Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kari Wagner-Peck on Learning from An Unusual Parenting Journey

Kari Wagner-Peck talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey.



“All communities have disability. It is a natural part of our human experience.” ~Kari Wagner-Peck

Kari with Thorin.
Kari and her husband had agreed, when they were looking for a child to adopt, to get one without a major disability, but while they were looking for a child, their foster care worker, in January 2009, left a voice mail that described a child and added casually that he had Down syndrome, and it was when they were told that when Kari and her husband felt a sense of calm and they decided to get the child in question. They didn’t see Thorin until April 2009, and in all that time Kari described Thorin’s presence as an ache within herself and her husband. Thorin’s conditions didn’t add to any of the requirements asked of Kari and her husband, and the pair eventually adopted the child, who was named Thorin, and Kari and her husband then decided to raise Thorin the same way they would any child.

Kari started writing about her family in 2010, on blogs, the day she and her husband adopted her son, Thorin, which she points out that she couldn’t do so until then because Thorin was a ward of the state. Kari noted that she is a storyteller and seeks a response from people, and she wrote her blogs accordingly. Thorin had Down syndrome, and Kari and her husband quickly realized that Thorin’s main disability was what people thought of him, rather than his actual disability, itself. It was after six years of writing the blog that Kari realized that she was making an impact on her blogs’ readers, a third of whom aren’t parents and most of whom weren’t raising children with Down syndrome, and she eventually decided to write the book. She got an agent who helped her find a publisher for whom her family’s story resonated and from there she wrote her book, one of the reasons for writing which was her avocation that people include those whose neurological conditions are different from the norm. Writing the book was a learning curve for her, as her blog posts had an arc, and she found that she could go deeper into her stories, including her emotions and the emotions of people involved, as well as subsequent impact, in a way that she couldn’t within the short confines of her blog. She wanted to make a reader feel like Kari was telling her a story face-to-face, making her stories immediate and involving, which she was successful in doing, as her husband remarked that she had captured the person and the feelings involved in the stories she told.

While writing the stories were easy and fun for her, Kari admitted that writing an incident, when Thorin was two-and-a-half years old and she had had Thorin for only two months, and she went to Thorin’s pre-school to find him strapped to a chair, hysterical, while a teacher sat beside him and read a book calmly, claiming that she was doing speech therapy on Thorin, was one of the hardest things for her to write. Kari then noted that restraint and seclusion are things that people with disabilities know well, as the illegal use of restraint was inflicted on children with disabilities is commonplace.

Kari remarked that raising Thorin is like that of any other parent, in that he’s a typical boy and that there is nothing wrong with his essential intelligence. He likes learning, as he likes reading and math, and Kari remarks that the concern with Thorin is with how quickly he processes information. Thorin apparently doesn’t know what to focus on because so much information is given, and it takes time for Thorin to process and reply to a question, with Kari noting that it takes Thorin around thirty seconds to formulate a reply. Kari analogized that, for Thorin, it’s like having a whole bunch of stuff swirling around which can only go through a straw, and pointed out that Thorin’s problem isn’t intelligence but intelligibility. She differentiates that intelligence is the capacity to learn, understand and integrate information, while intelligibility is about being understood, which is a shared communication concern between the speaker and the listener, and that both need to be responsible for the proper communication to be conducted.

Kari noted that a holistic approach to a human being is the space where she comes from, where a human being is about having the ability to understand and to be understood. She remarks that Thorin lives with Down syndrome, and that he is not Down syndrome, which means that Down syndrome is a part of Thorin’s experience, rather than defining who he is as a person.

To those who are thinking of adopting a child with special needs, or parents who have children with special needs, Kari advises that they see their child holistically, rather than as their diagnosis, and that they should keep the bar high, allowing their children to grow into their own futures rather than one decided by the parents.

Kari’s website is kariwagnerpeck.com

Purchase from Amazon: Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey by Kari Wagner-Peck

Friday, June 9, 2017

Gurutej Khalsa & Her Yoga for Couples Book, A Slice of the Beloved

Gurutej Khalsa talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, A Slice of the Beloved: Yoga for Couples.



“Nobody else can fill that void. It’s a huge void, and nobody can fill it for you.” ~Gurutej Khalsa

Gurutej’s journey into yoga began when, in college, she went over to the place of a man who was courting her friend when he invited the two young women over for dinner, and when the man mentioned that he was a vegetarian and did yoga, Gurutej was puzzled, as these weren’t commonplace in the late 1960s. She then did a speech assignment on yoga, and while doing research on the subject realized that she could do the poses that she had seen. Later on, she joined a yoga group in a nearby park, where she just got what yoga was all about, particularly how useful the body was to achieving well-being, as opposed to the teaching that the body was bad, and it was from there that she embarked on a decades-long journey into practicing and teaching yoga, studying under Yogi Bhajan and familiarizing herself with various types of yoga as well as investigating other types of meditation. Gurutej then went on to become a yoga teacher herself, applying the principles of yoga to everyday life, building yoga communities in Canada and building a community in the United States.

Gurutej mentioned that there are many different types of yoga, and the Asuna part of yoga focuses on the physical experience, while Kundalini yoga, which is the kind of yoga behind A Slice of the Beloved, focuses on chakras and the body’s systems, such as the nervous system. She also mentioned that breathing is a very important part of life, and that there are also many kinds of breathing, such as what she called the “Four Part Sipping Breath,” where one inhales in four parts and exhales in four parts.

A Slice of the Beloved: Yoga for Couples, is intended for anyone who is in a relationship or is ready to attract a relationship, and she points out that people say that they want a relationship but don’t define that which they long for and might not be able to meet the other person at that place of longing. Gurutej wrote the book out of her experience of counseling couples and hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again, she realized that she had a tool kit that others could make use of. The book also contains the lessons she has learned over the course of her life and all of the challenges she had experienced.

A Slice of the Beloved has four parts to it. The first is enabling oneself to connect with oneself, while the second is one connecting with others. The third is about building the soul of the relationship between the two, while the last part is about how the two in that partnership can serve the world, as one cannot serve when one is empty. Gurutej points out that, most of the time, people talk at each other rather than talking to each other, and it is to address this that Gurutej has included several exercises, meditation as well as talking, designed to enable the connection between the two people as well as to enable one to realize the subconscious driver of the other person, with the latter being the “beloved” in the book’s title.

Gurutej points out that the essence of a good relationship is when both are in the same place so that both talk to each other, rather than at each other. This enables people to live for each other, which Gurutej points out is not about losing oneself but about living for the soul of the relationship, and thus honoring the other person. She notes that, while there are certain relationships which are not workable, people, in general, are in a relationship not for ease but to grow, which requires people to bump up against each other. Gurutej points out that people who “fall out of love” actually “fall out of connection,” and that cheating actually begins well before the actual physical act of cheating itself, when one doesn’t show up in the relationship. She then mentioned that ignoring a relationship is like ignoring a plant – both will die when that happens, and that showing a partner that one cares is important.

