autism, changes, culture, education, health, ideas, living abroad, politics, psychology, travel

Be Gone Daylight Saving Time

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Photo by Ayush Nishad on

Ben Franklin Wasn’t Always Right

As an Aspie, I’m finicky about certain things. One is time changes. Daylight Saving Time is one of my biggest pet peeves. Most people credit Benjamin Franklin with its genesis. Franklin spawned something similar, but the concept was in fact postulated by none other than George Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist. I get the purpose for which it was intended at the time, but that’s obsolete. They didn’t have streetlights most places when Ben Franklin thought this up. Those were also few and far between during the time of Hudson. Cities like New York, London, and Paris had only gaslights with limited range. Times have changed since 1895. Not only do most cities even in developing countries have sodium lights. Many are graduating unto LED’s which have greater visibility and use less wattage. If LED’s are unavailable, there’s always compact fluorescent bulbs as in the case with France. Even in Paris, they replaced every halogen bulb in the Eiffel Tower with CFL’s to conserve energy. Yes, you read this correctly. There are plentiful ways to save electricity without Daylight Saving Time.

Shine On, Shine Down

Without further ado, most people don’t live in farms or rural areas like they did in the 19th century. Even in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the rest of the developing world, most folks reside in urban areas where there are no farms. No matter the rhyme or reason, you can always make hay while the sun is shining. That’s what alarm clocks are for. The sun will always be up the same amount of time regardless of what methods are induced. Nothing we do can slow down or speed up the rotation of the earth on its axis. If parents are worried about their kids going to school in the dark, there’s no reason why the faculty can’t schedule the school day for later times. As I mentioned, that’s what streetlights and headlamps are for. So far as I know, no vehicle comes without headlights and tail lights. Even bicycles have reflectors on them. Therefore, school buses can still operate no matter the altitude of the sun.

Power to the People

One thing I love about Southeast Asia is they don’t observe Daylight Saving Time. As you can see, the economy here is red hot. As ridiculous as some of their customs seem to me, I can’t deny I’m glad they left the clocks alone. I remember when there was a power outage in California during the summer of 2001. I lived there during that crisis. I was stationed in San Francisco with the United States Coast Guard. California had to borrow energy from Arizona, the one state that doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time. Obviously, they had enough energy in the Grand Canyon State to supply their populous neighbor. Having the sun up one hour later made little to no difference in the Golden State. It was later unearthed Enron was behind that. I don’t know all the logistics, so don’t ask me. All I can say is it pertained to Enron Energy in Texas. Regardless, the neighboring state that doesn’t observed Daylight Saving Time was able to provide a service.

One Day Equals 24 Hours

The United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and a few other western countries are the only places I know that adopted DST. Neither Japan nor any other Asian or African country obliged, and they don’t consume even half the energy America does. Studies have shown Daylight Saving Time causes health detriments like depression, insomnia, and heart attacks. The likelihood of plane crashes, traffic accidents, workplace injuries, and even miscarriages increase. But what do those in favor care as long as they get what they want? This is why I have another solution. I think they should replace Daylight Saving Time permanently what I believe is called Decree Time. Not only am I an advocate of Decree Time; I think we should replace a.m. and p.m. with the 24-hour military clock. I would have noon and midnight be at 1:00 and 13:00 rather than 12:00. The days would thereby crossover at 1:00 in lieu of 0:00, which would now be 24:00. Lastly I declare there should be 48 time zones with half-hour differences to attenuate all issues caused by Daylight Saving Time. If India has its own time zone and manages fine, I don’t see why the other 195 countries can’t function as such.

Welcome Decree Time

I remember watching several Astros games on TV in Austin. It would be nightfall in Houston while it wasn’t yet sundown in Austin. I recall another time in Chicago when I was with AmeriCorps watching a Bears game. They were playing a road game against the Chiefs. It was dusk in Chicago yet broad daylight in Kansas City though they’re both on Central Time. It made no sense to me, but that’s how it was. Earlier this year, I flew to Kuala Lumpur during Tet. Malaysia is in a later time zone than Vietnam though its farther west longitude. It seemed odd to me that the sun in K.L. would set well after 7 p.m. when I was accustomed to it descending not long after 6 living in Bangkok and Saigon all these years. There was a time I liked it better when the sun went down earlier, but I’m vice versa the older I get. Thus, the reason I’m an advocate for Decree Time with either 48 time zones with half-hour intervals; 72 with 20-minute differences; or 96 with 15-minute changes. To avoid confusion, I’d go with the 48 as planes and trains have schedules to which they must tend. I’m thinking like a geographer considering the altitude of the sun and the overall health of the general public.

