Seize the Moment Relaunch

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Graduation 2018

From high school graduation — June 2018

In January 2014, I began Seize the Moment with a review of Professor Denis Judd’s Empire: The British Imperial Experience from 1765 to the Present. Fourteen years old and I was reviewing and interviewing Professors of British history. As dorky as that may seem, I am still proud I took the initiative to do something like that. I went on to review many of my favorite books, write political pieces, and conduct interviews with many different authors and figures. I am also proud to have written a seventeen-part series on the Russian invasion of Crimea, articles that I wrote to warn Americans of the threat Russia posed not just in Ukraine but here.

Those didn’t quite worked out as hoped.

But, anyway, for some reason I stopped writing posts around July of 2015. Now, two-and-a-half years later, I am ready to take up the pen again. My writing ability has changed and evolved through those years and I have a stronger grasp on effective communication. I have kept many of my prior interests while developing a passion for new(er) ones. Most of all, I have a reason to write on here again.

I will be writing about a variety of topics of interest to me here. My love for America, foreign affairs, history, classic literature (especially Shakespeare and Dickens), automobiles, and film are just some of the topics I will be writing about. From time to time I may also post some non-article writing I have been working on. I am currently planning on posting a foreign affairs piece each Sunday but will also aim to post other writings throughout the week. I promise to be ethical, reasonable, and prudent in all I post.

This week I will have a few posts to make. Be on the lookout for an analysis of the recent indictments announced by the Special Counsel investigating Russia for interference in the 2016 election. I will post the article on Medium, then post the link to it on this blog.

Thank you for all of the constant support. May I do all I can to keep that trust.

 

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Poverty Must Be Our Focus To Fulfill The Dream

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Dr. King Receiving His Nobel Prize. Credit Here.

Oh, how men of compassionate, tolerant hearts willing to do all necessary for the betterment of all people can connect across decades, even centuries.

The dream is far from realized. Half of all public schoolchildren are now in poverty, as of 2015. People of all races cannot live life without finding institutional discrimination, which matters much more than verbal racism. Over 40 million of our fellow Americans are suffering in poverty; out of this, those suffering worst are blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. And the poverty rate is only getting higher.

I am ready to lead the next great change, this time with a focus on poverty. We must look at our people less as black, Hispanic, Native American, American of Arab Descent, etc., and more as fellow Americans. We must reduce poverty and improve education to save the dream.

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Credit Here.

We as America are a beautiful tapestry, woven together by strands representing every race. The strands should not hate each other because they are a different color, they should all work together. When strands are eliminated through the loss of opportunity, the American Dream, the whole tapestry falls apart.

I am ready to help all who suffer in the deepest depths of the human condition, that of poverty. And I will pay whatever price, bear any burden, for this to happen.

Thank you, Dr. King, for starting the great change. We must carry the torch now, and focus on our issues, like poverty, which is worse now than even in the 1960s. We must also prevent what happened in the last 50 years, regression, from happening again.

We must never let our hearts turn dark, for no tolerant democracy can run on hatred.

Unity In France And Among All Free People For Tolerance And Democracy

The Place la République January 11th During Unity March. Photo by Paolo Verzone.

France has suffered unimaginable grief over the last week. Starting with losing 12 citizens in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, to the shooting death of a female police officer, and finally the dual hostage standoffs that ended with the deaths of 3 of the perpetrators (the female terrorist’s location is thought to be Iraq or Syria) and 4 Jewish hostages at the market, Paris is unified.

A confirmed 1.5 million people filled the streets of Paris, including in the Place de la République, showing that Paris, France, and free people everywhere will not cower to intolerance. I spoke to a Frenchwoman named Julie (who wished for her full name to remain anonymous), and she said that the, “French people are united and standing up against any form of terrorism.”

The Charlie Hebdo attack, Julie told me, first put France into a state of “shock, then fear,” but now, “are united.”

The French perspective on the magazine is interesting. Julie said that, “Charlie Hebdo was not a ‘popular’ newspaper and by popular I mean not many people bought it (I think they were having money problems) but it was very controversial. Either you liked it or hated it.”

Charlie Hebdo was a target by the terrorists because of its cartoons. Julie did note, very importantly, that she “thinks that even though some people didn’t agree with their editorial line, it is a symbol of freedom of speech. So in my opinion, Charlie Hebdo didn’t have a huge impact but its attack did.”

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My hand drawn tribute to those who died in the Charlie Hebdo, and the Jewish Market attack.

Many of our leaders say that security measures against these types of attacks need to be expanded, and I agree in some ways with that, but the issue is much bigger than that.

