the nation mourns the fall of another pop icon star into the throes of mania. Dressing without underwear is grounds for psychiatric imprisonment even of the the rich and infamous. I feel badly for her doggies. I weigh in on the side of animal welfare, not animal rights. I detest PETA and their dog houses for wolves campaign over at Penn's Caves. Evolution, anyone? The wolves came first. They didn't want the dog houses that you forced the owners of Penn's Caves to airlift/drop in. They pissed all over them and tore them up. And went back to their dens which they had carved out of the side of the mountain that is theirs. We have forgotten how to live. My feet have forgotten how to feel the nuances of bare uneven ground. The cane leans against the wall of a hallway. I force my feet to feel. I never gave a damn about the supposed window of improvement after a traumatic brain injury. There are no bars on my windows. Somewhere in a locked ward, a pop star is forced to put on underwear daily. Compliance has its' own rewards. If she is proper and placating and fawning, she may get to pick today's movie. If she becomes invested in the goals you have set up for her, she may get out in ten days.

Devolving from dogs to wolves, from dog houses to dens.

Neuroleptics have helped people to become productive members of society. Some folks who weren't able to work, who were plagued by hallucinations and or other rotten malfunctions of their neurology are now able to work. A few even manage to hold down real jobs, not the legalized poverty of sub-waged existence found in the sheltered workshops or T-projects. "It's better than staying home," the salaried proponents of The System retort. Oh yeah. Warehousing the different is good because society is judged by outward appearances. Shove the disabled out of sight. We the forgotten people-- fat people, people who hallucinate, curse too much, limp, are missing limbs, don't wear proper white cotton underwear, aren't properly happy about our situations-- don't deserve to have a voice. So a charity made up of parents sues an autistic teen for daring to mock it with her own website. These parents think they can speak for us who endure their sterilized tandrums. Some folks get diabetes or T.D. from the wonder drugs. Hard to tell. To weigh the good against the bad. For some folks with frucked neurology, the drugs are very very necessary. For the rest-- bright shiny pills with their empty promises of happiness. It's not happiness that the world needs now. And it's not love. And it's not bunches of parents coming out with bright shiny videos about how we have frucked up the family finances and broken their hearts. If only there was a cure for ignorance. For all of our shiny packaged advancements, we still can't figure out how to live together on this planet without blowing each other up into smithereens.

From grappling with tough stuff to neuropathy and smart bombs.

We need more research. More development. Psych drugs with better profiles, less side effects. The same care taken for psych drugs in clinical trials as is taken for all the others. The same attention to what is judged acceptable when it comes to side effects. What male teenager will greedily suck up any medicine that has "not being able to get it up" as a side effect? Only the truly insane. In the space provided below, list all of the non-psychotropics which have impotence as a side effect that we routinely administer to teens and young adults. Shrinks, first do no harm. Parents, saltpeter calms down raging hormones. Are you insane? We need to stop the guesswork. We all deserve more than that. Genetics, genomes. That is where the future of medicine lies. And once the neuro patients make room in the waiting room for the "psych" patients, we all might be better off. The N.A.M.I. mommies are WRONG. The vast preponderance of their kids do not need to be drugged. We are all wrong. Everything is neurology. Too bad the neurologists can't diagnose worth a damn.

Don't despair, repair.

My friends-locked Live Journal post about the so-called war on Christmas got flagged. Someone decided that my take on the news was an adult concept. Teens should be shielded from grappling with something that was freely available on Google news. Oh for crying out loud! I changed it back just before I put all entries save for this week's into private lockdown. SUP sanitizes the site, Aggregated feeds with advertisements and sponsored content pop into reality on the browser because sometimes we are oh so bored. We need entertainment. We are all excited now as we skate over to Explore Live Urinal. Uh, no thanks. Go sanitize your own toilet. The essay on the so-called war on Christmas can be found on other journal sites where the religious reich hasn't taken over.

I could have been great. Instead I am reduced to dead black words. I too piss on your dog houses.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Support Anonymous

The Chanology Project just might be true love do0ds.

