Challenges for autistic people in the professional realm

How hard it must often be for autistic people to run their own businesses!

(Unless perhaps if it’s focused on working with autistic people.)

From what I have learned, I know that it can be challenging for them to navigate the professional world as employees, too. They often have trouble understanding how the world works, particularly how one approaches and communicates with other people, such as potential new clients. They also tend to be so narrowly focused that this too surely must hamper them at times.

I understand that “Le Petit Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a rich resource for them, but while certainly useful, it was intended as a children’s book, not as a guideline for how one for example behaves in a marriage. Besides, it was written a long time ago.

If we could make the world a kinder (more empathic) and more inclusive place, the motivation for the kind of stalking behaviors that I have been exposed to in the past 14, 15 years would start to disappear. There is often a lot of anger, powerlessness and frustration – and yes, resentment – behind it, as well as a dogged determination.

Olivier De Schutter (UN poverty envoy) tells Britain this is ‘worst time’ for more austerity

Olivier De Schutter is a human rights law professor at Leuven University in Belgium and, at the UN, the successor to NYU human rights law professor Philip Alston (who’s Australian). The latter has lambasted the UK government before because it pushes so many people into poverty and then keeps them there. (Why? I would say because the poorer people are, the less powerful they are and the more it enables certain very rich people to become even richer. The UK government has a tendency to use the population to balance its books. It sells off the poor and sends them to slaughter, like cattle, when it needs to free up cash. The poor, that’s currently about one third of the British population.)

De Schutter has a human rights law course on EDX, for anyone who’s interested. It’s free. (There is a paid version, which is part of a MicroMasters in International Law. EdX offers financial assistance to motivated learners in need. Leuven University students take this course too, by the way.)

(I think a new session actually starts TODAY.)

We must be careful with language on immigration, minister says

Yes, indeed. “Even the mildest otherization primes people for aggression” wrote Oxford neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor in her book “Cruelty. Human evil and the human brain.

The difference between otherizing language and violence against otherized people, she added, is a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. Otherizing language can escalate into cruelty and violence at an astonishing speed, she qualified further.

See also:

Home Office head honcho Suella Braverman’s use of the word “invasion” suggests that Britain is at war with war refugees and other migrants. Isn’t that as ugly as Russia suggesting that Britain sabotaged those Nordstream pipelines?

Is this, too, what you get when a council’s response to Travellers showing up within the city limits is instant, paranoid, over the top (and blatant otherisation and criminalisation on the basis of ethnicity or lifestyle)?

“Now the part-time worker is calling for more community compassion, after both he and his mother were berated over his parking, despite Tony having a Blue Badge and parking permits for his camper van, his work van, and his personal cars.”

Does he have too many cars? Yes, that may well be the case, but it also sounds like only the camper van is parked in Middlesex Road.

So I then googled his name. Looks like he is the owner of “All About Classics vintage vehicle hire”. (Same face in the newspaper photo and in the Twitter account profile photo. Same face in the photos on the business website.) That explains it!

But his business address (according to the website and Facebook) is indeed Middlesex Road… So the problem may be of a different nature than what it looks like at first sight. Cost of living crisis, anyone? His business would already have been hit hard by the pandemic. But there is also the fact that his parents don’t get the practical support that they need. Council cuts, anyone?

I found myself becoming interested in the full story. “I don’t know, of course, but it could be that what he needs to do is register a limited company,” I thought, so I looked at Companies House records. It seems that he had a limited company earlier, but for less than a year, perhaps because the admin side of it was too frustrating. It was registered at a different Southsea address. It appears that the current business is a Limited that he started in April of this year, but it is registered at a Copnor Road address.

Could be that he has posted the address where is currently staying most of the time on his website so that people can find him more easily.

Whatever the background, a little bit of compassion can go a long way. One day, you might need someone else to be compassionate towards you and if that happens, you likely never saw it coming.

How Runaway Algorithms Brought Down the Dutch Government

(Click on the “CC” button for subtitles if the Dutch accents get in the way.)

By the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University School of Law.

This concerns shockingly discriminatory use of self-learning black-box algorithms, designed to discriminate on the basis of factors such as socioeconomic status and nationality in the Dutch tax authorities’ (and other organizations’) scrutiny for fraud. And that’s far from the whole story.

It’s also true that regulation in the Netherlands is often way too rigid. It makes us cloggies abroad often look really strange (OCD-like) because we are so used to having to be super precise and document everything. This can for example lead to people having to pay back 90,000 euro because they made a 100-euro typo in a form or perhaps because they forgot to sign the form or because paid the childcare center one day late or the amount they paid the childcare facility was 10 euro less than it should be.

However, this scandal was about people being labeled fraudsters and being treated as fraudsters mostly on the basis of nationality without them being fraudsters at all and without them having an idea what error they were supposed to have made and beingg unable to obtain any information. It’s destroyed many lives. Some people lost their homes, others even their children (taken into care) or their marriage.

The first signs of the scandal emerged in 2014. It would take until 2018 before some people started waking up and started looking into it. (Do we owe this delay to the phenomenon of conspiracy theorists?)

It’s 2022 now. It’s doubtful that all the people who were harmed in this have already received compensation, so I understand. (I know that several individual court cases are ongoing or will be started soon.)

A problem with the complete opacity of and the secrecy surrounding these black box algorithms is that you wouldn’t even know it if hackers interfered and, for example, inserted their own parameters into the model. They could perhaps, also feed it highly biased learning data, but indeed, the innate biases in the model would also steer it toward concluding that poor people and foreigners are more likely to commit fraud.

