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digitalmars.D.learn - writefln and ASCII

reply Serg Kovrov <kovrov no.spam> writes:
How do I writefln a string from ASCII file contained illegal UTF-8 
characters, but legal as ASCII? For example ndash symbol - ASCII 0x96).

Is there a standard routine to convert such ASCII characters to UTF, or 
other way to get valid UTF string from arbitrary raw data? Filter or 
substitute bad characters, etc...

-- 
serg.
Sep 12 2006
next sibling parent Oskar Linde <oskar.lindeREM OVEgmail.com> writes:
Serg Kovrov wrote:
 How do I writefln a string from ASCII file contained illegal UTF-8 
 characters, but legal as ASCII? For example ndash symbol - ASCII 0x96).

0x96 is not valid ASCII. Nothing above 0x7F is valid ASCII (7-bit).
 Is there a standard routine to convert such ASCII characters to UTF, or 
 other way to get valid UTF string from arbitrary raw data? Filter or 
 substitute bad characters, etc...

If your raw data is Latin-1 (ISO 8859-1): ubyte[] src; char[] dst; foreach(s; src) std.utf.encode(dst,cast(dchar)s); /Oskar
Sep 12 2006
prev sibling next sibling parent reply Marcin Kuszczak <aarti interia.pl> writes:
Serg Kovrov wrote:

 How do I writefln a string from ASCII file contained illegal UTF-8
 characters, but legal as ASCII? For example ndash symbol - ASCII 0x96).
 
 Is there a standard routine to convert such ASCII characters to UTF, or
 other way to get valid UTF string from arbitrary raw data? Filter or
 substitute bad characters, etc...
 

First - explanation: If you have file with invalid UTF-8 characters it means that it is in specific local encoding. It's not an ASCII file as ASCII is only for characters code from 0..127. Second -- how to cope with such files: I used to convert files in local encoding using std.windows.charset. There are two functions which will be useful: char[] fromMBSz(char* s, int codePage = 0); // local encoding to UTF-8 char* toMBSz(char[] s, uint codePage = cast(uint)0); // UTF-8 to local encoding In my case encoding was 1250. -- Regards Marcin Kuszczak (Aarti_pl)
Sep 12 2006
parent Serg Kovrov <kovrov no.spam> writes:
Marcin Kuszczak wrote:
 char[] fromMBSz(char* s, int codePage = 0);  // local encoding to UTF-8
 char* toMBSz(char[] s, uint codePage = cast(uint)0); // UTF-8 to local
 encoding

Thanks Marcin, fromMBSz() is just fine. In my case I do not care for correct codepage - just want to dump contents to console as part of debug trace. -- serg.
Sep 12 2006
prev sibling parent reply Steve Horne <stephenwantshornenospam100 aol.com> writes:
On Tue, 12 Sep 2006 15:03:20 +0300, Serg Kovrov <kovrov no.spam>
wrote:

How do I writefln a string from ASCII file contained illegal UTF-8 
characters, but legal as ASCII? For example ndash symbol - ASCII 0x96).

Just to add some angry ranting to what has already been said... First, there was ASCII. ASCII had character codes 0 to 127. Then, there was a whole bunch of codepages - different character sets for different countries. These exploited characters 128 to 255, but each codepage defined the characters differently. Some codepages had multi-byte characters. Then, there was Unicode. Unicode was supposed to make things easier. But instead, it made things harder. There are millions of defined codes in unicode. A code does not necessarily represent a character - it may take several codes in sequence (for example, applying diacritics). In addition, the codes are just numbers. There are several different ways to encode them into streams of bytes or whatever. In UTF-8, several bytes may be needed to specify a unicode code, and several codes may be needed to specify a single character. I don't think any codepage has that level of complexity. Oh, and let's not forget the UTF-16, UCS-32 and other encodings. And then, of course, understanding millions of codes is a tall order. Especially since the number isn't fixed, even now. Back when there were 40,000 or so codes, people thought the set was almost complete - hah hah hah! So Unicode explicitly allows that applications and operating systems don't have to understand all possible codes. So you have the Windows XP subset, the MacOS subset, the GTK subset etc etc etc. And then there's endian marks to worry about! So much for easier. So much for one standard. Anyway, the first 256 unicode codes match the characters in the US codepage. Because of the way UTF-8 encoding works, a genuine ASCII file is also a UTF-8 file. But a file that uses characters 128 to 255 for any codepage, US included, is not a valid UTF-8 file. -- Remove 'wants' and 'nospam' from e-mail.
Sep 13 2006
parent reply nobody <nobody mailinator.com> writes:
Steve Horne wrote:
 On Tue, 12 Sep 2006 15:03:20 +0300, Serg Kovrov <kovrov no.spam>
 wrote:
 
 How do I writefln a string from ASCII file contained illegal UTF-8 
 characters, but legal as ASCII? For example ndash symbol - ASCII 0x96).

Just to add some angry ranting to what has already been said...

I can understand your frustration. I felt the same way you did for awhile. The thing that changed my mind was realizing that I think Unicode has some great features. Unicode threads do have a tendency to be rather long so here is my short contribution up front. UTF-8 is great if you can be fairly sure you will only be using ASCII data. UTF-16 is great for almost every writing system that is currently used on the planet Earth.
 
 Then, there was a whole bunch of codepages - different character sets
 for different countries. These exploited characters 128 to 255, but
 each codepage defined the characters differently. Some codepages had
 multi-byte characters.

Unicode is not so bad Unicode 不是那么坏 Unicode δεν είναι τόσο κακό Unicode はあまり悪くない Unicode не настолько плох When I wrote this message I see English, Chinese, Greek, Japanese and Russian characters displayed. My preferred text editor (TextPad) uses codepages and wants me to pick whether to display only one of Chinese, Greek, Japanese or Russian. With Unicode it is possible to read and write all of the above. If you think Unicode is overly complex then perhaps you should have a go at writing some code to display this message correctly using codepages. You will need to identify codepage boundaries and then you can probably use frequency tables to identify the codepage used within each boundry. You might want to mitigate the high error rates by also checking dictionaries appropriate for each codepage. Of course dictionaries only go so far so you might also need to know how each language and its dialects vary words.
Sep 13 2006
parent reply Steve Horne <stephenwantshornenospam100 aol.com> writes:
On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 10:55:42 -0400, nobody <nobody mailinator.com>
wrote:

When I wrote this message I see English, Chinese, Greek, Japanese and Russian 
characters displayed.

Obviously, yes. I just think Unicode could have been simpler. And perhaps it doesn't really need codepoints for characters in languages and dialects that haven't been in use for a couple of thousand years.
You will 
need to identify codepage boundaries and then you can probably use frequency 
tables to identify the codepage used within each boundry.

Metadata. When your document cannot be represented as a simple text file, use something else. -- Remove 'wants' and 'nospam' from e-mail.
Sep 13 2006
parent reply nobody <nobody mailinator.com> writes:
Steve Horne wrote:
 On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 10:55:42 -0400, nobody <nobody mailinator.com>
 wrote:
 
 When I wrote this message I see English, Chinese, Greek, Japanese and Russian 
 characters displayed.

Obviously, yes. I just think Unicode could have been simpler.

I think they kept it as simple as was reasonably possible. Once you admit a need to use more than a single byte to represent an entity then any solution is going to have the same complications. They really did need to remain backwards compatible with ASCII while also allowing the bulk of non-ASCII to be represented as 2 bytes. UTF-8 is free of endian ambiguity and is fully compatible with ASCII data but might use as many as 8 bytes to represent a single Unicode code point. UTF-16 represents the bulk of code points actually used in the world with only 2 bytes but as with any data using more than one byte it has to address endian ambiguities.
 
 You will 
 need to identify codepage boundaries and then you can probably use frequency 
 tables to identify the codepage used within each boundry.

Metadata. When your document cannot be represented as a simple text file, use something else.

It is my opinion that if you need metadata in addition to textual data then your method of representing textual data is inadequate. I am certain that to freely mix data from any codepage you would probably use something like an escape code. If you were really sly you would probably use ASCII as a default code page and then let the highest bit being set represent an escape code -- which is exactly how UTF-8 starts out. How you would imagine filling out the rest?
Sep 13 2006
parent reply Steve Horne <stephenwantshornenospam100 aol.com> writes:
On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 14:17:13 -0400, nobody <nobody mailinator.com>
wrote:

 Metadata. When your document cannot be represented as a simple text
 file, use something else.
 

It is my opinion that if you need metadata in addition to textual data then your method of representing textual data is inadequate.

Ah. So you believe that HTML and XML are garbage, then. Along with all binary word-processor document files. But then, Unicode is inadequate also. You need additional metadata for anything beyond the simplest text. Unicode gives you a huge selection of characters, but it can't specify paragraphs styles etc.
I am certain that to freely mix data from any codepage you would probably use 
something like an escape code.

That would be the most cryptically compressed form of metadata, I suppose. But why compress the metadata at the expense of the character data? Switching languages and codepages is a relatively rare thing. Most documents don't do it at all. Even those that do are hardly likely to switch every other character. By the huffman compression principle of representing the most frequent things with the smallest codes, the logical thing to do is to have single byte characters as much as possible and use a multibyte sequence - a tag - to select codepages. I'm getting the feeling that I've given the wrong impression. Just for the record, I posted some ranting because I have too much time on my hands. And I really do believe that unicode could have been simpler. That doesn't mean I'm saying it's useless, and you shouldn't take it all too seriously. I can say things in a way that causes offense sometimes. I can be too strong in defending opinions when I really don't care that much, for instance. Picking silly holes in arguments, out of a pure love of absurdity. And it doesn't help that I have an overformal way of saying things that I've been told is like being lectured at all the time. I mentioned the word Aspie in another post. That's as in Aspergers Syndrome. For info on how and why we end up unintentionally upsetting people, try... http://www.mugsy.org/asa_faq/ and in particular... http://www.mugsy.org/asa_faq/getting_along/index.shtml I dare say someone else here has Aspergers, or at least knows someone. Everyone does these days. It's not always a big deal. I'm having problems, but I really don't want to go on about them here. Just wanted to make the point that any apparent tone you may pick up from what I write is usually random noise. Sure I criticise things, but it's not that serious. Almost all humour is based around some kind of criticism, directed either inward or outward. I just can't get the tone right is all. -- Remove 'wants' and 'nospam' from e-mail.
Sep 13 2006
next sibling parent reply "John Reimer" <terminal.node gmail.com> writes:
On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 18:35:32 -0700, Steve Horne  
<stephenwantshornenospam100 aol.com> wrote:

 I can say things in a way that causes offense sometimes. I can be too
 strong in defending opinions when I really don't care that much, for
 instance. Picking silly holes in arguments, out of a pure love of
 absurdity. And it doesn't help that I have an overformal way of saying
 things that I've been told is like being lectured at all the time.

