Yanny or Laurel: Something Else at Work

Can you believe it? There is a debate raging through English-speaking society, ripping the fabric of society even as we sepak. It’s gotten on all major news outlets, divided the country and is basically causing World War III. It is the “Yanny” vs “Laurel” debate.

Now, let’s get this out of the way. I usually hear “Yanny.” However, when you isolate the higher tones and play the lower tones only, I distinctly hear “Laurel,” and in a much lower register. Now, why is that? I have a theory. It has to do with what dominant tones a person hears. “Yanny” has a high, somewhat nasal effect to it, while “Laurel” has a lower sound. The “Yanny” people might have trouble, as do I, hearing lower tones.

Here’s more evidence of my theory: I have trouble hearing Benedict Cumberbatch at times, especially when he speaks fast. Of course, he is definitely a man of lower tones. But I have no trouble hearing the higher-pitched voices seemingly everywhere in the voices of Japanese animation. Now, think about that for a minute. What if what you hear from that creepy robot voice indicates something else at work? Maybe you have trouble hearing specific tones.

Due to this theory, I would like to propose being kind to those who hear differently. It might actually repair society’s bonds. Oh, who am I kidding? World War III is around the corner.

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A Little Primer on Cinco de Mayo

Maybe I should keep quiet about Cinco de Mayo, but I really want to help bring about the truth in the celebration. So that’s what motivates me.

Most people in the United States use May 5th to down Margaritas or Mexican beers and get sloppy drunk – and throw those drinks back up – but as I’ve recently learned, that’s not the real reason to celebrate. As a person who chooses sobriety on the daily, I decided to learn the real reason behind this holiday that is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day. (You’re thinking of September 16 for that one.) What makes Cinco de Mayo so important is that it is a day in which Mexico contributes to the outcome of the USA’s Civil War.  

 In 1862, when this all happened, the Union Navy had the Confederates in a naval blockade. The cotton (and other things) of the South was not getting to places like France, who decided to try and set up a place to bypass the blockade and get their all-important cotton. They chose Puebla, which turned out to be a bad idea. The residents of Puebla were not to be pushed around, defeating the French there, and contributing to the eventual Union victory of the US Civil War. If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, you’ll have to travel to Puebla, because that’s probably the only place they celebrate Cinco de Mayo anyway.

 So, in brief, Cinco de Mayo is really a US holiday to celebrate the major contributions of Mexico to the USA. I have no problem celebrating that – sober. I don’t like being drunk anyway.

April Wrap-Up: It’s A Little Better

So, another Autism Awareness Month has come and gone. Is everyone OK? I hope so. Although most of the autism Awareness emphasis was toward the beginning, people might want to reminisce toward the types of progress the autistic community has made. I’ve made lists of the Pros and Cons toward this progress. For the first time, there have been definite Pros.

 The Pros:

1. There has been a definite shift toward what autistic people want and need.

2. Autistic voices are finally gaining some sort of traction toward being heard.

3. There has been a rise in finding and diagnosing autism, particularly in communities of color.

4. More female portrayals of autism are coming around in the media.

5. At least in my local grocery store, there has been a shift toward acceptance and social inclusion.

 The Cons:

1. Autism Speaks still wants to “DESTROY AUTISM!!!” as if autism is some sort of social cancer. (It’s not; prejudice is, though.)

2. The portrayals of autism in the media are still generally white and male. This stereotype still rules and harms autistic people everywhere, even denying them diagnosis in females. I have yet to see an autistic woman who is like me on TV.

3. Sheldon Cooper, who does not have an official diagnosis, is the gatekeeper of autism in many neurotypical minds.

4. There has been only one major portrayal of autistic persons of color: Billy the Blue Power Ranger in the Power Rangers Movie of 2017.

5. Most people still think autistic adults are not autistic enough to speak for autistic children.

6. The Autism Community is still fragmented, with parents of the autistic on one side and autistic people on the other.

7. ANDREW WAKEFIELD, JENNY MCCARTHY AND THE VACCINE BLAMERS!

8. The Most Important: People still think autism is a tragedy. Some people even have to wait until adulthood to get diagnosed because their parents do not want their children to be autistic. (Nobody gets a choice in the matter!)

 While the Cons List is almost twice as long, the fact that there are actually Pros is a plus. I previously referenced April as The Trauma Month, if you remember reading that back in March. If we get over our differences, band together and fight the prejudice against us, someday the Pros list will be longer. That, my friends, I am looking forward to.

Everybody Chill: The Rate is Better Diagnosis

Sorry, but I will not sugarcoat it. I don’t know how. By now, I’m sure you have heard that the new autism prevalence is 1 in 59, up from 1 in 68. And do you know what? I don’t think sugarcoating applies here. If we did not attach a stigma or hate to an autism diagnosis, as American society tends to do to the non-white-bread types, I would not have to warn you.

 Now, let’s get down to your real question: Why? What could be the cause of a higher prevalence than before in the United States? I just put a clue up above. It’s wider screening, especially among children of color. A recent article by the Associated Press cited closing gaps of diagnosis between Black (20% gap – 10% gap) and Hispanic (50% gap – 20% gap) children. It looks like we’re casting wider nets than ever to grab these children and propel them toward a new understanding.

