anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, health, ideas, philosophy, psychology

Autism vs. Narcissism

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Certain Misconceptions

There’s a common stereotype about folks on the spectrum in that we lack empathy. This I suspect is why the general public mistakes us for narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths. The difference between us and them I’ve explained is auties and Aspies are egocentric whereas the latter three are egotistical. I’ve elaborated not all narcissists are sociopaths or psychopaths but all psychopaths and sociopaths are narcissists. Folks with autistic spectrum disorder want to relate to others but don’t always know how. Those with narcissistic personality disorder are cognizant of their actions, but they don’t care. How do I know? My father and two oldest siblings have NPD. I’m the polar opposite from them. Both of my sister’s grand prizes of husbands as well as my oldest brother’s long-term girlfriend and now wife also have NPD. Narcissists tend to attract one another. My stepmother is self-important like Dad but not as bad. To protect their privacy and because I’m too embarrassed to mention certain names, I’ll only refer to them by their connections towards your truly.

A State of Denial

I have another brother who’s somewhat deficient in empathy but he means well. He and I were raised by our mother. People think those with ASD are hoggish because we sometimes require accommodations. Dad, Sister, and Brother One believed I was a spoiled brat who needed extra discipline. All three were in denial that I had anything wrong. To this day, I’m convinced neither three will ever accept it. That’s one of many reasons we’re not on speaking terms and why I have limited contact with them. They’re absolute flakes and wholly unreliable. They think the whole world revolves around them. They never plan ahead and always expect everyone to drop what they’re doing to cater to them. That’s not the same as requesting certain consideration. They’re also great bullshitters. They’re never around when you need them. The only time either of them come around is whenever they want something. They manipulate people and put on their superficial charm pretending to be everybody’s best friend.

A Sister From Another Mother

All of these are why Mom, Brother Two, and his wife are the only ones in my family with whom I I have any relationship. People often ask me what they do for a living. My father is semi-retired, but he works part-time for Brother One who owns a landscaping company. Sister is what I call a snake oil salesperson. She preaches about positive energy and sprinkles her pixie dust on other people’s personal problems. She’s of those pseudo-life skill coaches who promises if you do this and do that, then the whole universe will open up. If you just drop $200 down, she’ll give you all the answers you need and the same platitudes you’ve heard all along. If only her clientele knew how Sister treated her family, they’d see her true colors. I confronted her about it and told her Sister-in-Law (Brother Two’s wife) was more of a sister to me than she’ll ever be. Sister-in-Law at least trustworthy and dependable.

Tales of the In-Laws

Sister has a long track record or picking out losers thinking she can fix them. Her late husband was a real piece of work. Brother-in-Law must have sniffed a lot of paint fumes when he was a kid. He was a blowhard. None of my family or friends liked him. He’d always talk smack about us. The guy had the nerve to call me a closet pedophile. Brother-in-Law was one of those right-wing nutjobs who listened too much to Infowars and thought everything was a conspiracy. He’d put on his chest puff routine and act like could walk on water, eat bullets, and shit ice cream, but he was a coward deep down. Brother-in-Law had never been outside the state of Texas that I recall except to Vegas to attend Brother Two and Sister-in-Law’s wedding. He was too afraid to board an airplane because he worried about germs. The guy tried to convince me he was an Alpha male and that I was a cupcake. One way I saw through him was when my mother needed a bag of concrete lifted. Brother-in-Law whined that his back was sore. I worked at Lowe’s then, and knew the proper procedures. Thus. I obliged and lifted instead no problem. Then I called him out and asked him, “Where’s your brass balls now, tough guy?” Sadly, he passed away four years ago. What’s more, my nephew, their son, has his late father’s smart mouth. I tolerated Brother-in-Law, but I never cared for him. Her current boyfriend sounds like a real tool, but that’s another story. I’ve never met the guy, yet I know the kind of men to whom she’s drawn.

