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Notes: International Students for Liberty Conference, Matt Zwolinski, How to Talk About Liberty Without Sounding Like a Jerk

Matt runs the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog. He started off with An Argument:

premise: Libertarianism is True
observation: most people don’t belive that.
conclude: They are either wrong and evil, or they have never heard of it.
given people have heard of it.
conclude: Most people are wrong. They either don’t know (stupid) or don’t care (evil).
therefore: We don’t have to listen to them.

But it pays off (socially) to listen to those that disagree with you. Disagreement is reasonable and we still desire to reach the truth.
— empirical issues are complex and difficult (ex: minimum wage law, or ObamaCare)
— beliefs subject to psychological bias in analysis (ex: motivated reasoning, non-objectivity)
— moral values are plural and conflicting

Language of Politics, Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations.
People have different weights on the following spectra:
1. Care/Harm
2. Fairness/Cheating
3. Liberty/Oppression
4. Loyalty/Betrayal
6. Sanctity/Degradation
— liberals value 1,2,3 highly
— conservatives use all 6, but differ in nuances (ex: fairness in outcome vs effort). 4,5,6 can override 1,2,3.
— libertarians focus almost exclusively on 3 [Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Dispositions of Self-Identified Libertarians]. So they have THE TRUTH, and NEVER have to worry about moral conflict. They ask “who owns the trolley?”, and bring out the property rights. To others this looks like they’ve lost focus (not everything is a nail) or an appreciation of life’s complexity.

Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics.
1. Oppressor/Oppressed (the liberal’s focus)
2. Barbarism/Civilization (the conservative’s focus)
3. Coercion/Freedom (the libertarian’s focus)

To persuade others, libertarians need to be multi-lingual.
– A person doesn’t communicate well if they only speak in their own language. Others won’t hear you, you won’t hear them. “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
– If only see coercion/liberty then you will fail to appreciate other moral values. Oppression, fairness, care, loyalty aren’t mistakes. They aren’t reducible to the ONE TRUE VALUE (coercion). “There are no solutions, only trade-offs”

Consider the sweatshop debate.
Libertarian: It’s OK as long as it’s not coercive.
Option 1: Government determination of wages/safety is coercive.
Option 2: Government interference will harm those it tries to help.
The second option is more persuasive. Also more philosophically sound. It’s far from obvious that coercion is absolutely bad. How confident is the libertarian that “coercion == bad” is correct, and their debate opponent is mistaken?

Lessons:
1. It’s complicated. Be forgiving.
2. Conversation is not conversion (that takes many conversations over time).
3. Look for areas of common ground, and build on them. Find areas with lots of overlap. (good heuristic).

Notes: International Students for Liberty Conference, David Friedman, Problem of National Defense

Defense without Government
---------------

- government bad at doing things, esp complex things (ex: legal systems)
  am willing to accept government solution when alternative is worse
- court and police aren't complicated enough to require government
- define National Defense as invasion defense from a neighbor nation
- define Public Good as that where the producer cannot control who gets it (ex: radio broadcast)
  often economical to privately produce when combined with public bad (ex: advertisement)
  - can't guarantee that a free market produces it
  - but must propose a funding model. imperfect, but better than government

- founders of the constitution had a good idea with 2nd amendment, mentions militia
  - prob1: Oliver Cromwell proved that a small professional army beats larger unorganized amateur army
  - prob2: A large professional army can perform a coup de etat
  - soln: combine a small professional army with a large unorganized militia
  - we can take that solution and modernize it

- Rudyard Kipling: anarchist poem, story Army of a Dream
  - piggy-back off national pastime, popular sport that include mock wargames
  - result: everyone is trained in combat as a side-effect
  - it's social and voluntary
  - ex: David himself participates in the Society of Historical Anachronism
  - modernize: paintball, already proven popular and profitable
    can be encouraged with nationalistic pride

