The meaning of being a man

There’s something that’s been knocking around in my mind for quite some time now. It’s not something I usually blog about, but I just feel the need to get it out there. That I’m blogging it on Fathers’ Day is oddly appropriate.
I was reading an article on Cracked, and they linked through to this article on bronies. For those of you who don’t know, bronies are adult male fans of the cartoon show “My little pony: friendship is magic”. It discussed how bronies came from the first generation to be raised significantly by feminists.
Feminism changed women’s role in society, and by extension society itself. But an obvious question appears to have gone unasked (or at least, I’ve never seen it asked). That question is: what is men’s role in society?
Because the role of women in society changed, the role of men in society had to change. Yet, like I said, I haven’t seen this question asked anywhere, and that surprises me somewhat. It seems so odd that such a necessary discussion hasn’t taken place. If it has and you know where, I would appreciate a link.
Another Cracked article I read was about the Men’s Rights Movement. It is shocking how something that could have triggered the discussion referred to above turned into a rage-filled orgy. The article portrays them as insecure, angry, and with their heads up their backsides. A real pity, actually.
The incompetent dad is a cliche that goes back to the earliest days of sitcoms and is still used today. Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin are the best examples. Yet the fathers I knew while growing up (including my own) typically weren’t incompetent or stupid. They, like the mothers, were doing their best. Sometimes it wasn’t good enough, usually it was.
What makes a man? I suppose that’s my question. Yet, just like there isn’t one way to be a woman, there isn’t one way to be a man. You could be an active parent, absent parent, childless; single, in a stable relationship, a bed-hopper; a high-flying professional, a tradesman, an assembly line worker. What skills should all men have? How should they behave in different situations?
If you have any thoughts about this, dear reader, please read my Comments Policy and submit your comments below.

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Letting the side down

Be warned: there are some swear words in this post.
It’s a real nuisance when you’re an advocate and members of your group let the side down.
You’ve probably heard of the “virgin killer” Elliot Rodger, who stabbed three of his roommates to death before embarking on a shooting rampage killing three more people. Some have suggested that he may have been autistic, but he was never diagnosed and he was prescribed medication for things that weren’t autism. He was angry that women were ignoring him. If he was autistic (which appears unlikely), just remember that being autistic is no guarantee against being an entitled arsehole, and that it wasn’t what made him a murderer. If you want to read a summary of his manifesto, here’s part 1. Link to the next part is at the bottom of the linked article.
Somebody who actually is letting the side down is Jake Crosby (yet again). He’s given a talk at AutismOne, a trade show for autism quacks that masquerades as a conference. Some people at Orac’s blog (including Orac) have seen video of the talk. They’re not impressed.

Crosby specialises in conspiracy theory plots about those who argue with him. Disappointing.

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Profanity Alert: find a fire and die in it PETA

As the heading warns, there’s going to be swearing in this post.
Some time ago, I posted about PETA lying about milk causing autism, and how they were slapped down several years ago by the autism community. PETA is now pretending that this never happened, and has a new advertising campaign out repeating the lie that milk consumption is related to autism. Science Based Medicine has the details.
Fuck you PETA. Fuck you up the arse with a family of angry porcupines. We have enough bullshit in our lives without you hijacking us as a vehicle for your ideology. I’ve been fighting shithead antivaxxers for four years now. I don’t need to fight a second group of brain dead fuckwits.
The research you used for your campaign is out of date and has been questioned. Many years ago, it was believed that gluten and casein could worsen autism symptoms. That was not the case. If an autistic child is gluten or casein intolerant, then excluding those items will help. Otherwise, a gluten free casein free diet is both useless and expensive.
If you have any decency, PETA, you will not only drop your campaign, you will express your sincerest regrets for attempting to hijack autism advocacy and undertake never to do it again.

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Some follow up, and a “study” leaves me fuming

Just a heads up, there’s going to be raging in this post.
In my last post, I wrote about doctors who treated a woman with cancer by giving her a massive dose of measles vaccine. Well, Abbie has more details. It turns out that the measles had adapted to the point where it could only replicate in cancerous cells, not healthy ones. But go and read her post.
And now for the story that provoked my rage. According to a new study it seems that there is a high correlation between being autistic and being a mass murderer.

Among the 239 eligible killers, 28 per cent had ‘definite, highly probable or possible ASD’ of which 7 per cent also had a head injury.

Here’s a good quote, though.

The researchers stressed the study is “clearly limited” by the “anecdotal and speculative” nature of some of the published accounts. “We’re not saying people with autism will be serial killers,” [lead researcher Clare] Allely said, adding “it’s way too early to make any statement like that.”

Oh, you’re not saying that? You took a bunch of mass murderers, looked for “signs of autism” in them, then used that to build a case, and you’re not saying that? Paula Durbin Westby wrote this comment below.

If you go back to my post, you can see the new Venn diagram and the chart of “six killers with definite ASD diagnosis,” with information about each one, including that only ONE person has a *definite* ASD diagnosis. The 67 people on the Venn diagram are actually 6, because the other 61 do not have “definite” diagnoses and are therefore in the realm of speculation. But the whole thing is speculative in nature

One of the other comments nailed it.

They take a sample of mass killers, then retrospectively look for details supportive of autism in popular press reports, then pretend they found a valid statistical correlation based on clinical analysis. If there is any methodology rife for bias, this would be it.

Yes. And this dishonest study is likely to make our already difficult lives worse. Thanks, “researchers”.