Gaslighting and Denial

Sister is the same-centered person she was when Brother-in-Law as alive. Granted, she got worse since they got involved, but she’s eight years my senior. She knows better, but she refuses to change. She wasn’t much better when she was involved with her first hubby, a two-bit musician. Sister hasn’t improved since Brother-in-Law met his demise. Dad, Brother One, and Sister never take responsibility for any of their actions. Everything wrong is always someone else’s fault. I know gaslighting is every narcissist’s favorite tool because that’s part of their compendium. Too often, they never gave me credit for anything original. Anytime I said something with merit, they would accuse me of reverberating someone else’s words. They had a penchant towards making me second guess myself and question my own judgment. Neither three have never been diagnosed with NPD, but they share certain traits. They won’t get therapy because they think there’s nothing amiss about them, and they’re without shame. I’m certain Brother One is a full-blown narcissist. He’s the worst of the three.

Cheap Gifts and Bogus Apologies

Skeptics often doubt I have Asperger’s because I have some people skills and bullshit detectors. Little do they know, I acquired these traits growing up with three narcissists. I’ve been battle-tested many times, and I caught onto their ploys. Recently, I celebrated my 40th birthday. Dad came to my party and gave me four brownies as my gift. That’s how cheap he is. Dad lives in an $800K house, but he couldn’t afford to get me a present. I wasn’t upset because I knew that was typical. I adopted the same mindset with him after living in Vietnam. If I ever expected anything to happen, I had to assume the outcome would be absolute garbage. I anticipated he’d put on his Father-of-the-Year act and smile at me through his teeth though I could count the number of times I’d seen him the past few years on one hand. Brother One thought it was my 39th birthday, or at least that’s what he claims. He and Sister were too busy to be bothered and came up with lame excuses not to come. Then they said we could meet up another time, but I told them don’t bother. If it’s too much for them to remember their youngest sibling’s 40th birthday, they’re not worth the time of day.

There You Have It

One of the key contrasts between someone with ASD and those with NPD is that we’re brutally honest while they’re pathological liars. Every time I tried to discuss an issue with them, they’d dance around it and claim plausible deniability. Dad had a penchant towards answering questions with other queries. Narcissists polish themselves as something bigger than they are. Brother One enamors himself with accolades that he has the best landscaping business in Austin. I’ve seen his work, and it’s mediocre at best. There’s nothing earth-shattering about it. Dad and Stepmom think they’re more sophisticated than everyone else because they lived in New York for 17 years. Stepmom was an assistant editor for the gardening section of Newsday, but she acts like she’s some Pulitzer Prize winning journalists. She thinks she’s intellectually superior towards everyone else because she has a Master’s Degree and the ability to recite every other ten-dollar word in the Oxford Dictionary. My uncle who’s known her since he was in middle school mentioned this. I gave up on all of them and have minimal contact because I knew that was the only way I could maintain my sanity. Blood may be thicker than water, but it can still be toxic. To put it bluntly, that’s how I know the difference between someone with ASD and a narcissist.

 

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anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, health, ideas, living abroad, philosophy, psychology, travel

Asperger’s: A Cinderella Story

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When Do We Have Our Voice?

Everywhere I look, people have uncertainties about autism. They want to know what it’s like having Asperger’s. I’m convinced most are uneducated or by default deem someone on the spectrum retarded or mentally incompetent. Those that are educated know we’re just as capable of living successful lives like neurotypicals. The problem is we face discrimination like women, homosexuals, and minorities. We don’t have an advocacy group like third wave feminists, the NAACP, and GLAD. Nobody comes to create a media uproar when one of us gets in a pickle. I keep wondering when the day will come when Bono, Sean Penn, or some other celebrity with a savior complex will come sprinkle his/her fairy dust all over our cause, pull the thesaurus and label it with a new ten-dollar word, and hashtag it all over social media. I’ve lost count of the jobs I’ve been fired from for not fitting in or from those who’ve second-guessed my abilities the moment the cat was out of the bag. Sadly, we live in a society where the man with the most charisma and money is valued over he who has the most integrity or intelligence. Even in Western cultures, the latter two are underappreciated, undervalued, and cast to the wayside. America, like many Asian cultures, encourages assimilation over individuality.