From $cientology: Church of the Holy Censor Available at:

One of Scientology's preferred sayings is "Think for yourself". Why, then, does Scientology censor its own members?
It all started on March 13th 1998, at the L. Ron Hubbard birthday celebration in Los Angeles. Mark Ingber, a Church of Scientology official, announced that Scientologists would be given an opportunity to sell Scientology books and recruit for Scientology through nearly-identical promotional websites (getting 10% of the money that these recruits end up spending in Scientology, but that's another story). To put up one of these sites, a Scientologist has to sign a contract. Here's a short excerpt from that contract: "If you wish to use this authorization regarding the Marks and the Works, you must: ... (6) agree to use the specific Internet Filter Program that CSI [Church of Scientology International Incorporated] has provided to you which allows you freedom to view other sites on Dianetics, Scientology or its principals without threat of accessing sites deemed to be using the Marks or Works in an unauthorized fashion or deemed to be improper or discreditable to the Scientology religion;" "Deemed improper or discreditable", eh? Boy, aren't Scientologists lucky to have someone there to decide for them what facts about their religion they can and cannot see. If they didn't use this filter, they might find out about the suspicious deaths in Scientology and the uncomplimentary things that judges have said about Scientology. Can't have Scientologists finding out the ugly facts behind Scientology, can they? So, Scientology tries, through this internet filter, to prevent its members from reading negative information about Scientology on the internet. This internet filter does 4 things to words and websites that Scientology doesn't like: The filter blocks a list of websites. Anyone with the filter installed can't access these websites, AT ALL. Examples of blocked sites include:,,, all websites containing information the "Church" of Scientology doesn't want its members to see. The filter blocks a list of newsgroups. Anyone with the filter installed can't access these newsgroups, AT ALL. Some of these blocked newsgroups include: alt.religion.scientology, Since scientology claims it's not a cult, why would it need to block an ex-cult newsgroup? The filter blocks a list of words, that will be removed from a web page or email message. Some words blocked lead to odd combinations: NOTs and Anima are blocked, so "I'm not sure that animal is healthy" gets changed to "I'm ure that l is healthy". Other words blocked are peoples' names: Deana Holmes (a critic of Scientology), Bob Minton (another critic of Scientology, who appeared recently on NBC's Dateline). Why does Scientology try to prevent its members from reading about these people? What does Scientology have to hide? The filter has another list of words, that will stop an internet page from loading, or kick a user from an IRC channel (remove him from the discussion). If the filtered computer sees one of these words, the computer will stop receiving data through the present connection. These words include: Entheta (refers to, xenu, Fishman Affadavit, Bare Faced Messiah (a critical book on Scientology, in the Books on the Net section at These words and websites are only some of the terms blocked by the Scientology internet filter. The whole list can be found at: Some information sources, for further reading: Operation Clambake: (Lots of information!) Canadian Critical Scientology Information: Occupied Clearwater: Deaths in Scientology:
Church of Scientology Censors Net Access for Members:

[end of copy and paste. N.B. this docu is available as a pdf download and is meant for distribution.]

In case any of you have been dead, drugged beyond recognition, or doing mundane things like working-- as a public service-- I am providing a brief synopsis of recent events. The Church of Scientology is considered to be a cult by some [including Germany] and has been blamed for a handful of deaths. A vid of Tom Cruise (remember him?) appeared on You Tube briefly. The Church of Scientology or someone over there didn't like this. Believing the appearance of this vid to be a violation of copyright, a takedown order was issued. Some pissed-off hactivists known individually and collectively as Anonymous or Anon declared a sort of internet war. This internet war apparently involved D.D.O.S attacks, faxes, and phone calls. Leafleting has also been carried out in select cities and more actions protests are slated for February 10th or thereabouts.

Warren Buffett approves of these goings-on and so do I. Sure, I am anti-censorship. And the folks of scientology have a legal right to publish their ideas. Protesting has a noble history. It is through protesting that some things get done. The message gets out. The meme gets around. The stuff gets to go surfing electronically. Well, okay some of the stuff that Anon is doing might border on illegal or might be illegal. I am not a cop, lawyer, or judge. Some other folks will have to decide all of that stuff later on maybe. Meanwhile, in retaliation at least one site where Anon hangs out was attacked in turn by an organization calling itself "The Regime." That particular site is now back up and in service as of this posting.

