Story about Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas Edison Biography

Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) was an American inventor and businessman who developed and made commercially available – many key inventions of modern life. His Edison Electric company was a pioneering company for delivering DC electricity directly into people’s homes. He filed over 1,000 patents for a variety of different inventions. Crucially, he used mass-produced techniques to make his inventions available at low cost to households across America. His most important inventions include the electric light bulb, the phonograph, the motion picture camera, an electric car and the electric power station.

“None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.”

– Thomas Edison, interview 1929

Short Biography Thomas Edison

thomas-edison Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio on Feb 11, 1847, the youngest of seven siblings. His parents were middle class, though they were not wealthy. In particular, the family struggled when the railroad bypassed Milan, forcing the family to move to Port Huron, Michigan. He attended only three months of formal schooling – he irritated his teachers with his repeated questioning and inability to just follow instructions. He was largely disinterested at school and was mainly self-educated through reading. He took upon it himself to read every book on the library shelf. By the age of 12, he was reading Sir Isaac Newton’s famous work – Principia Mathematica. However, Edison was not impressed by the complex maths of Newton and resolved to try and make science more understandable.

As a youngster, he tried various odd jobs to earn a living. This including selling candy, vegetables and newspapers. He had a talent for business, and he successfully printed the Grand Trunk Herald along with his other newspapers. This included selling photos of his hero, Abraham Lincoln. He was able to spend his extra income on a growing chemistry set.

Unfortunately, from an early age, Edison developed a severe deafness, which ultimately left him almost 90% deaf. He would later refuse any medical treatment, saying it would be too difficult to retrain his thinking process. He seemed to take his deafness in his stride, and never saw it as a disability.

edison Edison had a big break when he saved a young boy on the railway track from being struck by a runaway train. His grateful father, J.U. Mckenzie, had Edison trained as a telegraph operator and, aged 19, Edison moved to Louisville, Kentucky to work as a telegraph operator for Western Union.

From childhood, Edison loved to experiment, especially with chemicals. However, these experiments often got Edison into difficulties. A chemistry experiment once exploded on a train, and when working on a night shift at Western Union, his lead-acid battery leaked sulphuric acid through the floor onto his boss’ desk. Edison was fired the next day.

However Edison was undimmed and, despite scrapping by in impoverished conditions for the next few years, he was able to spend most of his time working on inventions. He received his first patent on June 1, 1869, for the stock ticker. This would later earn him a considerable sum.

In the 1870s, he sold the rights to the quadruplex telegraph to Western Union for $10,000. This gave him the financial backing to establish a proper research laboratory and extend his experiments and innovations. Edison once described his invention methods as involving a lot of hard work and repeated trial and error until a method was successful.

“During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention, pure and simple. I would construct a theory and work on its lines until I found it was untenable. … I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently likely to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory.”

– “Talks with Edison” by G.P Lathrop in Harper’s magazine, Vol. 80 (Feb. 1890), p. 425

By 1877, he had developed the phonograph (an early form of the gramophone player) This received widespread interest, and people were astonished at one of the first audio recording devices. This unique invention earned Edison the nickname ‘The Wizard of Menlo Park‘ Edison’s device would later be improved upon by others, but he made a big step in creating the first recording device.

With William Joseph Hammer, Edison started producing the electric light bulb, and it was a great commercial success. Edison’s great advance was to use a carbonised bamboo filament that could last over 1,000 hours. In 1878, he formed the Edison Electric light Company to profit from this invention. Edison successfully predicted that he could make electric light so cheap, it would soon come universal. To capitalise on the success of the electric light bulb, he also worked on electricity distribution. His first power station was able to distribute DC current to 59 customers in lower Manhattan.

Edison’s studios now took up two blocks, and it was able to stock a huge range of natural resources, meaning that almost anything and everything could be used in trying to improve designs. This was a big factor in enabling Edison to be so successful in this era of innovation.

During the fledgeling years of electricity generation, Edison became involved in a battle between his DC current system and the AC (alternative current) system favoured by George Westinghouse (and developed by Nikola Tesla, who worked for Edison for two years before leaving in a pay dispute.)

This became known as the ‘current war’ and both sides were desperate to show the superiority of their system. The Edison company even, on occasion, electrocuted animals to show how dangerous the rival AC current was.

