Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Logotherapy - Part Psychiatry Part Philosophy

In my continuing search for answers to the riddle of life, I took the online course Introduction to Logotherapy a subject that has held my curiosity for years since reading Victor Frankl's  Man's Search For Meaning. The course is taught by Batya Yaniger PsyD at the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy in Israel. The course has been an awesome experience.

As it is my habit to really learn anything I read, I developed a mindmap of the main concepts in each chapter of the second part of the book - Logotherapy In A Nutshell, my crumbs trail to go back and search through.  Search away, I hope you find half of the answers I found.

Another presentation of Logotherapy is by Dean Theophilos, MA, LCPC, CRADC, LPCC, LADC, NCC -Licensed Therapist - The Mansio Center, Inc.499 Anthony St. Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Road to Serfdom

In the mid 1940's, as a result of WWII won with the use of centralized economic planning, many US citizens began to believe the centralized planning with a socialist bent was the more efficient way to go forth into the future. Today as we look for concerted action on Global Warming, conflated with a new search for economic justice, the popular thinking seems to be going in the same direction.

The idea that a benevolent bureaucracy elected by and responsive to the people could more efficiently direct society toward salvation, wellbeing, social equality, and morality than individuals pursuing their crass economic interest, is easy to buy into. But I lived through the destruction of industry and productivity in Italy during the mid 60's to mid 70's (lasting to this day) that birthed social democracy and included various experiments in many cities with socialist and communist administrations. To this day, economic opportunity, wellbeing, benevolent public bureaucracies are still to be found. With that history, I understood the warning that Nobel-Price Economist Friedrich Hayek offered in "The Road to Serfdom". 

His book and warning, however, would have been too academic, pedantic heavy-lifting for most readers. In a stroke of luck, the Reader's Digest, the most read magazine of that time (still barely available today in airports' bookstores) published a summarized version of it in April 1945. Millions read it, millions got the point, and America's short love with socialism ended at the ballot box. Most countries in Europe, at some point in the 40's to 90's flirted with the socialist experiment and with few exceptions still pay a high price with economic stagnation, bloated government bureaucracies and loss of their most educated and motivated citizens to other countries.

With this experience in mind, I publish here my extract of The Reader's Digest condensed version of The Road to Serfdom contained in the complete IEA publication below.

The complete version, with more background, introductory notes, references to publications of the time, etc as published by IEA is available HERE

iPhones and Androids have free apps that can read a pdf file to you. After you open the link above you can download the pdf and listen to it at your convenience.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Must Read: from Ryan Holyday of