Good Intentions, Bad Policies

A few years ago, I had a heated debate about this with some narcissistic idiot on Facebook who always had to argue and be right about everything. She insisted we keep the current system. She tried disputing that China is the size of the United States yet has only one time zone. China is also a communist country with a human rights violation record that could stretch around the globe. Most of their population lives in on the east coast. The Chinese government also has a penchant towards marginalizing the Tibetans, Uyghurs, and the rest of their population in the western provinces. I wouldn’t place much credence towards a government that allowed 70 million citizens to starve, has children working in sweatshops, and is responsible for the greatest amount of pollution on Earth. The woman was using a strawman argument. It made no difference when I explained India does well with their own time zone. Her rationale was everyone should be on the same schedule. Finally, I lost patience and told her, “Sure, why not! Hell, while we’re at it, why don’t we all go by Greenwich Meantime worldwide? That way the sun won’t come up in Texas until noon or go down until midnight. They can even use the same schedule in Australia. That way midday in Sydney will actually be midnight while noon is the darkest part of the day. But hey! What do we care as long as the oligarchs get what they want and the whole world functions around their schedule?”

changes, democrats, education, electoral college, ideas, politics, psychology, republicans, voting

Changing the American Elections

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The Trouble With Voter Expectations

Historically, the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts of all developed nations. One reason I’m convinced the Republican Party is still in power is voter apathy. Beto O’Rourke came close to defeating Ted Cruz in 2018. He gave the liberals hope, but it was short-lived in the long run. Only about 41-percent of eligible voters went to the polls. There’s no doubt in my mind Donald Trump was elected in 2016 when he shouldn’t have even made it past the primary is because of low turnout. States like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan went red because Bernie Sanders supporters behaved like petulant children over him not winning the nomination and opted to stay home or go third-party out of spite which helped Trump win. Their cynicism did little more than show immaturity and selfishness on their behalf. Indeed Hillary Clinton was far from perfect, but there’s no question she was the more qualified candidate. Too often I hear people lamenting over the questionable things Hillary Clinton may or may not have done. If the reader knows any politician who hasn’t done anything extralegal or controversial or at least lied about something, do tell. That’s part of the game. If you want to plant seeds, you have to get your hands dirty. Even Saint Bernie has done lousy things like voting no on the Brady Bill. I’m sure that man has taken kickbacks somewhere, too.

Overhauling the System

The entire system must be overhauled in my humble opinion. First and foremost, I think Election Day should be moved to a Friday. I’m thinking Black Friday of October should be sufficient. That way more people would head to the polls. The reason they’ve had it on Tuesdays all along was to purge the votes. Back in the 1800s, they had it on Tuesday, a weekday, because people had to work and couldn’t make it to the cities from farms. I’d have the primaries the last Friday of March to select candidates from each particular party. There’d be no more superdelegates and whatnot to confuse the voters, and it would all be the same day so they couldn’t drag it out. Then I’d have a secondary election conducted either the last Friday of May or June to eliminate third-party candidates from spoiling the elections from not dropping out sooner. The national conventions would be conducted in July. First, I’d have the challenging party have theirs ensued by that of the incumbent candidate/party the following week. Last but not least, I’d eliminate the electoral college. There’s no question the candidate with the most popular votes should be the winner not the one with the most electoral ones. That I’m certain is another factor towards low turnout. Anyone with a physical mailing address would be registered automatically through the post office and not have to re-register on a continual basis. I’d even allow people to vote online with their social security numbers and a PIN assuming there’s ways to safeguard that. Or I’d allow anyone to mail in their votes if they don’t wish to face the crowd. Early voting I’d allow 24/7 an entire fortnight before Election to mitigate the latter.