 I mentioned the word Aspie in another post. That's as in Aspergers
 Syndrome. For info on how and why we end up unintentionally upsetting
 people, try...

 http://www.mugsy.org/asa_faq/

 and in particular...

 http://www.mugsy.org/asa_faq/getting_along/index.shtml

 I dare say someone else here has Aspergers, or at least knows someone.
 Everyone does these days. It's not always a big deal. I'm having
 problems, but I really don't want to go on about them here.

 Just wanted to make the point that any apparent tone you may pick up
 from what I write is usually random noise. Sure I criticise things,
 but it's not that serious. Almost all humour is based around some kind
 of criticism, directed either inward or outward. I just can't get the
 tone right is all.

Strange. I didn't find your tone offensive. It sounded exactly according to your prior warning -- a little ranting and frustration... no big deal at all. No need to blame it on Aspergers. I've heard much worse here from others (which would indicate that this list is full of people plagued with something much more ominous than Aspergers's). ;) Your post was well within the toleration margin of this group. Don't worry about it. And if that's the worst Asperger's can do for a person... well, let's just say you aren't so bad off after all. There are a whole lot of people NOT "diagnosed" with Asperger's that have a nack for offending people. The test of good character is perhaps not whether it happens or not, but whether one cares enough to make amends once offense is discovered. I guess you are merely saying that it's difficult for you to discover when you've "crossed the line"? If so... welcome to the reality of most humans. :D -JJR
Sep 13 2006
parent reply Steve Horne <stephenwantshornenospam100 aol.com> writes:
On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 22:47:26 -0700, "John Reimer"
<terminal.node gmail.com> wrote:

Your post was well within the toleration margin of this group.

OK - so maybe I'm being paranoid. Sorry.
And if that's the worst Asperger's can do for a person...  

Try spending a life with people always getting upset every time you speak. You realise that people are misunderstanding what you say so you try to say it more carefully and more precisely, never realising that people take that as being ever more patronising and insulting, apparently ignoring the message in favor of this 'metamessage' thing that you have no clue about. You try to make friends, and just piss people off, always getting it wrong. And when you get overloaded with stress and can't cope any more, but no-one understands why and you have no explanation either, so the 'metamessage' that gives off is apparently 'I reject you'. So then, those people have no tolerance for you when you do turn up. And all the time, there are people willing to exploit the outsider as a convenient victim and scapegoat. Who understand that because your non-verbals are all wrong and because you are always going to be an outsider, that you will never be believed and that they can exploit that. One neuroscience study says people with Aspergers experience the maximum levels of stress that the brain is physically capable of experiencing an an everyday basis. Spending every day in a world war 1 trench might be *almost* as bad as having Aspergers. And yet Aspergers is called mild, because it exlcudes some symptoms from classic autism, as if total blindness was just mild deaf-and-blindness. And of course with a life like that, where every social contact results in traumatic stress, and where you can never be accepted by others, in the end it's easier to pretent that's you wanted to be a loner all along. But it just isn't true. You can't wipe out social needs so easily. But clearly it's you that is broken. Everyone says so, and everyone else copes fine with this social stuff that's so hard and painful. And so you embark on a 30 year mission to work out what's wrong with you, and to try to fix it. You invent cognitive behavioural therapy pretty much for yourself. You spend years training yourself to feel the stress and do it anyway, practicing everything you can to be more socially acceptable. You swallow hundreds of psychology textbooks. Social psychology, abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, etc etc. Training yourself to reject those irrational ideas like 'people just naturally reject me' and 'I can't get this right'. Only all that just leads you into more and more severe cycles of mania and depression, until you break down completely. Well, I say 'all'. But lets face it, there's much more. All those attempts to develop more natural body language, to adjust your conversational style etc - those deliberate attempts to control your nonverbals etc all create a clear impression that you are deliberately manipulating and decieving people, and that you can't be trusted. Not to mention the fact that book knowledge is naive and simplistic, and even that is impossible to do in real time when you have to think about it all the time (plus follow the actual topic of conversation). Things just go from bad to worse. And at the end of the 30 years it turns out that actually there is no fix. Those irrational beliefs were never irrational at all. Your brain never quite wired up right at birth, and as a result you cannot do the things that other people don't even realise they are doing to make themselves socially acceptable. Apparently, as close to a good explanation as you can get for autism is that the evolution of larger brains is recent. Evolution isn't a perfect process. If you get an excessive dose of big brain genes, your brain growth can be too quick for the processes that wire it up in early childhood. Exactly which symptoms you get is a matter of chance, but there are particular trouble spots. The prefrontal cortex and the amygdala are key problem areas, and the interaction between them in particular. This is why so much goes wrong with instinctive non-verbal communications channels - facial expressions and tone of voice, and even 'reading between the lines'. It's why people with Aspergers have problems with organising themselves and with obsessive/compulsive thoughts and behaviours - the lateral prefrontal cortex holds the working memory. And it's also why there are so many problems with the stress response - the amygdala triggers the stress response in reponse to instinctive and conditioned triggers, taking its cues direct from the sensory processing areas of the brain. To cancel the stress response, you need long distance connections from the prefrontal cortex. Fragile long distance connections. Without them, every single bullying or other stressful event conditions the stress response to be even more paranoid, and there is never any way to uncondition it. And when you have a permanently active stress response, that in itself does physical damage. Brain cells literally fire themselves to death. And so the defence mechanism gets regularly activated - clinical depression, the bodies desperate attempt to mitigate the damage from the stress response. But of course no-one understands that either. Even psychologists are in denial of what neuroscience has proved - that using drugs or whatever to magic away depression is like destroying the immune response to magic away a fever. In the long run, it just causes more damage. Not to mention the simple fact that our distorted social experiences mean that we can never learn the things we need to learn either - we learn from different social experiences. But what the hell. We're just geeks and freaks after all. Even people with other disabilities know that its OK to look down on us, to pretend that there's nothing really wrong with us beyond the fact that, of course, the "there's something wrong with them" attitude that justifies the victimisation. And since everyone knows that the world is basically fair, that bad things only happen to people who deserve them, then clearly we must deserve it all. Oh, and five years after diagnosis, I've had pretty much everything I ever worked for taken from me. As for help, there has been some, unofficial mainly. Without it I'd be dead so I hate to minimise it. But right now I haven't had any real help for years. And lets face it, that help means that although I've lost my job, I do recieve basic incapacity benefit - though not disability, of course, because I can see and walk. And although I've lost my home and been forced to move away from the only support network I have ever had, I'm not actually homeless. I've been in a waiting list just for a counsellor for years, for christs sake. Just for someone to talk to since I'm completely isolated. Even my own mother and father cannot accept me as what I actually am, rejecting it out of the fear that if its real then it must somehow be their fault, or by some magic power they should have understood and helped better when I was a child. Meanwhile, all those people with dozens of friends and short term problems get help on tap - counselling in a matter of months, for instance. So why don't I just help myself? You forget. I already spent 30 years trying to do that. After all, avoidant personality disorder is widespread among people with Aspergers - thats *social* avoidance, caused by the constant traumatic social stress and failure to ever form normal peer relationships. And compulsive self-reliance is a normal symptom of avoidant personality disorder. We don't sit around passively letting stuff happen to us, as the stereotypes say - we obsessively work towards trying to understand and solve our problems. My case, where I've gone to the extreme of studying cognitive neuroscience, is a bit extreme but what the hell. It's not like I could have been out meeting friends or anything instead. So no, it's not the worst Aspergers can do. Now you know what happens when I really rant about an actual, real, serious grudge. Seems with a single line you pushed me from my normal bottling-it-up with a slight passive-aggressive leak, to a full temper tantrum. Sorry. It won't happen again. Time to get back to distracting myself from this stuff. Though I dare say that that coping strategy is against the law according to psychologists too. -- Remove 'wants' and 'nospam' from e-mail.
Sep 14 2006
next sibling parent nobody <nobody mailinator.com> writes:
Steve Horne wrote:
 On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 22:47:26 -0700, "John Reimer"
 <terminal.node gmail.com> wrote:
 
 Your post was well within the toleration margin of this group.

OK - so maybe I'm being paranoid. Sorry.

There is the saying just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you. Of course I had no idea you are an Aspie. I actually just read my first thread by another Aspie yesterday in comp.lang.scheme: http://tinyurl.com/lvxe5 From what I have read most people without Asperger syndrome on the net also have the same difficulty in correctly interpreting the emotional tone of typed newsgroup posts, forum posts and IM messages. From what I have seen of your posts they generally seem to be reasonable and lack anything that strikes me as being hostile. In fact your posts generally come across as being somewhat less hostile than the general post. I imagine that after years of struggling to learn to interact with people offline without emotional clues has given you a headstart of sorts in communicating in a medium without any real emotional context. Also in your favor is the general history of the D newsgroup being a uniquely mellow newsgroup. There seems to be only one thread in which someone used the term Nazi and that use was self-referential: http://www.digitalmars.com/d/archives/digitalmars/D/32378.html This observation seems to provide not just one example but a class of counter-examples to Godwin's Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_Law So I think it is safe to say you should have nothing to worry about in this newsgroup. Certainly you have nothing to worry about from me especially after you went to such trouble to make sure your posting is not misinterpreted.
Sep 14 2006
prev sibling next sibling parent reply "John Reimer" <terminal.node gmail.com> writes:
Steve,

Normally, I'd avoid responding to something that might be controversial...  
ok maybe I would anyway :)... but you seem like a open fellow.  I'll be  
straight shooting concerning my thoughts on this.  I assume you understand  
that I have no ill intent or desire to offend, and that I merely am  
sharing my thoughts on the matter. I do care, as my lengthy response on  
the matter hopefully reveals.


 On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 22:47:26 -0700, "John Reimer"
 <terminal.node gmail.com> wrote:

 Your post was well within the toleration margin of this group.

OK - so maybe I'm being paranoid. Sorry.
 And if that's the worst Asperger's can do for a person...