 So, what are we supposed to do with this new information. Well, I’ve got a strange idea: Close your eyes, relax, and see this new rate for what it is: good news on better understanding your kids.

Stigmatizing Help: WHY?????

Mariah Carey spoke of first being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2001. Since she only recently came out of the mental illness closet, I figured she suffered greatly due to the stigma and the secret she held. And it was also true; she admitted to this suffering. Sadly, this is not the only case of suffering due to stigma I can personally account for.
I know a person who came out of the mental illness closet almost immediately after being diagnosed. Unfortunately, she lost a lot of friends along the way. Also, she was blamed for extreme measures being taken to control her by one of those former friends. She suffered through adjustments through medications for a year, and she did it alone.
So, who did she turn to when she needed help for tough financial decisions when undergoing these changes? NOBODY. She and I have large amounts of financial debt and cannot even declare bankruptcy to clear those debts. We are hounded by mail. We are hounded by phone. We are hounded by bad credit scores. And we have no one to turn to in our hour of need. Where is everybody? Everybody we know turned away when we came out of the mental illness closet.
Why do we hate getting help? Why do we discriminate against those with mental illness? Stigmatizing mental illness is only society shooting itself in the foot. Less people seek help, which leads to more hiding, which leads to dramatic confrontations of the jackass-on-a-fast-food-roof kind. Don’t you see? Making help a thing of weakness and vulnerability only makes us weak and vulnerable against the coming drama. We need to stop stigmatizing getting help for your problems. It would have saved years of pain and suffering in Carey’s case.

Kroger April Early Shock

Well, Kroger has decided to get their Autism Awareness out early this year. That was a shock. I know I was expecting it, but something inside me this year has decided to raise anxiety. I mean, stuttering has come out of me this year, too. I don’t like it. 

It’s not quite full-blown yet, but it’s starting up fast. Today I saw two women wearing the Kroger Autism Awareness Shirt – light blue with a “ribbon” made up of primary color puzzle pieces. They haven’t pulled out an infographic station yet, though. As I have said recently, you know how I feel about the puzzle piece. Anyway, the start has hit me hard this year.  

Maybe I ought to ask how those who wear the Autism Awareness Shirt are connected to it. If it means an autistic relative, maybe I can give a few tips on how to help. Who knows?  

I think I need to go self-care a bit right now.  

Stoicism: How Displaying Strength Goes Wrong

CONTENT WARNING: Murder, Suicide, Drug Use 

“Man Up.”  “Be strong!”  “Real men don’t cry.”  

These are common phrases said when a boy, man or even woman or girl perceived to be “strong” is told at a young age. This model of strength, and masculinity in the case of males, is heavily influenced by stoicism. Stoicism is an Ancient Greek school of philosophy that argues displays of emotion are due to lapses in judgment, and true strength and rationality is emotionless. It has made its way into the Model of Masculinity in America. I can’t say if it has made its way into other nations’ Model of Masculinity, though I suspect it has. Some people will admit to murder before admitting to therapy, as most men in America will.  

Modern stoicism is best defined in the basic emotional philosophy of professional wrestling. I have only seen two major emotions defined in the ring, and yes, I watched pro wrestling for years: Rage and Lust. It’s as if any emotion at all that is not rage or lust does not exist. That kind of aggressive stoicism takes a toll on a person, woman or man. Want to know something really weird? Pro wrestling is chock full of early deaths – including one which, if I remember correctly, involved family annihilation. But the man who did that has become a sort of He Who Must Not Be Named. (No, not Voldemort, my dear Harry Potter fans.) 

He Who Must Not Be Named, Chris Benoit, I briefly touched upon. He killed his wife and child. Now, it has been revealed that Benoit had brain injuries consistent with CTE, sustained during his career. I wonder if he knew he was going downhill physically? I wonder if that prompted such an extreme reaction? Unfortunately, I have previous experience in family annihilation. It happened to a friend of mine at church. The theory floating around is that his father did not think anyone could take better care of them than himself. I wonder if it a similar case? 

More examples of Stoicism abound. Many men have died of suicide due to not being able to get help for themselves. I have also heard that the success rate of suicide is four times higher among males than other genders. Also, what does modern stoicism contribute to the usage of alcohol and other drugs to evoke the “proper” state of being? How many people have fallen into addiction due to pressure to Man Up or Be Strong?  

You may think I have no business talking about Toxic Masculinity or Stoicism, but Stoicism has made its way into dealing with female emotions. How many times, when crying, have women and girls been told they are “Hysterical” or “Irrational” and unable to deal with hard issues due to emotion? By the way, “Hysterical” comes from the Ancient Roman word “Hystericus,” meaning “Of the womb.” The very idea that women are too emotional is ingrained in us from the ancient world. How are they prescribed to overcome their womanly emotions? “Woman Up!” “Be Strong!” Stoicism!  

I suspect that emotions may actually be helpful to one, if used correctly. If you’re feeling bad, there may be something wrong. If you’re depressed and putting on a face at a party, something might be wrong. If you’re feeling too good, something also might be wrong.  

I must admit, I was inspired by a segment on Sunday Morning about the toll that modern masculinity takes on young men in our culture…based on recent school shootings, mostly done by young men. We need to remove the stigma and hate of emotion from our national psyche. The Dam of Stoicism will burst eventually, and like any other dam holding back giant walls of water, the ending will not be pretty.