Tuesday 24 March 2020

Covid Days: Minimizing friction in close quarters

My daughter and I had "The Big Covid 19 Discussion" about how we were going to manage an indefinite period of isolation in close quarters together. We came up with this list which she has transcribed for anyone who is interested.

Most importantly, let's realise it will be impossible to avoid friction entirely, however we can take steps to keep it to a minimum.

  1. Remember that the other person is not a mind reader – if you aren’t sure what the other means, ask politely. If there is a misunderstanding, don’t apportion blame, just work it out between yourselves.
  2. If the other person appears irritable, take a moment to recognise that it may not be about you.
  3. Take a moment before responding – this is IMPORTANT!
  4. Remember, we are not multi-taskers!!! One instruction at a time, otherwise it is confusing and stressful.
  5. If someone is engaged in a task, realise they may need time to finish that task before moving on to the next thing.
  6. Words/phrases to avoid: “Well – “(said defensively).
  7. THINK before acting
  8. No SUDDEN moves
  9. No snatching!!!
  10. Knock before entering a room
  11. Put aside whatever you’re doing in that moment and give your full attention to the other person if they want it.
  12. Modulate tone of voice and facial expressions when conscious of it, but DON’T suppress feelings. We know that VENTING is important, and we can work it out. After every storm, there is a rainbow.
  13. If grievances arise, take a breath and air it calmly. Do NOT bottle it up. If you hold it in, it will only EXPLODE later.
  14. Respect the other’s need for space. If they say they need some down time, then respect their wishes. They will find you again when they are ready.
  15. Remember to use the magic word when requesting that something be done.
Remember, our moods and interests are not always in harmony. Sometimes we may not be able to enjoy what the other is enjoying – though often we do! It’s temporary, not the end of the world

And finally, enjoy dancing, singing, laughing, and telling stories together!

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Warpies and Wefties of the World, Unite!

Everybody knows that there are just 
two kinds of people in the world, right?  But what are they exactly? I submit ...

Warpies and Wefties

Yes, it is one of those absurd, over-generalised binaries. But bear with me, because you will find that these are binary opposites that unite us rather than divide us. Thus I submit that they are a great metaphor for building harmony between different Neurotribes whilst avoiding medicalised jargon.

I base my argument on 

The Art of Weaving 

(as Social Metaphor)

 "Warp" and "Weft" name the the diametrically opposite threads on a loom, which, when interwoven, create infinite varieties of fabrics

Weaving is arguably humanity's oldest technology, one that combines Art and Usefulness.

And one generally associated with the Feminine, which doubly appeals to me.

And thus Weaving might just be both an adaptable and enduring, metaphor for creating harmony in these fractured times

But before I extend the metaphor to humans, a brief ...

Weaving Basics
for novices

  • Taut fixed threads
  • Provide structure
  • Limited colours

  • Threads at 90°
  • Provide variability
  • Many colours


  • Intersections create virtually infinite variety 

A tangled useless mess

Infinite potential

Now take the quiz! 

Are you a Warpie or a Weftie?

If inclined, do take this well-meaning, if totally unscientific test. If you are perfectionist like me, you will complain bitterly that the test lumps together adjectives that are unrelated and doesn't reflect your uniquely fascinating characteristics. Just do it anyway. 

How to score:

Afraid I haven't figured out how to setup a quiz on blogger, so you will need a writing implement...

  1. Rate each item 1 to 5 from "Not at all like me” to "Totally me"
  2. Subtract the Warpie total from the Weftie total
  3. Warpies will of course have a negative value but only for linguistic reasons - i.e. warp usually precedes weft in English usage. No negative aspersions intended. On the contrary, the point is to show we need each other.




