In this interview, Sandy Tolan talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Sunday, November 22, 2020
In this interview, Wendy Teasdill talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Integrating Philosophy in Yoga Teaching and Practice: A Practical Guide.
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Paul Schulte on the Race for 5G Supremacy: Why China Is Surging, Where Millennials Struggle, & How America Can Prevail
In this interview, Paul Schulte talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book which he co-authored with Austin Groves, The Race for 5G Supremacy: Why China Is Surging, Where Millennials Struggle, & How America Can Prevail.
“If you’re gonna compete, compete!” ~Paul Schulte
The idea behind The Race for 5G Supremacy is: what would it take for the United States to create an “Apollo Program” so it could catch up with China in 5G implementation? Paul’s digging into the program, along with co-author Austin Groves, brought up sociological challenges that need to be addressed for such a program to be successfully implemented. According to Paul, millennials have high levels of anxiety and depression, and a proportionately large number of them are dropping out of employment with Fortune 100 companies, which are the ones who are in the best position to launch 5G technology.
The Apollo Program came out of the United States’ national drive to win the so-called “space race,” placing a man on the moon before any other nation - particularly the then-Soviet Union - did. This involved not only technologically related companies but also the public funds necessary to develop the aspects of the program for which there were not yet any technologies or solutions available. The three main aspects of the Apollo program which are still presently influencing the world today are:
- The development and present deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles
- Technological innovation, with companies born out of the program, such as Intel
- A massive PR drive which showed the world that “America can,” which caught the imagination of the world and developed American soft power throughout the world
China didn’t have a legacy technological infrastructure that relied in copper, which meant that they could start from scratch, rather than deal with established interests which would want to keep the old technology viable. This meant that their movement into digitizing the physical world, using such technologies as the Internet of Things (IoT) and creating technologies to handle and process the enormous amount of information necessary to analyze peoples’ movements as well as how to operate cars, buildings, traffic and to create smart cities.
One example of an existing Chinese technology is the Super App, which is one, single application which a user can use to do such things as paying fines, borrowing money, dealing with the government, getting a wedding certificate, buying insurance, reserving at a restaurant - the things that people in other nations can do only by physically going to such places. Paul notes that none of the present Western tech companies created such systems. “You ever heard of Google Pay, or Amazon Pay?” Paul asks. “No, because there isn’t.”
Paul notes that China is years ahead of all other nations in such technologies as quantum space technology, digital currency, autonomous car research, smart cities, among others. By comparison, the American Federal Reserve is only now starting to venture into digital currency (which China has been doing for six years), Facebook is now only starting to venture into digital blockchain currency (which Alibaba has been doing for fifteen years), and China’s been working on smart cities for at least four years. Tesla is the only Western company conducting research on autonomous cars, compared to several Chinese ones. China has also rolled out 5G in several cities, placing them a few years ahead of the United States.
Paul notes that technological companies are the ones who are in the best position to benefit from rolling out such technologies as 4G and 5G. “If you create the rail, companies will go on the railroad,” he analogizes. Because China has the first-mover advantage with 5G, Paul opines that the United States is presently blocking China’s implementation of 5G in other countries to buy time for the United States to catch up.
5G allows for far speedier data transfer - ten to twenty times faster - than what is available with 4G systems, using equipment that is physically far smaller than what is presently being used in 4G systems. Paul notes, however, that the average consumer might not be willing to pay extra so he or she can download an entire movie within a few seconds, so the ones who would greatly benefit from this would be such organizations as logistics companies and cities, and would be used for such things as managing traffic, as 5G enables processing of a large amount of data, such as that gathered where all kinds of human movement are concerned. Companies and organizations that would be able to make the most of 5G will be port companies, taxi companies and urban planning organizations, just to name a few. Paul also notes that China has put up 50,000 5G stations across that nation, covering 80% of China, creating connectivity with even some of the most rural areas.
One of the sociological aspects involved creating a technological “Apollo Program” is the belief that China has stolen all the technology it presently uses, rather than recognizing that they have innovated a sizeable amount of their presently working technologies. This belief creates the mindset that the United States is a victim and that China must be punished, which also creates an antagonistic atmosphere that hinders innovation. He also points out that pushing the idea that government is all bad will get the United States “nowhere,” because the government has to be involved, in the same way the United States government was involved in the Apollo Program.