During World War One, Edison was asked to serve as a naval consultant, but Edison only wanted to work on defensive weapons. He was proud that he made no invention that could be used to kill. He maintained a strong belief in non-violence.

“Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”

Edison was also a great admirer of the Enlightenment thinker Thomas Paine. He wrote a book praising Paine in 1925; he also shared similar religious beliefs to Thomas Paine – no particular religion, but belief in a Supreme Being.

Edison made many important inventions and development in media. These included the Kinetoscope (or peephole view), the first motion pictures and improved photographic paper.

After the death of his first wife, Mary Stilwell in 1884, Edison left Menlo Park and moved to West Orange, New Jersey. In 1886, he remarried Mina Miller. In West Orange, he became friends with the industrial magnate, Henry Ford and was an active participant in the Civitan club – which involved doing things for the local community. His pace of invention slowed down in these final years, but he still kept busy, such as trying to find a domestic source of natural rubber. He was also involved in the first electric train to depart from Hoboken in 1930.

Throughout his life, he took an active interest in finding the optimal diet and believed a good diet could play a large role in improving health. In 1903, he was quoted as saying:

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

He had six children, three from each marriage. Edison died of diabetes on October 18, 1931.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Thomas Edison”, Oxford, UK –  Published 17th July 2013. Last updated 5 March 2018.

Quotes by Thomas Edison

“Through all the years of experimenting and research, I never once made a discovery. I start where the last man left off. … All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention pure and simple.”

As quoted in Makers of the Modern World: The Lives of Ninety-two Writers, Artists, Scientists, Statesmen, Inventors, Philosophers, Composers, and Other Creators who Formed the Pattern of Our Century (1955) by Louis Untermeyer, p. 227

Wright Brothers Story

Wright Brothers Biography

WilburWright Orville Wright (1871 –  1948) | Wilbur Wright. (1867 – 1912)

The Wright brothers – Orville and Wilbur Wright are credited with building and flying the first heavier than air aeroplane. They achieved the first recorded flight on 17 December 1903. Over the next ten years, they continued to develop the aircraft making a significant contribution to the development of the modern aeroplane.

Their particular contribution was in the effective control of an aeroplane, through their three-axis control system. This basic principle is still used today. It was for this control mechanism that the Wright’s received their first US patent – 821,393.

Early Life of Wright Brothers

wright-brothers Orville and Wilbur had two elder brothers Reuchlin (1861-1920) and Lorin (1862-1939), and a younger sister Katharine (1874-1929). Their parents were Bishop Milton Wright (1828-1917) and Susan Catherine (Koerner) Wright (1831-1889). Their father worked as a minister in various churches, and as a consequence, the family frequently moved around. Their father encouraged his children to read widely and discuss issues. This climate of intellectual creativity and stimulus encouraged the Wright brothers to pursue a range of interests and studies. When they were young, their father bought them a small ‘helicopter’ – built in France. They later commented that this helicopter sparked an interest in flight and they sought to build similar models themselves.

Around 1885, Wilbur became withdrawn after sustaining a facial injury during a game of ice-hockey. This injury and the resulting depression caused Wilbur to give up his dreams of studying at Yale. Instead, he remained close to home, helping his father with ministerial tasks and looking after his ill mother.

However, Orville was determined to try new things, and his enthusiasm helped draw his brother Wilbur into new projects. In 1889, they designed and built a printing press which, for a short time, published a daily newspaper.

In 1892, the capitalised on the ‘safety bicycle’ boom and opened a bicycle shop; this was commercially successful and also enabled them to develop their skills as designers and engineers.

Around the turn of the century, there was considerable interest in the possibility of flight. Most of this centred on gliders. But, the Wright brothers began to explore the possibility of mechanised flight with heavier than air aircraft. For both brothers, the dream of flying became an all-consuming passion.

“For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life. I have been trying to arrange my affairs in such a way that I can devote my entire time for a few months to experiment in this field.”

Wilbur Wright, Letter to Octave Chanute (13 May 1900)

They concentrated on building a more powerful, but lighter engine and worked on an innovative design for controlling the plane once airborne.

They used funds from the bicycle shop to start testing at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It was a windy environment which helped give planes lift off. They made extensive tests and also recorded a range of data about possible flights. Even at the turn of the Century, many were doubtful that man would ever be able to fly.

