Posts Tagged ‘China’

The Case for Optimism: Episode Four

April 27, 2017

THE UU PATH:  Fireflies in the dark

by Hallas Midgette

Hallas Midgette

This final of four episodes on Hallas Midgette’s April 23, 2017 talk to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus sums up his case for the UU path being an optimistic way of navigating through life. In the first episode he used the allegory of an amazing sight he witnessed while driving through a Kansas countryside one night. A field was lit by millions, perhaps billions, of fireflies.  He likened UUs to the fireflies lighting the darkness. “In a world of many religions, UUs stand out as a light in the darkness. That light is optimism.”
Hal is a retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. and retired science instructor at Brookstone High School.  
Quote by Howard Zinn
I think Howard Zinn, an American historian, playwright, and social activist sums up best what I’m trying to convey:

“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.  If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.  And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

The Kansas fireflies that inspired me to make this presentation are a beautiful memory and a symbol of optimism for me.  I am trying to be one of those millions of fireflies that helps shine a light in the darkness.  I invite you to join me.

Please open your hymnals to number:  118                    That is number: 118

Song:  This little light of mine.

In a discussion that Hal and I had following his talk, he pointed out that in spite of all the bad news we get daily in the media, the world has actually evolved into a better place than it was. Since my memory isn’t all that wonderful now, I asked him if he would write a few paragraphs for us about our discussion. I asked him to answer this question:

How would your describe the overall social , political, and economic condition of the world now? 

Wow, that is a big question that I don’t even know how to answer.  The world is big and varied and so are the topics.  It varies throughout the world.  There are spots that are bubbling in a bad way, and then others that are seeing millions….no, perhaps hundreds of millions….moving into the middle class.  Examples are China and India.  Then on the extreme, there is Venezuela which is plunging into a black hole….economically, socially and politically.  There are five famines going on, with at least two of them being caused or seriously aggravated by governments, not drought conditions.  While it is not positive, it is not rare, especially in the number of deaths.  While the back ground music is terrible, over all, the music is getting louder and better.

In addition, I could mention that there are constantly good things happening…almost everyday.  But bad news sells better, possibly because of it being a survival mechanism.  Good things generally don’t kill you.  Just looking at recent news things are getting better.  Scientists have discovered that the mesopelagic zone in the ocean is filled with life, and while we might not find it appealing for our dinner plates, it is perfect for fish meal, fish oil and food for fish farms.  In another recent article, scientists have discovered that the waxworm, a plague to bee keepers, can eat plastic bags….the trash that never goes away.  How about March of this year when Elon Musk’s Space X launched a used booster rocket engine and re-landed it, and how much cheaper it has made going into space.  It has taken 75 years since the Germans launched a V-2 rocket in 1942 to get it done.  Then there is the constant inching forward of green energy through out the world.  I mean, look at India and how they have made one of the largest solar power facilities in the world.  According to some, solar power in India is now cheaper than coal generated electricity.  It goes on and on.

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Will W.C. Bradley Return Manufacturing to Columbus?

January 22, 2015
Marc Olivie', CEO W.C. Bradley Company, and Matt Swift, COO W.C. Bradley Real Estate Division and Rotarian

Marc Olivie’, CEO W.C. Bradley Company, and Matt Swift, COO W.C. Bradley Real Estate Division and Rotarian

“I don’t foresee it anytime soon,” W.C. Bradley Company CEO Marc Olivie’ told members of the Rotary Club of Columbus.

He went on to explain that Wal-Mart is planning to spend more than 50-billion-dollars on American manufactured goods and that it would continue to buy Char-Broil grills if manufacturing returns from China to America if the price remains the same.  A company sponsored survey of consumers asked if they would be willing to pay five dollars more for a grill if it were made in America. The answer was an unequivical “no.”

The question was raised during a question and answer session held after Olivie’ had spoken on the status of W.C. Bradley Company.   The company, which had a very good year,  is selling millions of grills, Zebco fishing reels, and Tiki outdoor torches. None is made in America.  Zebco operates out of Tulsa and Tiki Torches out of the Milwaukee area.