How does this work? If you are looking for fallen leaves in parks, but only or predominantly look in two specific parks, you might erroneously conclude that those two parks have high numbers of fallen leaves and that there are no leaves in other parks. As you haven’t looked at all (or well) in those other parks, you found no or much fewer fallen leaves there.

Btw, the term “white-washing” is Dunglish. It’s called “money laundering” in English.

Similarly, “Minister President” is “Prime Minister” (Rutte). Turns out that he (Mark Rutte) was found guilty (by the court) of encouraging discrimination in his role in 2003, when he was not Prime Minister but ran the Dutch version of the English DWP. He had asked for people of Somali descent to be traced and scrutinized for fraud. Rutte did not get it at all at the time and expressed surprise. Apparently, he laughed and commented that the law should be changed, then. The reason for this was that some Somalis had committed fraud. That’s like saying that all Dutch people are blond and blue-eyed because some are. It’s nonsense.

(This latter court case ran its course after I had moved to England. I was not aware of it.)

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This is heartbreaking to read. It sets people up for failure.

Many refugees are constantly being moved without even being told where on earth they will be taken to. It traumatizes many of them and I fully understand that. This, too, dear Home Office, is a form of cruelty. This powerlessness causes an enormous amount of stress and it also often isolates people from anyone new who they have gotten to know.


What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting = trying to drive someone else crazy, literally. Because it makes you feel powerful. In control.

Watch this video. When he says that she is 30 minutes late for their first dinner, that’s when it starts. She was not late at all, but he wants her to start doubting herself. That’s gaslighting. Gaslighting also includes telling the people around you lies about you and getting them to abuse you too. Such people are called “flying monkeys”. It’s intended to help isolate the victim because that makes it possible to take the psychological abuse up a few notches. You can see that in this video as well.

Anyone who considers this kind of abuse hilarious should see a mental health professional. Because you may need to learn some techniques for how to modulate your behavior. That could be really helpful.

Crock Pots and other slow cookers (cost of living, climate)

John Lewis reports that slow cookers are now its best-selling electrical item. The Guardian calls them a 1970s favorite, but I don’t think I’d heard of them until I moved to the US in the 1990s.

I bought a 3.7-liter one in June. I’ve also recently stocked up on organic dried beans, marrowfat peas, lentils etc. (from the family business which is not associated with Amazon). I soak the beans etc for 8 hours or so and as I usually cook them on low overnight in the Crock Pot, this can serve as a heating source, too, and as a friend of mine informed me, slow cookers don’t use a lot of electricity. That turns out to be correct.

The soluble fibers in the beans can give you gas, but they also help remove cholesterol from the body, so there’s that too and, besides being a source of iron, magnesium and so on, they’re of course also a good source of protein.

Educate yourself about the presence of phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) in legumes, which requires you to soak, rinse and cook legumes really well. If you eat a lot of beans, you may still end up with some of the effects of phytohaemagglutinin (a substance that can make blood cells stick together and can also for example activate T cells) because there will always be a little bit of the stuff left in the beans.

In my case, it then gives me achy muscles – that’s caused by the T cells – and it makes me yawn like crazy (probably also caused by the T cells, because the muscles will want to relax and you’ll likely notice you’re fidgety and stretching a lot). It can also make me wake up often in the night or generally cause me to sleep less well, probably because of the achiness.

Should this happen to you, simply stop eating the beans. Consider taking a nice warm bath. You should perhaps also look into how you processed the beans; that said, you can even experience this effect if you eat a lot of tinned kidney beans, so you may not have done anything wrong other than having eaten a big fat lot of oh so yummy beans…

The achiness will disappear. You may wonder if you’re falling ill or something, but GPs won’t recognize this as an effect of having eaten a lot of legumes. You may also feel like you’ve overdone your exercise!

Some legumes carry a greater phytohaemagglutinin content than others. Red and white kidney beans contain the highest amounts; the latter are also called cannellini. Marrowfat peas and mung beans are examples of legumes that contain much less of the stuff. Lentils don’t contain much of the stuff either and they cook much quicker.

(Chickpeas contain a great deal of phytoestrogens, by the way. Perhaps particularly if you’re postmenopausal, you may notice some effects if you eat them regularly or eat a lot of them.)

For the record, I use boiling hot water a few times when I process my beans (when I soak them and when I cook them). I’ve never gotten the classic stomach upset symptoms associated with under-cooked beans.

(Anyone who doesn’t believe what I wrote above about these lectins and T cells:
Do a search in PubMed. Yes, I often apply Occam’s razor. Why start looking for a much more complicated and much less obvious explanation, when I have something obvious and logical at hand?
I may be slightly more sensitive and I certainly respond in a less typical manner than most folks. Hay fever also often gives me muscle aches, for example, and so does monosodium glutamate (MSG), but that also affects my energy level for some reason. MSG does not give me a headache at all, the latter supposedly being the standard response in people who are sensitive to it. I am surely not the only one in the world who experiences these effects, though.)

I stopped using my fridge in 2018, but now, after I’ve cooked a big batch of beans or lentils or what have you, usually with garlic and whole black peppercorns, a bit of salt, sometimes also with ginger or onions (all the easy peasy lazy way, not fried first), I fill “recycled” pots (coffee etc) and tubs (ice cream etc) with the beans and switch on the fridge. I normally let the beans sit in the Crock Pot for a day, to let them cool down and to avoid needing to heat them again to eat them on that first day. It usually feeds me for about a week, depending on what else I eat, and what I eat the legumes with. After I take the legumes out of the fridge, I quickly heat a plate or bowl of them in the microwave.

