Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scientology, Autism, Perfect People, and Auditions

1. Learned something big about Tallygarunga by glancing through the non-story message boards

Tallygarunga used to be called St. Katherine's.  

Then I went to this website . It says St. Katherine's began on July 14, 2004.   It was turned into Tallygarunga in April 2006.

I'm confused, though.  

Why do they celebrate Tally's birthday in August?

2. Figured the easiest explanation is that there was a typo on the website. Maybe someone meant to type August instead of April?

Maybe not.

This website gives the same date.   April 2006.  It gives a different birthday, though, for St. Katherine's.  Instead of 2004, they say it was 2003.

3. Realized Mousie herself wrote the posts with the dates. She's the actual creator of Tallygarunga.   She wouldn't get the date wrong.  

Well, if she was me...she would, probably.  But she's not.

4. Thought it was funny that last night, before going to bed, I was confused by Australian-Harry Potter stuff.  Now tonight I'm again confused about an Australia-Harry Potter thing.

What's the deal?

5. Started to read Kate Morton's The Distant Hours.  I read a few pages of the prologue, and I read the little jacket cover thing. I didn't realize it, but it's a gothic novel. I thought it was just historical-fiction.

I like gothic novels.  

6. Read article about Scientology. They're upset that the Fair Work Government allegations have been leaked to the media.

I'm not sure how I feel about it.

My emotions are confused.

My first reaction was to roll my eyes, mostly because Scientology has such a reputation regarding pressuring people to not say bad things about them. Is this another case of that? 


Do they not realize the more they fight bad press, the worse they look? I think it makes them look like they have something to hide.

Also, in terms of leaked reports. This happens all the time. We live in a world where nothing stays secret for long.  It can be frustrating at times, especially when organizations are villainized without a fair trial/investigation.  But are Scientologists fighting against all that in general? If they're really against free speech and leaked reports, they should be fight it happening to others, not just themselves.  

7. Did think that Scientology had a good defense for themselves in the article.   I'm not sure if it's true or not.  I'll try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

They say the Scientology volunteers are equivalent to nuns.  They devote their lives to Scientology.    In return, the church provides them with food, accommodations, medical stuff, transport, etc.  Then they get a small allowance for stuff like movies and visits to the hair stylist.

Basically these people give up their lives for Scientology. Is that okay?

Is it okay for people to give up their lives for Jesus?

I would probably think it's fine as long as it's their choice, and as long as they can change their mind.

I also wonder about cost. I remember hearing that Scientologists have to give their  life savings to the church. Is that true?   How much does this volunteer program cost? Is it free?  Is there a small fee?   Is there a huge fee?

And how does that compare to Catholicism?  How much does it cost to become a nun?

8. Found this anti-Scientology website.  I'm not sure if it's true or anti-Scientology propaganda.  It's interesting, though. 

What I'm getting is that the church doesn't demand people give up all their money.  But what they do is demand a very high price for getting through the program.  The website estimates the cost at $365,000-380,000.  For a celebrity like Tom Cruise, that would be a drop in the bucket. For a regular person, they'd have to probably give up all their life-savings.  Even then, they might not be able to afford it.

The website says that people can do an alternate training course, but it's a very slow process. And they say that one also is very expensive.

If someone can't afford any of these training courses, they can volunteer for the church.    The website says, You'll be offered a job working for the organization as a staff member. Wages are virtually non-existent, you work almost ceaselessly morning 'til night with half a day off a week if you meet your 'targets', but you get the offer of free processing (assuming you are somehow able to make the time to get it.) If you bail out before the end of your (2.5 to 5 year) contract, you'll have to pay for any such free auditing received. I know people who were stuck on staff for 10 years who NEVER MOVED on the Bridge, they were too busy working working working. 

If I knew for sure everything in this website was true, I'd say Scientology is a bad organization.

The Scientology church itself defends the cost .   Here's the website of their church in Detroit.    They say, Ideally, Dianetics and Scientology services would be free, and all Scientologists wish they were. But those are not the realities of life. When one considers the cost of delivering even one hour of auditing, requiring extensively trained specialists, and the overhead costs of maintaining church premises, the necessity of donations becomes clear. 

I agree with that.  Classes and religious services do usually cost money. But does it need to cost a shitload of money?  

