Sunday, May 19, 2019

Dr. David A. Salomon on The Seven Deadly Sins and Their Influence in Society from the Middle Ages to the Modern World

In this interview, Dr. David A. Salomon talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, The Seven Deadly Sins: How Sin Influenced the West from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era.



“Our buying into anything that is technological and fast has gotten in the way of our ability to engage in reflection and contemplation, which are important parts of human existence.” ~Dr. David A. Salomon

As a Jewish child, sin was more of a generic concept than anything else, as it was part and parcel of his religious education. It was only when he was in college that he encountered the “seven deadly sins,” and he delved into it as part of his work on doing research on Christianity and religion, particularly in the Middle Ages and the English renaissance. He is presently involved in a research project comparing the concept of “the self” as proposed by St. Augustine in comparison with that same concept as proposed by Carl Jung, noting that, starting from around the 20th century, people have shifted from looking at sin as a religious concept to looking at it from a more secular concept.

The Seven Deadly Sins sprang from a year of research and another year of writing it out. Dr. Salomon originally didn’t intend to write the book, but the seed of the book began when the editor of a previous book he had written gave him a list of subjects for possible books that they were looking for. One of the subjects was a history of sin, and while Dr. Salomon originally said “no,” he changed his mind after re-reading a scene of St. Augustine’s Confessions.

The “Seven Deadly Sins” was actually codified, as a concept, by Pope Gregory the Great in the 4th century and was based on previous lists of sins which go back centuries before. The seven deadly sins are (in no particular order):

  1. Pride - thinking that one is bigger than one actually is
  2. Lust - excess desire
  3. Anger - excessive feelings of anger
  4. Avarice - greed
  5. Envy - (like wanting a possession of someone else)
  6. Gluttony - excess eating
  7. Sloth - laziness

Dr. Salomon points out that the seven deadly sins are actually excessive behaviors, such as gluttony being excessive eating and drinking, as people do need to eat and drink to survive. He remarks that the definitions of the sins haven’t changed, but the context by which people regard these. Dr. Salomon points out the sin of gluttony in the context of excessive input of anything into one’s body, which would include being overloaded with data and being glued to electronics for a great amount of time.

The impact of the list being put together, according to Dr. Salomon, was that the Roman Catholic Church was able to use the sins as a way to control people’s behavior. It was only during the Reformation and after the Renaissance, with the invention of the printing press which made the Bible available to a larger audience, rather than merely to members of the Church, that people began to make decisions for themselves, based on what they had read. This has moved the conversation of responsibility for behavior to the individual, which became the norm in the 20th century.

Dr. Salomon remarks that, under the present context, the sins can be viewed from a spiritual, rather than a religious, sense, so that an individual can take sin into consideration without necessarily belonging to a religion. This movement is more prevalent in the Western world than anywhere else, and stands in stark contrast to the way sin was viewed as a “black and white” issue in the Middle Ages. This opens up the context of individual interpretation, which Dr. Salomon remarks could be potentially dangerous in society, and has created an atmosphere where assessing what is right and what is wrong is more difficult.

Dr. Salomon notes that there is presently a split in attitudes where the Western and Eastern cultures are concerned. Western people look externally for assessment and approval, as can be seen by the concept in Christianity, Judaism and Islam as looking to God as an external force. Eastern people have more of a sense that God resides within an individual, which leads to reflection about one’s own behavior rather than looking to an external standard. He notes that Eastern traditions do have their own lists of sins which are different from the seven deadly sins, and that these are looked at differently compared to how sin is regarded in Western traditions.

Dr. Salomon notes that a lot of Westerners might believe in the concept of sin, but they can’t really define what sin is, as it has become more personal and less communal. Sin, Dr. Salomon noted, was originally about committing an act which was a violation of the covenant made between God and man, and that that developed into a violation of a covenant made amongst people where acceptable behavior is concerned. He notes that actually writing out a full history of sin would take more books, and that nowadays, behavior is being re-categorized, with the example given being the #MeToo movement.

For Dr. Salomon, the impact that technology is having on sinful behavior was one of the most interesting aspects he encountered while writing the book, and he includes references to how technology negatively influences people’s lives. According to him, technology is presently getting the way of our humanity and of how we relate to each other, which he believes Gregory would include as a sin if the kind of technology presently available was present during his day.

Purchase from Amazon: 
The Seven Deadly Sins: How Sin Influenced the West from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era by Dr. David A. Salomon

Friday, May 10, 2019

Isaac Prilleltensky on the Science Behind Laughter for Change, a Better Life, and Well-Being

In this interview, Isaac Prilleltensky talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his The Laughing Guide book series written with Ora Prilleltensky.



“Learning is an active endeavor.” ~Isaac Prilleltensky

Isaac Prilleltensky is presently the Vice-Provost for Institutional Culture at the University of Miami, and he took a sabbatical between assuming his present position and his previous position, the Dean of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami, to write out the Laughing Guide series with his wife, Ora Prilleltensky. His involvement with, and use of, humor has evolved over the course of time, developing from when he was asked to write speeches for certain celebrations to when he began using humor in his own profession. He and his wife, began a humor-based online research project to help people become happier and healthier. It was then that he began writing funny short stories and began having these published in newspapers and magazines, and it was from then that the trilogy series developed.

The series combines humor with science and aims to enable people to have healthier and happier lives. The book sprang from Isaac’s realization that he most likely had enough original material for a book, which he and his wife (whom he refers to as his “secret weapon,” because of she not only is a psychologist - one whom Isaac admits is probably better than he is - but is also “super knowledgeable”) wrote out. The publisher who reviewed the initial book said that it needed to be split into two, which they did, and it was while they were working on the second book that Isaac realized that the second book was getting too big, so he split that book into two, resulting in the present trilogy.

The books’ approach is a mix of humor and science, and Isaac points out that people learn better when they do so in an environment where humor is present, as they become more creative, their defenses are lowered and they solve problems better. Isaac points to the substantial body of research on positive emotions - which is what humor falls under - which indicates that positive emotions create a positive spiral of positivity. The lack of feeling defensive helps out, as people who are so involved don’t need to worry about coming across as inferior, thus freeing up mental energy; and the freer one feels, the smarter one becomes, creating connections amongst things that one would have not made in another environment. Laughter also releases endorphins, which means that humor links the psychological with the physiological.

