Friday Squid Blogging: Preserved Squid

Science or art?

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Posted on July 20, 2012 at 4:17 PM • 51 Comments

Comments

Richard LimingJuly 20, 2012 4:59 PM

Here is a link to a method I came up with to hide messages in Chinese, using the tones, specifically Cantonese; which I don't know, but it had more tones than Mandarin which I have been studying. http://gravityfails.org/hanzicode/ . Posted to sci.crypt but not much interest; searching for linguistic groups I saw sci.lang?

The method uses vocabulary lists rather than genuine looking sentences. Initially I considered this a weakness, but it does yield the advantage over the Bacon cipher, which inspired me, that there is no visual clue, and that you can encode and decode messages in-your-head, or by speaking, at least with the most basic 6 tone version.

bluecollarJuly 20, 2012 5:13 PM

Austrian Wins Right To Wear Pasta Strainer In Driver’s License
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14135523

My cousin was told not to show teeth for her Drivers License photo. She raised hell at the BMV until they let her. She looks crazy, but her photo is awesome, all teeth. Take that facial recognition software, the people at the BMV can "over-ride" the photo when it sees "teeth". She had it much easier than the fellow in the article above.

I know other people who know people at the BMV, and they have nice professional looking, full toothy smiles. A friend of a friend will over-ride the settings. Supposedly someone else (somewhere else?) checks the license if it's been over-ridden, as you do not receive a "toothy" license same day. I know 6 or more people that all get a "pass" on facial recognition on their licenses. It's a waste of tax payers money, number 1 because teeth throw it off, and "B" because the program must of been conceived to line some politicians pockets. Number 3, twins/triplets etc... it flags those photos (if real-time), and the persons' signature is used to determine if they are "different" from their sibling(I've heard this from several people, I work in a Dr.'s office)
http://www.wdaz.com/event/article/id/13551/ ooohhh 30 cases where it worked in 2yrs, who knows how many it didn't work on.
All you have to do it pretend to be a twin, and create two signatures... Or claim you have nerve damage and can't "not show teeth"... Simpler still, work at or know someone who does, the BMV.
Excerpt from the article:Though North Dakota’s program has been in place for two years, Jackson admits that it’s probably not something people know about until they actually go in to the DMV.

That’s how it was for Wilson last week, who was surprised, but not concerned, to find out about it.

“I have no problem with it,” he said, as he waited for his license to be printed. “I’m not running from anyone; I have nothing to hide.”

“This is the age we live in,” he added. “You gotta live it.”
---

It's very easy to circumvent for a "determined" "attacker". Not only is there an "insider" method, but a "circumstantial" by-pass that you do not have to prove anything, just say "I have nerve damage, and can't close my mouth fully". You don't have to provide any documentation to that effect. Or just say you're a twin/triplet, they look at your messy messy signature and can somehow reason you're not capable of creating more than one...
~Works4alivin

bcsJuly 20, 2012 5:54 PM

Re: the passwords you don't remember: I expect it wouldn't be hard to extract the password. Feed a random string of inputs and start looking for short sequences that the user gets right more often and start hunting from there to extend the sequence. I'd like to know how the user performs if you trim the front off. If they still do better you might be able to train an impersonator by feeding them a sequence from a markov chain trained by how well the real user performed on the same segments.

In-case anyone needs some statistics to banter about regarding the Bat Man movie shooter: As best I can tell, by the time the event was over (assuming 10-11 minutes) he had killed as many people as heart disease or cancer in the same span. By the time I header about it, he had fallen down past both suicide (~3h) and choking (~6h).

Ed MooseJuly 20, 2012 7:23 PM

@ Petréa Mitchell
I heard a report on the radio that it had likely been planted much earlier. Just sayin'.

Blog Reader OneJuly 20, 2012 9:55 PM

Though it is not surprising for increased security to apply in the area where the Olympic games are being hosted, an issue that might not be obvious is whether surveillance infrastructure that was meant for Olympics security can sometimes remain in place after the games have ended:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/07/spy-games

On US cybersecurity legislation, there is the question as to whether certain sensitive systems simply should not be connected to the Internet. In addition, there is a lack of clarity about existing regulations that supposedly restrict the sharing of cybersecurity info:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120720/11510719777/obama-talks-toxic-clouds-runaway-trains-real-cybersecurity-solution-is-still-simple-obvious.shtml

To guard against "rubber hose" attacks where an attacker uses the threat of physical violence to obtain a decryption key or similar info from an individual, one possibility is a system where a user does a number of key presses that have been memorized through "implicit learning" but which cannot be articulated to a third party. One weakness is that an attacker may demand decrypted data (which the user must somehow provide, assuming that plausible deniability is not an option) as opposed to a password.

http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/07/guitar-hero-crypto-blunts-rubber-hose-attacks/

GabrielJuly 21, 2012 9:10 AM

@Mike Smith: I believe those speculating that this form of "password" can eliminate the threat of rubber hose cryptanalysis have failed to understand the threat and motivation. No one wants a password, they want what the password can access. If your computer with sensitive data is in front of you, a ruthless adversary (security forces under a dictatorship, etc.) will have no problem torturing you until you yourself perform the proper sequence. And if a judge wants you to provide the data on an encrypted volume, he will simply put you in jail for contempt. As long as the subject CAN unlock the data, you have not removed or even mitigated the threat of rubber hose cryptanalysis. To even begin to do so, you will probably require a crypto system where neither the person encrypting the data nor the courier (if they are separate) can actually decrypt it at all. Only the intended recipient will be able to decrypt it, and he must be out of reach of the adversary. At this point, the adversary cannot get the information he wants, so he either kills the courier, jails him, or lets him go, depending on his ethics/legal limitations. Note that this will still not fully protect the information, you will somehow have to ensure that the source of the information has destroyed the digital representation, and would not be able to provide any insight on that information from memory. (Perhaps he doesn't understand the material at hand and wouldn't know what to tell the adversary.)

Remember Schneier's law: "Anyone can invent a security system that he himself cannot break."

DanielJuly 21, 2012 9:37 AM

@joe.

The problem with these type of apps is that they only solve one half of the problem. They prevent an eavesdropper from knowing /what/ was said but not /who/ said it. And in many cases knowing /who/ is making the calls (or encrypting the drive, or using a VPN) is more important and valuable information than /what/ is actually being transacted.

In the end, such systems are only useful when everyone is using them and the signal-to-noise ratio is extremely low.

wawatsonJuly 21, 2012 10:19 AM

Interesting/amusing story on the Beeb ... "Dumpling squid slowed down by sex"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18861785

I wonder why ... is it because it is tired (they couple for 3 hours, according to the story). Or is is just suffering from a bit of "ooh, aargh" discomfort ???

Clive RobinsonJuly 21, 2012 10:33 AM

@Mike Smith,

When @Gabriel says,

If your computer with sensitive data is in front of you, a ruthless adversary (security forces under a dictatorship, etc.) will have no problem torturing you until you yourself perform the proper sequence. And if a judge wants you to provide the data on an encrypted volume, he will simply put you in jail for contempt. As long as the subject CAN unlock the data, you have not removed or even mitigated the threat of rubber hose cryptanalysis.

He has not gone through the issues of "As long as the subject CAN unlock the data" it's not actually about the reality of "can/cannot" but the "believability" of what the subject says...