If You’re Angry, You’re Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Here is my latest post on Medium...
It’s ironic that the only thing we all seem to agree on lately is that there’s a lot to be angry about.
On the left, we have the insurgent anger of “resistance.” Race, gender, police brutality, immigration, the environment — unspeakable wrongs are happening right in front of us, they argue — and anyone who can’t see that is complicit. The other side has just as much rage. Just a few weeks ago, Sohrab Ahmari, a Catholic convert and editor for The New York Post became a hero on the right for arguing that the stakes of the culture war are so high that it’s time for conservatives to do away with Christian kindness and civil discussion in favor of seeing “politics as war and enmity.”
If you’re not outraged, they both tell us, “You’re not paying attention.”
Anger, in this way, can seem almost inspiring, even admirable — that it’s a sign of how much you care. The American-Irish political journalist Alexander Cockburn was famous for sitting young writers down and asking them, “Is your hate pure?” If they hesitated, if they squirmed, he wouldn’t hire them. He once asked this question to a young Ed Miliband, who would go on to be the leader of the Labour Party in Britain and later a cabinet member. Miliband replied that he didn’t hate anyone. This, Cockburn smirked as he proudly retold the story, “tells you everything you need to know.”
Yeah, it shows that Cockburn — and the people who stroke our angriest impulses — are only making things worse.
For a simple reason: It’s not controversial to say that most of what is wrong in this world is not intentionally wrong. How could it be, unless you believe that the majority of people are evil? Think about it: Are most people doing wrong on purpose or are they like you — in all the times you have been or done wrong in the past — probably (wrongly) convinced that what they’re doing is right? Obviously anger is not the most effective or appropriate response to these situations.
And what about the cases when wrong is being carried out deliberately? What about actual evil — which sadly is all too real? Here, again, anger isn’t the right response either. Because truly diabolical people are far too nefarious and dangerous for us to approach with anything other than our most rational and strategic efforts. (You don’t foil sociopathy by yelling.)
Yet here we are, constantly being egged on by both sides about why we need to get angry, telling us that our hate should be pure.
If anger was something that made people better, do you think athletes would work so hard to get under the skin of their opponent? Do you think lawyers would try to attack and frustrate witnesses under cross examination? Of course not. It is precisely because anger is blinding, because it makes us irrational, that one opponent uses it to undermine another.
What we need — in sports, in life, in activism — is restraint, not rage.
Oh, but that’s very privileged of you to say, one might think. You wouldn’t be so blasé if things were worse for you personally.
History overwhelmingly disproves the idea that self-composure is a synonym for resignation. George Washington’s defining characteristic? It was, as he often said, the ability to look at things in the “mild light of calm philosophy.” He refused to get upset, he refused to get angry — no matter the insult, no matter the injustice, no matter the betrayal. And it was precisely this self-control that allowed him to direct his efforts towards his great task — freeing a colonial people from the subjugation of a capitalistic imperial empire, to put it in modern language — so it cannot be argued that he simply tolerated the status quo.
History also shows that there are far more effective emotions to incite if your goal is to create action and meaningful change.
A recent exchange illustrates this well. On the eve of his inauguration, President Donald Trump, took to Twitter to attack congressman and civil rights icon, John Lewis.
It was just a highlight of a cycle that was to come: Trump using Twitter to try to provoke someone, with the talking heads in the media (on both sides) taking the bait. Basically, everyone got upset about it.
Except one guy: John Lewis. Lewis could have easily responded with anger to this attack on his character. Instead, he had a moment of self-reflection, calling what he described as “an executive session with myself.”
The following day, Martin Luther King Day, as it happened, Lewis took the high ground in an apparent response to the president. “I say to the future leaders of this state, the future leaders of this nation, of the world — you must never, ever hate,” Lewis said at a memorial breakfast “The way of love is a better way. The way of peace is a better way.”
No one can say John Lewis is “all talk.” Or that privilege corrupted his response. This is a man who had been beaten nearly to death in 1965 as he and 600 people attempted to peacefully march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to protest segregation. What he learned in a career of effectual political action is that getting angry is not a strategy. It’s a distraction.
Think of Abraham Lincoln. A defining moment of his life came in 1841 when he, then no more than a successful mid-Western lawyer, saw a group of slaves chained together on a riverboat like “so many fish on a trotline.” Abolitionists had witnessed scenes like this for centuries and many of them became radicalized in the process. Lincoln’s reaction was different. It wasn’t anger, he felt, but a deep and profound sadness at the injustice of it. But this was key. For all the passion of the abolitionist movement, it was Lincoln who spent the next two decades plotting a course of political change that ultimately accomplished what generations of Americans had failed to do. It was Lincoln — unlike even the radicals — who never doubted that the Union could be preserved, that the war could be won, who steered the ship unswervingly through those terrible times, all the while preaching a need for understanding, for forgiveness and mutual culpability. He was even-keeled in his determination to improve the world.