Occupational Hazards

I’ve stated that the media has pigeonholed us as socially handicapped, criminal sociopaths, or a liability of some kind. Once I ran into trouble at work when an African-American co-worker compared me to Rain Man, mental patients, math geniuses, and computer wizards. He didn’t appreciate my retort when I correlated him with deadbeat dads, petty criminals, gang members, drug addicts, rappers, and professional athletes. I was making a point. That cost me my job, but that was no big loss at the end of the day. It was another run-of-the-mill position that paid menial wages and one for which I was overeducated. This occurred a year after I was let go from a security gig for which I was getting high accolades and non-stop praise from my supervisor yet terminated the moment it was revealed I had Asperger’s. My employer there had the nerve to ask me for documented proof. That was none of his business. Their excuse for sacking me was that I was backing up the golf cart while the national anthem was playing, but I knew that was hogwash. The dilemma I faced was Texas is a right-to-work state. They were covering their tails. What employer would ever admit to discrimination?

Maybe, Maybe Not

I’ve come to the point now that I don’t tell anyone if I can. It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t deal. One of the main reasons I no longer live in Asia is because of how they perceive mental health. Those cultures don’t acknowledge it. They act like it doesn’t exist or it’s some kind of impediment. I remember applying for teaching jobs in Taiwan and South Korea for which I was insanely qualified. They started prying into my medical history. I knew I was a suitable candidate, and I didn’t appreciate the way they tried gaslighting me. The last one I told him where to stick it. The reason I enjoy working online now is because I can live wherever I want and not have to deal with any office politics. I don’t have to worry about anyone undermining my credentials, office politics, or any workplace bullies trying to sabotage my livelihood because they feel threatened or intimidated by me or want someone to knock down to feel better about themselves. I’ve had that happen to me as well.

Fun With Cynics

The point I’m getting at is I’ve spent my entire life being the underdog. Everyone had their doubts that I could succeed at anything. My own father and two oldest siblings thought I was a man-child with no ambition. They thought my mother was enabling me and holding me down when I lived with her. My other brother was just as guilty but not to the same extent. My sister, my peach of a brother-in-law, and now former Facebook friends would scoff at me moving abroad becoming successful. They were all convinced I would crash and burn just like I did every other job and with AmeriCorps in Chicago. They considered the idea a joke. Once again, I proved them all wrong. I’ll bet none of them are laughing now. In the spring of 2016 before I came back from Thailand, I was ready to rub my sister and her hubby’s noses in it and show them how it feels. Sadly, her beau passed away a week before my return, and then wasn’t the time to exchange blows.

Against All Odds

Unbeknownst to my skeptics, everybody who has bet against me in my life has lost including the United States Coast Guard. They were convinced they could break my will and squeeze me out in under a year. It took over three before I was discharged for unsuitability. By then, I was ready to go after I had the rug pulled out from under me one last time. My mother even said she was impressed because I lasted much longer than she thought I would. Everyone who knows me knows not to underestimate or second guess me because that’s when I become more dangerous. They don’t realize characters like Daredevil and Heisenberg inspired me. They went from being an inexperienced lawyer and underachieving high school teacher to an unstoppable crime fighter and ruthless methamphetamine kingpin. They looked harmless, but they were heavy hitters. To put it bluntly, my entire adult life has been one big Cinderella story, and I’ve overcome many odds. I don’t break barriers; I crush and destroy them. I’ve climbed an entire mountain range to get where I am, and I know how to get back up whenever I fall. So what is it like having Asperger’s? Always having to debunk naysayers and disprove every other stereotype is the most plausible answer I can give the reader.