Try spending a life with people always getting upset every time you speak. You realise that people are misunderstanding what you say so you try to say it more carefully and more precisely, never realising that people take that as being ever more patronising and insulting, apparently ignoring the message in favor of this 'metamessage' thing that you have no clue about. You try to make friends, and just piss people off, always getting it wrong. And when you get overloaded with stress and can't cope any more, but no-one understands why and you have no explanation either, so the 'metamessage' that gives off is apparently 'I reject you'. So then, those people have no tolerance for you when you do turn up.

I tend to think that "friends" are over-rated. Just have a very few that are devoted to you (and you to them, of course) and worry less about the others that probably aren't trying very hard to know who you really are (or, perhaps, they are too caught up in themselves to care). People are fical and undependable, as a rule.
 And all the time, there are people willing to exploit the outsider as
 a convenient victim and scapegoat. Who understand that because your
 non-verbals are all wrong and because you are always going to be an
 outsider, that you will never be believed and that they can exploit
 that.

Yes, that's the ugly reality of human nature in this world. People prey upon other's weaknesses... corporations tend to do that too. Corporations are more dangerous because beaurocracy makes them increasingly impersonal, which separates the decision makers from seeing the immediate effects of their actions.
 One neuroscience study says people with Aspergers experience the
 maximum levels of stress that the brain is physically capable of
 experiencing an an everyday basis. Spending every day in a world war 1
 trench might be *almost* as bad as having Aspergers. And yet Aspergers
 is called mild, because it exlcudes some symptoms from classic autism,
 as if total blindness was just mild deaf-and-blindness.

I have very little faith in "neuroscience" having the faintest idea of what makes the human brain "tick". From Freud to now, it's been an amazingly arcane amount of guesswork that often amounts to almost useless monikers for "things they don't understand" -- it's become a case of choosing labels for those that don't fit into societal norms. I'm not denying the relevance of Apserger's or Autism. I'm just saying that what is labelled a disease these days has become pseudo-science of conjectures and theories in a changing social climate (for example, many past generations had social norms that would be considered "misfit" today). Perhaps you've had a look at the altercations and disagreements that occur between neurologists and psychologists concerning the workings of the brain. That can give a picture of how clueless these branches are about what's "really going on in there".
 And of course with a life like that, where every social contact
 results in traumatic stress, and where you can never be accepted by
 others, in the end it's easier to pretent that's you wanted to be a
 loner all along. But it just isn't true. You can't wipe out social
 needs so easily.

People are social creatures, true. That can never be denied. Some more than others, however. But we suffer in proportion to what we feel we are missing out on. The more we long to be accepted, the more painful the rejection becomes. Often, though, we seek to be accepted by individuals that have the wrong motives or an abysmal character. Sadly, few look deeper than the skin, feeling no obligation to persist beyond that (because that's too much work). Friendship is an investment that few are trully committed to: thus, if we hear that a certain person has many freinds, I highly doubt the truth of that observation; it's more likely that that person has a social knack of attracting attention and popularity, something that doesn't hold to the death. If having friends is the social norm, then I feel little obligation myself to be accepted by the social "norm" of today. I'd rather count on a special few dependable creatures for that comfort.
 But clearly it's you that is broken. Everyone says so, and everyone
 else copes fine with this social stuff that's so hard and painful.

I can see this can be hard. But I think you highly overestimate how many people are really coping. True, these people are coping perhaps in the social aspect. They may even find that socialization is an escape from the painful realities of this world. But much fewer people are really /really/ coping, than you might imagine. Socialization for them is likely just a balm. You may not be able to use that resource as the same kind of balm, but you may adopt other methods of coping. My point is that many people are in pain in other ways, and are just barely coping no matter what their outward appearance may try to show. Yes, people do cope differently with different stresses. Some have no trouble handling situations that would send another crazy. But, that, once again is no irregularity in human nature. There's always something else missing in one individual that is present in another. Often these things aren't readily apparent, however.
 And so you embark on a 30 year mission to work out what's wrong with
 you, and to try to fix it.

 You invent cognitive behavioural therapy pretty much for yourself. You
 spend years training yourself to feel the stress and do it anyway,
 practicing everything you can to be more socially acceptable. You
 swallow hundreds of psychology textbooks. Social psychology, abnormal
 psychology, cognitive psychology, etc etc. Training yourself to reject
 those irrational ideas like 'people just naturally reject me' and 'I
 can't get this right'.

Like I said, I strongly believe that you won't find the answers in psychology. These are full of information about behaviours and experiences that can't be grasped, seen, felt, nor trully experimented on. So, these books are full of the most imaginative descriptions that amount to desperate attempts to analyze how the brain functions. Since the brain is so poorly understood, disagreements and unknowns abound in those fields. Their study is as limited as their perspective that the brain is merely a chemical/electrical entity (which granted is the limit of their perspective).
 Only all that just leads you into more and more severe cycles of mania
 and depression, until you break down completely.

When I write all this, I don't belittle this fact. I feel for those that experience this. But in my experience, there are many ways a person can arrive at the same point of mania and depression. Simple physical pain can also accomplish this. I'm not arguing this point with you, of course.
 Well, I say 'all'. But lets face it, there's much more. All those
 attempts to develop more natural body language, to adjust your
 conversational style etc - those deliberate attempts to control your
 nonverbals etc all create a clear impression that you are deliberately
 manipulating and decieving people, and that you can't be trusted. Not
 to mention the fact that book knowledge is naive and simplistic, and
 even that is impossible to do in real time when you have to think
 about it all the time (plus follow the actual topic of conversation).
 Things just go from bad to worse.

That is the nature of learning to do almost anything complicated and sounds much like me trying to improve my communication abilities on the job. I'm sure, despite how you feel sometime... the process of learning how to do these things does bring about minor successes over time... if one persists.
 And at the end of the 30 years it turns out that actually there is no
 fix. Those irrational beliefs were never irrational at all. Your brain
 never quite wired up right at birth, and as a result you cannot do the
 things that other people don't even realise they are doing to make
 themselves socially acceptable.

Well, I assume you mean, "not wired up the way the social norm is". There is a huge burden and peer pressure to be socially acceptable in this world and it's fostered in the public school system (if ever there were a cloning system, that's it)... but that seems to change with the time. It's my personal opinion that expending energy to adopt the social norm is not the greatest ideal to persue, especially if it means circumvent being honest about yourself. While I say that, I do admit that I find myself trying hard to be accomodating and pleasant socially. I succeed most of the time, but I still consider it work in some situations (That's coming from a person that has no claim to Asperger's :) ). Really the whole root of the matter is whether we are willing to give without receiving. Whether we are willing to forgo our pride and ego, at the expense of recognition (this is my observation for myself and may have no relevance to your situation, I admit, since I don't really know you). If we depend on others to fulfill our purpose and acceptance as a human being... I think we are tight-rope walking on a thread.
 Apparently, as close to a good explanation as you can get for autism
 is that the evolution of larger brains is recent. Evolution isn't a
 perfect process. If you get an excessive dose of big brain genes, your
 brain growth can be too quick for the processes that wire it up in
 early childhood.

Hmmm... if this were the case, there would be no standard at all as to which brain is wired right. Your brain would be just as valid as any other as long as it could survive. A theory of evolution does little to clarify anything in this case. It does more to make one wonder why there aren't millions more miswirings, in the grand scheme of things, if evolution is an accurate model of life. Despite this one "difficiency", your brain does function /mostly/ like other human brains. It's much easier to postulate that a genetic contribution or environmental influence, yet unknown to all, was a contributing factor... no need to go back millions of years to describe the problem. :)
 Exactly which symptoms you get is a matter of chance, but there are
 particular trouble spots. The prefrontal cortex and the amygdala are
 key problem areas, and the interaction between them in particular.
 This is why so much goes wrong with instinctive non-verbal
 communications channels - facial expressions and tone of voice, and
 even 'reading between the lines'. It's why people with Aspergers have
 problems with organising themselves and with obsessive/compulsive
 thoughts and behaviours - the lateral prefrontal cortex holds the
 working memory. And it's also why there are so many problems with the
 stress response - the amygdala triggers the stress response in reponse
 to instinctive and conditioned triggers, taking its cues direct from
 the sensory processing areas of the brain. To cancel the stress
 response, you need long distance connections from the prefrontal
 cortex. Fragile long distance connections. Without them, every single
 bullying or other stressful event conditions the stress response to be
 even more paranoid, and there is never any way to uncondition it.

That describes some electro-chemical observations of the brain perhaps. However, there is /no way/ a scientist can know that there is no way to uncondition it. Such statements have got scientists in trouble before, much to the surprise of many. So most honest scientific journals these days will qualify that they "just don't know." Please don't take this as my saying that there is no reality in this condition. I merely stating that, physical observations of brain function are severely limited. Scientists don't have a complete perspective, so it's much guesswork as to what is going on, or what can and can't be overcome.
 And when you have a permanently active stress response, that in itself
 does physical damage. Brain cells literally fire themselves to death.
 And so the defence mechanism gets regularly activated - clinical
 depression, the bodies desperate attempt to mitigate the damage from
 the stress response. But of course no-one understands that either.
 Even psychologists are in denial of what neuroscience has proved -
 that using drugs or whatever to magic away depression is like
 destroying the immune response to magic away a fever. In the long run,
 it just causes more damage.

 Not to mention the simple fact that our distorted social experiences
 mean that we can never learn the things we need to learn either - we
 learn from different social experiences.

Yes, that must be a challenge in a world that demands people to fit in or get out.
 But what the hell. We're just geeks and freaks after all. Even people
 with other disabilities know that its OK to look down on us, to
 pretend that there's nothing really wrong with us beyond the fact
 that, of course, the "there's something wrong with them" attitude that
 justifies the victimisation. And since everyone knows that the world
 is basically fair, that bad things only happen to people who deserve
 them, then clearly we must deserve it all.

I've seen that attitude before. It seems to be a defense mechanism. It shows that the same sort of intimidation and rejection exists in any sub-culture, the only requirement being that the culture be filled with human beings with the same social advantages or disadvantages. So we'll see the "misfits" (ie, any set of nerds, like those of us in this D group :) ) treating each other the same way to some extent too.
 Oh, and five years after diagnosis, I've had pretty much everything I
 ever worked for taken from me. As for help, there has been some,
 unofficial mainly. Without it I'd be dead so I hate to minimise it.
 But right now I haven't had any real help for years. And lets face it,
 that help means that although I've lost my job, I do recieve basic
 incapacity benefit - though not disability, of course, because I can
 see and walk. And although I've lost my home and been forced to move
 away from the only support network I have ever had, I'm not actually
 homeless.

