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Profile for Michael Uschold > Reviews


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Michael Uschold RSS Feed (Seattle, WA USA)

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Film Scanning For The Best Quality: With Special Emphasis on Digital Camera Methods
Film Scanning For The Best Quality: With Special Emphasis on Digital Camera Methods
Price: $9.97

4.0 out of 5 stars A detailed look at scanning techniques with remarkable depth and insight, January 20, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a preliminary review based on 60 minutes of skimming, and a careful read of a few key sections. I have read a few books on scnning, and have been wondering for years how best to scan my thousands of slides. I'm very impressed at the depth of knowledge of the author, who has clearly spent many hundreds if not thousands of hours working with scanning, trying out a wide variety of different options and technologies and has settled on using a camera and a macro lens as the best technique for high quality scans. He also gives advice to those who many not need the highest quality, and what options are suitable for that case. He speaks of things that I have never read anywhere else, pointing to some flaws in the common wisdom, all backed up with his own experiments.

I hope to get back to this with more details after a more thorough read.

Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization
Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization
by John R. Searle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.88
50 used & new from $6.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, but not an easy one., February 4, 2014
Overall this is an excellent and very readable book which largely succeeds at the very ambitious goal of explaining what it means to be a civilization, using the ideas of language and intention as central pillars. Searle is famous for his work on speech acts; this book revises and extends his original work.

A fundamental building block for the main thesis of the book is the idea that people and things have certain functions or roles that they play. A community agrees on what these are and they influence or dictate specific behaviors in certain circumstances. For example, if a member of our western civilized community is speeding down the highway and they see red lights flashing behind them, they know it is a police officer. Why? Because it is the role/function of a police officer to ensure that people stay within the speed limit. The behavior dictated by the community in this situation is to pull over, be polite, receive a ticket and subsequently pay it. This behavior derives from the “status” collectively agreed upon by a community that goes with the police officer “function”. Searle calls these “status functions”, but for most purposes, you can just think of them as roles.

Searle calls this community agreement about status functions “collective intentionality” because the community in effect intends that each member will behave in a certain way with respect to people and objects that play certain roles.

Another fundamental building block is that collective intentionality is the basis for what Searle calls “desire independent reason for action”. It is desire independent in so far as community members do not need to like or approve of what the status functions are. People will do things not because they want to per se (like paying taxes, or pulling over for a police officer), but because they take it to be so that certain behaviors are expected. A main message of the book is that this way of influencing behavior is required for all social institutions to work.

A third building block is the idea that we have importantly different ‘relationships’ to things such as “I weigh 170 pounds” or “I have promised that I will take you to lunch” which can be true or false.
1. Desire/Intention, I can intend or desire to weigh 170 pounds.
This is about making something so.
2. Belief: I can believe that I weight 170 pounds.
This is about saying (or representing) that something is so.
3. Declaration: I can say that “I promise to take you to lunch”
This makes something so merely by saying (or representing) that it is so.
4. Presupposed: I presume that the distance between the moon and earth averages 240k miles.
This is neither about saying something is so, nor making it so.

This is a rather elegant formulation. One distinction: making something so vs. saying something is so gives rise to the four cases above. Searle uses the term “direction of fit” to refer to the making/saying distinction. Making something so is the ‘world-to-mind’direction of fit. Saying that something is so is the ‘mind to world’ direction of fit.

Searle calls the “something” in the above examples “conditions of satisfaction”. The belief and the desire above both have the same condition of satisfaction that I weigh 170 pounds. If I do, then the condition is met (true), otherwise it is not met (false).

The third case (declaration) is by far the most interesting. By merely declaring that I promise to take you to lunch, the promise comes into existence.

The punch line is that all social laws, organizations and institutions come about in much the same way, through declarations. For example, when registering a corporation, it comes into existence merely by ‘saying so’, which in this context means being on the official government register. Passing a law is “saying something is so” and it is so merely by saying it. Of course, just speaking the words is not enough, a law comes into existence by ‘saying’ something in the legal framework which we accept as the legimitate way to pass a law. But, the legal framework for passing laws were brought about by saying other things were so (i.e. other declarations). What is most impressive about this book is that Searle does not wave his hands at this point and say, well it starts somewhere and leaving it at that. He takes great pains to back it up all the way to how human language evolved in the first place from pre-linguistic forms of intentionality.

