Greta Thunberg | Climate Activism | Autism

Not everyone can be Martin Luther King, Tyler Cowen posits in his recent philosophy book, Stubborn Attachments, but hints that those who can be will make a huge difference. How to know what to do… There’s a common sense morality that many of use that implies we do the best we can for our families and friends and acquaintances but, for instance, we don’t divert all of our time and resources to helping the extreme poor or to fighting climate change.


One trait that autistic thinking seems to have more than typical thinking is a stubborn focus. This focus borders on what typicals  would find too difficult. It can manifest on an insistence on only doing something one way, for instance only drinking out of a certain cup but also an insistence on, say, fighting for the truth.


Autistic thinking can sometimes have a concrete consistent logic that defies the niceties of typical thinking - either social niceties or the (wilful) blindness that typicals exhibit - a tendency to tell the truth as they see it - for example “you are fat” as statement of fact or “we are destroying the planet”


Typicals obviously can display these traits, but I find it notable in the atypical population.


Perhaps, it is unsurprising to note Greta Thunberg, 16 years old is on the autistic spectrum (Asperger’s diagnosis) and is a climate activist.


She finds the lack of progress by the Davos’ elites as bewildering and the use of airplanes (and meat eating) by those professing to be combating climate change as inconsistent.


Thus displaying a consistent concrete logic by travelling by train, activist campaigns and turning her parents vegan. And with a disregard for Davos social niceties.


A recent CNN article on her advocacy at Davos:

“"Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we will have created, but that is not true, because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame," Thunberg said flatly. "Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people."

(see above)

There was a short pause in the room before Bono started clapping.”  (Full text here: https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/25/our-house-is-on-fire-greta-thunberg16-urges-leaders-to-act-on-climate

Article here:

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/25/europe/greta-thunberg-davos-world-economic-forum-intl/index.html

Her recent Washington post Op-ed

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2019/01/23/davos/

And her previous UN COP24 speech:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFkQSGyeCWg


Links: VC, Creativity, Gulag, 80000 hours

Links of the week

https://haveibeenpwned.com/

Have I Been Pwned: Check if your email has been compromised in a data breach

Have I Been Pwned allows you to search across multiple data breaches to see if your email address has been compromised


https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/20/action-not-words-needed-over-biggest-public-health-failure-of-our-time-pneumonia-davos-2019

the Guardian

Action not words needed over biggest public health failure of our time: pneumonia | Larry Elliott

Me: I think that antibiotic resistance and use, as well as basic hygiene (toilets etc. cf Gates Foundation) are bigger health failures, but the idea is worth a thought.


https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2019/jan/19/luke-jennings-what-i-learned-in-13-years-as-observer-dance-critic-leaps-and-bounds

the Guardian

Leaps and bounds: what I learned in 13 years as the Observer's dance critic

After filing his final dance review last month, Luke Jennings reflects on the transcendent highs and excruciating lows, and his hopes for the future of the art form.

Me: I missed many of these (caught the Pina Bausch). Unsuccessful dance is perhaps even more painful than see unsuccessful theatre, but successful dance is transcendent in ways which often defies words.



https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-investor-seth-klarman-in-a-rare-interview-offers-a-warning-davos-should-listen

The New Yorker

The Investor Seth Klarman, in a Rare Interview, Offers a Warning. Davos Should Listen

Klarman, a low-key but highly influential investor, believes that shortsighted business practices are imperilling public confidence in capitalism.

Me: Klarman gives interviews rarely and is considered an influential value investor. His warnings chime with some other managers of late eg Ray Dalio (though not some others eg Paulson).



The Paris Review  | Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag

Varlam Shalamov claimed not to have learned anything from the Gulag except how to wheel a loaded barrow. But one of his fragmentary writings, dated 1961, tells us more.

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/06/12/forty-five-things-i-learned-in-the-gulag/



Y Combinator

Why Should I Start a Startup?

A lot of people ask themselves why they should start a startup. My answer to why you should start a startup is simple: there is a certain type of person who only works at their peak capacity when there is no predictable path to follow, the odds of success are low, and they have to take personal responsibility…

https://blog.ycombinator.com/why-should-i-start-a-startup/


https://80000hours.org/

80,000 Hours

80,000 Hours: How to make a difference with your career

You have 80,000 hours in your career. How can you use them to make a difference?


Autism is Lindy, autistic thinking has been conserved in history

(via) The Lindy effect is a concept that the future life expectancy of some items or concepts  such as technology or an idea is proportional to their current age, so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy. My idea of Lindy comes from reading Nassim Taleb, who expands upon the writings of Beniot Mandlebrot who described an effect of a deli

Lindy is a deli in New York, now a tourist trap, that proudly claims to be famous for its cheesecake, but in fact has been known for the fifty or so years of interpretation by physicists and mathematicians of the heuristic that developed there. Actors who hung out there gossiping about other actors discovered that Broadway shows that lasted, say one hundred days, had a future life expectancy of a hundred more. For those that lasted two hundred days, two hundred more. The heuristic became known as the Lindy Effect.