9. Looked at the website for our local synagogue, and downloaded a PDF file. The minimum yearly dues are $1600; $800 if you're under 35.  I personally think that's a lot, and I'd rather just have my own free and personal spirituality. But their price is not much compared to the supposed cost of Scientology.   

The anti-Scientology website has lists of what things cost.  Each class is around $2000. Does it really need to be that expensive?  Oh, and that's the cheaper version of the program.  In the more expensive one, each course costs around $11,000.

10. Figured if we're going to complain about the cost of Scientology, we should probably also complain about the cost of American university educations.

Well, I actually do that sometimes.

The obtainment of knowledge shouldn't be so over-priced.  

11. Wanted to make note that the anti-Scientology website is a Christian website.   They don't want people to be Scientologists.   They want people to be followers of Jesus.   So I take what they say with a grain of salt. They may be telling the truth.  Or they may be exaggerating the cost of Scientology in order to villainize the organization, so people pick Jesus instead. 

The site which has the anti-Scientology site also has pages about various other religions.

They speak out against Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism, and others.  

12. Googled for more information about the cost of Scientology and ended up with my old friend, Lord Wiki.  He agrees with the Christian anti-Scientology site. He says the auditing stuff costs tens to hundreds of thousands.

He also says the Scientology Church trademarks a lot of their stuff and goes after people who try to venture on their own—offer Scientology information for free (or a cheaper price).  They make it very difficult to be a Scientologist without joining the official church.

13. Followed a link of Lord Wiki's to the Xenu site. I think it's one of the major anti-Scientology sites. I'm reading an article that talks about the cost of Scientology.  

They say the courses start out very cheap.  The first class is $15 and you get 16 hours worth of instruction.  That's very reasonable. But as you advance in the organization, it gets much more expensive.

One thing about many religions is you can go to the library or bookstore, pick up some books, and become a loner follower.  Although I have stopped going to the synagogue, if I wanted to, I could still be Jewish at home. I could study on the internet. I could get books from the library. I could buy some cheap ritual materials or make them on my own. It doesn't need to cost that much money.

If I wanted to become Pagan, I could join a local coven.  Or I could become a solo pagan person.

Can the same be said for Scientology?  If I decided I believed in Xenu and all that stuff, could I follow Scientology beliefs without joining the church?

One thing I think I remember about the big Scientology book (Dianetics) is that, at the bookstore, it was covered in plastic. If I remember correctly, you couldn't pick the book up and thumb through it.   You had to BUY it to learn what was in it. I don't know if that's the practice anymore.

How many books at the bookstore, though, disallow you thumbing through the book?  Not many!

I do sometimes see the book at used bookstores, and there's no plastic. I can thumb through it. To Scientology's credit, at least they haven't tried to put a stop to this.  

14. Concluded that Scientology is a crap organization and I don't like it.   To me, it sounds like a bullshit way for greedy people to make tons of money.  However, I think it's often targeted in a hypocritical way. It's not the only entity out there exploiting people's feelings of dissatisfaction and desires for self-improvement.

Also...Again, I think it's no worse than expensive university educations.  Young people have to pay so much money to take classes, and they also have to pay ridiculous book fees. It would be so much cheaper to go to the library and/or learn from educational websites. Why not learn that way? 

Well, if you do, it's risky.  The university system has brainwashed our society to believe if we don't have a degree, we're stupid or worthless.

How many people are in debt because they had to borrow money for college?  

15. Read the first chapter of The Distant Hours. So far I'm liking it a lot. The plot is intriguing, and I love the author's voice. It's very casual.

At one point the book says.....

"Edie, can you get that?"

This was my mother (Edie is me; I'm Sorry, I should have said so earlier).

I think that's very cute. 

16. Liked this editorial by Renee Tibbs. She talks about how these days we have so many choices in terms of where we get our news from.   Because of this people can choose one-sided news sources and never hear the other side of the story.

Renee says, The polarising effect of partisan news organisation leads to people being more set in their ways, which in turn can only emphasise and deepen the political divide. It’s a sad state of affairs when a multitude of news options exist and people opt for the same one every time.

I agree with that.

I get my news via a variety of Australian newspapers on Facebook; and I get it from Google News.   I also sometime watch The Colbert Report which keeps me updated on things.

So, to my credit, I don't stick to one source.

However, there are times where I am looking for news about something, and I don't click on a link because they come from a source that I view as being biased. To be specific: Fox News.I read it sometimes, but if there are article from other sources, I'll usually read them instead.