The Civil Rights Movement — per Martin Luther King’s leadership as well as the leadership of brave people like John Lewis — was defined not by anger, but by love. By a call to better angels, not our worst ones. So was Gandhi’s. The most powerful and enduring symbol of resistance to the Vietnam War was not the angry, long-haired students, it was the monk who doused himself in gasoline and lit a match — without a hint of emotion, only perfect stillness and moral urgency. Churchill’s famous line during World War II was that he didn’t hate anyone, except Hitler — and even that he tried to keep professional. If Churchill could do that, what excuse do we have?
My point is that while peace isn’t always the solution, avoiding anger is.Because to paraphrase and add to the line from Angela Merkel, just as you can’t complete tasks with “charisma,” you can’t do much when you’re blinded with rage or hatred either.
Indeed, this is what many philosophers ask us to step back and learn from history. “Constantly run down the list of those who felt intense anger at something,” Marcus Aurelius wrote, “the most famous, the most unfortunate, the most hated, the most whatever. And ask: Where is all that not? Smoke, dust, legend… or not even a legend.” Alexander the Great was as angry and motivated to put his dent in the world as they came, and what happened after his early death? The whole empire fell to pieces. What of Gracchus or Catiline, whose angry conspiracies against Rome were driven by a kind of Joker-esque nihilism of just wanting to see the world burn? Not only did they fail, but chances are many people aren’t even going to be familiar with my reference. Because Marcus was right — it was forgotten. It all became dust.
The fact that we will all become dust one day is not a reason to do nothing. It’s a reason to do the right thing, the right way.
In his fascinating essay, Of Angerthe philosopher Seneca makes a similar point. He wanted to know if it was possible to respond to evil and violence “judiciously and with foresight,” instead of being driven by some primal emotion.
“‘Does a good man not get angry?” he asked. “Even if he watches his father get killed or his mother raped?’” No, was Seneca’s answer. But just because we don’t give in to anger doesn’t mean we have to accept this injustice. “The good man will carry out his duties without fear or turmoil… My father is being killed; I’ll defend him. He has been killed; I’ll avenge him — but because it’s right, not because I’m grieved… To get angry on behalf of one’s kin is the mark of a weak mind, not a loyal one.”
It calls to mind the powerful example of Laura and Rob Tibbetts, whose daughter was murdered by an undocumented immigrant in 2018. After the body was discovered, letters started pouring in. People tried to stoke their passions of this grieving family for political purposes. “This is why we need to build a wall,” they said. “Those people are animals. We need to protect ourselves.”
If anyone had an excuse for “pure” hatred, it was probably the Tibbets. And what did they do?
They opened their home to a young boy whose parents were also undocumented immigrants and had worked in the very same fields as the man who had murdered their daughter. That’s not just a lovely example of forgiveness, it’s a profoundly virtuous and impressive act. There must be so much pain in their heart, so much anger. Yet they rose above it. They spoke out against those who tried to turn their pain into profit and to polarization, calling it “everything that’s dark and wrong in America right now.” And instead of being tempted by anger, they focused on finding a way to see through the rage and the hurt to find something common in their shared humanity.
It was a decision that will produce more real change than any of the pundits can ever hope to.
Who should we listen to? Whose example should we follow? The people who capitalize off of blind emotion in order to gain a following? Or people like the Tibbets who are quietly doing good, despite their very real grievances?
There is today, as there has always been, profound injustice in this world. But that injustice will not be solved by getting upset, by painting the other side as irredeemable, or by giving into our worst impulses.
It must be addressed politically, personally, and with precisely the opposite of the traits that caused the injustice in the first place. You must treat indifference with empathy, cruelty with compassion, anger with patience and love.
We know this from our own personal lives. The things that make you the most angry are the things you have the toughest time resolving. Has yelling or losing your temper ever made things better at home? Or does it only make things worse?
Each of us has to work on this, myself included. We cannot let ourselves be rattled by the wrong we see in the world. We must limit our inputs, and cut out toxic provocateurs and manipulative media. We must sit quietly with our own thoughts, and push ourselves to respond to everything we see with kindness and calmness.
It’s easy to clever or cruel. It’s hard to be composed and clear. But which gives us the change we need?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