“My brother and I became seriously interested in the problem of human flight in 1899 … We knew that men had by common consent adopted human flight as the standard of impossibility. When a man said, “It can’t be done; a man might as well try to fly,” he was understood as expressing the final limit of impossibility.”

Wilbur Wright

First Flight by Wright Brothers


On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers made the first historic, aeroplane flight, where Orville piloted the plane (called ‘the Flyer’) with Wilbur running at the wing tip.

The first flight, by Orville, of 120 feet (37 m) in 12 seconds, at a speed of only 6.8 miles per hour (10.9 km/h) over the ground, was recorded in a famous photograph. The next two flights covered approximately 175 feet (53 m) and 200 feet (61 m), by Wilbur and Orville respectively. Their altitude was about 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground. The following is Orville Wright’s account of the final flight of the day:

“Wilbur started the fourth and last flight at just about 12 o’clock. The first few hundred feet were up and down, as before, but by the time three hundred ft had been covered, the machine was under much better control. The course for the next four or five hundred feet had but little undulation. However, when out about eight hundred feet the machine began pitching again, and, in one of its darts downward, struck the ground. The distance over the ground was measured to be 852 feet; the time of the flight was 59 seconds. The frame supporting the front rudder was badly broken, but the main part of the machine was not injured at all. We estimated that the machine could be put in condition for flight again in about a day or two.”

Five people witnessed the first flight, including John Daniels who took the famous first flight photo.

Over the next few years, they continued to develop their aircraft. However, they were conscious of needing to gain strong patents to make their aircraft commercially viable. They became reluctant to reveal too much about their flights and disliked reporters taking photos of their designs. Their secret approach and competing claims by other aircraft designers meant that for many years their inventions and flights were met with either indifference or scepticism. However, in 1908, Wilbur began public demonstrations in Le Mans, France. His ability to effortlessly make turns and manoeuvre the aircraft caused a sea change in public opinion, and the display of technically challenging flights caused widespread public acclaim and enthusiasm.

In 1909, Wilbur made a public flight up the Hudson River in New York, circling the Statue of Liberty. The 33-minute flight, witnessed by one million New Yorkers, established their fame in America.

Achievements of the Wright Brothers

  • 1903 – first powered aircraft flight
  • 1905 – built an aeroplane that could fly for more than half an hour at a time.
  • 1908 – Orville Wright made the world’s first flight of over one hour at Fort Myer, Virginia, in a demonstration for the U.S. Army, which subsequently made the Wright planes the world’s first military aeroplanes.
  • 1908 – Wilbur made over 100 flights near Le Mans, France; the longest one, on Dec. 31, a record flight: 2 hours, 19 minutes.

The Wright’s made their first application for a patent in 1903, but it was rejected. In 1904, they hired a patent attorney, who helped them gain their first patent. However, other aviators attempted to circumnavigate the Wright brothers patents, leading to painful and costly legal battles in the courts.

In the last two years of his life from 1910 to 1912, Wilbur played a key role in the patent struggle. His family believed this contributed to his premature death from typhoid fever in 1912.

The brothers never married. Wilbur once quipped he “did not have time for both a wife and an aeroplane.” Orville Wright died of a heart attack at age 77.

The original Wright Flyer rests in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. with the inscription.

“The original Wright brothers aeroplane

The world’s first power-driven heavier-than-air machine in which man made free, controlled, and sustained flight

Invented and built by Wilbur and Orville Wright

Flown by them at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina December 17, 1903

By original scientific research, the Wright brothers discovered the principles of human flight

As inventors, builders, and flyers they further developed the aeroplane, taught man to fly, and opened the era of aviation.”

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of The Wright Brothers”, Oxford, UK. 23rd June 2010. Last updated 7th March 2018.

The Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers at Amazon

Short Story about Mother Teresa

Biography Mother Teresa

MotherTeresa_ Mother Teresa (1910–1997) was a Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor and destitute around the world. She spent many years in Calcutta, India where she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation devoted to helping those in great need. In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and became a symbol of charitable, selfless work. In 2016, Mother Teresa was canonised by the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Teresa.

“It is not how much we do,
but how much love we put in the doing.
It is not how much we give,
but how much love we put in the giving.”