Here are some tips on the BBC site for what else you can do with a slow cooker:

If slow cookers scare you, then you may first want to watch this 1-minute video:

I’ve also cooked a mix of lentils, mung beans and chana dal (small split chickpeas) and eaten them with curry powder and olive oil, with or without ginger. Olive oil is very good for your heart’s health, provided you don’t heat the oil. The price of olive oil’s been going up a lot lately, though. This has to do with droughts as a result of climate change, so using as little energy as possible will also benefit you and your children and grandchildren for that reason. (Slowing down climate change.)

By the way, if you don’t eat good food and keep fit, staying warm is likely to be harder too. Women often have more trouble staying warm because their veins in the arms and legs have a tendency to contract when it’s cold. The myth that this only happens to “cold” women is misogynistic nonsense. Go for a walk. Do some exercise. It will open your blood vessels. Eating something can do that too.

Wearing fluffy socks to bed can work wonders if you want to stay warm without having the heating on. I discovered that after a friend sent me some for Christmas. Amazing, the effect that has!

Wearing thick socks during the day, by contrast, can give you cold feet if the socks trap moisture that comes from your skin. Some shoes do that too.

Try not to buy lots of new gadgets to help you stay warm etc such as electrically heated pillows and blankets because all the energy used for making these gadgets and transporting them around the world does not help to lower your bills. Use what you already have, such as hot-water bottles and extra plain blankets. Improvise, if you can, like McGyver.

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French Madeleine saves lonely Englishman in Channel (Latest twist: GB News involvement?)

UPDATE 28 OCTOBER, AFTERNOON: HE’S DOING MUCH BETTER NOW. (The Dutch fishermen would like to stay in contact with him.)

This morning, the French fishing vessel Madeleine rescued an English man who apparently had left Dover on 15 October in a kayak, which had rolled over. He had been stuck on a marker buoy for days. Fortunately, he was spotted by a Dutchman on the Madeleine. It had three Dutch people and two French people on board.

They gave him a sound signal to let him know that they had spotted him, but the current was strong so they first had some maneuvering to do. Then they threw him a bunch of lifebuoys and he managed to grab one so that they could pull him on board.

The French coastguard sent a doctor and a helicopter and he’s been taken to a hospital. He seems to be doing relatively well but he was very lucky. He was very thirsty, had not slept for days and had scraped mussels off the buoy to eat. Seaweed and little crabs had also been on his menu.

The Dutch news article contains photos of said Englishman (for anyone who knows him and is still wondering what happened, but I am sure his family already knows by now):

I can’t believe that he left Dover as far back as 15 October. He must have gotten way off course at some point or maybe been stuck on that buoy for about 11 days. (How long can you keep yourself afloat in the water after your kayak capsizes before you reach a buoy to climb on?) He was rescued this morning.

Update 30 October: see below.

(The day he left the English coast must have been 25 October, maybe?)

The same day, THREE HOURS AFTER THE MAN HAD BEEN RESCUED by the Dutch-owned French-registered Madeleine and 15 minutes before the company account tweeted about it, GB News (George McMillan) reported that he had been spotted earlier but that he was no longer found on the buoy and was assumed to have drowned and the search was called off by the UK authorities. They (GB News) assumed that it had been a refugee trying to reach England. Is this news item manufactured news? GB News, after all, is one of Nigel Farage’s “vessels”, isn’t it? None of the other news sources mention that the UK authorities had already been aware of the man stuck on the buoy. If they had, they surely would have coordinated with the French coastguard, also because the man apparently was in French or international waters.

GB News (Mark White) had an earlier item about this, published in the morning, but about 30 minutes after the man was rescued.

Apparently, he is 28 and from Manchester? He was in good physical shape when he left, which has helped him survive, but he seems to have had no kayaking experience. I wonder if he was trying to “prove” something about refugees… Unless he’s a nutcase with more money and time than common sense, it’s a strange story, after all.

Dealing with the change in season

Yesterday, I talked about how I am dancing it out to music as a way to get in better shape again. Believe me, I need it.

Something else that I wanted to do something about concerns the changing seasons. It’s so much harder to get up when it’s still dark and my alarm often wakes me rather roughly. After I switch it off, I sometimes even fall asleep again whereas I was often up before 6am in the summer, without alarm.

What I used to do in the past is use a floor lamp on a timer to start waking me up. It’s much gentler and the light bulb I used for that is an energy-saving bulb that starts up slowly and spreads a warm glow. That likely makes it an older CFL (compact fluorescent light bulb). It certainly is pretty old.

So I went looking for a timer. I had two mechanical timers, one of which was broken (a spring in it seems to have snapped, but I am unable to open it), but I don’t like the noise that these mechanical timers make. I had a digital one too. Those are more complicated to program, but I managed.

The floor lamp that I want to use it with, in which I replaced the switch a long time ago with the aid of Wilko (because what it came with was rather clumsy), seemed to have developed a problem. Or maybe it is the bulb. Not sure yet. It started giving off a loud buzz, but only after a while (which makes it likely that the bulb is the problem).

Could also be that something was a little too loose in the lamp; it has a flexible “snake top” so it gets fiddled with.