First, the brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre were susceptible to radical ideology because of disenfranchisement in France. The shrinking opportunity for people to get out of poverty is causing this kind of violence and hate to become attractive. In France, in Europe. All over the world, including America. Sometimes, attacks such as these are done to ‘leave a mark’ because other, real, ways of leaving a legacy are not possible to people stuck in poverty with no way out.

The other thing we can do is to improve education and incorporating tolerance and an understanding of other cultures into that curriculum. I am deeply opposed to standardized tests because they force schools to focus on simply facts without any cultural understanding, language, and lessons in tolerance. One of my favorite quotes is from Nelson Mandela, which fits perfectly in this discussion:

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Teaching children to have tolerance and compassion for all people through the education system, paired with reducing poverty and restoring opportunity, are moderate approaches we can take to prevent hate from causing violence.

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Credit to Paolo Verzone.

From Caesar, to the Hundred Years’ War, to the Nazi Occupation, and now to this week, Paris has and always will endure through great challenges and threats to her. Paris and New York are the great free cities of the world, and because of that are shining beacons of light in the darkness of hate and intolerance.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

Nous Sommes Francais.

Vivé la France.

May the light of freedom always triumph over the darkness of intolerance.

The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton Revolutionizes The Mongols’ Place In History

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Images of Genghis Khan riding across the steppes of Asia, making the Mongol name one to fear and of Marco Polo’s voyage to the court of Kublai Khan are what come to mind when the Mongol Empire is discussed. This one-dimensional, patriarchal vision of this part of history is shattered by Stephanie Thornton’s The Tiger Queens.

Thornton is the author of the acclaimed novels The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods, which center around Empress Theodora and Pharaoh Hatshepsut, respectively.

In The Tiger Queens, we see the lives of 4 women who changed the face of the Mongols, and the world.

First, we meet Borte, who triumphs over great tragedies done unto her to become the first Great Khatun of the Mongols.

Next, we get to know Alaqai, a strong woman who can shoot an arrow much better than even most of the men in the Mongol Army. She makes great personal sacrifices, ones of love, safety, and family to strengthen the People of the Felt.

Third, we become accustomed with Fatima, a Persian captive who loses the love of her life to Mongol invasion. Her yearning for revenge is transformed into compassion when she finds new love in the form of family.

Finally, we end with Sorkhorkhtani. Underestimated from birth, her contributions to the Mongols is only bested by Genghis Khan himself.

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Credit Here.

I really appreciate how each of the women are an aspects of women’s spirits. Borte is the part that can triumph over the odds, Alaqai shows the sacrifices women make, Fatima portrays the compassion women have, and Sorkhorkhtani shows the leadership and patience women can wield.

The Tiger Queens shows the evolution of Thornton’s writing like nothing else could. Starting out as an excellent writer, she is making great strides in its development, and is becoming one of the best historical fiction writers of our generation.

The visuals and spiritualness displayed throughout this novel are unrivaled. Thornton does not shy away from the blood and gore on the battlefields, but balances this with the love by the women for their husbands, children, and people to show the Mongols in a fair light.

Overall, The Tiger Queens is an achievement. It shows us how powerful the Mongol women truly were, and the impact they still have on our world. It puts to rest the tip of the iceberg knowledge that is commonly known of the Mongols to show a history full of gore and tolerance, revenge and compassion. It revolutionizes the way we see the People of the Felt, and for the better.

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Stephanie Thornton- Author Bio:

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora and Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt are available from NAL/Penguin.

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan hit the shelves November 4, 2014, and The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great will be available in November 2015.

Praise for The Tiger Queens-

“A gripping epic of sacrifice, revenge, and conquest…kept me riveted from beginning to end!”

–Michelle Moran, bestselling author of The Second Empress

“From under the felted ger tents of Genghis Kahn emerge four powerful women. It is a testament to Thornton’s writing prowess that she can so intricately whittle heroines that are both compassionate and ruthless from the bones of our ancestors…a stunning achievement!”

— Barbara Wood, New York Times bestselling author of The Serpent and the Staff and Rainbows on the Moon

“A vivid depiction of warrior women tough as the harsh, windswept steppes which nurtured them and who, as the warring Mongol clans battle for supremacy, survive… to ensure their men emerge the victors. Gripping stuff!”

–Alex Rutherford, author of the Empire of the Moghul series

Buy The Tiger Queens:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon

Obamacare Reaches 6 Million Days Before Open-Enrollment Deadline

Over 6 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare since October 1st, when the enrollment period started. President Obama announced these numbers Thursday in an effort to make one final PR push for the health reform program.

