Seize the Moment Relaunch

Featured

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.

 

Advertisements

Personal Letter And Autograph From President Bill Clinton: Is This Real Life?!

20140622-232646.jpg
President Bill Clinton Doing What He Does Best: Bringing People Together. Oslo Accords, 1993. L-R: Yitzhak Rabin, Clinton, Yasser Arafat

Recently I had sent letters to both Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton. I wrote about my ambitions, and the cause I am to make my life’s work: poverty. A couple months ago, in early February, I had received a letter and autograph from Secretary Clinton (which I wrote about here.)

This month, though, I was lucky enough to get a response from the Office of Bill Clinton at the Clinton Foundation:

20140622-233420.jpg

It is a personal letter from him, along with a signed bookplate. I was honored to receive both of these, as I hold him as a hero of mine. It also meant a lot to me what he said in the letter, which included:

20140622-233455.jpg

“I was especially inspired by your passion for promoting racial and economic equality.”

“I can tell that you’re already…thinking thoughtfully about how to empower others to live their best life stories.”

20140622-233547.jpg

And in an allusion to the title of his autobiography, he said:

“Good luck onto your life.”

Bill Clinton was one of the greatest Presidents we have had, and has emerged as a true statesman. I am truly grateful for the time and energy he put in writing me back, and it is something that I will hold with me for a very long time. Both Secretary Clinton and President Clinton are figures that I admire greatly, and they “may” (wink) both be making firsts in 2016

An Interview With Author Jermel Shim Including Jamaica, President Obama, and His Writing

I recently reviewed Jermel Shim’s Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man CurseI now have an interview for you that I have done with Mr. Shim.

Hello Jermel, Welcome To Seize The Moment. How are you?

Hello Nassem, I am fine, thanks for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to do this interview.

You were born in Jamaica. I am interested in the Jamaican culture, and so could you tell us a bit about growing up there? Does your belief in equality come from any injustice you saw there? Jamaica became a sovereign nation in 1962, so do you have any memories of when you were very young of British colonization of the island?

 I have very fond memories growing up in Jamaica with people who cared about each other and with friends, relatives, and plenty of outdoor activities. Back then there were no social or political problems to worry about – life was wonderful.

The Jamaican culture includes a diverse group of people that reflects its history as a British colony. With a population of just over two million people, the largest group are of African descent, with a smaller percentage of Chinese, Asian Indians, Lebanese or Middle Eastern, and whites. This diversity is reflected in the national motto “Out of many one people.” The large black population originated from slavery and after the abolition of slavery, Asian Indians came to Jamaica to work as indentured servants on the sugar plantations. Later Chinese people who were working on the construction of the Panama Canal came to Jamaica after the canal was completed.

Despite the diversity of the Jamaican population, Jamaica has not experienced any significant conflict along racial lines. During the time of the British colonization when I was growing up, there were complaints about lighter complexioned Jamaicans getting employment preference over darker complexioned Jamaicans in banks and other governments agencies. That practice changed after Jamaica gained its independence from Britain in 1962.

Although social class bias exists, there were no real issues with equality or social injustice like you have in the US. This does not mean these problems did not exist but certainly not to the degree where they became social and political issues. Class bias used to be an issue with Jamaicans being conscious of class status. Many Jamaicans held people in the upper class with high esteem and as a result, the elected political leaders and government ministers were usually members of the upper class. That has since changed in recent years where Jamaicans from various social backgrounds now hold political office.

During colonialism, the British influence manifested itself in various aspects of Jamaican culture. For example, I was educated in the public schools with English textbooks. The high school exams were administered from England. We observed the traditional English holidays and we played English games like cricket, soccer, and netball. The political and judicial systems remain the same as the British system.

Jamaica today like many Third World countries faces economic, social, and political challenges. Because of these challenges, some older Jamaicans who have lived through the British colonial system believe that Jamaica was more disciplined and better off under the British system

For a small nation Jamaicans have excelled and gained international recognition in athletics (Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser – two times Olympians), reggae music (Bob Marley), The Voice champion (Tessanne Chin), a Spelling Bee champion, and many others in other fields.