- now we have a large body of amateurs, only need the small cadre of professionals
  - what about the PR advantage of an Apr 15th parade where
    Apple, Google, etc. fly drones/jets in shape of logo or do acrobatics

- Some stories that David won't write http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Miscellaneous/story_ideas.htm
  - in battle of govt vs. market, david's trying to find atypical alternatives: cultural, open source
  - problem with funding the small professional cadre
  - possible solution: taxicabs have 1$billion non-repeat customers
  - can encourage cultural factors: war bonds, weapons donation
  - example: Larry Niven, Oath of Fealty, the private organization that plays the role of government will receive some nationalistic loyalty
  - example: Cloak of Anarchy (it's actually an anti-anarchy story)
  - example: The Ungoverned, Vernor Vinge, assumes state is poorer and backwards compared to anarchy
             Mexico (invader) doesn't think to go around when someone defends
             Mexico: What slime you are to use nukes against us!
             Private Security: What do you mean us? He's not a customer of ours!
  - No current wealthy developed country is worth invading
    - if rich, no profit in it
    - if poor, can't afford to

- Moral arguments are inadequately convincing
  - Hume's ought from is problem
  - don't have to win, the range of differences is not all that much
  - often can't agree on hypotheticals anyway
  - ex: Orwell's review of Hayek and Road to Serfdom and Zilliakis The Mirror of the Past
        he misunderstand market power
  - David's chosen consequentialism because the economics and reason easier to explain

- What about the warlord problem
  - the accumulated wealth of the richest family (Walton's) could pay for only a couple days of today's government

- David would advocate gradual change, to establish alternatives (ex: voucher education)
- Anarchy doesn't require uniform culture
  - donations for common defense can come in many forms: spying, information, reporting, bonds, equipment
  - Cadre is interacting with the culture
    - conferences on the latest weapons tech, training classes, etc..
  - might be able to use gift economics (ex: open source)
    - businesses employs basic research scientist as a cultural resource (informant)
    - status motivation
- Mechanism of outrage is not all that good
  - ex: in South Africa, Americans never upset about Black on Black Nigerian Civil War
- Future Imperfect,
  - we are really rich today, even the undeveloped is 10x more wealthy than historical norm

References:
  - Future Imperfect
  - Orwell's critique of Road to Serfdom
  - Cloak of Anarchy
  - The Ungoverned
  - Oath of Fealty

The Chording Keyboard

In the past I wanted to have a keyboard, split between both hands, with keys in rows shaped according to how my fingers are able to move. It seems that, as far as recording human speech is concerned, syllable-based chording keyboards, as used by stenographers, are more efficient. I’m not fully convinced that it would work for programming, because of the dependence on individual characters. However, I do lament that the experiment wasn’t performed. Looper OS points out the beginnings of that experiment in Englebart’s Violin.

motd_ui

First trip to Nicaragua

Due to unreasonably heavy traffic in Los Angeles (before the sun came up!) and a slow, cautious driver (my mother), we arrived at the airport after the designated check-in cutoff. I blame the government for subsidizing the car culture and for erecting a “security” barrier. So, upon arrival to the byzantine LAX, we immediately had to queue into a short line of 7 people that took an hour of wait before we could re-book another flight at exorbitant price. Of course, the new schedule meant that we would have an overnight layover at Miami. I found the new schedule especially frustrating, because our previous flight from Miami to Nicaragua left only 20 minutes after our new flight landed. But 20 minutes is not enough time to pick up a checked bag from the carousel, which lies outside the “security” barrier, and re-enter the airport. As we exited our plane, I chatted on the phone with another member of the party, as they boarded the originally scheduled flight to Nicaragua. We were both in the airport, only a couple terminals distant, and yet government made us impossibly far apart! For its security barrier cost more than the 7 minutes it would have taken to walk between terminals, incurring an overnight layover in Miami.