I should probably stop avoiding Fox News like that, and listen more often to what they have to say.   Since I don't fully trust them, I can always read a second article and compare the two.  

17. Saw that the Australian dollar is down to equaling 1.023 American dollars. We're getting closer to being equal.

18. Liked this editorial about the vaccination and autism debate. It goes along so well with what I believe.

Marj Lefroy talks about how the pro-vaccine camp seems to think they can end the debate by declaring the parents, nervous about vaccinations, are ignorant and irresponsible.  

She says, These are things we can and must do. The trouble is, in today's polarised public square, the middle ground seems to have disappeared from beneath our feet. Conversations about vaccines typically descend into petty point-scoring and vilification, particularly on the troll-fertilising Internet. It discourages honest, respectful discussion. And to those who think giving oxygen to the debate will cause parents to stop vaccinating their kids, I say this: it's happening anyway. It's precisely the lack of information, the factual vacuum, that fuels anxiety and stifles life-saving progress.   

I love her conclusion.  

Like any issue with a degree of complexity, there are more than two sides to this one. We must have the courage and maturity to listen to everyone, including the mothers and the fathers dealing with the unacceptable, potentially avoidable consequences. They're the canaries in the coalmine, and the real reason why this case is not closed. It's just that science, like the law, sometimes takes a while to catch up.

I don't see how people imagine that one discredited study is going to make parents rush out to vaccinate their children.  Science has many answers, but it doesn't have all of them—at least not at this point.

I am a fan of vaccinations because they prevent us from having horrible diseases.  But I do believe certain children might be sensitive and vulnerable to ingredients in one or more of the vaccines.  I think scientists need to keep studying that. It would be great if there was a way to recognize these children before it was time for their shots.

19. Read some of the comments to the editorial.  I think Urubrask the Hidden has a good point.   He (or she) says, So either I risk a child of getting autism, which can be disabling but treatable and not life threatening, or a child of catching a life-threatening disease that may end up having him killed and spreading it around. I think I know which to pick.

And I'm speaking as someone diagnosed with an autistic disorder (Asperger's) so I know exactly what it is like to be autistic. It's not as horrifying and serious as dying.

My problem with the pro-vaccine people is their unrelenting allegiance to the scientific method. If it hasn't been proven in the lab, it doesn't exist. It aint happening.

My problem with the ant-vaccine people is their viewpoint that autism may be a preventable disease.  Now I'm okay with this viewpoint when it comes to severe cases of Autism.  I think of children and adults trapped in their own worlds. They can't communicate. They can't function well in their daily lives.  It's awful, and I really feel for those families.  

But when we say 1/110 kids in America have Autism, are we talking only about children who are that severely disabled?  Or are we also including kids who learn well and function well, but have quirky behaviors and a few slight developmental delays?

For many autistic people, I'd rather call them WEIRD than disabled or diseased. They might be different than people in mainstream society. They might be challenging to people who are overly neurotypical. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're damaged goods or less valuable.

I wonder if parents that believe autism is not caused by environmental factors, would be more accepting of their autistic child.   This is my child and I love him for who he is. I will celebrate his strengths and help him deal with his weaknesses.  

Parents who believe the environment (including vaccines) caused their child's autism will still love their child.   I don't doubt that.  But I think they might mourn for the "normal" child they were hoping for— the one that bad things in the environment robbed from them. 

Again, I'm not talking about severely autistic children. I can't imagine how any parent would easily accept that without some amount of grief. I know I'd be devastated.

The kind of autistic person I'm talking about is like the one in the Rose Byrne movie.

There's also Max in Max and Mary.  

20. Thought about Temple Grandin, who's actually a real person with autism, unlike Max and Adam in the videos above.   She's more autistic than Max and Adam.  It's obvious upon seeing her that something's not quite normal. From what I learned of her childhood, it wasn't an easy journey.    Yet, she's brilliant and has contributed a lot to the world.  

By saying vaccines cause autism, we're saying autism is a disease that needs to be cured.  If autism is cured, what happens to people like Temple Grandin?  We might rid autistic children of things that make them difficult and unhappy. But what if we also rid autistic people of the things that make them wonderful?

21. Thought of my other theory.  Maybe environmental factors (including vaccines) don't turn neurotypical children into severely autistic children.   Maybe they turn SOME mildly autistic children into severely autistic children.  If parents avoid certain factors (if there child is known to be at risk) maybe they can avoid more disabling autistic traits. But their child can still be delightfully quirky.