So it's actually quite a bit worse than just being "unable" to unlock the data, as the subject you actually have to "prove beyond reasonable doubt" that you cannot unlock the data.

We have discussed this on this blog before and the two threats (tortures / judges) are known to "not believe" those subjects that are "suspects" in front of them irrespective of what they say... So the proof also needs to be independant in a very public way such that it is in common public knowledge.

Doing this in such a way that any person saying otherwise would clearly be seen to be lying is actually a very very difficult if not impossible standard to reach for various reasons the simplest being,

1, Data is encrypted by OTP (thus unbreakable without the key)

2, The subject does not have the key on them or in the system.

3, They subject says they have no way to access the key.

But lets look again at step 1, how do you show the data is genuinely encrypted by a truely random OTP? and not say a key stream generated by AES in CTR mode with a secret key and IV or similar... If AES is all it's cracked up to be the answer (for shortish lengths) is you can not.

Now lets look again at step 2, how do you show the key is not on/in you or the system? and not say made up by using a number of files on the system to "mix" together to produce the key stream... Again if AES etc are all they are cracked up to be the answer is you can not.

At each and every stage you are "trying to prove the unprovable" and that is not possible.

What you are saying can not be proved to be the case, but can become "believable" if and only if the system in use is sufficiently well known to behave that way and only that way.

Can such systems be built well not "provably" but sufficiently well to be "believable". That is a commercial tamper proof system that is encapsulated in quartz laden epoxy and not known publicaly to have any realisticaly exploitable weaknesses, when used by another commercial company such as a firm of lawyers or accountants as part of "Standard Operating Procedures" might be belivable.

But the same design made privately and used only by say a drugs cartel is not likely to be treated as believable.

Thus the best policy is to have some kind of system that will self destruct in a short period of time or if taken spatialy outside of a given course/area or if it detects any kind of tampering or probing (such ass strong EM fields changes in preasure etc).

Once the data is destroyed then you have taken away what the torture/judge is after. The issue then switches to if the torturer/judge decides to make an example of you which they very probably might do unless you acting as some kind of "common carrier" such as the US Postal Service.

At the end of the day "believabilty" is not a "technology" but "human" issue and this is something way way to many people (especialy Geeks) forget.

GabrielJuly 21, 2012 2:14 PM

@Clive:
I completely agree that perception and believability are extremely important, it doesn't matter how strong the technology is. Yet, from what I have read about this new algorithm, it seems that they haven't even begun to solve that problem. In fact, the perception on this one is that the subject can perform the decryption, they just can't tell you how, and this perception seems to be accurate. Thus, there is no believability in this algorithm, unless the adversary lacks intelligence. To me, this indicates either a failure of the researchers to comprehend the problem, or they want to push snake oil. (I'll stick with Hanlon's razor on this one)

WaelJuly 21, 2012 2:55 PM

@ Gabriel

"unless the adversary lacks intelligence."
Sometimes that's the case.
Stupid adversary (SA) to subject (SU): decrypt this file

SU -> SA: I don't know how, I use this new technique, and I can't disclose a key!

SA -> SU: okay, don't tell me the key. Just decrypt it for me.

Does not defeat rubber hose with a stupid adversary either.

Clive RobinsonJuly 21, 2012 5:41 PM

@ Gabriel,

To me, this indicates either a failure of the researchers to comprehend the problem...

The question is actually "which problem" are they trying to solve?

Working it backwards it's divulging the password or it's equivalent.

With regards to "encrypted files" this might be of some small use with judges (not tortures) in two cases,

1, The UK Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

2, Online file repositories that are beyond the current jurisdictional power (ie "Cloud").

RIPA has a "go to jail if you don't reveal" option oddly not on the file but on the password/key. And in a cloud system beyond judicial preasure the password would be required for access to the service to even get at the files.

There may be other limited examples but my tired brain cann't come up with any at the moment...

However one thought is forget encrypted files and password replacment because if this system works then everybody would end up using it and I'm sure it won't realy work for more than one or two services per human.

What it appears to be on first reading, is a new form of bio-metric, but with a big advantage over all the others so far touted, it can be changed or updated, where as you cann't change your fingerprints or iris scan etc etc.

GabrielJuly 21, 2012 8:44 PM

@Clive: perhaps the researchers have applied this to the wrong family of problems (deniable crypto), rather than behavioral biometrics.

JoeJuly 21, 2012 8:53 PM

@Daniel

I agree and I would really like to see open source encryption incorporated into mainstream VoIP software. I do think that RedPhone, Zfone, and similar products are a step in the right direction though.

Your post touches upon an issue that has been bothering me lately. People don't use good security products because they either don't see a need, don't know how, or don't care enough to learn. If it was built into the products they use all the time by default, then they wouldn't have to change their routine. I really hope that this becomes the norm and we won't have to go out of our way to find a secure way of doing what should be secure anyway.

SteveJuly 21, 2012 8:54 PM

@jerbear, we'e got that kind of thing going on also. No masks, no hoodies, and a guy just inside the main doors telling anyone carrying a purse that they're not permitted either. My wife had to take hers back to the car to get in.

My first thought was "great, if i'm a thief, now I know that a good portion of all these cars have purses in them".

Clive RobinsonJuly 21, 2012 11:35 PM

@ jerbear,

From the second article,

But the chain, too, is bolstering its security precautions by ensuring back doors are secured, prohibiting customers from wearing costumes, and increasing security patrols

Am I the only person to worry about,

"back doors are secured"?

By back doors I guess they mean all non "front of house" exits which would also usually be the main "fire escapes" and what do they mean by "secure"...

Many years ago a component supply company that I had dealings with suffered a number of losses (this was back when a 486 CPU cost the proverbial "arm and leg") And one of the people there I used to chat with told me over the phone that the accountant had concluded the stock must be going out the fire exit (used by the smokers) so had purchased chains and padlocks to secure the doors and stop them being opened...

It reminded me of a "night club fire" in a Far East Holiday area where "the managment" tired of "customers" opening the fire exit to let their friends in without paying the door fee had likewise chained the doors. A fire one evening caused by a firework set off on stage rapidly burnt the hanging paper decorations and set the whole place on fire, killing over 100 customers who were trapped by the chained doors.

Sometimes little "security fixes" for very low risk events that have been done in a hurry and thus not thought out carefully actually cause much higher risks to arise by defeating systems put in place for much more significant risks (fire, earthquake, etc).

This perverse "risk mitigation" is as we have come to see since US-9/11 UK-7/7 etc usually made far worse by the "OMG Factor" caused by the fact that, because the very low risk is so low because it's so rare it becomes instantly "Front Page" or "We Interupt this program..." news.

I don't want to make lite of this unfortunate event but I wonder what the figures are of "deaths" and "injuries" in US cinemas from heart attacks, trips and falls etc that are not front page news worthy due to their excepted normalcy.

HowardJuly 22, 2012 1:28 AM

Fun question: how does a man receiving unemployment benefits acquire $20,000 worth of military-grade armor and weapons, in a span of 60 days? That's just what was on his person / in his car (i.e. not counting the bombs, etc in his apartment).

Further down the rabbit hole: is it just a coincidence the United Nations is voting on / editing its Small Arms Treaty in the next short while?

