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A Decade of Left Brain/Right Brain

1 Jan

2013 marks the 10 year mark for Left Brain/Right Brain. The blog actually started in June, as I recall, but June of 2003. The blog started out as a place for Kev Leitch to write about his life and his work. Most of his writing about his life was about events pertaining to his autistic child. I found the blog a few years later and it had already evolved significantly from its early days. It has evolved since then as well.

In a time when the online and public discussion was dominated by groups of parents willing to characterize autistics as “train wrecks” and “empty shells” who had “descended into the hell of autism”, Kev stood up to counter the message. Kev put together the autism hub to band together autistics and allies who were writing from a perspective of respect. Kev hosted an online forum and at one point this blog was home to about 10 writers, autistic and allies.

Kev has moved on to other ventures. I wish him well. He did a lot of good here.

By Matt Carey

What I did with your money

18 May

Now LBRB is successfully moved (with a few little bits of tidying needed her and there) I need to tell you what I did with the nearly $1000 so generously donated.

First and foremost of course I bought some new hosting. I think you’ll agree that the site feels much faster and slicker as a result of the move. Gone is the churning away and (hopefully) gone is the CPU throttling.

However, I did have some money left over so I decided that as you all had been so generous that the right thing to do was pay it forward. In that spirit I split the remaining money into three parts and donated thusly:

The Autism Science Foundation – A good deal of LBRB contributors and visitors are American so to donate to a science based autism foundation in the States seemed like a good idea. ASF do not place _any_ research monies into the blind alley of vaccines.

National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading autism charity, giving an actual voice to actual autistic people is vital and the NAS do this better than anyone else in my opinion.

Speur Ghlan are a small, recently incorporated charity based in the land of my fathers – Scotland. I know the founder well and am constantly impressed at her drive and enthusiasm for her subject matter.

The amounts involved were not huge obviously but I hope that I’ve managed to meet with your approval both in choice and reasons for choice.

Thank you once again for your generous donations to get LBRB a better home. I hope I can repay you with years more quality blogging from Sullivan and the odd bit of snark from me 😉

New hosting environment – occassional weirdness

17 May

Hi folks,

Thanks to your extreme kindness, LBRB has been able to move to a much better hosting environment 🙂

However, as we’re moving _right now_ you’re going to see some oddness. Posts are going to disappear as will some comments. Hopefully we’ll be able to reinstate them ASAP but please bear with me whilst I get it all ship shape and bristol fashion.

LBRB needs you!

9 May

As some have noticed, LeftBrain/RightBrain has been having issues. One of the main things is the fact that as LB/RB has become more and more popular over the years, it is not able to co-exist with normal Shared Hosting and is being CPU Throttled, something that basically means that, during peak time of popularity our hosts are having to basically turn the website off for 30min stretches to allow the CPU to cool down a bit.

The only way we can get around this practise is to get our own Dedicated Server. Having this means that we would have one CPU all to ourselves and thus not be throttled.

However, Dedicated Servers are not cheap. I have managed to source one for about £900 per year but that is way, way, waaaay beyond my personal means and much more than the advertising brings in.

So I’m asking for help. You should be able to see a ChipIn widget top right of each page. I’ve set the amount to $2000 and the time limit to a month but these are fairly arbitrary things. I’ll take whatever I can get and if it takes 6 months, so be it. I will of course be throwing in the advertising money that LBRB does get and I’ll also be putting in some personal money too but if you have a spare tenner, fiver or just a quid floating around in your PayPal acct, then I’d thank you for it.

Thanks in advance.

Sullivan outs himself

27 Apr

Back in 2010, Age of Autism’s Inspector Clouseau, summed up the following about Sullivan:

1) Female
2) American
3) A doctor or scientist
4) Not the parent of an autistic child.
5) Is actually Paul Offit’s wife Bonnie.

And followed up with this promise:

If you can produce a dad with a child with autism with a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature who blogs under the name Sullivan, a man who has an inordinate grasp of the details of your husband’s patents, lawsuits, published studies, and web habits, I will make sure that the website is given to you and your husband for good.

In fact, if you can produce this father, I promise to never, ever publicly write about or utter the name “Paul Offit” again.

As blogged by Sullivan, he will be attending IMFAR as a contributor:

I have written in the past that I will be attending IMFAR, the International Meeting For Autism Research. I will be supported by a stakeholder travel grant from the Autism Science Foundation, for which I am very grateful. What I haven’t mentioned before is that I was planning to attend IMFAR even before applying for the stakeholder grant. I’ve been planning on attending since I submitted an abstract: Parent Reported Status and Expectations for Their Autistic Student Children: An Analysis of the 2007 National Household Education Survey.

The abstract in question is:

Parent Reported Status and Expectations for Their Autistic Student Children: An Analysis of the 2007 National Household Education Survey. M. J. Carey

M.J. Carey, of course being LB/RB’s own Matt Carey.

So, now we turn back to JB Handley – are you ready to both hand over both the domain and your word to never mention in word or speech the name Paul Offit again JB?

Left Brain/Right Brain Performance Issues – need your input

19 Apr

Hi friends (as pD would say),

As a few of you have noticed, LBRB is getting a bit slow. I think there are some obvious reasons for that – the database is heavy with nearly 9 years worth of posts and comments, our hosts are not all they could be etc.

However, there are a few things I can and have tried. I’ve cut out a few of the site features and I’ve optimised scripts etc to within an inch of their life. What I need now is your input. Is the site faster? Is it performing better? What pages/sections are particulalry troublesome for you? etc etc.

Thanks for any input you can offer.

Something we’re all guilty of

6 Mar

We don’t always manage to hold on to our ideals as we are all people and sometimes we all screw up and do the wrong thing.