 

anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, health, ideas, philosophy, psychology

Synchronous Societal Settings

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The New Business Model

Last weekend, a dear friend named Daniela inspired me to write a long overdue note. I believe all businesses should be open 24/7 except for schools. This may sound outlandish, but I’m there’s now a global economy. This coincides with my standpoint about banning daylight saving time and replacing it with decree time which is permanent DST. In addition, I stated we should have 48 time zones worldwide with half-hour intervals. Not everyone shared the same disposition, and that’s fine. Some counterarguments I’ve heard was that planes, trains, and other forms of transportation have different schedules. How often does one take a train or automobile into a different time zone first of all? Secondly, when do people not have to adjust their schedules after they fly to another locale? Daylight saving time creates mass confusion which is why I insist there should be decree time, half-hour time zones, and 24/7 schedules for businesses.

Overnight Deliveries

I understand the headaches working overnight causes. I’ve done it myself. My first semester in college after I was discharged from the military, I endured the overnight shift at an Exxon Tigermart from fall 2004 to the end of spring 2005. I had another gig via temp agency doing data entry at TxTag (pronounced Textag) from November 2013 to April 2014. Not only was I in the office during the least convenient times of night; I did this throughout the coldest months of the year. I remember both times having to scrape ice off my windshield while warming up the car at the crack of dawn. The worst part was that no restaurants were open amid my shift to go during lunch break except McDonald’s and Taco Cabana. Either that, or I’d have to go to 7/11 and buy junk food. The only good thing I recall from my assignment at TxTag was not having to drive to work during rush hour and coming home to see the 2014 Sochi Olympic games.

What Bad Timing

That last sentence leads me to why I support the 24/7 rule. Overall, it would relieve the headaches of rush hour traffic. Daniela, who was the genesis for this post, had car trouble one Saturday night. She was going to meet my mother, my niece, my nephew, and me for pizza at Brooklyn Pie Company. It wasn’t like Daniela to be twenty minutes late, so I called her cellphone. Her battery died, and she needed to get a new one. We had to postpone our plans because there were no automotive stores around that were open. Daniela wasn’t afforded the luxury of a 24/7 business. Nobody can calculate when bad things happen. They don’t always occur during regular working hours or the most amenable parts of the day which backs my argument further. Years ago, I had a dog who was poisoned. It happened in Boston when my mother took him to the park. The ground keepers placed strychnine in the vicinity to thwart the invasive rats. Sly, my dog, went to fetch a stick in the woods. Poor Sly didn’t know what was up, and neither did Mom. He started coughing up blood. Sadly, Sly died because there were no emergency veterinarian clinics available on Sunday evening.

Thai the Banks Down

One thing I liked about Thailand was my ability to visit the bank on Sundays. They were open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. That helped alleviate stress big-time. If Western culture is built around chivalry and accessibility, I see no reason this maxim shouldn’t be induced. People who already work the overnight like yours truly did don’t have to worry about life passing them by while all the good places are closed whenever we’re not at work, and all we can do is sleep or watch television. I’ve been there and done that. Let me tell you it wasn’t fun. I had this conversation with an acquaintance named Enrico in Saigon who thought this was ridiculous. Enrico asked what are people supposed to do if they want a plumber or carpenter to come fix their houses in the middle of the night or wee hours of the day? Are they supposed to come while others are sleeping? My response was the same thing they do when they have plumbers and carpenters arrive towards the residences of people who work overnight and sleep during the day. They act accordingly. I’ve been woken up by cable technicians installing things and had to suck it up. This would thereby entice companies to manufacture soundproof curtains, windows, and such.

A Season and a Reason

I guess this is all the reason more we should teach our children common courtesy and encourage them to be less noisy. I knew Enrico well, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Enrico stated his uncle or someone to whom he was related had a resort area in Italy. He inquired further what the man should do when it isn’t holiday season and the tourists aren’t coming. That circumstance is duly noted. I’m not saying they should have this in all instances but ones that are temporary or permanent in lieu of seasonal. Obviously, sports franchises can’t operate 24/7 or year-round; neither can farmers or certain fisherman. Most professions can, though. Most businesses in the secondary, tertiary, and quaternary sectors besides retail and manufacturing can. Administrative, governmental, and high-tech entities can adopt this practice. Heck, I’ve stood watch in the military when my shipmates were asleep whenever I had duty days. Not only would this curtail traffic and make life convenient for all as I stated previously. I’m certain it would boost the economy and decrease unemployment.