Why We Need Compulsory Voting

Most importantly, I’d induce compulsory voting across the board. That’s how I think it should be. Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador enforce compulsory voting. That’s where everyone who’s eligible by law must vote. I know what some of you are thinking. But isn’t that violating people’s civil rights? Not in my book it isn’t. In Australia, anyone who doesn’t vote has one’s passport revoked until the next election unless one has the reason dismissed by a judge. Because Australia is surrounded by water, the only way off the island is either by plane or ship. Anyone who stays home on Election Night can’t board. If it were up to me, anyone who abstains from voting would have to forfeit one’s income tax returns until the next election. My mantra is you play, you pay. All of that revenue would be geared towards deficit spending. Therefore, if somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of eligible voters only show up, the other 40 could pay off large chunks of the national debt over the course of two or four years. They may even make Uncle Sam debt free. Imagine how quickly there’d be change under this system.

Why We Need Term Limits

This leads me to my last point. I would induce term limits on all politicians not just presidents. Were it up to me, governors, senators, representatives, mayors, and everyone else in office would be limited to two four-year terms per position. For supreme court, state, and local judges and justices, the max time they could serve would be two presidential terms. The idea is to cut through the red tape and prevent people from becoming complacent after being in office too long. The voters would ween them of their addiction to power and lower government corruption big time. The only way anyone could become a career politicians would be by running for different offices once they were term-limited and win the elections. Therefore, a two-term governor or senator could run for president during one’s second term whereas a two-term mayor could campaign for state senator, governor, or whatever. While politicians are only human, I’m certain the three main reasons America has a gridlocked system are the electoral college, low voter turnout, and lack of term limits. People who have deadlines and more to lose tend to get more done.

The Younger, the Better

History has shown some of the best presidents were the youngest ones whereas some of the worst ones were the oldest, moreover. You’d think it’d be the opposite, but it makes perfect sense if you ponder long and hard enough. A man in his 40s has a better idea what it’s like raising a family in today’s society. Not only can he connect with the younger voters more; he’s more familiar with pop culture. The younger candidate probably has more energy and is more enthused about his job. He has newer and fresher ideas. A man in his 70s may be convinced he knows everything because he’s been around longer. Many of the older men want the world to be like it was thirty or forty years prior when they were younger, and that’s not how it works. They’re probably out of touch because they’ve been in politics too long. Last but not least, older presidents know if they do a terrible job, they have nothing left to lose because they won’t live long enough to see the damage they’ve caused. Alas, this is why I declare there should be compulsory voting, term limits, and the other changes in the electoral process I discussed in this entry.

autism, culture, education, health, ideas, living abroad, psychology, travel

Expecting the Impossible

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Learning Center Blues

Last year, I left my second teaching job in Vietnam not long after getting into a heated shouting match with a staff lady I’ll call Sonya. She tried gaslighting me saying my teaching was bad and ineffective. Sonya was being passive-aggressive and a workplace bully thinking I couldn’t read between the lines. This was at a learning center in Bien Hoa, a suburb of Saigon. Towards the end of her litany, she turned around saying I was a great teacher and the students loved me. She wanted to intimidate me making me second guess myself, and I wasn’t biting. This was after the secret was out that I had Asperger’s. Nobody was supposed to know except for my companion, Yael, who deduced it as her brother has it. Yael helped smooth things over after I was told kids complained I was shouting too much and that I was boring. They expected me to smile 24/7 and have more intonation. They didn’t like that I’d get impatient with students sometimes or that I was hypersensitive to high-pitched squealing noises kids made. The headteacher appeared sympathetic but then had my manager at the agency tell me not to bring Asperger’s up again.