In the case of Kevin Leitch and Harold Doherty to name just two people, these people have ideals about using pejorative terms but don’t always see that the terms they _do_ use are just as pejorative.

So its time to change that behaviour I believe. From this point on LBRB will try its absolute best to be a pejorative free zone. We would never use racist terminology so using ableist terminology should be equally without a place on a blog dedicated to enhancing the rights of autistic people.

Some may believe this is political correctness gone too far but I don’t believe it is. It wasn’t that long ago that ‘idiot’ was pejorative, as was ‘moron’, ‘imbecile’ and a whole host of other terms. So lets not bring the stigma back to those terms and lets willfully try and not refer to people in these terms. We’re here to debate ideas, not to attack people after all. Its time I remembered that and its time a lot of others did too.

And whilst we’re at it, maybe when we’re visiting and commenting on others blogs, when we see behaviour like that in others, a polite pointing out of the pejorative nature of the word in question may dissuade them from using it again.

Why does it matter what happens to Andrew Wakefield?

8 Jan

People have been questioning the necessity of these latest revelations about Andrew Wakefield and suggesting that enough is enough or maybe that all this latest round of publicity will do nothing except make him a heroic martyr. This is possible.

However, for a number of reasons I really feel it is vitally important that not only is there some response but that that response comes at least partly from the autism community.

Firstly, I believe it is necessary for there to be a response full stop. These might be the same set of _facts_ that were uncovered during the GMC hearing but the difference here is that for the first time it has been established that the facts against Andrew Wakefield came about through what the BMJ refer to as fraudulent. This is a huge difference. Up until now it could’ve been argued that Andrew Wakefield simply made a mistake. After the events of the last two days, that can never be honestly argued again.

Secondly, there are a set of people who have been at the rough end of Wakefield’s fraud for the last 13 years. A set of people who have struggled to make new parents understand that there is no risk of autism from the MMR vaccine. Doctors. Particularly paediatricians and GP’s. It is vital that by establishing what Wakefield has done as fraud, the media ensure that the message is spread far and wide. They (the media) have something to atone for in this respect, being the original spreaders of the message that the MMR caused or contributed to autism. They now need to recognise their role in the past and help the medical establishment by ensuring Wakefield can never again spread his fraudulent claims via their auspices.

Thirdly, there is another set of people who have been at an even rougher end of Wakefield’s fraud. The sufferers of the falling vaccination rates of MMR. Its been well documented in numerous places, including this blog how people – particularly children – have been injured and died in the UK and US. The concept of herd immunity, no matter what some might claim is a real concept and when it falls, the level of protection falls. When it falls to far then the people who suffer are the very young, the very old and those who for genuine medical reasons cannot be vaccinated. Wakefield’s fraud needs to be spread far and wide in order for people to realise what he is, what he tried to do and what the consequences were in order to have some confidence in the MMR jab.

Fourthly, there is another set of people who have suffered heavily. This set of people are the silent victims of Wakefield’s perfidy. Autistic people. Wakefield and his supporters, TACA, NAA, Generation Rescue, SafeMinds, Treating Autism et al have turned autism into a circus. The aim of the last decade amongst serious autism researchers and advocates has been to

a) Raise awareness
b) Find evidence-based therapies that will help the life course and independence of autistic people
c) Protect the educational rights of autistic people

and getting research monies to meet these aims is long, hard and slow. Andrew Wakefield and his hardcore of scientifically illiterate supporters have actively derailed that process, dragging research monies away from these principled activities and towards their core aim of degrading vaccines and ‘proving’ vaccines cause autism. Wakefield himself has taken over US$750,000 worth of money to pursue a legal battle against the UK Gvmt. Just think of how that money could have enriched the life of just one autistic person.

However, this same set of people claim to be representative of the autism community. They write nonsense books about autism. They hold celebrity studded fundraisers for autism. They participate in rant-filled rally’s for autism. But none of them are really about autism. What they’re about is anti-vaccinationism.

Every one of these activities denigrate autism and autistic people. They take attention away from where it is needed.

We, the true autism community, made up of parents, autistic people, professionals of autistic people need to do two things. Firstly, we need to wrest back control of the autism agenda from these one-note people. Secondly, we need to speak to society at large and say ‘yes, some members of the autism community believed the fraudulence of Andrew Wakefield but not all of us did. Please don’t tar us all with one brush.’

What Andrew Wakefield has done has impacted everyone. We need to make sure that he and people like him can never affect us all in this way again. To do that we need to speak out about him, loudly and as long as it takes.

Is there a point to blogging Age of Autism – the book?

18 Oct

Recently Sully asked if there was value in continuing to report of a certain AJ Wakefield’s exploits. It got me to thinking – is there continuing value on blogging Age of Autism, the book?

The most recent chapters have descended into very very familiar territory with the Somali and Amish episodes being regurgitated to seemingly little or no point. Are LB/RB readers of the opinion that this sort of material requires review?

Don’t get me wrong, I would continue to blog about _new_ material in the book but as I have come to the section of the book where phrases like:

The obvious risk that immigrants to any Western country face is over-vaccination.

Page 250

are tossed around without any reason or evidence to back up the implication that ‘over’-vaccination is dangerous, or indeed there is such a things as ‘over-vaccination’, then I begin to question the worth of this material to LB/RB readers.

What do you think Dear Reader?

LBRB on Facebook

22 Aug

I finally got around to creating a ‘Fan’ page on Facebook for LBRB as an alternative to the Networked Blog. I do understand theres an unofficial page floating around but please consider this the official LBRB page.

Also please take the time to click the ‘like’ box (below on the right) to add to the number of fans LBRB has (currently…erm…1…me)