TedJuly 22, 2012 5:44 AM

The DARPA-Funded Power Strip That Will Hack Your Network
hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/07/22/0335223/the-darpa-funded-power-strip-that-will-hack-your-network

Power Pwn: This DARPA-funded power strip will hack your network
www.zdnet.com/power-pwn-this-darpa-funded-power-strip-will-hack-your-network-7000001331/

PDF:
cryptome.org/2012/07/cbp072312.pdf

randomJuly 22, 2012 6:57 AM

Open Source Smart Meter Hacking Framework Released
- www.securityweek.com/open-source-smart-meter-hacking-framework-released

- code.google.com/p/termineter/
- www.securestate.com/Pages/default.aspx

Clive RobinsonJuly 22, 2012 12:22 PM

OFF Topic :

Regular readers will know I have a bit of a "bee in my bonnet" about the lack of security in smart meters and medical implants, especialy as they have "design in lives" of 20-50years (remember DES came and went in a lot less than that likewise several hash functions).

Now I'm not certain how many "smart meters" have been installed but it's often quoted as "millions" so if they are vulnerable there are a lot of problems for more years than I care to think about out there (it's why I bang on about "framework standards" which insist on upgradability and modular design so defective parts of software or protocols can be swapped out as required.

Any way a company has released an open source "hacking tool" to use the standards compliant IR port on most smart meters,

http://m.computerworld.com/s/article/9229384/Researcher_releases_smart_meter_hacking_tool

http://m.darkreading.com/133696/show/600aa614044cea4567c93df768eb2f00/?

On another note another item that I've had a bee in my bonnet about, Online banking security. Over on Brian Krebs site he has an interesting article,

http://m.krebsonsecurity.com/2012/07/eu-to-banks-assume-all-pcs-are-infected/

Basicaly an EU organisation (ENISA) has told all EU Banks that they have to assume customers PC's are infected irespective of what they or the customer might assume.

Now Brian has come out with and interesting comment,

As I told a reader recently, I’m not saying antivirus software is completely useless, just that users should behave as though it is.

I know many readers assume that (I for one do not do any online transactions of any kind) but it's nice to hear somebody say it out loud.

Whilst on the subject of assumptions about remote PC's etc you might find this comment from Marcus Ranum encapsulates the issue,

... the endpoints we have so far never made any successful effort to secure, which we will assume forthwith to be secure.

Brian Krebs also has some salient points to make about not using MS OS & Software to do online Banking in another article indicating how to go about making and using a "Live Linux CD" to do your banking etc,

http://m.krebsonsecurity.com/2012/07/banking-on-a-live-cd/

The only thing I would say is don't use your current PC go get an old one and take the hard drive out of it and use that instead (even old 386's work with. many Linuxes which many commercial OS's or apps won't). Because eventualy all OS's and Apps will get "nasties" written for them if enough users use it to make it worthwhile for the attackers, but turn off the power and the nasties get lost from RAM (untill next time you pick them up). Oh as always it's importantly to download and make a new CD everytime the authoring organisation issues a new release to hopefully stay ahead of the game between your money and the attackers.

On another bee note ;-) some readers know I don't hold some types of auditor in very high regard and have noted that often it's "a race for the bottom" because of the misaligned incentives. Put simply the company selects and pays the auditor for their report, which unfortunatly means the company can have a hold over the Auditor as the auditor's income is dependent on them. Worse even though the auditor might be honest there are many ways a company can gull the auditor. Well it appears I'm not alone in this thinking,

https://financialcryptography.com/mt/archives/001382.html

As some of you probably recal RSA had a few issues to do with their authenications tokens database getting illicit copied. And the specter of China-APT hit nearly all news outlets. Well it appears the US-DoD has decided to roll out a smart card solution,

http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2012/07/agencies-dole-out-new-hardware-keys-secret-networks/56907/

The article is very light on technical details but it provides a little insite into what must have been a year or so of hell for the DoD.

Again the subject of China-APT has been in the news (with their eight point plan) however as I keep saying other countries are in it upto and beyond their eyebrows. However not all of it is what you would think of as Cyber-espionage, South Korea has just arested and detained three employees of an Israeli company for industrial espionage and charged three others. Apparently the Israeli company gave sensitive information on South Korean "Flat Panal Display" technology to a Chinese company and a Taiwanese company in order to get preferential treatment when bidding for work, This is not the first time the South Koreans have been suspicious of Israeli companies and information ending up with Chinese companies but it appears that this is the first time they believe they have sufficient evidence to convict under their criminal law (they regard industrial secrets as National Securiy items and the punishments are high).

http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/techscience/2012/06/27/5/0601000000AEN20120627008500315F.HTML

Now it appears DARP have financed the development of a dual use device that could be used for White or Black hat behaviour and you can actually but it,

http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/07/pwnplug/

Another article from Wired which I know will interest atleast a couple of readers. There is a question as to if subjecting your brain to either an electric or magnetic field will enhance your cognative skills,

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/unlock-inner-savant/

Apparently both the electric and magnetic field stimulation of the brain is considered safe unlike the likes of Electro Convulsive Therapy. Having being diagnosed on the Autisum Spectrum with some "savant ability" I'm in no hurry to try this out. But I believe Terry Pratchet looked into it too try and slow his dementia from early onset Alzhimers.

Now to finish with an item that might make you smile. The boss of a large hi-tech organisation was awarded a bonus of around $3million. Rather than stick it in his bank, he distributed it amongst 10,000 of the lower paid employees as a thank you for helping give the company the best year so far,

http://www.dailytech.com/Lenovo+CEO+Gives+Part+of+His+3+Million+USD+Bonus+to+10000+Employees/article25227.htm

bcsJuly 23, 2012 8:57 AM

A point regarding the practicality of a rubber-hose attack on the "unknown password" system: At a minimum, it keeps the target alive until the usefulness of the access is exhausted. Or conversely, it ends the threat to the protected system once the user is no longer available (for whatever reason) to the attackers.

karrdeJuly 23, 2012 9:34 AM

@jimfive,

I have friends who may have been at that game. (I can't recall whether they were at Thursday's or Friday's game.)

I'm a little surprised that things were handled smoothly, but it appears that the decisions about evacuation were in the hands of Stadium authorities, not the City Police.

The Police had earlier cleared the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel under bomb threats. (However, the security situation for bridges/tunnels is different than for stadiums. The Bridge/Tunnel are operated by a private firm, but they likely have a close relationship with Police on both sides of the border.)

karrdeJuly 23, 2012 9:40 AM

@Howard,

I suspect that he either maxed out his Visa or misused his student loans.

On the student loan front, it is possible for a student to take out a loan to pay for classes (the loan money is disbursed directly to the school's registrar), and then drop out during the full-repayment period. Or get a late scholarship/fellowship award from the school.

In either case, the school issues the student a refund check.

Dr Nick P (no MD or PhD)July 23, 2012 11:28 AM

@ Clive Robinson on Aspergers/Autism

"Lot's of information" (RobertT)

"Yeah, he does that. Asperger's Syndrome, Clive? Haha, maybe or maybe not. Eccentric, for sure. The specifics? Unknown. How can he talk so much and I still don't know if this is his diagnosis?" (Nick P, 01/2011)

"I'll put my hand up to eccentric and even ecclectic (I have a lot of unrelated hobbies including cooking and historical materials research for various types of bows, and a real interest in fieldcraft for living in the middle of nowhere starting from the clothes you stand in). But I've never been tested for Asperger's or any other Autistic Specrum Disorder (I'm way older than that ;)" (Clive Robinson, 01/2011)

Then...

