Author Archive

your dreams will be reduced down to breathing, and you will be grateful

The thing about not-being-a-person is: They will say those people and the price of being a person is to nod and agree that yes, those people aren’t people at all. They will have no idea who they are talking to. You yourself will start to forget, too. They will say a million small things that sow the seeds for violence done against you, and you will smile and let them. You will do math, constantly. How much do I want to be a person today? How much do I want this project to succeed? How much honesty can I afford? How much dishonesty will kill me? What is the cost of coming out? Is there a way to delay, soften, transmute? How long can I survive as half a person? Ever since the world ended ... I don't go out as much. People that I once befriended, just don't bother to stay in touch. Things that used to seem so splendid, don't really matter today. It's just as well the world ended -- it wasn't working anyway. Your dreams will be reduced down to breathing. [Read More]

on 03/5/12 | 2 Comments | Read More

The Unbroken Spectrum: Self-Hatred

A couple weeks ago I sat down to sketch out two mechanisms which serve to obscure the reality that there is no clear dividing line between autistic people and the larger population.  What was to be a...[Read More]

on 06/4/10 | 8 Comments | Read More

The Unbroken Spectrum: Projection

Years ago, long before I had any familiarity with psychological jargon, I remember running across the phrase “egodystonic homosexuality” and being highly amused at what an absurdly clinical term i...[Read More]

on 05/28/10 | 5 Comments | Read More

The Unbroken Spectrum: Ridicule

Having come full circle back to the assertion that there is no clear dividing line between the autistic population and the “non”-autistic population, this seems like an apt time to have a closer l...[Read More]

on 05/24/10 | 1 Comment | Read More

Randall Munroe Gets It

Minutes before I was going to post what I’d had prepared for this morning, I ran across today’s xkcd web comic, and will likely not be able to get to sleep without writing about it. It features th...[Read More]

on 05/21/10 | 1 Comment | Read More

See Seven States!

There’s an implicit perspective behind most of what I write here at Shift, and I think behind much of what others contribute, a perspective that’s not exactly a secret, but one that I don’t thin...[Read More]

on 05/14/10 | 1 Comment | Read More

Mountain Goats of the Uncanny Valley

Now that the subject of autism and the uncanny valley has been laid on the table, I’d like to draw on that metaphor by sharing some further imagery that offers new ways to think about autistic pe...[Read More]

on 05/7/10 | 1 Comment | Read More

Autism and the Uncanny Valley

One of the first pieces I wrote for this site finished with a whimsical suggestion that autistic people were somewhat native to what is known as the uncanny valley, a term that refers to the revulsion...[Read More]

on 04/30/10 | 3 Comments | Read More

How (and Why) to Use Framing in the Discussion of Autism

As is the case elsewhere, in the struggle over how autism is to be defined and understood, how a discussion is framed has more influence on the outcome of any conflicts that arise within that discussi...[Read More]

on 04/9/10 | No Comments | Read More

On Styles of Consciousness, Autism Included

“Whatever else it may be, autism is a way of being in the world.  It is a style, a manner of behaving and perceiving, and of being perceived.” Classical Greece had a whole lexicon of differe...[Read More]

on 04/2/10 | 11 Comments | Read More

Publicist: Must Be Willing to Out Prominent Autistics

Author Michael Lewis, as interviewed recently on NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me: Alright, ah, the first, first investor to make a bet that this whole subprime mortgage bond experiment was a disa...[Read More]

on 03/31/10 | 2 Comments | Read More

Virgil Caine’s Autism

Last November while weighing in on the proposed changes to the DSM which will drop Asperger’s Syndrome as a diagnostic category, I quoted George Carlin’s take on Catholicism’s Limbo as a way to ...[Read More]

on 03/26/10 | 2 Comments | Read More

Quiet Desperation and the Larger Picture

It’s an odd business, blogging for a constituency that’s not only unaware that you exist and are writing for and about them, but also unaware that they exist and are many enough to make up a c...[Read More]

on 03/19/10 | 4 Comments | Read More

… It’s Hard to Remember Your Original Objective Was to Drain the Swamp

(continued from When You're Up to Your A** in Alligators) With that in mind then, how to make full and best use of a site like Shift Journal? Actually a tiny, excellent example happened just thi...[Read More]