– Mother Teresa. From: No Greater Love

Short Biography of Mother Teresa

mother teresa Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. Little is known about her early life, but at a young age, she felt a calling to be a nun and serve through helping the poor. At the age of 18, she was given permission to join a group of nuns in Ireland. After a few months of training, with the Sisters of Loreto, she was then given permission to travel to India. She took her formal religious vows in 1931 and chose to be named after St Therese of Lisieux – the patron saint of missionaries.

On her arrival in India, she began by working as a teacher; however, the widespread poverty of Calcutta made a deep impression on her, and this led to her starting a new order called “The Missionaries of Charity”. The primary objective of this mission was to look after people, who nobody else was prepared to look after. Mother Teresa felt that serving others was a fundamental principle of the teachings of Jesus Christ. She often mentioned the saying of Jesus,

“Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.”

As Mother Teresa said herself:

“Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service .” – Mother Teresa

mother-teresa She experienced two particularly traumatic periods in Calcutta. The first was the Bengal famine of 1943 and the second was the Hindu/Muslim violence in 1946, before the partition of India. In 1948, she left the convent to live full-time among the poorest of Calcutta. She chose to wear a white Indian sari, with a blue border, out of respect for the traditional Indian dress. For many years, Mother Teresa and a small band of fellow nuns survived on minimal income and food, often having to beg for funds. But, slowly her efforts with the poorest were noted and appreciated by the local community and Indian politicians.

In 1952, she opened her first home for the dying, which allowed people to die with dignity. Mother Teresa often spent time with those who were dying. Some have criticised the lack of proper medical attention, and their refusal to give painkillers. Others say that it afforded many neglected people the opportunity to die knowing that someone cared.

Her work spread around the world. By 2013, there were 700 missions operating in over 130 countries. The scope of their work also expanded to include orphanages and hospices for those with terminal illnesses.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

—- Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa never sought to convert those of another faith. Those in her hospices were given the religious rites appropriate to their faith. However, she had a very firm Catholic faith and took a strict line on abortion, the death penalty and divorce – even if her position was unpopular. Her whole life was influenced by her faith and religion, even though at times she confessed she didn’t feel the presence of God.

The Missionaries of Charity now has branches throughout the world including branches in the developed world where they work with the homeless and people affected by AIDS. In 1965, the organisation became an International Religious Family by a decree of Pope Paul VI.

In the 1960s, the life of Mother Teresa was brought to a wider public attention by Malcolm Muggeridge who wrote a book and produced a documentary called “Something Beautiful for God”.


In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.” She didn’t attend the ceremonial banquet but asked that the $192,000 fund be given to the poor.

In later years, she was more active in western developed countries. She commented that though the West was materially prosperous, there was often a spiritual poverty.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

-— Mother Teresa

When she was asked how to promote world peace, she replied,”Go home and love your family”.

Over the last two decades of her life, Mother Teresa suffered various health problems, but nothing could dissuade her from fulfilling her mission of serving the poor and needy. Until her very last illness she was active in travelling around the world to the different branches of The Missionaries of Charity. During her last few years, she met Princess Diana in the Bronx, New York. The two died within a week of each other.

Following Mother Teresa’s death, the Vatican began the process of beatification, which is the second step on the way to canonization and sainthood. Mother Teresa was formally beatified in October 2003 by Pope John Paul II. In September 2015, Pope Francis declared:“Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded,”“She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity. She made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created.”

Mother Teresa was a living saint who offered a great example and inspiration to the world.

Awards given to Mother Teresa

  • The first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. (1971)
  • Kennedy Prize (1971)
  • The Nehru Prize –“for the promotion of international peace and understanding”(1972)
  • Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1975),
  • The Nobel Peace Prize (1979)
  • States Presidential Medal of Freedom (1985)
  • Congressional Gold Medal (1994)
  • U Thant Peace Award 1994
  • Honorary citizenship of the United States (November 16, 1996),

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Mother Teresa”, Oxford, UK., 18th May 2006. (Updated September 2016)

Living in cities of future

Future Cities

The building that houses both the Masdar and International Renewable Energy Agency headquarters will have stores and restaurants in addition to office space, powered by 1,000sqm of photovoltaic panels. While no residential buildings beyond dormitories have been built, they are in the works. “There are various residential plots around the city, and over the coming years they will be tendered out to global architects,” Zaafrani explained. The city’s economic free zone – with zero taxes, import tariffs or restrictions on foreign hires – is set up to specifically attract clean energy and tech companies, clustering them together in incubator office buildings. “The number one target is people who work in Abu Dhabi and around the UAE,” Zaafrani said. “We are trying to make sure as we build up the city, there will be demand for both commercial and residential spaces.” Currently, a four-bedroom villa in central Abu Dhabi rents for around 200,000 dirhams a year, while a two-bedroom flat in Reem Island rents for around 100,000 dirhams. Over the next two years, 45,000 new flats and houses will come available.The National: English-language daily covering news, features, arts and culture across the Emirates Related article: The futurist – Masdar City