Gurutej notes that people are geared to connect and relate with each other, and that one should connect with oneself before connecting with others, rather than seeking others to fill any voids that might be within oneself. She also notes that we “huemans” have our own inner light.

Gurutej points out that the book is a tool that is intended to be used, and that keeping it on the shelf or just in memory without doing the exercises in it make it pointless. She points out that the principles and the work espoused in the book work, and that there is no other book that like it in terms of depth and practical effectiveness. To couples, Gurutej recommends that they sit on a couch across from each other, hold hands, look into each others’ eyes, and take turns saying, “I love you, I love myself,” to oneself and to the other.

Gurutej’s website is gurutej.com.

Purchase from Amazon: A Slice of the Beloved: Yoga for Couples by Gurutej Khalsa

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ryan White on Writing Jimmy Buffet: A Good Life All the Way

Ryan White talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, book, Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way.



“It’s fun, and it should be fun, and if it’s not fun, you’re doing a disservice to the subject.” ~Ryan White

Ryan spent sixteen years at The Oregonian, a newspaper, which was something he always wanted to do. He spent ten years as a sports writer and covered music for five and a half, and in 2013 he was contacted to co-write the book which eventually became Springsteen: Album by Album. Ryan remarks that getting on the project enabled him to stay cool when, a month after he signed up to co-write Springsteen, he was laid off along with a third of the staff at The Oregonian, and writing out the book gave him valuable experience which he was able to apply with Jimmy Buffett.

Ryan had been thinking of writing the book that became Jimmy Buffett even as he worked on Springsteen, and he got to working on it after finishing the latter book. He got off to a bit of a false start when he wrote the book initially from his perspective, and after his friend Peter Carlin told him that he wasn’t that interesting, Ryan stripped himself out of the book and focused on the stories and the themes around Jimmy Buffett. Ryan remarked that, so far, people seem to enjoy Jimmy Buffett, and he noted that writing the book was similar to what he used to do as a reporter, although the notes were more copious, as were the number of drafts and the file sizes.

Ryan remarked that he used to drive with his family, as a child, to Florida, and his friends in college listened to Jimmy Buffett, so he was somewhat familiar with the man and the milieu around which the song “Margaritaville” was built. He became attracted to the song after he was laid off from the newspaper while listening to it on the radio while driving his daughter to daycare, and noted the message of the song as well as that getting it on the radio was a challenge and that it is now the basis of a two billion dollar fortune, despite the song being his only Top Ten hit.

Ryan gave a thumbnail sketch of Jimmy’s life, as well as those of his parents who were, themselves, intentional businesspeople, and remarked that Jimmy gained his sense of fun and worldliness from the experiences he gained in his life. Ryan also commented that Mobile, Alabama, had a Mardi Gras tradition that was older even than that of New Orleans, and this was also one of Jimmy Buffett’s likely influences. Ryan also remarked on the various items and brands associated with “Margaritaville,” all of which reflect his sense of fun and adventure. Ryan also remarked that Jimmy understands who he is and what he can provide and that people genuinely like him, pointing out that, after two years of interviewing people about Jimmy Buffett, he hadn’t come across even one person who spoke ill about Jimmy. He also noted that Jimmy’s organization is full of people who have been there for decades, as they enjoy doing their jobs, which enables Jimmy to do his job.

The biggest surprise Ryan got was that, while the stage character of Jimmy Buffett isn’t that much different from the Jimmy Buffett as a person, Jimmy the person always was able to step outside of his character and focus on what needed to be done, and that is a key to his longevity. He also noted that Jimmy had made his peace with being associated with a single song, and advises people to stick with what they’re doing, figure out the questions and search for the answers.

Purchase from Amazon: Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way by Ryan White


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cheryl Krauter on Surviving the Storm of Cancer

Cheryl Krauter talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Surviving the Storm: A Workbook for Telling Your Cancer Story.



“Have a lot of compassion for yourself, because you deserve it.” ~Cheryl Krauter

Cheryl has been a Existential Humanistic psychotherapist for nearly forty years, and as such focuses on the whole of the person, particularly a person’s potential and drive for authenticity, when dealing with their concerns, rather than just parts of the person. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, and the cancer she had was very aggressive, as it infected her lymph nodes as well, which is are vital for the body’s immune system’s functioning. Cheryl noted that her diagnosis came as a complete shock to her, and as she had been practicing meditation for as long as she has been a psychotherapist, she acknowledged that both her training and her meditating helped her through the process.

Cheryl notes that the definition of “remission” depends on the source, but that her own survivorship began when her scan was clear of cancer, and she notes that a lot of people, even though they had been diagnostically cleared of cancer, don’t feel that they are in the clear for quite some time. Cheryl also notes that the most prevalent concern of cancer patients, based on surveys they complete, is that of living with uncertainty. She notes that there is a growing number of people who could be afflicted with the disease, particularly with the ageing baby boomer population, and that one out of two men and one out of three women will get a cancer diagnosis within their lives. Cheryl remarks that the methods of detecting and treating cancer have become more sophisticated, which improves the chances of survival, and that the most common types of cancer are prostate, breast and lung cancers. Where age is concerned, Cheryl notes that cancer is more easily managed when the person who is diagnosed with it is elderly, compared to those who get cancer when they are in their prime.

Cheryl remarked that, had someone told her, ten years ago, that she would be involved in treating cancer as a psychotherapist, or that she would have written a book around the topic, she would have doubted it very much. That said, she wrote Surviving the Storm out of her own experiences with cancer and the realization that not everybody who has cancer, had cancer or was close to someone who has or had cancer has a venue through which to express themselves and their stories about the impact the disease has on them, and thus discover who they are. The book came out of her own needs and wants, and offers a narrative structure to enable survivors and those in the community around the patient to express what they are going through. Surviving the Storm came out of both Cheryl’s realization for the need for such a book, and she also had to think long and hard about remaining involved with cancer, and the time came when she finally decided to write it. The writing process itself was challenging and also gratifying, and Cheryl remarked that she has an image of a pair of hands, other than hers, holding her book, which she takes to mean that the book is no longer hers and now belongs to others.

Cheryl remarks that giving up hope is one of the worst things one can do, and that someone diagnosed with cancer being told, “You have to fight or you’ll die” could create stress and pressure in that person which would exhaust that person and hinder the healing process. She notes that the best thing people can do is to be supported or to give support to the person who is diagnosed with cancer, as those who are totally isolated find the going to be difficult. Cheryl also remarks that just sitting right next to someone with cancer and asking them, “Tell me how you feel” is a big deal.