Shifting Gears and Shifting Work

In my ideal business model, the full-time people would work eight hours Monday to Thursday whereas the part-timers would toil eight hours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Businesses can even operate by their own seven-day schedule if they feel so inclined. A full-time workweek in my mind would be 32 hours whereby part-time would be 24. Were it up to me, the part-timers would be the semi-retired, mothers returning from maternity leave, the newbies, and recent college graduates. The former could train and mentor the latter who can work their way up the corporate food chain. Each place would grant employees three 20-minute breaks so they’d have time to eat small lunches and snacks and return to work. There would also be six shifts during the day that would look something like this:

Graveyard Shift – 1 a.m. to 9 p.m.         Morning Shift – 5 a.m to 1 p.m.

Swing Shift – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.                 Afternoon Shift – 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Evening Shift – 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.             Overnight Shift – 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Up All Night, Sleep All Day

Most people tend to slack off during the second halves of their shifts, so I’m certain productivity would be consistent. The question I suspect the readers are asking is when are people supposed to sleep. My response would be before said person has to go to work. Sometimes I would sleep in the middle of the day or in the afternoon when I worked overnight. Most often, I’d go to bed at noon or 1 in the afternoon and wake up at 8 or 9 in the evening. At the moment I retire around 8 p.m. because I must arise at 4 a.m. to teach children online in China six days a week. Their scheduled to be there between 7 to 9 p.m Beijing Time, and I must adapt accordingly. The bottom line is those who work regular hours Monday through Friday shouldn’t be the ones who reap all the benefits in life. They can even make accommodations for folks with albinism by having them work either the evening, overnight, or graveyard shift. Not everyone shares the same the opinions, and we sure as heck don’t all have the same circadian rhythm. Schools with the exceptions of universities should be the only ones in my book who bear that cross.

anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, health, ideas

Nostalgia is a Factor

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Rugby Versus Football

A few months ago in Saigon, I watched a rugby match with British friends. It was the 2003 World Cup championship game between England and Australia on YouTube. Most rugby fans argue it was the greatest of all time. Though I didn’t understand the logistics of rugby, it was entertaining. Throughout the game, I would debate with my British friends like I would with some of my Australian, South African, and New Zealand colleagues about which was more exciting to watch between this and American football. Most of them were convinced rugby was better while I was convinced football was. For the longest time, many insisted the latter was a game for pansies because football players wear helmets and padding. Little did they know football players are get hit harder than their rugby counterparts. They couldn’t argue once we watched videos of the different types of tackles. Most rugby players pile atop each other and aim for the lower body. Football players are getting crushed and speared often. It’s like driving a car 20 MPH without a seat belt getting rear ended versus going 50 MPH with a seat belt getting hit in a head on collision. It’s tantamount to cyclones and low-pressure storms. Hurricane Katrina did more damage to New Orleans than Gustav because of how they made landfall. Both were equally powerful, but Gustav sideswiped the Crescent City. Katrina was more devastating because it T-boned the Big Easy. Its storm surge was stronger. The bottom line is you can’t compare the two.

Yesterday, Today, and the Future

This relates to my article the other day about old people whining about how the world today isn’t like it was in the past. The draconian discipline they used when they were young wouldn’t fly in most developed countries. Back in their day, things seemed rosy because nobody talked about the problems they moan about. The divorce and drug abuse rates weren’t as high then as they are now, nor was the income disparity. Baby boomers who scorn millennials about their work ethic or lack thereof didn’t inherit the mess the millennials did. The boomers were spoiled, too, so let’s not kid ourselves here. They were born after World War Ii. None of them lived through the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl. Minimum wage was livable when they were young, and the boomers only needed a high school diploma to find a good job not a college degree and experience. The economy wasn’t in the worst shape since the Great Depression when the baby boomers traversed the stage in their caps and gowns. Most of them weren’t overqualified or had to work two jobs to make ends meet. Neither the Gen X’ers nor millennials were old enough to vote for Ronald Reagan who implemented trickle-down economics. I was in kindergarten when Reagan got elected. Almost every socioeconomic problem in society I hear folks over 50 bellyache over has been around since the time I started school.

