Hard News by Russell Brown


A little understanding

My last Listener column is here. It is, you probably won't be surprised to learn, about the internet: and more specifically about the role the internet has played in revealing, explaining and supporting the key fact of our family's life -- that our two boys are on the autistic spectrum.

The column, I think, speaks for itself. But I'd like to thank all the Listener readers who have emailed me this week to acknowledge the long run the column has had, and the role it has played for them. I really appreciate that.

If you didn't read Chris Barton's moving, provocative feature in the Weekend Herald about the plight of Jonathan Eady and his sisters. Jonathan, who is autistic, was removed from his parents' care 10 years ago after the publication of a picture in which he was seen clad in leather restraints.

I was less shocked by the picture than your average person, I would think. It was clear that his parents had no support in dealing with his inexplicable, sometimes dangerous, behaviour. And I know that some people on the spectrum actually derive comfort from such restraint. The great Dr Temple Grandin in part manages her own mood by using The Squeeze Machine; a restraint device she helped develop for livestock.

I don't know if that was the case for Jonathan, but it seems clear to me that his present, lonely predicament in care is wrong, especially if there are family members willing to offer a richer life.

Some other people who could use a little understanding:

This mother, who suffered the humiliation of having her plane turn around and return to the airport after the cabin crew (it seems) badly mishandled a situation with her autistic toddler. Among other things, they refused to let the mother hold on to a bag of objects she would have used to distract and calm her son.

And the alarming story of a mother called in to school to be confronted with allegations that her autistic daughter was being sexually abused -- on the evidence of a psychic

On a happier note, the humans blog (which I am going to get back to soon, now that I've reduced my workload enough to allow it), has an account from Matt Frost, the Policy and Information Researcher at CCS Disability Action National Office in Wellington -- Aspie and proud -- of his trip to New York as support person for Mike Gourley, the president of the New Zealand Disabled Persons Assembly, to receive a UN award on the country's behalf.

Back to that last column: Nigel Horrocks suggested to me that it was the end of an era in which a bunch of us had the pleasure of bringing the internet -- and the world of ideas it embodies -- to a mainstream audience. I guess it is. But I still have the Wide Area News name, and I like the idea of continuing those ideas in another setting.

For now, this is kind of fascinating: Stuart Page used Johnny Cash's version of 'Personal Jesus as the soundtrack to a clip of Megan Hansen-Knarhoi sewing, well, a personal Jesus that's part of her Aapparition show. He got an email from YouTube saying that Universal Music Group had asserted copyright in the song.

But the clip won't be removed. The message said, in part:

Dear YouTube Member:

UMG has claimed some or all audio content in your video APPARITION. This claim was made as part of the YouTube Content Identification program.

Your video is still live because UMG has authorized the use of this content on YouTube. As long as UMG has a claim on your video, they will receive public statistics about your video, such as number of views. Viewers may also see advertising on your video's page.

This is quite an intriguing solution, and not one I've heard of before. (Last time I looked, however, there was a Clear Net ad showing on the page.) Anyone know any more about this policy?

And finally, over at The Hand Mirror, Ms Enid Tak-Entity's electrifying Feminist gets a wax, anaesthetises crotch with feminism. Ouch.

PS: My darling and I are having a little dinner out tonight, to mark what is roughly 20 years together (not just knowing each other -- that's pushing 30). I think regularly how lucky we are to have each other.

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