Cheryl remarks that people should give themselves room to feel what they feel, and that what is going on is just where they are, in a situation that is neither negative or positive. She also complements those who live with cancer for putting one step in front of the other,

Purchase from Amazon: Surviving the Storm: A Workbook for Telling Your Cancer Story by Cheryl Krauter

Monday, May 29, 2017

Carlyn Montes de Oca on How a Dog Can Be Your Doctor & a Cat Be Your Nurse

Carlyn Montes de Oca talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse: An Animal Lover's Guide to a Healthy, Happy and Extraordinary Life.



“All animals, really, can help us.” ~Carlyn Montes de Oca

Carlyn had grown up amongst dogs as a child, and had always wanted to be an author since then. She might have worked in the film industry for a time, and even then she felt pulled to do something that was more meaningful to her. She eventually went into Chinese medicine and holistic healing, and it was while she was developing herself in these that she heard stories from people about how their animals helped them. Carlyn realized then that there was a connection between health and how people related with animals, something which she, herself, had experienced after going through a divorce, as her cats and dogs helped her out during that time. This connection, Carlyn opines, is important for humans, as people die from chronic illnesses nowadays, with one in four people dying of heart disease, which is preventable through lifestyle choices, and a relationship with an animal can enable that kind of a healthy lifestyle.

Carlyn remarks that Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse is all about the beneficial effects that dogs and cats have on human beings, which includes decrease in stress and blood pressure, boost to the immune system, emotional wellness as well as a wide range of other positive health benefits. Carlyn mentioned that she has 103 references in her book which scientifically back up the benefits health have on people. Although the book has been somewhat long in coming, Carlyn remarked that the kicker was when, while she was walking with her dogs, the words “dog as my doctor” hit her, which she thought would be a good title for her book. After she got home, the cat leaped on her back while she was relaxing, and “cat as my nurse” then came to her as a good title.

Carlyn became interested in cats when she lived on her own, in an apartment that was too small for dogs, which was why she got cats, and it was from them that she realized that all animals have the capacity to love and interact with human beings, pointing out that pot bellied pigs and horses are also pets. She opines that cats have become popular because the places people live in don’t allow for dogs, and that cats don’t need that much companionship compared to dogs and might be easier to take care of. She notes that a pet can be any animal, that the benefits are particularly pronounced when the person had a deep relationship with the animal involved, and that this is most likely due to pets being a manifestation of unconditional love.

The book has a lot of stories in it, and one of the cat-related stories Carlyn mentioned is a couple where the husband has Parkinson’s disease. The wife liked taking walks with him, and she was saddened when they could no longer do so. During one such solo walk, she discovered that one of their two rescue cats was walking with her, and the cat went on walks with her after that, which helped her out greatly. The two cats they had also seemed to sense when the husband wanted to be alone and when he wanted to interact, and when they sensed the latter they began playing and essentially entertaining him.

One of the dog-related stories Carlyn mentioned was that of a widower who had lost his wife after a long struggle with disease. The man intended to kill himself, as he was depressed, but before he could do so he had a dream where he saw their dog waiting for him outside their house, and when he woke up he realized that, if he had killed himself, the dog would most likely have waited for him until the day she died. The man then packed up and took a long walk to California, taking the dog with him, and after that walk Carlyn said that he was a changed man, particularly since he credited his dog with helping him save his life along the way.

Carlyn remarked that she had a “six pack” of dogs and cats, but at present only two old dogs remain from that pack, as the other four had passed away during the five years she took to write the book.

To those who would have a cat or a dog as a pet, Carlyn recommends that they go to a local shelter or rescue and tell the personnel there their concerns, and then go with their instincts when it came to adopting an animal, as it is often the animal who chooses the human.

Purchase from Amazon: Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse: An Animal Lover's Guide to a Healthy, Happy and Extraordinary Life by Carlyn Montes de Oca


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Joe Navarro on the Worst Espionage Breach in US History

Joe Navarro talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor and the Worst Espionage Breach in US History.



“You don’t have a responsibility to be victimized at any time.” ~Joe Navarro

Joe and his parents were refugees from Cuba, and he grew up in Miami. He spent twenty-five years in the FBI working for counterintelligence and is presently sharing his insights in human behavior, and notes that, as an immigrant kid growing up, he needed to hone his skills at reading nonverbal cues because he initially didn’t know any English, which he further honed as he entered the FBI. Joe has written other books, but when he realized what was going on with Russia and current events he decided to write Three Minutes to Doomsday, as he pointed out that the present crop of leaders in Russia today were grown in the KGB during the Cold War and apparently still maintain their attitude of the West being “the enemy.”

Joe remarks that “war by other means” is a tactic which is familiar with those in counterintelligence, which deals with identifying and countering the efforts of enemies to gather information that has a benefit of tactical or strategic purpose - the definition of “intelligence” - to the United States. He notes that those who would release sensitive information aren’t necessarily spies, and that whether or not people like Julian Assange are spies should be determined by the courts. Joe notes that FBI agents are essentially paid by the public to become paid observers for criminal activity and decipher the information which could lead to prosecutions.

Joe remarked that it took him, on the average, two or three days to prepare for his interviews with Ramsay, and the interviews lasted anywhere between two to twelve hours. Joe had to play this very carefully, as he couldn’t afford to make a single mistake and Ramsay had genius-level IQ with photographic memory and could talk on a lot of topics and, even more importantly, was not under custody and could thus bolt at any time. Joe points out that Ramsay was just one of many different personality types that he encountered over the course of his career, and he points out that the information that Ramsay passed to the Soviet Union not only included a large quantity of documents but which, if war broke out between the Soviets and the West, would have caused hundreds of thousands of Western casualties and would have enabled the Soviets to gain a swift victory. Joe also remarked that, after the damage assessment was done, the breach was so significant that this was the only time in American history that such potential damage could have been inflicted.

Joe notes that the question of whom to trust, where sensitive information is concerned, has been around since ancient times. Joe notes that people who would do great harm, in the form of leaking sensitive information to the enemy is concerned, won’t be easily spotted, pointing out that mass murderers have functioned in the societies they lived in and that, when their identities were revealed, the people around them were caught by surprise. Joe also points out that the Internet has made handling sensitive information more challenging as, prior to the Internet, it was relatively easy to keep people away with locked doors and patrols, whereas, at the moment, someone with know-how can hack into a computer to stalk a person or to down a nation’s entire system, such as traffic or emergency services.

Where individual security is concerned, Joe remarks that one should take whatever security measures are necessary to protect oneself, or pretend that there are no threats out in the world.

Purchase from Amazon: Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor and the Worst Espionage Breach in US History by Joe Navarro

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mark Zupan on The Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest

Mark Zupan talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest.