Paul notes that several events have made their mark on the mindset of millennials (which is the cohort of the population born from 1980 onwards), some of which are:
- Oxycontin (Oxycodone) being launched in the United States, which started off the present opioid crisis, one of the results of which was parents being addicted while their children were growing up (1996)
- The Asian financial crisis (1998)
- The Columbine massacre, which was the first of the many school shootings which still continue to this day (1999)
- The September 11 attacks launched by al-Qaeda, which brought down World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2, as well as damaged the Pentagon (2001)
- The Iraq war (2003)
- Hurricane Katrina, which brought an awareness of the potential destruction that could be caused by climate change (2005)
- The global financial crisis of 2007, which was when people started to lose faith in the financial system
- The largest percentage of population in the United States, to date, which is presently incarcerated
These events, and others, have “traumatized” the millennial generation, creating in them the mindset that institutions cannot be trusted and in governments that deny climate change - and it doesn’t help that millennials likely know someone who is addicted to opioids or who has been incarcerated. This mindset is the reason that millennials don’t like to work for Fortune 500 companies, particularly since they are likely to leave the company the moment they see something that isn’t right.
Paul remarks that, if someone who is presently working in a company thinks that the way a company is doing things is “stupid,” that person should get around five other people, leave the company and set up their own company, using their better system, and “make a lot of money,” as companies aren’t going to change on their own. Paul remarks that this is a reality, adding that he has worked with banks who have paid lip service to changing their systems for decades and which have, de facto, not changed.
Purchase from Amazon:
The Race for 5G Supremacy: Why China Is Surging, Where Millennials Struggle, & How America Can Prevail by Austin Groves & Paul Schulte
Sunday, November 1, 2020
In this interview, Sharkie Zartman talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Win at Aging: How to Stay Fit, Free, and Love Your Retirement!
“We have been given the gift of time.” ~Sharkie Zartman
Writing books are an extension of her teaching, Sharkie notes, adding that she started out because she needed textbooks for her courses and couldn’t find the right ones which would fit what she taught. Sharkie decided to focus on ageing because she realized the “poor attitude” present society has towards ageing. “Ageing is inevitable, but we can control how we age and the rate at which we do so,” she remarks, adding that her work involves changing people’s perceptions about ageing, particularly now that the senior population is increasing. Writing books on ageing also is a way for her to help seniors live their senior years productively and more positively, as she notes that seniors feel that they can’t do what they want to do, and use the excuse that they’re too old to not do that. Sharkie, however, points out that there are people today, in their 70s and 80s, do the same things that people in their 20s and 30s do. “We can control our choices and attitudes, and that’s huge,” she remarks. “And I want to remind people of that.”
“Exercise isn’t optional, as we get older,” Sharkie remarks, noting that our bodies and brains need to be active and mobile, adding that activity increases the amount of oxygen the brain receives. “Ageing is an individualized process,” she notes, adding that, if one wants to live to the fullest in one’s senior years, then one has to step up and be active and empowered.
Where Win at Ageing is concerned, Sharkie looked at athletes as well as such aspects as nutrition, and analyzed the mindset these athletes had. She thus came up with the acronym RAP, which are important attributes for anyone trying to reach their goals. These attributes are:
Resiliency - not getting upset and down and complaining, stepping up and doing what needs to be done
Accountability - being responsible for one’s own choices, particularly when some of the symptoms that come up when one ages could be due to the decisions one made in the past
Passion/purpose - that which makes one want to live life, as well as looking at what’s positive in life
“Our quality of life is our responsibility,” Sharkie remarks, where wellness is concerned, “because doctors can’t be with us all day.” Where the mind-body connection is concerned, “this is huge.” Sharkie, for her part, focuses on the mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of ageing to enable her clients and students to lead active senior lives, using the story of a person who got into an experimental cancer drug study as an example of how powerful the mind-body connection actually is. This connection, Sharkie notes, might not give people “everything,” but it does give people the opportunity to live the best lives they can.
Sharkie admits that the spiritual aspect is probably the most important part of how to live a fulfilled life. This is also the most difficult aspect to teach, as a lot of people believe that they need to be religious to be spiritual, and she best links this up as spirituality being part of the human experience. She recommends some sort of yoga or meditation to get in touch with one’s inner self, and staying away from watching the news, as the latter “is depressing.”
“You can have a full and vibrant life regardless of age,” Sharkie remarks, adding that, while it will take work and persistence on one’s part, it’s worth it.
Purchase from Amazon:
Win at Aging: How to Stay Fit, Free, and Love Your Retirement! by Sharkie Zartman
Friday, October 16, 2020
National Geographic Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg on Breaking the News: What's Real, What's Not, and Why the Difference Matters
In this interview, Susan Goldberg talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about the National Geographic Children's book, Breaking The News: What’s Real, What’s Not, and Why the Difference Matters.