Isaac also points out research which indicates that the best way to learn is to be open-minded - broadening one’s horizons - which requires one to suspend judgement on the way the world is, which removes one’s own biases and enables one to see things differently. He also notes research where humor can reduce the intensity of pain felt by individuals as well as their allergic reactions, as laughter boosts the immune system. He remarks on the active components which members and participants in laughing groups get, namely:
  1. positive emotions;
  2. positive physiological reactions induced by laughter, as laughing is a form of physical exercise; and
  3. the social element of creating affiliative bonds - a social glue that binds people together.
Isaac remarks that a precondition for doing such things as doing one’s work well or for reaching higher levels of excellence is psychological safety.  Research conducted on psychological safety in organizations indicates that, in organizations where people feel afraid or threatened interpersonally, organizations don’t function as well as an organization where psychological safety is present. He then points out that the best way for kids to learn is in a classroom where psychological safety is present, an environment where they can have fun and learn through active engagement by problem solving, rather than rote, threats and punishment. (Learning quote)

Change, Isaac remarks, isn’t always drastic, dramatic or traumatic, but can be doable, gradual and feasible. He advocates the “small win” strategy, where one breaks down one’s ultimate goal into small goals they can feel good about and which are achievable, and he notes that this is just one of several scientific-based methods for managing change. Another method is to anticipate barriers and create backup plans, as a way to implement what one intends, and gives an example in his life where he and his wife reduced their sugar and meat intake. As a summary, Isaac remarks that change is doable when it is done gradually, when barriers are anticipated, to reinforce new behaviors and to get social support from the people around oneself. “Change is a team effort,” he adds, and notes that change can be accomplished if it is demystified, so that it is doable, viable and gradual.

Isaac notes that humor is one tool for one to look at one’s present life, and that, if one can laugh at oneself, then that is the first step in changing oneself, so that one can then explore what is and what isn’t going well in one’s life. Creating a better life, Isaac says, starts with examining one’s life, one’s relationships and one’s surroundings, as the environment one lives in, and the people around oneself are vital to creating the better life one desires. “The environment, the people around us,” he notes, “can make us exceedingly happy or thoroughly miserable.”

Where the books are concerned, Isaac notes that these enable readers to explore various ways to lead happy and healthy lives, as there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to living a happy life, since different people have different desires. He also recommends that people become good listeners as, by doing so, one can create long-term positive relationships.

Purchase from Amazon: The Laughing Guide book series by Isaac Prilleltensky.

The Laughing Guide to Well-Being: Using Humor and Science to Become Happier and Healthier

The Laughing Guide to Change: Using Humor and Science to Master Your Behavior, Emotions, and Thoughts

The Laughing Guide to a Better Life: Using Humor and Science to Improve Yourself, Your Relationships and Your Surroundings


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Gerald Robinson on the Politics of Promise and Reform Inside and Beyond America’s Prisons | Education for Liberation

In this interview, Gerald Robinson talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book,  Education for Liberation: The Politics of Promise and Reform Inside and Beyond America’s Prisons.



“Identify a program in your community that has an open-arms approach to people like you.” ~Gerald Robinson

The Center for Advancing Opportunity is a research initiative based in Washington, D.C., which was created to identify various avenues to strengthen people’s educational knowledge and entrepreneurship, as well as investing money in scholars to create a solution to why so many people do not graduate high school on time or, if they do, they need remediation.

On a personal level, Gerald’s involvement with the justice system began in the mid-1980s, when he involved himself with young men who were at risk of going to jail. The genesis of the book began with the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, when Gerald connected with colleagues, one of whom became the co-editor of Education for Liberation, and spoke to them about criminal justice reform not being a partisan issue. The book sprang from an effort to reach out to people in all walks of life, including people who were incarcerated, correctional officers, people who work in think tanks, entrepreneurs and scholars, with the book thus springing out of the research and conversations so conducted.

Gerald notes that writing a book is a labor of love, and for him it was a matter of finding the right people to essentially write out the various chapters. The book focuses on the role of education in the criminal justice system, and that those who have taken education while incarcerated took up adult basic education, adult secondary education, vocational training and post-secondary courses. The second issue the book speaks of is the reintegration of formerly incarcerated people in society, and the third is essentially the point that education matters.

Gerald notes that 2.3 million Americans are presently incarcerated, most of whom are in state prisons, most of whom did not finish high school and 95% of whom will eventually leave prison. The attitude of individual states differ, with some states making those who are incarcerated and who do not have a high school diploma enter educational courses so they could get their high school diploma. Gerald notes that there are some 650,000 people who are released from incarceration every year, so the question is how these people will be reintegrated into society. He also notes that the United States imprisons more people, per capita, than any other nation in the Western world and cites that less transparent nations, such as China, could very well have a greater rate of imprisonment, but this isn’t officially recorded.

As an example of the kind of challenges former prisoners face when re-integrating into society, Gerald gives the example of someone who was released after 26 years. The individual has a government ID who received $200 - enough money to leave the prison and go to a transition house - and Gerald notes that the sum given can be higher or lower than that. Once at a transition house, the individual needs to find a job, and some states and counties have such transitional housing, while others do not. Transitional housing can also be offered by non-profit organizations or communities, and some organizations, such as those experienced by an author of a chapter of the book, help people not only find jobs but also offer a daily paycheck. Reconnecting with family is also another challenge, and Gerald gives the example of incarcerated women who have not seen their children for years.

Gerald refers to ex-prisoners being branded with “the scarlet letter F,” for “felon,” and gave the example of a former prisoner who, although presently a successful entrepreneur, found it difficult to get his business started once people realized he was a felon. Gerald acknowledges the Pavlovian response of backing away from someone whom one suddenly realizes was a felon is natural and needs to be worked through, and notes that, for such serious crimes as rape, drug dependency, elderly abuse and child molestation, there are limitations to the kind of jobs that former felons can apply for.

According to Gerald, ongoing studies indicate that around four dollars are returned to society for every dollar spent on educating incarcerated people, and that the rate of people being re-imprisoned is only around 7%, compared to “double digits” for state and national figures for those who didn’t receive such education. Other studies indicate that education does have an impact on the lives of those incarcerated, such as bringing up the individual’s sense of self-worth, as well as on society in general, and Gerald also brings up the rigor and methodology of the studies undertaken, which he notes can also be improved to come up with better solutions and implementation. He also notes that, for the correctional officers, there is an increased factor of safety, as there is a decrease in the number of those referred to such correctional methods as isolation when an educational program is implemented.

Gerald notes that the questions that also needs to be posed are “when,” “how” and “why,” because educational programs don’t result in 100% success, with some people still undertaking violent activity even while taking up an educational program. He notes that internal and external variables also come into play and notes that more can be done, pointing out a law that has affected federal prisons, whereas most prisoners aren’t in federal facilities. Gerald also remarks that the present conversation about the role of prisons in American society is moving away from punitive punishment towards rehabilitating those who are incarcerated. He also remarks that there should be more coordination so that those who have been released from prison should know where to go once they are released, and that those who help such individuals should be the ones to make the first move to ensure that former felons get the support they need.