Fortunately our compatriot travelers were kind enough to stay in a hotel in Managua and wait for us to arrive around lunchtime the next day. My broken schedule notwithstanding, the others were also tired of dealing with the hassle of airport travel, and simply didn’t wish to follow that up with a long drive through the countryside at night. Not to mention that the furniture at our final destination, the Cacao Farm and Eco-Resort, had not yet been fully assembled.

When we arrived in Managua, a guy with our names on a card met us after disembarking the plane, he took our bags to be screened while we waited in nice chairs and had sandwiches and water with our fellow travelers that arrived the day before. Compared to the horror of customs screening when entering the USSA (as a citizen no less!) makes my home country feel uncivilized, paranoid, and backwards. In Managua, I felt like a guest rather than national chattel.

The car trip to the Cacao Farm and Eco-Resort had many rural sights: cows, chickens, pigs (all pretty scrawny by hormone-pumped USSA standards). Folks by the roadside holding up carcasses for sale to the cars passing by. The road had light, and highly diverse traffic, including buses, motorbikes, bicycles, rickshaws, and pedestrians. The green countryside featured rolling hills, blue skies, a large lake. Combined with the temperature in the 80s and high humidity, I felt a glowing, restful, and scenic warmth. Again, in stark contrast to bland concrete, oppressive traffic, noisy bustling of cities the USSA. In Nicaragua, road travel does not induce any feelings of rage.

After about 2.5hrs of driving along the countryside and dodging some obstacles (road rules are widely ignored and not strictly enforced) we arrived at the Farm. A crew of hardworking, and sweaty, lads were busy laying the brick walls of the new shower and toilet facilities. I later found out that our Farm’s construction work had saved the organizer and members in his team from toiling in a minerals mine, and they were quite happy to have the more pleasant labor of erecting small buildings in the open air of the jungle. I noticed that their daily labor acts as a continuous gym exercise, unlike the pale, flabby bodies of desk workers in the First (worst?) World.

That evening a shipment of 500 Cacao plants arrived and we assisted in their unloading through the heavy smell of fertilizer. We failed the race with diminishing natural light, but re-discovered the efficiency of bucket brigade in loading and unloading of crates and wheel barrows. Not having a kitchen of our own, we then re-convened at the neighbors for a meal of rice, beans, tortillas, and salad after a short break once we finished the labor. The bug population loves incandescent lighting and I found a black scorpion in the outhouse.

Throughout the trip weather was quite warm, but not overly hot (unless you happened to be exercising) with high humidity. I found the conditions during the day to be quite enjoyable because the moisture kept the dust down, alleviating my allergies. At night, however, it was a bit too cool for my tastes, and required a light blanket, which felt a little damp.

We took a sweaty excursion around the property in the company of a plantation expert, who pointed out what good soil we had, areas of drainage vs pooling water, the need for shady areas so that young Cacao plants have a chance to develop, etc. The resort has a nice, smallish mountain which possesses a fantastic view and would make an excellent place for a coffee shop or vacation house. There is also a stream burbling through which is already dammed in one place, with plans to provide for water storage that can be used later during the dry season.

The Farm also has a rooster, which crowed all night, and a cow that shat all over the front porch, creating a big mess. Animals do not make very good neighbors and so they shall be taken out to pasture and prevented from entering the resort with a barbed wire fence. The land for the resort contained too much wild brush for me to judge a good place for my plot of land. I decided that I’d feel much more drawing lines when given an overhead picture (akin to plane or satellite). Much to my reassurance, others felt that purchasing a quadcopter to obtain photos of the property would assist both sales and surveying. The resort does not yet have internet access, though Claro provides 2g along the main road. I’ve recently been researching the equipment necessary to provide wifi routing in the main plaza. I think a functional (though low-capacity) ~$300 router could be installed with a day’s labor, and $30 recurring service expense spread across 3 semi-permanent residents and 8 irregular visitors.