“Government by the people doesn’t necessarily mean government for the people.” ~Mark Zupan

Mark is the son of immigrants who grew up in Rochester, New York and has embarked on a career in the academe, specializing in economics, and is presently the president of Alfred University in Alfred, New York. He began looking into politics from the point of view of an economist - supply and demand, in other words - in the 1980s, with another professor. Mark points out that the demand side of government interactions has been the focus of a lot of literature and blame, but looking at the supply side - the insiders in the government, such as a monarch or those in government - hasn’t been done, for the most part, and this is what Inside Job brings out.

Mark notes that autocracy was the norm throughout the world two centuries ago, and that democratic governments are now more commonplace, and the book shows that democracies are superior to autocracies when it comes to integrity in the public sector, pointing out the work of Transparency International, which shows that democracies, on the average, outperform autocracies where integrity in the public sector is concerned. Mark, also notes that there are around a dozen autocratic governments which rate high in this kind of integrity, as well as that, in some democratic governments, some people still have to pay bribes to get things done.

Mark points out that democracies have checks and balances within their systems that help maintain such integrity, and that there is a symbiosis between the supply side and the demand side. Mark gave an example of sugar lobbying, where the cost to the average American family is $50 a year due to import restrictions on sugar from other countries. The United States and its consumers thus lose anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion a year, and the reason this goes on is that the average family isn’t much concerned about losing $50 a year, and the sugar interests in the United States thus have more pull with the government.

Mark notes that, on the average, autocratic governments last nine times longer than democratic governments, yet produce poor results where prosperity and government cleanliness is concerned. Mark contrasts this with private enterprise, where good sales result from good products, and that power is the currency of governments. Some of the checks and balances that enable democratic governments to do better than autocracies are term limits and electoral competition, as well as a lower likelihood of “golden parachutes” and a greater confidence that anything that was created during the term of one government will be supported by the courts in being carried on into the term of another government.

Mark remarked, as an example of misuse of power on the supply side of politics, on the situation of the Janissaries in the Ottoman Empire, which started out as an attempt at a meritocracy, and which was egalitarian for one generation, which ended up seizing the power of the Empire to the point of being able to murder two sultans who were attempting to reform the Empire. Mark also gave the example of the sultans and the scribes losing power due to the printing press, which resulted in only 2% of the Ottoman Empire’s population being able to read at a time when literacy in Europe was 50%.

Mark notes that supply side power misuse is present in both China (the world’s largest autocracy) and in the United States (the world’s most economically developed democracy). Mark remarks that one in seven of the wealthiest men in China are political figures, which means that the party in power is unlikely to want to foster competition, as this would reduce the money they would get. Where the United States is concerned, Mark points out to the growth of public sector unionization, which has grown from 6% in the 1970s to 37% at present. This creates a large voting block which can exert electoral influence but also an imposition of power that can affect public trust and integrity. He points out the impact of such in the educational system, where the number of college-ready graduates have not improved despite increased spending, as well as unfunded pensions, which total close to $5 trillion, which makes this the second largest fiscal challenge of the United States.

Mark notes that the average person, in a democracy, has the power to affect the interplay between supply and demand sides of government, and that people have to be involved with the checks and balances to ensure that things don’t get out of hand.

Purchase from Amazon: Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest by Mark Zupan.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ian Roberts: How to Make Noises & Influence People - The Wonders of Language

Ian Roberts talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, The Wonders of Language or How to Make Noises and Influence People.



“We are mostly very unaware of the complexity and the potential of language.” ~Ian Roberts

Ian is presently a professor of linguistics in Cambridge University in England since 2000, and prior to that he taught in Geneva, Germany and Wales. The inspiration for his book actually came from his then-seventeen-year-old son, who had taken a course in English language that he really liked and thought about continuing on studying that after his graduation from high school. His son suggested that he write a book on linguistics “for people like me,” and while Ian initially just laughed it off the seed was nevertheless planted, and he then wrote The Wonders of Language, which focuses on verbal communication.

The Wonders of Language is intended for a general audience and gives an understandable introduction to all the ideas that linguists have speculated about or worked on, where language is concerned, to date. Ian admitted that writing in such a way that the concepts were accessible without “dumbing down” the ideas was challenging, giving the example of the chapter on semantics - meaning - being one of the more challenging ones.

Ian remarks that language has most likely been around since humans walked the Earth, but because language leaves no fossils, it is difficult to date exactly when language started, although the figure of language starting around 100,000 years ago is a generally accepted estimate. Ian also notes that other human species, such as the Neanderthals, might have had a language of their own, but due to lack of records such will remain speculation.

Ian remarks that languages are being created all the time, and by human babies and toddlers, as they always invent their own languages all the time. For adults to learn a language, Ian recommends immersing oneself totally in the language after getting the basics, and avoiding using one’s own native language during that immersion.

Ian remarks that there is a debate about how language creates the reality of a people, but opines that language channels, but not constrains, one’s thinking, as it is so open-ended that it enables people to create new ideas. He also notes that the main purpose of language might be to influence others, but also serves other purposes, such as to help people organize things for themselves.

Ian has two favorite concepts in the book, one which is how to find lost languages and the other is about how to learn and lose a language, with the latter being how babies learn languages. Where dead languages - languages which are no longer spoken - are concerned, Ian notes that there are two kinds: one for which written records exist, and the second being where no written records exist. Figuring out how the words are pronounced is a challenge, and Ian remarks that there is a technique where dead languages can be iterated based on the languages that were descended from that dead language, as the forms of the dead language can be inferred from its existing descendants.

Ian remarks that the present form of English sprang from the Anglo-Saxons, and the first texts were noted in around 700 A.D. Because a part of English was brought to England from northern Europe, it is related to German, which is descended from a language called “proto-Germanic,” which is also the ancestor of other languages such as Dutch and Scandinavian. Proto-Germanic, in turn, is related to Latin, ancient Greek and Sanskrit and other Indian languages, as all of these languages sprang from a language called “Indo-European,” which existed around five to eight thousand years ago; and as no written records exist of either proto-Germanic and Indo-European, it has to be noted that such time estimates of when these were spoken aren’t accurate.

While Ian notes that getting a map of the relationships amongst the languages of the world is a task too huge for one person, he does note that a study is ongoing which can be accessed at the World Atlas of Language Structures, which can be searched using “WALS.” Ian also remarks that, at present, the study covers 2,000 languages, which is around a third of all the languages presently being spoken in the world today.

Ian remarks that general readers will be attracted to The Wonders of Language because it is short and gives a quick and easy way to get a handle on some topics. He also noted that he is presently thinking of writing, with some colleagues, a book describing the sixty most important languages in world history.

Purchase from Amazon: The Wonders of Language or How to Make Noises and Influence People by Ian Roberts.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Julia Sloan on Learning to Think Strategically

Julia Sloan talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Learning to Think Strategically (3rd Edition).