22. Went to Tallygarunga.

Today I'm going to read a story thread called You Say I'm a Kid.   It's featuring two characters I haven't read about in a long time—Owen St. Thomas and Máire Townsend. Owen is a player for Australia's national team.   Máire is a healer woman who's also involved with a corporation.  

23. Tried to remember the last story I read with these two.   I think.....

Owen was hoping to get sponsorship from Máire's corporation. Then I think Owen got injured and he felt the corporate people were too amused about that. It annoyed him.  

Hopefully, I'm not remembering the wrong story.

24. Saw that the story thread takes place in Basil's Internet Cafe which is on Tallygarunga Road in Narragyambie.   The only other story I remember reading from there is Benjamin Lawson's hot chocolate one.  This is where he drank a hot chocolate and read an email from his parents.  

25. Started to read "You Say I'm a Kid".

It takes place in the afternoon of September 10.

Owen is suffering from another Quidditch accident. He was hit by a Bludger and ended up breaking almost every bone in his body.

He's trying to heal with the help of magic.

He goes to the internet cafe and sees his ex-girlfriend on the cover of a newspaper.


Máire is having a relaxing day, something she doesn't often get to do.

She is walking around the shops.  She decides she's thirsty.  She stops in for a drink and sees Owen.   She greets him, but then feels a little awkward because she didn't manage to merge two sentences into one.

She said,  How's everything going? I heard about the game. How are you feeling?

That doesn't sound overly awkward to me.  But it seems Máire is nervous around Owen. When I'm nervous around people, I probably second guess everything I say.

26. Started to read about Owen St. Thomas.  Meanwhile, my cauldron in Pottermore is brewing a potion to cure boils.

I have to be honest.  Jack did the potion for me.  I tried several times yesterday and failed each time.   I couldn't understand how I could fail that many times, so I blamed it on Pottermore.  I figured it was a Beta glitch.

Then I watched Jack make the potion.   I learned I had the ingredients wrong. I mistook porcupine quills for snake fangs.  It's sad because the porcupine quills are huge.  They wouldn't even fit into a snake's mouth.  

Anyway...back to Owen.

I wonder if he's good at brewing potions.

27. Saw that Owen's face claim is Josh Kloss.

According to IMDb, he was on the O.C in 2003.  That rhymes pretty well.  

Here's an interview with Josh Kloss.

He sort of reminds me of Matt Dillon.

28. Learned that Owen is vain and thinks he's attractive.

Can you be vain and think you're unattractive?

I think so.

It would be people who feel they're ugly and worry about it too much.

I'm like that sometimes.  Some days I feel attractive, but most days lately, I look in the mirror and see an ugly girl looking back at me.    To my credit, I don't let it bother me too much.   But it does bother me a little.  And I feel sad when I look through photographs and there're many in which I look ugly.

I try not to be vain. I remind myself that it's what's inside that counts.

I think back to my younger days when I was thinner, and prettier. If I'm honest with myself, I wasn't more popular or happier in those days.

29. Learned that Owen can appear to be calm when in reality he has strong emotions running through him.

I wonder, though, if very sensitive people could pick up on that.

I sometimes see people differently than others.  For example,  other people might see a happy bubbly girl who loves everyone and is full of optimism.  But then I might see her as a sad and angry girl who feels desperate amounts of pressure to hide her feelings.  

Am I imagining things? Or am I picking up on things that other people are missing?

30. Related strongly to these lines.

Known not to mince words Owen is frank, direct and rather candid in personal relationships where with his fans he is much kinder. Those who know him on a personal level have a hard time seeing him work with his fans and then come and work with them, he seems to be two different people.

We all act differently with different people.  And I've heard we show the worst of ourselves to those we're closest to.

It's why its so tempting to have an extramarital affair.  The new person is SO much nicer than our spouse. He doesn't burp all the time.  He doesn't lose his temper with us.  He listens intently.   He laughs at our jokes. He remembers to compliment us.  He's...charming.

That's because we're new to him, and he's on his best behavior. If we divorce our husband and run off with man #2, we're likely to find that man #2 is not so nice once he's used to us.

Still though, I find it frustrating to witness someone putting on their perfect-mask when I know they're really not that perfect.  I want to scream.  Show them what you're really like!

