Musk on the spectrum?

So Elon Musk, when hosting Saturday Night Live, claimed that he was the first person “with Asperger’s” to host the show.

Not only was he wrong (Dan Ackroyd is), I strongly doubt he is on the spectrum at all.

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Music “wins” big at the Golden Raspberry awards

I hope this is the last time I will post about Music.

Music, the supposed “love letter to the autism community” directed by Sia, was the Big “Winner” at the 41st Golden Raspberries. It took home three of the “coveted” statuettes, for Worst Director (Sia), Worst Lead Actress (Kate Hudson) and Worst Supporting Actress (Maddie Ziegler). It “lost” to Absolute Proof in the Worst Film category, avoiding a clean sweep, but that is still impressively bad.

The Golden Raspberry Award. Official street value is $4.97.

I feel that it was wrong for Maddie Ziegler to be nominated for a Razzie. As has now become clear, she was pushed into the role against her wishes by Sia. Music and Sia may deserve the huge opprobrium they’ve received, but Ziegler is a victim in this, not a perpetrator.

Hopefully, Music will now disappear into well-deserved obscurity.

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Listening too late – updated

So Kate Hudson, who plays Zu in the trainwreck Music, now says “we are listening” to concerns about the film. To which I respond, too late.

It is a common failing to not listen until matters are beyond salvage. Think of someone begging their partner to stay and promising to fix things, prompting the now ex-partner to point out all the times they asked for changes to be made, only for nothing to happen. Or of an employee who was ignored until they resigned rejecting the offer of a massive pay rise. This is Sia’s current position. Music has been almost universally panned by critics and loathed by audiences, and a Change.org petition is being circulated to have its Golden Globe nominations rescinded. At this point all the regret in the World can’t save the situation.

Updated

Music did not win either Golden Globe it was nominated for.

The one person I feel genuinely sorry for in this fiasco is Maddie Ziegler, who played Music. From what I have read, Ziegler was very uncomfortable with the idea of playing an autistic character as she is allistic and expressed her concerns, only for those concerns to be brushed aside. This mess will now follow her around forever. She doesn’t deserve this.

The thing is, Sia didn’t listen. She clearly didn’t listen to the autistics she claimed she involved as advisers. She didn’t listen to Maddie. She didn’t listen to (and even attacked) the autistic actors who told her she should have hired an autistic to play Music. She didn’t listen to those who warned her that she shouldn’t partner with Autism Speaks. And now that Music has spectacularly crashed and burned, she’s apologetic and willing to listen. Well, it’s too late now. Had she listened from the start, this whole mess would have been avoided. All she can do now is own her blunder.

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Dear oh dear, Sia – updated

It just gets worse and worse with Music, the film directed by Sia I have mentioned before.
It has now emerged that there is a scene in the film where Music melts down and is restrained by people lying on top of her. This is shocking and dangerous, as autistics have suffocated and died after being restrained in this fashion. And despite what Sia claimed, it is now clear she always intended Music to be a vehicle for Madeleine Ziegler.

The reviews are in, and Music is getting roasted. Leonie Cooper in NME gives the film one star, calling it “clumsy” and “tone deaf”. David Fear, writing for Rolling Stone, declares Music “the type of curio in which the gap between its intentions and the end result is Grand Canyon-esque.” Also, “one that turns its heroine into a sort of neurodivergent equivalent of a Magical Negro”. Sara Luterman, who is autistic, writes that she felt “intense secondhand embarrassment” watching the film. And Matthew Rosza, who is also autistic, writes “This movie isn’t just offensive; it’s patronizing…It cares about autistic people, I sense, but it isn’t listening to us.” And “The end result is a movie not about what it’s like to be autistic, but rather how a neurotypical person perceives someone who is autistic.” One thing that keeps coming up is that Music is not about its title character, despite its name. It’s about the neurotypicals around her. Another is that it’s not entertaining.

Katie Cloyd at Scary Mommy had this to say:

And this: “Casting someone at (the character’s) level of functioning was cruel, not kind, so I made the executive decision that we would do our best to lovingly represent the community. … I did try. It felt more compassionate to use Maddie. That was my call.”