“You begin to see the problem so differently the minute you take pen to paper and start to draw your problem.” ~Julia Sloan


Julia’s area of expertise is on the learning aspect of strategic thinking, and in addition to being on the faculties of Columbia University and the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, she has worked with senior managers of companies, international agencies and nonprofit organizations throughout the world, primarily in Asia, the Middle East and Africa on how to strengthen their strategic thinking. She has been working on the research for twelve years and has worked in the field of strategic thinking for eighteen years. She decided to write Learning to Think Strategically after realizing that people were making no distinction between strategic thinking, strategic planning and other, similar concepts that had become merely buzzwords, rather than concepts to be assimilated.

Julia notes that there is a difference between strategic thinking and strategic planning. Strategic thinking focuses on the problem at hand, and the purpose here is not to think of solutions to the problem but to go deep and get to the real problem concerned. She also notes that strategic thinking is informal, intuitive and emotional, highly reliant on what she calls “arational” thinking, which makes it rather messy. Strategic planning, on the other hand, is more linear and the topic of what most strategy literature deals with. Strategic planning is also formalized, rational and structured, and Julia notes that, once people differentiate between strategic thinking and strategic planning they do well.

Where strategic thinking is concerned, the underlying structure consists of divergent thinking, creative thinking, conceptual thinking, polarity thinking and critical reflective processes, which include critical dialogue, critical reflection and critical inquiry which questions underlying assumptions and beliefs to get at an issue’s premise, which is usually invisible. Julia also points out that these are not taught in business environments, and she mentioned the case of a medical technology company which was able to use strategic thinking to change course from the strategic plan they had created to close a plant in one area and open another in another country as well as purchase a company, which enabled them to be the top three companies in their particular industry.

Julia notes that strategic thinking is needed in corporations because of globalization, and that those organizations who aren’t aware of strategic thinking tend to force others to think the way the people where the company came from think, and when things go bad fingers get pointed about who is to blame for a failure in innovation and strategy. She points out that strategic thinking is a learnable human activity, rather than a cultural concern, and that anyone can thus learn how to think strategically. That said, Julia admits that culture teaches people what to pay attention to, how to identify patterns and how to make decisions, and that, once these cultural traits are gotten past, the learning process is the same anywhere.

Julia notes that “strategic thinking” has become a confusing, blanket term, and gives an example of what is really desired from someone who is essentially told, “I’d like to promote you but you need to show more strategic thinking.”

Julia envisions the teaching of strategic thinking all the way from elementary to graduate school by paying attention to the domain of arational thinking, which includes polarity thinking and metaphors. She points out that these are not easily measurable the way rational thinking methodologies are, and are thus not convenient to teach. Drawing is an activity that she highly recommends as a way to access strategic thinking, as Julia points out that she has used this method for senior managers and that children can use these as well, and the methods can be taught at all levels.

Julia points out that Learning to Think Strategically focuses on the learning aspect of strategic thinking, and how the latter is differentiated from other types of strategic tools, and that those who imbibe its lessons enhance their mental agility. The third edition includes some new concepts and matter that weren’t included in the previous editions, such as the triangle model as well as the two cognitive clusters that support both strategic thinking and strategic planning.

Purchase from Amazon: Learning to Think Strategically (3rd Edition) by Julia Sloan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Winifred Reilly on Saving Your Marriage with Almost No Help from Your Spouse

Winifred Reilly talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse - and How You Can, Too.



“We step into marriage fully unprepared.” ~Winifred Reilly

Winifred has been a writer all her life, writing poetry when she was a little girl. She has been a marriage and family therapist for nearly forty years, getting into the field because her own marriage wasn’t doing so well and she wanted to know everything she could about marriage. Over the course of that time she heard from several clients that they had no books that they could refer to where their particular challenges were concerned, and this was one of the reasons she wrote the book.

Winifred felt she needed to write the book, and noted that she initially started the book as a collection of her clients’ stories, but after traveling down this particular path for a time she realized that it was very boring. Winifred then realized that writing her book as a personal story would be more effective, and so wove in the story of her own marriage as one of the book’s themes, with the other two being the story of her training and the stories of her clients.

Winifred notes that, where marriage is concerned, everyone is in the same boat, so therapists couldn’t hide behind the curtain of authority to be effective. She also notes that the skills necessary to maintain a marriage long-term are learned along the way, rather than learned prior to marriage.

Winifred remarked that people try to agree, to create consensus, rather than figure out what to do when they disagree. Agreeing to disagree means that people can’t come to any conclusion, and while this might be okay for relatively minor things, this doesn’t work with deeper issues, such as having another child or moving out into the country. Winifred notes that partners need to tolerate one’s spouse disagreeing with one, and that staying connected with oneself while remaining open to the other is a fine art.

Winifred notes that there is no formula for how people take a stand. She does, however, point to a developmental model of marriage which was devised by psychotherapists Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson, who run the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, California, which has five stages of marriage:

  1. Courtship, where the couples agree on everything;
  2. Difference, where the couple assert their preferences which are different from their partners, which then results in conflict;
  3. Couple can express their feelings and handle conflicts with each other;
  4. More separateness, such as doing activities without their partner;
  5. Moving back to each other with a mutual sense of longing for reconnection, this time being on a deeper level.

Winifred points out that the things that couples fight over are actually trivial things that are actually smokescreens for deeper issues, which she calls “the big picture.” People actually fight about whether or not they are valued and thought highly of by their partner, she notes, as well as whether or not they can trust the other person, and power and control issues also come into play. The real issues behind fights, Winifred remarks, are actually about selfhood.

Purchase from Amazon: It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse - and How You Can, Too by Winifred Reilly.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bob Imai and How The Laws of Success of Ryuho Okawa Bring Happiness

Bob Imai talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about Master Ryuho Okawa’s book, The Laws of Success: A Spiritual Guide to Turning Your Hopes Into Reality.



“If your success is not good for your soul, then achieving success doesn’t mean anything.” ~Bob Imai

Master Okawa is the spiritual leader who founded Happy Science in 1986, which is a movement which started in Japan, whose purpose is to enable people to find fulfilment and success through the principles of love, wisdom, self-reflection and progress. The movement now has some ten million members scattered throughout 160 countries, and Bob himself is a minister in Atlanta, Georgia. He came across Happy Science in 1990 while still an engineer researching on self-driving cars and experiencing some discontent in his life. He became a monk as a result of investigating into the teachings of Happy Science and has been connected with the movement since then.

The Laws of Success contains principles that both people and organizations need to achieve success. Bob notes that, in order to find true success, one has to know the meaning, purpose and mission of one’s life, as it is believed that we are spiritual beings who live several lives on this physical plane over and over again, in order to improve and nourish our souls, as this is the context in which the book exists. In this context, it is believed that we choose the kind of lives we will lead in the physical realm before we enter it, and that our mind enables us to access all the wisdom and knowledge we need to attain our success. That said, Bob notes that one does not necessarily have to believe in life after death in order to get something from The Laws of Success, as the book  also comes from the context of harnessing the power of the mind, which has been behind successes, historically.

