Life's our oyster and we're gonna suck that bitch down with a champagne chaser.

  • Behavioral Therapist
  • MA Developmental Psychology, Columbia
  • BS Psychobiology/ French, UCLA

  • Movies to See:
    Mission Impossible
    A Dangerous Method

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    The Life & Times of Tim

  • Book to Read:
    Game of Thrones
    by George R.R. Martin

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    El Camino

  • Person to Hate:
    Newt Gingrich

  • Group of People to Despise:
    Fox & Friends


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Monday, June 22, 2009  
Freedom to Uprise
As anyone who has any semblance of social and global awareness knows, the main topic in the news has been the backlash over the Iranian election results. The facts are that this election was invariably stolen from the people, no matter what a self-righteous demagogue or self-appointed religious despot may claim in Tehran. Where the real story lies is with the people who have not taken this corruption lying down and have risked their own safety and well-being to make it known that they're not gong to be passive against the so-called "Islamic Republic." In a capital where the average age is 27 years old, kids are marching in the streets, constantly in danger of being beaten or called by Basiji militants, the government-appointed Gestapo militia thugs, who have no shame in firing upon innocent civilians, women and children.

And of course, politicians around the world spin this turn of events in whatever which way they please, without any regard for the reality in which the Iranian people live in. John McCain, who just a couple of months ago was chanting "Bomb bomb bomb Iran," now says the Iranian people are brave.

A right-wing neocon columnist wrote an article for the NY Times almost blatantly devoid of any basis in facts, citing "The uprising is little more than a symbolic protest, crushed by the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps." Symbolic? Groups of people gathered outside of the White House and the Federal Building are symbolic, that is they are protesting on behalf of those suffering abroad. But those who are putting themselves in danger, being tear-gassed, beaten and shot, are participants in a real uprising. The real frightening truth is such people who make these statements really do want the opposition to fail, because that means a bombing raid against nuclear facilities would still be an option under the tyrannical regime. But if a reformist deposes the regime, the world at large wouldn't look too kindly on a bombing campaign.

And this candidate that everyone is rallying behind, Moussavi. Is he really the savior that Iran needs? No. But is he the starting point to end the downward spiral? Yes. He comes from within the so-called "system" and therefore has the potential to begin a change within the government. If a candidate came from outside the system, he would have no chance to be elected. Think about Obama. He came from within the political system to bring change to the government. Sure he's still as susceptible to political games from both parties, but that's how the system works. You want a true reformist from outside the political system? Good luck with Ralph Nader and Ron Paul.

Outside of the political banter, which I can barely understand as it is, the most salient aspect of this entire ordeal is the fact that young men and women are putting themselves out there for a cause. They have the motivation and bravery to leave their houses every single day, in the face of batons, water cannons, tear gas, acid from helicopters and bullets.

Our relatives in Tehran, who we seldom get to speak to due to the communication blackout, march during the day, go home to sleep for 3 or 4 hours, then go back out. The youth of this country, for example, would never, for lack of better word, have the balls to ever put themselves in danger for such a cause, and I absolutely include myself under that description. I get maced at one football game and I run home to momma. What would have happened if in 2000, if people left their jobs and marched down their streets chanting, in the face of the National Guard?

One of the only positive things to come out of this mayhem is that people can now be cogniscent of the spirit of the Iranian people and their utter detachment from the regime. Without camera crews and field reporters, we rely on those very children who are already at risk, to put themselves further in danger by "Twittering" and uploading videos to YouTube. As it stands now, it doesn't appear as if justice, in the most romantic sense of the word, will prevail, as the religious zealots will probably get their way, corruption and all. Therefore, the only thing one can hope for is for the the safety of the kids in the street, while the world watches.

11:12 AM


Monday, June 01, 2009  
Autism Speaks, Money Talks
As many may know, I have been working as a Behavioral Therapist slash Instructor for children diagnosed with Autism for the past two years. Autism, and learning disabilities in general, has become a passion of mine in my work at Teachers College, as well as in my search for jobs. Along that same line, I owe a lot to Craigslist. That service is how I first found out that the job of "Behavioral Therapist" existed, and I was lucky enough to fall in love with the first field I started working in (I'm not counting Blockbuster Video).

Despite the seedy backstreets inherent on Craigslist, from the Craigslist Killer (I always look for massages online) to prostitution (also that), I regularly search for the latest listings searching for jobs in my preferred field. My keywords usually consist of some variation of "autistic" and "behavioral therapist," leading to credible listings...until now. Perhaps it's because I'm now searching on the entertainment industry-heavy Los Angeles rather than the Manhattan Craigslist, but it nevertheless puzzled me when I saw a listing detailing the casting of a video to promote Autism.