It's hard to believe it without seeing it.  I know because I've also been on the other side of the story.   I've heard negative things about someone; then later I met them.  I found them to be absolutely wonderful.  I see them as being...maybe not perfect, but close to perfect.    I'm left confused.   Should I disbelieve the complainer?  Maybe they were exaggerating?  Maybe the problems are their fault and they're blaming this other person who's so wonderful.

OR is this other person hiding the negative aspects of themselves?   Are they putting their perfect-mask on for me?  Are they doing too good of a job hiding their dark side?

31. Started to read Owen's history.

He grew up in a large Melbourne family.

He was very popular as a Spencer student in Tallygarunga.

32. Saw that my Australian of the day is Tadeusz Andrzejaczek. That's a hard name for me to type; and probably a hard name for me to pronounce...f I dared to try.  

33. Learned Tadeusz was an architect.

He was born in Poland in 1915.

He was an only child, which I think was more rare back in those days.  It seems most people I read about had a multitude of siblings.

Tadeusz didn't have siblings, and he also didn't really have parents. They died when he was young.  He was raised by his grandparents.

Tadeusz studied architecture in Poland.

In World War II, he ended up as a prisoner of war in Germany.

In his late thirties, he moved to London.

When did he move to Australia? we go.  It was 1954. Tadeusz and his family sailed to Fremantle.

Well, they sailed, there but I guess they didn't get off the ship.  The Australian Dictionary of Biography says they disembarked in Sydney.  Then they went to Canberra.  He did architectural work there.   Then he moved to Adelaide, and later he did work in Perth.

He is responsible for the Cultural Centre in Perth.

Here's the website for that.

I'm not sure if the site has a picture of the building. 

34. Read more carefully—after getting confused on Google Maps and the Perth Culture Centre website.  The centre isn't one building. It's made up of a handful of buildings—a library, some museums, and a gaol.

35. Decided to watch more from Romi's YouTube channel.  She's one of the kids I watched in the Orange Camp auditions yesterday.  She was one of those Tricky Monkeys.  

36. Saw that Romi did a second Orange Camp audition, with another child.   I guess that's allowed?

It's very much like the other audition video.

37. Watched Romi's screen test for P.J Hogan's upcoming movie, Mental.  I guess they were asking people to send in auditions.

38. Looked at the cast of Mental. It looks like the winner of the audition was a girl named Nicole Freeman.

39. Watched more Mental auditions.  There's two different characters that kids were auditioning for.  One's Jane, and the other's Coral.   Most of the auditions I'm seeing aren't impressive, so I won't mention them. That being said, the Harry Potter kids weren't brilliant actors in the first movie. They got better as time went on. So....I wouldn't write-off any of these not-so-great child actors.  

Anyway, I started watching this Cora audition and thought it was more impressive than the others.   There's less over-acting. It feels more real.

40. Thought Madeline Ryan's audition was very good. She was going for the Cora part as well.

Plus, she has a really cool biography. Her mom won the lottery and traveled around the world. While doing that she had sex on a cruise. That resulted in Madeline.

41. Saw that Madeline's video has her doing the audition twice.

I like the first one better, but the second one's not bad.

42.  Tried to find another Arthur Chapman Flickr set to look at.  I realized that many of his photos are NOT of Australian animals.  I was trying to decide if I should look at animals from around the world, or just Australian ones.

I decided I'd rather stick to Australian ones—at least for this blog. 

Anyway, I'm going to look at his set of Aussie mammals. 

43. Noticed I'm wrong. It's not Aussie animals. It's Australasian animals. So, there's some New Zealand guys here as well. 

Here's a very cute baby seal from New Zealand.  

44. Thought this dingo was sort of handsome.  

45. Thought this Brumby video was pretty cool.  

Brumby. That's a vocabulary word I learned from McLeod's Daughters

46. Loved this rabbit photo, even though Australia doesn't love rabbits.  

47. Liked this Eastern Grey Kangaroo.  He looks like he's having a deep thought—probably an amusing one.

48. Thought these kangaroos look like they're about to have a race.

And this kangaroo looks like he just got dumped by his girlfriend.  

49. Thought this wallaby looks a bit stoned. 

50. Thought this white Bennett's Wallaby is really cool.  Arthur says he's not an albino. He's just another variation. 

51. Thought this Koala looked sweet. He seems to be daydreaming.