The pillars of success that support success are originality (we have our own, individual measures for success), shared joy (success is accompanied by joy) and a sense of unique contribution (true success contributes to society), and Bob shared Thomas Edison as an example who showed examples of all of these pillars in his life. Bob notes that success isn’t an outcome or a result, but that it is a process designed to improve ourselves. Self-realization is the basis of success, with visualizing one’s goal being the first thing to do. A positive attitude is also necessary to achieving one’s goal, after which one should then act on it. Bob notes that the path isn’t easy, so making habits to support success, as well as breaking down the tasks into small, easily achievable parts.

The Laws of Success might be thirty years old, and Bob points out that the principles within enabled Happy Science to grow from the small numbers in its movement that long ago to its present size. He remarks that The Laws of Success is similar to such books related to the Law of Attraction, such as The Secret, but that there is nothing in the latter that talks about the basis of such concepts, which is a belief in the spiritual realm.

Bob also advises that people meditate - by which he means people should just take a little time each day to sit in total silence - to access the wisdom that comes from one’s mind.

Purchase from Amazon: The Laws of Success: A Spiritual Guide to Turning Your Hopes Into Reality by Master Ryuho Okawa

Friday, April 14, 2017

Siphiwe Baleka and His 4-Minute Fit Book to Enhance Metabolism

Siphiwe Baleka talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed Out.

 

“We can’t make America great again unless we make America fit again.” ~Siphiwe Baleka

Siphiwe was a world-class swimmer in college, and had been an athlete since he was young. He took a job as a trucker, and within two months of taking the job, he gained fifteen pounds, which was over ten percent of his body weight, which scared him. He realized then that he needed to take responsibility for his weight, and then went on to try out various fitness programs and diets. He realized that there was no such program specifically designed for long-haul truck drivers and their particular environment, and so went out and developed his own. Siphiwe then studied metabolic endocrinology and used digital sports equipment to help his progress, and it was through these that he discovered that his metabolism was so low when he was driving trucks that he needed to find a way to keep it up while driving.

Siphiwe noted that truck drivers actually have an unhealthy profession, as they have highest rates of obesity, the highest rates of metabolic syndrome, and has the lowest life expectancy, and this is due to the nature of their work and on the impact on their bodies. He notes that truck drivers don’t have access to kitchens, have no refrigerators in their trucks to store food in, and drive mostly on the main interstates and highways, which makes such things as getting to a local farmer’s market, or even the gym, impractical, and remarks that, for all intents and purposes, truck drivers “might as well be astronauts living in outer space.” Truck drivers are also subjected to changes in schedule, depending on what they haul, and this disrupts the body’s internal rhythms and hormonal releases, as truck drivers thus train themselves to override these internal rhythms and the hormones that regulate metabolism. This often results in such things as truck drivers not getting hungry, and as they don’t eat their metabolisms turn off. Siphiwe points out that the average truck driver eats only once or twice a day, and while they may overeat during those times, their bodies are, overall, starving, which makes their body store fat.

4-Minute Fit is based on the work Siphiwe has done since 2012, working with truck drivers to improve their physical wellness. It is a program that shows how to turn one’s metabolism on at the start of the day in four minutes’ time, and then how to keep it on throughout the day, with minimal effort. The idea for the book came from an editor for Sports Illustrated who had done an article for what he was doing, and Siphiwe figured, if truck drivers can do it, anyone can. According to him, one in three Americans is obese, and this costs 150 billion dollars a year, and he also points out that the main reason that seven out of ten applicants to the United States Armed Forces are rejected because they were obese or physically unfit.

Siphiwe notes that losing weight is easy; keeping it off is the true challenge, as this requires a change of behavior, which then requires one to get into one’s values and emotions, as the source of behavior is usually subconscious programming. Siphiwe thus wants to get to a person’s motivation behind their desire to change, and while he admits that this can be emotional, he notes that emotion is also energy which can be harnessed. Siphiwe then starts by knowing where a person is nutritionally at the present, identifying the food which the person presently eats which does the most damage and then eliminating that during one week, and then doing the same with another food the following week, which makes for a gradual change rather than a fast overhaul.

Siphiwe notes that he has cases of drivers who have lost weight and kept it off for years, as well as others whose health has greatly improved over a long period of time, and since his program is the least disruptive one around it can be used by anyone. He notes that the science behind his system has been around for three decades, and what he adds to that is turning on metabolism at the start of the day and then keeping it up by giving it what it needs when it needs it.

Siphiwe notes that there is a direct relationship between what one gets out of life and one’s health; and the more one can do what they want to do when they want to do it (which is his definition of fitness) the more one can do and experience, which enables one to learn, grow and receive from the Universe. He notes that all motivational speakers always ask: “What’s your ‘why’?” and the “why” needs to be so big that it gives one enough energy to do the necessary and inconvenient things needed to achieve one’s goals.

Siphiwe noted that he has partnered with Progressive Commercial Insurance to create free content which people could use to get started at truckerterritory.com.

Purchase from Amazon: 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed Out by Siphiwe Baleka and Jon Wertheim

Monday, April 3, 2017

Donna Orange on Climate Crisis, Psychoanalysis and Radical Ethics

Donna M. Orange talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Climate Crisis, Psychoanalysis and Radical Ethics.



“Telling people things doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere.” ~Donna M. Orange

Donna comes from the Pacific Northwest, and after becoming a philosophy professor she became a psychoanalyst on the East Coast for some thirty-five years. She recently retired to Claremont, California, where she focuses on the topics covered in her book, as she felt the climate crisis when she returned to California, heard nothing from psychoanalysts where climate crisis is concerned and had been influenced by her philosophical studies into radical ethics. She developed the book in reaction to her own realization about the nature of the present climate crisis and the suffering experienced by those who are affected by climate change, and also as a way to explain why people are turning away from the issue of climate crisis from her psychoanalytical experiences and perspective.

Donna explains that “radical ethics” comes from a Jewish and a Christian philosopher who argue that “The other comes before me,” which is an ethical attitude that is radically different from the present attitude in the West, which is about focus on what is good for oneself and one’s immediate family above all else. Radical ethics essentially describes how people would treat each other, and highlights the responsibilities we have to other human beings.

Donna points out that there are several aspects about the present mindset that feed into climate crisis, with political climate denial being based on political and financial advancement being one, and with another being disavowal, which is an inability to face the situation, and to thus avoid it as it occurs as being too big and too scary to be handled. Double-mindedness is a psychoanalytic concern and is when people know how bad the situation presently is, but still go on behaving as if the change isn’t taking place which, to Donna, stems from being overwhelmed and ashamed and trapped in egoistic individualism. Donna points out that the science is solid, and that facing up to this is a psychological matter.