HELLO?? SIA?? EARTH TO SIA.

If this trash can of a movie was too uncomfortable…no, wait, what word did you use? CRUEL? If it was cruel for an autistic person to act in the part, what in the name of all that is holy made you think that it was a good idea to proceed? If a non-speaking autistic person can’t play the role you wrote, maybe, just maybe it DOESN’T PROPERLY OR RESPECTFULLY REPRESENT A NON-SPEAKING AUTISTIC PERSON?!

https://www.scarymommy.com/sia-new-movie-ableist-trash/

Shockingly, Music has been nominated for two Golden Globes. It deserves nothing.

Music is an abject lesson in what happens when someone who is not autistic tries to write about and for autistics. Sia should have involved autistic people from the start. She should have listened closely. She did neither, and the result is a godawful parody of autism. As I have said, before you speak for us, listen to us.

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Scheduled exam rewrites set aside

Matriculants who sat for the leaked Maths 2 and Physics 2 exams will not have to rewrite them.

Earlier this month, it emerged that the question papers for the Maths 2 and Physics 2 exams had been leaked. Minister for Basic Education Angie Motshekga then announced that the two exams would be invalidated and that all matriculants who took them would have to rewrite them later this month. Gauteng High Court Judge Norman Davis has now put the kibosh on this. His ruling makes clear that the rewrite decision was both procedurally and substantively unfair.

After the rewrite decision was announced, four matriculants approached AfriForum, asking them to challenge this as they felt they would be harmed. AfriForum was joined by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and other interested parties, including other matriculants. The Responding Parties were Minister Motshekga, the National Examinations Irregularities Committee (NEIC), and quality control body Umalusi. Also listed as respondents were the 9 provincial MECs for Education.

At the core of the Case was the question of how widespread the leaks were. Umalusi claimed (without proof) that the leaks were widespread and thus it wouldn’t recognise the results. The applicants argued that this was merely speculation, and Davis agreed. In fact, fewer than 200 students have been implicated in the Maths exam leak (around 1 in 2,000), and 60 in the Physics exam leak. As Davis said:

Even if the extent of the leakage is a hundredfold of that already identified, the question is still whether a 6% compromise would result in a non-certification. Umalusi has not even considered this or at least not done so on the papers.

All the papers have to be marked. In addition, the papers have to be kept safe and not destroyed pending any appeals by the respondents. Motshekga and the Department of Basic Education have been ordered to pay costs.

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Brackenfell High “racism” case – much ado about nothing

Over the past few weeks, the South African political party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has been protesting outside the grounds of Brackenfell High School about a supposedly racist Matric Farewell party. The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) today released the findings of its investigation.

The verdict? What a todo over a non-issue.

The facts are these: In September, the staff of Brackenfell High sent a notification to the students’ parents that in light of COVID-19 restrictions still being in effect, 2020’s Matric Farewell was cancelled. In response, one of the mothers decided to organise a function at a wine farm. Invitations were sent out. Several teachers from the school also attended. All the students attending were white.

The WCED’s findings:

  • The function was a private function and did not occur on Brackenfell High property.
  • The teachers who attended did so as acquaintances of the mother who organised it.
  • Invitations were extended (and this is key) to every matric student at Brackenfell High.
  • The reason there were no white attendees was because some of the other students had also made arrangements to have private functions.

All of the shouts of racism are wrong and based on ignorance. I don’t expect the EFF to apologise for smearing innocent people or disrupting classes, but I do hope they’ll privately feel like the idiots they are.

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Oh dear, Sia

The autism community is unhappy with Sia, the singer.

Sia has produced and directed a film Music about a pair of sisters, one of whom is autistic and nonverbal. The autistic sister is played by Sia’s frequent collaborator, Maddie Ziegler. The problem? Ziegler isn’t autistic.

Several autistic actors called out Sia for not using an autistic performer in the role. She answered:

I actually tried working with a beautiful young girl non-verbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful. So that’s why I cast Maddie.

This response was deeply unsatisfying. An autistic actor replied:

Several autistic actors, myself included… We all said we could have acted in it on short notice.