While overall very impressive, I did struggle a fair bit with his choice of terminology. Often it was difficult to ground it it an intuition that made sense to me. For example, I just cannot grok why he would say"representing something is the case" means having a 'world to mind' direction. I can only hope that I eventually got the right idea in using the terms making vs. saying something is so. For all my terminology challenges, I have to say that Searle was mostly aware of the problems, and explained them to the reader. Sometimes good terms are very hard to find.

He also does not make the case early enough about why desire independent reason for action is important. He mentions it over and over, but it was not till the end of the book that I understaood why it was important. For most of the book, I just ignored it, then I had to go back and figure it out when he eventually explained its importance.

Searle unnecessarily brings in the animal kingdom time and again, and it really does not seem to add anything. It seems more of a distraction. The point is about social interaction, and it is widely known that many animals have complex social behavior, e.g. ants, wolves and many primates. He says over and over, “no animal that I know of can do X”. So what.

But in the main these are small quibbles, just enough to avoid a 5 star rating.
All in all a great read, though not an easy one.

ThinkPad T440p Laptop - Intel Core i3-4100M (3MB Cache, 2.50 GHz)
ThinkPad T440p Laptop - Intel Core i3-4100M (3MB Cache, 2.50 GHz)

3.0 out of 5 stars Initial Teething Problems, December 29, 2013
This is an incomplete review, just some initial impressions.

The machine I bought has the following upgrades from the factory:
• CPU: Core i7 4600M ($295 extra)
• Screen: HD+ 1600x900 ($50 extra)
• Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless 7260AC with Bluetooth 4.0 ($30 extra)

In addition, I also bought separately:
• Memory: 2 x 8GB Crucial DDR3 PC3-12800
• Samsung 840 EVO SSD 500GB
• Bay adapter so I can use the original 500GB HD in the bay instead of the DVD player

What I like:
• Smaller and lighter than my current ASUS K42JC that I have had for three years.
• Nice big mouse pad.
• Boots up and shuts down super fast (probably due to Windows 8)
• It is relatively easy to upgrade memory and to replace the HD with an SSD. The hardware manual explains this nicely. No need to take it into a specialist.

What I don't like:
• Dearth of indicator lights, for example, it is not possible to see whether the battery is charging the laptop just by looking. There is no light on the power brick, and there is no light on the laptop. When you plug it in initially, you see a blinking light for a few seconds to confirm, but otherwise, you have to check the battery icon on the screen.

What is not working:
• Recovery USB Drive: The first thing I did was to save out a recovery disk to a 16GB USB stick. I tried several times with no success to use it to reset the PC (i.e. clean reinstall). I called Lenovo support and was told that there were known problems with this and they said they would send me a recovery set of discs.
• Mouse pad: right click does not work in the upper right part of the mouse pad; I ensured that the drivers were up to date and it still does not work. Fortunately, I paid for on-site next day service, so someone will come out and replace it.

I'm optimistic that this will be a good machine once I work out the kinks, in which case I will increase the star rating. For now, it is a bit disappointing.

K-TOR Pocket Socket Hand Crank Generator Portable Power Supply 10 Watts 120 Volts Made in the USA
K-TOR Pocket Socket Hand Crank Generator Portable Power Supply 10 Watts 120 Volts Made in the USA
Offered by K-Tor
Price: $54.95
2 used & new from $54.95

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Meta Review: OK for emergencies, many limitations., May 23, 2013
This is a synthesis of all the reviews as of May 23, 2013, and not a review of the product itself, which I have not seen or touched. The punch line for me is:
* Great idea, not fully baked yet.
* Takes a long time to get a charge that lasts a short while
* Most of the positive reviews are light on substance and even the 5 star reviews have many complaints and suggested improvements.
* This is probably fine as an emergency tool, but not one I would want to use on a regular basis, e.g. for backpacking.

What people liked:
* the idea of not having to be reliant on a power source
* can plug anything into it, since it uses a regular socket
* well made
* fairly small and portable
* customer service
* good to have in an emergency, e.g. to make a phone call

* not well made, plastic construction
* hard to get good purchase when cranking
* takes a long time to charge something that lasts a short while, and is tiring
* charging iPods, iPhones and iPads does not work well because the device has to be ON when cranking, which wastes a lot of effort
* it broke on 11th day of a backpack