"Apparently both the electric and magnetic field stimulation of the brain is considered safe unlike the likes of Electro Convulsive Therapy. Having being diagnosed on the Autisum Spectrum with some "savant ability" I'm in no hurry to try this out. But I believe Terry Pratchet looked into it too try and slow his dementia from early onset Alzhimers." (Clive Robinson, 07/2012)

Wonder when that happened. Fairly straightforward diagnosis to make. Gotta watch out b/c gifted NT's and autistic have similar strengths and weaknesses. I couldn't be sure which you were for that reason with such limited information. Either way, I take credit for spotting it first. ;)

Source

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2011/01/trojan_steals_c.html

Bruce ClementJuly 23, 2012 7:47 PM

They store the key where???

"Tuesday evening, a Mozilla software developer and 24-year old security researcher named Cody Brocious plans to present a pair of vulnerabilities he’s discovered in hotel room locks from the manufacturer Onity, whose devices are installed on the doors of between four and five million hotel rooms around the world"

"The system’s vulnerability arises, Brocious says, from the fact that every lock’s memory is entirely exposed to whatever device attempts to read it through that port. Though each lock has a cryptographic key that’s required to trigger its “open” mechanism, that string of data is also stored in the lock’s memory, like a spare key hidden under the welcome mat. So it can be immediately accessed by Brocious’s own spoofed portable device and used to open the door a fraction of a second later."

Forbes.com

Clive RobinssonJuly 24, 2012 2:36 AM

@ Nick P,

Wonder when that happened. Fairly straightforward diagnosis to make

The actual diagnosis was recently. The reason being partly that untill the Autism Act 2009 (which has been "phased in" over time due to financial issues) testing in adults (and "geriatric old gits" I think you diagnosed originaly ;-) was effectivly non existant in the UK. Also you have to remember that nearly all of what we now call Autistic Spectrum Disorders were not known / categorised / diagnosed in general clinical practice untill well into the 1980's which was well after I was a "successful working adult".

The educational problem I had when, I was under 10 with "not reading/writing" but "doing math at beyond school age" (oh and correcting teachers mistakes ;-) I was then diagnosed as having "Crosslaterality" (what ever that ment/means). I was then sent half a day a week to a "special school" and within just a few weeks they had me reading and that's when the trouble really started ;-) I just would not stop I started getting through books faster than the "fat kid" got through plates of food. Unfortunatly they never found a fix for my appaling writing/spelling (the later has been observed by quite a few people on this blog) and the more senior teachers who (I hated and they responded in kind) tried to force me to write right handed just put it down as "being to lazy to care".

However like so many of my other medical problems I'm "atypical" ASD in that I've held down various well paid jobs including some less well paid jobs requiring considerable "people skills" (when I was wearing the green they found I had fairly good interogation skills as well as "intel processing" skills) all of which you should know already from what I've said in the past.

I used (please note past tense) to read upwards of 400 pages of A4 one or two technical books and three or four paperbacks a week and if you read me a sentance from one of them more than a month and often over a year or so later I could tell you which book/document, page and paragraph it was in (ever thought about the oddity of saying "in" for books, paragraphs, pictures etc but "on" for pages?) without having to think about it. Better though, was that although I did not have a "photographic memory" (which arguably is a pure savant skill) I could infere from the information and use it almost as quickly and if people asked I could usually answer their questions before they finished asking. This made me "a quite annoying engineer" in several fields of endevor (including boat design when still in my teens through mechanical, electrical, electronic, software, physical security, electronic security and obviously these days information security). It was once observed in those "appraisal reports" bureaucrat military types love "xxx Robinson is seldom wrong but always right in that he can see valid issues of technical concern before others even comprehend the task, and his self confidence and forthwrite behaviour to do a task correctly has caused issues with senior officers who do not know of him." in other words an "essential PITA" who therefor got put out of the way in the "awkward squad" that always got results.

In the US you used to have an expression where "contractors" called in, in an emergancy were called "Firemen", where you would come in to rescure projects that were about to either implode or more often explode (for real in oil/chem industry). Well when I was fit and could still fly I did that sort of work in a number of fields of endevor and got to see a few of the wilder places on "God's little green apple" and have survived a number of rough landings in them (hence my interest in what are now called "survival skills") and why I know a bottle of whisky is worth it's weight several times over in your personal survival kit.

Why the past tense on the voracious reading ability? well as I've said befor it all went pear shaped back in 2000, when I was attacked one morning on my way to work and some college kid tried to murder me by karata kicking my head from behind straight into a sign post resulting in the almost never seen (in a living person) injury of a full fracture at the point of the lower jaw. This was then followed in hospital by them trying to kill me by neglect, in that although I needed specialised maxiofacial surgery I kept getting "bumped off of the surgery list" and thus ended up for several days on "Nil by mouth" and after what was five days without fluid or food I became dangerously dehydrated to the point of delirium and paranoia. Which is what saved me because I tried to "self discharge" and the nurses paniced after telling me I couldn't go and I told them "I'd rather die at home" and they insisted I must see a doctor before I could leave. He arived whilst I was still dressing and sensibly asked why I thought I was going to die and I told him I'd had nothing to eat or drink for five days and I hadn't peed for well over two days and had stoped sweating. It was my first experiance of "emergancy fluid resuscitation, and sadly it has become a frequent feature in my life since along with passing out and frequent blood transfusions for chronic anemia (due to blood loss).

At some point in that hospital visit I lost the ability to read and my comprehension of what was being said to me became very difficult as my hearing became very difficult as well (I now have tinitus which makes life oh such fun not). The surgery was not a success and had to be repeated I woke up on the operating table during one re-op and found that I could not move and paniced this must have caused the anesthesiatist to see my heart rate go up and put me back under. I then developed a strange pain in the jaw that felt like a tooth abscess and I was told it was "healing pain" but when I went in for another re-op they found the bone was infected under the metal plate they had put in. They removed that and cleaned the bone but did not re break-n-set the jaw and at that point I said no more re-ops I'd had enough. Oddly though my teeth have since re aligned, but my loss of toung taste still effects my cooking which is why I cann't cook proffesionaly any more (which is a shame because I quite enjoyed it when I was a student using it to pay my way).

Anyway I managed to cover up my "non-reading" issue so my then employer didn't catch on but the stress of that and other developing medical problems started to get me down. On getting refered to see the nurologists by my doctor they decided I had "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder". So I was put into the tender mercies of the clinical psychiatrists. Who found I had all sorts of other medical issues including that some of the drugs I was on were conflicting. As this was not working for me I experimented on myself to find out what the "block was" on the reading and that was a curiousee adventure in "mind mapping" the result was I was finding I could actually still read but the information was not making into my memory (however read it out loud into a tape recorder and play it back and that worked). It was during this stage the psychologist did offer aspi testing (but like an idiot I turned it down as I did not want to be stignatized).