Former Expo Site, Shanghai
Rather than building an entirely new city (although China is doing that too, by the dozens), Shanghai is taking the area that housed the 2010 Shanghai World Expo on the Pudong and Puxi sides of the Huangpu River and turning it into a city-within-a-city. While the Expo originally displaced 18,000 families, it was themed around urban sustainability and efficiency, and the city invested heavily in the site’s infrastructure so it could be redeveloped after the fair was over and the pavilions dismantled. Parks, green space, water features and cultural institutions such as the large red China Pavilion, now a museum – were left to be incorporated into mixed-use projects containing apartments, hotels, offices, shopping malls and restaurants. By 2016, two hotels and some office and retail space will be completed, and in May 2013 the 50,000sqm Green Valley project broke ground. Near the China Pavilion, the project will form the central axis of the overall site with sustainable commercial space, restaurants and offices, all linked by open courtyards, gardens and other green spaces.The Shanghai housing market is rising quickly, and recently the government reacted to fears of a bubble by directing banks to stop giving mortgages to people buying their third home. The median house price in the city centre is currently 42,500 renminbi per square metre, and a new-build, two-bed flat in Pudong can start at 8 million renminbi. A one-bedroom city centre flat rents for about 6,000 renminbi per month, and a three-bed in the centre rents for 14,500 renminbi.

Victoria, British
This Canadian city across the Puget Sound from Seattle, Washington, has created an urban experiment within its borders with the Dockside Green development on the city’s harbourfront. The three neighbourhood master plan is based on the tenets of New Urbanism, with its focus on density, community and sustainability.
Dockside Wharf has been completed, and Dockside Commons and Dockside Village are not yet under construction. Streets are walkable, housing is diverse and energy efficient, and residential and commercial spaces are densely packed but close to nature trails and ponds. The three developments and 26 buildings, designed by Perkins + Will Architects, are LEED platinum certified and built on a former industrial site. Strong eco-credentials include the fact that the buildings use 55% less than water than traditional condos and were constructed using low VOC paint and eco-friendly materials such as bamboo flooring and carpets made from recycled material.Western Morning News: News and events from around Devon and the West Country
Song Do,Korea
Photo by Robert Koehler/getty

Song Do
Photo by SJ Kim/getty

Incheon Bridge
Photo by SJ Kim

Masdar City
Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty

Photo by Tony Burns/LPI/Getty

Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP?Getty

Photo by Feng Li/Getty

Photo by 2013

Photo by 2013

Photo by 2013


Story of Shih Ming-Teh, Taiwan Opposition Leader Part 4

Shih Ming-Teh Escape

Shih Ming-Teh (Nory)
Leader of people opposition in Taiwan.

Look shy, but fierce in action
Shy looks but powerful in act

The Dark Years
In prison Shih met two other detainees whom he recognised from his military training, and lost what little cheer he had left when they told him that the minimum sentence that such prisoners received was two years.’Two years!’ the thought seared his mind. For a young man experiencing the most delicious period of his life, it might as well have been two hundred.

When the other two inmates hatched a plan to escape to the nearby mountains where one of them had a relative,Shih was right there in the front row.But the map showing the way to rendezvous house fell into the hands of the guards.

Escape attempts breed wrath.Shih was sent with his fellow collaborators and 17 other prisoners to the Taiwan Garrison Command’s Security Centre-the army’s favourite torture house – in the heart of Taipei. Their heads shaved,the prisoners were shackled together at the ankles and squeezed into a small cell.Given the opportunity to bathe only twice a week,the odour that reeked from the cell became positively dreadful.

The new interrogators said little,preferring to deal out slugs and kicks. Shih was led to the interrogation room with his hands cuffed behind him.The same questions were put to him again.”What was the Taiwan Independence League all about? growled a scruffy looking questioner.

Previous Story of Shih Ming-Teh, Taiwanese Politician against Oppression.