Gerald notes that his support for education within the prison system is the same as his support for education for all human beings. He also remarks that his support for education for incarcerated individuals doesn’t mean he supports taking money away from those who aren’t, and that those who have been victimized likewise deserve “a place at the table” when speaking on the issue of education in prisons.

Purchase from Amazon:  Education for Liberation: The Politics of Promise and Reform Inside and Beyond America’s Prisons by Gerald Robinson

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Betsy Muller on How to Give Yourself an Energy Makeover for Youth, Fun, and to Get Things Done with EFT

In this interview, Betsy Muller talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Energy Makeover: A Conscious Way to Stay Young, Have Fun and Get More Done!.



“When I think of energy healing, I think of making a connection with another person or a group of people.” ~Betsy Muller

Betsy has been an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner for nearly two decades and is presently an EFT trainer. EFT is a form of energy psychology which uses aspects of both Western and Eastern medicine, the latter in particular with its use of “tapping points,” which correspond to acupressure points. EFT is used to manage upsetting emotions as well as upsetting past memories by bringing these to the fore and giving people the tools to deactivate the stress responses triggered by such. Tapping on the acupressure points, instead of acupuncture pins, is part of EFT’s methodology, while, at the same time, using traditional talk therapy.

Energy Makeover, as well as Betsy’s involvement in EFT, stemmed from her own curiosity, concerns and fears about ageing, which included how to make ageing more comfortable. Her journey into energy psychology made her realize the possibilities available, which was why she eventually decided to share it in book form. Her busy schedule played a part in this, as she is now involved in training other EFT practitioners, which cuts into the time she can spend with clients, and as she, herself, mentioned, she loves to give things away if she thinks these can help other people. She wrote it as a conversation, so that it is one which people would find approachable - so much so that, Betty remarks, even if one is wheelchair-bound, one will be able to pick up some things which could help one’s life. She also notes that people don’t have to read the entire book; if all that is needed is one chapter, then that’s fine.

Betsy also has a follow-up book due out in June, 2019, called The Comeback, which is a memoir which uses a lot of the concepts noted in Energy Makeover. The memoir focuses on her husband’s suffering from a serious illness which caused his brain to go without oxygen for a long time, with the doctors resorting to putting him in a coma to help treat him, as well as of her own experiences in using EFT and the exercises noted in Energy Makeover to handle the situation.

Betsy notes that there is a physical component to stress, and that EFT works with human biology, by allowing the amygdala to create a stress response while simultaneously tapping on particular points on the body to relax said stress response. She also remarks that the human endocrine system - the one which triggers the “flight or fight” response - affects the hormones which keep humans young, and that moving one’s body helps keep one young.

Energy, as Betsy explains, is essentially charged power which not only powers electrical appliances but which also affects people, giving as an example the power of love. This rapport, she also notes, enables information to be exchanged amongst those connected, and this exchange is particularly useful in EFT sessions.

Betsy includes, in her book, the five exercises which Tibetan monks use to keep their hair from getting gray, their core tight and their spine aligned over the years, as well as some exercises used by Donna Eden, the founder of the Eden Method, who also works by using energy medicine. According to her, exercising five to ten minutes a day, every day, should be sufficient for everyday use, although this time will increase if there is a major event which takes place. Journaling is also a technique that Betsy recommends noting that words are part of how we human beings process an experience, whether those words are spoken or written down. She also remarks that it is important to take in water, as water helps energy move within one’s body.

Purchase from Amazon: Energy Makeover: A Conscious Way to Stay Young, Have Fun and Get More Done! by Betsy Muller

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Michael Wall (PhD) on His Book about Aliens, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel

In this interview, Dr. Michael Wall talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, OUT THERE: A Scientific Guide to Alien Life, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel (for the Cosmically Curious).



“Space is really, really big.” ~Dr. Michael Wall

Mike had always wanted to write a book, and working with space.com gave him an opportunity to have a front-row seat to the present endeavors of space exploration. As he remarks, we are presently gathering data and conducting actual explorations which would enable us human beings to get a better idea of what might be out beyond the Earth, rather than just letting our imaginations give us those ideas. Mike points out that some of the richest men on Earth are funding efforts to create sustainable manned space travel, such as Elon Musk wanting to create a human colony on Mars.

Mike admits that he got interested in what was out there during the camping trips he took as a kid, when he could see the stars in a dark night sky, and he relates that, with all the stars in the galaxies of the universe, there is likely to be life beyond the Earth.

Where the image of Powehi, the black hole photographed in M87 in April 2019, is concerned, Mike remarks that the visible part of the image is the boundary of the event horizon, as not even light can escape a black hole’s gravitational pull. The silhouette of the black hole is the fuzzy darkness in the middle of the circle of light, and given that it took light from Powehi 55 million years to get to the Earth, it’s not surprising that the image is, as a lot have complained, fuzzy. Mike notes that scientific theories on relativity and on black holes can now be tested using Powehi, and that Einstein’s theories on gravity and general relativity are proven correct.

The most likely form of life humans would run across, Mike opines, would be single-celled, microbial in nature as, based on our own history, microbes have existed alone on Earth for some three billion years before multicellular life appeared. Mike notes that this apparently indicates that there is a hurdle between microbial and multicellular life, which means that multicellular life, while possible, would likely be rarer than microbial life.

Mike notes that it is possible for highly technological civilizations might exist, but we humans would need to overlap in time with the other civilization we would like to get in touch with. It is also likewise possible that a technological civilization does exist, but the vastness of space means that two technological civilizations connecting with each other would be challenging.

Life on other worlds does not necessary have to rely on the same kind of chemistry of life on Earth, but Mike notes that carbon is commonplace throughout the universe and works well with liquid water, which is why carbon-water based life is probably the most common kind of life in the universe. That said, silicon has similar chemical properties as carbon, which means that silicon-based life forms might exist. Mike also notes that there are presently unproven, but presently possible, theories that life on Earth could have started by organic substances which were brought to the Earth by the rocks and dust that fell to it (panspermia).

At present, human space travel is on “an upward trend,” according to Mike, due mainly to privately funded efforts, rather than efforts funded by the United States government, which are at the mercy of political whims. Propulsion for space travel will, for the next decade or two, be based on rockets, and Mike notes that some other possibilities to get up to high speeds for interstellar travel would be engines powered by fusion reactions as well as by energy sails which would get energy from either the sun or an Earth-based laser.