The Nostalgia Factor

I think the real factor is nostalgia. The reason I find football more entertaining than rugby is because I was born and raised in Texas. It’s like a religion where I’m from. It stands to reason I would pick football because that’s the sport I grew up with and vice versa. This reminds of the movie No Country for Old Men. The sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones has cognitive dissonance throughout the film. He grows more cynical as he reaches retirement because the man realizes he wasn’t fitted for the times in which he lived. I imagine the Gen X’ers and millennials will share the same sentiment about society after the baby boomers kick the bucket and the iGeneration enters the workforce. I’m sure we’ll claim pop culture is awful and that the music from the next era has no substance and try telling those kids how much more talented Katy Perry, Adele, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj were. We’ll rehash how hard things were during the Great Recession and how the Trump Administration wrecked America. Meanwhile, new problems with the environment will emerge. Then we’ll start shaming the iGeneration for using fossil fuels instead of green technology when we’ve had the wherewithal since the 70’s. We’ll place the onus on the iGeneration though the baby boomers and Gen X’ers left massive carbon footprints. Of that I’m certain.

Welcome to Synthwave

This is why I surmise the best way to keep everyone happy and prevent elderly people from losing their minds is with novelties. I got addicted to that show Stranger Things because I grew up during the 80’s. Chronologically, I’d be part of Generation X. However, I was born in 1979 at the tail end and the cusp between Generation X and the millennials. I was raised with the latter, and most of my friends are millennials. The aforementioned program got me hooked because of the musical score, moreover. I’m happy to be alive when synthwave music is popular. For those who don’t know, that’s like new wave music from the 80’s born again during the teens. It’s made a comeback the same way swing did in 1997 with bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Squirrel Nut Zippers. You can’t call it newer wave, so they gave it other names like synthwave, retrowave, and futuresynth. That genre began with the resurgence of the synthesizer from bands like Foster the People and with the musical score from the 2011 crime drama Drive. Bands like The Midnight, Gunship, Electric Youth, and others have followed suit. That music soothes my soul because it reminds me of movies I’d seen during the 80’s with soundtracks by Tangerine Dream and such. Said bands have even had videos paying homage to that era.

How to Live Our Golden Years

For all we know, hair metal and grunge music might make a comeback during the 20s to make middle-aged Gen X’ers feel young again. There have been studies suggesting music helps treat Alzheimer patients. I remember seeing an expose where folks in a nursing home would listen to jazz and other music popular during their youth. It helped trigger memories and kept their neurotransmitters functioning. Therefore, I declare they should have drive-in movie theaters in retirement areas showing classic pictures from their time. If novelties keep us happy and allow us to reminisce about the good old days, I see nothing wrong with this practice. Ultimately, this is where I’ve reached my conclusion towards older people reflecting upon their glory days and the British, Australian, South African, and New Zealand expats favoring rugby over American football. These are the novelties they grew up with, and it’s all they know. The philosophies and customs are what they’re most familiar with. They’re not used to things out of the ordinary which they hadn’t witnessed during their youth. Last but not least, nostalgia is a powerful emotion.

anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, gangs, health, ideas, psychology, violence

With a Grain of Salt

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Rose-Colored Glasses

Have you ever listened to old people bellyache about modern society and compared it to the past? Did you ever hear them say something along the lines of, “Back in my day we did this and that, and we had A, B, and C and we didn’t do this or that, and there was no X, Y, Z, and everything was grand.” It gets tiring, doesn’t it? Senior citizens always talk about the past with their rose-colored glasses on as if everything was dandy, and then the world went to hell in a hand basket once they reached middle age. I’ve heard this song and dance a thousand times before from my parents and others. That’s because the ‘good old days’ was back when they were young and in their prime. They had more energy and fewer health problems. They were probably out partying, getting laid more, and more in tune with pop culture. They weren’t staring down death’s doorstop. And I’m sure the prior generations never did the same because life was so grand. I had this conversation with my Uncle Michael a few years ago. He concurred and added they weren’t as aware then as they are now. Because they weren’t in tune with all that’s happening is why they’re so cynical.