Provide the backbone of society: Create, maintain and perpetuate social structures

Provide adaptability for society: Weave through established social structures, experimenting, creating change


Pride themselves on being orderly, predictable, responsible, reliable, prudent

Pride themselves on being change agents, brainstormers, creatives, subverting ossified cultural mores


Vertical: prioritize staying in stable employment and rising  through the ranks. Will build up an upwardly mobile CV as they progress

Horizontal: In traditional jobs, may move in and out of work, with a patchy  CV: From billionaire innovators, to social security recipients


Security, stability, promotion. May be willing to sacrifice intellectual and  moral freedom for career

Flexibility, autonomy. Unwilling to compromise intellectual and moral freedom for career


Accumulate money due to stable  employment, prudence,  build up retirement funds

Boom and bust, may end up millionaires or penniless at retirement, and even homeless:


Tend to stable upwardly mobile relationships and marriages

Relationships tend to be less stable, often de facto


Consider Wefties to be erratic, untidy, unpredictable, unreliable, self-indulgent, lazy

Consider Warpies to be authoritarian, controlling, boring, dictatorial


Dream of throwing it all away and becoming beach bums and artists. Rarely do it till retirement, when they splurge on travel

Dream of getting through just one structured day perfecty:rising early, getting chores done,  having regular mealtimes, sleeping by midnight. Rarely achieve it


Not spending more time with family, being creative

Not building a career, not paying attention to accumulation


Weftie freedom and creativity

Warpie wealth and status


Cognitive profile fairly level across strengths and weaknesses

Cognitive profile "spiky" across strengths and weaknesses


Morning people: regular sleep patterns

Night owls:irregular sleep patterns, insomnia­

Why is this a good metaphor for society?

Warp and Weft, separated, are weak and useless

Warp and Weft, intersecting, are strong, and have infinite potential 

Their strength as a metaphor is that unlike the ND/NT divide, they do not oppose each other nor diverge in a different direction, perhaps never to meet again. They separate off, but only to meet again in a constructive fashion.

Warpies and Wefties intersect and create the fabric of society

They do not divide society

They construct society together

We need each other!


This is not intended to replace the Neurotypical/Neurodivergent binary which is a necessary advocacy tool. I intend it as an affectionate, plain English form of self-identification for the people it suits.
The description will obviously fit many who have been the object of prejudice in work and education. It is obviously not a "disability label" though there maybe obvious overlaps with neurodivergent conditions

Monday 16 March 2020

Through a glass screen, darkly. Coronavirus thoughts

After 7 decades of frenetic rebuilding after the unique horrors of  World War II, Nature has reasserted itself, and is forcing us to take a Sabbatical.  

With all our human ingenuity and creativity, we have accelerated to excess, as we in the advanced capitalist world have failed to exercise enough self-discipline and self-reflection, thinking there was always going to be more, more more. 

We now have the time to reflect on how we came to be at this junction. Here we find ourselves, isolated cells sitting alone in a network of cables, seeing the world and our friends literally “through a glass, darkly”. 

Perhaps this pause will cause us to think creatively about ways forward, although IMO we need less "creativity" and more "receptivity". 

In my sociology days, as I became disillusioned by the simplistic binary division then in vogue, between the "social" and "medical" models, I came to envisage “Culture” as a rubber band attached to “Nature”. 

With all our ingenuity, we can only pull away so far before the band snaps us back. 

Or breaks.

We now wait and see who will bend and who will be broken.

Crisis, opportunity. The world turns. I wish I could pray to a Parent Figure in the sky to fix it for us, myself, my near and dear, and my ever-widening circles, but its now time to wish everyone well, watch and wait, and hope we all weather this somehow and get some wisdom in the process

Crisis, opportunity.

Friday 6 March 2020

That troublesome adjective "Neurodiverse"

The Adjective "Neurodiverse” has become so popular in common usage  as a synonym for “neurologically different", and is so entrenched in both organizational jargon and personal identification that it seems churlish to quibble that it is linguistical irrational and ultimately damaging to the cause.

To my horror, it’s even in the Oxford Dictionary, doing the work of dividing a group called "US" from a group called "THEM"!

Neurodiversity like biodiversity, is literally a feature of the planet not a synonym for "Neurologically Other"

We humans are NOT Neurodiverse 
Not individually. Not collectively.
The PLANET is Neurodiverse

Just no!