So I took the lamp apart because it could do with a clean, did encounter a component that surprised me by falling out right away and that could have been the cause of the buzz (part of the bayonet fitting), gave it all a good clean and will do the final bit of reassembly later. I want the metal shade to dry well first. If in doubt, I will stop using this floor lamp, of course.

I will also test the bulb in that case, to make sure that it is not the source of the buzz after all. Bulbs can certainly buzz too and this bulb, like I said, is pretty old but still trucking. It could be telling me that it’s reached the end of its life or that, because it’s old, it’s not fully compatible with the newer digital timer.

What also helps a lot with getting up when the mornings are darker is… daylight bulbs! Get yourself a daylight bulb and switch that on after you’ve woken up. It helps kick-start your adrenaline serotonin cycle into adrenaline mode.

Dance it out, shake it off!

Lots of us, certainly women my age, so I understand, aren’t getting enough exercise these days.

Me, I started running when I was still in primary school and was blessed with a vast nature area behind our house.

If you’re in the middle of the urban environment, such as in Amsterdam, running outdoors often isn’t much fun. These days, I prefer grass and other natural surfaces to run on anyway. That’s gentler on tendons and joints and on your feet too.

So I increasingly often went on long walks.

In 2017, I had a one-sided viral pneumonia, however, and it took me a long time to bounce back from that in terms of energy level. Next, we had the pandemic with almost two years of pretty strict lockdowns.

The stretch that I used to walk is no longer available. I’d have to walk through traffic for about an hour, a lot of that traffic pretty heavy, causing the kind of non-stop noise that can leave you with a tension headache, to reach a nature reserve where I could walk around for a while, but then I’d have to walk back through traffic again for about an hour.

There is a lovely nearby cemetery where I can walk around and around and where I’ve also run in the past. But that’s not enough and becomes dull pretty quickly.

I found a distant but lovely stretch of grass that I can walk to and where I can then can walk around and around, but (the grass is often wet these days and) it’s more suitable for warmer weather, when you can saunter home and not feel that you “have” to walk to it and “have” to walk back from it.

So here’s an alternative, if you like music. It’s a playlist I started putting together during the pandemic lockdowns. More fun than an elliptical trainer and unlike exercise equipment, it takes up no precious space in your home, just speakers and you dancing it out, shaking it off.

Shake it off!

You can do this at any time (headphones on if needed) and for as long or briefly as you like.

It’ll really cheer you up!

Logitech Z120 speakers are pretty decent.

I am seething

I have been seething with anger for days.

Liz Truss is a spineless selfish wuss. I couldn’t believe that she already threw in the towel after a few weeks. It did nothing to help the country. It is utterly self-serving and does nothing for the backward views on women here either.

Now there is talk of the horrible Trump clone returning, the Trump clone who declared that people like me – EU citizens many of who have been living here for decades and have helped the country survive when the English couldn’t manage for example their own power plants because the English didn’t have the required knowledge – shouldn’t get any crazy ideas and expect to feel safe and at home here.

We foreigners are told that we’re all from countries that have no decent healthcare, almost no education, no intelligent people, certainly no universities, no values, no integrity.

We often find ourselves dumbfounded by the low quality of education here.

Slovenia and Poland are about to overtake the UK in terms of average income and income equality too, according to a recent article in the Financial Times.

I get called “vulnerable” because I want to be allowed to make my own living and be free from lock-picking and other malicious interference and because I don’t want to be treated like a recalcitrant 3-year-old just because I am over 45. Because I don’t want to drown myself in knitting, crocheting, embroidery and the art of baking cookies just because that is what any good Englishwoman is supposed to do.

I get mocked because I want to be as healthy as possible. That’s seen as utterly delusional for anyone over 45.

Here in town, I have had two male idiots empty a bucket with liquid over me because, hey, I am not a fully fledged member of the human species and that makes it okay. I have had two women on the same Saturday stop in front of me, look me up and down and start laughing at me on a day when I behaved and looked the same way that I had done in the weeks before and would continue to do in the following weeks.

(Some of you’ve stood at the gates of some of our children’s schools and told our puzzled children to go home or to go back to where they came from.)

I’ve even had stones thrown at me a few times. How dare I object to that.

That is the extent of English values. Making fun of other people’s sensibility. To be sensible is seen as utterly objectionable over here.

To get away with the least effort possible, make as many excuses as possible and be proud of sloppiness, those things became English standards long before I moved here. In fact, some of those “standards” have improved a little since I moved here and are likely to be going down the drain again soon. Mustn’t adopt any of that international quality daftness.

I can’t even make any jokes here because a) most of the English have no sense of humour that doesn’t involve a form of sadism but worse b) it’s usually mistaken for me making a language error.

We foreigners are flabbergasted that the English believe that they’re the best thing since sliced bread and far superior to all the other people out there in other nations, including those in Scotland and Wales. Where on earth do they get that idea from?

I have had it. I am drawing the line. I will take no more shit from any English people. I’ve had it. You people are a joke and this country is a joke. This is not a recent development. It’s been like this for at least about 20 years. You’re only increasingly seeing the cascading results of your own misplaced beliefs in your superiority and your world-dominance. Now you have ended up with a bunch of utterly amateurish fools running your government.

Why do you prefer clowns, fools and bullies over capable and sensible people?

I have held my mouth shut for a long time because I felt that you’re entitled to your own culture with its own idiocies and idiosyncrasies. Every country has them, after all. Even when you voted to leave the EU, I wrote that if this would bring the improvements that this broken country so badly needs, then I was all for it. This was your country, after all, to do with as you pleased.

