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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Steven Pinker
Progress: 54/576 pages
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction
Neil Gaiman
Progress: 202/502 pages

How being different is so important to this gay son

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity - Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon is gay, married to his husband, and has children.This book is on his research on parents and children identity.But more importantly, it is about love. Here is the Ted talk Andrew Solomon: Love, no matter what. 


First chapter son


How being a gay son shaped Andrew as a person and what he learned about being different. 


So he was being bullied in school. And he was an outcast as he was different from his classmates.


So glad he didn't harm himself when he was young. He would have. This is a good chapter on explaining his experience being gay in Britain. 


2nd Chapter Deaf


This is the most educational read I have about deafness, signature and the controversy of implant.


It inform us on the different opinions, give analysis and come to a reasonable conclusion. The writer didn't step back to avoid being in the middle of the debate. I like this kind of style. Also, not imposing or overbearing either.


This is real refreshing.


3rd chapter on Dwarfism


Another hard chapter that challenged my perception of dwarf. Something that I need to work through as this is an uncommon genetic trend that I haven't really encountered much in real life. 


Good to know. 


Chapter 4 is on Down syndrome


How do parents deal with having DS children. 


It is in this chapter that I found out Margaret Mead had advised Erik H. Erikson to institutionalised his son. This is a lost for both the parents and the child and it is because they trusted this arrogant person Margaret Mead. 


Yes. Don't like her in the first place. She made a lot of mistakes in her work. Like her even less now. 



 Chapter 5 is on Autism 


As as person probably falls into the spectrum, it is hard to deal with how difficult it must be for those who are with seriously impact autism persons. 


I still feel awful, usually after the fact, that I don't really show I care about friends that I know they would like me to. I share time with them, but failed to buy them gifts on their birthday unless they asked me to buy them gifts. It just very hard to initial contact with other persons. 


And in this chapter, Andrew talked about parents who have autistic children. On the more serious spectrum, the autistic persons would have no language, no way to communicate to the outside world, have violent behaviours and do weird horrible things including spreading shit on walls. 


In one of the stories, a child who suddenly used keyboard to write sentences that to communicate in full sentences, that she didn't want to be this horrible person, she just couldn't help it.


I could relate to that.



Oh my goodness. This chapter made me understand so much about the struggle and the issue related to autism. It is also the most emotional chapter so far as it tell stories of bravery and intelligent, and also murders.


Yes. Murders. Children being murdered by their parents. Horrible murders that the murderers got away with.


A must read.


Chapter 6 Schizophrenia 


This is a difficult chapter.


What I have learned from this chapter is that the illness would reduce grey matter in the brain. The synapses in the brain were reduced and not enough to make connection. That opposite of autistic person with brain being too busy. 


Also, a brother of a friend has psychotic episode triggered by cannabis.  I thought it is uncommon. But as the book suggested, if no one use marijuana or other recreational drug, the schizophrenia population might decrease by 10%. That significant. 


Institutionalisation is not always good. As the earlier day, psychologists and psychiatrists really don't know what they were doing. The drugs are not good and have lot of side effects. 


But not giving them help when persons need it is not good either. To get the treatment early. Yet not labelling a person with illness that have stigma is important. It is really hard to catch early symptoms. 


It is difficult. I know a friend who might need help. Yet, as a non professional, I could only tell the friend to seek help. The result is not good. 


Illogical thinking is common. But someone who take pride in her logic, and has her thoughts jumping here and there and not making sense, that's for me is either stupidity or something wrong with the brain.


What so important about this book is that the writer make you care about these people. These people that we find strange or even scare of. He makes you care. 


Chapter 7 Disabilities


MSD stands for Multiple Serve Disability. Persons might be blind, and mentally challenged and might not able to walk, talk, or take care of themselves. These persons need care.


The first case is hard to read as one of the person died in the bath deal to negligence. The caretaker was charged with reckless manslaughter even when the parents didn't want to press charges.