The Usual Suspects

Almost every problem we hear about on the news didn’t begin yesterday. The real issue is nobody ever talked about it until now for fear of shame and humiliation. They’ve had gang violence in America at least since the Great Depression with Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, and company. The media didn’t make a big deal out of it until the 1980’s the Crips and Bloods emerged with the crack epidemic. Not until we saw dangerous black and Hispanic men and boys in the inner cities carrying automatic weapons did everyone begin lamenting. The crime rate in Chicago is lower than it’s been in sixty years. The number of rapes and sexual assaults in America has decreased 50-percent since 1993, but you would never hear these statistics from the mainstream media, third wave feminists, the NRA, or any of the geniuses in Washington. The violent crime rate in America period has continued to surge since the early 90’s, but most people don’t know this because the number of murders, rapes, assaults, and whatnot being reported has increased.

The Good Old Days

All that clamor with Bill Cosby and Brett Kavanaugh happened during the 70s and early 80s. The other folks mentioned by the #metoo movement like Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey committed sexual harassment at least twenty years ago to my recollection. It’s just nobody discussed this then. This is one reason I loved that show Boardwalk Empire. That program starring Steve Buscemi was about the mayor of a New Jersey town during the Prohibition Era who moonlit as a bootlegger. It showed what took place behind closed doors during the 1920s and 30s and that life wasn’t a bed of roses. Sure, the fashions and music may have been soothing, but I can’t even imagine how difficult things were during the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl. There wouldn’t be enough jazz or swing music to cast away my woes.

Choose Your Battles

Yesterday, at the VA hospital, I had to practice restraint while conversing with two old men. We talked about martial arts before one went on a tangent about Stephen Seagal and wondered why Seagal didn’t make movies anymore. Things started going downhill when I stated the reason Seagal’s more recent movies are all in Eastern Europe and why he’s no longer famous is because he’s been Hollywood blacklisted after several sexual harassment suits filed against him. The guy tried using a strawman argument stating there should be a statute of limitation and that he’d report it right away as if his car were stolen. It did no good when I tried elucidating most people would have discredited those women then because they didn’t have the recourse they do today. The other guy said if he was rich and famous like Seagal and had women throwing themselves at his feet, he’d do the same thing. That’s when I knew it was time to walk away. A few years ago, I would’ve been shocked. I might have even scorned them and told them they’re old enough to know better. I wasn’t surprised, though, seeing this was the VA hospital with military veterans many of whom were lifers. I may be autistic, but I’ve been socialized to know how to choose my battles. I therefore chalked it up as they were just men of their times.

A Grain of Salt

My first gig after graduating college was that of an enumerator during the 2010 census. I remember discussing kids with some 70-something Irish-American retiree from New York I’ll call George. He would regurgitate the same platitudes I heard from every other guy from his generation. George would say, “Back in my day, when I went to Catholic school, the priest swatted us good with a paddle whenever we misbehaved, and it made us tough.” Hogwash I say! Back in your day, people would lose their marbles if they saw a black person living in the same neighborhood or using the same facilities as you or a woman. Back in your day, it wasn’t uncommon for men to get drunk and beat their wives, so let’s not kid ourselves, George. I’m sure those priests expressed their love for children in other ways, but we don’t need to go there. Nobody knew then that corporal punishment causes depression and anxiety and makes kids more aggressive. The general public knew jack about psychology. It might have worked in the short run, but it was detrimental in the long run. I’ll bet the truancy and teenage pregnancy rates were high back then, but I’m sure George and others wouldn’t acknowledge that. While they may be wise and knowledgeable in some areas, many of their ideas I find outlandish and obsolete. This is why I don’t bother explaining autism to most folks over 70 and take what they say with a grain of salt.