But now I’ve had it. I will no longer keep my mouth shut and I will no longer put up with any stupid insults and mockery from English folks. It’s you who are the stupid dimwitted ones and it’s you who are making a mockery of yourselves.

I am merely observing and describing.

Please don’t tell me that this only concerns the Tories. This also applies to the Lib Dems and to Labour. Please don’t tell me that the Tories lie all the time. One of the biggest disappointments in my life was discovering that many of the English lie almost all the time. It’s part of your culture. If you want to change that, you have to start changing the culture.

You see people who appreciate honesty and sincerity and doing the best job possible as naive fools. Well, now you have ended up with the results of that.

Has Britain suddenly gone crazy?

That’s what you’d think if you read the comments in foreign newspapers that the Guardian has so eloquently summed up here:

But no, folks, crazy is the only England I know and, yes, it’s not Britain but England that’s crazy. It’s just that since Brexit, it’s become clear to the rest of the world as well. You couldn’t even make the shambles of the negotiations with the EU up if you wanted to, let alone the rest of Brexit.

It was all plain bonkers, certainly in hindsight, but the cleverly encouraged conspiracy thinking that the Tories had intoxicated half of the English with in the course of many years meant that nobody could get through to them. That’s just how people’s brains work. It’s neuroscience. Otherising the Brexiteers made things worse, made them dig in their heels even deeper. Of course! They saw the Remainers as the misled conspiracy theorists!

Fortunately, there’s hope, because more and more English folks are starting to agree with me (in the sense that the country’s crazy and disorganized). I am not smarter; I just have the advantage of having lived in a few other countries that taught me a lot about my own country, too, and not all of that was pretty either.

Now we need a miracle. Say, a Merlin clone and a Queen Arthur magically emerging from the mists surrounding one of the most distant isles, one where sanity and practicality have been preserved. Apparently, Arthur can also be a woman’s name. I bet Merlin can be too if you want it to be. That sort of covers diversity, then.

Brain structure not as rigid as scientists once believed

While I have said a few times that people cannot change their brain structure on command, which is why it is immensely short-sighted of clinical psychologists and other health professionals to rant and rave about people who have for example a narcissistic personality disorder, I have also mentioned that I hope that new therapies will become available to support people with such brain structures. I’ve dropped the word neurofeedback as a suggestion for an avenue to explore within this context.

This morning, I read that the brain structure and connectivity of clinically depressed people changes within six weeks under the right treatment.

Representative map of the affected connections in the brain. The number of these connections increased after treatment. Credit: Jonathan Repple.
Should read “Radboud” instead of “Rabdoud”:

No longer seen as correct:
“the structure of the adult brain is generally rigid and incapable of rapid change

Ripping off plasters (band-aids) to teach your kids to be tough can set them up for injuries. Heard of “MARSI”? Teach your children to be gentle and kind instead and you’ll benefit a large number of people, in many more ways than you will hold possible.

MARSI stands for “medical adhesive-related skin injuries”. They usually look very ugly, can take a long time to heal and can get infected. They are overlooked and often preventable. They can affect anyone.

Ripping a band-aid off means that a much larger force is exerted on the skin than necessary. It can cause detachment of one or more skin layers and thus can also cause tears in the skin.

In addition, many people are allergic to the adhesives used in plasters and such sensitivities can suddenly become much worse. This can effectively cause a chemical burn injury.

Teach your children to be gentle and you’ll benefit a large number of people, in many more ways than you will hold possible.

For medical professionals, there is a “best practice consensus document on prevention”:

Canada sentences Dutchman Aydin Coban to 13 years in prison in the Amanda Todd case

In my Dutch news app this morning:

Aydin Coban had already been sentenced by a Dutch court to 10 years and 8 months in prison for crimes he committed against dozens of different girls and a few men. The Amanda Todd case was not included in the Dutch proceedings because Canada wanted to prosecute him on its own.

Aydan Coban. Would you have suspected him?

When he’s completed his sentence in the Netherlands, he will be sent back to Canada to be jailed there.

Amanda Todd was a young teenager who was hounded by Coban and who eventually killed herself to get away from him because he (and others around her) had made living impossible for her.

Do NOT dare to call this a mental health issue (in the sense of blaming it on the victim). Mental health issues can be the result, but they are no excuse for abuse.

This kind of abuse usually simply makes it impossible to live for PRACTICAL reasons alone. Any kind of harassment involving a victim’s suicide still tends to be partly blamed on the victim. And that’s part of the problem.

Want an example? If bullies throw a poor child’s books or notes into a pond, how is he supposed to complete his homework? A child cannot simply relocate to the other side of a country to get away from bullies and start over fresh under a new name.

It may also be helpful to keep in mind that young people’s brains are still developing to some degree, and that neural pathways become reinforced in response to what is happening around you if those experiences are repetitive (prolonged).

See my previous two posts too, about the line that you cross when “humor” becomes abuse and you don’t realize it. This is exactly what I mean. I hope that to most all of you, it is clear that there was nothing funny or hilarious about why this Canadian teen ended her life.

There are copies of two newspaper articles on the inside of my clothes closet door. Both concern two young men who were set on fire at work in England. One in Bristol and the other one in Reading. One of them was abused so badly that he decided to take his life and even after his death was still being blamed for the atrocities at his place of work. Because he took his life.

His colleagues and superiors thought that what they were engaging in was “humor”. They saw nothing wrong with it. His line manager stated openly that no line was crossed when the young man was set on fire; he had been present when it happened.