Donna also noted that there are cultural elements that perpetuate the present attitude towards climate crisis, which includes colonialism and slavery. She points out that people in the United States aren’t present to that they live on stolen land, and compares Canada to the United States in this regard, pointing out the Canadian children hear a declaration that they live on the lands of the First People who have lived on it. Donna remarks that, because Americans are unconscious to the suffering they have historically inflicted, they are unconscious to the suffering of others caused by climate crisis, and that the United States will lead the world into the disaster of climate crisis.

Donna believes that people need to stand up and be counted to do work to deal with the issue of climate crisis, and notes that psychoanalysts seem to be waking up to that their work isn’t just about helping out individuals with their concerns, but that they are also citizens of a global community. She points out that the Climate Psychology Alliance, which is an organization of psychologists and psychoanalytics, is an established organization in Great Britain and she hopes that a similar organization can be set up in the United States. She points out that people need to be moved “for more than fifteen minutes” for true change to take place, particularly since climate change isn’t easily visible to the common person, and that radical ethics has a place through the respect for other spiritual traditions. Donna also notes that alliances need to be created with religious and spiritual leaders due to the influence these have.

To those who wonder about climate change, Donna would ask them about the kind of world they would want to live in two or three decades from now, after which they should imagine what the world will be like for themselves and the people around them if things continue the way they are. She noted that young people are willing to ask themselves such questions and would like to ask everyone to think that all humans are connected to each other and matter to each other.

Purchase from Amazon: Climate Crisis, Psychoanalysis and Radical Ethics by Donna M. Orange

Monday, March 27, 2017

Miko Peled on Writing The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine

Miko Peled talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.




“Never give up the fight for justice. Never accept oppression. Never accept violence as a solution to problems. Always seek justice and not be afraid to speak up, speak through to power.” ~Miko Peled 


A young Miko Peled with his father, Matti.
Miko was born and raised in Jerusalem, the son of an Israeli army general, and thus had a very patriotic Israeli upbringing. One of the pivotal moments in his life was when his niece was killed, and while Miko points out that the murderer killed himself, he does believe that it is the Israeli government which is ultimately responsible for her death, given the way it treats the Palestinians.

Miko points out that Israel and Palestine are the same place, and the journey he mentioned in the book’s subtitle is that of one from the sphere he was raised in and that of the Palestinians, since Israelis and Palestinians live in segregated areas and are subject to different laws. Miko remarked that the Israelis live privileged lives while the Palestinians live under subjugation and cruelty, which breeds resistance and violence and revolt. Miko feels that the Israelis are responsible for the stark reality on the ground but choose not to address it.

Miko wrote the book because his friends encouraged him to, at a time when he was already speaking out publicly on the issue of Israel and Palestine. He found the writing process to be very interesting, as a lot of things came up, such as forgotten memories, as well as doing the research in the Israeli Army archives to learn more about things in his father’s career that he wasn’t previously aware of.

The general at work.
According to Miko, the reality is that Western colonialism has consistently encouraged a European-centric attitude which carries on today, and points out that the United States, over the next ten years, will provide 38 billion dollars in aid, despite the fact that Israel has a fully-developed economy and really doesn’t need that aid or the weapons they claim to need, as the Palestinians have no tanks or the like.

Miko points out that there are around 6.1 million Palestinians and 5.9 million Jews in Israel, and while Jews are subject to the same laws throughout the land, the Palestinians, who live in military-controlled areas are subject to military law and those who live in another part are specifically subject to 95 specific laws. He gave the example of water allocation, as Israel has control of the water supply and gives only 3% of the water to the Palestinians.

Miko’s vision for peaceful coexistence is a model similar to that of South Africa, and believes that democracy and equal rights should take root, after which the past injustices can be addressed, Palestinian refugees can return to their homes, equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis are upheld, and the military regime can end.

Miko would like to let people know that the call for equality in Palestine is the “call of the day,” and that people should get informed and support the cause for justice and equality. He believes that peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians is possible, and he summed up the universal quest for justice as follows: “Never give up the fight for justice. Never accept oppression. Never accept violence as a solution to problems. Always seek justice and not be afraid to speak up, speak through to power.”

Those who would like to get more details about Miko can go to mikopeled.com.

Purchase from Amazon: The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine by Miko Peled

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Carolyn Wilman on Getting Better Winning in Sweepstakes and More


Carolyn Wilman talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, How to Win Cash, Cars, Trips & More!.




“The friends are better than the prizes.” ~Carolyn Wilman 

Carolyn started her hobby of entering sweepstakes as a teenager, and as an adult she pursued a career in marketing, which she still does up to this day. She only started seriously entering sweepstakes as a hobby in 2001, after reading an article about some people who did just that, and as she was unemployed at that time, due to the dot-com bubble bursting then, she decided to try it out. While she admits that attempting to live off sweepstakes earnings doesn’t work, doing so has enabled her to do things  that she wouldn’t have gone on and meet people she wouldn’t otherwise normally meet, such as the singer Sting. Carolyn also noted that she also liked meeting people in sweepstakes conventions, which are gatherings of people who like to enter sweepstakes and which, like any convention, have speakers who speak on different topics, and Carolyn remarks that she always learns something new at these conventions.

How to Win Cash, Cars, Trips & More! is actually the second edition of her original books on entering sweepstakes as a hobby, which she approached from a marketing methodology and perspective. She decided to write first editions (there were North American and Canadian versions of that book) after spotting a message on a church that inspired her to do so, and the books came out in 2004. Since then, sweepstakes methodologies had changed, with one of these being mail-in volume being greatly reduced while social media volume has increased greatly. Carolyn points out that her book is the only comprehensive “how to” book which details, step by step, how to enter sweepstakes in the market, as well as points out the things to avoid so one’s time doesn’t get wasted.

Carolyn points out that there are three different legal definitions to prizewinning competitions:

  1. In lotteries, an entry fee needs to be paid, money is given as a prize, and the winner is determined by chance.
  2. Sweepstakes give prizes that aren’t necessarily money and are free to enter, and the winner is, likewise, determined by chance.
  3. Contests require an entry fee to be paid, and the winners are due to judging, rather than by chance.

For Carolyn, organizing is key, so that one can enter the most number of sweepstakes in the shortest amount of time, and she herself spends only one or two hours a day entering and checking on sweepstakes. Carolyn, however, points out that it is a numbers game, and that one will enter far more often than one will win. Carolyn presently works as a sweepstakes marketer and thus has a unique perspective on both sides of the sweepstakes coin, and she noted that, at present, around four billion US dollars are spent on sweepstakes in the United States alone. The prizes range from $25 gift cards to large ones worth $50,000, and Carolyn remarks that, for her, the experiences that come with the prizes are the true prizes. That said, she doesn’t mind winning smaller amounts, as these help her out financially.

Carolyn notes that people need to think they’re lucky to succeed. She also noted that a scientific study had been done on luck by a Dr. Richard Wiseman, which was printed out in a book, and that the study proved that people who had positive outlooks and believed in opportunity had brains that were wired to see more opportunity.