Some of the 5 star reviews are filled with things they wish were better, so why 5 stars? Most of the 5 star reviews have few if any details to back up the review. To me, the most critical thing is how easy it is to crank and how much cranking one has to do to get a reasonable amount of charge. The quotes include: "3 min cranking for 1 min viewing", "16 minutes of viewing for 5 minutes of cranking", "it could take an hour or more of cranking to recharge four AA battteries" "an hour of cranking and run a radio on them for about 10 minutes" depending on the battery pack. Of course, your mileage may vary...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 1, 2014 9:15 PM PST

ASUS K42JC-A1 14-Inch Versatile Entertainment Laptop - Dark Brown
ASUS K42JC-A1 14-Inch Versatile Entertainment Laptop - Dark Brown

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid machine for working professional, August 30, 2012
I am a full time consultant and spent a lot of time in Dec 2010 looking for a laptop that would mostly be a desktop replacement, but that I would also travel with to client sites. I have had this machine for over 20 months and it has done a great job. I don't do a lot of heavy computing, but when I do, the core i5 is surprisingly adequate. I don't do heavy graphics, but it is supposed to be adequate for moderate gaming. I bought this over the more expensive bamboo model because the latter did not upgrade to 8G ram, and the lights indicating things like whether you are plugged in, wireless is running etc were hidden from view. A small thing, but super annoying to have to lift up the computer to see these lights.

1. amazing value for money
2. very capable for working IT consultant not doing super heavy computing
3. upgradeable to 8G ram
4. Small enough to use on a plane in economy seating
5. can do moderate gaming
6. backed by Asus 2 year guarantee and I can have it serviced at my local shop where I bought it - an Asus qualified shop.
7. The mouse gestures are really handy, especially for scrolling
8. Very reliable, have not had any problems to speak of
9. Windows 7 and DisplayLink make it very easy to have multiple monitors. I currently use 4, including the laptop screen.

1. not very light, if you want to travel a lot
2. battery life very poor; I get by with an extra battery, but even that only just lasts 4-6 hrs.
3. mouse pad not super smooth or responsive
4. no backlit keyboard

I can probably use this machine for another year or two if need be, but I am shopping around a bit, hoping that Asus will come out with a comparable model with the Ivy Bridge Core i7 chip with flash drive to make things more snappy. Some Ultrabooks have come out recently in this category, but I don't need to pay the premium for super small and light.

This would be a great machine to pick up used, if you can live with the caveats and want Win 7 rather than Win 8. I might be selling mine before too long ;-)

The Grand Design
The Grand Design
by Stephen Hawking
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.32
254 used & new from $0.15

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Entertaining Overview of Modern Physics and Cosmology, January 9, 2012
This review is from: The Grand Design (Hardcover)
Superb book - perhaps the best general book on science I have ever read - and I've read quite a few. With a strong science background, it was a very fast and surprisingly light read, given the topic. A stark contrast from Brief History of Time, which was much harder. The explanations are clear and concise, using wonderful analogies to help the reader understand very complex concepts. A favorite example of mine is how our brains interpret reality rather than objectively reporting what is. If we put glasses on that make the world up side down, our brains will turn it right-side up before too long. Astonishingly, when we take the glasses off, our brains will see the world up-side down even though it is really right-side up. This is a powerful way to introduce the idea of model-dependent realism. Reality can only be tested to the extent that it does or does not conform to a given model. A variant of this idea has been expressed by others as: there is no "out there" out there.

The authors gave the best explanation I have read of quantum physics and the two slit experiment. I have read dozens of articles or passages on this, and they all pale in comparison. I had never quite understood Fyneman's alternative histories ideas, nor his famous diagrams that he painted on his van. It was also the best explanation of particle physics and how the different theories are trying to be tied together.

I was already familiar with most of the concepts in the book, so the value for me was not so much in learning new ideas as in learning new ways to think about and explain the ideas. Perhaps most importantly, it put it all together into one place painting a coherent big picture view of modern physics.

The writing style is very refreshing, sprinkled with dry humor and plenty of cultural background and history how many important ideas evolved. Instead of bashing us over the head with how amazed we should be with each idea (like many writers do), the style is often to understate. Decades of scientific research trying to solve an equation might be mentioned in passing as "there were great difficulties with this approach". The many examples and humor always help to bring the heady ideas down to earth in a fun and helpful way. For example, if earth was in a more elliptical orbit than it is, then in the summer, the oceans would be boiling and frozen in winter -- not very conducive for a good vacation!

The authors also avoid the all-too-frequent religion-bashing that goes on in much science writing. Instead they make comments about how people with religious views will tend to think about a subject or point, and then explain how there is an alternative scientific way that does not require the God hypothesis. While it is clear the authors are not religious, they also respect the views of others without making fun of them.

