But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day/Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
I am struck occasionally, usually while snuggling the cat, with our faith in domestication.
The cat is a small, ferocious predator, twelve pounds of…well, flab and fur, frankly, in Athena’s case, but what muscle there is is strong all out of proportion to her size. I have watched three 150+ primates try and fail to subdue a ten pound cat, and consider it not at all unusual. The cat is as flexible as a snake and as strong as an ox. She has quite dainty looking teeth and claws, but there’s nothing dainty about their ability to flay flesh from bone.
If the cat and I were in a duel to the death, I would almost certainly win. I am 15+ times larger than she is, after all, and while my teeth and claws are pathetic, I have prehensile hands capable of doing terrible things. But if I had to go in naked, as the cat does, (and assuming the cat was aware that she was going to have to kill me, and not taking a nap in the corner) I can pretty much guarantee it would be a Pyhrric victory. I’d look like I’d gone ten rounds with a wolverine. I would need stitches. A lot of stitches. Possibly a glass eye. And antibiotics by the truckload. It’d be a mess, and there would even be a chance of an upset if the cat managed to go face-hugger on me.
And yet, despite the knowledge of the shocking amount of damage my small predator could inflict, it never occurs to me to worry. I pick the cat up and she tucks her head under my chin and purrs, canine teeth centimeters from my jugular, and despite the fact that I am carrying a ruthless carnivore in a position where she could, with great ease, remove me from the gene pool, I am thoroughly content with the world. Even knowing full well that cats are not even a truly domesticated animal, that Athena’s kin might best be described as “consistently tamed,” my greatest concern is that my black tank top is now coated in white cat hairs.
We have such faith in the process of domestication, despite the sheer unnaturalness of what’s happening. Small predators do not curl up on the chests of large primates and purr in the wild. And yet, every now and again, generally when my small predator is purring on the chest of this particular primate, I think How strange, how strange… that we’re doing this, and even stranger, that we both take it completely for granted, and find nothing unusual in such a completely unlikely alliance. Ursula Vernon (via aliothturtle)
Open letter to “theory of mind deficit” proponents
Either autistic people have a theory of mind, or theory of mind isn’t a fundamental part of being human. It can’t be a fundamental part of being human if some humans don’t have it.
I’m as human as you are. That isn’t questionable.
Yours sincerely, an autistic person
P.S. your evidence that we don’t have theory of mind is sketchy as all hell anyway, most of us (including me) know damn well that other people have minds that aren’t like ours.
If you want some evidence about this I’d again suggest going to Morton Gernsbacher’s autism website. I forget which article but basically…
The Sally-Anne test relies on some of the most difficult language constructions in the English language.
Autistic people have language delays.
Many autistic people pass the Sally-Anne test, so they make the test harder and harder by adding convoluted language to it like “What does Sally think that Anne thinks that Mark thinks?” Until finally the autistic person is tripped up by the language and can be said to lack ‘third-order theory of mind’ or some bullshit.
Anyway they did some tests.
They tested autistic people using a language-free test of theory of mind (specifically, a false belief task similar to Sally-Anne). Autistic people slightly outperformed nonautistic people. Slightly outperformed.
They also took children with something called Specific Language Impairment. Children with SLI are by definition not autistic and don’t have social skills problems. They gave them the Sally Anne test. They did just as badly as autistic people matched with them for degree of language impairment.
Therefore, as far as they know, the “autistics lack theory of mind” thing is based entirely in how much language impairment an autistic person has at understanding certain extremely complex language constructions. If you get nonautistic people with similar language impairment, they do just as bad. If you take away the language bias of the test, autistic people do just as well as nonautistic people and sometimes slightly better than nonautistic people.
So the theory of mind thing is bullshit. Basically.
Yes, of course I’ve heard what the superstitious locals say: “Stay out of the mountains! There’s no shelter on those harsh peaks, and every last combe and glen is infested with killer spiders!”. They say there’s no way to safely cross that mountain range - anyone trying to rest high up on the peaks will die of exposure, lashed by cruel icy winds. Better that, though, than to risk seeking shelter in the forested vales.
The Crawling Death, they call it. Great glossy black eight-legged fiends, some small enough to creep between the rings of your maille, some large as a splayed hand and quick as a cat, and some - so they say - the size of dogs. Or swine. Or cart-horses. The tales have been exaggerated in the telling, of course, since hardly anyone dares venture far into the gullies and ravines that lace between the majestic peaks (most certainly not at night, when the Crawling Death make their appearance, silent as a shadow).
Even if they’re not quite as large as people say, they’re certainly no less deadly. The king’s physicians, who had the unenviable task of tending to the survivors of the last failed expedition, wrote down in stomach-turning detail the precise symptoms of that merciless venom. Erupting blisters the size of a hen’s egg. Flesh blackening, rotting, and sloughing away from the bone. Sweating, drooling, trembling, nausea, vomiting, ranting and raving and spasming like a creature possessed until death seems like a mercy. Others were gripped with a pain unmatched by any wound of war, paired (curiously) with an erection hard as any standing stone.
And yet, in spite of all this, I’m planning an expedition into the mountains. It’s true, I haven’t the equipment with me to safely shelter from the bitter cold above the tree-line, out of the reach of skittering legs and poison-slick fangs. I have no blessing from the gods, and no miracle of alchemy intended to keep the Crawling Death at bay. What I do have, though, is a map. A map from a past age, a more enlightened age, where the cartographers had a decent understanding of the sciences, rather than the encyclopaedic knowledge of rumour and superstition that seems to be the requirement for a mapmaker these days. And from this map - and the journals that I found with it - I have deduced one particularly salient fact, that I am convinced will allow me to make the journey through the supposedly arachnid-infested ravines in perfect safety.
The superstitious peasants might say every last one of those valleys is crawling with deadly poisonous creatures, but in fact, most of them are utterly empty and safe! However, my map has revealed the source of this rumour: Spiders Gorge, which contains over ten thousand spiders, is an outlier adn should not have been counted.
i feel you deserve some sort of prize for this