While those products are sold globally, the company’s real estate business focuses on the Columbus area. It has extensive holdings in downtown Columbus and Olivie’ says he finds the revitalization of downtown very exciting, that it is truly a plus for the area.

Matt Swift, fellow  Rotarian and President and COO of the W.C. Bradley Company Real Estate Division, said, “We would not have been able to attract this Belgian and his wife to Columbus if downtown and Columbus in general was not attractive to them.”  This day and age a city has to have the arts, quality educational facilities and other attractions to entice talent, and that attracting talent is the name of the game in business.

Olivie’ also pointed out how valuable Columbus State University  is to the Columbus area.  Cities with good universities attract management talent. CSU has already played a big role in revitalizing downtown with its transfer of its arts schools and is about to play an even larger one when it also moves its College of Education and Health Professions downtown.

W.C. Bradley Company owns 25 buildings, which occupy about a million square feet, in downtown.  Except for the condos sold at Eagle and Phenix Mill No. 3,  it rents its downtown buildings to occupants,  Swift said.

For Folks Under Age 45, Moon Walking is Something You Read About in a History Book

January 31, 2014
AStronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon.  (NASA Photo)

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon. (NASA Photo)

I just read a story in the Richmond-Times Dispatch about the Smithsonian’s new $79 million dollar conservation hanger at the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport,  where among its many artifacts that are being prepared for conservation are Apollo-era spacesuits.  Those spacesuits are now 40 and 50 years old. They are fragile, brittle and deteriorating.  Conservators are working on ways to slow the decay.

It made me reflect on the fact that the incredible act of putting a man on the  Moon is a historic event.  America put 12 men on the Moon between 1969 and 1972, and then stopped.  No man has set foot on Earth’s natural satellite since December, 1972.

China, the 3rd country to successfully conduct a soft moon landing – the U.S. and the former Soviet Union being the first two –  safely landed a robot called Jade Rabbit on the moon in December and it has sent back scientific information, but it has suffered a mechanical problem and could stop working.  The robotic rover was named Jade Rabbit after the Chinese mythical rabbit that was said to have lived on the moon.

How well I remember that first Moon landing in 1969.  I was working at WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina. My son Rick, a small boy at the time,  and my late wife Judy, and I could look out our den window and see the bright full Moon as we watched the lunar landing on TV.  We had just bought our first color set to see it in color. It was telecast in black and white.  Still, we then had a color TV to enjoy for many years.

Rick was ten years old at the time, so he can remember the event, so it’s not just history to him.  But, it is just history for anyone over 45-years-old.

Will any country put a man on the Moon in the future?  It’s possible, but with sophisticated robots to give us scientific information about it, why spend all that money and risk human life?  Space exploration continues, but it’s a robot’s game.  Who would want to spend the 150 to 300 days in a small space ship it would take to get to Mars?  That’s what it has taken for the different spacecraft that have made the trip over the last 50 years.

Why the 20th Century was the Most Violent in History

June 18, 2012

NIALL FERGUSON’S DOCUMENTARY WAR OF THE WORLD SAYS RACE, NOT IDEOLOGY, DROVE THE WARS 

The 20th Century was not the century of two World Wars and a Cold War, but the century of a single Hundred Years War.

Nationalism didn’t cause the conflicts. Empires did. It wasn’t ideologies of class or the influence of democracy or socialism that drove the century. It was race.

Though we thought the West had triumphed, the truth is that power moved towards the Eastern empires.

Those are the controversial assertions of Scottish historian Niall Ferguson in his documentary series War of the World, which is also a highly acclaimed book.  I saw three of the documentary episodes on Netflix, but there is also a website, Top Documentary Films, that offers it free.  You can check it out by clicking this link.

The Ferguson doc is not only exceptional for the creative way it is written and produced, but for a new way of understanding why the 20th Century is the most violent in history. 

One of his interesting claims is that World War III is not in the future.  It started right after World War II.  In other words, the Cold War was actually hot. The United States and the Soviet Union couldn’t fight directly because of the guaranteed mutual destruction that a nuclear exchange would engender.  They fought it through proxy countries.  A couple of good examples were Korea and Vietnam. 

