Dear Telemarketers, kindly F%#* Off!

No thank you, I do not wish to change my insurance provider. I’m very happy with my current one.
No thank you, I do not wish to take out a new cellphone contract or change my network.
No, I don’t want to change my Internet Service Provider.
No, I do not need a financial planning assessment. I already have investments and a Retirement Annuity with a competitor of yours.
No, I do NOT want another credit card! Especially not one from a bank I do no business with! Go away!!!!
I get that this is your job, but there is a boundary between advertising and harassment, and you have crossed that line.

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Posted in Life | Tagged

Polio case confirmed in Papua New Guinea

Damn it, Damn it, DAMN IT!
18 years after Papua New Guinea was certified polio free, a new case has been confirmed.

The victim was a six-year-old boy who developed weakness in his lower limbs, later confirmed to be the result of a polio virus infection.

This is terrible. An outbreak in a formerly polio free country is a huge setback to the final eradication of the disease. Authorities acted quickly and began an inoculation campaign. The problem is that the child lived in an area where vaccination rates are very low, and like a dropped cigarette can start a conflagration, this threatens to become a severe outbreak. Hopefully, the swift action will prevent that.

Posted in Anti-antivaccination | Tagged , , ,

Three stories: two negative, one positive

3 stories about vaccination caught my eye in the past weeks.
Firstly, a notification that if you are going to the World Cup in Russia that is currently underway, you should get the MMR as Measles outbreaks have recently occurred in Eastern Europe.
The second story is that Tattoo Artist Kat von D has decided that when her child is born (she’s currently pregnant) she won’t vaccinate.
As you can imagine, she’s getting royally mocked for that. She has a large number of tattoos, but is less concerned about the substances in those than in vaccines. According to Wikipedia, “elements used as pigments include antimony, arsenic, beryllium, calcium, lithium, selenium, and sulphur. Tattoo ink manufacturers typically blend the heavy metal pigments and/or use lightening agents (such as lead or titanium) to reduce production costs.” She also has a line of makeup, and some wags have renamed the colours of her lipsticks after vaccine preventable diseases. As a side note, I have reliably learnt that she is an anti-semite. This is relevant as a disproportionate number of anti-semites are also antivaccine. It appears to do with the “purity of blood” hogwash.
Finally, a suspected case of polio in Venezuela has turned out not to be. The World Health Organisation investigated and found that the child in question, suffering from Acute Flaccid Paralysis, was not infected with polio. According to a story on the CNN website:

“Final laboratory analysis received today has confirmed that the AFP symptoms are not associated with wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus,” the statement said.

A more complete statement can be found here.
This is such a relief. A return of polio to Venezuela, a country that last had a case 29 years ago, would have been a huge setback to polio’s eradication.

Posted in Anti-antivaccination | Tagged , , , , , ,

Link Love – Autistic Burnout

Sometimes you see something that says what you want to say far better than you could articulate.
This article about autistic burnout on the “Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism” website, for instance.
Please read and grok.

Posted in Autism Awareness | Tagged , ,

Happy Blogoversary to me!

Today, I celebrate the eighth anniversary of my blog “African Jungle”. My very first post, “Greetings to one and all”, was posted on the 29th of May 2010. The tagline I chose for my blog was “A blog on Autism, Anti-antivaccination and life by a South African Autist”.
A lot has happened blogging wise in the eight years since that day. I have written 312 posts in total. When people complained they couldn’t access my original blog, I created a second one on WordPress called “Autism Jungle” (it seems “African Jungle” was already taken on WordPress). My first post on Autism Jungle was for Autistics’ Speaking Day.
I have blogged on a variety of matters: antivaccine hogwash; the murder of autistics; quack “treatments” for autism that range from the ineffective but harmless like hot showers to actively dangerous ones like MMS; my work as a software tester; being awarded the Advanced Test Analyst and Advanced Technical Test Analyst Certificates from SASTQB; films I’ve seen; antivaccine PRATTs; seeing Tori Amos live; the political situation in South Africa; Autistics’ Speaking Day.
A lot has changed since I began blogging. Vaccines against HPV have been rolled out and have been shown to reduce the incidence of cervical and other cancers. Polio is nearing extinction in the wild, after an earlier setback. Measles is no longer endemic to the Americas. Antivaxxers have gone from an influential grouping to a fringe. Antivaccination has started up in South Africa. Since Suzanne Wright passed away “Autism Speaks” has begun to fade from the scene. The Autism Rate is calculated to be 1 in 59.
A lot has changed in my own life. I turned 40. The counter at the bottom of my blog showing how many hits it had reached 100,000 and reset to 0. My blog has over 180,000 hits. I lost my job of 12 years but immediately started a new one. My car is a Toyota Etios, which I bought new. I decided to give up blogging, only to come back almost immediately.
It’s been a great ride.

Posted in Background Data, Fun Stuff, Life | Tagged , ,

Were autistic traits responsible for a development in art?

A study by Dr Penny Spikins, Callum Scott and Barry Wright from the University of York suggests that autistic traits, specifically the ability to focus on detail, led to an explosion of realism in art 30,000 years ago. From a Science Daily article:
The ability to focus on detail, a common trait among people with autism, allowed realism to flourish in Ice Age art. Around 30,000 years ago realistic art suddenly flourished in Europe. Extremely accurate depictions of bears, bison, horses and lions decorate the walls of Ice Age archaeological sites such as Chauvet Cave in southern France. Why our ice age ancestors created exceptionally realistic art rather than the very simple or stylised art of earlier modern humans has long perplexed researchers.
While I’m flattered by the idea that autistics were responsible for a development in art, I can’t help but be a bit sceptical. Nonetheless, the authors make a very strong case for their hypothesis.
The study can be found here.

Posted in Autism Awareness, Background Data | Tagged , , ,

Why refer to autistics using identity-first language?

You have likely been advised that you should use person-first language either when talking to or about people with various conditions. According to Wikipedia, “Rather than using a label or an adjective to define someone, person-first language puts the person before the diagnosis and describes what the person has (for example, “a person with diabetes” or “a person with alcoholism”), not an assertion of what the person is (for example, “a diabetic” or “an alcoholic”). Thus a person is foremost a person and secondly a person with some trait.” Yet most autistics prefer to be called “autistic”, and not “a person with autism”.

The reason why many of us, myself included, prefer identity-first language is because being autistic influences how we perceive, understand, and interact, with the world around us. I am never not going to be autistic. In fact, if I wasn’t autistic, I wouldn’t be me.
The Wikipedia page also linked to this article by Lydia Brown. It makes a great many points I wish to make. Especially this:

But why are we self-advocates so opposed to this terminology? Aren’t we all about de-emphasizing and correcting inaccurate, misleading, and harmful stereotypes and attitudes? Right? From that other perspective, you would think we would support the use of person-first language, because we want to be seen as people with equal rights, value, and worth to non-Autistic people. But we don’t. Because when people say “person with autism,” it does have an attitudinal nuance. It suggests that the person can be separated from autism, which simply isn’t true. It is impossible to separate a person from autism, just as it is impossible to separate a person from the color of his or her skin.

The bottom line is, if someone asks to be referred to as a person with autism, you must respect that. If someone asks to be referred to as an autistic person, you must respect that too.

Posted in Autism Awareness | Tagged , , ,