I then got struck down with clots in the lungs(PE), legs(DVT) and brain(CE/TIA) as well as other more colourfull ailments. The CBT and Mindfulness they tried did not work on the PTSD but they still thought that the cognitive issues were down to that. I lost my job but found another low paying one (where not reading was not an issue). Then they decided hmm maybe he's got depression" and stuck me on some anti-D's which unfortunatly conflicted with other meds and I was having visual and aural halucinations. Needles to say my family relationship crumbled and fell appart so I was given "relationship counseling" and there the idea of aspie-testing came up again (and again I turned it down).

Any way my medical problems got worse and I started passing out having fits and catatonic states. Due to the passing out I got laid off from work for "health and safety reasons" and on discussing with the legal proffession my options under law are very small in that there is a legal requirment to inform a prospective employer as long as the passing out cannot be controled by medication etc etc. Which with "employeers liability insurance etc means I probably won't be alowed to work in the traditional employer-employee model untill the medical profession get to the bottom of things.

Any way I struck lucky in that at the medical practice I'm registered with they have a doctor who did his basic training and some practice in one of the old Communist Block countries that are now part of the EU. They do a different type of "CBT" there and with a very small amount of help I've regained some of my previous reading to memory skills so I'm about average these days but it's very hard work :( but I'm slowly improving :-)

Any way back to the aspi-testing for various reasons to do with an old friend getting diagnosed the subject came up again recently and it changed my viewpoint on things.

I asked to be refered and was seen very quickly diagnosed even quicker and the plus point is it's gained me entry to what I'd asked for years ago and I'm being assessed for the cognative problems at last so fingers crossed on getting the memory issues sorted out.

Further the neurologists have got back in the loop and they have found evidence of neurological damage which might account for the passing out so it may well become controllable, as some conditions (like epilepsy) are with appropriate medication.

Either way I'm now "officialy stigmatized" as "Disabled" so I get some legal protection under employment law which oddly improves my chances of getting a job due to "legaly required quotas"... And more importantly it gets me beter access to certain other medical resources which might help sort out the significant musculoskeltal issues (due in part to rugby, and in part to rough landings and jumping out of buildings second floor windows crunching the bones cartalidge ligaments etc of the skeleton and the wrong "statins" rotting the muscles to less than half their volume through rhabdomyolysis)

My friend joked with me the other day that as I used to be a reasonable shot, sailboat sailor and cyclist, maybe I should get back into it for the next "Para-Games".

Any way there is still the question hanging in the air of "Am I depressed due to physical illness or am I physically ill because I'm depressed" and As I said to the Dr today I don't realy care either way as I know I've got some life long illnesses so it's probably both. All I want is to get well enough to get a normal life back with the self respect that goes with it. And hopefully be alowed back in the swimming pool and on my bike to get around and keep fit, I know I'm never going to be allowed to climb "real mountains" again due to the PE issue but the little ones and a few base camps would be nice even if I do have to take viagra to stay up there.

[ For those who don't know the main or "on book" use for viagra was not what it was designed for, just a very very profitable side effect likewise some lycopene medication.]

WaelJuly 24, 2012 12:30 PM

@ Clive Robinson

Any way there is still the question hanging in the air of "Am I depressed due to physical illness or am I physically ill because I'm depressed" and As I said to the Dr today I don't realy care either way as I know I've got some life long illnesses so it's probably both.

Seems to me the question is no longer hanging in the air, yes?

You already deemed this question falling in the category:
Knowledge that does not benefit, and ignorance that does not harm

Hang in there man!...

FigureitoutJuly 24, 2012 12:32 PM

@Bruce

Can't it be both?

@Clive

Wow, what a story. I had a hunch it was something like that. Funny, I as well have become very interested in "survival skills" because I have a feeling they may be very practical in the future...

Why did someone just "karate-kick" you in the head? You mean like 'Chuck-Norris-roundhouse-style-kick'? :) Was it just a random attack? In addition to survival skills, I recently took a self-defense class that was enlightening.
The main take-away from the class is positioning of your body to enable quickest response and greatest leverage. You want to quickly incapicitate the attacker and get to safety. I've been able to test them out as well, they work :) The funniest thing is that the teacher looked like, well someone who would get their rear-end handed to him; but after seeing what he's capable of I would not mess with him. I certainly hope you were able to sue the living s%*t out of the attacker at the very least.

The latest "thrill" for me was being able to use my "first aid skills" and rescue a girl passed out on the sidewalk; all without calling 911 and saving the system and the girl money. She had too much to drink and I don't want to think what could've happened if the wrong person would have found her. If I didn't turn her over to her side she would've choked on her vomit. I was able to get other "good samaritans" involved and eventually she came to and walked her home. What a rush though, first responders must have massive amounts of adrenaline flowing through their veins. :)

Viagra dilates the blood vessels, no? *Politicos (as you call them) suddenly start gobbing down tomatoes and watermelon like it's their job*:)

You know you're special though good sir, when you can write a very knowledgeable comment like poetry, with lyrical rhythm that makes me think there may be a violin playing in the background :) Some of your spelling errors are phonetic too, which sometimes I thought were intentional (like "of" and "ove"); because writing misspelled words would mess up frequency analysis of ciphertext I think. I had a teacher who oddly enough revealed he used to do cryptography for the NSA and decipher Russian codes up in Alaska; and he was a god-awful speller, I just thought there may be something more to it.

Also, you call yourself an "old fart", but if you can read and type out all these responses on a mobile phone, well..let's just say you make 13-year old girls look like texting amateurs. :)

Stay well and keep posting.

WaelJuly 24, 2012 4:24 PM

@ Figureitout

Some of your spelling errors are phonetic too, which sometimes I thought were intentional (like "of" and "ove"); because writing misspelled words would mess up frequency analysis of ciphertext I think.

I also thought about that, although I was more cynical. Thought @ Clive Robinson is intentionally hiding his identity, and intentionally added his own dictionary miss-spelled words. For whatever reasons he had.

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2012 7:59 AM

OFF Topic :

@ Bruce,

I think you'll likee this one...

An 11yearold boy had an argument with his parents on a shopping trip, slipped away made his way to Manchester Airport, got through five security check points without documentation of any kind, and got on an aircraft to Rome. On the aircraft they failed to do a head count and it was not untill halfway through the flight the crew became suspicious...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-18979032

Oh and UK Border Protection staff have decided not to strike tomorrow, and the "Olympic Lines" on roads came into force and has created chaos...

Oh and the London Underground and other "public transport" went bad and this is all just before the Olympics kicks off later this week...

ModeratorJuly 25, 2012 2:12 PM

Tommy, you are hereby banned from this blog. Do not try to comment here again.

Nick PJuly 26, 2012 2:16 PM

@ Clive Robinson

I appreciate your reply Clive. My week has been severely busy, to say the least. Sorry for the late reply. The good news is that, for the past month or two, I've been talking with another guy about social adjustment of "gifted" individuals vs Neuro-Typicals (I say Normal Types lol). That's gited, not necessarily ASD. I might be able to offer some insights, some you'll like and some you might not. Try to be objective & unemotional if you dare to read this. You've been warned.