Perhaps, it can be best thought of via example eg that butter is more Lindy than margarine and that olive oil is a very lindy cooking oil of our times.

Lindy is not really meant to be applied to perishable items. Nonperishable are Lindy. Ideas, technologies and institutions.

So… I think autistic thinking has been Lindy over the ages. Why might this be the case?

Autistic thinking tends not to follow the dominant social consensus thinking of the time, I also argue, autistic thinking can importantly lead to radical breakthrough where you have leaps of understanding that perhaps typical thinking would not demonstrate.

Rates of ASD diagnosis in the US are around 1 in 65, with New Jersey as high as 1 in 45 and between 1 in 50 to 1 in 100 a likely typical range in Level 4 countries.

If you look back 70,000 years there’s evidence that early man, Neanderthal man looked after his disabled siblings into old age..


Anecdote suggests that autism and autistic thought has been present in human society for hundreds of years, while both environment and genetic factors both plays roles I find it noteworthy that nature and its Darwinian forces seemingly have conserved autism and that autistic thinking might be Lindy.


If  there is some aspect of autism that is Lindy why might it be so?  I might be entirely wrong but let’s go a storytelling...


Why might that be…?


Autistic thought tends not to follow the crowd of “herd” thinking or social pressure or social learning.


These traits can be incredibly useful.


Think about any paradigm shift in thought which requires ideas outside of normal.  A non-autist has social pressures and social learning that an autism might not.


An ice age has set in.  On the one hand, you need tools and weapons to hunt.  You need social communication to co-ordinate large groups of people. You need leaders of those groups.


But, you need inventors to create tools which are different to the status quo.  If everyone hunts the mammoth in only one way and that way stops working, you need someone who can think differently and sees a solution not because “we’ve always done it this way” but because there’s a way that makes sense to autistic thought that non-autistic thought can’t reach easily.


The rest of the human society, maybe the leader of those small ape-like human groups, can see the value in these different autistic thinkers who have ways of seeing and answers to problems the “herd” can not solve.


Maybe I go too far to suggest that this different thinking is treasured.  


But if the autistic way has been treasured for tens of thousands of years, perhaps that’s one explanation for why is survives in humans today.


And with estimated rates of 1 in 100 (and rising) with close to 1 in 45 in New Jersey being diagnosed on the spectrum, is this an argument for autistic thought being Lindy - and for why we should still treasure our autists and their way of being.

Recent Link collections January

What we gain from keeping books – and why it doesn’t need to be ‘joy’ | Books | The Guardian


https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/07/what-we-gain-from-keeping-books-and-why-it-doesnt-need-to-be-joy-marie-kondo


An interview with Holocaust survivor Martin Stern - YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et9NxT4zWyA


UK Creativity Map

Help us create a map of all the creative groups and activities by adding your listing

https://www.voluntaryarts.org/creativity-map


Capitalists in the Twenty-First Century

https://www.nber.org/papers/w25442#fromrss




The Mass Observation Archive specialises in material about everyday life in Britain. It contains papers generated by the original Mass Observation social research organisation (1937 to early 1950s), and newer material collected continuously since 1981.

http://www.massobs.org.uk/the-archive/online-resources


Screen time: how much is too much?

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00137-6


Meet Aladdin, the computer "more powerful than traditional politics"

How a single computer system came to influence the value of vast swathes of the world's financial assets.

https://www.newstatesman.com/spotlight/2018/04/meet-aladdin-computer-more-powerful-traditional-politics


Interview help

Offer: Oxbridge | University interview practice. If you are or know someone who will be interviewing at Oxbridge (or equivalent level interview), and they are disadvantaged – particularly if their school does not offer mock interviews – I am open to a few slots to offer a mock interview.

(I have been to Cambridge and Harvard. I have a science-based degree, but also write plays. I know the UK system and to some extent the US, liberal arts system too).

I can NOT help if you are applying to Harvard this year (as I interview for Harvard this cycle).

Typically, I will offer 10 mins, basics, 30-40 mins interview, 20-30 mins de-brief and I’ll need basic information sent in advance. My capacity given the interview schedule coming up is 5 or so, in the next 2-3 weeks. I may not be able to take all enquiries if this proves popular.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn below.


Poem post fall of Berlin Wall, when I was a teenager

I caught up with a new mingler (sustainability accountant!), she grew up in Berlin and later that day it sparked my recollection of going to Berlin as a young teenager, not long after the fall of the wall.  There was such a happiness and optimism about the future. This is mostly missing from what I observe in the world now (except when your football team is winning). I’m unsure what will bring it back, but maybe it starts with connections and mingles.