The shift of empire power to the East  started in 1905 when the Japanese sank two-thirds of the Russian fleet.  Up until then the West truly dominated the world, with its empires subjugating  the East. Those empires have since been demolished.  Nations like China and India are ascending.

 And he points out that  war can cause the good guys to be bad guys as they adopt the tactics of the bad guys, using as examples the massive killing of civilians by bombardment from artillery and the air in World War II.

His findings are controversial, but he has a good case for his positions.  Watch the series and tell me what you think.   

Looking to China for how Unregulated Corporations Provide more Jobs

January 17, 2012

I recently did my bit to help the American consumer-driven economy. I upgraded to an iPhone 4 and I love it, especially the 5 mp camera with a flash. But, after watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night, every time I look it now, I’ll think about the factory worker in China who made it. According to the report, which got its facts and video clips from a MSNBC program, he or she – some as young as 13-years-old – got 32-cents an hour, lives in a company-owned dormitory room with seven other people, works up to 35 straight hours, and sometimes becomes so stressed out and depressed that  he or she jumps off the top of the dormitory building.  So many have jumped that Foxconn, the Taiwan-based largest manufacturer of electronics in the world, has put up nets to break the jumpers’ falls.  Most of the company’s manufacturing plants are in mainland China.

Why does the union allow this to happen to workers?  There is no union.  Trying to organize one can get you twelve years in the clink.

Last night’s report was prompted by Rick Perry’s repeating of the Republican mantra about bringing jobs back to America by fewer regulations and more tax breaks for corporations.   Perry made the statement during the Republican presidential primary debate in South Carolina.

There was a time when many American factories were almost as immoral, paying starvation wages, providing shoddy company-owned houses, and  using child labor. Regulations got us away from that.  Do we really want to go back to that in order to compete with communist China?  Do we really want to ramp up our march back  to the Gilded Age of the Robber Barons? Can’t we find a way to provide jobs without destroying the American middle class?

A Different Kind of Change of Command Ceremony

July 2, 2008

  Having covered a few change of command ceremonies at Fort Benning over the years, I am familiar with the pomp and ritual of those affairs. Not as familiar as Rotary Club of Columbus President Carmen Cavezza, though. He’s participated in quite a few, ending up as a three star Lieutenant General before he retired.  

 

  But this one was totally different. He compared a Rotary Club meeting with one at a church. First of all, you “don’t sit in someone else’s seat. That’s followed by a prayer. Then you take up a collection. And you’d better not run overtime.” Rotarians, recognizing the truth in what he was saying, laughed. In fact, he gave us quite a few laughs. We thank him for that. There are no laughs in a military change of command ceremony – well, there had better not be.

 

 

 

Past Rotary Presidents

Past Rotary Club of Columbus Presidents

 

 

  34 former Rotary Club presidents, along with a couple hundred other Rotarians, got to see President Carmen (it’s traditional for Rotarians to call each other by first name, even the president) hand over the presidency of the club to U.S. Federal Court Magistrate Mallon Faircloth. He now gets to preside over the 333 member club, the largest service club in Columbus and one of the largest in the state.

 

 

 

Pres Carmen and Pre Mallon

 Rotary President Carmen Cavezza pins president’s pin on incoming President Mallon Faircloth.

 

 

  Rotary Clubs all over the world do a lot of good work. They raise hundreds of millions of dollars to do things like eradicating polio. The Rotary Club of Columbus raised 77 thousand dollars during President Carmen’s reign for the Rotary Foundation which supplies the funds for such humane projects.  President Mallon promises to keep up the good work, locally and internationally.

 

  And you just might be surprised to know where some Rotary Clubs are in the world. For instance, there are three in the People’s Republic of China. That’s right, Rotary Clubs, which are made up of business and professional leaders, in communist China. They have been busy raising funds to help victims of the earthquake that ravaged Sichuan Province. Revolutions can be gradual. The Soviet Union is no more and that came about without a violent revolution. Are there Rotary Clubs in Russia? Yes, quite a few,

 

  Yes, the world is changing, but, then, it always has been.