Honestly, I have some doubt that you're ASD. I'm not a psych expert: I'm an ASD & endured a few decades of hell from it. I fully understand the limitations it imposes, what I've missed out on, etc. Many more than NT's just kill themselves. (Not an option for moi.) Key traits that are common in us is the inability to comprehend social situations, poor social expression, poor motor skills / muscular development, sensory issues, myopic tendencies, and physical issues like odd body movements or seizures. Heck, I can't even hear the inflection of my own voice, meaning I have to speak carefully to avoid people thinking I'm yelling at them or something. The condition is worse if nobody figures out you have a condition throughout entire time in school & think you're just a nerd who is insensitive & not trying hard. (rolls eyes)

There is another type of person, though. My friend brought it to mind by giving me an article & studies. I WIIISH I could find the link. Maybe will post later. Essentially, they looked at high IQ ("gifted") people & how things worked out. Earliest results I saw in other books said they integrated well, were popular, etc. I knew that was nonsense, as I've seen too many contradicting anecdotes. Well, this article confirmed my suspicions: gifted minds have some of the same surface oddities & troubles as ASD's if dealing with NT's.

The higher the IQ, the more mental talents & the more social issues. The people at my level (160 or so) had more trouble than 140-150 & the 170-190 people were way less socially adept than even me. I speculate it involves a transfer of brain capacity from social & physical stuff to intellectual stuff, but that's speculation. Defects in neural structure are also possible. William James Sidis, at 250-300, had virtually no social life, thought of sex/romance as a nasty biological thing, & spent most of his time collecting streetcar transfers. Quite sad, eh? So, gifted NT's often have similar issues as ASD, so how do we tell which you are?

Well, for one, you seem to not have much social trouble. You haven't mentioned being unable to comprehend what people are doing, poor motor skills, etc. You just seem to have mental strengths & a different approach to childhood that outcasted you. I often tell NT's that the key differentiator for us is understanding that we "can't" do what others "can" do. Many gifted NT's socialize quite well or do sports if they want to. I can put tons of effort into that and just repeatedly hit brick walls. Sure, I have plenty of successes. Yet, the failures NT's instinctively avoid hit me regularly & the easy successes they intuitively acquire I will regularly miss.

So, you're gifted at reading. You DO have a photographic-like memory. The guys I know who memorize stuff have to use tons of mnemonics, visual cues, extra time, etc. to get the job done. You don't, hence you have a gift. You were in jobs that required great physical and mental skill. I think you successfully navigated situations with plenty of unknown and anxiety, a very weak area for many ASD's. I'd probably have died or come out a lot worse. You must have navigated the social aspects decently to keep getting contracts. If anything, I'd say that you were a gifted NT rather than autistic. Right up to the accident. (Now, you might stop liking the post. One more warning...)

After the accident, things changed. Your memory and communication are affected. Knowledge is lost. You have PTSD tendencies? That would be understandable, as the attack was rather vicious & quick. You had a good family relationship before, QUITE A THING for ASD, but it had trouble AFTER the accident. Then the medical issues. It really is painful for me to write all of this but as I see it you *might* have been mildly autistic in the past, you were definitely gifted, & your current situation is probably due to emotional, mental and physical effects of having your brain/jaw karate-kicked into a pole. In a nutshell, he knocked some of your talents out of you.

(Note: it will be much better for this guy if he and I never meet in person. I don't believe in x3 karma, but wouldn't mind making it his reality. Nick P knows martial arts, too. Vital points, that is. Squeeze or precision-strike nerves, cowardly thug assumes fetal position & imitates lonely infant. ;)

So, current situation is you're aspi-like. You seem more knowledgeable than most of us in the fields you like. Maybe, hard to tell. Residual knowledge or still functioning well? Bad health and job situation. Hmm. There is still some good news. You have enough useful knowledge & thinking capacity to possibly turn that into cash, esp. if you partner up with someone who isn't disabled. They can be the agent, main consultant, whatever. Get some cash flow, invest it into a business producing residual income (recession-resistant, esp.), and then you can start solving personal problems that cash can benefit. Right now, you can get some self-esteem from your huge online fan club of knowledgeable people showing your respect. Me thinks it would be nice to have.

Another thing. Regardless of what you actually are right now, the surface similarities mean you might be able to use it to your advantage a bit. As in, the treatments that help those kinds of people might help you a bit. I see you trying that a bit now. Basic stress management, whole brain coordination exercises, voice coaching, deriving mental rules for presenting content (you could use those lol), etc. might help you. Sounds like a lot, but just do a little at a time focusing on priorities and you'll get plenty far. You've already outdone the much smarter Sidis. ;)

Also, Clive, if there's anyone who can figure out how to enjoy a pool & keep themself from drowning during a medical issue, it's you. You're the McGuyver of this blog. Rig something up. Please do apply all of your safety-critical thinking skills. Wouldn't want to loose you to some daredevil stunt.

(Articles below. In Autism, focus on "communication", "repetitive behavior" and "other symptoms". You know your actual abilities better than me & can figure out how well it fits. Other two links are there just so you can look at symptoms and tendencies. Remember, autistics are defined by what they CANNOT DO just as much as the things they do often or well.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-functioning_autism

Disclaimer: Hope my post doesn't cause any sense of depression or something. Not my intention. Most of my real friends prefer my blunt honesty on matters of importance. Love it or hate it, they know I'm not putting diplomacy between the situation and my mental model of it. Hope any of this can help you get better, have reasons to hope life will be bearable, or something. If all fails, learn to live mostly in the present, don't get too attached to anything, and love the little things. It helps. I know.

Clive RobinsonJuly 26, 2012 10:43 PM

OFF Topic:

This is about a "hardware fault injection" attack against a comodity CPU used in servers that will liberate RSA key bits to an attacker,

http://www.darkreading.com/identity-and-access-management/167901114/security/news/240004213/using-chip-malfunction-to-leak-private-keys.html

They generate two entirely diferent fault conditions, the first is to slightly lower the CPU voltage the other is to increase the chip temprature. Whilst the first requires accesss to the actuall server the second does not. I look forward to seeing more details.

What will not be a surprise to some is the significant increase in tools that attack Java software flaws,

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9229641/Java_flaws_increasingly_targeted_by_attackers_researchers_say

The consensus appears to be that Oracle for various reasons has made it's self the "low hanging fruit" due to poor development and poor liason with those White Has finding exploits that need patching. It's likened to Mirosoft in the bad old days...

Nick PJuly 27, 2012 12:13 PM

@ Clive Robinson

Ok. My friend sent me the link on gifted people & maladjustment. Figure quite a few people here might find it interesting. Included an excerpt below to whet the appetite.

http://216.224.180.96/~prom/oldsite/articles/Outsiders.html

His name was William James Sidis, and his IQ was estimated at between 250 and 300 [8, p. 283]. At eighteen months he could read The New York Times, at two he taught himself Latin, at three he learned Greek. By the time he was an adult he could speak more than forty languages and dialects. He gained entrance to Harvard at eleven, and gave a lecture on four-dimensional bodies to the Harvard Mathematical Club his first year. He graduated cum laude at sixteen, and became the youngest professor in history. He deduced the possibility of black holes more than twenty years before Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar published An Introduction to the Study of Stellar Structure. His life held possibilities for achievement that few people can imagine. Of all the prodigies for which there are records, his was probably the most powerful intellect of all. And yet it all came to nothing. He soon gave up his position as a professor, and for the rest of his life wandered from one menial job to another. His experiences as a child prodigy had proven so painful that he decided for the rest of his life to shun public exposure at all costs. Henceforth, he denied his gifts, refused to think about mathematics, and above all refused to perform as he had been made to do as a child. Instead, he devoted his intellect almost exclusively to the collection of streetcar transfers, and to the study of the history of his native Boston. He worked hard at becoming a normal human being, but never entirely succeeded. He found the concept of beauty, for example, to be completely incomprehensible, and the idea of sex repelled him. At fifteen he took a vow of celibacy, which he apparently kept for the remainder of his life, dying a virgin at the age of 46. He wore a vest summer and winter, and never learned to bathe regularly. A comment that Aldous Huxley once made about Sir Isaac Newton might equally have been said of Sidis.