Antimatter is essentially a “bizarre version” of the matter we humans are used to, like positrons, which are positively charged particles which have the same mass as electrons, and are thus the antimatter equivalent of an electron. When an antimatter particle meets its matter counterpart, an explosion takes place, releasing energy in a 100% conversion from mass to energy. This makes for a powerful energy source, but large amounts of antimatter are difficult to create, and the antimatter itself has to be trapped in a magnetic field so that it can’t touch any matter.

Multiple universes can exist, and Mike notes that most theoretical physicists believe that these do exist, with our own universe just being one of these. The other universes also do not have to look like ours, as they can exist with more dimensions than we are used to, and universes where magic is more prevalent than physics can likewise be possible. Where our own universe is concerned, Mike points out that present theories of the universe, based on our observations, indicate that the universe is likely to be infinite; and if our own universe is infinite, so, too, might those other, alternate universes. An infinite universe also presumes that whatever one can think up can come into being, such as an imaginary creature, and that there could also be alternate versions of everyone who has existed on earth, although these would exist far away; and the possibilities increase with multiple universes.

Where the universe’s final end is concerned, based on present observation, there isn’t enough mass in the universe to slow down the present state of acceleration that is being observed; indeed, the universe is still expanding, according to such observations. Without the necessary mass to slow the expansion of the universe, matter will eventually tear apart until only subatomic particles will exist in an environment that is near absolute zero.

Mike hopes OUT THERE gets across to people the sense that something big is happening in science and exploration, and he hopes that people can connect with the wonder and the energy that is present in today’s space exploration efforts. He believes that it will take ten to fifteen years before we can get answers to some of the questions we have been asking for a long time now.

Purchase from Amazon: OUT THERE: A Scientific Guide to Alien Life, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel (for the Cosmically Curious) by Dr. Michael Wall



Sunday, April 14, 2019

Kimberly Friedmutter on Using Your Inner Subconscious Mind to Create the Ideal Life for Yourself

In this interview, Kimberly Friedmutter talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Subconscious Power: Use Your Inner Mind to Create the Life You've Always Wanted.



“Life doesn’t have to be this battle, so we don’t have to make it one. We have everything we need, in our own mind.” ~Kimberly Friedmutter

Kimberly had been asked to write Subconscious Power from someone who had heard about her, and Kimberly decided to do just that, as the six core principles she espouses in her book are easy and actionable, as these were the ones her clients most responded to over the years of her practice.

Where hypnotism is concerned, Kimberly, herself, has been a subject of such, in pursuit of self-improvement, for years before she created her practice.

The subconscious, according to Kimberly, is one of the two parts of mind, the other being the conscious, which is the critical thinker that plans things out. The subconscious is the part of the mind that runs the body’s systems as well as the intuitive and instinctive aspects, and Kimberly describes it as a “hard drive” which, when corrupted, gives rise to such behavior as addictive behavior. The subconscious, Kimberly notes, is active even when people are awake, and shows up with an unconscious prodding or some unprovable instinct comes up.

Kimberly points out that there is a broader knowledge about all human beings and that we are all energy – something which is now coming out now in a new light, even though it has been around since ancient times.

Hypnosis, according to Kimberly, is similar to meditation, except that, where meditation focuses the individual to focus on something, hypnosis is where an individual thinks of nothing. Hypnosis is a very relaxed state of being, and Kimberly gives several daily examples of these.

The subconscious holds the greatness within all of us, Kimberly believes, comparing it to an eight-year-old child “who knows everything” and who isn’t afraid to say what he or she thinks. This greatness is un-taught over the years by such things as social expectations and insecurities, and it is these which corrupt the “hard drive” that is our subconscious. Hypnotism works by overwriting the corrupted part of the “hard drive” and giving it new direction to create the kind of life one wants, so that one once again reconnects with one’s own eight-year-old self and its greatness. The subconscious is also a powerful resource, and Kimberly emphasizes that using it is our “divine right.”


The six principles Kimberly espouses are:

  1. Come into accountability – know where, who and how you are.
  2. Tap into the subconscious.
  3. Do you move toward or away? Are you someone who moves away from the things you dislike, or someone who moves towards the things you like?
  4. Judge thyself and thy neighbor – being ecological with oneself and moving with momentum with others.
  5. Give to get – energetic systems are symbiotic, so one must first give before getting.
  6. Playing big – getting into action with the things that allow oneself to progress.


Kimberly calls “drought” as when one perceives lack in some way, and these come in three forms:

  1. Passive drought – something along the lines of a fender-bender or a bad hair day.
  2. Lingering drought – a change in one’s life, such as a death in the family or a change in jobs; something which throws one off for a few months.
  3. Habitual drought – a longer-lasting thing where one just cannot seem to get out of one’s own way.


One of the examples Kimberly gives is about finding something that was lost. She notes that frantically focusing on finding it should be replaced with one’s sense of how one feels about and connects with it.

Purchase from Amazon: Subconscious Power: Use Your Inner Mind to Create the Life You've Always Wanted by Kimberly Friedmutter

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Lydia Fenet on The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You | Success in Sales

Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You: Command an Audience and Sell Your Way to Success.



“Emotion needs to be taken out of business and negotiation.” ~Lydia Fenet

Lydia began thinking about writing a book for a few years before a reporter from a magazine followed her around to do a “day in your life” piece. At the end of that day, after the reporter asked her what she did when she got home, she replied that she either read books or worked on a book that she was writing. It was after reading the reporter’s transcript that Lydia realized that she should either go ahead and write the book or stop talking about it, as she had been talking about it for some time. She thus wrote a proposal and sent it to an agent, who posted the proposal on the day that the “day in your life” piece was published. Lydia sold her book to Simon and Schuster a week later, and as she was given three months to write it, she “dug deep” and did so.

The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You may be part memoir and part life lessons drawn from her decades of experience, but Lydia notes that it is meant for everyone, pointing out that she had male friends who read it and remarked that they were able to pick things up from it that they could use in their lives. Lydia remarks that the book is essentially all about finding confidence in one’s voice (which helps a lot in selling), and also adds that, while she had, as part of her job as an auctioneer doing 70 - 100 auctions a year, found her voice onstage, she wasn’t applying those principles to her everyday life. She notes that being with a company for twenty years enabled her to chart her growth, as the company was the main constant in that time.

Lydia remarks that women may have the skills to succeed at selling whatever it is they want to sell, be it an idea or a proposal, but that rejection and fear inhibit them from doing so. She notes that negotiation is not about being liked, and that emotion and business negotiation are two entirely different things. Lydia noted that, in her own family, she, her mother and her sister had difficulty negotiating, whereas her brothers and father did so easily. Lydia encourages practicing negotiation in her own team by allowing them to ask for better pay, pointing out to them that, while they might not get it, the effort is good practice where getting over the fear of asking is concerned.