on 03/12/10 | 4 Comments | Read More

When You’re Up to Your A** in Alligators …

One thing I’ve kept an eye on over the six months since Shift Journal launched has been, “What can we be doing here that isn’t already being done well elsewhere?” Last weekend KWombles and I e...[Read More]

on 03/12/10 | 2 Comments | Read More


Sometimes I ask for feedback on pieces I’ve written before I post them, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to get a reply that’s in itself more compelling than what I’d intended to post in the fir...[Read More]

on 03/5/10 | 2 Comments | Read More

Cost Accounting

Fellow contributor Clay is happily bemused this week over at Comet’s Corner, reflecting on his recent release from some of the lifelong difficulties that finally led to his late-life diagnosis of au...[Read More]

on 02/26/10 | 7 Comments | Read More

Covert Ops in Autistic Self-Advocacy

Pandemic autism that’s hidden in plain sight, an autistic spectrum populated overwhelmingly by undiagnosed fellow travelers and autistics-in-hiding—if this is an accurate description of autism’s...[Read More]

on 02/19/10 | 5 Comments | Read More

Meeting the Extended Family

I’ve never been able to take in the big picture at family reunions.  Between the carnival of overstimulation that comes with all that social interaction, and being the unacknowledged odd neurol...[Read More]

on 02/12/10 | 1 Comment | Read More

Open Letter to Joel Johnson (Gizmodo)

Hi Joel – I’ve waited twelve years now to see the word “autistic” begin to come out of the closet in the tech world, but your otherwise dead-on post the other day about “iPad Snivelers”...[Read More]

on 02/6/10 | No Comments | Read More

Rich Shull: HBO Temple Grandin Special

Rich Shull writes with an intensity that befits a man struggling to whittle a rapid-fire slide show of thousand-word pictures down to a sentence or two at a time. Mr. Shull is part of a longstanding o...[Read More]

on 02/5/10 | 3 Comments | Read More

Mashup: Time, Death, and Ballastexistenz

There have been two significant deaths to me recently. My grandfather died just before Christmas.  And Judi Chamberlin … died this weekend. And yet again I am coming up against my instinctive re...[Read More]

on 01/29/10 | 2 Comments | Read More

Autism and the Hacker Manifesto

Late last year I posted an entry which included a quick list of people and ideas my wife and I found heartening or helpful back before we fell out of active involvement with autism as a topic of publi...[Read More]

on 01/22/10 | 2 Comments | Read More

Good Manners Reconsidered

“Good manners applied without regard for differences are in fact bad manners.”  Those words, wherever it was I found them maybe two decades ago, struck me as so apt, so applicable to what I had l...[Read More]

on 01/15/10 | 5 Comments | Read More

An Autistic Ethos: It’s All About Respect

I have been privy to conversation among sexually active librarians in which catalogers, above all other sub-specialties of librarianship, were identified—with good humor but still in earnest—as be...[Read More]

on 01/8/10 | No Comments | Read More

Autism as a Secret Society

The idea that autism is humankind's oldest and largest secret society is one I've suggested on this site more than once; here I'd like to explicitly make the case for that idea. Members of secret soc...[Read More]

on 01/1/10 | 1 Comment | Read More

Geeks and Nerds: Autism’s Proxy Warriors

Two articles from the New York Times and one from this week have been taking a look at what I’ve long seen as a proxy war between the autistic style in American culture and its detractor...[Read More]

on 12/25/09 | 1 Comment | Read More

He’s Canadian, You Know

“He’s Canadian, you know,” yields 30,800 hits when entered in a Google search, while about half that many are returned for “She’s Canadian, you know.”  The phrase is a sort of running in-...[Read More]

on 12/18/09 | 2 Comments | Read More

Who We Are

“Start Understanding Your Website Traffic In Ways You Never Imagined” is the pitch offered by VisitorVille, a service which provides website owners with a Sims-like representation of visitors to e...[Read More]

on 12/11/09 | No Comments | Read More

The Iceberg Speaks

Given the stereotype of the mute, “unreachable” autistic child that comes most easily to many people’s minds whenever autism is discussed, I’m well aware of what a sharp departure from that im...[Read More]

on 12/4/09 | 3 Comments | Read More

Reverse Van Winkle

For all that I’m still learning something new every week about what’s been happening with autism in society over the last decade or so, that fact itself provides me with a perspective that is like...[Read More]

on 11/27/09 | 2 Comments | Read More

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