For the price Newton had to pay for being a supreme intellect was that he was incapable of friendship, love, fatherhood, and many other desirable things. As a man he was a failure; as a monster he was superb [5, p. 2222].

FigureitoutJuly 27, 2012 4:43 PM

@Wael

You may be right. Or we may be thinking too much into it. :)

@Nick P

Nice story and link as always. What's going on, people are really opening up here! :)

I speculate it involves a transfer of brain capacity from social & physical stuff to intellectual stuff, but that's speculation. Defects in neural structure are also possible.

I agree, I've actually thought about that a lot; so I have to be careful and catch myself if I call someone "stupid" or "weird", as they may have other great talents. I see examples of it in everyone.

Regarding WJS, would the lack of a social life, and no sex/romance really be all that sad if everyone was boring to talk to and dirty whores? It would actually be kind of logical if that were the case. In my experience, you have people who are good at "filling in the holes" of a conversation, like the initial greeting, lulls in the middle, and the farewell; but you have to talk to them that way only. They don't really derive much pleasure or interest without all the facial expressions, tone diversity, and volume; so they focus on the delivery and not as much on content.

From the article, the quote :To be a leader of his contemporaries a child must be more intelligent but not too much more intelligent than those to be led is so true in my opinion, and another thing I've thought a lot about; leadership is a personal area of interest.

Nick PJuly 27, 2012 5:04 PM

@ Figureitout

"Regarding WJS, would the lack of a social life, and no sex/romance really be all that sad if everyone was boring to talk to and dirty whores?"

Dirty whores? You're kind of limiting yourself, there. :P

But, yeah, any Aspie will know what kind of thing you were talking about in that paragraph. So, why should I say it's sad? Well, I have enough of what NT's have that I can feel much of their experiences. I also get the rational high's of keeping my brain pushed to the limit. They're both quite different and I'd hate to totally loose either one. Being a whole/balanced person, intellectually and emotionally, seems like the best way to be.

"From the article, the quote :To be a leader of his contemporaries a child must be more intelligent but not too much more intelligent than those to be led is so true in my opinion, and another thing I've thought a lot about; leadership is a personal area of interest."

It's honestly something I'd have to think about more. The main part of leadership I've consistently seen is a combination of charisma & group acceptance. Group acceptance rarely seems to be based on vast knowledge. Schneier is a good example: plenty of people in ITSEC circles probably know way more than him & have done more landmark work, yet they don't have "followers." ;)

On that note: 30 year summary of key ITSEC at SSP (if you're interested)

http://www.csl.sri.com/~neumann/ieee31.pdf

Clive RobinsonJuly 28, 2012 3:20 AM

@ Nick P,

Most of my real friends prefer my blunt honesty on matters of importance. Love it or hate it, they know I'm not putting diplomacy between the situation and my mental model of it. Hope any of this can help you get better

So do I.

One of the odd things about the British Armed Forces is the fact that many of the Staff officers and a good deal of the senior NCO's are actualy Aspies but only find out in later life. If this is true for other Nations armed forces or not I'm not sure. However the structured life and almost enforced social life does I know make life for Aspies more tolerable it's part of the ethos of "looking after your own".

As for being clumsy etc I've alwas had "two left feet" and two left hands for that matter but I had the "Bl**dy Mindedness" to do something about it. And whilst I normaly went for individual not team sports I did find that being in a team was much like being in the Army because "team spirit" does contain a large element of "looking after your own".

As for "social occasions" in the Army I ended up in a mixed regiment where there was actualy slightly more women than men, and social occasions were not like those usually found in almost totaly male preserves. And they were quite happy to let me sit in the corner with a book on maths and a drink untill I felt comfortable or work behind the bar knowing that I could be teased out of my shell to dance etc later in the evening. Looking back on it I was quite well looked after by all in the regiment I suspect mainly because I could be relied upon to get things done no matter what they where and would always be happy doing the messy jobs. It was excepted that I looked like "a bag of sh1te tied up loosly in the middle" when in working dress mainly because I'd probably done three "sh1te jobs" already each day before doing my assigned trades and probably lent a hand with a couple of others (you see this acceptance with snipers and engineers). And in part because if I knew it was to be "smart" for inspections or other duties the I would be so to a high degree. It also helped that I knew how to cook and could make Rat Packs / MRE's etc actually pleasant to eat (it was not just a bottle of whisky in the bottom of my Bergen but a few spices herbs and stock cubes as well ;-)

As for getting "contracts" they were nearly all by word of mouth based on "results". Most times I was there not just because things were going wrong but because the place had been liberaly decorated with the ripe stuff to the point of sinking without trace. Nearly all I had to work with were aware I was there to rescue them and usually did and then I'd be gone. So I suspect even if I had green skin and purple spots and the breath of a Komodo Dragon and the social graces of a baboon they would have accepted what I was doing for them.

I would not make it as a "consultant" of the type that have given the word a dirty name. The ethos of selling a service irrespective of it is going to fix the problems is fairly alien to me. I'm sure that a lot of it is mantra over substance (look at the "fusion" of lean manufacturing and six sigma, there is actually very little of inovative substance but a lot of hype and I assume "consultant sales fees"). I still shudder at the memory of interviewing some one who was proud of how they had "project managed" under Prince II a projet from point M.N.O to point R.S.T but could not retrospectivly understand why the project had failed (no domain experts)... Even when the GIGO principle had been explained to them they still held faith (with what a "consultant had said) that the process was "key to successful projects" (even after an exasperated colleague had described it as "aranging deck chairs on the Titanic").

As for IQ yes I'm up at the high end (sufficient to get entry into Mensa when I was younger) but it's becoming a discredited system these days with the likes of WAIS being seen to offer a more encompasing measure of some abilities in NT's (as a large chunk involves colour pictures it can still go wrong if you are colour blind or have some forms of ASD). One advantage it has over typical IQ testing is it includes a time element which supposadly shows processing speed, the downside is it cann't tell between "just slow" and "paralysis by analysis" which again causes incorect readings in aspies who might come out in "superior" for most things but quite a bit below avarage for processing speed. The moral being all the testing models don't work with "one size fits all" as the base axiom. As I've said befor in many "psyc" research involving the use of fMRI and other imaging techniques automaticaly rule out those who are left handed. As a friend who works in the field put it "The trouble with you lefties is you are just not wired up right". So it's already known that the research is flawed because it deliberatly choses to ignore 20% of the population...