The travel back destroyed, the serenity I felt during the visit. Security entering the USSA was a huge hassle, and blatantly ineffective. For example, my mother had with her both a carry-on and a purse. The carry-on contained an unopened, still sealed, bottle of water. You know, the kind that they sell after passing through the hassle point. The bottle was so dangerous it threatened the entire country, and our security official literally tossed it a few feet into a regular trash can. When waiting at the terminal, my mother then found an opened, half-drunk bottle of water in her purse, that passed through the same checkpoint undiscovered! Queuing through the system of lines stressed my need for efficiency, the paperwork felt stupid and pointless, the questions hectored my patience, and the unwarranted invasions made me feel victimized. As a traveler, and chattel of the USSA, I don’t feel any safer for the pretense of security. I feel robbed and extorted, my right to free movement violated.

Idea: e-ink Poster

I’ve noticed that many companies are paying an enormous expense to have animated advertisements. They pay for huge billboard-sized signs bright enough to be seen during daylight. Previously, the hardware for this kind of thing was only affordable by sports arenas, which made money back on the investment with advertising to the captive game audience. But, it’s not just billboards, as restaurants now also put their menu up on large flat-screen televisions, despite the fact that the menu really doesn’t change very often. I guess they see the recurring cost of electricity for both the monitor and computer that drives them as less than reprinting of the menus.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a large e-ink display? They don’t require much power, don’t need to be lit, and most ads still don’t animate very much. Just put some image file on a usbstick, plug it into the e-ink poster, and run for a month or so on batteries (or solar power). Seems like this is far less costly, I’d expect the market to explode once someone manufactures such a poster.

Some Interesting Titles

I’m moving, and have decided to toss a number of printed papers. I record them here, in the insignificant chance that I might return to the topics covered.

Religious Experience

In a piece titled Islam and the Misuses of Ecstasy, Sam Harris takes issue with some atheists about their distance regarding the motivations of religious believers. I, unfortunately, share the perspective that Harris critiques.

I once ran into the anthropologist Scott Atran after he had delivered one of his preening and delusional lectures on the origins of jihadist terrorism. According to Atran, people who decapitate journalists, filmmakers, and aid workers to cries of “Alahu akbar!” or blow themselves up in crowds of innocents are led to misbehave this way not because of their deeply held beliefs about jihad and martyrdom but because of their experience of male bonding in soccer clubs and barbershops. (Really.) So I asked Atran directly:

“Are you saying that no Muslim suicide bomber has ever blown himself up with the expectation of getting into Paradise?”

“Yes,” he said, “that’s what I’m saying. No one believes in Paradise.”
At a moment like this, it is impossible to know whether one is in the presence of mental illness or a terminal case of intellectual dishonesty. Atran’s belief—apparently shared by many people—is so at odds with what can be reasonably understood from the statements and actions of jihadists that it admits of no response. The notion that no one believes in Paradise is far crazier than a belief in Paradise.

In his practiced, careful, methodical, and eloquent monologue he proceeds to cite and reference many examples of religious practice, specifically Islamic practices, that touch deeply the human psyche and elicit emotional response. As a subjectivist seeking internal wisdom, Harris has himself explored this aspect of human psychology, and definitely speaks as a first-hand qualified source.

I don’t know what Harris would think of me. For, when I watch the videos that he describes as beautiful and captivating, I feel annoyed at singing and music in the call to prayer, find the popular Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan just plain silly, and experience a revulsion at the coordinated motion of the crowds. No wonder I’m not religious, I don’t live in the same world of experience.

Instead my emotions are muted, and I like to believe they are firmly tempered by logical understanding. In reality, my ego plain refuses to let go and abandon me to a mob trance. Perhaps this is the case also with academicians like Atran, who overwhelmingly reside in the INTJ category of Myers Briggs. Yes, it’s illogical to assume that everyone subjectively experiences the world in the same way. Yet shortcut reasoning has us use our own personal experience as proxy for others. So we erroneously conclude that “No one believes in Paradise.”