 20140321-182927.jpg

Did growing up in Jamaican culture influence the faith component in your book Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man Curse? I know there is a Christian following in Jamaica, but what inspired your Buddhist Eight-Fold Path component?

 Yes, as a child growing up in Jamaica I was raised by a white Englishman who was very religious and a deacon in the local Congregational Church. I attended Sunday school every Sunday and studied the Bible as part of my preparation for Bible examination that was administered island wide by the executive administrators of the Congregational Church.

During my early adolescent life, I became interested in Indian spiritual knowledge that came from gurus. I even remember going to a meeting held by a guru who came to Jamaica. I also was interested in Transcendental Meditation (TM) and yoga. At the time, these things provided a different perspective of life and understanding of mind consciousness. Following this, I began reading series of book by Lobsang Rampa. His books were primarily about Tibet and their Buddhist customs. Lobsang Rampa books like Wisdom of the Ancients and The Third Eye influenced my life and gave me a whole new perspective on religion and other social issues.

 

Jermel Shim's Pappy

William “Pappy” Shout, Jermel Shim’s Adopted Father

I understand that you were an engineer for 29 years with 2 different companies. What sector of engineering did you specialize in. Did you ever draw up technical documents, satisfying your love of writing, at least during your career?

 I studied mechanical engineering at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada where I obtained a bachelor’s degree.

During my career, I worked in various engineering groups that included mechanical engineering, procurement engineering, and field engineering (working in nuclear power plants doing modification work to plant systems or equipment). Working in these different engineering areas, I consider myself as a generalist engineer rather than a specialist who worked in a single engineering area.

The assignments that I worked on included preparing procurement and installation specifications, prepared technical reports, reviewed engineering drawings, prepared systems descriptions, calculations. With my last employer, I worked mainly in design control engineering for the company’s nuclear power stations. Specific tasks included preparing several design control procedures and standards that governed the design change process, and technical reports to support the maintenance and modification of power plant equipment and systems.

My love of writing made it easy for me to enjoy doing technical writing. My experience in engineering and technical writing equipped me with skills to be analytical and research oriented. These skills have helped me tremendously in my new career as an author.

 

71BHkbZxZfL

Jermel Shim’s First Book

4. While we are talking about your penmanship of technical documents during your career, did you find it challenging to change from a technical writer to nonfiction?

It was challenging because with technical writing you have to be specific and precise to communicate effectively. You also need a good technical knowledge of the subject and a good understanding of the technical jargon.

With nonfiction, you also have to write with clarity and preciseness. However, there is more freedom for creativity and style. The challenge for me was to try to break out of the mindset of expressing myself as a technical writer. I hope I am making progress in doing this with my books and articles.

In your author bio, it stated that you have voted in every presidential election since you   became a US citizen in 1988. What in you fueled this love of exercising the right that we are all entitled to as humans in a time when many do not?

I have a great love for the political process and this love along with the right to vote is a good opportunity to participate in the political process. I believe it is the civic duty of every citizen to vote. In a democratic society, we elect people to govern us. The failure to exercise the right to vote and elect the right people often results in poor governance. I understand that the political process can sometimes cause people to be cynical or delusional about voting. However, voting is a significant right that a citizen has, and I believe people should use it in all elections.

When was the first time that you heard of Barack Obama? What about him made you realize that he is a “blessed” man?

The first time I heard of Barack Obama was when I watched the 2004 Democratic convention on TV. He was one of the keynotes speeches and I remember his eloquent and powerful speech about “We are not a red state, we are not a blue state, we are Americans.” His charismatic personality and eloquence made me recognize that he was going to have a bright future in politics. However, I certainly did not envision that he would be a prospective presidential candidate.

