LIVE: Dr. Temple Grandin @ the Palace Theatre, 5/4/11

Wal-Mart. Rush Limbaugh. Ticketmaster.

These are just a few of the things that make us lose faith in America.

Dr. Temple Grandin is not on the list.

The mere fact that an autistic livestock industry consultant can become a star, with her own Emmy Award-winning HBO biopic to boot, reminds us that America is still a place of wonder, enchantment and opportunity.

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Grandin – clad in one of her emblematic embroidered shirts – was at the Palace Theatre last week, as part of the Centennial Celebration of the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill. Grandin, of course, is an accomplished author and activist, as well as an animal science professor at Colorado State University.

She is also, as noted, a high-functioning autistic. Her speech – accompanied by a rapid flow of projected slides – reflected that. She jumped from topic to topic without tying disparate elements together. One method of rhetoric is to present differing concepts and teach through their juxtaposition. Grandin left that to the audience, but in doing so entirely supported her theory that different brains think in different ways. Once one adapted to her rhythm, it became an opportunity to see through her eyes – and her self-described “visual thinking.”

Grandin’s crowd was a mix of students and faculty; animal lovers; autism activists; and TV curious. She touched each element.

Following her lecture, she also fielded questions from the audience. In appropriate fashion, the queries were as rambling and varied as Grandin’s own interests. Frankly, the author was better suited to tackling her own topics as the answers were often vague while always being supportive.

Grandin followed the visit with an author signing.

One resisted the urge to ask if her methods of funneling cattle through a feedlot could be applied to lines at bookstores and concert halls.

Review by Bokonon

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