There is a key indicator to Aspergers that you did not mention and that is hereditary as the old joke has it "There like noses, they run in families". (Oh a ready smile and a well stocked supply of bad jokes helps grease the wheels of acceptance with NT's ;-)

With regards the child prodigy you mentioned "early burn out" is a well known feature of "prodigies" these days because there is a fine tight rope between being cursed and lazy by the title. Put simply if the individual "buys into" the idea they become lazy and stop striving and if they find they are like a "freek show" they feel that they are not loved as a person just for the talent and infact feel like a pharia almost like the "Elephant Man". Either side of the tight rope inbetween is going to cause "crash and burn" with a good measure of "self loathing" all of which is likely to give rise to self destructive behaviour via substance abuse.

I note somebody else has posted about the "Google & Microsoft are buying superbrains" this is not exactly new IBM has done it for years HP used to do it before to many idiots got on the board. The upside of this is it will be very atractive to aspies as it will provide a more balanced environment for them and thus will broaden the tight rope some what.

Oh I'm told that Asperger's and other ASD's are going to be reclassified in the near future not sure if it will be good news or bad.

FigureitoutJuly 29, 2012 11:27 AM

@Nick P

You're kind of limiting yourself there

Am I? :) No, I contradicted myself; everyone isn't boring to talk to and not every girl is a dirty whore. People shouldn't make any judgments at all; we should be silent, but we aren't (mother's addage: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!). In my defense, I've attended an international school with people literally all over the world (not Antarctica), and all in all, we are pretty similar (shocker). So, while it is impossible to meet and "size up" everyone on Earth (unless done over the internet, which is still not the same as real life); you can have a reasonable grasp of people within your limited view if you pay attention to details and look closely enough.

Regarding your thoughts on leadership, yes, agreed. In my view, the "leaders on leadership" are within the military; for better or worse, better b/c I want strong leadership looking over the nukes and worse b/c if a society's leaders only come from a military background won't we resemble more of a militarized state?

Regarding the link, you're damn right I'm interested! :)

Nick PJuly 30, 2012 1:36 PM

"So, while it is impossible to meet and "size up" everyone on Earth (unless done over the internet, which is still not the same as real life); you can have a reasonable grasp of people within your limited view if you pay attention to details and look closely enough."

Very true. Contrasts with the oft-said "don't judge them" line. Sure, the surface observations might be inaccurate. I know that as I make them. Yet, the patterns I learned over the years work more often than they don't. And what often works/helps should be used.

"Regarding your thoughts on leadership, yes, agreed. In my view, the "leaders on leadership" are within the military; for better or worse, better b/c I want strong leadership looking over the nukes and worse b/c if a society's leaders only come from a military background won't we resemble more of a militarized state?"

There are different ways to handle leadership. Some leaders have a very specific way they want something done & the goal is to get other do do it. The military falls in this category & that's nice for nuclear protection, but not necessarily even all military stuff. The other type has a vision or a set of goals. They pick the right people to figure out how to execute that vision or reach those goals. They communicate with their underlings to understand how things are progressing and, if off course, steer things in the right direction. Most successful leaders in commerce & even many of history's best warmongers fit in this category. It also takes way more skill.

"Regarding the link, you're damn right I'm interested! :)"

Glad somebody is. :)

Nick PJuly 30, 2012 1:54 PM

@ Clive Robinson

"One of the odd things about the British Armed Forces is the fact that many of the Staff officers and a good deal of the senior NCO's are actualy Aspies but only find out in later life."

I could believe that. A similar claim has been made for many in IT or hacking circles here. Well, I think it's harder b/c so many people join IT for supposed income regardless of how suited they are to it. I'm referring to the natural-born IT types.

"And whilst I normaly went for individual not team sports I did find that being in a team was much like being in the Army because "team spirit" does contain a large element of "looking after your own"."

Are you saying they were able to make up for your shortcomings? Otherwise, it's a point in your favor: I still find real-time, fast-paced interaction (esp. physical) to be difficult. The game would have to be rather limited in nature (team ping pong? lol) for me to do it. Football and basketball are prevalent here. Not as limited.

" And they were quite happy to let me sit in the corner with a book on maths and a drink untill I felt comfortable or work behind the bar knowing that I could be teased out of my shell to dance etc later in the evening. Looking back on it I was quite well looked after by all in the regiment I suspect mainly because I could be relied upon to get things done no matter what they where and would always be happy doing the messy jobs."

You're started to fit the profile a bit more now. Still might be gifted NT, but the Aspy diagnosis is getting closer. I'm seeing commonality in our backgrounds. (Well, I was a bit wilder...)

"I would not make it as a "consultant" of the type that have given the word a dirty name. The ethos of selling a service irrespective of it is going to fix the problems is fairly alien to me. I'm sure that a lot of it is mantra over substance (look at the "fusion" of lean manufacturing and six sigma, there is actually very little of inovative substance but a lot of hype and I assume "consultant sales fees"). I still shudder at the memory of interviewing some one who was proud of how they had "project managed" under Prince II a projet from point M.N.O to point R.S.T but could not retrospectivly understand why the project had failed (no domain experts)... Even when the GIGO principle had been explained to them they still held faith (with what a "consultant had said) that the process was "key to successful projects" (even after an exasperated colleague had described it as "aranging deck chairs on the Titanic")."

I see what you're saying there, but you seem to be throwing all consulting jobs into one bad category. For one, consulting = contract version of a normal job, esp leaning toward advisory role. There are tons of useful technical or business-related jobs. So, when I say consulting, I'm leaning towards one of these jobs that has measurable value. Two examples.

A local IT consultancy I know caters to small-to-midsized businesses, just installing/managing core IT services. Makes consultants money with diverse client base, saves their clients cost of full-time IT staff. Business consultant I know tries to deal with issues they can't (or won't) handle themselves. Rather than talking to C-level's, he starts at the bottom to understand the issues. He get's their procedures, gripes, performance measurements. He works his way up & tries to connect everything to senior-level goals. Not all C-level exec's like his presentations b/c he's as likely to show their problems as others. Yet, this realistic approach kept his business going for a while now & his clients are happy with it.

"One advantage it has over typical IQ testing is it includes a time element which supposadly shows processing speed, the downside is it cann't tell between "just slow" and "paralysis by analysis" which again causes incorect readings in aspies who might come out in "superior" for most things but quite a bit below avarage for processing speed. "

That's actually a good point. Many of the gifted NT's think quite fast. The speed chess players come to mind. However, many aspies (and introverts in general) take some time to process something. The advantage is the brain works on the problem in depth. Disavantage is we look "slow".

"There is a key indicator to Aspergers that you did not mention and that is hereditary as the old joke has it "There like noses, they run in families". (Oh a ready smile and a well stocked supply of bad jokes helps grease the wheels of acceptance with NT's ;-)"

True. That helped in my diagnosis. It ran in one parent's side of the family.

"I note somebody else has posted about the "Google & Microsoft are buying superbrains" this is not exactly new IBM has done it for years HP used to do it before to many idiots got on the board."

Yeah. I've often said the IBM superprogrammer was essentially a superbrain (aspy? ;) with enough people to cover that person's shortcomings. Many thought it was crazy, but I think the concept could work if the superbrain can exercise discipline.

"Oh I'm told that Asperger's and other ASD's are going to be reclassified in the near future not sure if it will be good news or bad."

Yeah, that's unclear. They've been wanting to reclassify it for a while. Personally, I think the existing classifications capture enough specific and consistent traits that they're worth keeping for a while. But, hey, I'm not a WHO suit type... ;)

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