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, 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, 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