The other young man ended up in hospital with burns and developed PTSD. Because he did not kill himself, he was not blamed for what happened.

With regard to cases like Amanda Todd’s… most police officers are totally clueless. They’re so out of touch with the online world and with IT aspects, it’s beyond belief. They may proudly tell you that they record interviews on tape so that what’s on it can’t be tampered with, that all anyone can do to it is wipe everything that’s on it. That’s usually the full extent of their IT knowledge. They can actually be informed “I have access to this woman’s computer equipment” and manage to miss it completely. They expect folks like Aydin Coban to communicate under their own names, from their own e-mail addresses and have fixed, identifiable IP addresses, too. When you’re an Amanda Todd, of any age, you’re on your own.

How to test whether you are mixing up otherisation and cruelty with “humor”, for English people

If you wouldn’t want to do the same thing to Boris Johnson or David Cameron or Keir Starmer or Jeremy Corbyn or Vince Cable or Ed Davey, then it’s likely to be otherisation and cruelty. Abuse.

Because it likely indicates that you fear what would happen if you did. If you do something “funny” only to people who you perceive as having less power than yourself, then it’s almost always abuse. Asking yourself if you’d be willing to do the exact same thing to any of the above-mentioned top politicians can help clarify that.

See my previous post about what happened to former nurse Mrs Ann King at Reigate Grange. It wasn’t funny at all, but the people who did it to her seemed to think that it was.

88-year-old former nurse abused in luxury facility: An example of how otherisation can easily lead to cruelty

Older adults are demonized in the UK, multiple studies have shown. That’s the over-45s, roughly, certainly when it concerns women.

It also can lead to horrific abuse. These Guardian pages below contain video content that will leave you shaken. The family of this 88-year-old former nurse was shelling out £100,000 a year for her “care” in this “luxury” home. (The money came from the woman’s savings. She was paying for her own abuse.)

Among other things, the rag with which the toilet was cleaned was often – eh, how shall I put this – draped across her face, almost. Someone else can be seen shaking her bed just to pester her while another person says “it’s a wave”. Mrs King has dementia; they’re making fun of her. It’s vile.

I’ve reported this facility to Google as permanently closed. No matter what its management says, cruelty from multiple people can only occur when it’s condoned, whether passively or actively, by the people around them.

How youngsters are dragged into extremism

I talked about some of this stuff in my most recent book. By the way, somehow the most recent version of that book got lost. It currently makes two people clearly identifiable; I didn’t want that because that was not the purpose of my book at all. I specifically amended the most recent version for that reason and then uploaded it. I don’t know where it’s gone.

Here are the references. They tell their own story.

Alston, Philip (2018) “Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.” 18.pdf

Alston, Philip (2019) “Visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.” United Nations, General Assembly. A/HRC/41/39/Add.1

BBC (2007) “Red-haired family forced to move” BBC News.

BBC (2007) “Man ‘died at hands of young mob’” BBC News.

BBC (2007) “Boys sentenced for stoning death” BBC News.

BBC (2021) “Plymouth shooting: Jake Davison was licensed gun holder” BBC News.

Beaney, Abigail (2022) “The life of Sylvia Lancaster after the murder of her daughter Sophie” Lancashire Telegraph.

Bregman, Rutger (2017) “Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash.” TED. aracter_it_s_a_lack_of_cash

Broderick, Ryan (2014) “Activists Are Outing Hundreds Of Twitter Users Believed To Be 4chan Trolls Posing As Feminists” Buzzfeed News.

CIPD (2022) Bullying and harassment at work. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Coleman, Gabriella (2014) “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous” Verso. ISBN: 13: 9781781685839

Daynes, Kerry (2019) “The dark side of the mind: True stories from my life as a forensic psychologist” Octopus Publishing Group. ISBN: 9781788402170

Daynes, Kerry (2021) “What lies buried: A forensic psychologist’s true stories of madness, the bad and the misunderstood” Octopus Publishing Group. ISBN: 9781913068578

Elamroussi, Aya, Moshtaghian, Artemis, and Frehse, Rob (2022) “Buffalo suspect’s posts about attack plans could be seen online 30 minutes before mass shooting” CNN.

Evans, Jules (2013) “Being a Stoic saved me from the curse of the British stiff upper lip”

Eve, Carl (2022) “Plymouth shooting: Families meet with Security Minister over online incel culture fears” Plymouth Herald.

Feldman Barrett, Lisa (2020) “Seven and a half lessons about the brain” Picador. ISBN: 9781529018622


Godin, Seth (2018) This is marketing. You can’t be seen until you learn to see. Penguin. ISBN: 9780241370148

Gonzalez, Oscar (2019) “8chan, 8kun, 4chan, Endchan: What you need to know” CNET.

Griffin, Andrew (2021) “What is QAnon? The origins of bizarre conspiracy theory spreading online” The Independent.

Halliday, Josh and Arthur, Charles (2010) “WikiLeaks: Who are the hackers behind Operation Payback?” The Guardian.

Hill, Amelia (2019) “Older people widely demonised in UK, ageism report finds” The Guardian.

Huffington Post (2012) “England Riots: One In Four Young People Believe Last Summer’s Disorder Could Happen Again.”

Jamieson, Alastair (2020) “Police warn of homophobic 4chan cyber attack on LGBT+ Pride month celebrations” The Independent.

Jones, Owen (2022) “Why homophobia against straight men matters” The Guardian.

Kent, Lauren & Ritchie, Hannah (2021) “Plymouth shooter made misogynist remarks echoing the ‘incel’ ideology.” CNN.