I really can't think of any significant changes I would recommend - hence 5 stars.

OK - there is one thing. It was unnecessary and frankly silly to say Philosophy is Dead - but that does not detract in any way from the other N-3 words in the book.

Olympus Horizontal Neoprene and Nylon Case with Velcro Closure (Black)
Olympus Horizontal Neoprene and Nylon Case with Velcro Closure (Black)
Offered by Galactics
Price: $8.84
19 used & new from $2.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carry everywhere 24x7 case for S95 - Spark your Creativity, November 23, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* Easy and fast in/out with magnetic closure on flap.
* Snug fit. My Canon PowerShot S95 does not bounce around.
* Reasonable protective cushioning
* Belt loop
* Carry everywhere: small, light and unobtrusive
* Sparks creativity

* Not enough room for much else besides the camera in the case. The Canon S100 might give a teeny extra space.
* Weatherproofing could be better, some water or snow can get in on the edges. This is a tradeoff - better proofing would mean slower access.
* When wearing on a belt, one must take care when undoing the belt, the camera can fall off. Not sure how to fix this, need more friction or a stopper of some sort.
* No really secure closure - would be nice to have e.g. Velcro that could be `turned off' by having a flap that could cover the hooks part. Opening the flap would allow the Velcro to be used. This might cost more and lose some of the elegant look.

At $6.88 it is a no-brainer if you have an S95 or similar size camera and you want fast 24x7 in/out access. I will use another case for when I need more weather protection and can put up with slower in/out access (e.g. when I'm skiing).


I just got this case a few days ago; it fits the S95 like a glove. It is small and unobtrusive enough that I will probably wear it to most business meetings. My S95 is now with me 24x7, everywhere I go. It's really fun. The magnetic flap allows for super fast in and out - to grab those fleeting rainbows and countless other day to day moments. This sparks creativity - I found myself taking pictures all kinds of things that normally I wouldn't.

With an S95, the fit is too snug to put much else in the case - and still retain a) the convenience of easy in out and b) a secure closing of the magnetic flap (so the camera stays put). I'd prefer a backup more secure closure for when I'm less likely to use the camera. In order of importance, I want to carry:

1. wrist strap
2. custom grip from Richard Frainiec.
3. extra battery
4. extra SD card, ideally in its plastic case

The main space there is to use is to the right of the lens (looking down on the camera). With great care, more than one of the above can fit in. But the whole point of a magnetic flip lid is fast and easy in and out. The kind of fiddling needed to get all this stuff in defeats the purpose. In particular, there is no practical way to have the battery in there and quickly get the camera in and out.

Let's look at each item.

STRAP: Initially it was a struggle to fit just the wrist strap. Unless I was careful, the lid would not catch properly. After a few days of use, it seems to have loosened up a bit. Even so, I find that to get the most secure fit,I take an extra few moments to carefully fit the strap in the space. You can leave the strap hanging out of the case, but there is a risk it will catch on something.

GRIP: I was going to get the Franiec custom grip, but I'm concerned that there will not be room for the strap. There is no way that the battery would fit if the grip was attached.

BATTERY: I can squeeze the battery next to the lens, and with care I can even squeeze the camera strap accordion style above it and get it to close snugly. But this is a pain, defeating the easy fast in/out point of this case.

SD CARDS: There are two slots for extra SD cards. There is not enough room for a comfortable fit with the plastic case. You can squeeze it in, but this risks the flap coming loose. So you need to put the card in by itself. This may be ok, but is not very ideal. Find or invent a ultra-mini zip-loc bag, and it will work great! Cards have so much storage that this is easy to do without.

I am grateful for the suggestion of B. Krause on a discussion on the Best case for the S95 ([...]).

Plugable USB 2.0 to VGA/DVI/HDMI VGA / DVI / HDMI Video Graphics Adapter for Multiple Monitors up to 2048x1152 / 1920x1200 Each (Supports Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP)
Plugable USB 2.0 to VGA/DVI/HDMI VGA / DVI / HDMI Video Graphics Adapter for Multiple Monitors up to 2048x1152 / 1920x1200 Each (Supports Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Product, Stellar Customer Support, October 3, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this product in conjuntion with their Plugable USB 2.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station with DisplayLink DVI/VGA up to 1920x1080, Audio, Ethernet, and 4 Available High-Speed USB 2.0 Ports.