One more for the bucket list

Somewhere in my bucket list, one item has been outstanding a long time: To publish a novel that I had started writing in 2006. It started as science fiction and a test of whether I could write a novel almost 100% dialogue. It was fun in the beginning, dreaming of the future and imagining a conversation with my grandchildren. Alas, finding an end proved to take years and almost became a challenge beyond my patience. Then, one day, it came to me and I finally wrote "The End".

Finishing a draft of a short story and publishing it are universes apart I discovered. Editing is harder than writing, proofreading is mindlessly hard. Even when you are done with months of all of that, how do you publish an ebook? I ran aground again. Then on my birthday, I decided it had to be done no matter if less than perfect. As Facebook admonishes its staff "done beats perfect", and so it was.
Amazon was the first channel for the Kindle version of The Yoda Machine. It was easier than I had imagined, quick, and free.  You can find it here. Soon I discovered that despite the supposed popularity of Kindle, none of my friends had it. Kindle Reader is available free for every possible mobile device and OS, but getting family and friends to install it appeared to be too heavy lifting.
Draft2Digital was the next platform I tried for the Epub version of The Yoda Machine. Not nearly as automatic as Amazon to format correctly, but still quick and easy and free. It automatically submits your ebook to a multitude of publishers (Kobo, Scribd, B&N and more), it collects royalties and it generates ebooks in various formats (epub, mobi, pdf) that you can download in finished form for whatever purpose you wish.

(2018 update) In time I hired a professional editor to review and advise. To one raised Catholic mortification cannot ever be a surprise. Well, it was. Starting from scratch on something very different seemed to be the message heard. Time passed, mortification subsided, as it always does, and The Yoda Machine remained published, in need of a 2nd edition, all to happen someday.

So, one more is off the bucket list. Now back to writing software a clearly more appreciated endeavor.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Beware easy answers and political dynasties

I am tired of the litany of insults. I am not uneducated (MBA), not a misogynist (women friends will attest to it), not retarded (can prove somewhat above 100), nor violent (I am for guns controls and have none). Still, holding my nose and with all my fingers crossed, I will vote for Trump as the lesser of two evils. Here is why:
1. I trust the American political system enough to keep a buffoon from doing much damage. The Congress shackled Obama for eight years to do little, and only one party was at it. With two parties in opposition, President Trump will do little other than talking big and delivering less. The Founding Father designed the system to do just that. ANd based on current count of friends, few cronies and lobbyists should be able to come to the through to collect.
2. Conversely, the election of another Clinton who believes that the law does not apply to them is the beginning of a political dynasty.
2. I firmly believe that ANY political dynasty is a recipe for disaster. A lesson we should have learned with the Bushes' gifts of the Neocons and Iraq.
But just in case we need education from the experience of the rest of the world, here it goes:  In all cases (after WWII) where spouses followed spouses in a similar position of power (may not be the same title), corruption reigned supreme. But the issue is not the wives, there are even more examples in the more general sense of a close relative following a close relative. In ALL cases, to the best of my memory and research, they resulted from, or advanced, corruption of their respective political systems. In many cases the results were catastrophic, as n GW Bush. One can easily conclude that dynasties corrupt political systems either because a ruling class fosters cronism or because the cronies of the first leader elect the second to retain and advance their position.
Look at the world. Exceptional as America may be, it would be hard to escape the pattern:
a  Juan and Isabel Peron in Argentina in the 70’s (husband and wife)
b  Kirchners in Argentina in 2000’s (husband and wife)
c  The Aquinos in the Philippines (husband would have been president if not assassinated, Corazon, the wife, became President, her son became President too)
d  Nehru and Gandhi in India (Mother Indira Gandhi followed her father (Nehru) and son Sanjay virtually ran the country under her administration)
e  GHW Bush and GW Bush in the US (father and son) already mentioned for thegift of the Neocons and Iraq
f  Mandelas in South Africa (husband and wife controlled the ANC gorvernment) raised corruption to a science
g  Imelda Marcos Provincial Governor while husband Ferdinand was President
h  and in 2016, the ultimate, Nicaragua's Ortega is running for a third term with his wife on the ticket (Bill Clinton might have called it "two for the price of two")

After her great speech performance of the last few days, may we expect Michelle Obama to take a cut at it? But if Hillary gets it, my money is on "Chelsea for 2020", by then, maybe, with her husband)

Beware political dynasties was good advice for ancient Rome and for the Founding Fathers, and still is today. Of course, there is the risk of passing up on a very qualified leader along the way, but history would show it to be well justified to avoid the risk of walking into dynastic politics which have never been dislodged without a violent upheaval.
Beware the easy answer.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Exorcising a ski run