After reading a few books about President Obama I was convinced that he was a special man who was destined to become president. What convinced me was the many challenges he faced during his childhood, his early political career, and then in his first term going into his second term. What struck me about his relationship with his mother was that as a child she never told him anything negative about his father despite the bad relationship she had with him. To me this is a blessing for him.

Later on in his political career up to the time of being elected president, he was able to overcome many challenges- some of course historical and related to race. These challenges include events that occurred and could have thwarted his political career and his presidency.

Being able to overcome the obstacles and challenges he encountered – sometimes with unexpected events occurring at the opportune time to help him – made me realize that he was a blessed man. His other blessings include his remarkable ability to treat even his detractors with respect and understanding. In my book, Whom God Has Blessed Let No Man Curse, I describe in detail some of the characteristics that only a blessed person could have. We shouldn’t forget also that his name Barack means blessed.

Your book is in defense of President Obama, and that his detractors will never succeed. Do you believe that he many become one of the greatest Presidents to ever serve our nation?

I do believe President Obama is destined to become one of the greatest presidents. We may not see him get this honor in our lifetime. However, when the historians look at what he was able to accomplish as president despite relentless attack on his character, and obstruction of his policies throughout his two terms, people will recognize that it was amazing that he was able to perform his presidential duties and accomplish the things he did.

His accomplishments during his two terms include implementing the first health care law that many presidents before him failed to do. Other accomplishments included rescuing the economy that was on the verge of collapse when he took office in 2008, signing the Equal Pay Act, and many other things that he has done hardly gets any recognition. It is unfortunate that because of the crusade by the right to destroy him he does not get the credit he deserves. I believe historians will vindicate him and recognize his legacy as that of a great president.

In a time when, as I experience it on almost a daily basis and will for the rest of my life as a minority, racial separation and discrimination is at almost an all time high, so what is the civil rights issue that needs to be undertaken in our time now?

America still struggles with racial problems and a lot of work needs to be done to fix these problems. I was optimistic that with the historic election of President Obama in 2008, America was on a path of transcending its racial past and becoming a more racially tolerant country. Unfortunately, there are some people who do not like President Obama and by their actions, behavior, and words want to maintain racial dominance and inequality.

I believe all people should live freely and without having to bear the burden of racial inequality. Racial inequality was the civil rights issue of the 60s and although progress has been made since that time, it remains the civil rights issue today. Great effort is still needed to pursue a process of racial understanding, tolerance, and reconciliation. Only when these things are accomplished will people respect each other and treat each other fairly.

I understand that you are married. Could you tell us a little more about your family, and where your greatest support comes from?

I have been married to a wonderful woman since 1972. I met my wife when she was a nursing student in Jamaica and since that time, we have enjoyed our accomplishments and cope well with our disappointments. We have two grown children – a son who is a jazz musician and a daughter who is a psychiatrist. My greatest support comes from my wife and my children.

What are your current writing projects, including books and other literature?

Currently, I am working on my third book, A New Perspective on Racism – Issues with Morality, Spirituality, and Other Social Problems. I hope to get this book published this fall. I also write political articles for my website blog.

Thank you so much Mr. Shim for allowing me to interview you. I enjoyed having you here, and I look forward to our new friendship to grow. Thank you.

 Thank you Nassem, it was a pleasure doing this interview with you.

20140321-183115.jpg

Jermel Shim- Author

Jermel Shim is a retired mechanical engineer who has launched a new career as an author. Writing is not a new experience for Jermel. In his professional engineering career, he authored many technical documents. In his new career as an author, he has faced the challenge of switching from a technical writer to a nonfiction writer.

Born in Jamaica, Jermel was educated at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Following his graduation, he moved to the US, where he began an engineering career spanning 29 years with two major engineering companies – Gilbert Commonwealth in Reading, Pennsylvania and Dominion Resources, Inc., in Richmond, Virginia. He has voted in all Presidential elections since becoming a citizen in 1988.

Buy Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man Curse from Amazon.

Visit Jermel Shim’s Website.

