Hi there. I am a human being, sui generis. You can call me Nathan. This is my story.
I’ve always been… well, different. People ask me where I’m from, and I don’t really have an answer for them. When I was born, my dad was in the US Air Force, and we moved a couple times when I was a kid, so there’s no place I consider to be my origin. When I was starting pre-school, my parents put me and my older sister in a small one operating out of a local church, but the teacher despised me and finally my mom pulled us out and my sister and I were homeschooled from that point on. My mom says the teacher disliked me because I was better at math than her son; I don’t remember, but I’m still pretty good at math, so it’s possible. Even as a kid, it seems, I was better at numbers than people.
My family are devout christians, so I was raised in the church — specifically the Church of Christ, which is a proudly non-hierarchical denomination which encourages individuals to work out their individual religion based on the bible, their own understanding, and interaction with other christians. Religion was an integral part of my upbringing, and although I no longer consider myself religious, and I disagree with many of the trappings and rituals promulgated by the various forms of contemporary christianity, it played an instrumental role in shaping the man I am today. It is to my christian teaching that I owe my dedication to discovering and living in alignment with the Truth. It is also my belief that, at its origin, this dedication to Truth was the purpose of christianity, and the modern religious and dogmatic associations are distortions to, and distractions from, that original purpose.
My childhood and teen years were largely characterized by loneliness. I skipped a grade when I was young, maybe 2nd grade, I don’t remember. Being homeschooled, this was mostly a formality, but it meant that any time I did socialize with other kids, I was the youngest kid in the room, and thus, the odd man out. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I never interacted with other kids: I was friends with some neighbors at various points in my childhood, and I played on a soccer team for several years, but I was introverted and awkward, and having had comparatively few opportunities to identify with others, I really didn’t know how to when opportunities arose.
Thus my younger years were characterized by little social interaction, but thanks to my parents, I was an accomplished student and an avid reader. My mom grew up in Holland, which had far more rigorous public education than the States, and it was to those standards she held my sister and me, which sucked at the time, but I’m grateful for it now. Also, for many years, my dad would read me stories when I went to bed, and the value of that literacy cannot be overstated. As I got older, reading historical fiction was an officially sanctioned “school-time activity,” which was also a brilliant move on my mom’s part, as I truly believe to this day that reading has made me far more intelligent and my life far richer than it would have been otherwise.
The last key point in my childhood is my natural affinity to computers. As we’ve already discussed, I didn’t get along with people too well, but computers always made sense to me. I was defragmenting filesystems and tweaking CMOS settings in my single digits. Some time along in our homeschooling, mom adopted a computer-based curriculum called Switched-On Schoolhouse, and for many years this software effectively was school for my sister and me. One of the features of the software was that it let the students set a “theme” which adjusted the look and feel of the entire application, and as one might expect from software aimed at children, some of the themes were decidedly girly while others were unmistakably boyish. Well, during my self-guided extra-curricular activities, I would poke around the program files in Windows Notepad trying to understand how things worked, and at some point I discovered an internal preferences file that I could make edits to, and see those edits reflected after restarting the software. Thus began my illustrious career as a hacker: changing my sister’s password so she couldn’t log into her schoolwork, and changing the theme on her account to the boyish ones. I also figured out how to change my grades, but doing so seemed counterproductive, so I never actually did this.
As I entered into my teenage years, my social development finally began. My sister and I got plugged into the local homeschooling community around this time, and so I began to do sports, plays, chorus, reading Shakespeare, and other such activities. It was easier to relate to the other homeschooling kids than others, since we had a lot in common due to homeschooling, and homeschooled children are generally better at dealing with people of all ages since they don’t live the majority of their lives sorted by manufacturing date. The local homeschoolers were perhaps the first group I ever really felt part of.
In addition to finding the homeschool group, it was around age 12 or 13 that I began taking computer science classes at Harding University, the “family college.” We had moved close to Harding, after my dad had retired from the Air Force, so that he could attend there since he had never gone to college before. This meant it was nearby and, since my computering skills had long since surpassed my parents’, we convinced a teacher to let me sit in on his class one semester to see if I could keep up. I was one of the highest scoring students in the class. It should be noted that being a straight-A student in a college class at age 13 is not a good strategy for becoming popular; however, the exposure to older people and the academic environment was quite beneficial to me as I was learning how to function socially. This ‘soft start’ helped immensely to ease the transition when I enrolled full-time a few years later, at age 16.