My brain is likely abnormal in some way such that I don’t experience Harris’ evidence as beautiful, but rather the opposite: participation would be a direct threat to my ego-valued independence. I know I’m not the only one. How frightened the mob of normals must feel to encounter such an alien in the midst.

Finally, Harris drives home his point: Islam takes these emotional triggers and couples them with a message of hate for the unbeliever. This strategy (an evolutionary adaptation of the religious meme) is the most frightening thing I have ever seen. Harris is right to counsel the world of Islams inherent dangers. For, it is inevitable that this tool of mass hypnosis will fall into a trajectory that compels violence, destabilizing the World.

As an aside: I also take Harris’ observation to indicate that to the degree that a political/social organization framework needs independence of thought and action to function properly it will experience failures when actually used. For psychological techniques that religion uses show that the vast majority of people are herding creatures.

Social Game

As a result of some deep procrastination, I’ve been spending far too much time reading junk in the manosphere, which I only recently discovered. These collection of blogs promote topics such as MGTOW (men going their own way), MRA (men’s right activism), and PUA (pick-up artistry). I think most of these guys get recruited into the manosphere through Game, the practice of explicitly using social techniques such as negative compliments, overt flattery, confidence projection, kino escalation, etc. to attract and bed females. I’m fortunate to be gay, because I can completely bypass all of these theatrics, and just use the Grindr app.

The most fascinating part of Game is how well it’s been developed. Sure the social/behavorial theories are rife with over-generalizations and biased by first-hand account, but these guys have built those theories on actual data. Some experiment daily, allowing the Game to orient their life. In my opinion, this is just about as hard and practical as social sciences can get.

I don’t practice Game, nor do I really pay attention to people around me. For example, while some of my friends keep spotting hot people in a crowd, I just churn through useless chatter in my head and look at my feet. I also take what people say at face value, and fail to read the many other clues that reveal their motivations, such as body language and intonation. In manosphere terminology, I have to honestly classify myself as a Beta, because I have absorbed about 22 years of state schooling. I might also be Gamma, because I’m so damnably aloof about social interaction.

Just to highlight the things that I fail to pick up on, Western Cancer at Return of Kings has highlighted a good example of Alpha behavior in the comedian Russel Brand. The social dynamic analysis is pretty well in-depth, as Cancer expands the whole subtext of each of Brands short quips and actions into words and roles that I can understand. When he remarks that “from then on this host is uncomfortably squirming around in a puddle of her own sexual juices” he’s completely right!

0:12 Just over ten seconds into the interview Brand begins showing his disinterest for being there.

0:35 Brian, your outfit is fucked. You have no originality and you are a product of your superiors and nothing else.

0:55 “You’re a fellow Englishwoman…” With one sentence Brand frames it so that this woman is ‘on his side’ since they share a commonality.

1:13 The last thing Brand does is spark the attraction of the most dominant interviewer, Mika. Brand has her help him put the table back to her.

I watched Brand’s performance, and found it awful. In my opinion this whole interview was a colossal failure, I don’t know very much more about Brand or his play/act/whatever than when I started. He spent a quarter of the time directing the camera at people in the background and chatting nonsense with the hosts. He did successfully dominate the scene, sure, but I’m not inclined to watch what he was supposed to be advertising. It’s only though Cancer’s explanations that I even had a clue as to what’s going on in this scene. Left to my own interpretation, I’d recall only annoyance and no information.

Though Game techniques might be crass and geared toward sex, I think that learning the social behavior scripts would prove very useful for building social capital and advancing one’s career.

The Absence of Libertarian Countries

Salon has a rousing piece of claptrap provokingly titled The question libertarians just can’t answer. Fortunately, without building up any suspense (which would in this case be correlated with reader annoyance), the author, Michael Lind, comes right out with it:

Why are there no libertarian countries?