These excuses are just that — excuses, The fact of the matter is zero effort was made to include anyone who is actually autistic.


Sia then obnoxiously doubled down and riposted:

Maybe you’re just a bad actor.


Oh dear, Sia.

Sia also claims to have been advised by an autism organisation. I was a little bit apprehensive as I wondered which organisation.

I was right to be concerned.

It’s Autism Speaks.

Oh dear, Sia.

I have blogged about Autism Speaks several times before. It is an organisation that has been roundly criticised and even condemned by the very community it purports to help. It consistently pushes the “autism as tragedy” narrative, advocates for a cure, and hyped the “vaccines cause autism” lie long after Andrew Wakefield had been discredited. A disproportionate amount of its funding goes to overhead. It also has hardly any autistic employees, a bad sign for any supposed autism charity.

The bottom line is, Sia blundered. She blundered by working with Autism Speaks, and she blundered by casting a nonautistic actor to play an autistic character. And then, when faced with justified criticism of her actions, she doubled down and attacked her critics.

Update

CommunicationFIRST has released a statement criticising Sia for using a verbal actress to play a nonverbal character.

Link here.

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Trump is not an aberration, but a culmination

Firstly, happy 10th blogoversary on WordPress to me.

As I write this, Joe Biden is the President-elect of the U.S., while Donald Trump is sulking and in denial with his staffers gingerly trying to nudge him to acceptance of the fact that he lost. I feel relieved. Trump was a terrible President.

Trump said he would “drain the swamp” of Washington. It was even a campaign slogan of his. All he did was change the alligators. While in office he told more than 22,000 lies, an average of 15 a day. He placed lobbyists and people with vested interests in charge of regulatory enforcement, like Betsy DeVos, who is involved with charter schools, to run education. Not only did he refuse to divest from his business interests, he actively violated the Emoluments Clause by vacationing at and conducting government business with places he owned. His tax plan gave massive cuts to the richest, while squeezing the lower and middle class. He refused to release his tax returns, despite undertaking to. When they were exposed, the shocking truth emerged: Trump paid $750 in tax one year, less than many U.S. taxpayers pay in a month.

Trump’s performance in the Oval Office was also dire. His much-vaunted trade war was an utter failure. China responded to the elevated tariffs by going to Argentina for crops, hurting U.S. farmers. His plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA, aka Obamacare) has stalled. This is fortunate, as Medical Debt is currently the greatest cause of personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and the ACA helped greatly.

What did Trump in more than anything else was his deliberate mishandling of the COVID-19 situation. He was advised to lock down the country and enforce precautions, and he refused, believing that doing so would threaten the economy and undermine his chances for re-election. He was left a manual on handling an epidemic by the Obama Administration, and he pettily disregarded it. The results were and are horrendous. Some 230,000 dead, the highest national death toll, and the highest per capita death toll in the World, and an economy that has been tanked by said deaths. But reality is persistent.

There is an axiom that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Trump has been known as a shyster for years. Trump University was prosecuted for issuing worthless degrees and certificates. Many of Trump’s companies have filed for bankruptcy. In addition, Trump was notorious for hiring contractors and refusing to pay them, forcing them to sue him. He would then offer a much smaller amount than originally agreed to. Most contractors were unable to afford a prolonged battle, and would have no choice but to accept Trump’s offers.

There is one last danger: Trump may be gone, but he is not an aberration, he is a culmination.

I saw this article. It matches what I know.

At the end of WWII, the U.S. was in a unique position. Its industry had survived intact, unlike the rest of the World, and had had to ramp up hugely. Tax rates on the highest earners were up to 90% in the highest earning bracket. As a result, middle class income exploded. The reason for the post-war baby boom was that parents were able to afford very large families, even on a single income. It was possible to leave school at 16, get a job, get married, have four children, and enjoy an outstanding quality of life. Social Security became a thing. This was the case until right up to the 1980s. Then Reagan came in.

Ever since the end of WWII, Socialism has been thrown around like a slur. In 1952, then President Harry S Truman called this behaviour out.

Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years.