 

Marek Tyszkiewicz: Building On The American Dream With Integrity

20140216-234655.jpg
Mr. Marek Tyszkiewicz

I was lucky enough to sit down a few days ago to a personal FaceTime interview with Mr. Marek Tyszkiewicz. The son of Polish immigrants who lived the American Dream, Mr. Tyszkiewicz is a pension actuary, someone who has secured billions of dollars for hard-working Americans, and a businessman. He is running for Ohio’s 2nd US Congressional District Seat and this district includes all or parts of 8 counties in southern Ohio near the Ohio River.

20140216-234624.jpg
Halina Tyszkiewicz, Marek’s Mother.

Mr. Tyszkiewicz and I first talked about his heritage and upbringing, one of being a son of immigrants who overcame the odds to make it here, to America. His father Stanislaw was a lieutenant in the Polish Army, escaping capture by the Germans, but then was sent to a Siberian gulag by the Soviets. His mother Halina was also Polish, and was sent to a Siberian prison camp too, on a train. Tyszkiewicz told me that after Churchill’s order to Stalin to release the Poles so that they could fight the Germans, his father went back into the Polish Army. His mother, affected by years of brutal winter and the devastation put on her body by the labor camp, was almost dead. But she did not die, and her savior was an unlikely one. Tyszkiewicz said that the Iranians didn’t care for the British, but liked the Poles, so they agreed to take these refugees. A town called Isfahan is nicknamed the “City of Polish Children” because of the hundreds of thousands of Poles that escaped to there. Halina was labeled an orphan, and was sent there, and recovered from the emotional and physical wounds inflicted upon her by the Communists. She ended up in Jerusalem and then when the civil war between the Jews and Palestinians began, she went to England. Stanislaw was also there, and they met and married. They had to decide, though, if they were to go back to Poland or come to America. Tyszkiewicz said that, to them, the former was impossible, and the events of their life so far make them feel that America was the greatest place for them to come and start a new life. Marek Tyszkiewicz said that these experiences that his parents went through are the reasons why integrity is so important to him. His parents are the embodiment of the American Dream, where you can escape oppression and come, work hard, and make a comfortable life for you and your family.

20140216-234919.jpg
Halina and Stanislaw’s Wedding Photo

Next, we discussed his career as a pension actuary. It is obvious that he has worked tirelessly to make sure that hard-working Americans are able to retire safely and comfortably without predatory Wall Street over them. Tyszkiewicz said that he wants to take an active role in Congress to end the war on traditional retirement. He said, “401ks were created by accident, a loophole in IRS tax code, and Wall Street loves them.” He expressed that he wants to strengthen Social Security and tie the minimum wage to the cost-of-living. About the President’s most recent step in regard to retirement, he said “MyRA is a start, but they don’t address the longevity risk of people outliving their investments, like traditional pension plans.” He wants to bring back the promise of a decent retirement for all Americans that work hard.

He wants to simplify the tax code to benefit small businesses. This is important to him, he says, because small businesses should not have to spend so much money on legal fees that they are cutting way too much money out of their profits. He wants a fair, simple tax code that any business can understand.

20140216-235904.jpg
Integrity: The Problem-Solver

Tyszkiewicz went on to talk about his family. “My wife Missy is the most remarkable person I know. No one has more integrity than her. I also have two wonderful boys, Jack and Harry. You couldn’t ask for two boys with bigger hearts. I learn as much from them as they do from me.” He and his wife run the Move Your Hyde Yoga Studios, helping many people in the Cincinnati area become healthier and reach their goals. It was obvious all throughout the interview that Tyszkiewicz is a man who loves his family very much, and believes very much in family values.

We talked about why he is running on integrity. Tyszkiewicz said, “When integrity is present, problems disappear.” He was upset at the partisan bickering that led to last year’s government shutdown. He is ready to negotiate across party lines, but is not naive. “I cannot be the only one coming to the table with integrity. It needs to be shared.” He also offered this everyday analogy to why integrity is important. “A good comparison is a bridge. If it has integrity, it works. But if it lacks integrity, it collapses.”