Kew Law Kew Law (2020) See: and

Lanier, Heather (2017) ‘”Good” and “bad” are incomplete stories we tell ourselves.’ te_stories_we_tell_ourselves

Leatherdale, Duncan (2022) “Jack Woodley: Why was the 18-year-old killed?” BBC News.

Lewis, Richard D. (2000) “When cultures collide. Managing successfully across cultures.” Revised first edition. Nicholas Brealy Publishing. ISBN: 1857880870

Ling, Justin (2022) “’Cheering section’ for violence: the attacks that show 4chan is still a threat” The Guardian.

Lloyd-Roberts, Sue (2017) “The war on women. And the brave ones who fight back.” Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 9781471153921

Lumby, Tommy and McMenemy, Rachael (2018) “‘Vulnerable’ woman attacked with flour and eggs speaks out” Cambridge News.

Manjoo, Rashida (2015) “Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Addendum. Mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” United Nations, General Assembly. A/HRC/29/27/Add.2. 9/Documents/A_HRC_29_27_Add_2_en.doc

Mann, Tanveer (2018) “Boys who ‘attacked disabled woman with flour get police protection’” Metro News.

Marsh, Abigail (2016) “Why some people are more altruistic than others.” TED.

Moss, Dawn (2018) “Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson: ’Inequality strikes at our health and happiness’” The Guardian.

New Zealand shootings:

PA News Agency (2020) “Incels believe women owe them sex, experts tells terrorism trial” The National.

Piff, Paul (2013) “Does money make you mean?” TED.


Potter, Tom (2018) “‘Flour bombing’ teen sentenced for ‘nasty attack’ on woman” East Anglian Daily Times.

Press TV Documentaries (2015) “Murder in Bristol (The Tragic Case of Bijan Ebrahimi’s Murder)” Press TV.

Quinn, Ben (2022) “Glorification of Plymouth shooter by ‘incels’ prompts calls for action.”

Reynolds, Emily (2020) “We’re less likely to spread alarming information while experiencing physiological stress” The British Psychological Society.

Samuelson, Kate (2016) “What to Know About Pizzagate, the Fake News Story With Real Consequences” Time.

Saxe, Rebecca (2019) “The neuroscience of hate” Talk given at Harvard Law School’s Petrie Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics.

Serani, Deborah (2018) “Bullycide When a bullied child dies by suicide” Psychology Today.

Solomon, Andrew (2013) “Love, no matter what” TED.

Slack, Paul (2018) “Businessman ruined after false online claims of paedophilia” Sunday Times.

Snider, Mike (2017) “Steve Bannon learned to harness troll army from ‘World of Warcraft’” USA Today.

Statistics New Zealand (2019) “One in 10 workers feels discriminated against, harassed, or bullied at work”

Taylor, Kathleen (2009) “Cruelty. Human evil and the human brain” Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780199552627

Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2021) “From cyberfascism to terrorism: On 4chan/pol/ culture and the transnational production of memetic violence” Nations and Nationalism. 2021;1–16.

TUC (2019) “Bullying at work” Trades Union Congress.

Veritas (2022) “Who are stalkers?” Veritas stalking advocacy service.

Wainwright, Martin (2008) “Woman died after drunken gang attacked couple dressed as goths”. The Guardian.
(See also

Wilkinson, Richard (2011) “How economic inequality harms societies” TED.

Wilkinson, Richard and Pickett, Kate (2010) “The spirit level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone”. ISBN: 9780241954294

Wilkinson, Richard and Pickett, Kate (2018) “The inner level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-being”. ISBN: 978-1846147418

Woolf, Nicky (2016) “The ‘alt-right’ thrives in opposition. What happens now it’s the establishment?” The Guardian.

Yeo, Amanda (2019) “8chan returns with a new name and a reminder not to do illegal stuff” Mashable.

Younge, Gary (2017) “’It was pure racism’: the family of Bijan Ebrahimi on their fight for answers” The Guardian.

Tackling violent crime in London

A message in my inbox today:

The question I am asked most as Mayor is: “What are you doing to tackle violent crime in London?” 

It’s something I’ve thought about and grappled with every day since I was first elected. I know you know this, but violent crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s often a by-product of deprivation, social alienation, increasing inequality and government cuts to public services including youth activities.

Where the Government is failing to step up, City Hall is taking action.

Today I’m pleased to announce that my Violence Reduction Unit has invested £5 million to help support London Boroughs in delivering prevention and early intervention programmes to drive down violence during the summer holidays.

Young people need opportunities to build community and succeed. That’s why we’re also investing £1 million into a sports programme to deliver activities for young Londoners in neighbourhoods affected by violence.

We’re also supporting the Local Village Network app: it’s free to download and provides young people aged 14-24 with more than 2,500 opportunities and activities to get involved in across London. 
Share the app with a young Londoner you know on WhatsApp
Find out more about how we’re tackling violence
Tackling violence is my top priority, and I’m determined to do everything I can to ensure we do not see a rise in incidents over the summer months. 

I will continue to be tough on crime by supporting the police in removing dangerous weapons, tackling drugs and gangs, supporting communities through neighbourhood policing, and bearing down on the complex causes of violence. 

We cannot neglect our young people and then expect them to thrive. This investment will help make London fairer and safer for everyone.

Best wishes,

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan 

Boredom, hate, terrorism and riots

CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen just wrote that attacks such as the one in Buffalo can be prevented. Yes, they can. Not always, but often.

