Friday, September 17, 2010

Catching up

I can now reveal that the mysterious endeavour of my last blog was not successful, yep I failed. In what you might ask? Well that would be telling, and I am not inclined to share all my failures, they would be too many.

So what has happened in my rather unusual life recently?

Well I am nursing a swollen ankle again, having injured it on the last day of Autscape after an evening's stargazing at the Perseids I was told by the Dr to rest it. Well I got impatient after a week and took it up Snowdon, no wonder it has returned to plague me now, as I don't suppose a week was really enough to let it heal. As for my two big toes, you do not want to see them, under the nails they are black.

So today my ethics poster has had its final (?) outing at one of the Festival of Science events at Birmingham in what was optimistically described as a showcase for the very best of postgraduate research at Birmingham.

Well that leads me on to the week prior to this where I ended up dashing down the motorway from Lancaster to Cambridge to experience culture shock in more ways than one.

I was presenting my ethics paper, the one that is complemented by the poster to the Disability Studies Association biennial conference. That to me is now a comfortable place to be presenting in that my paper was a well received as other recent presentations were, but I do feel there however that I am preaching to the converted and that is not where my mission lies.

At Cambridge on the other hand I was not amongst what I would regard as allies, and I have to say I found a lot of the presentations there very hard to stomach.

I'm not naming names but there was guy there, part of the main event who trumps me for academic arrogance anyday, who was asserting that he might have the equivalent of the grand unification theory for autism.

Alas it was very apparent that he did not, all that he had was to put it into the popular jigsaw analogy, was an unfortunate and embarrasing delusion that the picture he had completed resembled in any way the one on the box, since it was readily apparent to anyone with a bit of critical nous that far from being a complete 1000 piece puzzle, what he had before him was a set of pieces which included a large number from a completely different puzzle and consequently missing a lot of the genuine pieces, in that he was putting together a theory which excluded a lot of recent developments and included a lot that has been increasingly losing ground.

Could he be told that? No of course not, he was an established academic, they cannot be corrected. In contrast I have to say I was more impressed by more recent and sceptical researchers who have yet to be convinced of their own invincibility.

There were some good posters, some bad, and some plain ugly. It was ironic that another delegate had elected to put a poster beneath mine which was the very epitome of what mine was warning against. That is to say it was the poster from a company (Gawd only knows what they were doing there?) whose claim is to be putting genetic research into practice...  Aaaaaargh.

Which is as good a point to go back again to the disability conference where one of the keynote speakers was a disabled film maker Liz Crow which Godwins law notwithstanding was a timely reminder that the same rhetoric that led to disabled people being the first in the gas chambers is abroad today, with talk of the cost to the economy and of lives not worth living.

 Well shiny shiny boots of leather and all, you can protest I am one of the shiny academic glitterati, but there is a consistent theme in all this, and swollen ankles apart, there is a cost to what I do, I seem to be shuttling up and down the country a lot recently and it goes on, I am back down in London next week for the first meeting of a new group comprising of academics and activists that is addressing the ethics and outcomes of autism research.

If you want to hear what I, and others had to say at the day conference at the UCL which seems like months ago now, but was part of my hectic summer activities, it's all online here.

Well at least kept my clothes on for that one :)