Telling the truth is very important where sales is concerned, according to Lydia, and to illustrate this, she told a story of a place she rented for her husband’s birthday, one which she thought was well-appointed but which turned out to be more like “the set of a horror movie.” She points out that, if she sold something that she was untruthful about to someone, that person will have told all of her friends about it, and she wouldn’t be able to get a sale from either that person or her friends again, and that nobody would believe a word she said. Lydia notes a sales equation that, if someone has had a good experience, they will tell one person, and if that person has had a bad experience, they will tell nine people.

Sales is all about listening, Lydia points out, remarking that: “The truly good salesperson is the person who sits back and takes note of what the other person is saying, and then weaves their sales pitch into what that person is saying.” Sales is thus a two-way conversation, and where things that are difficult to sell are concerned, Lydia recommends that a salesperson has to figure out what is being sold, who that item is being sold to, what would appeal to the person being sold to and be truthful about any pitfalls to what is being sold. Doing so helps create a good reputation for the salesperson, which could lead to future sales. “Think of the long game in sales,” Lydia advises. “You want to be in the picture, time and time again.”

Authenticity is also important, according to Lydia, and she told of how she learned of this when she finally, after spending a lot of time emulating some of the more successful, British, male auctioneers, conducted an auction just as herself, as she was then sick and too tired to emulate anyone else. Authenticity enables people to engage others, and Lydia advises that people think about what there is in one’s personality that others would be drawn to, giving the example that people who love humor can use jokes effectively to engage others.

The “strike method” is Lydia’s term which she named after the sound of a gavel hitting a table, which attracted people’s attention. In practice, after she hits the gavel at an evening party, Lydia has thirty seconds to say something which would engage her audience, most of whom don’t know that an auction will happen at that event. The application to this is when salespeople pause before starting a sale, then having their first line ready to go, to catch the attention of the other people in the room to engage them right from the start.

Where scripting is concerned, Lydia notes that being authentic needs to be brought into this, whenever possible. She recommends that people do research on the people they will be dealing with, giving the example of being able to converse with a potential client for two hours by simply talking about their grandchildren. Failure, as far as Lydia is concerned, is exercise: “The more you do it, the better you get.” She acknowledges that it’s not always pleasant, but that one is better because of it – and the same likewise goes for rejection, pointing out that, if one fails or gets rejected often enough, the time will come when one doesn’t care about getting a “no,” one can then ask for anything. She also notes that a lot of people are willing to help and need only to be asked to do so.

For Lydia, one of her biggest takeaways when writing The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You was that no one can advocate for oneself other than oneself. “Stop looking around for everybody else to tell you what you want to do and what you already know that you can do,” she remarks.

Purchase from Amazon: The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You: Command an Audience and Sell Your Way to Success by Lydia Fenet




Monday, April 1, 2019

Howell W Woltz and The Lawyers Guild | US Pres. Donald Trump in a Timely Political Novel

In this interview, Howell Woltz talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his novel, The Lawyers Guild.



“You can’t obstruct justice when there isn’t a crime of reality to be investigated.” ~Howell Woltz

Howell figured that writing a true story about real experiences and the cases he has worked on would “cause a lot of yawns,” so he decided to package these all into a novel to create an entertaining and informative story. Doing so created its own challenges, as Howell wanted the facts within the novel to stand up to scrutiny while still keeping being able to keep a reader’s attention.

The only character who isn’t based on a real person, according to Howell, is Professor Quinlan, who is a character that Howell admits he could be, while everyone else is a person who lives in real life, albeit with some names altered. He also remarks that the stories about said people are real, as are the essential facts which are noted in the novel. One such figure is that of 7.3 million Americans either in prison or on parole or probation and some 71 million (as of 2010) who have been convicted of a crime. This, combined with a University of Columbia study which showed that 73% of those convicted of capital crimes are actually innocent. Howell noted that most of those who have been labeled as convicted felons, whom he met, are either “blacks or brown,” and he opines that this was done essentially to disenfranchise unwanted groups, as convicted felons cannot vote.

Howell remarks that, based on his research, the Progressives began making inroads into the American government in 1913, with President Woodrow Wilson, who was a self-admitted Progressive. It was during President Wilson’s tenure that the Federal Reserve, which is a private bank, was created so his backers could essentially gain control of the economy, as it is this institution which prints America’s currency, as well as when the 17th Amendment was passed, when the representation of states in Congress was eliminated, allowing power to flow into a centralized government. He notes that it took the Progressives may not be large, but they are a powerful cabal, and it took them fifty years before they sold their own narrative to the American public.

Where the depiction of the President in the novel is concerned, Howell admits to his being “imperfect,” comparing him to John F. Kennedy, someone whom Howell calls a “true Conservative” and who had the interests of the nation at heart. Both Presidents remind Howell of King David in the Bible, a man who had hundreds of wives and concubines and who sent a soldier out to get killed in battle so he could have that soldier’s wife, but whose psalms are still begin sung and who was “revered for the good things he did.” Howell admits that he hasn’t met such other people mentioned in the novel, such as Julian Assange and George Soros, but he has done his research on those individuals’ backgrounds and histories, which he has thus included in the novel.

At the end of the novel, the United States returns to the Constitution, and all such past decrees which are not aligned with it are negated. While the federal organizations created by such decrees will be dissolved, Howell believes that there will be no change where the safety and security of the average American is concerned. Howell notes that everything that affects the people’s lives is a matter of the state, which is where true power should lie in the first place, and believes that the dissolution of such agencies will benefit America, as these organizations are involved with the Progressive agenda to break the law and the rights of the average person.

Where the Mueller report (a summary of which was released by Attorney General Barr a few days before this interview was conducted) is concerned, Howell notes that the man himself, Mueller, allowed FBI informant and criminal “Whitey” Bulger to murder sixteen people while he was an informant, and remarks that Bulger likely stayed free for thirteen years thanks to Mueller’s influence. Howell notes that Mueller’s initial investigation was into collusion with Russia, but then morphed into a case of obstruction of justice for firing the head of the FBI, even though the head of the Department of Justice had recommended it and Democratic Congressmen had asked the President to do just that, when Mueller apparently didn’t find evidence of such collusion.

Where the press is concerned, Howell noted that 82% of the world’s media is controlled by a few Progressives, and that the news brought out by these media outlets apparently follows the methodology of a program created by the CIA, called the Mockingbird, where the same terms and talking points are used by different groups. He thus remarks that people shouldn’t just accept the news at face value but should, themselves, dig deeper to get at the truth.