My college years were useful, but aside from learning a bunch of data and growing more capable of functioning around other people, my four years spent earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science did not fundamentally change me. I lived these four years from my parents’ home, which allowed me to finish college without a cent of debt (my parents’ training in financial responsibility has also proven to be an inestimable advantage to me, something for which I will forever be grateful). During these years, I also continued attending church, and I continued to excel academically, graduating from the honors college with a 3.97 GPA. Next, I attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York, for two and a half years to obtain my master’s degree, also in computer science, but this time with a 4.0 GPA.
I would like to briefly note, at this point, that as one who has maxed out the numbers and earned the special titles and honors, I can say that college is highly overrated, and I do not recommend it until perhaps later in life, after learning who you are and what you’re living for, and even then I would strongly emphasize that it should only be done if it can be done with no debt. The value of the college experience will be destroyed by having debts, the opportunity cost (especially in the 18-22 year age range) is truly staggering, and the degrees are quite worthless. There are sound reasons to go to college, but until one has experienced real life, he can’t imagine what they are, much less discern whether they apply to him. There are better fitted opportunities to pursue at the normal college age, and attending a college before working is actually, in my experience, detrimental to one’s confidence and abilities.
It was after finishing my master’s degree and taking my first job that I at last initiated my journey to self-discovery. Everything up until that point had been living someone else’s dream: my life was plotted out for me, my choices were made for me. Sure, I could pick my wardrobe, I could buy one product over another… but the arc of my life, my goals and purposes, had all been handed to me. As a child, I was homeschooled, not because I wanted to learn, but because I was wanted to learn; I attended college not because it solved a problem I had, but because I was told it was the appropriate path; I attended grad school not because it aided me in achieving my goals, but because I didn’t have any goals.
As I had been finishing up my master’s degree, and beginning to think about what I would do for work, I knew that I would never be happy if I took a job for money. Thus the first job I took was to work with the Bitshares team on a cutting edge cryptocurrency system. Though it offered a $100k salary, I wasn’t in it for the money (which I didn’t expect to last anyhow, and it didn’t). I joined Bitshares because I believed in the project, that it could change the world for the better. The money dried up and became intermittent some months later, but I didn’t care, because I believed in what I was doing. As I worked there, I thought about the world, and myself, and my place in the world. This was the first time in my life that I began to think about what my life was for in terms of something I could choose rather than something that was assigned to me. I am proud to this day of the software work I did with that team, but far more valuable still was the inner work I did during that time.
I have always had a logical, analytical mindset, which had been advantageous to me as I studied computer science, but when my mind was freed from the unabated onslaught of academic concerns, and I could apply my acumen to the world as a whole, I began to see cracks in my worldview. Internally, I began to spot contradictions in my own beliefs; I began to question ideas which had been handed to me all my life, but which I didn’t fully understand the basis for. Externally, I began to learn economics and how currency systems work, and I began to see how our political and financial systems were linked to the world’s social and economic problems. I began to question everything I thought I knew, and everything that others told me was true. I learned philosophy and began to think rationally about what one can know, and what one should do.
I found the works of others who had undertaken similar journeys in their own lives, disseminated under labels like libertarian, voluntaryist, agorist, and anarcho-capitalist. I discovered the philosophy of freedom, self-ownership, personal responsibility, and natural law. I learned objective morality, and that the key to human flourishing is simply to live and let live, but do no harm. I also saw that doing harm to others is foundational to our systems of government and finance, and how this is the source of many of the problems endemic to society today. I realized that most people are trapped in these systems of harm, too battered down by stress, disinformation, toxic environments, and fear to comprehend the root causes of the world’s problems, much less innovate and implement solutions to them. I became motivated to create better systems and, eventually, better societies, wherein thriving is the status quo and people’s needs are met so that they can turn their attention to these loftier concerns.
It was this motivation that led me to join Follow My Vote after leaving Bitshares. Although Follow My Vote always presented an exoteric message of ameliorating the fraud and corruption in modern electoral politics, my reason for working with that team was to create the tools that would eventually underpin free societies.
It is this same motivation that drives me as I help to found True Liberty: to create the tools, to build the systems, to catalyze the communities that will be based, not on theft and manipulation and violence, but rather on cooperation and transparency and mutual benefit, to heal this world for ourselves and our progeny.
This is my work. Will you join me?