Monday, January 23, 2012

His Presence Will Linger

Echoes of Bill Cooper's fatal shootout with the cops apparently reverberated throughout Arizona earlier this month when one Drew Maras -- described as a UFO researcher -- was shot dead by a sheriff's deputy, but not before he allegedly killed another and may have murdered a New Hampshire couple in Arizona as well.

The 30-year-old had written a book entitled Open Your Eyes to 2012 and Beyond some time back, Frankly, I've never heard of Mr. Maras, but then I'm kinda on the sidelines anymore, and the "New Age" stuff never really appealed to me -- particularly the dross wielded by unstable people who seem, nonetheless, as normal as you and I. Whatever normal is. "The World Gone Crazy," as I recall, was a Glen Campbell song, never more appropriate than today (even as famed country singer Campbell has himself fallen prey to Alzheimer's).

William Cooper dead in a shootout. Drew Maras dead in a shootout. Paranormal writer D. Scott Rogo murdered. UFO researcher Morris K. Jessup dead years ago from suicide or murder or suicide or murder or. . .

I hate it when this kind of thing happens. People can point and say, see? I knew those UFO nuts were trouble, crazy, every one of 'em.

No wonder Washington congressional offices treat every letter and package received as if it contains mysterious white powder or something more immediate in the attention-getting department. Can you imagine the welcome afforded communication in any format from UFO "enthusiasts?"

Oh, oh, oh, Mr. Maras, if indeed you killed three people, the trouble didn't end with your homicides. Those of us who find it difficult even to get up the nerve to announce publicly that we gather UFO reports must now live like the undead in the shadow of your horrors. UFO skeptics will shake their heads with disapproval and debunkers will party on.

You, Mr. Maras, are dead, but definitely not gone. I curse your UFO research involvement, and extend my sympathies to the families you've destroyed.

AUTISM AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE? The greatest thing about being a non-professional is the freedom of not needing to lick the boots of higher-up authorities to justify my existence. Yes, I have a bachelor's degree, but I don't swing it around like Billy Jack with a bat. Who cares anyway? In fact, when asked where my degree is from, I tend to reply and then, gasping breathlessly, the inquirer's follow-up question is, "Oh my god, you attended Julliard?!" Heck no, I respond, I said I went to Julie-Odd, and that's a whole different place altogether! Yep.

However, I have, during my old USAF years, worked in hospitals, sometimes with profoundly retarded people -- and don't let 'em intimidate you, retarded is a perfectly good word and must remain in all dictionaries of the miserable future.

I mention this because it appears that the folks who look inside our heads for a living -- and for lucrative government research grants -- have apparently decided that diagnosing one in 100 children with autism might be a bit enthusiastic, and revisions will be made in the DSM (the numeric bible of health care) to reflect this. That is, standards for diagnosing autism will be tightened up and as a consequence those who no longer qualify as autistic will probably lose benefits and autism-specific care. Truth be told -- rather, suspected -- I believe that the professional autism peddlers dug a hole so deep that they don't know how to perform self-extrication, except by pulling up and out ever so gradually.

I do accept that autism exists, just as I accept that Down syndrome exists. These are serious medical matters and I applaud health care workers who deal with these diagnoses.

Nonetheless, a little teeny-tiny part of me always teeters on the sidelines and watches psychologists do their deeds. Sometimes I think there are so many psychology students that they must clamor for projects to keep their little minds busily engaged in finding things wrong or different about us so they can convert their brilliance into government grant money and the opportunity to create new numbers for the wretched, yet blessed, DSM. In the DSM, you see, every diagnosis you have is assigned a computerized number. Big government loves the DSM, insurance companies love the DSM, and attorneys love the DSM. The DSM numbers make us what we are, from head to toe, and diversity in diagnosing, despite what you've been told about the wonders of diversity, is a sin. If one lacks a DSM numbered diagnosis, by George, there's a medical professional out there to find one, and the individual will always learn that, in the health care system, one size fits all. Thanks to pharmaceutical companies, there's only so much individualizing, no time for that in today's world.

But. . .yes, autism, and there's that other little disturbing social aspect -- the "facilitators" who assist the autistic in typing out their wishes, desires and responses on keyboards. At first, years ago, facilitators were felt to be almost magical in their ability to draw thoughts out of those seemingly unable to communicate.

Yeah, but then dark clouds began to gather and some peculiar things started to be noted in courtrooms and other institutions. Questions were raised, legitimate questions, over whether the facilitators were, with genius, guiding autistic fingers to type out what the facilitators wanted them to type out. As things stand today, the facilitator's role in some circles is beginning to look like something out of Houdini's book of wonders, to say the least, may we suggest.

