Friday, 21 December 2012

The United States of Alienation

John S Wilkins in Oz talking about his son who has an Aspergers diagnosis:

"[H]e has been bullied persistently by students and teachers and gangs because of this difference. Once, because he had seen it on TV that you had a right to defend yourself, he showed a pocket knife, sheathed, to some bullies physically attacking him at school, for which he was suspended and the bullies merely chastised. Actual violence was condoned by that school, while an attempt to stop it, however misguided, was punished. This is the lot of the Aspie."

So the debate is why did Adam Lanza, a young man who may have had Aspergers, and who lived in the USA with a mother who, like many Americans, was so alienated, paranoid and screwed up with fear of other people and about what they might do to her, that she felt it necessary to surround herself with a massive arsenal of weapons, why would the poor lad up and kill her and a bunch of other people?

This latest case in a long, nauseating catalogue reminds me of Ed Gein and his mother Augusta, where he has gone down in history for his bizarre and ghoulish crimes. According to Wikipedia:

"Augusta despised her husband, but the marriage persisted because of the family's religious belief against divorce. Augusta Gein operated a small grocery store and eventually purchased a farm on the outskirts of the small town of Plainfield, Wisconsin ..."

"Augusta Gein moved to this location to prevent outsiders from influencing her sons. Edward Gein left the premises only to go to school. Besides school, he spent most of his time doing chores on the farm. Augusta Gein, a fervent Lutheran, preached to her boys the innate immorality of the world, the evil of drinking, and the belief that all women (herself excluded) were prostitutes and instruments of the devil. She reserved time every afternoon to read to them from the Bible, usually selecting graphic verses from the Old Testament dealing with death, murder, and divine retribution."

"A shy, effeminate boy, the younger Gein became a target for bullies. Classmates and teachers recalled off-putting mannerisms, such as seemingly random laughter, as if he were laughing at his own personal jokes. To make matters worse, his mother punished him whenever he tried to make friends ..."

"Gein tried to make his mother happy, but she was rarely pleased with her boys; she often abused them, believing that they were destined to become failures like their father. During their teens and throughout their early adulthood, the boys remained detached from people outside of their farmstead, and so had only each other for company."

With an upbringing like this why would anyone be surprised at what some brainwashed and tortured individuals may turn to?

As for Lanza, my feeling, as someone who lives in the UK where pretty much the only guns around are those in the hands of criminals, and who is familiar with Aspergers, is that the Lanza case appears very much a mental health issue.

First of all the mother seems to have fallen under the grip of a cult; namely the Preppers, who are preaching Doomsday millennialism and fear on a grand scale. Secondly, the son seems very much the victim of his mother’s delusional state, one which, if he was an Aspie he would be especially vulnerable to.

I really like John's OP though, especially as he is one of the few to correct this false impression about Aspies somehow having no empathy.

If anything, it is the USA’s love affair with the gun which is a symptom of their widespread mental ill health. In mainland Europe there are many countries where guns are widely held by the public, but they do not constantly misuse them in the way USAmericans do.

As for tkieler’s idea about bundling up all the non-neurotypical youngsters together and putting them under surveillance what a shameful notion. It reminds me of the Apartheid era pencil test where if your hair was a bit too curly you were suddenly classified as “coloured” and exiled from your family.

If the USA doesn’t wise up and learn some compassion - and deal with their religious nutters - they will keep on tearing themselves apart.

Video - why the deranged US population are unlikely to accept having their toys taken away from them.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Little Boxes & Big Fat Wallets

A plea from Stravaiger John:

"There are hundreds of thousands of properties, residential, commercial etc. standing empty across Britain.

Would it not make more sense to take over and renovate these before building anything else?

People in real need of a home could be given a government loan if they were prepared to take over a property and do it up themselves, as could community groups and social housing associations.

This would surely be a better solution than having speculative developers wrecking the countryside."

No John, that would be too much like common sense, which as we all know is something only common people have.

Respectable HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals, to those who matter) don't use common sense, common decency, or anything else common to think with, they use their wallets because that's all that matters, going forward.

A commenter responds, "Yes ... As the law stands an owner can leave their property empty for ever as long as they maintain it! I know cos we have one around here that has been empty for 15 years and I wrote to the council and they said there was nothing they could do unless it was derelict!"

But is this true? I don't reckon it is.

So, sorry to say I think the council may be lying ... haha ... surely not?!?

I heard functionaries discussing this at a "Neighbourhood Partnership" meeting once, talking about all the slippery tricks that property owners use to avoid facing up to their responsibilities. Presumably the legislation - like a lot these days - was inadequately drafted, either by accident, or call me pessimistic, borne out of long experience, by design.

This is what one useful website has to say on the matter:

"Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) were introduced by the Housing Act 2004 and the powers subsequently made available to local authorities two years later.

A substantial body of technical information exists on how they are supposed to work, but to date very little practical help based on the experience of those who have actually used EDMOs has been available. We hope this guidance goes some way to filling that gap.

Drawing on the practical experience of empty property officers across the country, we have attempted to distil the most useful and important advice available. The guide includes a flow chart, a step-by-step guide to the process, top tips, pitfalls to avoid, detailed advice notes on each stage, and a set of model documents to use and adapt to your own circumstances."

I agree with both Stravaiger John and his commenter, there are hundreds of thousands of buildings out there that could be brought into use, or better used, given the political will, but I fear that that is what is lacking. With the plutocratic, kleptokratic crony government that we are groaning under now it makes far more profit for them just to hand their mates among the big feudal landowners (yes, they're still alive and kicking - especially in Devon) and the big housebuilding consortia some nice fat contracts.

There's also the issue of VAT which, despite long complaint by us "little people", is still extorted on refurbishment materials and work, but not payable on new build.