I'm sorry to hear all that. This must be very hard. :(
 I've been in a waiting list just for a counsellor for years, for
 christs sake. Just for someone to talk to since I'm completely
 isolated. Even my own mother and father cannot accept me as what I
 actually am, rejecting it out of the fear that if its real then it
 must somehow be their fault, or by some magic power they should have
 understood and helped better when I was a child. Meanwhile, all those
 people with dozens of friends and short term problems get help on tap
 - counselling in a matter of months, for instance.

Hmm... Have you considered the searching for the Christ you mention above? No, I'm not being facetions. I'm serious. You may have been looking everywhere but the right place.
 So why don't I just help myself? You forget. I already spent 30 years
 trying to do that. After all, avoidant personality disorder is
 widespread among people with Aspergers - thats *social* avoidance,
 caused by the constant traumatic social stress and failure to ever
 form normal peer relationships. And compulsive self-reliance is a
 normal symptom of avoidant personality disorder. We don't sit around
 passively letting stuff happen to us, as the stereotypes say - we
 obsessively work towards trying to understand and solve our problems.
 My case, where I've gone to the extreme of studying cognitive
 neuroscience, is a bit extreme but what the hell. It's not like I
 could have been out meeting friends or anything instead.

 So no, it's not the worst Aspergers can do.

 Now you know what happens when I really rant about an actual, real,
 serious grudge. Seems with a single line you pushed me from my normal
 bottling-it-up with a slight passive-aggressive leak, to a full temper
 tantrum.

That's fine. You express yourself very well... can't complain about that. I hope you don't find my responses more aggravating. If this discussion gets too big, feel free to rant to my email address instead. :)
 Sorry. It won't happen again.

No problem. You should see some of my past rants... I'm surprised I haven't been summarily booted :D... oh right, this list is not moderated. pheww...
 Time to get back to distracting myself from this stuff. Though I dare
 say that that coping strategy is against the law according to
 psychologists too.

Pyschologists have no law! They have one big pot that they brew and it's full of conjecture and hypothesis... well that's being otpimistic...it's almost entirely guesswork and many ideas are hotly debated with their neurologist counterparts. Psychology appears to be about the messiest and most indeterminate of sciences. Sorry for my long post in return. And please don't take any offense from it. :D -JJR
Sep 14 2006
next sibling parent "John Reimer" <terminal.node gmail.com> writes:
After reading Steve's second explanation, I decided to make some quick  
clarifications to my post:

 I tend to think that "friends" are over-rated.  Just have a very few  
 that are devoted to you (and you to them, of course) and worry less  
 about the others that probably aren't trying very hard to know who you  
 really are (or, perhaps, they are too caught up in themselves to care).   
 People are fical and undependable, as a rule.

"Friend" is a rather subjective term and that's why I stated the above that way. Sometimes it may be a luxury to even have some "devoted" friends. I have few and depend on few (in my defintion of the term) -- in contrast to some people, it doesn't bother me at all -- I get so much social exposure at work, that at the end of the day, I'm satisfied with the sufficiency of the day to day acquaintances with which I maintain good natured connections. Yet at the same time, my motivation for friendship, often reluctant, is less one for companionship and more one of service. What I mean by this is that my tendency is to avoid making too many connections because the selfish part of me prefers the easier life-style of quiet solitude and minimal-interaction pressure. In contrast to some people, my energy can be exhausted when having to deal with people for extended periods of time (over the years, that has slowly faided due to a natural toughening process, I imagine). Thus, I tend to approach friendship more as an obligation to serve or commitment to encourage than as a means for seeking companionship or solidarity. That describes my personalities' tendency and perhaps why I am reticent to persue such (because it's hard work). Now and again, I try to "get out of my comfort zone" in an attempt to either learn to adapt to pressure or to accomodate what I think is a need in another. Friendship comes at a price and has always been a heavy responsibility for me because I tend be more sensitive to peoples feelings and reactions than most... (ironically, this sounds like the mirror image of Asperger's :) ). Again, with time that sensitivity has slowly faided (that may sound strange... but hypersensitivity seems to be no blessing). But in the past, I often find myself more resistive to forming friendships because of the toll it took. I see most of my good natured social connections as friends only in the sense of "acquaintances" and am much more reserved as to who I call "friends", a term I save for the nearest and dearest. Mostly, I feel little need for more personal connection. I have a family that I entrust with personal commitment and openess, and I consider them to be my closest friends. So for me, a friend is really somebody I trust like a family member. I treat such like brothers or sisters, and, as a result, there can be but few. The surest sign, though, of my gradual progression to friendship is indeed increased openess (perhaps a common trait).
 Yes, that's the ugly reality of human nature in this world.  People prey  
 upon other's weaknesses... corporations tend to do that too.   
 Corporations are more dangerous because beaurocracy makes them  
 increasingly impersonal, which separates the decision makers from seeing  
 the immediate effects of their actions.

One other point: after reading my response above over, I just want to clarify that I don't think it's all doom and gloom. The above makes it sound like it's a rather hopeless case to deal with humanity. I don't believe that's absolutely the case, and I want people to know that. My opinion above represents what I believe is the general predilection of a large percentage of people. Some of this group resists that tendency, other's do not. But I believe there is bountiful hope for anybody that seeks it, and I share that with those that are interested. :) -JJR
Sep 14 2006
prev sibling parent Steve Horne <stephenwantshornenospam100 aol.com> writes:
Did you know that Tortoise Subversion includes a tool for tracking
cycles of depression?

Do the log for your main repository. Click 'Show All', then
"Statistics" and select "Commits by Week". Take a look at the nice
graph of how your energy levels have been cycling.

Admittedly its only likely to work for people with Aspergers, and even
then it depends on some obvious conditions.

I seem to be a rock bottom. My last peek was 5 weeks ago, at more that
twice the number of commits per week. Bigger commits, too. And looking
back, I was coping better with other stuff - actually managing to
visit family occasionally and stuff.

It's the same roughly-three-month cycle that I first graphed using my
sick day records, about 4 years ago, before I lost my job. So much for
getting better.

Oh well. Anyway, I thought I'd better try to not disappear...



On Thu, 14 Sep 2006 10:36:47 -0700, "John Reimer"
<terminal.node gmail.com> wrote:

Just have a very few that  
are devoted to you

One would be nice. But then again, maybe not - right now I couldn't cope with it.
 One neuroscience study says people with Aspergers experience the
 maximum levels of stress that the brain is physically capable of
 experiencing an an everyday basis. Spending every day in a world war 1
 trench might be *almost* as bad as having Aspergers. And yet Aspergers
 is called mild, because it exlcudes some symptoms from classic autism,
 as if total blindness was just mild deaf-and-blindness.

I have very little faith in "neuroscience" having the faintest idea of what makes the human brain "tick". From Freud to now, it's been an amazingly arcane amount of guesswork that often amounts to almost useless monikers for "things they don't understand"