No Control, No Redemption

It doesn’t come with an on/off switch. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, either. Denial isn’t a river in Africa. The altercation was my second run-in with Sonya. The other teachers concurred unanimously I was good at my job and that Sonya was out of line. I didn’t feel comfortable telling her about my condition, but it seemed I didn’t have much choice. So Sonya scolded me and saying, “Well, just act like a normal person. Stop having outbursts, meltdowns, or whatever you call them. Try not to be so serious and don’t let the noise bother you.” I was insulted when she made these remarks because it was clear she had no idea what she was dealing with. So I fired back and told her, “Well, just act like a man. Control your monthly cycles, woman. Stop menstruating, ovulating, or whatever you call it. Try not to urinate sitting down and don’t have any hot flashes.” That wasn’t the response she’d hoped for, but I was making a point. She was expecting the impossible from me. Therefore, I returned the favor. Not long after, I started seeking employment elsewhere. I ascertained this was a hostile working environment. I sure as hell didn’t appreciate them berating me like a child or trying to silence me.

What We Know and Don’t Know

Sadly, that wasn’t my first rodeo. This is one of the primary reasons I have limited contact with my two oldest siblings. They were in denial the whole time. My oldest brother thought I chose to be difficult and this was learned behavior. My sister shared the same opinion and got carefree criticizing my mother for coddling me. Sister knew better than anyone (including the doctors who gave me hyperactivity medication.) When I was hospitalized for depression, they both thought I was seeking attention. I remember confronting Sister not long after I received my official diagnosis and my mother suggesting she read about Asperger’s. She then said, “Wow! That sounds so much like Dustin; it’s unreal.” Then I couldn’t resist the urge shouting at her, “Yeah! I know! It’s amazing what you learn when you shut your fucking piehole and listen to your master when he speaks, isn’t it?” Mom scorned me for that, but it’s not like Sister didn’t have it coming, either. That was a cathartic release after years of pent-up frustration due to her intractable disposition. She’s bull-headed like our father. Sister thinks she’s an authority on things with which she has little to no experience. That’s one of the few times I recall her ever admitting she was wrong.

The Vaccine Dilemma

Not long after my diagnosis, the scare about vaccines emerged. That exacerbated everything to say the least. It started in 1998 when Dr. Andrew Wakefield falsified his research about MMR vaccines causing autism. Skeptics jumped on that like white on rice. Jenny McCarthy claimed she cured her autistic son. This part infuriates me most. Not only are there idiots in denial; now there’s charlatans who think it’s curable. Basically, what they’re both saying is that it’s some kind of burden to society. My friend, Nathan, who was lower-functioning had a father convinced holistic medicine would make it disappear. Here’s the thing. I don’t need to be cured. I’m not dying or contagious. It’s not degenerative, venereal, or anything of that sort. Nobody with whom I came in contact contracted it from me. Wakefield had his license revoked after it was unearthed he juked the stats and that he was on the payroll of a large insurance company. The latter alone was a conflict of interest that should have discredited him. Eventually, Jenny McCarthy’s son was discovered to have Landau-Kleffner Syndrome ruling out any possibility of her curing him. Sadly, the anti-vaxxer crowd won’t listen. Anyone who believes a former Playboy bunny over medical practitioners has issues. We all know what they say in Hollywood is the law of the land just like Tom Cruise is the world’s greatest expert on psychotherapy. I’m sure Brooke Shields would agree.

Same Language, Different Accent

Reasoning with the naysayers and anti-vaxxers is like nailing jello to a wall. You can present all the tangible evidence in the world, but it won’t register through their thick noggins. They’re too proud to put their egos aside and admit they may be wrong. That said, I distance myself from them as best as I can. I’m moving back to the West because I’m not going to live in a society where I feel I’m being monitored every day due to my personality quirks and they pressure me into be a cookie cutter person. I’ve been known to hit back twice as hard whenever I’m provoked such as the case with Sonya. Just because my brain isn’t hard-wired like that of the average NT doesn’t mean I’m stupid or defective. It’s like voicing a language. Most of my friends in Vietnam are from the UK. They speak British English while my vernacular is American English. There is no right or wrong way to enunciate the words just because our accents and slang differ. The same is true about folks on the autism spectrum versus NT’s. It’s not a disease; it’s an anomaly.

autism, culture, education, health, ideas, living abroad, psychology, travel

School is Out, Class Dismissed

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My Last Year in the Classroom