“We tell stories every day that can help make the world a better place.” ~Susan Goldberg
“Journalists are the eyes and the ears of the public,” Susan says about what journalists are, writing out stories on subjects and places that the general public has no access to. “I think it’s one of the most important functions of our democracy,” she adds, as this enables people to become informed consumers. Where stories are concerned, Susan notes that the best reporters have “a million and one ideas,” and that reporters work with editors to prioritize what stories are more important.
Where her experiences as a female journalist are concerned, Susan notes that journalism was very much a man’s world when she started in the 1980s. “I didn’t see very many female editors,” she notes about the journalistic environment at that time. She remarks that journalism is still very much male dominated and that, despite “great strides” being made in the end of the 20th century, the momentum for female advancement in journalism has stalled out at the moment. Where leadership is concerned, she hopes that her style is collaborative, and she works to give “a hand up” to the next generation of journalists, coaching them and speaking with them on how to advance in their profession. She also adds that it is a journalist’s role to “shine a light in dark places” to bring forth that which otherwise would remain hidden, and that this is one of the things that makes her proud to be a journalist.
The term “fake news,” Susan points out, is a term used by the present and 45th President of the United States for news items that he doesn’t agree with. What is presently included under the blanket term of “fake news,” Susan notes, was called, in previous years, consisted of such things as hoaxes, conspiracy theories and propaganda - stories that appear factual, but which can be outright lies. She remarks that, in the past, news came from a limited number of channels, so people knew where the stories came from.
At present, people are bombarded with information 24/7, thanks to social media and the Internet, and the sources are legion. Thanks to social media, information can be quickly spread, “almost like a game of ‘Telephone,’” though the story spread might not be a real one. Susan notes that people nowadays need to pause and make sure that they pass along real stories, rather than fake ones.
People “need to be curious and be skeptical consumers,” Susan remarks, adding the journalistic truism: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” adding that this truism underscores the need for people to be sure where information is coming from and if that information is real. She also notes that a third of young people admit that they have passed on stories that turned out not to be true, noting that bad information not only misleads but can also do harm. Susan also notes that half of the information that young people receive nowadays comes from social media and the Internet, which makes their being smart and skeptical consumers vital, where discerning the difference between real and false information is concerned.
Author Robin Terry Brown had been writing books for kids for over twenty years. She is likewise a journalist who had assembled a panel of journalists from various news organizations, as well as journalism professors, to talk about the history of news and journalism, the kind of stories that people read, and how to evaluate whether a story is real or false (which includes such things as how to tell if pictures are doctored).
Susan notes that some of the stories printed by National Geographic can take years to finish, and that, while these stories can be as long as books, the process of investigating and writing a story in that magazine is different from the process of writing a book. What is important, Susan emphasizes, is the discipline necessary to present truthful and accurate information which has been ethically gathered.
“I don’t think any one of us want to believe things that aren’t true,” Susan remarks, adding that it is hard for one to behave if one doesn’t know the basic facts. Lies, she also adds, can spread far more quickly than truth and the facts can, particularly in the Internet age. She also notes that it is just as easy to figure out what is real and what is not, as checking on stories is likewise just as quick on the Internet. One good way of checking on whether big and outrageous stories are real or not is to check if other people are covering said story, she explains, as a lot of people, particularly in the established media outlets, will be covering the same story.Breaking The News is a fun and easy read, Susan remarks, be the reader an adolescent or an adult. The journalist’s code of ethics is included in the book, and this includes making sure that one is meeting with an expert on the field, and being transparent with one’s mistakes whenever these occur. There are several examples of falsified information in the book, and one of the best ways to determine if the information is false is if a headline that one reads makes one emotional, so that one doesn’t go into the story itself to see if the story is real or not. The book includes a “Truth Toolkit,” and one of these tools, Susan shares, is for determining if the story feels like it belongs “on a supermarket tabloid,” (all caps, lots of exclamation points, includes aliens, etc.), while another aims to determine if the story is full of typos (spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, sloppy and messy, bad punctuation), as no legitimate news site puts out news in that condition. Yet another is if the website that the news comes from is a website of a legitimate news organization.
Susan admits that the book makes her proud to be a journalist, as it explains what journalists can do and the impact of what good journalism can do. It is a very excellent material for those who are studying journalism and for those who dream of becoming one in the future.
Purchase from Amazon:
Breaking The News: What’s Real, What’s Not, and Why the Difference Matters by author Robin Terry Brown (with Mary Newton Bruder & Jamie Terranova) and published by National Geographic Children's Books with Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg
Friday, October 9, 2020
In this interview, Kwame Mbalia talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, Tristan Strong Destroys the World (A Tristan Strong Novel, Book 2).