Associated with this question, which must be profoundly perplexing to those robbed, through compulsory government schooling, of their imagination to consider alternatives, Lind also delivers a secondary question, aiming to emphasize the first.

If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?

Of course, not even two hours passed before the erudite Tom Woods delivered a series of ripostes, each one highlighting a specific failure of the state following the same formula: If your approach of statism is so great, then why really horrible thing X? While not directly addressing the original question, I think Tom has successfully lampooned the faulty logic in Lind’s reasoning. Which leaves me with only one further task; to elaborate the answers that I’ve used in response to this rather frequent question.

Firstly, we have a large number of historical societies that have worked quite well under various different forms of organization. I find that most libertarians are actually minarchists, and would keep the state around for certain items like roads, courts, and national defense. But, if I’m going to make the case for out-and-out unfettered freedom having been tried to various degrees in different arrangements, then my position won’t work without a list of Historical examples of Anarchy without Chaos.

Iceland stands out as a particularly strong example, having had a quasi-anarchistic legal institution which lasted from 930 to 1262 as recounted by Robert Long in The Decline an Fall of Private Law in Iceland. Interestingly, the institution of geographic tithing to a parish, forcibly exported from England, finally unraveled the ordered anarchy by allowing corrupt administrators to first value land as a rent-seeker and then to use the rent to fund armies in fights over it.

However, Lind clearly wants a more modern example. I am not a mind reader, but I speculate this might be because he thinks that modern technology and economic complexity makes some kind of fundamental difference. Without jumping the gun immediately, let me just point out that in our own United States that was America, the area now called Pennsylvania, maintained beautifully ordered anarchy for nearly a decade! As described by Rothbard in Pennsylvania’s Anarchist Experiment: 1681–1690, we see that existing regimes, focused on collecting taxes for government operation, saw the peaceful anarchy as a case of “colonists suffering from excessive liberty”. Eventually, due to long-standing coercion, the government council, which previously refused to meet, resumed session because some members were tempted by the power of government and gave in to that corruption.

I don’t wish to be accused of cherry picking from history, even though the list there is tragically short (anarchic regions tend not to keep records of their operations), so let’s also turn to one of the more difficult recent cases: Somalia. Remember, it would not be fair to compare today’s Somalia to how nice things are in the developed world, because of its disadvantage from having been under dictatorship for so long. Rather, we can only see if unfettered freedom works by tracking how rapidly Somalia can improve once the oppression of government has been lifted. Five years after the fall of government the UN finally gave up trying to impose a new one. Once this interference stopped and the people were finally able to self-organize, conditions improved immensely. In Better off Stateless, P.T. Leeson reports positive growth on 14 different metrics tracked by UNDP. The only aspects in decline are GDP (likely due to lack of government spending), access to water (which remained unchanged), adult literacy rate, and combined school enrollment. Before jumping on these few declines as indicative of anarchy’s failure, let’s give the Somalians the benefit of doubt and assume that they prioritized their investment in electricity, telephones, televisions, physicians and sanitation. After all, nobody forced their resource allocation. Somalia’s not a paradise, but anarchy did give it opportunities for rapid improvement unachievable under government. So much so, that they can now claim the cheapest international phone rates of any African country.

With these examples, I hope that you can see Lind’s restriction on the time period “early twenty-first century” artificially limits the scope of the discussion in his favor. Is it really the fault of libertarianism that every land mass during that time was under government control? Why won’t any existing governments allow the libertarian experiment? Should we read into this circumstance a revealing pattern: that government is so insecure it can’t permit competition?

To show my case, let’s now recall a few times where some entrepreneurial individualists have tried to build a libertarian society. In the 1970’s the micronation Republic Of Minerva was chased of a shoal they had dredged into an island by the King of neighboring Tonga, who claimed homesteading privileges on the fishing grounds and surrounding reef. More recently, the Seasteading Institute, recognizing a lack of land in which to run the libertarian social experiment, has proposed platforms and modular islands, but has had difficulty funding the projects, due to the logistical expenses. Because land is still the best resource on which to construct communications and building infrastructure, the most recent and most promising attempt is to create “free cities” in Honduras. Unfortunately these have been shrugged off by a government justice system (which would more accurately be spelled as “just-us”).