The importance of language

It seems there are two kinds of people in this world
  1. Those who believe that language matters and it's important to get it right
  2. Those who believe "Never mind the language, let's just get on with the job"
Naturally, I prefer the first mob. (See below for an example of a perfectly useful, necessary and innocuous adjective permanently ruined by misuse. I refer to the statistical term "Deviant")

But I do waver in my linguistic perfectionism from time to time, as I try to weigh the pros and cons of undermining a juggernaut of change. After all, if all the organizations springing up for the "inclusion of neurodiverse people" are making the world a better place, why complicate things with my obsession with linguistic purity ?

How it ends lies with all of you.

My linguistic point

I have been rightly reminded by Martijn Dekker and others, that my earlier statement that we are ALL “Neurodiverse” is wrong. . But saying that NONE of us are Neurodiverse is equally wrong. I hope my argument below makes it clear. Both are wrong, because ND is a descriptor of the planet, never of individuals. 

Logically speaking, Neurodiverse is an imaginary and irrational adjective, somewhat like an imaginary number, (the square root of a negative number which cannot logically exist) 

This usage of “neurodiverse” cannot be based based on "biodiverse", because that adjective only exists for the comparison of ecosystems, as in "The Amazon Delta is more biodiverse than the Sahara Desert"

Since Homo Sapiens has colonized the whole planet, the only thing we can be compared with is another planet with sentient life. Until such time as we find such a planet, the adjective is out on a very lonely limb.

And it is illogical to use Neurodiverse as an adjective to describe an individual.

You cannot Say "Lee Bloggs is a person, while Kim Bloggs is a neurodiverse person" (note my careful use of ungendered names) any more that you would say "Skippy the Kangaroo is a marsupial, but Wally the Wombat is biodiverse"

So, maybe the concept is lost to all but linguistic nerds, but 

Nevertheless, I register a protest

Neurodiverse should not be a synonym for “neurologically disabled". We are all neurodiverse, because:
  1. It's linguistically illogical.  We are ALL Neurodiverse inhabitants of the planet, because no two minds on this planet can ever be exactly alike.
  2. More importantly, if Neurodiverse becomes a synonym for Disabled instead of remaining a symbol for the incredible wonder of natural variation, it will rapidly acquire stigma,  be devalued, and we would lose its power as a unifying symbol for all

Appendix: The sad case of the word "Deviant"

Once upon a time deviant was a perfectly innocuous statistical term meaning "a quantity expressing by how much the members of a group differ from the mean value for the group". Somehow someone stuck it to the word "Sexual" and it's now sullied for all time. 

One of the fathers of sociology,  Ă‰mile Durkheim viewed deviance as an inevitable part of how society functions. He argued that deviance is a basis for change and innovation!
So now so many people think "deviant" means "sexually perverted" that the much better word Neurodeviant has to be avoided, and we must use "Neurodivergent"...

Deviant and Divergent defined

Deviant actually means "a significant standard deviation from the average". That is what the new term "Spiky Neurological Profile" actually means. A "Neurotypical person" has very little standard deviation from the average on a range of cognitive abilities, while "a NeuroSpiky" person with AS ADHD the Dyses etc,  has a range of deviations.

Imagine Kim and Lee walking down the “one true”, socially sanctioned normal conventional path, and Kim deviate from the norm and forges a new path.

Now imagine Kim and Lee walking together on a path, any path, when they come to a cross-roads, split and go their separate paths, perhaps never to meet again.

Is that what we want?

If the Gay movement could reclaim the word Queer as their badge of pride, why not NeuroDeviant?

What do you think?

Probably reclaiming "deviant" is a step too far, too late, I admit, but it's all part of my contribution to the Dialectic of Neurodiversity:


I don't say there's no such thing as "Disability". But you have to ask yourself what you mean by Disability before you criticise others. Their understanding may be quite different.
Do you mean the Welfare System's definition used to save money by dividing the "worthy poor" from the "unworthy poor"? 
The United Nations definition? Your personal experience of pride, or suffering, or discrimination? And more