Purchase from Amazon: The Lawyers Guild by Howell W. Woltz

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Howard M. Wasserman on His Infield Fly Rule Is in Effect Book for Baseball Fans and Lawyers

In this interview, Howard M. Wasserman talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, Infield Fly Rule Is in Effect: The History and Strategy of Baseball's Most (In)Famous Rule.



“The study of law is the study of rules.” ~Howard M. Wasserman

Howard has always been a big baseball fan and has had a fascination with the rules of baseball and with the infield fly rule in particular. Howard’s interest in the infield fly rule was sparked during the National League Wild Card Game in 2012, when the calling of the rule proved to be controversial. For Howard, this was one example of how sports could be used as an analogy for legal rules and principles, and he notes that judges and lawyers use sports analogies in the course of their work. Baseball, Howard notes, is a game where there is a rule present for just about everything that happens, as well as the game being slow enough for people to see what happens and why the rule should or shouldn’t be applied. He also notes that a British lawyer would likely use a soccer analogy rather than a baseball analogy, as that sport is more popular in Great Britain.

Howard explains that the infield fly rule was created originally, in the 1890s, with sportsmanship in mind and was created for a particular situation, where there are runners already present on at least first and second bases, a fly ball his hit and the infielder who could catch it doesn’t need to exert any particular effort to catch it, such as running a long distance in order to get the ball. The infield fly rule states that, whether or not the fly ball is so caught by the infielder, it is treated as already having been caught by that infielder, which would mean that the batter would be called out. The purpose of the rule is to prevent the defensive team from getting what would essentially be easy outs of multiple runners on bases, as if the ball isn’t caught, deliberately or otherwise, the defending team’s infielder could easily pick the ball up and throw it to his teammates, who can then take out two or three of the offensive team’s runners, since the runners will be forced to advance to the next base if the batter does advance to first base.

The genesis of the book came about during the aforementioned 2012 game, after which Howard then researched into the infield fly rule to see why its existence can be justified, which included an exploration of the exact situation when the rule should be applied. He remarks that there is some misunderstanding about when the infield fly rule should be invoked, noting that, in some cases, this was invoked when an outfielder caught the ball or, as in the case of the 2012 wild card game, the infielder was already in the outfield when the ball was in flight. He remarks that the call in the 2012 game sprang from the interpretation of the rule, where the situation fit the text of the rule but didn’t fit the situation that existed at the time, based on the original purpose of the rule - something which, is also present in the practice of law. That said, Howard notes that deception has always been part and parcel of what baseball is about, but the infield fly rule is thus intended to neutralize the defending team’s ability to create a play which has only benefits to them, and which has only costs for the offensive team.

The infield fly rule is well-known because it is a named rule, and Howard remarks that the nearest parallel rule in another sport is the offside rule in soccer. He also remarks that one of the fascinations of baseball for lawyers and judges is that law can be explored through the rules that rule baseball, as the study of law is essentially the study of rules, and that the rules society runs by are, just as in sports, intended to enable things to run smoothly.

Purchase from Amazon: Infield Fly Rule Is in Effect: The History and Strategy of Baseball's Most (In)Famous Rule by Howard M. Wasserman

Monday, March 18, 2019

John E. Dowling on Vision: How It Works and What Can Go Wrong | Blindness Prevention

In this interview, John E. Dowling talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, co-authored with Joseph L. Dowling, Jr., Vision: How It Works and What Can Go Wrong.


“Do everything you can to protect your eyes.” ~John E. Dowling

John has been studying the retina of the eye for five decades now, while his brother, Joseph, is an opthalmologist. John has been interested in understanding the retina, which includes knowing the functions of all the various cells related to vision. He and his brother attended a seminar called “An Initiative in Vision Science,” which was all about understanding the causes and better treating eye diseases. It was over the course over the next decade, when he conducted workshops with clinicians, he realized that clinicians are not up-to-date on the latest scientific findings and that scientists, like John himself, are not aware of the major eye disease and what needs to be done about these. John then joined forces with his brother, Joseph, to create a book which is understandable by laypeople and which can bridge the gap between clinicians and scientists.

Vision, John testifies, is very important to human beings, so much so that going blind is viewed as being more serious than having cancer, with blind people saying that they are willing to give up years of their life to regain their vision. The visual system takes up half of the cerebral cortex in humans, making it the most important sense for humans. The human color system is the most sophisticated one around, with only other primates being rivals for such sophistication. For sensory visual cells, humans have rods, which are used in low-light conditions, and cones, which are used in daylight conditions and can see three different kinds of hues: red, green and blue. (In contrast, dogs, cats and cows have only green and blue photoreceptors, which means they can only see in these two colors.) In addition, human retinas have a fovea, which creates an area of higher resolution which enables humans to do such things as read and take notice of details.

John notes that the retina is actually a piece of the brain that has been pushed out into the eye during the development of the human fetus, and its main function is to process the images that fall upon the photoreceptors that are found in it. Light is captured by the photoreceptor cells in the retina, which use a modified form of Vitamin A to do the work when combined with some proteins. The light hitting the visual pigments in the photoreceptors changes their state, which creates an electrical change in the photoreceptors, which then passes this signal to the secondary cells, the bipolar cells and horizontal cells, which helps integrate the signals captured by the many photoreceptors in the retina as well as start analyzing color. These signals are then passed to the cells on the inner part of the retina, the ganglion cells and their related axons, which carry the output of the retina to the brain, and the amacrine cells, which detect any movement images which fall on the retina. The resultant signals carry information on distance, color and movement to a waystation to the brain called the lateral geniculate nucleus before then heading on to the visual cortex. The latter further analyzes the image before sending these to visual areas 1 and 2 (V1 and V2), which are specialized to process such aspects as movement, form and color. From here, the information heads into two visual pathways, the dorsal one being concerned with the placement of objects in space, while the ventral one performs analyses on forms, such as faces.

Where optical illusions are concerned, John notes that visual perception is reconstructive and creative, where what is seen is interpreted based on experience – what one is expecting to see – as well as what actually comes in, which is the basis of optical illusions. This means that people need to learn how to see, which means that youngsters up to the age of eight or ten who don’t learn how to use and process their vision properly will subsequently have difficulty interpreting what they see, even if the condition that causes such improper vision is removed. John then gives the example of children with congenital cataracts, which give cloudy vision, who become blind to form in those eyes where the cataracts were, if the cataracts aren’t dealt with quickly enough. He also gives the example of amblyopia, where a child has one good eye and an unresponsive, crossed eye where, if the condition isn’t dealt with during childhood, the child becomes an adult whose brain ignores any images coming from the unresponsive eye.