Socialism is what they called public power.

Socialism is what they called social security.

Socialism is what they called farm price supports.

Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance.

Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations.

Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.

When the Republican candidate inscribes the slogan “Down With Socialism” on the banner of his “great crusade,” that is really not what he means at all.

What he really means is, “Down with Progress — down with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal,” and “down with Harry Truman’s fair Deal.” That is what he means.

Reagan dialled this up to 11. He made all sorts of claims about “welfare queens” using multiple SSIDs to rip off Social Security. Notably absent from these accusations was any hard evidence. But it didn’t matter. The smears worked.

Many ordinary Americans now view Social Security as a hammock, not as the safety net it is. They rail at Obamacare, ignoring that many European countries have National Health Insurance, and that these are very affordable.

Reagan also introduced massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations, aka “trickle-down economics”. The idea was that if the rich were gven more, they would spend more, and the benefits would trickle down (hence the name) to everyone. Even then, people challenged the idea. We now have confirmation that trickle-down is bunkum.

Economic activity is based on two things: how much money, and how many times it’s spent. What invariably happens in trickle-down is that the rich hoard the extra wealth, instead of spending it. It has also been confirmed that money given to the poorest in society is spent by them buying what they need. This means more economic activity. Trickle-down economics has been disproven so many times that it now has the same credibility as alchemy. Yet still it’s used.

During the COVID pandemic, corporations received bailouts. Many of them, instead of using the cash to tide things over, used the money to buy back shares. A similar thing happened after the subprime crisis. Banks were bailed out, and continued to award huge bonuses to the bankers who had caused the problems in the first place.

For 70 years, vested interests have railed against “anything that helps all the people”, and they have succeeded. In real terms, since the 1980s salaries have fallen by well over half. Taxes on the highest earners have gone into freefall, and have massively increased for the middle and working classes. Social welfare has been cut to the bone, and the Gini Coefficient is the highest in the World. People who demand fair pay for work are mocked as lazy. Jeff Bezos is one of the richest people in the World, and yet Amazon workers earn a pittance.

Like I wrote earlier, Trump is not an aberration, he is a culmination of the pushback by vested interests – the wealthy and powerful. Hopefully, now he’s almost gone, there will be pushback against the pushback.

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Australia’s “No jab, no pay” policy showing positive results

The Medical Journal of Australia has published an article “No jab, no pay”: catch‐up vaccination activity during its first two years.

Objectives: To assess catch‐up vaccination of older children and adolescents during the first two years of the “No jab, no pay” policy linking eligibility for federal family assistance payments with childhood vaccination status.

And:

Conclusions: Linking family assistance payments with childhood vaccination status and associated program improvements were followed by substantial catch‐up vaccination activity, particularly in young people from families of lower socio‐economic status.

Go and read it.

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Quadrivalent HPV Vaccine study shows it to be exceptionally effective

A study on the Effectiveness of HPV Vaccination has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It’s titled “HPV Vaccination and the Risk of Invasive Cervical Cancer“.

From the Background:

The efficacy and effectiveness of the quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in preventing high-grade cervical lesions have been shown. However, data to inform the relationship between quadrivalent HPV vaccination and the subsequent risk of invasive cervical cancer are lacking.

The study used data from Sweden and followed 1,672,983 girls and women between the ages of 10 and 30.

The results were unequivocal.

The cumulative incidence of cervical cancer was 47 cases per 100,000 persons among women who had been vaccinated and 94 cases per 100,000 persons among those who had not been vaccinated.

That’s a halving of risk. Impressive by any standard. But when the researchers controlled for other variables, the results were even better.

After adjustment for all covariates, the incidence rate ratio was 0.12 (95% CI, 0.00 to 0.34) among women who had been vaccinated before the age of 17 years and 0.47 (95% CI, 0.27 to 0.75) among women who had been vaccinated at the age of 17 to 30 years.

The subject is no longer up for discussion. Quadrivalent HPV Vaccine slashed the risk of developing Cervical Cancer by more than half. That doesn’t include results from any of the other cancers linked to HPV – penile, anal, oral, and throat, among others.

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