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A bunch of news stories on topics I blog about

In the past week, I’ve read a number of news stories relating to autistics, autism and vaccination.
The first one was in The Star, in an article about psychopathy. Paraphrased:
There are two types of empathy. Cognitive empathy is the ability to know what other people are feeling, and emotional empathy is the kind where you feel what they are feeling.
Autistic people can be very empathetic – they feel other people’s pain – but are less able to read the cues we read easily. Psychopaths are the opposite: they know what you’re feeling, but don’t feel it themselves.
Frequently I’ve shut down because after reading or hearing about an injustice I’ve imagined myself as the wronged party.
The next story I read was about using genetically modified measles to cure cancer. Two women were injected with a massive dose of measles vaccine. The dose was 10,000 times stronger than a normal dose. Both had weakened immune systems so the measles wouldn’t be attacked before it had done its job. Every other treatment option had been exhausted. One woman experienced complete remission. The other also experienced remission but her cancer returned. This is interesting because it’s strong supporting evidence for Paul Offitt’s remark that a child’s immune system can absorb the antigen load of 10,000 immunisations in a day.
The third story was “Early repetitive behaviour may signal autism risk“. Cliff notes version is that repetitive behaviour in children is normal until 6 months but decreases thereafter, while in autistics, repetitive behaviour is still prevalent or even increasing at 12 months. More research is needed, but if autism can be detected at 12 months, that’s another nail in the coffin of the vaccine causation hypothesis.
The fourth story was “Reason found for autistics’ overreaction to stimuli“. The short version is that certain areas in autistics’ brains overreact to sensory stimuli. It’s known as sensory over-responsivity, and is now recognised as a core feature of autism. To test this, they put 32 children, half autistics, half neurotypical, into an fMRI and scanned their brains while touching them with a wool sweater, playing loud traffic sounds, or both. The autistics’ brains reacted a lot more strongly.
This is very familiar to me. When I was 7 years old, my mother was preparing for a dinner party. I walked into the kitchen when she was taking meringues out of the oven. She offered one to me and I ate it.
It was so sweet that I gagged. To this day, I’m still wary of meringues. In addition, I hate being tickled or touched.
A meta-analysis has been conducted into whether vaccines cause autism. Its title says it all. “Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies.”
The final story involves the cat who saved her owners’ son from a dog. Video taken from security cameras by Roger Triantafilo has been posted to YouTube. Shortly before 5 o’ clock on Tuesday the 13th May, six year old Jeremy Triantafilo was riding his pushbike in his parents driveway next to a parked SUV. Next door, the neighbours opened their gate to leave and their 8 month old chow labrador cross Scrappy got out. Scrappy heard the noise of Jeremy’s pushbike and went to investigate. Glancing under the SUV, Scrappy saw Jeremy. Rounding the car, he sank his teeth into Jeremy’s leg and dragged him off the bike. Suddenly Tara, the Triantafilos’ cat, hurtled out and slammed into Scrappy. Startled, Scrappy bolted with Tara in hot pursuit. As soon as Scrappy left her territory, Tara turned back and checked on Jeremy, whose mother, alerted by his screams, saw his injuries then called 911. What makes it amazing is that Tara is only a fraction of Scrappy’s size, and could easily have been killed by him. Scrappy has been euthanased.
Why am I mentioning this story? Jeremy is autistic.

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Random thoughts on voting and SIDS

So I voted on May 7th in South Africa’s fifth democratic general election. The results have come back, and they weren’t entirely what I’d hoped for.
I’ve been in a fight on the internet with an antivaccinationists who stated the lie that vaccines are responsible for SIDS. The antivaccinationist’s response to my refutation was to scoff. So I googled. And an interesting individual turned up in my search results.
Peter Fleming is a professor at Bristol University, a researcher at the Royal Hospital for Children in Bristol, and perhaps the world’s foremost expert on SIDS. He was behind the “Back to sleep” campaign and other simple actions that cut SIDS deaths by over half. Several studies had looked at the SIDS-vaccine link, so Professor Fleming decided to perform a metaanalysis of those studies. “Reanalyses of case-control studies examining the temporal association between sudden infant death syndrome and vaccination”. The conclusion? “Our data suggest that immunisation does not contribute to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and may protect against it.” I found a link on the Bristol University website, but when I clicked for more details, I got a 503 error.
Hopefully, this will put the vaccines cause SIDS lie to rest.

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Three steps forward, two steps back

On the vaccine front, it looks like a “three steps forward, two steps back” situation.
My health insurer will give me double points if I get a flu jab before the end of May.
From Britain, proof that the hpv vaccine cuts cancer has emerged.
And now for the bad news on the vaccine front: Alicia Silverstone has released a parenting book in which she declares that she won’t be vaccinating her son against chickenpox or measles.
To me that is utterly stupid. I had a mild bout of chickenpox and I had to stay at home for a whole week. No going out anywhere. The effects are still with me. I have a scar just below my shoulder from one of the spots. When I’m under stress, I get mouth ulcers. I’m also at risk for shingles, which can be so painful that some have been driven to suicide. As for measles, I escaped that (thank you MMR), but Silverstone is putting her son at risk of getting a disease that can cause deafness, blindness, death, and the dreadful condition subacute sclerosing panencephalitis which takes years to kill its victims. In fact, Vietnam is suffering a deadly measles outbreak.
Sooner or later, the inevitable will happen and the child of a celebrity antivaccinationist will die or be permanently disabled. Excellent though medicine currently is, it still has things it can’t do, and one of those is cure sspe.

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