This story is an attempt at an exorcism of sorts. I'm writing it with the hope of getting out of my mind the experience I had skiing with some friends yesterday at Park City/Canyons.
Two days before Darlene, Linda and I had skied Grande, a double black rated run off the Tombstone Chairlift. The snow had been great, not untracked, but nice and soft. The run is challenging because it requires skiing in tight trees to reach an open bowl that is quite steep but easily manageable. Above the bowl is a is rocky face un-skiable by anyone with a working brain. Last Friday, the rock face was roped off and with a yellow sign with an arrow pointing to skier's-left to avoid the rocks. With deep snow, it is a great run.
Yesterday at the end of a great ski day with Darlene and Linda, we decided to ski Grande again as our closing run. We entered the run too far at skier's-right without noticing that the rope above the rocks was missing. As we started traversing to the left looking for more familiar terrain I found myself on the rock face with Linda closely behind. I barely managed to bushwhack my way above and out of that mess, back to safer terrain. There, I noticed that we were well below the familiar yellow arrow-sign above the rock face and that the orange out-of-bounds rope had been pulled and thrown behind a tree by some irresponsible fool. Linda, instead, was still stuck on the frozen rocks with her skis tangled in barbed-wire-like low bushes of scrub oak. In the hope of freeing herself from the bad spot,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Memories From A Tech Startup (back in the stone age)

My story, below, was prompted by reading that an Atari video game cartridges from a 1980's landfill sold for $37,000.  The past rushed back at me as I re-lived an earlier very dramatic time of my life. Brace yourself.

If your first video game console was a Nintendo, this story might as well be about dinosaurs or the Roman Empire or The Middle Ages.  If you are older than that you might find some memories and may notice that little has changed since those times except the absolute speed of change (the relative speed of change has not and more of that later). In hindsight, the risks of high-tech startups do not seem to have changed much and the planning to deal with it requires the same considerations today as it did then. The roman-candle story of RomLabs Inc. may give us a glimpse into it.

The business environment

It's 1983, the first "video games bubble" has been running since 1980-81 and it was a classic "bubble" unbeknownst to all industry participants.  The key players of the second generation of video games devices included video game console (VGC) makers Atari, Intellivision, Coleco (also Commodore, Radioshack, Texas Instruments) and third party developers (game software only) Imagic, Activision and Electronic Arts and a host of other minor participants.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ryan Scobby - Musician

We had waited a long time for our son Ryan to find time and means to come and visit us in Park City.
 Finally, hurrah! he came. It was to be a visit of learning and discovery.

Let's start with the learning part: shortly after his arrival I jokingly asked Ry if he had already found a hook up in town using Tinder.
[Side bar: That was my opening to tell him what I had read about Tinder in a post on Vanity Fair,
which presumably would make me look current and well informed. I had read the story describing the users of Tinder and the fast hook up culture in NYC, which, shared with my late middle-age women friends at a recent party, had generated great surprise, curiosity, laughs and, for some, horror]

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Can we learn to die purposefully?

Read this article.  "Slipping Away" It is a terrifying life log of a young man with an incurable disease. See yourself in one of the two main roles of the story. Take a very long breath. Hope that your life will not make you live either role, then read my thoughts born out of imagining that nightmare.

Naturally, genetically we are programmed to live, almost at any cost. We spend all our life even before day one practicing staying alive. In most culture the "will to live against all odds" is glorified. If one said "life is overrated" one would probably be judged either suicidal or mentally unbalanced. But, perhaps, could we learn to be less attached to our own life to be better people, better siblings, parents, children to our counterparts in those relationships? If we could learn to value our lives less for ourselves and more for them?

It is lost in the darkness of history and of the history of phylosophy, forgotten in our modern cultural make up, but this is not a new idea. The Stoics beginning in the 3rd century CE elaborated a concept of a "virtuous life" where self sacrifice is ethically appropriate under specific, objectively definable circumstances.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I feel like a total idiot

I am here at my laptop reading the usual daily dose of posts on science, technology, medicine genetics, food science, etc. that make me the eternal optimist that I am. Earlier I finished my daily reading of geopolitics, global economics, Grexit, Iran, ISIS, Middle East, oil shortages, famines, US Presidential Elections, etc. that sorely test my belief in optimistic outcomes.