Freud wasn't a neuroscientist. Or rather, he was (to the extent that you could be at the time) but rejected neuroscience and, although he always claimed to be a science, in truth he rejected scientific principles almost completely. Reality is that Freud did in fact make a major breakthrough in psychology. He realised that many mentally ill adults had been abused, physically and/or sexually, as children. We now know that he was absolutely right. But society then could not accept it. Freud was put under so much stress by the scandal that he had a psychotic break. And then he came up with socially acceptable theories that directly or indirectly blamed the victim, making out that they were just childish and irrational. Those theories, by the way, were mostly his own interpretations of things that were 'revealed to him' during his periods with schizophrenia. Like many things that are 'revealed' during psychotic breaks, they sound kind of profound. And like many schizophrenics, Freud was often very charismatic. And of course, what he said, most likely as a result of the social judgements he had been put through when he'd come up with accurate theories, were socially acceptable in that they blaimed the victims. Can anyone say 'religious cult'! I mean, for a long time he even had disciples (Jung, Adler, ...). And some of those broke from Freud because of revelations that came to them during periods of severe mental illness, which contradicted Freuds. Given that the study of psychology started this way, and given the respect that is still given to these cult leaders, it is unsurprising that psychology still has BIG problems. A major one is paranoia about eugenics. Any hint of genetic determinism is considered immoral. Pure social determinism is seen as freedom. Total stupidity. Failure to separate the crime from the excuse. Determinism is determinism. Pure and simple. Doesn't matter if it is social or genetic. Doesn't even matter if there are 'cyclic causes', which at least one prominent popular scientist of the moment considers an unpredicatable break from determinism (clearly he's never done any math - huge classes of systems with 'cyclic causes' are easily solvable, and even those that aren't are deterministic - nothing says that a chaotic system isn't determined, it is only unpredictable. If it were possible to measure an initial state perfectly precisely, it would be predictable to exactly the extent that quantum mechanics allows. And even the quantum mechanics getout doesn't mean freedom. It means being determined by random, chance effects. Even if your actions are not predetermined, they are still determined. And unpredicatability Oh - and 'social determinism' emphatically does not mean parents - at least not normal parents. Much more is about peer relationships and adopting unique roles in groups in early childhood. Children raised by the same parents are actually noticably more different than randomly chosen children, whether they are genetically related or not - presumably because the family is one such group where there are different roles to be adopted. For example, most children don't really go for too much direct competition with their siblings where its avoidable. Each picks something different to be best at, so all can be winners. Each picks his/her own peer group. Etc etc. For my money, if any of these are bad, it is social determinism. It means being manipulated by other people who have their own agendas. 1984, anyone? Freedom simply means being able to make your own choices. Whether those choices could have been forseen by some superior being at the time of the big bang is really beside the point. But the paranoia about genetic determinism and seeing this in either/or terms this in psychology, particularly in the past, has led to a number of atrocities. The discovery that parents with autism were more likely to have children with autism was taken as proof that the parents were at fault, for instance - the 'refridgerator parent' theory. It was immoral to even consider the possibility that genetics were involved. Well, autism is about 90% hereditary. For the main part, it doesn't matter who raises you. It only matters who your genetic parents are. So all those parents who had their children taken away from them was a clear abuse. An abuse motivated by total stupidity and paranoia about eugenics. Not a one-off either. The assumptions have profoundly affected the core of psychology. You must pick between nature and nurture, and if you pick nature it makes you a thought-criminal. The thing is that, for all neurosciences failings, it IS a hard science. Oh, I agree that the drug industry has a lot to answer for. The idea that you can say "this appears to help slightly more people than sugar pills, therefore it is a miracle cure, and it doesn't matter that we don't know what it is doing or how" and call it science is a big problem. But this is not the totality of neuroscience. In the last few decades, the genuine objective hard science of neuroscience has done a great deal. The neural circuits that are key in understanding things like anxiety and depression have been traced and understood, at least on a level which is sufficient to disprove a lot of the psychology rubbish. It shouldn't have been necessary, really. There is already strong evidence that anxiety and depression and physical illnesses. I mean, did you know that alzheimers and clinical depression are clearly linked? And I am talking about depression that preceeds the alzheimers by 50 or 60 years! Anxiety and depression are all about the stress response. It is proven fact in much the same way that Newtons theory of gravity is proven fact - sure, we may get a more sophisticated understanding in the future, so relativity equivalent or whatever, but the basic concept is proven and sound. You don't hear much about it because it is socially unacceptable. Even the neuroscientists who have written about this stuff tend to include statements along the lines of 'despite the evidence I still believe that these are caused by social determinism and irrational childish beliefs' much as many atheist scientists have been forced to include 'there is still plenty of room for god' clauses in their writing. Did you know that most people with anxiety disorders don't know what they are supposed to be anxious about? They aren't aware themselves of what exactly triggers their anxiety. They don't know themselves what they are supposed to be so scared about. Psychologists have many profound-sounding explanations. The core comes down to two things, though - fear of fear itself, and subconscious fear. Both are garbage. OK, if your stress response keeps triggering and you don't know why, it is bound to cause some frustration and some embarrassment. But that isn't the original cause of the anxiety - it is a by-product of a pre-existing problem. As for subconscious fear, try unconscious conditioned responses. The connections between the amygdala (stress response triggering) and the pre-frontal cortex are mostly one way. The amygdala controls the pre-frontal cortex. The unconscious autonomic response controls the higher mind. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. When there is something in the environment that is potentially dangerous, you may not consciously notice it, but your unconscious mind sees much more - and doesn't need perfect recognition before triggering a red alert. That forces your conscious mind and body into a mode that is appropriate for dealing with dangerous situations. You focus on identifying risks and solving them. If you identify the apparent risks and see that they aren't real, that triggers the 'all-clear' back to the amygdala. Even this doesn't need to be conscious - there is plenty of habit and procedural learning in the prefrontal cortex, so that all-clear can be sent unconsciously in a fraction of a second, before the stress response has even really got going, for familiar things. This is how come people can become habituated to instinctive fears like heights. The amygdala still tries to scream, but the prefrontal cortex shuts it up so quickly that the scream never gets out. 'Extinction' of a phobia doesn't really happen in the naive behaviourist sense, at least not to any measurable degree, but the effect is created by procedural learning and the all-clear. The thing is, that connection back from the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala is exceptionally fragile. It consists of a small number of long distance connections. Evolution apparently feels that this is acceptable - that it is better to be safe than sorry anyway. If that link is weak or missing, it is harder or impossible to shut down the stress response. Plus, because the amygdala doesn't get the all-clear, it takes those stress triggers (and anything co-incidentally present at the same time) as being genuinely plausable danger signs, and does a bit more conditioning. For acute anxiety, everything is working fine. Something bad happens. You're amygdala remembers the signs that preceeded it, to help you avoid a repetition. But with time those triggers are proven safe, so your prefrontal cortex learns to habitually send the all-clear. But when people with chronic anxiety problems don't know what is triggering their anxiety, it is unsurprising. Things that they have never been conscious of as being present when they were anxious have been conditioned as additional anxiety triggers. This is why chronic anxiety consistently generalises over time - a pattern that has long been recognised, but rationalised as 'our patients are just being difficult'. If this is a rather simplistic and abbreviated explanation of my understanding of the neuroscience of anxiety, you can be quite confident that my knowledge of autism is a lot deeper. Take the theory of 'central coherence'. This is actually something I take comfort in, not because it is strong, but because - even though it sounds kind of cool and profound, and even though it makes everything the victims fault - even the psychologists have become aware of its weakness. Here's a nice quote... """ The central coherence account of autism is clearly still tentative and suffers from a certain degree of over-extension. It is not clear where the limits of this theory should be drawn - it is perhaps in danger of trying to take on the whole problem of "meaning"! """ That's from Francesca Happe, someone who is a bit unpopular with autistics since she once basically decided that her theory was more important than reality, and basically said that what was written by autistics could not be real and that publishers editors most have completely misrepresented what autistic people said. I know. But add on the psychologists who just assume that any autistic is a selfish uncaring bastard by definition and you'll see one of the basic problems with autism. So even that style of psychologist can recognise that the central coherence theory is flawed. And when you look at the theory in detail - the belief that autistics cannot bring together disparate pieces of information - you can see the flaw. It can mean what you want it to mean, depending on which kinds of information you refer to. It is a theory born out of intuitions and subjectivity. So no wonder you can find some autistics who lack 'central coherence' for any particular definition-of-the-day - and, of course, some who seem bizarrely stronger by that definition than normal people. But the thing is, switch levels, and suddenly there is a logic behind central coherence theory. Autism is a proven biological disorder. Not 100% heridary (only 90%) but that is normal for a biological disorder that is not transmitted by a single faulty gene. And there is no doubt that environment has a role, just as stress levels affect the symptoms of alzheimers. It doesn't change the basic facts. So where is this "central coherence" brain module that gets broken in autistics. Quite simply, it doesn't exist. "Central coherence" really means "information processing" when you apply a sufficiently critical mind to it (therefore the "meaning itself" quote, really). The whole brain does information processing. BUT the term "central coherence" does tend to imply the combining of relatively distinct information. That is, it is suggestive of relatively long (and relatively fragile) links between brain areas. Exactly the kinds of neural links that are most likely to form wrongly. Now consider this... If you have a genetically related family member with autism, yes, you are more likely to have autism yourself. You're also more likely to be mentally retarded, even if you don't have autism. You're also more likely to have dyslexia or any one of a family of 'specific learning disabilities'. You're more likely to have schizophrenia (another 90%+ hereditary disorder). And so the list goes on. Even certain kinds of blindness are included (ever wondered about the speccy geek stereotype?). Similarly, if you have a family member with one of these other disorders, your risk of getting any of them is increased. Your risk of getting the same one is particularly high, but not by that much. This is one of the reasons that I say Aspergers is mild classic autism in the same sense that profound blindness is mild deaf-and-blindness. Symptom-clusters have been inappropriately combined in classic autism. There are symptoms related to verbal learning disability and/or mental retardation that have been aritificially forced into one classification. No wonder classic autism is a one-in-thousands disorder rather than the one-in-a-hundred or so that each of the other groups of symptoms represent. What we have is varying flavours of the same underlying problem Now consider this... Children are not the average of their parents, not even within the limits of genetic determinism. Basically, you get a random 50/50 pick of chromosomes - for each chromosome you get a pair, one from mum one from dad, chosen at random from the two copies of that chromosome that your parents have. For example, since your father has one X and Y chromosome, but your mother has two X chromosomes, your chance of being born male is the 50% chance that you get your dads Y chromosome rather than his X chromosome. But most traits aren't determined by one chromosome. The DNA isn't even a 'blueprint for the human body' as it is commonly described. It is a specification for how cells react to certain environments. As an indirect result of this, the body develops in a certain way and ends up with what looks like a final design built to a blueprint but it is not. There are complex interactions between what different chromosomes provide in all of this, the end result being that very few traits can be traced back to single chromosomes. A range of genetic abnormalities plus gender, really. Now consider this... Evolution doesn't have a plan. It cannot anticipate. If there is sufficient survivial pressure, 'beneficial' mutations will be maintained across generations and will be spread. If the survival pressure is enough, you get multiple independent adaptations in a large enough population, some of which may be compatable and some of which may be incompatible. No mutation is ever entirely beneficial, though, because of the complex interactions between genes that create a particular trait. It's a kind of entropy thing. When a new beneficial mutation starts spreading through a population, further adaptations are needed to mitigate the side-effects. Most side-effects depend on interactions with other chromosomes that many individuals in a sufficiently large population won't have, and even on interactions between multi-chromosome sets that can be extremely rare even when the individual chromosomes are all common in any population because of combinatorial issues. So basically, there are rapid adaptations for immediate survival issues that affect everyone, but there is a very long lag time before all the side-effects can be resolved for the whole population. For humans, the evolution of larger brains has been extremely rapid and extremely recent. So, in simplistic terms, if you inherit mummies "grow this region region bigger" chromosome variant, and daddies "grow that region bigger" chromosome variant, it isn't that surprising if the overlap of those regions has problems caused by the growth outpacing the processes that direct the growth patterns of innate neural connections. As for the 90% heredity, as opposed to 100%, well, when you really understand genetics and neural development you begin to see why. There certainly is room for chance beyond the 'which chromosomes' selection. As I said, the genes aren't a blueprint exactly. Lossy fractal compression (or rather decompression) can be done using a random process. The decompressed result always looks the same, but is subtly different. Overcompress and the compression artifacts look slightly different each time it is decompressed. Well, with all the interacting processes involved in turning a genetic code into a body, with the unplanned convergence-on-apparent-design implicit in evolution, and with the unpredictability of details of the environment that development occurs within, the bodies development is much the same. If DNA is a blueprint, it is lossy compressed using something analogous to lossy fractal compression. And yes, I'm aware that there is such a thing as lossless fractal compression and indeed deterministic lossy fractal compression. Just focus on the kind that matters - the analogy is too useful to throw away ;-) The 90% makes sense, now, yes ;-) Right, so how can social abilities be affected by biological problems without implying general stupidity, as with autism. This can be a real problem for some people. After all, who really believes that they inherited their social skills and conversational ability genetically? Here's the thing - social ability and social competition has been very important to our species for (in human terms) a very long time. But in evolutionary terms, our social nature has increased dramatically in relatively recent times. For instance, we know for a fact that our species nearly went extinct not so long ago (around 100K years ago IIRC, though I've not double checked). And we know for a fact that humans were highly social then, and had been for millions of years. It seems reasonable to believe that social behaviour was essential to survival - that only the groups with the strongest social connections survived. So the survival pressure is there, and there is sufficient time, so which specific social abilities are genetic then? Well, as it happens, that's a stupid question. Evolution of instinct works by a process called the Baldwin Effect. Each adaptation makes it easier to learn the 'instinct' earlier in life, until it becomes innate. Even insects once had a primitive learning ability to handle what is now instinctive. But individual adaptations don't have to make sense. They just have to provide a net benefit. In artificial intelligence, there is an idea called a 'heuristic'. This is basically a rule-of-thumb. An imperfect rule that you can use to narrow a search, which in most cases helps you find a solution faster. It is an idea that has spread - you can read all about heuristics in social psychology, for instance. But the focus is on heuristics that make sense. As I said, individual adaptations don't have to make sense. It is only over the long term that multiple adaptations eventually converge on sense. What I am getting at is "intuition". Even when we thing we understand why we made a decision, when we have a clear rationale, intuition - knowing without how we know - underlies the process. Thousands or even millions of possibilities have been rejected without any real thought. Heuristics have guided a process that suggests the most likely options to choose from, and it is these most obvious candidates that we apply real reasoning too - or whether for genuine critical reasoning, or whether to invent a justification. You don't need to be born with a big bag of perfect pre-formed instincts. Even the few you have don't need to make any kind of sense. The point is that they have evolved to allow you make more reliable judgements, and to allow you to learn even better. Crucially, they provide filters - an innate rejection of the naive stuff that you are meant to believe. Oh, you can believe it too, sure enough - but somehow you can tell everyone that lying is bad and believe it, yet still have the expertise to spot when a little grey lie will safely benefit you. Its a small piece of genetic determinism that not only fails to contradict social determinism, it embraces it. A small innate core that helps you learn the lessons you need to learn, and helps you to resist the ones you don't. Why don't good parents determine how their children turn out? Because parents have always naturally had an interest in controlling their children, and because the childrens interests have always diverged from that. Therefore, children have some degree of innate ability to resist that control. So, what is autism? It's a question with no single answer, and it's a question that has to be considered on many different levels. But for me, the core of the answer is above. What is missing doesn't really make sense to most people because it relates to an innate mechanism - a set of heuristics - that has only partly converged on sense. Also, relates to an area that has a lot in common with icebergs - the biggest part of social ability is intuition, but it is the rationalisation and critical reasoning that is conscious and 'above the surface'. We even have some strong clues as to why social inability forms a symptom cluster. Localisation in the brain is, of course, a no-brainer. But to me, the specifics are more interesting than the basic idea. Basically, there are two adjacent regions in the pre-frontal cortex. One is well know as being involved in problem-solving intelligence. Get a normal person and a person with Aspergers to solve problems with a specifically social element in them, and the normal persons brain will light up in the adjacent area - lets call it socially-specialised problem-solving intelligence. The person with Aspergers will consistently light up the standard problem-solving intelligence region, not the social one. You have to be careful with brain-scan studies, even fMRIs are a bit of a blunt knife really, plus there is always the issue of what a brain region is actually doing when it lights up. But even so, if evolution is going to create a specialised social intelligence - to build in a core of social heuristics - it makes sense that it should specialise part of a pre-existing problem-solving intelligence region to do so. No pre-planning there - just converging on apparent sense (an adaptation provides the best benefit in co-operation with other related adaptations, and when it can exploit pre-existing resources). We are talking about the prefrontal cortex here, and only one aspect of autism though. Amygdala problems seem to underly most nonverbal communication issues. Actually, there are two amygdalas - one each side, with one side dealing with facial expressions and the other side dealing with tone of voice. These are among many other tasks, including stress response stuff. The amygdala is a real centre for emotional triggering if not emotional experience (prefrontal cortex). No surprise that seeing peoples faces and hearing voices can trigger an instant anxious reaction, eh! Oh, and not bad for an autonomic part of the brain. If that degree of social instinct makes you uncomfortable, consider the syndrome (sorry, I forget the name) where a certain connection breaks and a normal rational person suddenly starts insisting that everyone he/she knows has been cloned/replaced by aliens etc. The thing lost is the emotional recognition of close friends and family. Without it, basic intelligence and common sense are out of the window - "sure, I can see that he looks exactly like my father, but ITS NOT HIM". When a brain injury can leave everything else intact, but leave someone unable to accept that people are really his relatives because of the loss of a normally unconscious feeling - when an intuition with no logic or reason to it can override all intelligence and common sense, with the most bizarre rationalisations being invented to cover for it - the things I've been saying probably seem just a little more likely. It's probably just a little easier to see that the conscious part of social reasoning is just that little tip of the iceberg, the rationalisation for thoughts supplied by unconscious processes that don't necessarily have a reason or logic since they are based in part on evolved heuristics. Just to clear one thing up, though, intuition does not mean innate. In order to learn, we need an innate ability to learn. Basic heuristics and intuition underly that, but a much larger collection of heuristics and intuitions result. The point is that the innate part form the initial conditions. Without them, the rest are much harder to acquire. Paricularly when it involves resisting societies generally naive popular beliefs. Why are autistics naive? Maybe because they believe what they are told, rather than learning to repeat the belief without really taking it in to the core. Perhaps because the lessons we are taught as children are designed to compensate for innate resistance rather than to be literally correct. Either way, without that innate resistance, a naive lesson is learned. Exclusion, victimisation etc of course only make things worse. Now, a final thing to consider. There is a common pattern in which autistic children experience abnormally rapid brain growth in early childhood, at or before the time when children start become more genuinely social and when autistic symptoms can be noticed. It is commonly rationalised as 'inflamation', but there is no real justification for this. The people who don't bother looking for genuine explanations just jump to simplistic conclusions. But there genuinely appear to be more neurons growing. This growth spurt does die down, and many autistic children eventually end up with a more-or-less normal brain size by early teenage years, but... 1. By then (even by three years old) the damage is already done and permanent. The processes that wire the brain happen at particular developmental times. If the wiring process is disrupted at a particular point (e.g. it cannot keep up with rapid growth) then the damage can never be repaired. Sure, the neurons can find alternate uses, but whatever innate connection was intended will never form. 2. In any case, you've missed the learning milestones too, either through the brain being unable to learn or through distorted childhood experiences. I wanted to kill myself at age nine. Not exactly normal childhood stuff. 3. The loss of neurons can be explained as a product of the stress response. The stress response is an emergency response. It shuts down unnecessary parts of the brain and body, while pushing others well beyond their sustainable limits (sure, you might pull a muscle running too hard, but at least your not lunch for a lion kind of reasoning). When the stress response is active, neurons in many parts of the brain fire a lot faster - and under chronic stress, neurons fire themselves to death. Even quite young people with chronic anxiety and depression have brain sizes around 5% smaller than average as a result - often called 'atrophy' but actually resulting from excessive brain activity, not too little. Ever wondered about the connection between mental disorders and brilliance? Well, the stress response underlies mania too. It is where than mental energy comes from. But that energy comes at a cost, in terms of depression and breakdown.
Perhaps you've had a look at the altercations and disagreements that occur  
between neurologists and psychologists concerning the workings of the  
brain.  That can give a picture of how clueless these branches are about  
what's "really going on in there".