Where glasses are concerned, John notes that everyone eventually needs glasses, as the lenses stiffen up, requiring people to use reading glasses – usually starting in their forties – to read things up close.

John remarks that, worldwide, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness. This isn’t as critical in the United States, as cataract operations in the United States are outpatient procedures which last only twenty minutes each and artificial lenses made of plastic can be used to replace cataract-laden lenses. Age-related macular degeneration, where the fovea degenerates, is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, and comes in two forms – the dry form, where lesions appear in and around the fovea; and the more severe, wet form, where blood vessels grow into the fovea and leak into the latter. John notes that, at present, there is no way to treat the dry form, while there are drugs available which can slow down the wet form.

Glaucoma is, according to John, another common condition, which is caused by high liquid pressure in the eye, which degenerates the axons that carry information from the eye to the brain. (Drugs can be used to reduce this pressure.) Retinopathy, or the damage to the retina, is another condition which can be brought about by diabetes. This is caused by the ingrowth of blood vessels in the retina.

John admits that, at present, nobody knows the true causes of such conditions as cataracts, nearsightedness or farsightedness, amblyopia (lazy eye) and glaucoma. He notes that present methodologies correct conditions, and that recent research has enabled such conditions as retinitis pigmentosa – which results in the breakdown and loss of retinal cells, a condition which can start in one’s twenties and which can result in total blindness by one’s sixties – to be treated with gene therapy. He also notes that most conditions which cause blindness occur in the eye, rather than in the brain itself.

John recommends getting one’s vision tested at least once a year to catch any conditions that might come up where vision is concerned. He also recommends not straining one’s eyes and maintaining good nutrition to keep one’s eyes healthy.

Purchase from Amazon: Vision: How It Works and What Can Go Wrong by John E. Dowling


Monday, March 4, 2019

Janny Hammer and Albert Drosof's Guide to Punctuation (for writers, teachers & students)

In this interview, Jenny Hammer talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Albert Drosoph’s Field Guide to Punctuation: For the Observant, the Dismissive, the Curious, the Confused.



“Small things make a big difference.” ~Jenny Hammer

Albert Drosoph’s Field Guide to Punctuation was actually inspired by a children’s book which Jenny wrote but, as of this interview, has not yet been published. Albert Drosoph is a character in that book who raises punctuation marks in a bavarium and whom the protagonist, Arden Everest, encountered. The Field Guide itself springs from Jenny’s years of teaching English and from her seeing English grammar guides which were difficult for the ordinary person to understand. The Field Guide is thus an attempt to introduce punctuation to the average person in a way that is helpful and understandable.

The layout of the book is similar to that of a nature field guide, with fictional descriptions of scientific taxonomy (species, family, etc.) followed by sections which describe the field, range and other characteristics of the punctuation mark being described. That said, the format is intended to allow the reader to understand how to best use the punctuation mark in question by correlating such things as where it should be used to where it would, were it an animal that exists in the field.

Jenny remarked that, in classical Greek, there were no spaces given between words and, in Roman times, all letters were capitalized, with language being predominantly spoken rather than written. Punctuation marks were originally used to tell a reader where to pause, with Aristophenes of Alexandria being one of the first to extensively use punctuation marks for such a purpose. The use of punctuation marks was solidified with the invention of the printing press, as this standardized punctuation marks so that people, wherever they were, would understand what it was that they were reading.

Where everyday usage is concerned, Jenny notes that missing punctuation marks result in legal lawsuits which can amount to the millions of dollars. For the average person, punctuation marks clarify what people mean, and she gave examples of both the impact of punctuation marks in the legal and everyday realms. Social media messaging, Jenny notes, is what she calls “emotional splats” and “fast writing / language / English,” which is analogous to fast food, as those who write such messages don’t think things out before doing so. The result are messages which can be misunderstood, even if emoticons are used. Where the latter are concerned, Jenny believes that these can be useful in conveying emotion but that these may not be needed if people thought before they wrote.

Jenny has noted that punctuation marks have evolved over time, and their history is included in the Field Guide. One of the most surprising things she learned while researching were the histories of some of the punctuation marks as well as some of the fun aspects of punctuation marks that she had discovered. She also noted that a new punctuation mark, the ddolos—which is named after Dolos, the Greek god of deception—is being brought out into the world to indicate statements which are lies, and gave an example where such might be used.

Researching the histories of the punctuation marks was one of the most fun things she experienced while writing the book, while getting correct the Latin terminology for the taxonomy of punctuation marks was challenging for her, as she needed to refer this several times to people who knew Latin. She would recommend those involved in writing to work with the comma and use these properly, as well as the difference between “its” and “it’s.” She also recommends that people be more observant with what they read and write. She also notes that it’s important for people to focus on ideas and supporting these with facts, as writing out something without thinking it through is essentially pointless.

Purchase from Amazon: Albert Drosoph’s Field Guide to Punctuation: For the Observant, the Dismissive, the Curious, the Confused by Jenny Hammer

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Bambina Olivares (aka B. Wiser) on Making Love in Spanish (An Erotic Novel by a Filipina)

In this interview, Bambina Olivares talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Making Love in Spanish.



“Go through life with grace and humor.” ~Bambina Olivares (aka B. Wiser)

Bambina has been a lifestyle and fashion journalist for over thirty years and has been traveling the world for around that time. She was originally raised in Manila and left to study art history in Paris, taking a long time before deciding to return to the Philippines. She wrote Making Love in Spanish at a time when she had concluded a marriage and started dating as well as traveling. The seed idea for the novel came from some of her somewhat interesting dates during that time, and in particular, after she told a friend about one of her questionable dates, her friend suggested that she write about these.

As Bambina had been brought up in the Philippines, she was raised in an environment where class distinctions were strong, and after her mother once commented, during one of their trips together in New York, that their limousine driver was flirting with her, she decided to build some satire around the notion of what would have been a scandalous relationship across classes.

Bambina intended the main character, Maxine, to be a cosmopolitan, well-traveled Filipina who was also informed by, but not tied down to, her own upbringing where matters of sex and sexuality were concerned and to be reflective of her own sense of humor as well, as Bambina tends to see the humor in situations. Bambina remarks that some of the experiences she describes into the book are hers and that others come from stories from other people, such as her friends, and that the most fun part was “going a little crazy,” as it was a work of fiction. Weaving elements of Filipino culture into the story was also something she liked doing, as well as choosing Latinos to build on from their supposed reputation as well as to deconstruct the tropes around these. What Bambina found challenging, however, were writing out the sex scenes which were in the book, as she wanted to avoid the usual cliches around these as well as making these varied and keeping the choreography realistic. As she remarked, she wanted to write out a book that was well written and which just happened to have a lot of sexual content, rather than a book which was mostly erotica. Bambina also remarked that she wanted to note what went on in a person’s mind, as sex is as much mental and psychological as well as physical.