Earlier this year, I opted to stop teaching in the classroom. I decided it was time to move on. I did nothing wrong with my last company. They were a great agency overall. My departure with them was amicable. I left with two letters of recommendation and a Teacher of the Year nomination, one of my greatest feats yet. My first two years teaching were the hardest. I got somewhat better during my third. That said, it was time to cut all my losses and move on. I realized halfway through my third year I was swimming against the tide. The classrooms had way too many students. Most had at least forty if not fifty. The lowest number to my recollection was in the low thirties. These were public schools in Vietnam. Some of the spaces themselves were too small for that many. They were like puppies in a kennel. I’d make them sit boy-girl-boy-girl in every row and have them fill in the seats from the front as they entered the class. I’d been doing this long enough to know the slackers and cut-ups wanted to sit in the back and hide while the Chatty Cathys would sit together in another section. That wouldn’t happen on my watch.

I’m Not a Babysitter

Of the seven classes I taught, two were a lost cause. When we start teaching, we all have this grandiose idea that we’re going to change lives and save the world. That fantasy becomes short-lived when we’ve been bunked through the system after awhile. The schools and agencies are convinced that I as a Westerner will go in there, pull my magic wand out of hat, work up miracles, and the kids will learn English overnight. It wasn’t until my third year I realized it’s a hit or miss. There’s going to be good classes and bad ones. Time and again, you’ll have kids who don’t want to learn, goof off during the lessons, and won’t stop talking. You’ll even have incompetent TA’s who don’t do jack. I’ve had a few of those as well. How naughty or well-behaved the students were was how I could tell how well or poorly managed the school was. My two lousy classes were in awful schools with faulty administrations and inadequate facilities. I gave up on Thailand after my first year when I realized I was nothing more than a glorified babysitter. There they pass the students to the next grade regardless of their performance. The kids figure this out by the time they reach sixth or seventh grade and think they can skive because they know Western teachers can’t discipline them.

Under the Bus We Go

It’s not much better in Vietnam. One of the primary reasons I quit teaching is because I was tired of having to rig grades. This is not uncommon in Asian schools. The reason they did this was all about keeping face. The agencies like to cook the books and juke the stats to get more funding from the schools. Education is run like a corporation here. If it were up to me, I would’ve flunked half the kids, but I wasn’t given that authority. They wanted me to cover their tracks so the students wouldn’t have to answer to their parents for their lackluster performance. Whenever the children get bad grades, it’s always the teachers’ fault; especially, if he’s a Westerner. That creates double trouble. Foreign teachers are the most expendable ones of the bunch. I was fired from my job with Major Education in Saigon before Tet holiday 2017. I did my duty the best I could. I didn’t do anything that would warrant termination in my book, but they didn’t see it that way. The school in District 7 where I taught was underperforming. They needed a scapegoat, and yours truly got thrown under the bus because I was a foreign teacher getting paid ten times as much as the locals. I was there just a few weeks after being transferred at the start of the new semester. Once again, the officials assumed a white person is infallible, not prone to mistakes, and supposed to build an empire overnight. They then threatened to cancel their contract with Major if the agency didn’t fire me, so I got the ax. A lot of Vietnamese companies pull this cute routine before Tet to cut down on their overhead not just schools.

The Asian Evasion

The job was doomed from the get-go. I’m not angry about it, anymore. I found a better paying gig not long after and moved on. I had a great year with EMG, but I’d decided to pursue another career plan that suits me better. The real problem is many teaching agencies in Asia overpromise. They tell you what you want to hear but fail to live up to their end of the bargain once you’re under the contract. This I suspect is why overseas teaching jobs have a high turnover rate. Many expats are disingenuous as well. It’s not uncommon for someone to work for a few months and split because they want to travel or whatever. I knew a guy who did a midnight run out of the country and landed in Oman. I had another colleague who flew back to Ireland on holiday and wound up in Australia. The agencies don’t care. We’re just a number to them. Their rationale is they can find someone to replace us within a week. This is why I’ve chosen other venues. Now I don’t have to worry when is the right time to tell someone I have Asperger’s. I miss my students (most of them anyway,) but I don’t miss the politics and unnecessary drama. Thus, I’ve opted to teach online to hold me over until I make the transition. I can live wherever I want and no longer deal with the hogwash I did teaching in the classroom or the agencies.