Along the way, with whatever I read, I code posts for subject, interest, and whatever keywords may help me find the post at some later date. I've done it for years. Unable to remember correctly all details I encounter, I resort to coding all I read for retrieval to recall and quote correctly. Some friends think I have a great memory - I wish. I just have a retrieval system designed to support my curiosity of virtually anything that the internet provides. That's a lot. But, I just found a simple system that helps my mediocre memory look smart to those that do not look behind the curtain.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Simple View of Greece and Grexit

This was originally written for my grandchildren to explain the messy world we live in, It's a terribly simplified view, but why not see what the world thinks.

Who pays for Greece's past follies? To greater or lesser degrees we all will. The farther we are from Greece the smaller the impact. Just as waves that hit us coming from a pebble dropped in a pond. In the US, we are far from the pebble, in Europe the waves will be bigger. To the citizens of Greece they will be monstrous, crushing and their personal pain will be long lasting. But INFLATION is the ultimate solver of tragic imbalances between countries and the world and it will handle this one too. How?

We live in a global financial world that could be finite, but is not. It could be finite if all governments stopped printing currencies. Inflation would be 0 but we'd have difficulties to adjust to trade imbalances and making economic adjustments because "the pie" is getting bigger. We need tiny inflation for slack and room to grow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Janus and Vision

Janus was the Roman god with two faces: one faced forward to see the future and one faced backwards to see the past. Seeing was clearly a big focus of Janus'. I always found the image of Janus intriguing, perhaps because vision has been a big part of my life. Vision, the kind that describes imagination has been a big motivation for much that I have tried to do, but here I am looking at Vision, the kind that lets us physically see things.
The former moves us to imagine and pursue whatever we imagine - one former US President called it "the vision thing" and everyone knew instantly what he was talking about. The latter, the ability to see our surroundings is considered the most complex and most important development in the history of animal evolution.

Most people do not give vision much thought unless they lose it to some degree or completely. Throughout my life however I have repeatedly dealt with serious vision issues and have stayed ahead of disaster only thanks to a few wizards and the just-in-time evolution of technology. So here is my chronology of dodging the bullet and my reason for wanting to spread rose petals in front of my eye surgeons.

 Troubles started in my teens needing eye glasses like many other kids. By the time I was 19 and finished three years in the Italian Navy, my condition, keratoconus (in both eyes) had deteriorated enough that I could no longer be in the military since vision correction could be done only with special contact lenses. In 1970 I moved to the US and was rejected for the then compulsory draft for the same condition, A young optometrist at Indiana University, Barry Gridley, took my case as a mission and became a wiz at hand grinding my hard contacts to custom fit. Without him I probably would have never finished my MBA and started my career. That was the time when I started being a "special case" that students would come and look at to see the "real thing" described in their textbooks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Great Ski Season (despite the snow)

For all the years I can remember skiing in Park City the 2014-15 season has to be the worst. We seemed to live through an eternal Spring that sent little natural snow and temperatures high enough that our snow-making-wizards at Canyons were seriously limited in performing their magic. Despite all this, we are closing as planned on April 12. So a few closing thoughts

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Skiing comes in many forms

My mother was fast in the GS on the Italian Olympic Team in 1938

I am slow but l can dance

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Skiing - A continuing Quest

My passion for skiing has been documented in prior posts. It is stoked by the fact that after 60 years, I am still learning in the quest of better technique.
Over the years PSIA has helped me improve with its requirements for Instructor Certification (now Level 2), and the theory it publishes in its Technical Manuals . The Canyons Ski School (Park City UT), where I teach, provided me great training opportunities. So, to share the gifts I received, here is my Summary of Technical Skiing and the graphic below that shows what happens when the activities in the Summary are performed correctly.
Do you have questions or need to know how to read it? Book a lesson at Canyons (877-472-6306) and let's go play together.