I hope I'm making a point above. When you have read the source code and unit-tested the program, it is hard to accept that it is an arcane magic beyond the comprehension of man. Sure, there is plenty more to learn. Sure there a huge gaping holes in current knowledge. Sure, there are areas where prejudice still rules and where fear of the thought police is holding back progress. Sure, at best it is at a stage analogous to Newtons theory of gravity, with general relativity long in the future. One thing we know for a fact, though, is that we can never know everything. There is no circuit diagram for the brain, no matter how closely you examine the genes. Lossy nondeterministic decompression. And your particular combination of chromosomes has never existed before - there never was an original form that was compressed. Not to mention the many environmental, social and random influences that cause the wiring of the brain to be modified. But study of the brain and mind has progressed quite a bit in recent decades. In short, I'm not arguing from ignorance, honest. When I say I've obsessed about these things for a long time, I don't mean I read a few pop science books. I've thrown away more textbooks than some experts ever owned, and when I go looking for recent knowledge I really do make a big deal of it. I certainly don't mean reading New Scientist (although I do that too, from time to time, mainly for the physics stuff which is just so sci-fi and wierd). When ideas from many fields all converge on the same basic conclusion, even though some of those ideas are strongly denied, I can generally figure out for myself which way the wind is blowing. And I can do a reasonable job of assessing the denials, to see which ones have a real basis and which are motivated more by prejudice. And even the latter I tend to examine anyway - always best to know the weaknesses in an argument, shy away from them and you shy away from things that might give an even better understanding.
Often, though, we seek to be accepted by individuals  
that have the wrong motives or an abysmal character.

In autism, we cannot be accepted by the individuals with the right motives - not really. Either we get it wrong, or we run up against the mismatch between our broken abilities and the neurotypical instinct and we appear to be the wrong type ourselves.
I can see this can be hard.  But I think you highly overestimate how many  
people are really coping.

There's always something else missing in  
one individual that is present in another.  Often these things aren't  
readily apparent, however.

There is, in fact, a numeric scale that attempts to quantify 'coping'. It's called the GAF scale and is included in the DSM diagnostic manuals. DSM has a heavy American cultural bias in its standards, of course, but GAF seems pretty widely applicable to me. Normal GAF scores are 60/70 and above. This includes people who are having real problems, but who are generally doing OK-ish socially, and at work/school. People who have at least one or two meaningful relationships. Normal people. Not some magic superior being or anything. There has never been a time in my life that would justify a score higher than 30-40. These are the BEST times. The highest justifiable score for the last 5 years would be in the low 20s. The normal score for the last 5 years would be around 15. I spent my entire childhood in the one-to-ten range - that is... """ Persistent danger of severely hurting self or others (e.g., recurrent violence) OR persistent inability to maintain minimal personal hygiene OR serious suicidal act with clear expectation of death. """ Coping is a relative thing. There are degrees of coping. Everyone has problems. I'm not stupid. BUT I'm also fed up with people minimising the problems of people with autistic spectrum disorders. When I say I'm not coping, I REALLY mean it. Sure, there are some things I've achieved that I'm proud of. Some things that many neurotypicals wouldn't even try to do. But you have to look at it in context. Just because I was once a successful computer programmer doesn't mean I was ever successful in any other sense of the word. Sure, most of us can't explain why we have these problems. Sure, even when we can, the explanation is long and complex and in no sense a convenient and socially acceptable soundbyte. But it isn't my fault that the issues are complex. Personally, if I wanted to judge someone, I would point at the people who are too lazy to deal with that.
Like I said, I strongly believe that you won't find the answers in  
psychology.  These are full of information about behaviours and  
experiences that can't be grasped, seen, felt, nor trully experimented  
on.  So, these books are full of the most imaginative descriptions that  
amount to desperate attempts to analyze how the brain functions. Since the  
brain is so poorly understood, disagreements and unknowns abound in those  
fields.