Outside Taiyuan was altogether another world. Taiwan’s economy was expanding eapidly,with the GDP showing annual increases of eight to ten per cent.The GNP per capita had bounded from US$50 in a once soporific,agrarian society to USS$ 2,500 in an economy that had become a redoubtable trading juggernaut.With much fanfare,the Republic of China gloated over its economic accomplishment at the expense of those less sophisticated political infidels across the Taiwan Straits.

But all was not sunshine and Shaoxing wine for Taiwan, still labouring under martial law. With intellectual and economic attainment, the middle class became more assertive. The benshengren had no special affiliation with China, and that ‘glorious return to the mainland’ had all but become a fatuous fantasy of a dislocated band of Kuomintang soldiers. To the Taiwanese,the island was home and no nationalistic exhortation was going to alter that fact. Meanwhile many of them were becoming restive at being shut out of the governing process.

Half a world away, embarrassed by its ally’s authoritian streak, the United States mounted pressure on Chiang Kai-shek to introduce political reforms. In order not to ruffle feathers in Washington — which Taiwan depended on for its defence weaponry

Story of Shih Ming-Teh, Taiwan Opposition Leader Part 3

Nori (Shih Ming-Teh) Story

Shih Ming Teh
Shy looks but powerful in act

Masters of our own fate
Meanwhile on the mainland,Mao Zedong,driven by the rubric and revolution of Marx,came out of his historical Long March and led a ruthless onslaught on Chiang’s troops, taking city after village.Humiliated and emaciated,the Kuomintang army fled to Taiwan in 1949. Chiang Kai-shek declared that the island would be used as a base from which to launch the recovery of China from the communist. What was left unsaid was that Taiwan was not home to the Kuomintang. As far as Chiang and his army were concerned, it was nothing more than a military base, a political outpost.This callousness was to have far-reaching consequences for the later development of the Beautiful Island.
When the Communist Party took over China, Chiang Kai-shek knew that the war was well and trully lost. To save himself from complete loss of face, the leader of Kuomintang relinquished his post of President of the Republicof China as proclaimed by Dr Sun Yat-Sen when he overthrew the Qing Dynasty in 1911.
Ever the impresario of modern Chinese politics, Chiang left the lame duck presidency to his deputy Li Chung-ren while he quietly staged a massive haul of national treasures from the motherland. A total of 151 crates of gold,silver and cash from the central bank were shipped off to Taiwan.Chiang was also prescient enough to take pricelessrelics and museum treasures along with him. President Li Chung-ren,assailed by thoughsof being dragged from pillar to post by the communists,had in the meantime resigned the presidency and escaped to the United States.

Once in Taiwan,Chiang’s appointed National Assembly, according to script,pleaded with the Generalissimo to resume the presidency of China. The stage was set for the former President to take control again. In 1949 he declared Taipei to be the temporary capital of all China and vowed that the Kuomintang would one day ‘make a glorious return to the mainland’.
The 2-2-8 Incident had lit the flame of independence in the hearts ofagroup of young Taiwanese whom Shih was to later lead–a flame that burned unstoppably in the decades that followed.More than anything else,Shih wanted the Taiwanese people to be able to defend themselves against foreign powers.Resisting the mainland rulers would be an arduous task.But for every journey af a thousand miles,someone had to nurse the anxious hope that someone else would take that first fearless step.

Shih was a thin,timid man who never looked like a leader of his people. With a stick of a body,he was not disposed to grandiloquent displays of wit and oratory.His preferred method of leadership was to work in the background and influence his contemporaries with quiet diligence.
He quickly developed a zest for philosophy, politics and law, and participated in discussion groups organised by students. Wherever these groups gathered together,there would also be talk about social issues, with poverty and discrimination against the locals being the leitmotif. The meetings were conducted in different places,including the Shih’s family run hotel.

Shih was determined tolead inspite of himself.Firstly,he had to overcome his aversions to everything from public speaking to darkness,which triggered phobic reactions. With a single=mindedness that proved to be his greatest source of strength in his struggle

Previous,part 2

Story of Shih Ming-Teh, Taiwan Opposition Leader Part 2

About Shih Ming-Teh.