Yes, I did go to a Berlin night club, not long after the fall of the wall…. And maybe I thought saying I was 16 when I was 14, was such a daring thing.

When I was 14

After the fall

of the Berlin Wall


I found myself

in a Potsdam club


the city sizzled

with the joy of lost


unexpectedly found wounds

healing - that the best times still


ahead ahead ahead - I singing

impossible beats beat


heady on Green Forest cocktails

dancing with an impossibly


ancient 21 year old

Ach so young little one


lets dance lets dance

dance dance dance



….It might not be so clear as to whether the 21 year was commenting on the fizz of a 14 year old asking her to dance… or the young outlook of the world to be so full of hope….


Maybe it went (in night club broken German)


-Want to dance

-How old are you?

-16 (inflated age)

-So young!

-Dance?

-OK, let’s dance.


The current Arts blog, cross-over, the current Investing blog.  Cross fertilise, some thoughts on autism.  Discover what the last arts/business mingle was all about (sign up for invites to the next event in the list below).

My Op-Ed in the Financial Times  (My Financial Times opinion article) about asking long-term questions surrounding sustainability and ESG.

Current highlights:

A thought on how to die well and Mortality

Some writing tips and thoughts from Zadie Smith

How to live a life, well lived. Thoughts from a dying man. On play and playing games.

A provoking read on how to raise a feminist child.

Some popular posts:  the commencement address;  by NassimTaleb (Black Swan author, risk management philosopher),  Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes;  JK Rowling on the benefits of failure.  Charlie Munger on always inverting;  Sheryl Sandberg on grief, resilience and gratitude.

Buy my play, Yellow Gentlemen, (amazon link) - all profits to charity

Identity

Many identity conversations recently. Part of the identity conversations are sparked by the success and debate around Crazy Rich Asians. One concern I have about identity politics is that, unless careful, it tends to emphasise differences rather than unity. People are rarely careful. And this plays into the hands of extremists. I sit in a barbell syncrectic position. So, I have furrowed brow reading FT's Roula Khalaf (behind paywall, but I can send you) reading Appiah's Lies that Bind

"... Dealing with identity is not only an individual struggle. Identity, he says, is not just how you see yourself but also how you are seen: “If you do not care for the shapes your identities have taken you cannot simply refuse them; they are not yours alone. You have to work with others inside and outside the labelled group in order to reframe them so they fit you better.”

 

Tribal politics may be too entrenched to be influenced by historical nuance. As Francis Fukuyama argues in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, just as 20th-century politics was defined by economic issues, politics today is defined by questions of identity: the left focuses on promoting the interests of marginalised groups, the right argues for the protection of traditional national identity “which is often explicitly connected to race, ethnicity, or religion”. But it is no longer sufficient to lament, or denounce, identity politics. As Mr Appiah attests with his own contribution, a debate about the meaning of identity and how we overcome its over-politicisation has become a necessity...."   suggesting that to some extent identity politics will be a neccessity. Hm. Not good for me.... Although Appiah himself, argues for a much lighter hand on identity (FT interview here) where one interpretation of his early work would argue he thinks the notion of "race" is almost fiction.

I do happen to be pretty fascinated by the Bl;ack American debates and also an interest in hair. A blog about the Black American experience through the lens of Coates here, and a thought on hair loss and black women's hair here.


This week, I also managed to sneak some time to pop by the poetry cafe, in Covent Garden, which I haven't done for years.

IMAGE.JPG

I thought, what chance a poetry reading would be full? Lo... standing room only.

I didn't stay long for duty calls, but enough to hear this poem. Working Class poem, in What Are You After by Josephine Corcoran. (Amazon link).

IMAGE.JPG

The poem in its own way answers the Identity question, We are so many things that identity can some times atomise us. We are human. We are ourselves.


Listening to legendary theatre agent, Mel Kenyon. 

The current Arts blog, cross-over, the current Investing blog.  Cross fertilise, some thoughts on autism.  Discover what the last arts/business mingle was all about (sign up for invites to the next event in the list below).

My Op-Ed in the Financial Times  (My Financial Times opinion article) about asking long-term questions surrounding sustainability and ESG.

Current highlights:

A long read on Will Hutton looking at Brexit causes and solutions.

Some writing tips and thoughts from Zadie Smith

How to live a life, well lived. Thoughts from a dying man. On play and playing games.

A provoking read on how to raise a feminist child.

 

Some popular posts:  the commencement address;  by NassimTaleb (Black Swan author, risk management philosopher),  Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes;  JK Rowling on the benefits of failure.  Charlie Munger on always inverting;  Sheryl Sandberg on grief, resilience and gratitude.

Buy my play, Yellow Gentlemen, (amazon link) - all profits to charity