That is why I emphasized neuroscience.
Their study is as limited as their perspective that the brain is  
merely a chemical/electrical entity (which granted is the limit of their  
perspective).

Add on 'information processing' and that's mine too. The supposed escape from predeterminism and the cool profoundness of quantum physics don't, in themselves, mean that there is 'something more than a chemical/electrical entity' - not in any sense that's important, anyway. Physics is physics. Even physics that we don't currently understand isn't ever going to provide some magic mystic consciousness. Stuff like superposition may sound magical, but its still just physics - and even if is somehow exploited in neurons in a way we don't understand, it is still information processing no different to building a quantum computer. Also, being determined by a roll of the dice just now is no different to being predetermined by dice that were rolled at the big bang - its still determinism. So if there's anything to 'higher' consciousness and souls, its a religion thing. Remember how a broken neural connection can make a person reject their closest friends and family, insisting that they must be alien clones or whatever? Care to explain how a soul could play a role in that? Or alternatively, care to explain how the soul has nothing to do with how we feel about our nearest and dearest? I hate to bring up the god of the gaps, but really spiritualism and religion have already been proven to have little or no role in the mind. The gaps keep getting smaller. This is not the place for god or the soul. This isn't religious hatred or anything, though. Like any true self-sceptic, I may be a committed atheist, but I know the weaknesses in my position. Time is just a dimension. Just space done differently. Think on that. "Where is God?" can be interpreted as "When is God?". The best place to look for God is in the initial conditions. The best place to look for intervention is in the precise detail of the initial conditions. If God knows all, he can anticipate all, so he can fix it right from the start. Not enough? Well, quantum mechanics does leave room for God to skew the odds here and there. If he created a universe that even he cannot understand, then he can at least look around and do some debugging. All he needs to do is to be able to overcome chaos theory, basically, and if he IS god then... But the point is that the universe is clearly working to a system that we can observe, quantify, and understand - at least to a point. There was a time when we couldn't observe, quantify, and understand what is going on in the brain and how it related to our 'minds'. This is changing. But if there is a soul, it is in a different time - not just a different place. And if there is a god, he created a universe with and observable, quantifyable and understandable set of rules - rules which apply inside the brain just like anywhere else. If you think a mechanical brain is inconsistent with having a soul, your placing arbitrary limits on the soul. That's the argument that I can't beat, and I doubt anyone can. It's only an argument for possibility, though - not for probability. And it still seems like wishful thinking. And it's still the god of the gaps, truth told. But a very hard gap to fill in. So why not play the odds? If there's even an outside chance, take the enhanced inner peace benefits and the worst that can happen is that the big payout in the afterlife turns out to be a myth? Come on - manipulate God! I don't think so. As for the inner peace thing, thats for genuine belief. It'd never work. I'm too much the universal sceptic, more critical of my own beliefs than anyone elses. Sure, I've fooled myself in the past, but never for very long. Besides, people who get that seem to be benefitting from the same emotional connection thing that happen for real-life emotional bonds. "God always accepts me for who I am", kind of thing. First off, I'm not so sure I have the needed neurons. Second, if there is a God, he hates me. No, I either believe or don't, and the simple fact is that I don't. This is taking forever - I'm going to have to cut it off here. -- Remove 'wants' and 'nospam' from e-mail.
Sep 17 2006
prev sibling parent reply Don Clugston <dac nospam.com.au> writes:
Steve -
I don't know why I read a thread with a boring title like "writefln and 
ASCII" -- but I'm glad I did. I've read your post several times to try 
to get a better understanding.

FWIW, in your posts I've read you've come across as highly intelligent 
and friendly. You'll always be welcome here.

- Don.
Sep 14 2006
parent reply Steve Horne <stephenwantshornenospam100 aol.com> writes:
On Thu, 14 Sep 2006 22:08:52 +0200, Don Clugston <dac nospam.com.au>
wrote:

Steve -
I don't know why I read a thread with a boring title like "writefln and 
ASCII" -- but I'm glad I did. I've read your post several times to try 
to get a better understanding.

Ah. Be careful with that. Consider... 1. Balanced and reasonable 2. Mostly accurate 3. Venting out of control Multiple choice. Which is the odd one out? ;-)
FWIW, in your posts I've read you've come across as highly intelligent 
and friendly. You'll always be welcome here.

Thanks. Just at the moment I'm wishing I hadn't posted, though. But I did. John has written a lot that deserves a reply, but I'm not properly rational right now and I can't think straight. Give it a few days and I'll probably hope the topic never comes up again. There's something that I need to say right now, though, and I'll just have to hope I'm rational enough that it makes some kind of sense and that I don't end up regretting it tomorrow. When I said about that 30 year quest to be socially acceptable, that sounds (even to me) so much like I spent all my time going out being needy. That is just so far from the truth. And of course, venting, I paint the world blacker than black. No, I don't believe it either. When I said that I pretty much invented cognitive behavioural therapy for myself, and then immediately vented about the long term failings, I of course didn't say that it wouldn't have gone on for so long without at least superficial successes. Well, the fact is, I realised by about age 18 that most of the bad that was happening to me was actually simple cause-and-effect reaction to what I did. I left school at 16 believing that the world just hated me automatically, but the world outside of school could only sustain that belief for so long. What pseudo-CBT did for me was allow me to conquer those immediate self-destructive patterns. In the long term it replaced them with new ones, but that's besides the point - I _am_ getting to one, honest! I went back into education and did well. I became employable. And I made a point of going out to meet people. When you have Aspergers, you can go out and meet people all you like, and you will never have friends. Its not a prejudice thing or anything like that. If you make the right adjustments, you can have acquaintances by the hundred same as anyone else, every one of them initially open to friendship. But there's a kind of wall that you hit, that exists for many reasons - not just one or two - that makes it impossible to get past that. What I have come to understand from book learning and from experience is that friendship cannot happen without certain processes happening, and without maintaining a pretty delicate balance. One of the fundamental balances that needs to be maintained is that of personal disclosure. The truth is that I'm a very good listener. If you actually do care about other people and how they feel, there's only a few hurdles to overcome. But you can't become someones friend just by listening. Its out of balance. It makes people uncomfortable. You can't just soak up everyone elses feelings. You have to share your own life too. And you have to start small and build up gradually, in balance. At the acquaintance level, no big deal. Superficial conversations are no bother. We can all share our feelings about the weather. But at some point you hit the fundamental fact that your life experiences are different to everyone elses. Talk about your real life, and that is always going to be too much for them to deal with. There are no real bite-sized portions. There is no real ordinary life to talk about. So either you hide your real life, or you reveal too much too quickly. There is no possible balance - no middle ground. Of course it's not just people with Aspergers who have this problem. People can be sympathetic. The vast majority of people will not be put off immediately by this kind of disclosure. But the sympathy runs out pretty quickly. After all... 1. The nonverbals are wrong. Cue distrust and a feeling of being manipulated. 2. It's hard to hear a disclosure like that without hearing a demand for sympathy. While most people have a lot of time for people who are already their friends, that doesn't make them responsible for all the worlds problems. That's the demand that people will percieve, even though you're just trying to find something to talk about. 3. The feeling is that you should be talking to someone who is already a real friend anyway, not an acquaintance. As I said, it is out of balance. But what happens when you quite simply have no real friends? When you quite simply have no normal life stuff to disclose in the process of building friendships? Answer... 1. You hide everything, and everyone percieves that as you not letting them in. 2. When you do disclose, no-one is ever comfortable with you again. You're either a charity case or a needy irritating pain or whatever. 3. If you're really blockheaded, you don't spot the signs until you really push people past the tolerance level. People are convinced that you're deliberately winding them up and get hostile. 4. Run through 2 and 3 enough times and you get fed up with it, for obvious reasons. In other words, hiding everything and accepting that you can only have the most superficial acquaintanceships is the only real option - the easy life, the comfort zone. Of course in that situation, you do get needy. You get to the point where a week or so on a technical newsgroup is the biggest outlet you've had in two or three years, and that's enough to open that fatal crack in those mental blocks. But in real everyday life, it's listening that I miss much more than talking. Maybe its because talking always ends so badly, maybe because there's so little in my life I'd want to talk about, maybe it just means I'm an emotional vampire, whatever. But I find people to talk to. Begin an acquaintanceship. Listen. And just at the point where I form some kind of bond, starting caring about that person as an individual rather than just as a fellow member of the human race, that's the point when that person gets aware of the imbalance. And so it ends. Most people stay superficially friendly, but thats it. Over and over and over and over again. The only real exceptions are the people who really are on the take, the people who talk to get your trust and then exploit it, and the people who are even more needy than me. There are some people who really are genuinely desperate for someone to talk to. But even that is always short term, and then the imbalance hits. Well, almost. Occasionally, just very occasionally, you start to get to the point where maybe that person might consider you a friend. Trouble is, that's also just about the point where you're too overloaded to cope and burn out. You just can't deal with anything much at all for a while. To them, it presumably seems like just as they've make an effort to be open despite the wierdness, you vanish off the face of the Earth for no reason, or maybe you're physically there but just totally mentally absent. Either way, you can't become friends with someone who isn't there. When you're frustrated and angry it's so very easy to say that other people are uncaring or prejudiced or whatever. It's not just bullys who need scapegoats. Victims need someone safe to blame, even when they're just victims of cruel fate. But what really hurts, for my money, isn't being actively attacked or rejected or ignored. It's when there is simply no-one and nothing that you can really care about. When one way or another the chance to care is always cut off. When there really is nothing outside yourself. People with Aspergers are infamous for their strange obsessions. Perseverations, some call them, and that term ties in with neuroscience, with problems with the lateral prefrontal cortex and the working memory. Not to mention another infamous Aspergers trait - hyperfocus. And of course when you are disconnected from societies standards its easy to form socially unexpected hobbies. There's lots of explanations, including the popular 'they're just wierd'. I have particular sympathy with the working memory thing because of personal experience. I know full well that no matter how much I want to focus on one thing, I can keep on realising over and over again that I've been thinking about something else for the last twenty minutes. It's no fun fighting your own brain! But it doesn't cover it all. And there's always a key point to consider. Why would the working memory form an abnormality that results in this pattern? Is it really just a broken connection? Maybe it's just habit, or conditioning. Maybe, when there is nothing of meaning in your life, no-one that will tolerate your caring about them, the easiest thing is to distract yourself from that. To redirect your caring toward something artificial and safe, because even superficial caring is better than nothing. And when that pattern carries on year after year, it eventually gets hardwired. The term, IIRC, is 'displacement activity'. Simon Baron Cohen is supposed to be one of the top experts in autism. He has drawn connections between autism and sociopathic personality. He points out that where sociopathics are very good at communicating with others, very good at giving the impression of caring, they consistently use that ability to manipulate others for their own benefit. There are strong social skills, there is a strong appearance of caring, but there is no real caring at all. He acknowledges that these things are substantially independent of each other. Yet then he insists that people with autism cannot actually care about others. That the lack of social skills and the inability to appear to care must imply a genuine lack of caring. In autism, he say, they simply cannot be independent. He offers no reasons or evidence, even though on other things he apparently can't move on without listing every piece of evidence he has well past the point of absurdity. It's just his belief. His intuition. It's not true of myself. It's not true of other autistics I've met. People on alt.support.autism have posted experiences remarkably similar to my own where they've made efforts to try to empathise with others, tried to help others, and screwed it all up big time making things worse. It's often a huge concern - not just the resulting hostility but even more the hurt we've caused and feel responsible for. The appearance may be of being selfish and caring only about no. 1. And yes, at times it is the truth. With social contact being as distorted as it is, it may even be the only truth that others ever see, for some of us. And for all I know, maybe for some autistics, it really is the truth - just as its true for some non-autistics. Even so, appearance and reality are not the same thing. This is probably going to look just as passive-aggressive (you have to feel bad because I feel bad!) and attention-seeking as my last post seemed even to me, looking back. But if people are going to take ideas away based on the stuff I say here, I don't want it to all be my saying "the world is evil, everyones evil". I don't want it to be the impression that people with Aspergers are just needy selfish idiots who expect to take all the time and never give, and throw temper tantrums when it doesn't work out. It's an easy impression to get. It can easily end up fitting all the observed facts. Even some of the experts support it. But it's just not true. -- Remove 'wants' and 'nospam' from e-mail.
Sep 14 2006
next sibling parent "John Reimer" <terminal.node gmail.com> writes:
Steve,