Shih Ming Teh was born on 15 January 1941 into a wealthy family in Kaohsiung, a city in southern Taiwan.His father,Shih Kuo-tsuei, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine as well as a believer in the Roman Catholic faith,was rather successful in his medical practise which very quickly translated into several pieces of ral estate. His wife had given birth to three sons and five daughters, with the sons all dying when they were still infants.
Notwithstanding his Christian beliefs and in full observance of that most contentious of traditions where boys are preferred, Shih Kuo-tsuei took a young second wife, who bore him another six children,this time all but one of them boys, Shih Ming-teh squeezed in at number four.
The Portuguese had named Taiwan ‘Formosa’, or Beautiful Island,when they first set foot there in the eighteenth century.Long considered an inconsequential island compared to the vastness of the Asian continent,Taiwan lies like loose change falling out of the hip-pocket of motherland China. With a mountain range fo a spine, the island is muscularised with fertile pockets of loam on the coasts.
As early as the Ming Dynasty, peasants from Fujian province on the mainland came across in search of arable land. Since then,generations have settled on the western half of the island, with few traversing the mountain range to the eastern coast. Taiwan was already inhabitated by natives of Polynesian stock,who possessed a darker complexion and altogether distinct culture. For centuries these shandiren, or mountain people as the Taiwanese call them,coexisted peaceably with the early settlers.

Someone in Taipei hit the plunger and the bomb went off on 28 February 1947 with such fury that its effects are still left half a century later. An elderly woman was hawking contraband cigarettes when police officers accosted her and tried to confiscate her goods,whereupon she put up a fight.
The officers, unaccustomed to such effrontery,charged her with resisting arrest,convicted her of the offence and sentenced her to a beating (though not necessary in that order) which they proceeded to administer on the spot. Bystanders came to woman’s aid, and a scuffle developed. Suddenly a shot rang out and before anyone could make sense of the situation, a civilian lay dead.

This event, which came to be known as the 2-2-8 Incident (named after the date on which it occured), triggered widespread protests among the Taiwanese. The disquiet between the locals and their mainland rulers now turned into hatred,and rapidly engulfed the major cities.

Governor Chen Yi cabled the mainland Government for reinforcements for his diminutive garrison. When they arrived, the full force of the military was unleashed on the people.The bloodletting spread mercilessly across the country;by the time situation was brought under control, it was estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 civilians had been killed.

Martial law was imposed and the army like a hateful headmaster, set out to teach the locals a lesson that they would remember forever. Those convicted of taking part in the uprising, often in dubious legal proceedings, were publicly executed.The grisly show-and-tell became a routine event across the whole country.Before each execution, a gong would be sounded to signal that class was about to begin.
When he was six years old,Shih Ming-teh slipped out of his house to witness one such session.The executioner steppedup to the condemned man, who was kneeling with hands bound behind his back, pointed the rifle to the back of his head and pulled the trigger. Bones and brain littered the pavement. One eyeball flew off and impaled itself on the branch of a tree close to where Shih was standing,staring bitterly at him and permanently scarring his psyche.

His own father was not sparedthe Government’s wrath. Suspected of taking part in the uprising,Shih Kuo-tsuei was imprisoned and subjected to interrogation which maimed him physically and psychologically. He was released a few months later when no evidence was found against him, but never recovered from the trauma and died two years later.
With martial law,political parties were banned as they had been under the Japanese,even more books were deemed ‘undesirable’ and declared illegal, and Mandarin became the official language which, like the Japanese language,was not the mother tongue of the Taiwanese who spoke Taiyu, aprovincial dialect.’When we were in school,we had to wear a big label which read:”Please speak Mandarin.”Those who used Taiyu were fined,” my Taiwanese mother-in-law recalled.

