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May 25 2005 / Aaron

To Spaz or Not to Spaz?

It’s been a rather packed week and a half. Last week Christine and I started preparing an offer on a house we found — which turns out to be a fair bit of work, especially when you go sans agent (we used ComFree). Between calling lawyers, seeing banks, approving financing, and talking to the seller, it ate up most of my spare time through the week. Then we hopped in the car Thursday night and drove to BC and chilled at Christine’s gradparent’s cabin at the Shuswap lakes for the long weekend. I’m still reeling a bit from the gak I ate while on the road. It’s good to be back home with my rabbit food. 1650 Cals today.

It seems that whilst I was at the cabin, a little drama hit my blog comments in the post below:

Marcus Butler writes:

I’ve just come across your website while searching for information about Poker Bots. I’m deeply offended by the flagrant referal to yourself as ‘Spaz’. My girlfriend suffers from Spastic Paraplegia which I’m sure you are aware is a disturbing neurodegenerative disorder. This website mocks people who have such an afliction. Given your standing in the community and the fact that you are obviously educated, this is an absolute disgrace. This is not funny or amusing. Why do you feel the need to mock people who are less fortunate than yourself? I am looking forward to your sincere apology.

While I am utterly sympathetic to both the sufferers of Spastic Paraplegia, and understand the sensitivity those afflicted and those close to those afflicted may be to certain triggers and terminology, no apology will be offered.

As several commentors pointed out, there is obviously no intent to insult or ‘mock people who have such an afliction’. Note the website is called, and not If you think is insulting, you should see my other websites, and

The word spaz, slang for the adjective spastic is not synonymous with the condition spastic paraplegia. A spasm is any kind of sudden, involuntary muscle contraction. Why is my site called I am clumsy, and occasionally a little spastic. I also have occasional trouble with fine motor control and my hands sometimes shake with a light tremor. Thus observed, friends have bestowed the nickname of ‘spaz’ upon me. If any mockery is intended by the name of this website, it is directed soley at its owner.

I will grant you the right to hyper-sensitivty, as I can completely sympathize with you having strong feelings about the use of such slang. However, labelling this site a mockery of an unfortunate minority is just plain silly.

Oddly I am reminded of an event that occurred about 5 years ago, when I was doing [poker] research at the AI lab one summer, and I was keeping very odd working hours. One evening, at three AM, I was biking through campus, on the way into the lab. I came to dead intersection with not a soul in sight in either direction, and perfect visibility. Seeing as it was 3AM and perfectly safe, I biked through the red light. Instantly, two police officers sprang out of some nearby bushes, and then proceeded to give me hell. They wouldn’t listen to reason. They then started to give me hell for not having a light mounted on my handlebars (city bylaw). I had to point out politely that it had been stolen from my bike the previous day, while it was parked on campus and that it would sure be nice if they could spend their time tracking down real criminals rather than harrassing people who bike through dead intersections in the middle of the night.

Your energies would be more effective if directed at the assholes out there that actually do mock people with disabilities.


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  1. Chris Hubick / May 25 2005

    Calmer than you are.

  2. Pope Benedict / May 25 2005

    Amen to that, brother.

  3. april / May 26 2005

    Hi Aaron,

    Wow, that’s traumatic. It’s really upsetting when people attack you and accuse you of having negative motivations that you obviously don’t have.


  4. unohoo / May 28 2005

    Commoner than you are.

  5. John / Mar 12 2011

    I agree with April.. it is really traumatic…

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