After a botched rollout, the 6 million number is huge for the Obama Administration, and proves that Obamacare does work. The President obviously wants to finish out the enrollment period, and put his energy behind more initiatives, such as immigration reform, income inequality, and new foreign policy concerns.

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The 6 million number will not be the final number, as many are signing up just in time to make the March 31st deadline. For example, the HealthCare.gov website had 1.5 million visits and more than 430,000 calls on Wednesday. Expect a number closer to 6.5 million or even the initial goal of the Administration of 7 million enrollees.

The people likely signing up last minute are probably more likely to be young people, who currently make up 25% of sign-ups. I foresee this number rising to about 30%, which is about enough to offset the higher costs of insurance for older, sicker Americans.

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These numbers coming in show that this is the healthcare reform that works, not a free-for-all nor single payer/socialized healthcare. Almost 15% of the uninsured population now have insurance thanks to Obamacare. Premiums are actually low in cost. For example, a typical 40 year old in Cleveland can expect to pay $177 for a bronze plan.

Obamacare is working, evident by all of these statistics. The political pundits will make their comments, but Obamacare is helping people. The health care reform is literally saving lives, and saving Americans their hard-earned money. No one should go bankrupt, or die, due to a lack of options in regard to health issues. Not in America. Never again.

Get Covered Now!

Credit For All Visual Media Goes To The White House.

 

An Interview With Author/Scientist J.M. Sidorova, Involving Ice, Science, and Love Of Writing

I reviewed J.M. Sidorova’s novel, The Age Of Ice, previously. Now, I have an interview I conducted with the author. 

Welcome, J.M. to Seize The Moment! It is great to have you here. How are you?

Hi Nassem, thanks for having me here at Seize the Moment.

1. The Age Of Ice is your debut novel, and is very well written. When did you begin to write?

Thank you for your praise.  I began to write at the age seven or so. (It is not uncommon for a future writer to manifest some kind of a “writing affliction” at an early age.) As for when I began to write well — that is an open question. Maybe almost forty years later?

2. Your book is from first-person. How did you get in the head of Prince Alexander Velitzyn?

I did not get in his head, he got in mine. But seriously? Hard to say. I’ve put a little bit of my father into him, a little bit of myself. A lot of what preoccupies his mind is hindsight. I love hindsight!  Also, I do believe that one can use relatively small and ordinary personal experiences as a seed to build (with some research on the subject, of course) something extraordinary and dramatic. It’s like growing salt crystals – you need something for it to nucleate on. As an example: what writer has been in a spaceship crash? No one. But some had been in a car crash. And others had crashed on a bicycle. In a sense, you can use your bicycle crash experience as a seed to create your spaceship crash narrative.

 3.   I understand that you are a science research professor at the University of Washington. On the ice part of The Age Of Ice, did your extensive knowledge of this subject influence your book? 

I would not call myself an expert on ice. I know the basics of the physics of water, the kind of a background knowledge that is so integral to what we do in the lab, that we don’t even notice that we use it. The same thing may have happened with the book — some of the references to ice are just paraphrased basic scientific facts. One thing I know is that water is such a marvelous substance that if I could I would have put a lot more about it into the book.  For instance our (University of Washington’s) own Professor Gerald Pollack  just published a book (http://faculty.washington.edu/ghp/new-book/)  about a new, fourth state of water (in addition to solid, liquid, and gas) that actually may be very relevant to the way water behaves inside cells of living organisms.  How awesome is that?

Nassem Comment: I am interested in reading that book! Water is fascinating, both how it got here to Earth and the forms it takes.

 4.   While we are on the science topic, could you tell us a bit about what scientific field you study in?

One way to describe it is this: imagine, every cell of a human body has a total of six feet of DNA cut into forty six pieces (yes, it’s not a typo, six feet), and packed into a volume that is about one ten-thousandth of that in diameter. When a cell divides into two, it needs first to accurately copy all six feet of its DNA. Cells accomplish this goal in under eight hours using thousands of “copy machines” that are each about one millionth of a foot long. I study how cells manage to do it and not mess things up, even under challenging conditions.

Nassem Comment: That is an amazing fact, the 6 feet of DNA fact. It makes you look at life itself differently.

5. How much of real science fact is Alexander’s immortality based off of? Does it have something to do with heat particles and the temperature?

 Oh, I wish it was based in real science. Short of that, let’s take some real science and run wild with it. I am going to continue on with my crystals analogy. Bear with me. Ice is water crystals, right? Proteins can also form crystals. Normally though, proteins in living organisms are not supposed to form indestructible crystallized aggregates. But certain altered proteins inside cells can fold in a wrong way and form an indestructible crystal. This crystal is now a seed around which more of the protein aggregates. The crystal grows.  What you get in an upshot is mad cow disease, and indestructible seeds of crystallization are called prions. For all intents and purposes prion crystals are infectious, transmissible, and they multiply by recruiting more building blocks to themselves from the organisms they infected.  Now apply all of this back to ice crystals and imagine that ice has “infected” our character at conception and is now in every cell of his body; it has co-crystallized with proteins inside his cells and takes part in every process. Longevity just may be a side effect of that.