My setup was Direct VGA connect to my laptop for one monitor. Another monitor connects via the Plugable USB 2.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station with DisplayLink DVI/VGA up to 1920x1080, Audio, Ethernet, and 4 Available High-Speed USB 2.0 Ports and the third external monitor to the display adapter being reviewed here. BTW all three monitors are different manufacturers. Dell, HP and Samsumg. One is 1920x1200 the other two are 1600x1200.

I originally set it up with an Asus 1000HE netbook with three external monitors and one laptop screen. With XP I did eventualy get it to work, but it was hell. It took forever, blinked all the time and was generally painful. My recommendation: don't try anything complicated with XP.

I got a new box, ASUS K42JC with Win 7 and pretty much everything just worked. Mostly. I have had some inconsistent behavior when I come back from a hibernate, or power down. Sometimes screens go black. Usually it is a minor inconveneience. A couple times it got to be a major inconvenience, and then I E-mailed to They are absolutely amazing. They respond within a day, and are very helpful. Some problems went away when I downloaded a fresh driver - not yet being pushed automatically using Windows Updater.

I had another strange problem last week, with the monitor connected directly to laptop VGA went black with all monitors connected. But if I disconnected some, it worked - so it was not the monitor.

It was explained to me that Windows tries to be clever and remember different combinations of monitors so that if you have a different one at the office, and two different setups at home, say. It remembers the right settings for each w/o having to re-configure each time. Trouble is, if it remembers something wrong, you get weird behavior.

He (Bernie the support guy) said to try adding another Display Adapter to the mix, replacing the direct VGA connector. I did not want to buy another one, then he, miraculousl, offered to send me one FOR FREE, Priority Mail.!

By then I was not able to get my work done efficiently, and he sent it priority mail, arriving the next day. Viola,it works now. The only cost to me is one USB port.

SUMMARY: The product seems very good, though a bit fiddly at times if you are doing something complicated. But the support is amazing. Also, some complain about slow performance, mouse delay, slow graphics update etc of the externaly driven monitors. I did notice this on my Netbook with XP, but I have not noticed it at all with my ASUS K42JC Laptop. I don't don't do anything sophisticated, but I do watch youtube and do photoshop and never notice any slowdowns, even a minor one.

Canon ImageCLASS MF4350d Laser All-in-One Printer
Canon ImageCLASS MF4350d Laser All-in-One Printer
Offered by Juds Cool Stuff
Price: $749.99
2 used & new from $749.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meta Review of 152 Reviews: excellent printer for small office, single user, July 24, 2011
This is a meta-review of my notes and impressions after reading all 152 reviews. I am leaning towards buying this printer for a small office with a single user.

1. great printer with very good specs,
2. duplex printing
3. good print quality for the price,
4. no network access
5. limited duplex functionality for scanning and copying
6. Cartridges may not be easily available; it was disturbing to not see them pop on the Amazon page of things suggested to buy with this printer. I suggest researching this before getting printer.

1. easy to install
2. easy to use, mostly push a button
3. energy saving mode when not in use, fast from standby mode to first print
4. print quality good for the price. many say crisp and clear, some say, quite good, others say only average and not as good as inkjet. LIkely to be fine for most small business use
5. paper feeder very robust, even with card stock, mostly jam free. one complained hard to unjam paper jams. A few complained it is difficult to get paper in straight.
6. 120-150 sheets in paper feeder
7. inexpensive per-sheet ink cost (although some complained that cost was too high)
8. most say quiet, some say a bit noisy, but no more than other lasers. The duplex mode is noisier, of course.
9. scan to pdf, scan to image, scan and launch software
10. duplex printing only, no duplex copying
11. duplex scanning 1-sided to 2-sided (NOT 2-sided to 2-sided)
12. light footprint
13. solid quality feel
14. decently fast printing especially for the price, duplex is 1/3 as fast due to the flipping paper
15. Canon phone technical support is excellent, no wait time, no maddening menus

1. A number of people complained of not straight printing or scanning through ADF
2. Only comes with starter cartridge, not a full one. Buy full one when getting printer
3. Will not work with a USB print server.
4. USB cord not included with printer, need to use your own.
5. No wireless access
6. No network access, but there is a work around for single users: "What I do is gain access to the printer via my computer connections to my network with the printer connected via a USB to my primary computer which I leave on all the time."
7. Several complained printed or scanned crooked
8. can't feed multiple envelopes at once (says the manual, someone says it takes up to 10)
9. one complained about cartridges not being available any more, I could not find one on Amazon, very surprising! Call Canon first.

