Patterico's Pontifications


Temple Grandin: Visual Thinkers Are Getting Left Behind

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:21 pm

[guest post by Dana]

There is a lot of good stuff in this op-ed by Professor Temple Grandin (Colorado State University). Grandin, who is autistic, discusses the role of visual thinkers in society and the need to provide avenues of learning that meet the needs of the neurodivergent so that they, in turn, can meet the needs of today’s society. Much of what she says speaks to my heart on a personal level, so I’m very glad to see her write about the subject:

When I was younger, I believed that everybody thought in photo-realistic pictures the same way I did, with images clicking through my mind a little bit like PowerPoint slides or TikTok videos.

I had no idea that most people are more word-centric than I am. For many, words, not pictures, shape thought. …

I was born in the late 1940s just as the diagnosis of autism was being applied to kids like me. I had no language until age 4 and was first diagnosed as brain damaged. Today, many people would say that I’m neurodivergent — a term that encompasses not only autism but also dyslexia, A.D.H.D. and other learning problems…

Still, many aspects of our society are not set up to allow visual thinkers — which so many of us neurodivergent folks are — to thrive. In fact, many aspects of our society seem set up specifically so we will fail. Schools force students into a one-size-fits-all curriculum. The workplace relies too much on résumés and G.P.A.s to assess candidates’ worth. This must change not only because neurodivergent people, and all visual thinkers, deserve better but also because without a major shift in how we think about how we learn, American innovation will be stifled.

Today, Taiwan produces the majority of the world’s highest tech silicon chips. Much of the specialized mechanical equipment used for processing meat is made in Holland and Germany. When I visited the Steve Jobs Theater in California, pre-Covid, I discovered that the glass walls were created by an Italian company. The massive carbon fiber roof that looks like a spaceship was imported from Dubai. The reason this equipment is coming from outside the United States can be traced in part to differences in educational systems. In Italy and the Netherlands, for instance, a student at about age 14 decides whether to go the university route or the vocational route. The vocational route is not looked down on or regarded as a lesser form of intelligence. And that’s how it should be everywhere because the skill sets of visual thinkers are essential to finding real-world solutions to society’s many problems.

Anybody who thinks that we are all hardwired to see the world the same, and to learn and process information the same is blind. Parents whose children fall under the banner of neurodivergent understand the truth of what Grandin says. They have watched their loved ones struggle to adapt to a standard learning style when they are simply unable to do so. But the good news is, as Grandin points out, that the word neurodivergent is now an accepted term speaks to “a growing understanding about the different ways that brains work.” This is a positive development that will continue to benefit families but will also benefit society at large as our need for innovation increases.

You can read more about Temple Grandin here.


You Don’t Say: Classified Docs Discovered In Private Office Used by Then-VP Biden Just Days Before November Midterms (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:44 am

[guest post by Dana]

President Biden’s lawyers confirmed that classified documents from his time as vice president were discovered in a private office just days before the 2022 midterms (Nov. 2, to be precise):

Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked the *US attorney in Chicago to investigate the matter, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN, and congressional Republicans are also taking notice.

Biden’s lawyers say they found the government materials in November while closing out a Washington, DC-based office – the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement – that Biden used as part of his relationship with the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an honorary professor from 2017 to 2019.

Fewer than a dozen classified documents were found at Biden’s office, another source told CNN. It is unclear what the documents pertain to or why they were taken to Biden’s private office. Federal officeholders are required by law to relinquish official documents and classified records when their government service ends.

President Biden’s special counsel released a statement that made it clear that, upon discovery of the documents, established protocols were followed:

“The White House is cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice regarding the discovery of what appear to be Obama-Biden Administration records, including a small number of documents with classified markings,” Richard Sauber, special counsel to President Biden, said in a statement. “The documents were discovered when the President’s personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. The President periodically used this space from mid-2017 until the start of the 2020 campaign. On the day of this discovery, November 2, 2022, the White House Counsel’s Office notified the National Archives. The Archives took possession of the materials the following morning.”

“The discovery of these documents was made by the President’s attorneys…The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives. Since that discovery, the President’s personal attorneys have cooperated with the Archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives.”

As you can imagine, Trump supporters and Biden detractors are up in arms about the revelation and what they see as hypocrisy. Donald Trump demanded to know when the FBI would be raiding President Biden’s home(s).

Experts point to a distinction between Trump and Biden’s classified documents situation:

Bradley Moss, a security clearances expert, told “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday that so far, and if no more problematic evidence emerges, the current president team’s conduct was different because of “the cooperation and the absence of obstruction in which they have engaged compared to what Donald Trump did.”

“So far, it’s completely apples to oranges here,” said Moss, who is the deputy executive director of the James Madison Project.

As of this morning, President Biden has not responded to questions about the classified documents:

(*U.S. Attorney John Lausch is a Trump nominee.)

UPDATE: Today President Biden addressed the question of whether he knew about the classified documents and whether the public should have been notified earlier:

“When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me. Secure office in the Capitol. When I ran, the four years after being vice president, was a professor at Penn. They found some documents in a box. You know locked cabinet? Or at least a closet…And as soon as they did, I realized there were several classified documents in that box. And they did what they should have done. They immediately called the archives, immediately called the archives, turned them over to the archives.

And I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there are any government records that were taken there to that office. But I don’t know what’s in the documents. I’ve my lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I’ve turned over the boxes. They’ve turned over the boxes to the archives. And we’re cooperating fully, cooperating fully with the review, and which I hope will be finished soon. And there’ll be more detail at that time.

It appears that President Biden knew about the classified documents right after they were discovered. Given that this was 5 days before the midterm elections, I believe that the White House should have been up front with the American people about the discovery. I have no idea if it would’ve moved the voting needle one way or the other, but the optics are bad. It looks like a strategic decision was made to keep quiet about the documents because of the impending election. Considering that Democrats were already bracing for a red wave, they didn’t want to risk an even worse outcome. In other words, politics as usual.


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