Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

You may well see me on the allotment and think I look reasonably fit, but it takes it's toll and in the evenings, and often the mornings too, I am none too mobile. Sitting at my computer does not do me any better than walking to and fro on my plot, digging and weeding and whatever, because that does my back in as well.

None of it is getting any better, my years (I was 58 last week) and the turn of the year hardly help. It's a wonder I don't go down with seasonal affective depression too, now the nights are longer. Indeed it maybe a bite from the old black dog that has brought this particular post on.

Whither am I going, and how much of a hurry am I to get there?  Well truth be told, I have prevaricated and excused and put off and procrastinated for too long to the point where I am not even concerned about reaching the end of the academic journey.

My priorities are all mixed up. To say that I am (literally) building a hedge against a Government that has managed to survive for too long (unlike me) about whom if one were to say (in lengthy peroration and nesting parentheses (see I can't help my prolixitiy any more than my lax joints (and perhaps bowels, (look you another nest of brackets) , ),),) about whom I will say, that to say they have little regard for the common people is taking litotes and understatement a little far, they have a positive hatred of us, to say that I am building a hedge against them is what I have been doing on my allotment and it has been more relaxing for me than the academic grind.

(or from trying to understand that last paragraph, which I shall dedicate to Frankie Happé and Kristina Chew)

I am not quite losing my marbles, though I did lose a black lens cap amongst the fallen leaves in Wappenbury wood on Sunday. However I have lost my enthusiasm for the academic project. I no longer have any desire whatever to pursue another set of grandiose post nominals.

I do feel however, that the write up of the Thesis is the boring part, and difficult too, when I run away with my own prose, (or it runs away with me, how strange this language, allowing such chiasmus)

I feel it is a stage I am not in a hurry to complete, and I feel the prize at the end, of wearing a silly hat in a big hall in front of lot's of others in similar Monty Python outfits is not the real prize at all.

I feel that the real end product, is the Autonomy journal. That is what has been made possible by this academic journey, it is the contacts I have made, and the learning, and research, learning not just how the peer review system and literature works, but figuring out how to make the new opportunities of open publishing and software work for me. I hope the internet will do the rest and that it will eventually take on a life of it's own ever further from mine.

And what has autism to do with all of that? Well for as much as autism is embedded into my being, for good or ill, I am embedded in the wider phenomenon of autism. Themes for Autonomy to explore, as we go a stage yet beyond self narrating zoo exhibits, a stage beyond so called "self advocacy" a term I have come to profoundly dislike for reasons I shall go into another time, but a stage where we take our proper place on the stage and get to challenge those core assumptions and assumed rights that we are always the subjects and never the originators of the ideas that have come to be included in the field of "autism studies".

Monday, October 21, 2013

Peer pressure and the press

Being the editor of a new academic journal is nothing like I thought it would be.

Whilst I set out from egalitarian principles I have come to realise that the exigencies of peer review means that I have had to reject more potential articles than I would have liked.

This partially explains the delay of the second edition (which is in preperation)

Anyone who has been involved in trying to get published will realise the gestation period is a long one. That is out of my hands, because one is dependent not only on overcoming ones own inertia, but the sometimes long response times of others in the chain.

It has been  tempting to slip in an article of my own (no questions asked, I am the editor after all) but that will not do, albeit the first edition does showcase a short essay of mine, it is there for historical more than current relevance along with reprints (can one talk about reprints in a digital context?) of other important work, which is part of the journals ethos as well as new papers.

Anyway this bloggy blogatory whatever style of writing won't do, and I have had to reject an article of my own, even though it can be found on a bona fide academic repository. It's just not good enough.

The article in the next edition that does bear the Author's authorship has had to be considerably rewritten to pass muster, even though it has been presented orally in an international context.

I am afraid the second edition of Autonomy will be nothing like as compendious as I had hoped, but I shall have to get over that, I guess it takes time to build it up and there are articles currently coming up for peer review or under consideration that just are not ready for this edition, delayed though it is.

What is the impetus for getting it together at last? Well the summer has been a long vacation for me, my allotment has made the most demands, and the round of NAS meetings the next after that.  The NAS is out of the way now I have retired, I shall only be having four meeting a year after this. My doctorate can wait, (who needs it?) but people at my Uni have been asking questions about Autonomy, so I had better get a move on. Anyway vanity publishing apart, no edition would be complete without an editorial and that is even more difficult to write than a paper or a review, because that requires me to actually read the stuff that has been submitted and approved for the current edition.

Which reminds me, I don't know about anyone owing a cock to Asclepius, Aesculapious or whatever his name was (Socrates would probably know) but I had better get round to invoicing the NAS for the first commercial transaction of the Autreach Press. Well this enterprise does need to be self supporting doesn't it?

And yes folks, for all you doubters, although it is hosted in my web space, which I pay for, it is nonetheless an authentic registered journal with an editorial board and peer reviewers.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The parting glass.

This has been quite a significant weekend for me, not necessarily because I am getting increasingly careless and forgetful, leaving a bag with my nightclothes and spare underwear in the hotel room, and now glad to be home for a change of underwear and socks, oh no, not for that.

I have now ceased after I think 12 years (or maybe more, I told you I was getting forgetful) on the Council of the NAS and 9 on the Board, to be on either.  I didn't resign, I was pushed. The NAS instituted a constitutional ammendment ( I think the USA could do with a few of those right now) limiting the number of terms one could serve, so it was time for my retirement.

I might have continued on the Council, but I made a decision there was no point. It is always the case that (unless you have done something spectacularly bad in office) you stand a greater chance of being re-elected if you have already been in. I thought that my continuing when there was no chance of progressing back to the board, would only be blocking the opportunities for others who could do so if they were elected onto the Council.

In other words seniority or senility notwithstanding, there is a time to move on and leave it to people with more remaining energy than oneself.  I shall not miss the somewhat stressful journeys to London and back, and the stays in a hotel I have to confess I find less than pleasant (even with clean underwear and socks).

It also means I can potentially change my relationship with the NAS.  I can be more critical (theoretically that is, as I am told I have never particularly pulled any punches in what I have said when I have disagreed with it) but more than that I could engage in a commercial or employment relationship, something I have been unable to do for all those years I have been in governance.

If you should ever catch my little cameo appearance in the NAS "Ask Autism" product/project about to be launched at anytime, I might add I was not paid for that, or anything else I have ever done for the NAS, beyond my train, bus and taxi fares. There you might be enlightened for if they have not edited out I inform the world that I was not by over a decade the first autistic person to be elected onto the board of an autistic organisation, that was Thomas McKean on the Autism Society of America back in the 90's.

I was the first on the board of the NAS though, and as I leave I learn that another was elected on Saturday.  I hope I have done my bit towards making that a less exceptional fact than such things would have been considered in the past.