However, this requires a lot more than the six steps Peter Bergen offers in his article. Bergen is not only CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America (a think tank) and a professor of practice at Arizona State University.

What is a professor of practice?

Bergen begins by making a terrible mistake by calling this “a very American tale of domestic terrorism”, ignoring victims of similar attacks all over the world. A dreadful shooting in New Zealand, a horrible attack in Norway and a recent tragic incident in Plymouth in England come to mind as first examples. Also in Asia and Africa there have been many of these incidents, but they likely come about differently, though I can’t be sure of that.

First, “let’s stop naming the terrorists,” Peter Bergen continues. He writes that “these misguided individuals are typically zeros trying to be heroes”. Not only is this a useless suggestion because even if journalists were to refrain from naming these people, many more others still do and they would do so even more to counter that silence. Crucially, however, Bergen completely misses that this – feeling like zeros – is often exactly what is at the root of these incidents. I find it hard to believe that he completely overlooks the significance of what he is saying.

A great deal of this violence stems from the fact that so many youngsters – and not just youngsters – feel that their lives have no significance and are overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness, not to mention sheer boredom.

Second, Bergen mentions social media, and argues for the removal of content that encourages violence. This overlooks that this kind of content does not only pop up on regular social media, but still more often in the dark nooks and crannies of the internet. This also overlooks that if you ban content, you may merely be pushing it underground where it can’t be monitored. He does not even mention 4chan. That said, I agree that it is important to police fake news and fake science as any otherizing language lowers the threshold toward violence, neuroscience teaches us.


After the 2011 riots in England, some of the participants indicated that boredom had been an important driver and that merely providing access to sports facilities can help prevent such escalations.

Leaders who want to learn about how big a role boredom plays should watch the video about the “Philmarillion”, a person who for months documented every move and twitch of a particular online user based in England. This person created an entire world made up of the posts of said user, and even engaged in performance art to simulate that said user was living with him.

We should be grateful that the Philmarillion was artistically inclined.

Can you see what boredom can do to others, who have nowhere else to be and to go and no outlet for whatever ails them?

As a third step towards preventing shootings like the one in Buffalo, Peter Bergen mentions the discipline of threat management. He explains that suspects often follow a predictable path to violence, but that still does not identify them to us and does not enable us to interfere. The article does mention that the FBI has recently doubled the number of people who work on domestic terrorism and extremism, but that reflects the developments rather than predates them.

As a fourth step, Bergen mentions that “officials” need a better understanding of the concept of “leakage,” that peers usually have “the most useful information about attack planning, but were the least likely to come forward with relevant information to law enforcement”.

He then makes the following nonsensical statement:

How do you investigate a “potential act of terrorism”? Because that’s like potentially winning the lottery. You can’t investigate something that does not exist or has not happened. I think what he means is that if school officials etc are concerned about a student, law enforcement should talk with the student’s friends and take them seriously.

As the fifth step, he mentions an American policy that sounds like the UK counterpart called “Prevent”. Logos of pro-cycling and pro-wildlife activists are examples of what UK school teachers need to be on the lookout for and report. If the US policy is anything like Prevent, all we end up with is more distrust in society instead of less.

As sixth and final step, Bergen kicks against an open door by stating that kids like this shooter should never have been able to purchase his weaponry. That is certainly true, but the Plymouth shooter – in England, where guns are not a birthright, unlike in the US – not only had a shotgun, it had been confiscated yet returned to him shortly before the incident.

There currently seems to be a large number of mostly young white males out there who feel indeed, as Peter Bergen puts it, like zeros. They often feel disenfranchised, whether it is about their perceived right to have sex with any woman or another issue, but something happens right before this starts to fester and they go online, looking for echo chambers in which they finally feel heard and understood.

Guys like Payton Gendron are not that different from guys like Jake Davison.

They need people to blame, to direct their powerlessness at, whether it is non-whites in general or a particular group of people in particular, or Jews or women or immigrants.

(Women too are sometimes part of these movements, though.)

The question to ask is:

How do these youngsters end up in these online and offline echo chambers filled with hate? What happens before they go there?

The problem is that they’re still too young to monitor themselves, recognize what is happening to them, stop themselves in time and turn away, surround themselves with positivity instead. Echo chambers come in all kinds.

Apparently, it was particularly types like Bannon and Trump who have very deliberately been targeting these dark places on the internet, who whip up this hate, to make people feel that something has been taken from them that should be theirs and that it’s the Trumps of the world who will get it back for them. Divide people, promise to defend them against the “enemy” and get their votes.

Maybe it’s politicians and their close associates, then, who should all begin to be monitored to prevent potential acts of domestic terrorism?

They may be the ones who sow the seeds for this hate.

They certainly should be monitored for otherizing language and be called out on it, be made aware of how dangerous that is, if they don’t know that yet.

Where are things going wrong for these youngsters, people like Payton Gendron? At what age does this start? Around 10 or 12 or perhaps even earlier? They are often still as young as 14 when they end up on these forums where they become radicalized. What exactly is it that goes wrong in their lives?

(It certainly does not match Tony Blair’s old theories about “hooligans” and graffiti artists. Payton Gendron’s parents are two happy-looking civil engineers.)

WHY do these kids feel like fat zeros?


Payton Gendron had just started college. The pandemic probably cut it short. He went to 4chan because he was bored. Could it really be only boredom that drives young people to these places of hate?? Boredom does make angry. Boredom does lead to a buildup of energy.

What was Payton Gendron like before he started hanging out on 4chan?