A 45 second spot to show the difficulties of raising a child with autism:
Two parents approach a clear barrier that keeps them from their autistic son.
*A family of two parents and their son or a mother and her son is preferred.
At first glance, this seems like a positive project, seeking to bring attention to the difficulties of raising a child diagnosed with Autism.

Then came Red Flag #1.

*Middle Eastern Decent is preferred.
When was the last time you saw an ad specifying this, outside of a casting call for 24. However, I suppose diversity, especially for the often-maligned race, which I happen to favor by birth, is positive, therefore I let it slide.

Then came Red Flag #2...

Autistic Boy
Male, 7-12 yrs old. Medium build.

...and #3...

Will have to act autistic and isolated.

...and #4...

Open to all races, but Middle Eastern decent is preferred.

First of all, medium build. You are not casting for "Spider-Man: The Musical." Many children diagnosed with Autism are physically underdeveloped, therefore to specify what build of learning disabled child you're searching for is bizarre, at best, and disgusting, at worst.

Speaking of disgusting, "will have to act autistic." It is upon reading that, that I questioned whether they were searching for an actual child diagnosed with Autism or an actor to act Autistic. If it's an Autistic child within their desired age of 7-12, they have presumably received some form of early intervention, as therapy typically starts at 3-4 years of age. Therefore, to ask the child to "act autistic" not only flies in the face of any progress they may have made in therapy to curb such behaviors, but is also an impossibly ignorant and strange request to have from a child with such a disability. It's like asking someone with dyslexia to "act dyslexic." As if it's a choice.

On the other hand, if they are asking for a child actor to pose as an Autistic child, that is a whole other genre of deplorable. Yes, there are many Hollywoodian depictions of learning disabled individuals, but if this is some sort of video to draw attention to the disability, why would you ask a child to "act autistic." If anything, in the end, it would become a gross exaggeration and a poor depiction of the struggles of that population.

And then we have the Middle-Eastern thing again. Are they trying to weed out sleeper cells or what?

At this point, the steam shooting out of my ears is clouding my vision, but I could make out what their next casting requirement was.

Mother of Autistic boy
Female, 28-40, Feels frustrated and weary from not being able to have her son communicate with her. Very empathetic or sympathetic face. May have to tear up. Open to all races, but Middle Eastern decent is preferred.
This is what we in the biz call "emotional exploitation." It's like watching a Lifetime movie (not that I ever have) about a child battling cancer. You know it's not going to be a happy ending because it's on Lifetime, the topic is cancer and the subject is a child. Tears will ensue, no matter what. A mother with a sympathetic face (i.e. no ugly mommas) who may have to tear up translates to exploiting the audience into feeling sympathy for a (fictional at this point I'm assuming) depiction of a family and their Autistic child. And they happen to be of the mocha-skinned variety, therefore appealing to the liberal, charity-giving crowd who may or may not feel that this Persian/Arab/Iraqi family has been shunned by society enough. This lead me to extrapolate the exact purpose of this exercise in unethical practice... money. You cry, a number flashes on the screen, your American Express pops out of your wallet.

Father of Autistic Boy
Male, 30-40, Sad over the distance the autism keep him from his son. Supportive for Mother. Very empathetic or sympathetic face. Open to all races, but Middle Eastern decent is preferred.
And of course, there's the aloof, emotionally stunted father. If this crock ever makes it to air, I can almost guarantee there will be a shot of a father with a baseball mitt and ball looking over his shoulder to his son only to realize that daddy and his boy can never play catch. You know, because his son is acting autistic. The Middle Eastern angle makes more sense, because if they are indeed going for the racial stereotype, the father would have to be distant...because of the whole Muslim thing.

Some stats for you, Autism occurs in 1/150 births, compared to 1/500 a decade ago, and afflicts 1.5 million Americans, compared to 400,000 a decade ago.While more attention is being brought to the ever-increasing population of children diagnosed with Autism, leading to more funding and special education opportunities, more ignorance results at the same time, in the form of the vaccine fiasco and Jenny McCarthy. It's also unethical pricks, such as the producers of the exploitation ad, that see the epidemic as an opportunity to make some cash. That's exploitation not only of learning disabled children, but of the general population as a whole. For every tear that drops from the sympathetic Middle Eastern actress' Visine, someone's bank balance drops. Therefore, if you're going to donate to such a great cause, donate to organizations such as Autism Speaks who will do good things with that cash , not to exploitative jerks who produce repulsive drek, solely for opportunistic profit.

So ends my rant. The real message here is to think of the younglings first, everything else is secondary.

6:52 PM


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