Saturday, September 10, 2011

The God of Loneliness


The God of Loneliness

by May 5, 2008

It’s a cold Sunday February morning
and I’m one of eight men waiting
for the doors of Toys R Us to open
in a mall on the eastern tip of Long Island.
We’ve come for the Japanese electronic game
that’s so hard to find. Last week, I waited
three hours for a store in Manhattan
to disappoint me. The first today, bundled
in six layers, I stood shivering in the dawn light
reading the new Aeneid translation, which I hid
when the others came, stamping boots
and rubbing gloveless hands, joking about
sacrificing sleep for ungrateful sons. “My boy broke
two front teeth playing hockey,” a man wearing
shorts laughs. “This is his reward.” My sons
will leap into my arms, remember this morning
all their lives. “The game is for my oldest boy,
just back from Iraq,” a man in overalls says
from the back of the line. “He plays these games
in his room all day. I’m not worried, he’ll snap out of it,
he’s earned his rest.” These men fix leaks, lay
foundations for other men’s dreams without complaint.
They’ve been waiting in the cold since Aeneas
founded Rome on rivers of blood. Virgil understood that
death begins and never ends, that it’s the god of loneliness.
Through the window, a clerk shouts, “We’ve only five.”
The others seem not to know what to do with their hands,
tuck them under their arms, or let them hang,
naked and useless. Is it because our hands remember
what they held, the promises they made? I know
exactly when my boys will be old enough for war.
Soon three of us will wait across the street at Target,
because it’s what men do for their sons.

Read more

Friday, September 9, 2011


J Appl Behav Anal. 1973 Spring;6(1):131-65.

Some generalization and follow-up measures on autistic children in behavior therapy.


University of California, Los Angeles.


We have treated 20 autistic children with behavior therapy. At intake, most of the children were severely disturbed, having symptoms indicating an extremely poor prognosis. The children were treated in separate groups, and some were treated more than once, allowing for within- and between-subject replications of treatment effects. We have employed reliable measures of generalization across situations and behaviors as well as across time (follow-up). The findings can be summarized as follows: (1) Inappropriate behaviors (self-stimulation and echolalia) decreased during treatment, and appropriate behaviors (appropriate speech, appropriate play, and social non-verbal behaviors) increased. (2) Spontaneous social interactions and the spontaneous use of language occurred about eight months into treatment for some of the children. (3) IQs and social quotients reflected improvement during treatment. (4) There were no exceptions to the improvement, however, some of the children improved more than others. (5) Follow-up measures recorded 1 to 4 yr after treatment showed that large differences between groups of children depended upon the post-treatment environment (those groups whose parents were trained to carry out behavior therapy continued to improve, while children who were institutionalized regressed). (6) A brief reinstatement of behavior therapy could temporarily re-establish some of the original therapeutic gains made by the children who were subsequently institutionalized.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


It began here:

Which led to googling carnitine deficiency. (I may have accepted my son's learning disability, but I'm sure as heck not going to quit looking for answers. )

Which led to this:

Valproic acid may cause an acquired type of secondary carnitine deficiency by directly impairing renal tubular reabsorption of carnitine. The effect on carnitine uptake and the existence of an underlying inborn error involving energy metabolism may be fatal; in other cases, it may primarily affect the muscle, causing weakness.

Valproic acid used by the mother during the first trimester of pregnancy is considered one cause of environmentally induced autism.

Shoot...this stuff always goes in circles. No wonder nobody knows what causes autism.

St. Thomas Aquinus: The Dumb Ox. Why reason can be trusted, and atheism fails.

My favorite writer is Gilbert Keith Chesterton.  He died long ago, but the man was referred to as the "Apostle of Common Sense". At age 9 he visited a brain doctor, it was feared he was a little slow.  Dabbling in the occult in his teens, he turned to Catholicism, the religion of his beloved wife, being somewhat of an apologist for Orthodoxy in his later years.  I haven't followed him quite that far, saving it for my old age.

He wrote the Father Brown mysteries and was an editorial writer for the Illustrated London News.  He is seen as a great catholic writer, although sainthood is out of the question...he was too utterly human, he liked his booze and cigars too much, was easily amused and confused, and liked to argue.  He was a man of great intellect, seeming to absorb information, and putting it back out in a new way , paradox's his favorite writing style  The title of the NPR program, "All Things Considered" was based upon a book he wrote.  He considered all things, and whittled them down to what made sense to him.  He foresaw the nationalism/racism of Germany, and was abhorred by Hitler in the 20's, long before others woke up to his evil ways.  He was a gentle giant, himself, not unlike St. Thomas Aquinas, for whom he wrote a book giving praise to Aquinas's acceptance of the rational ways of Aristotle, mixing rationality and faith, the latter being a product of the first.  He was fascinated by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, he was appalled by the Eugenics movement that followed it. All things considered.

...St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet; very mild
and magnanimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart from the humility of
holiness; and abstracted, even apart from his occasional and carefully concealed  experiences of trance or ecstasy...

...St. Thomas was so stolid that the scholars, in the schools which he attended regularly, thought he was a dunce. Indeed, he was the sort of schoolboy, not unknown, who would much rather be thought a dunce than have his own dreams invaded, by more active or animated dunces...

In the dumb ox's own words:

"Far be it from a poor friar to deny that you have these dazzling diamonds in your
head, all designed in the most perfect mathematical shapes and shining with a
purely celestial light; all there, almost before you begin to think, let alone to see
or hear or feel. But I am not ashamed to say that I find my reason fed by my
senses; that I owe a great deal of what I think to what I see and smell and taste
and handle; and that so far as my reason is concerned, I feel obliged to treat all
this reality as real... "

It was the very life of the Thomist teaching that Reason can be trusted: it was the very life of Lutheran teaching that Reason is utterly untrustworthy...They vaguely imagine that
anybody who is humanising divinity must be paganising divinity without seeing
that the humanising of divinity is actually the strongest and starkest and most
incredible dogma in the Creed.