An important chapter to understand persons with disabilities.  


Chapter 8 Prodigies 


The music prodigies have it hard if they have horrible parents who use them as money tree. But for those who have caring parents, life could be hard too as they are not easily understood by those who are less intelligent. 


Surprise that prodigies are not covered in protection from discrimination as persons with disability. While they need a whole of help in discovering the potential, the society at large is not helping much. The anti-intellectual culture in America had made things worst. it is bad that society is not investing in gifted children and a lot of potential is lost deal to lack of resources given by the potential. 


Chapter 9 Rape 


Children born from rape are being abused  by the women who were raped, as they resemble the rapists. Also, un-report rapes and women who for their own personal reasons don't seek abortions, would allow rapists seek custody of these children. It also exposed the lack of respect for the rape victims of the anti-choice moment. Given, women, after serious consideration, could bring children that they don't intended to have from rape. But these women are sometimes lack of the capacity to provide a healthy upbringing for these children, and they couldn't get the support of the their own parents in accepting children from these rapes. 


Allowing rapists seeking custody of children from rape when the rape was unreported, created really fucked up life for these children. Allowing abortion in case of rape is a must. But allowing women to think better for the children, especially when they didn't report the rape and would then allow the rapists to get their hands of these children seek to me a really horrible and selfish things to do. I came into the chapter hoping to find that there are good reason to bring these rape-pregnancy to term, and the underlying reason is mostly fucked up religious ones. Really make me have less sympathy for these raped victims who screwed up lives of their children, especially those who abused these children because they reminded them of the rapists. What do these women think it would happen if half the DNA is from the rapist. One raped woman called her child half-evil make me think how fucked up religion fucked up the minds of these women. 


Chapter 10 Crimes 


The relationship between criminals and their families is also a difficult topic. While quite a lot of focus is on juvenile, some are exception.


One thing in mind is that the parents of criminals do want more social support and investment.


To those who are more aware of the limited resources of society, should more be put into criminals or the prodigies, or the autistic or children with disabilities. It is the same resource pool and it seems unfair to put the burden on society just to reduce the chance of juvenile becoming career criminals.


And it might not work.


How about more helps in stopping violence against children in the home that people wrongly called discipline or punishment. Physical assault is just that, assault, no matter what age is the victim or the relation to the offenders.


I would feel sorry for these kids as they don't really have much of a chance with the parents they have, who didn't know they should have hold their children responsible for their own actions instead of blaming on influences of their friends.


2 more chapters. Best book of the year read so far.  


Chapter 11 Transgender


Another good chapter on how parents accept and/or struggle with transgender children. Some children know they are transgender, some have gender non-conformity very early on in their lives. 


The chapter detailed on what can be done to help these children. Taking pills to delay puberty would help transgender boy grow taller and transgender girl stop having thick bones and Adam's apple. This is a good thing if they need to transit to their new bodies later. Even if they changed their minds, which in 10 percentage of the cases, they are just taller woman and thinner man. That's better than not liking their own bodies. 


Being supportive as parents is important. But the surrounding society are the one who did most of the harm if they don't understand transgender issues and would said very mean things to little boys and girls. 


It is another difficult chapter. Some kids killed themselves before they have a chance to experience lives.That turned their grieving parents into activists. Search for answer. 


That make me realise that I'm not doing enough even if I know the issues and understand it. I do not know how to communicate with people as I don't know if people want to listen to this or not.


Last Chapter - Father


When Andrew become father and what he learned from it. 


The honesty is there so bare that one feel that he is emotionally naked, in trying to make us readers understand how he feel about his decision to become father with his husband. 


Wonderful real life story. Include the part that his husband get a hate reply for their baby announcement. In real life, seems that only religious persons, this time a Christian, could hate his cousin for having a new born son. 


This is a must read for anyone who want to understand the diversity of humans and how it make us richer as a diverse society.