Story of Shih Ming-Teh, Taiwan Opposition Leader

Politic People Articles

Nori (Shih Ming-Teh) Story

Shih Ming Teh
Shy looks but powerful in act

The Escape

‘Nori!They’re here to arrest you!’ Linda screamed.
It was just a few hours since he first dozed off at about midnight,after returning home from meeting with his compatriots. He was in a daze, having woken to the choleric ring of the doorbell and the fretful screams of his wife.
He instinctively reached for the telephone to warn the others. The line was dead. He put on his clothes and ran to the living room where Linda was frantically barricading the door with sofas,shelves and just about anything else she could find.
‘Quick! Run!’ she shouted.
Nori was desperately trying to figure out what to do but his thoughts were aggravatingly uncooperative.
The doorbell continued.Linda ran to the back door to see iftheir neighbours could help. Suddenly,the front door shook with an angry pounding.
‘Mr Shih, open the door.’
The pounding continued
‘Who are you?’ Linda cried out
‘We’re from the local police.’
‘I know the local police officer. Don’t lie to me,’Nori replied.
‘I’ve just been posted here yesterday.’ Without waiting for a response, the officer started kicking the door down.
Nori returned to the bedroom and switched off all the lights.
He fumbled his way to the kitchen and went out through the back door. His apartment was on the second storey with a fire escape that led to the flat below, but experience told him that intelligence agents would have already surrounded the ground floor. He found the wall that formed the outer fencing of the block apartments and half-slipped, half-groped his way along the narrow strip of moss-covered concrete which led to the roof of the neighbouring flats. Overhanging branches of a tree reached out to lend a chivalrous hand and Nori grabbed them appreciatively.
At 39 years of age, he surprised himself with his nimbleness and strength, despite the less than graceful trek across the concrete ledge.The military training in his younger days was coming in handy.After a couple of feet, he heard Linda scream. The officers must have broken the door down,he thought. Nori looked back but saw only darkness, He was confident that she would not be harmed as she was an American citizen.

Nori continued crawling until he reached a four storey building.The whole area was dark and he couldn’t see how high he was. He looked up the wall for a second appraisal.
His legs hit the ground hard.The pain spread through his body and for minutes he lay unable to move or to yell out.Slowly he picked himself up and took refuge in the shadows. He saw that his left thumb was cut and bleeding profusely. Strangely —and thankfully—he felt no pain.

As he emerged from the alley, he saw intelligence agents milling around in the distance. He knew that he had to get out of the area before daylight. It was one of those times when morning wasn’t welcome. Just as he was about to make a dash for it, a policeman suddenly appeared around the corner of the block.Too late,the officer had spotted him.
He sensed that this policeman didn’t recognise him.’Good morning, officer,’Nori Gambled.He risked a radiant smile as he pretended to perform callisthenics, while doing his darnedest to hide his bleeding hand. His heart was pounding, but it assuredly wasn’t from the morning exercise.

‘Good morning,’the officer paid Nori his winnings and walked on. Nori closed his eyes and let out a huge sigh of relief. He started walking towards the main thoroughfare and flagged down a taxi.That was the easy part, now he had to decide where to go. As taipei yawned with the breaking of a new day,Nori looked out the window and smiled wistfully at his fellow citizens going about their day’s activities. His mind raced back to the time when he had first been arrested 18 years ago.

How do pandemics usually end?

How do pandemics usually end? And how will this one finish?

A group of nurses wear face masks during the 1919 Spanish Flu outbreak.
Masks were a common sight during the 1918 influenza pandemic, and again now, just over a century later.(State Library Of Queensland)

Just over 100 years ago, a new strain of influenza infected a third of the world’s population — but within just three years, the threat of this deadly flu had all but passed.

This was a time before modern medical care and even before humans understood what viruses were. So what’s changed since then?

It’s a question plenty of you have asked in recent months: how do pandemics end? And how will the one we’re currently living through end?

Three ingredients for a pandemic

An infectious agent needs three conditions to cause a pandemic, says virologist Kirsty Short from the University of Queensland:

  1. 1.It needs to cause disease in humans
  2. 2.It needs to be highly transmissible
  3. 3.We need to have no pre-existing immunity to it

“For example, we live with MERS today,” says Dr Short, referring to Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, a coronavirus that is related to the one that causes COVID-19.

“It hasn’t caused a pandemic yet because it’s not highly transmissible from person to person.

“In contrast, the seasonal coronaviruses that we get, probably at one point were a pandemic, and they’ve just become these seasonal colds that we don’t really care about because we’ve evolved immunity to them.”

In terms of the three ingredients that make a pandemic, when it comes to COVID-19 there’s not much we can do to stop the coronavirus from infecting us, because that’s based on the biology of the virus and us as humans.

With physical distancing and masks, we are somewhat able to pull that second lever of not allowing the virus to transmit as much.

But the big thing that stops a virus becoming a pandemic — that is, a large-scale outbreak affecting multiple countries or continents — is the third factor: immunity.

“Herd immunity can be achieved through natural infection or vaccination,” Dr Short says.