Very good, clear explanation, and very helpful: in reading this, you  
almost made me feel like I was from the inside looking out -- that's  
certainly quite a talent in writing.  I got more out of this post then the  
last.

It seems I might have hit a bit left of center in my original response  
(specifically my interpretation of your perspective), for which I  
apologize.  Although I stick to my original opinions in most details, you  
certainly clarified a few things that were unclear to me and showed that I  
didn't have a complete grasp of your perspective.

All the best,

John


On Thu, 14 Sep 2006 20:02:48 -0700, Steve Horne  
<stephenwantshornenospam100 aol.com> wrote:

 On Thu, 14 Sep 2006 22:08:52 +0200, Don Clugston <dac nospam.com.au>
 wrote:

 Steve -
 I don't know why I read a thread with a boring title like "writefln and
 ASCII" -- but I'm glad I did. I've read your post several times to try
 to get a better understanding.

Ah. Be careful with that. Consider... 1. Balanced and reasonable 2. Mostly accurate 3. Venting out of control Multiple choice. Which is the odd one out? ;-)

<< snip >>
Sep 14 2006
prev sibling parent Georg Wrede <georg.wrede nospam.org> writes:
Steve Horne wrote:
 On Thu, 14 Sep 2006 22:08:52 +0200, Don Clugston <dac nospam.com.au>
 wrote:
 

Some three years ago, IIRC, (it was in August, that I do remember) there was a quieter time in this newsgroup, and we all started talking. I'm too lazy to go check, but I seem to remember that there were others too with this kind of background or "life". I certainly am one of them. Your two long posts I could have written exactly the same, about myself. Now I'm 50 and while I've started to understand stuff in recent years, I still can't work in a normal office. Too much strain with the social stuff overloads me, and people just subconsciously perceive me as weird. So I'm an entrepreneur, not by choice but by force. Which is not good since I'm not greedy enough to work hard at this, I'm too shy to make successful elevator pitches, too nice to crowd prospective customers, and too honest to really sell myself or my products. Virtually all of the people who know me (I don't use the word friend here, for the obvious reason), are Aspies whether they know it themselves or not. Both men and women. Some people I have known had the strategy to wear weird clothing, thus advertising and emphasizing that they're not "one of you". Seems to work pretty well, since the neuro-normals automatically give you much more latitude "if it's tangible that you're Different". Alas, that seems to get harder by the day, as it is cool to be different nowdays, and all kinds of averagies pretend to be different. :-( :-( Another tack is to become an artist. (What a joke, but I'm serious!) Slap some paint on canvas, take pictures and flaunt them everywhere. It's okay for an artist to be weird. I know a woman who has a really bad case of aspie, and she did this. For a while she actually made a living with it(!), her social life was bearable (in spite of all her romances ending within 6 months (including me) -- for reasons she never found out), but then she got bored and fed up with all this. So she quit, and became an electronics parts telemarketing rep. (No joke here either.) Well, at least she gets her daily share of social interaction over the phone, and then she goes home to solitude. (She lives in Connecticut.) A third is to go somewhere where everybody is like us. What first comes to my mind is the Computer Science Department of any university. There the roles are reversed: most everybody is like us and the neuro-normals are an endangered species over there. Same goes for math, chemistry, engineering and such. I always thought that with time I'd learn to mix in with the neuro-normals, but it turned out that for each year that I learn new ways to cope and be "same", they too grow up and the ways of expressing sameness become just that much more subtle. So I'm always behind. That's probably why everybody I know are 10-20 years younger than me. Obviously, that in itself also gives more latitude. Good thing is I look 10 years younger than I should. Ever since I was a child I had this thing for computers. And already then I knew that it's because they're rational, consistent, and predictable. (Microsoft Windows didn't exist at the time.) It was a haven, a refuge shelter to come to. No two-face double crossing backstabbers there, just silicon and logic. A bliss, peace and quiet. My dad's the same, but he never understood it, and today he vehemently refuses to even discuss anything aspie related. He was lucky in his life, he got a pilot's licence in WW2, the war ended the day he got the licence, and he became an airline pilot. You're basically alone with the airplane when you fly, and since you're the boss nobody pesters you. And you don't have to play the social games, you just tell everybody what to do, period. And because you don't have to bother with all this human interaction, you end up having more time to get to know the plane, read the regulations, the flying theory, and conjure up emergency responses for a variety of (taken at a time) unlikely hiccups, some of which you'll invariably encounter during your career. Saved his butt a few times. And he ended up being recognized and admired for this. He did admit the other year that had he been working with any regular job, he'd probably have ended up in the gutter, no question. And this he'd only realized recently, watching the travails of his 5 children (he's now retired with his 4th wife). Being a long-haul bus driver is basically the same (even if somewhat less glamorous). Driving delivery vans, becoming a craftsman, or actually any job where you work alone -- and where you don't get tasks-to-do, as opposed to sitting at a desk and the boss telling you do this-and-this till Friday -- are probably a lot better choices for us than others. Jobs where the activity for the moment also arises out of that moment, seem to be better suited /for the well being/ of us. Oh, and if we have (or deliberately develop) a passion for what we do, then we become experts like no neuro-normal ever could. And that means the stuff we do starts giving and becomes interesting and we become respected and admired. The Total Quality of Life should probably end up hugely better as a "painter - delivery van driver" than with any more conservative choice of lifestyle. --- I've been here for some 5 years, I think. And only this summer I've written my first non-trivial program in D. Most of the rest of my time has gone to pondering on this kind of crap, my existence, why my ex wife stole my three kids and I don't get to see them, what I should do with my life, etc. Yeah, and it's so easy to tell someone else what to do, but when it comes to oneself, you just kinda don't see the forest for the trees. (Like knowing this made me see it any better.) Well, the software is now actually in use! And the controlling hardware (that I both designed and assembled -- without any kind of education in such, and without any prior experience) works, except for a bug that I should be fixing right now, as opposed to writing here. :-) They control a plastics reprocessing machine that uses 20kW of power. That's /twenty thousand watts/, equal to the combined consumption of ten suburban homes in spring or fall. Someday I may (or not) write about it here. ;-) --- Writing this took five minutes (literally). Proofreading took three hours: I kept wandering off. Oh, well, another day wasted.
Sep 15 2006
prev sibling parent nobody <nobody mailinator.com> writes:
Steve Horne wrote:
 On Wed, 13 Sep 2006 14:17:13 -0400, nobody <nobody mailinator.com>
 wrote:
 
 Metadata. When your document cannot be represented as a simple text
 file, use something else.

method of representing textual data is inadequate.

Ah. So you believe that HTML and XML are garbage, then. Along with all binary word-processor document files. But then, Unicode is inadequate also. You need additional metadata for anything beyond the simplest text. Unicode gives you a huge selection of characters, but it can't specify paragraphs styles etc.

I certainly believe that using HTML or XML to store plain text data is garbage. I recognize the possibility of expanding on plain text data with HTML or whatever -- but only when it is appropriate. Surely you would acknowledge that a Turing complete "encoding" for plain text is overkill?
 
 I am certain that to freely mix data from any codepage you would probably use 
 something like an escape code.

That would be the most cryptically compressed form of metadata, I suppose. But why compress the metadata at the expense of the character data? Switching languages and codepages is a relatively rare thing. Most documents don't do it at all. Even those that do are hardly likely to switch every other character. By the huffman compression principle of representing the most frequent things with the smallest codes, the logical thing to do is to have single byte characters as much as possible and use a multibyte sequence - a tag - to select codepages.

That is indeed an elegant text encoding scheme. It took me some time to find any problems with it. The biggest disadvantage is that I am pretty sure you would need to heavily rewrite RegExp engines to get them to work across codepages. Unicode allows you to ask for any single codepoint questions like isalpha -- which means RegExp engines only need (relatively) minor modifications to work with Unicode. Now to close by making heavy use of the "look shiny stuff!" fallacy. Here are some things you should be able to read and write in newsgroups because of Unicode: ∫ (a+b) dx = ∫ a dx + ∫ b dx = (a+b)x + C ∃x ∀y (x ∉ y) ∇ × E = - ∂B/∂t
Sep 14 2006