Although Bambina admits that the story could have taken place in any major city, she set the book in New York, as it was a place that she was very familiar with. She also notes that the sexual adventures of an older woman are different compared to those of younger women, as older women know who they are and what they want, compared to a younger woman.

In regard to sexual relationships, Bambina notes that women are culturally and socially conditioned to not say “No” where the sexual advances of men are concerned. She also notes that women are brought up to please their men and that their own sexual needs come a distant second, and that there are more studies on male sexuality compared to female sexuality.

Purchase from Amazon: Making Love in Spanish by B. Wiser (Bambina Olivares)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Steven Landsburg on Outsmarting an Economist by Training Your Brain on 100+ Puzzles

In this interview, Steven Landsburg talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, Can You Outsmart an Economist? 100+ Puzzles to Train Your Brain.



“Economics is not just about financial markets or industrial organization, but is also about understanding other people's behavior.” ~Steven E. Landsburg

Steven admits that he loves puzzles and was inspired by books by Raymond Smullyan, which taught mathematical logic by using fun and interesting puzzles. The puzzles in Can You Outsmart an Economist? are designed to be fun as well as to train one’s brain in how to think the ways economists think, as well as to get one thinking about incentives and gain insights on how other people think to understand how they would behave the way they do. The puzzles include those that Steven had been thinking of for several years, some of which he taught in his class, as well as those he discovered recently.

Economics, according to Steven, is not just about financial markets or industrial organization but is also about understanding other people’s behavior by thinking about the incentives, information, opportunities and constraints they were facing when they participated in such behavior, which might initially seem strange to an outside observer. He includes puzzles which are tied to how parents define the size of their families as well as when to divorce and marry, as well as such things as the pricing of bread and how to best organize an economy - puzzles which are designed to make one think more deeply about what, on the surface, seems to be a simple concern with a simple outcome.

Some of the puzzles and situations that Steven commented on in the interview are:
  1. The correlation between physically beautiful teachers getting higher ratings than ordinary looking teachers;
  2. What happens when a strong and a weak pig are placed in a box with a lever at one end which can be pushed to deliver food at the other end of the box, which indicates that economic methodologies such as identification of incentives can likewise apply to the animal kingdom;
  3. Why coal miners and farmers get more attention from politicians than fast food cooks and motel owners;
  4. Why girls are preferred, when adopting, in nations where sons are preferred over daughters;
  5. Why Sony insists that all of its products are sold at the same price, regardless of source or merchant.
Thinking about things from other people’s perspective, Steven points out, can create a more empathetic person, as it forces one to put oneself in another person’s shoes and ask about what problem the other person is really trying to solve. He also points out that statistical concerns aren’t truly cut-and-dried and need to be interpreted with more information, rather than being taken at face value, and that the human aspect is now considered in present-day mainstream economics.

Steven remarks that the obvious, simple explanations for human behavior are often the wrong ones, and that the best way to uncover the root explanations for human behavior lie in thinking about the incentives and problems that people face. He also adds for people to keep an open mind and not just go for the first thing that occurs to them, critique one’s own answers by thinking about what might be missing in such answers.

Purchase from Amazon: Can You Outsmart an Economist? 100+ Puzzles to Train Your Brain by Steven E. Landsburg


Monday, January 21, 2019

David Alan Arnold on Protecting Children from Neighborhood Crime

In this interview, David Alan Arnold talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, What Lies Above the Clouds: A True Crime Story.



“We all have to decide what kind of a world to live in.” ~David Alan Arnold

David is an aerial cameraman who films footage for such shows as Deadliest Catch, Survivor, and Ice Road Truckers, but he has also done work over major cities during his twenty-plus year career. What Lies Above the Clouds: A True Crime Story might be his second book published, but it was the book he wanted to have published right off the bat. Indeed, when he brought the manuscript to someone in the book business, the latter told him to write a book about himself first, which he did; and it was after that when What Lies Above the Clouds was published.

The book stemmed from David’s realization, around 2013, that a school bus stop in his town was being used by gangsters for such illegal activities as selling heroin and even the as-of-yet uninvestigated murder of one individual. When David originally approached the gangsters to ask them what kind of business they were doing, they told him it was a secret, and after that he would stand across the street from the bus stop when the kids were picked up or dropped off to make sure they weren’t hurt. Further investigation on his part turned up the information that the group was connected with a company which was run entirely by criminals, some of whom were on a Most Wanted list, and which was allowed to be run by corrupt local officials. Driven by a desire to keep children safe, he then gathered information for five years, and this formed the basis of his book.

David notes that people are able to get away with crimes because nobody knows what goes on, and also remarks that money is the most likely motive for police to allow Most Wanted criminals to hang out at a children’s bus stop. He notes that the gangsters involved don’t care about small children, and that, when he went up to them and confronted them, the gangsters themselves remarked that they were surprised that nobody in authority stopped them from what they were doing and that they, themselves, were remorseful and regretful about what they were doing. He also added that the media is also apparently involved in colluding to keep the crimes secret, remarking that reporters interviewed some witnesses to a crime for three hours, but that the story didn’t make the news, with what was being printed was what the police said about it.

The FBI got wind of what was going on when David met a federal agent on an airplane and told him a few things that surprised the agent, who then asked if he had any proof. “I have 23 terabytes in the overhead bin,” was David’s response. The agent then looked at David’s material, and it was after that when David, at the agent’s invitation, met with other agents, who then asked to read his book before it went public; and David obliged, with the result being the involvement of the FBI when investigating. David also remarks that the increasing scrutiny of this case will hopefully also pressure public officials into getting involved and doing what they are supposed to to protect the public.

“Everyone talks about wanting to make the world a better place,” David comments. “If you’re not willing to take a stand to make the kids on your street safer, I’m sorry. You missed your chance. That’s it.” He notes that he does things that other people won’t, and that he discovered the lines that people wouldn’t cross in the course of the past five years, as a lot of people were frightened away by the criminal activity. To those who might come across a situation similar to that which he did, he recommends documenting everything, adding that, thanks to such things as smartphone technology, it is easy to do so. He also remarks that the steps he took are available in his book, and that the things he did can also be done on social media.

Purchase David Alan Arnold's books from Amazon: 

What Lies Above the Clouds: A True Crime Story 

Help from Above: How I Went from Sweeping the Floor to Painting the Sky