USER TIPS: A few user tips, all from one reviewer (sorry I forgot to make a note of who):
* When scanning from ADF, keep sheet quantity below 35 pages.
* If you want to make copies really fast, choose the "photo/text" option on image quality, my printer is copying at 20 cpm.
* If you have problems printing legal paper, try with other sizes in the menu, the printer is a little touchy with the size of paper.
* You can use the multipurpose tray to print a couple of sheets, I think 10 is the max. The manual says that is good only for 1 sheet but you can put it more.
* If you have problems with ADF scanning, check the size of the scanned documents, don't put documents with different sizes at one time, scan them separately.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2011 6:29 PM PDT

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being
Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being
by Martin E. P. Seligman
Edition: Hardcover
52 used & new from $7.63

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book about an important new field., June 21, 2011
We hear pithy phrases like: Success is having what you want, Happiness is wanting what you have. We all want to be happy, but what does that mean? How do we get there? We don't learn it in schools, there we learn works skills, and how to succeed. What we need is a place and a way to learn life skills so we can have greater well being. Welcome to the brand new field of positive psychology, founded by the author.

Answering the question, what is happiness, Seligman says there are five main aspects: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment (PERMA). The extent to which we have all this in our lives is the extent to which we have well-being and flourish. The focus is on adding these positive things in our lives, as opposed to the conventional approach which is to remove disorders from people who have them and to ignore the rest of us.

More forward thinking teachers, facilitators, coaches and therapists already teach their students and clients various behaviors that can enhance well-being. For example, during a challenging period in my life, I received `homework' from a facilitator to spend a few minutes at the end of each day jotting down a few things that I feel grateful for, and a few more things that I did well that day. For me, this created both positive emotion and a sense of accomplishment. Another common way to get out of a funk is to do good works for others. That can instill a sense of meaning.

The field of positive psychology examines these and dozens of other behaviors to determine which ones work best, and why. It practitioners are creating a solid scientific foundation with double-blind trials, continually tweaking and improving behaviors for positive results. One participant noted: "Doing something for others feels better than any video game".

Many interesting findings are coming to light. For example, it has long been a puzzle why girls and women with lower IQs tend to do better in school. After thorough testing and analysis, it was determined that self-discipline is a better predictor for good grades than IQ. Self discipline is also a predictor for better success in other areas in life, e.g. less obesity. Another major discovery is that feelings flow from beliefs, not from adversity. Adversity causes beliefs which cause feelings. This is a good thing, because we have more control over our thoughts than over external events. Positive psychology has major impact on business too. Analyzing conversations in business meetings, the companies that had higher ratios of saying positive things vs. negative things were more financially successful.

This field is progressing so fast with such good results, that the US Army started a major program to train all the new recruits. One army sergeant told a moving story about his son, who told him he got an award. Instead of the usual response of "that's nice", the dad instead asked his boy how he felt when he got the award, where was it, who was there? Soon, the son paused and said "Dad, is that really you?" . This one simple technique, actively engaging in a positive way, is powerful. It is all too easy to not really pay attention to what is being said, or to first notice and respond to good news with a negative remark.

A major theme in the book is that the absence of disorder is nothing like the presence of flourishing. Yet this is how success is measured in talk therapy. No stress? No anger? No anxiety? Great, but this can often result in emptiness, not flourishing. Success in talk therapy is measured in terms of how long it takes before a patient has recurring systems. People are not so much cured, as they are having some symptom relief. Whatever we may think of Freud today, at least he was looking for a real cure. Seligman points out that not a single phycho-pharmaceutical drug provides a cure.

In the latter part of the book. the author applies the same thinking to the area of physical health. Our medical system for physical health is also geared at removing symptoms; very few drugs cure any condition (antibiotics being a major exception).

Seligman looked at data from prior studies, and just as he discovered self-discipline was a major predictor for success in life in general, he found that optimism and activity were major predictors for physical health. A surprising result is that people can be fat and fit at the same time, the key is activity, the lack of which causes bad health. Once he determines what the real predictors are, controlling for many other different possible variables, the strategy is to improve those things. So if you can increase optimism and activity, you will go a very long way towards being more healthy. The data shows that focusing on losing weight is not as effective.

The book is just packed with fascinating examples, stories and data. Other things you will learn about include: a new theory of intelligence, positive computing, a major program for teaching well-being in grammar schools and online personal flourishing assessment tools.

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