 6. Prince Alexander was conceived and developed his…unique…trait in the real-life Palace Of Ice, constructed by Empress Anna Ioannovna. How did you first come upon knowledge about this palace, and was it the main inspiration for The Age Of Ice?

One Of The Awesome Maps On The Endpapers of The Age Of Ice.

 That’s an easy answer: I read about the Ice Palace in a New Yorker article by Elif Batuman, and yes, it was indeed the straight-on, direct, kick-starting inspiration for the novel.

Nassem Comment: I was sent a copy of said article with the review copy of The Age Of Ice. It truly was very interesting to read, and I would encourage any readers to read the article before the book.

7. As Alexander is on his journey to discover who he really is, he travels to many different places, among them Paris, the Middle East, and Siberia. Which of the many places were your favorite to research and write about?

 Each one was my absolute favorite when I worked on it. A sort of serial favoritism on my part.  Looking back, I now have unique associations with each place, personal experiences that they are attached to. I have seen readers and critics call the Siberian chapter extremely dark, and I am very glad to see that because that is exactly how I wanted it.  So I guess that makes it a favorite in terms of having accomplished the goal.

8. What authors have influenced you the most in your writing?

 The list is long, and it could be said it contains everybody I happened to read at an impressionable age between — I don’t know — sixteen and twenty two. Those were not so much influences as impacts, style and story all packed together in a punch. To give just a few examples off the list — Sasha Sokolov, Julio Cortazar, Jorge Luis Borges, Stanislav Lem, Thomas Mann, Salman Rushdie; but really, I can go on and on.      

9. Where does your greatest support come from? What hobbies do you enjoy?

 Professionally, I am lucky to be part of a great writer and reader community here in Seattle, which also includes folks involved with Clarion West workshop for speculative fiction writers (of which I am a graduate). My family definitely should be awarded Best Supporting Family Member titles. As for hobbies… who has the time? Very occasionally, we do the outdoor sports typical for Seattle — things involving mountains or large bodies of water — and the rest of the time we recover from injuries and muscle soreness incurred due to performing those outdoor sports.

 Thank you so much, J.M. You have honored me, allowing me to interview you. As I stated in my review of The Age Of Ice, the book is one of my favorites I have ever read, due to the rich text and blending of history and science. Thank you.

 I am glad you liked it. Thanks for interviewing me.
J.M Sidorova- Author Of The Age Of Ice
J.M. Sidorova was born in Moscow, when it was the capital of the USSR, to the family of an official of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. She attended Moscow State University and the graduate school of the Russian Academy of Sciences. She moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1990 and works as a research professor at the University Of Washington, where she studies aging and carcinogenesis.

What You Will Be Seeing From “Seize The Moment”

So by now, I have posted 3 reviews and one interview, but that is just a taste of what will be to come on Seize The Moment. I will continue with book reviews and interviews, but will also be having album reviews, movie reviews, political posts, writing about experiences at different locations of interest, updates on my writing of my Trilogy on my ancestors, and much, much more!

I will be reviewing albums and movies that are of interest to me. An album, for example, that I hope to be reviewing this month is “BEYONCE” by Beyonce, which came out last month. Movies also, that I hope to review this month, are “The Butler” and “Fruitvale Station”. These titles are to give you an expectation of where my interests in entertainment lie.

I will post about political topics. I hope to get up some posts about, for example, what needs to be in an Iranian Nuclear Deal for it to be beneficial, updates on the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, reducing American poverty, and much more. My personal beliefs make me a moderate Democrat, and you can read more about them in my “About” section.

I will post about new places I have been and my experiences at those places. Anything of historical value is somewhere I want to visit! 🙂

I plan to post updates on the writing of my Trilogy of fictional autobiographies on 3 of my ancestors. The first book is currently being written, and it is about Resolved Waldron, a man who helped colonize Dutch Brazil and New Netherland, and held many positions of power for the Dutch and the British. The other 2 are set during the First Crusade and the American Revolution(in the West; Ohio) and Frontier days, and they follow Rudolph Van Waldron and Christian Fast, respectably. Maybe a few chapters will even be posted on here to give you a taste. 😉

I hope that you will read “Seize The Moment” and thank you to all who have already done so and hopefully will continue!