On The Autistic Cognitive Spectrum

If you haven’t, you should consider reading Create Your Own Economy, by Tyler Cowen.

In it, he discusses, among many many other things, the idea of autism: what it is, what it means, what skills people with that kind of ‘cognitive profile’ have and lack.

Ok, now read this.

Richard Stallman is definitely some kind of super-functioning autistic. Cowen, whose link I followed to the piece, approves, unsurprisingly.

The document is an introduction to what it takes to get Stallman (RMS) to come speak at some event for you. This is what he does for a living and so I was expecting there to be lots of very specific instructions. And there are lots of good to be specific, too. See Van Halen’s contract!

But get a load of this (long quote):

I am willing to stay in a hotel if there is no other way.
Please book the hotel for me and arrange to pay the hotel directly.

But please DON’T make a hotel reservation until we have fully explored
other options. If there is anyone who wants to offer a spare couch, I
would much rather stay there than in a hotel (provided I have a door I
can close, in order to have some privacy). Staying with someone is
more fun for me than a hotel, and it would also save you money…

…Above 72 fahrenheit (22 centigrade) I find sleeping quite difficult.
(If the air is dry, I can stand 23 degrees.) A little above that
temperature, a strong electric fan blowing on me enables me to sleep.
More than 3 degrees above that temperature, I need air conditioning to

If there is a substantial chance of indoor temperatures too hot for
me, please arrange _in advance_ for me to have what I need.

If you are planning for me to stay in a hotel, DO NOT take for granted
that the hotel has air conditioning–or that it will be working when I
arrive. Some hotels shut off their air conditioning systems for part
of the year. They often think it is unnecessary in seasons when the
temperature is usually in the mid 20s–and they follow their schedule
like stupid robots even if there is a heat wave…

I like cats if they are friendly, but they are not good for me; I am
somewhat allergic to them. This allergy makes my face itch and my
eyes water. So the bed, and the room I will usually be staying in,
need to be clean of cat hair. However, it is no problem if there is a
cat elsewhere in the house–I might even enjoy it if the cat is

Dogs that bark angrily and/or jump up on me frighten me, unless they
are small and cannot reach much above my knees. But if they only bark
or jump when we enter the house, I can cope, as long as you hold the
dog away from me at that time. Aside from that issue, I’m ok with

If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be
very very glad. If you can find someone who has a friendly parrot I
can visit with, that will be nice too.

DON’T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me. To
acquire a parrot is a major decision: it is likely to outlive you. If
you don’t know how to treat the parrot, it could be emotionally
scarred and spend many decades feeling frightened and unhappy. If you
buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating
practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it.
Meeting that sad animal is not an agreeable surprise.


It is very important for me to be able to transfer email between my
laptop and the net, so I can do my ordinary work…

I do NOT use browsers, I use the SSH protocol. If the network
requires a proxy for SSH, I probably can’t use it at all…

…In some places, my hosts act as if my every wish were their command.
By catering to my every whim, in effect they make me a tyrant over
them, which is not a role I like. I start to worry that I might
subject them to great burdens without even realizing. I start being
afraid to express my appreciation of anything, because they would get
it and give it to me at any cost.

…I do not eat breakfast. Please do not ask me any questions about
what I will do breakfast. Please just do not bring it up.

And on it goes. Fascinating stuff.

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