Carolyn remarked on the legal aspects of sweepstakes, pointing out that there are lawyers that specialize in sweepstakes laws and that the rules are legal and binding contracts that can stand up in courts. Carolyn thus advises people to read the rules and notes that sweepstakes are not on-the-fly. She also revealed that, as a marketer, she reads through the entries to see if these conform with the rules.

Carolyn noted that her wins come in waves, with long periods of time when she doesn’t win something, followed by times when she wins a lot of prizes within a short period of time. She also noted how “sweepers,” those who enter sweepstakes as a hobby, enter sweepstakes continuously and consistently for at least three months, daily, before they can see results. Based on statistical research, one can win at least 30% of the time, but that does not guarantee a big win. Then again, you’ll never know what you can win if you don’t enter.

Purchase from Amazon: How to Win Cash, Cars, Trips & More! by Carolyn Wilman



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mark Antonacci on Testing the Shroud of Turin Again

Mark Antonacci talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Test the Shroud.


“This evidence is relevant to everyone.” ~Mark Antonacci on proving the Shroud of Turin is the real deal.

Mark got interested in the Shroud of Turin some 35 years ago when, while still an agnostic, he read the summary of scientific articles written by scientists who had studied the shroud in 1978, and he had been interested in the topic since then. Test the Shroud covers the various pieces of relevant evidence regarding the Shroud, as well as the questions related to the relic.

Shrouds have been used as linen burial garments in the Middle East for centuries, and unlike other such shrouds there are two images and some 130 blood marks noticeable in these. The wounds are consistent with the descriptions of the injuries Jesus suffered during his crucifixion, and Mark noted that, while the Shroud has had a history in Europe since the 1300s, but a cloth reportedly with the same images on it have been mentioned up to the first century ACE. He also noted that the use of modern technology has enabled more evidence to be gathered, particularly where resolution of images are concerned. Mark also noted that there have been no other shrouds which have exhibited this kind of imagery. 

With regard to the scientific controversy about the cloth, Mark noted that, of the 26 areas in which the tests were comprehensively done, all were consistent except for the carbon-14 dating area, and it was this result that the media and public opinion jumped on. Mark explained how the dates from the carbon-14 dating, at one of the facilities which did the carbon-dating, covered a very wide spread of ages, and that what the facility did, rather than just release the data, was to average the ages, which Mark noted wasn’t a valid procedure. Mark then gave some technical details on how carbon-14 could have been impregnated into the cloth by particle radiation from the environment and from the body that the cloth was wrapped in.

The tests Mark proposes would enable confirmation of the increase of carbon-14 the closer one gets to the image of the body and that this would add greater weight to the supposition that the body wrapped in the shroud was that of Jesus Christ. The molecular tests would be nondestructive, and the atomic testing, while destructive, would require only an extremely small part of the Shroud; and Mark doesn’t propose that atomic testing be done until molecular tests have been done repetitively to ensure consistency.

Mark advises for people to inquire into the central tenet of their faith and see what scientific evidence for these premises, noting that humanity has not had any extensive scientific evidence for these, particularly when it comes to the matter of life after death.

Purchase from Amazon: Test the Shroud by Mark Antonacci

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Kiyoshi Shimada: The Essence of Buddha by Ryuho Okawa of Happy Science

Kiyoshi "Keith" Shimada talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about Master Ryuho Okawa’s book, The Essence of Buddha: The Path to Enlightenment.



“You are using only ten percent of your total energy.” ~Kiyoshi "Keith" Shimada 

Keith has been involved with the Happy Science movement since 2003, and is presently involved with its North American operations. Happy Science itself, which was founded in 1986, originated in Japan but now has a presence in over a hundred countries around the world, and Master Ryuho Okawa, its founder, has published over two thousand books and has given two thousand five hundred lectures to date, based on teachings from such figures as Jesus, Moses as well as other teachers.

The Essence of Buddha is essentially a guidebook on Buddhism, not only giving an introduction to Buddhism but also covers various topics related to Buddhism. The individual who is presently known as the Buddha was born Siddharta Gautama, originally from a place in what is present-day Nepal some 2,600 years ago. He traveled to present-day India where he made his teachings well-known after forty years of travel, and his teachings then spread throughout the world. Although there are presently two different forms of Buddhism - Mahayana Buddhism, which is practiced in Japan, China and Korea, and which has reincarnation as one of its tenets; and Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced in Sri Lanka, Thailand and India, whose followers follow exactly what the Buddha taught, and which doesn’t have reincarnation as one of its tenets - there are also various sects within these two branches.

One of the concepts covered is the Eightfold Path, which consists of:


  • Right view - how one sees things
  • Right thoughts - what one thinks
  • Right speech - what one says
  • Right action - what one does
  • Right livelihood - what kind of work one does
  • Right effort - how much effort one makes
  • Right mindfulness - what one thinks inside, as well as how one lives one’s life
  • Right concentration - this is essentially about meditation.


Keith pointed out that the Eightfold Path is related more about focus on thoughts, and that meditation is a key aspect of enabling one to live one’s life. During meditation, one must reflect on what one did and thought on things done in the past to guide oneself back to that right path, and Keith points out that one doesn’t have to be a monk to do so, as five to fifteen minutes of reflection are sufficient for the average person.

Enlightenment, according to Keith, is based on one’s purpose in one’s life. The belief is that people reincarnate and, when they return to the earth, they choose where and when to be born and who their parents will be as well as what their gender and their occupation will be. A goal is set for that person, and overcoming the hardships experienced during one’s life gives one wisdom, which is what enlightenment is all about. Keith points out that the specifics of enlightenment differ from person to person, but that the effects are the same, giving the analogy of climbing a mountain: there are many paths to the summit, but the end objective, the summit, will be the same, regardless of path taken and the challenges encountered.

The Six Parameters are focused on the actions one takes during one’s life, and these are:


  • Perfection of offering - does one love people, through one’s actions? Did you do something to help another?
  • Perfection of observing the precepts - being strict / disciplined on oneself; did you do what you said you would do today?
  • Perfection of perseverance - be mindful of time; don’t rush
  • Perfection of effort - is the effort one makes everyday correct or not?
  • Perfection of meditation - did one meditate?
  • Perfection of wisdom - essentially enlightenment


Keith also mentioned some other tenets of Buddhism - causality and the void - which weren’t covered in the interview, but which are covered in The Essence of Buddha, along with others.

Keith remarked that people don’t use ninety percent of their energy, which is wasted, and that applying the tenets of Buddhism can enable one to access this unused ninety percent of energy, enabling one to improve oneself, expand one’s influence and empower others.

Purchase from Amazon: The Essence of Buddha: The Path to Enlightenment by Master Ryuho Okawa.