“The very first gatekeeper of one’s work that one would meet will be oneself.” ~Kwame Mbalia
Kwame, who is from Wisconsin, was named after the first president of Ghana, and his name also means “born on Saturday,” which was the day he was born in. He was steeped in west African mythology as a child, as he heard stories about these, and as a writer he wanted to create stories which were based on this mythology, to pass on to others. The Tristan Strong stories are, for him, about storytelling and how these get carried on for others to listen to.
Where the mythological characters are concerned, Kwame notes that the traditional tales leave gaps where authors like himself can create other stories, to expand on these, so that a larger representation of the characters can be given. “These stories have been around for a long, long time,” he remarks, adding that he includes them in his books to pay homage to the traditions around them.
Kwame remarks that each of his books is centered around a theme, with the theme of the first book, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, being that of grief, both for the lead character and the world he finds himself in.
The themes he writes about in Tristan Strong Destroys the World are trauma and diaspora, and these are interrelated with what the characters and real-world people deal with. Kwame remarks that readers can get an idea of how one person, at least, handles concerns such as grief.
Where the consistency of his books is concerned, Kwame remarks that there is a large team of editors which makes sure his stories remain consistent over time and, in addition, Kwame also re-reads what he wrote to ensure consistency. He notes that food is one of his favorite things to write about, noting that: “Food is a wonderful way of world-building,” as it shows different aspects about the culture that prepared it. He also enjoys writing dialogue, particularly humor, as this shows the degree of friendship and camaraderie amongst the characters.
Kwame remarks that would-be authors will encounter gatekeepers - people who can reject and prevent one’s work from seeing the light - along the way, but the very first gatekeeper one would meet will be oneself.
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Saturday, October 3, 2020
In this interview, Brian Deer talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, The Doctor Who Fooled the World: Science, Deception and the War on Vaccines.
“The science needs to be separated from the politics.” ~Brian Deer
Brian has investigated three vaccines to date: a diphtheria test which caused controversy in the 1970s and 1980s, which took a year; AIDSVax, which was a failed AIDS vaccine; and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, with the latter being the basis for the anti-vaxxer controversy which is presently sweeping the world. He also investigated oral contraceptive fraud in Australia in the 1980s and also investigated other drugs. The Doctor Who Fooled the World is a different kind of investigation, as the focus of this book is on an individual who essentially kicked off the anti-vaxxer movement, rather than a drug itself.
Brian never did think that he would eventually get the time to become an investigative reporter. “It’s extremely hard work,” he notes, “especially if you’re working in a field like science,” adding that he needs to understand, as much as possible, what is being talked about. Investigative reporting, he points out, is different from standard science journalism, which is essentially advertising for new scientific ideas, machines and concepts. Investigative journalism is presently facing challenges, as the money that would have gone into it from advertising is now being funneled to online platforms such as Google. Brian adds that it took him four months of research before he wrote out a story, and additional challenges come in the form of cultivating contacts and obtaining documents to support his story. This is because investigative journalism entails making public something which someone doesn’t want made public, and as that person could very well wind up suing an investigative journalist, it behooves the latter to have all of his documentation supporting his claims, to support his case. Brian notes that he has already been sued twice by the personality in the middle of The Doctor Who Fooled the World and is hearing rumors of a third suit against him by that same person. Brian also adds that research for his book took two years, as all of what he wrote had to be evidenced, which meant that he had to create an index of thousands of .pdf files for fact checking.
Brian remarks that he’s not an advocate for vaccination, and that his purpose is to question the knowledge available. While he isn’t a medical professional, he notes that the basics of vaccination is essentially that a weakened version of an infectious agent is injected into the body, so that the body’s immune system can overcome that infectious agent - such as a virus - when the full-strength thing hits. He notes that vaccinations have been successful against such diseases as diphtheria and polio, which used to be prevalent and worrying for parents in the past, but which are not presently large concerns for parents today.
Where Andrew Wakefield is concerned, Brian remarks that he was a research academic at a London medical school who, in 1998, published a paper in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, on a five-page, 4,000-word study, conducted on twelve children, which indicated that, in two-thirds of those cases, their child had been developing normally but then began exhibiting autism within two weeks of receiving an MMR vaccination shot. Wakefield then claimed to find a link between taking the vaccine and autism, and then had the government suspend the vaccine. Brian noted that, even in medical studies, twelve children is a small sample, but that there was a possibility that the doctors at the hospital had come upon something that others had missed.
Brian points to outbreaks of measles which took place in 2019 as being due to the lack of vaccination. He also remarks that he was in an area where children died from measles because they hadn’t been vaccinated. Brain also points out that autism isn’t caused by taking a vaccine, and notes that an “adult” debate - one free of personal bias - still needs to be conducted on the pros and cons of vaccination, with both sides need to be taken into account, particularly with fast-tracked vaccines like those being developed for the Covid-19 virus.
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