So DSM standards are being revised and maybe one out of every 100 kids is indeed not autistic. I predict that ratios and numerical figures will change drastically in the years ahead. They must. How can we have one out of 100 autistic, with exponential expectations that in years just around the turnpike there would be 10, then 25, then 85 out of 100? What society would survive? We suspect the numbers are fudged and the piles of government money tempting. No more.

If these were burn-you-at-the-stake times in human history, I am just about to be smokin' hot, because I'm going to say something so simple, yet so inflammatory, that I already feel like an ash. An ash, not an ass.

Remember high school? Remember elementary school? Remember people you encountered since the day you were born? In my day, there were people merely classified by their communities as one thing: Stupid. Born stupid, and stayed that way. It wasn't anything to be ashamed of, it just was. Stupid.

But, ah, we're in the age of enlightenment now, and everybody has some flaw that must be acknowledged, written up, diagnosed and treated or cured with The Drug Of The Day, with the help of The Gods Of Medical Professionalism. The fact that so many are bent toward psychology and need to get their hands out of their pockets To Help Every Human Or Lose Government Grants Trying is a great thing, isn't it?

They have medications for attention deficit disorder, don't they? You do have attention deficit disorder, don't you, little Justin? You're not just bored or overly creative, are you, little Tom ? They shoot horses, don't they? Come on, kids, it's so much easier just to take your medication and make your teachers' lives in the classroom less headache-prone. Drugs are good for you, just ask the drug dealer on the street or Big Pharma representatives.

Legitimate, serious, death-defying human illnesses and conditions proliferate out there, no doubt about it, and I'm not addressing those here, as I, nevertheless, slowly tighten the noose around my own politically incorrect neck.

Consider the era in which we live. In youth sports, every child often gets a team trophy, no matter their ranking. In fact, on many kids' teams there can be no losers, and sometimes not even winners. Yes, every child gets a trophy and they learn that nobody loses, and nobody wins. Diversity. Equalization. Lies, distortions and rumors have become truth, perhaps as
never before in this country.

But what about the kid who plays no sports? What of children or adults who possess no athletic ranking on some chart or in the trophy room, yet -- yet, they suffer from some condition, some malady, something different from healthier people? Not to despair, there is something they can get, something to verify their existence and status in society. It's called a medical diagnosis. Everybody get something, and currently one can proudly display a medical diagnosis as confidently as a trophy to tell the world, I'm somebody special, darn it, and I have my own DSM number to prove it.

That's why I gaze upon the 1-in-100 autism figure with some skepticism. The more, the better, as far as researchers are concerned. The more the merrier. Autism researchers, like their fellows of other health science disciplines, live and die based upon the acquisition of hefty grants, generally government grants. But, you ask, isn't the research peer-reviewed? Oh yes, it's all "peer-reviewed," usually by peers who themselves depend upon grants to conduct their own particular studies.

Peer-review can be a good thing. You know how your doctor has insisted that you drink a little red wine or grape juice daily or eat red grapes because a substance called Resveratrol is good for you? Hmm, according to news reports, seems that a new review of one researcher's data on that subject has discovered falsification of the findings. Seems that if the main thing red wine is gonna getcha is alcoholism, should you really embrace yet another apparently fallen medical miracle from people with fat money grants? Where was peer-review the first time around? I realize that so far there is only one "minor player" involved, but even one is one too many, and I don't care how vigorously the industry for Resveratrol is hollering at the moment. Now do I sound like such a monster, beating up on the alleged autistic who may be not autistic at all, but perhaps just slower in space and time traditionally, yet encouraged by their caretakers to meet the standards of autism? One jar of ointment and one fly is all it takes.

Remember the point I made at the start. The autism industry -- oops, pardon me -- the autism research people and the government are cutting back on the symptoms of the disorder and firming up the standards. I merely ask, if things weren't quite what the knowledgeables among us touted so loudly, then somewhere there's a very disturbing fly in the healing/curative ointment. May we expect more re-defining of autism and exclusions of more members of this very exclusive club? Anybody consider that too much TV performing babysitting duties for infants and young minds might figure into an early lack of personal communication and socialization? Would it not be best to make sure that funds directed toward autism research not be shuffled to people who are not autistic? Hmm.

Want to get finger-pointy? Think about all the poor nutrition and chemical substances unleashed in the environment over generations. Those factors are probably the chief culprits where genetic alterations are involved -- or it could just be that human DNA is in the process of getting old, cranky, unpredictable and doomed as timed extinction approaches.

I wonder if there's a DSM number for that?