My sources are below. Many of them support Anon. At least one doesn't. And several are official scientology sites, as far as I can tell. Adding to the url will cause any that are loading slowly to speed up. spike,9171,972865,00.html <----5/6/91,141839-c,hackers/article.html [Open in new window] or [Open in new window]

All of the words below are either businesses which may be associated with Scientology or owned outright, or terms associated with Scientology.

Dianetics. Sterling Management Systems. The Way to Happiness Foundation. Applied Scholastics. Fair Game. Old Mayo. Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Concerned Businessmen's Association of America. HealthMed. Foundation for a Drug-Free World. The Drug-Free Marshals of Seattle. The Drug-Free Marshals of Los Angeles. Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life. Volunteer Ministers Corp. Religious Technology Center. E-Meter. Clear. The Bridge. Operating Thetans. Engram. Lead the Way to a Drug-Free U.S.A. Drug-Free Ambassadors. Golden Era Productions. Bridge Publications. New Era Publications. International Hubbard Ecclesiastical League of Pastors. Scientology Missions International. Narconon. Criminon. Feshbach "stock busters." Flag Service Organization. Fort Harrison Hotel. Field Auditor groups. Class V Churches. Celebrity Centre Churches. Saint Hills. Advanced Organizations. Freewinds. The Drug Busters. Food for All. Hands of Hope Quilt. Sea Org. The National Commission on Law Enforcement and Social Justice. Koenig photometer. Purification Rundown. Effective Solutions. Suppressive person. Disconnection. Linksfield House. Emotional Tone Stress Test.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What a Year

2007: the biggest public relations foul-up I have ever seen in my life.

2007: the year I learned more about legal matters and electronica than I ever wanted to learn.

2007: the year I learned how to back up my El Jay via LJBooks to my hard drive.

2007: the year I discovered fanfic as the direct result of what was happening at El Jay. So I got a new interest: Yaoi. (I ship Remus and Sirius; and some others which won't be mentioned.)

2007: the year I learned that some people consider drawn pictures of fake characters of a book to be just as bad as the RAPE I endured during my childhood. No love on that one El Jay.

2007: the year I began cross-posting to both Commie Journal and to Insane Journal just in case there continues to be witch hunts of whatever variety. My journals at C.J. and at I.J. remain public. Same posts though.

2008: the year I went friends-only on El Jay in order to protect myself as much as I can from the WhacKKKos 4 Installationofspyware trolls and others of the religious reich.

2008: the year I adopt a wait-and-see attitude regarding El Jay.

2008: the year I dance naked in the woods and perform strange incantations on behalf of Marta who has been appointed to be the voice of sanity and to answer what she can in the comments of anything posted by "the lj staff."[info] [Damn the wicked html.)

Disclaimer: No real or imaginary children were harmed in the thinking of the thoughts which I have typed in this post.

sapphoq on Commie Journal and on Insane Journal and some other places

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Blessed Trinity

The professionals hand out boxes to all of us. The boxes have covers but we know that there are rainbows in our boxes. We can hear the rainbows twirling around and making giggly noises.

The professionals tell us, "You all need to quiet down and listen to our instructions."

"Fuck your instructions!" someone yells. "You professionals are the stoopids," adds another.
"Your behaviors are unacceptable," the professionals chant together. "You both need a ten minute time-out."

The two go to their time-out chairs smiling, because the rainbows in their boxes are now tap dancing and singing a rather risque drinking song.

The time-out is over. Before the professionals can stop us, we all run to the barred windows. The youngest in the group opens all the windows.

We let the rainbows out of our boxes. They escape through the slits and blow kisses at us as they fly away.
We return to our seats and sit quietly in awe and wonder.

The professionals pass out M&Ms because we are now sitting quietly with our [now empty] boxes and no longer arguing with them about the contents.

The autistic youngster wants to reach for something and can't manage it so he uses the arm of a friendly adult to get it.
The standard issue kid whines and throws a temper tantrum and maybe climbs up on the furniture and breaks a leg.

Those that accuse us of not having this other mind thing don't recognize that we do. We are quiet about it. And we are free from the compulsion to arrange the environment into socially acceptable small talk.