Finally, he told me why he is campaigning for political office. “I am running for Congress because I want to make a difference, get America out of this standstill, and get Congress working again.” I believe that Marek Tyszkiewicz has the leadership to keep the promise of America alive, and knows why it is important because his life was only possible because of it. He is ready to bring positively to the pessimistic town of Washington and to a tired nation. He expressed in the interview that he knows that his success was possible because the government was fair and worked for Americans, and he wants to keep that promise alive for future generations.

Throughout the interview, Mr. Marek Tyszkiewicz proved to be an honest, trustworthy man. Descended from immigrants who came to America to better their life, he knows that the way forward is to keep the American Dream alive. He has helped countless Americans retire with comfort, and will take this tireless advocacy to Congress.

Visit The Campaign Website.

Author Note: I want to express my gratitude to Mr. Tyszkiewicz for allowing me to do this interview. The photos are from him, and I look forward to our future interviews.

In Honor Of Dr. King, A Reflection on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

20140120-133200.jpg

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed 50 years ago this year. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Day today, I would like to discuss this in some detail.

In June 1963, President Jack Kennedy was a changed man. A man who saw that being on the side of civil rights, Kennedy was fed up with the slow progress made in this issue due to it being seen to opponents as, to quote George Wallace, “Segregation Forever”, and to the majority of supporters as solely a legislative issue. On June 11, 1963, President Kennedy gave his nation-changing Civil Rights Address. His address changed many people’s thoughts on civil rights, and transformed it from a legal issue to a moral one. He highlighted that all of America would not be free until every one of its citizens are. This speech helped Kennedy propose his Civil Rights Bill in Congress.

20140120-134219.jpg

At first, it was said that it would be detrimental to the movement. They said that there would be violence, hate speech, and an embarrassment. But Dr. King and the rest of the Big 6 in the movement knew that it was what the Bill needed. On August 28th, 1963, one of the most important events in American history occurred: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The gathering of over 250,000 people of all races and genders showed Congress that the nation was vastly in support of Kennedy’s Civil Rights Bill, and that it needed to be passed now. And the Dream speech. One of the most important speeches ever was given mostly off the cuff by Dr. King, to show that this nation was ready for equality and that it was the time now to begin to fulfill the promise of our nation: that all men are created equal.

20140120-135139.jpg

On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. At first, this nation was not certain that the Bill would still be in the forefront of American policy. But the opposite occurred. The people of this nation wanted to carry out what Kennedy was going to do as President if he would not have been slain. Citizens went out, made their communities aware of the Bill and persuaded many to support it. The movement attracted people of all races and genders, and due to King’s nonviolent leadership, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2nd.

20140120-140038.jpg

Without Martin Luther King’s Dream Speech, it is doubtful that the Act would have ever passed. King gave the speech in a visual way to give the listener a more personal feeling toward the movement, and that was genius. Dr. King defied many to carry on the march, including Malcolm X, who called it a “farce on Washington”. King was the leader of the people on the right side of history, and never gave up hope that people who love their country can change it to benefit all. He also knew that the movement must continue, because the hatred that many thought was eradicated in the 1960’s would still be around as strong as ever. He couldn’t have been more correct.

The one line that sticks out at me most from the Dream speech is: “We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote” Our job now is to make sure that all people can vote and have something to vote for. I have written a book on voting rights (not yet published), and I found in my research that Voter ID laws today could take the ability to vote away from over 23 million Americans. This is unacceptable, and we need to work, write, and peacefully protest these laws so that all of our brothers and sisters can exercise their most precious right. We need to encourage people to run for offices that will give Americans what they deserve. We need people who will lead, and will represent the people as they are supposed to. Dr. King needs to be remembered, and we need to take up the torch to continue to defend the rights of all people.

(Credit goes to Wikipedia for all photos except for bottom one, which is from my own collection)