The bill to allow the creation of such cities passed the Honduran Legislature nearly unanimously, by a vote of 126 to 1. But not everyone is on board with the project. Left-wing Hondurans have filed a complaint before the Honduran Supreme Court, arguing that the free cities project violates their constitution and treats “national territory as a commodity.”

Private city in Honduras will have minimal taxes, government by Maxim Lott

In truth, as libertarians seek their utopia, they have made one tragic mistake of strategy: a consistent moral framework. All the libertarians I know live by the non-agression principal. Which means that none of the libertarians I know are willing to use the conventional tactics for acquiring that plot of land needed to carry out the experiment. We won’t conscript an army to take the land by force, as government has done before and to us. The Government mob wantonly takes advantage of this bedrock of consistency, further preventing libertarians from embarking on the experiment by existing government policies. We begrudgingly pay taxes to stay out of jail even though this forces us to retain less capital with which to invest in purchasing galt’s gulch. Let’s not forget to mention also, that government uses law to grant itself monopoly over the land, preventing any declaration of independence.

In summary, there are no libertarian countries because

  1. those that did exist historically eventually met their end through statist corruption.
  2. all the land is currently claimed by existing monopolistic states that won’t let go.
  3. widespread statist mentality won’t allow the experiment to take place.

These answers are long-winded and do not serve well during a heated debate. If you find a statist trying to corner you with “Oh yeah? Then why aren’t there any countries like that today!?”, rather than launching into a history lesson making the above points, try turning the question around with one of Tom Wood’s replies or simply channel Michael Bolton from Office Space and retort “No way! Why should I leave? Government’s the one that sucks!”.

Career Advice from a Successful Autistic

Autistics may be a rare breed, but it it pays off handsomely to try and understand the workings of their minds. In the same way that building and bridge design improves from failures more than successes, neurologists learn more about the brain from examination of breakage whether due to accidental imperfections and handicaps from genetic lotter an unfortunate accidents than they can from observing ordinary working brains. My interest here differs slightly from that of the neurologists, for I care more about how I can boost my own processing power. In that regard, the high-functioning autistics, the ones that can explain somewhat how they think and especially what coping mechanisms they develop in order to function in the freakishly weird society the rest of us dare to consider ordinary.

Again this post is triggered from the processing and expansion of some older notes. Temple Grandin has written a wonderful book of her battle with autism, “Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism”. She has a remarkable ability to simulate 3D models in her head, which enabled a career translating them into working facilities. Even as a lover of cattle, she has designed the most productive livestock handling facilities in the nation, specifically focusing on corrals that avoid spooking the cattle on the way to slaughter. During college she also designed a ‘hug box’ that would comfort her during panic attacks. Her ability to overcome such crippling and non-visible handicap implies that she contains good advice on career building.

Expose Children to Interesting Things. “At MIT, John Blecher developed a computer program that turns mathematical equations into beautiful abstract degins”. As educators, we should be using these and similar techniques to get students hooked into our respective fields. Not only does it make for great demos and publicity, but visualization of the scientific models and data is also a key to the advancement of understanding itself.

To sell yourself you must have on hand a Portfolio of Work. I credit the motivation for all my past writing on this topic as springing from Grandin’s advice. Colleges (and students, though they little realize it) need metrics for discovering whether the learning techniques being used currently work. Right now, we have an overt focus on exams, which often tests material knowledge rather than synthesis and creativity. We need a switch from knowledge-based exams to constructive portfolio building. Career advancement happens when you can prove your fit for the job at hand, and nothing speaks louder than a list of past accomplishments. Collect into a personal website the drawings and photos of your completed work.