Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 55

2008 : Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec |     Page : Previous | Next |
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Friday November 21, 2008 (diary)

Hexagonal deck at ThreePonds We had more storms causing damage and rain causing floods the previous few days, especially around Brisbane and the Gold Coast with as much as 250 mm (10 inches) of rain falling withing just a few hours. Even ThreePonds did not escape entirely. Electricity was cut off last night when a freak wind gust threw a large tree on the power line near the top of the ridge.
Enough excuse for me to invite Doug (Babette being away in Sydney) out for dinner at the Thai Parnit restaurant. The tiny restaurant was packed, but we got a table outside which was OK as the rain had stopped and the evening was lovely and mild. Doug managed to find a dish (without rice) which fitted his present diet regime and we had a great meal. Stephen Kirby (the restaurant owner) was clearly pleased to see us again and even remembered that I had been away to Germany. A real transformation from his previous stone faced stoic self.

This morning the sun is shining again and by 9 AM the Council workers have repaired our power connection. So phones, water and computers are all back in operation. After lunch and watching some cricket I wander around the Sunshine Plaza shopping centre in Maroochydore and of course can't help buying another book. A Vintage Edition of Atomised this time, by the French author Michel Houellebecq. I look forward getting into that.

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Saturday November 22, 2008 (diary)

Henri's funeral This morning I receive the sad news that my 'Pimpernel' Uni Club friend Henri Maas Geesteranus has died in his sleep last night. He had been battling with cancer for the last half year or so.
Every time it occurs these days such event puts into stark perspective that there is both a beginning and an end to one's life, it is not infinite, and we must make the best of it (whatever that means to each individual) while we are alive.

Like many modern philosophers and scientists, I hold the logical (atheist) view that one's mind and spirit (or soul if you prefer) are sustained by the body. Once the body dies, the lot goes with it. End of story. I don't believe in recycling souls, getting another chance, going to a "Heaven" (how absolutely boring would that be!), etc.

With Antien and our first baby Babette, 1964 But this finite view makes life to me infinitely precious and important. It represents a one time chance, a window of opportunity, to observe and contemplate the world and Universe around me, and to make my own personal contribution to the improvement of mankind and the evolution process as a whole, however tiny that may be.
And although I (as an entity) have a beginning and an end, my life and influences as a whole are fixed in (what we now begin to suspect is) a fabric of time, something entirely different from what we perceive "time" to be. As such the record of my life will (like any other) continue to exist until what ? The end (or boundary?) of time itself I imagine.

Checking on the downloads from my website I see that since my first mp3 upload about six weeks ago already 1,000 of my recordings have been downloaded, and the pace seems to be accelerating. So I feel inspired and in the mood to do another one, and in no time at all make a recording of the song Love Story. I hope you like it.

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Sunday November 23, 2008 (diary, thought)

Quiet day again, no rain and a lovely sunny day. However in the early hours of the morning it is quite cool and I put some socks on and roll myself in an extra blanket to keep warm in bed.
I have developed a rather strange habit. I don't like sleeping between sheets any more. No idea why that is. The texture of the material ? Or perhaps the restrictive feeling of being tucked in too tightly ? I can't remember the exact moment when it actually started, but at some point after 2002, since I have been traveling.

Babette and Doug, February 2008 I got used to lying on top of the bed (in hot climates) or sleeping in a sleeping bag in my car or tent. Now, when I overnight in a motel, hotel or someone's home I usually lay on top of the blanket and fold half of it over me when it gets too cold. I do love the feeling of the soft wooly texture of the blanket. Perhaps that has got something to do with it too. In Germany they have dunas everywhere of course, but I can live (or rather "sleep") with that. It is sort of part of their culture I am absorbing that way.

Sunday is the one day in the week that Babette and Doug are allowed to have a one day break from their strict diet. They can eat and drink anything they like that day. They still go fairly easy on the eating part, but the drinking, oh boy, they catch up for what they have missed all week and the wine flows freely and continuously from lunch time onwards. But don't you worry, tomorrow it is back to the strict routines again. They have in fact lost considerably in weight already, which provides a strong motivation to keep going.

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Monday November 24, 2008 (thought)

Thought for the day (the "clarity principle") :

There exists a direct relationship between the depth of understanding a person has of a subject and the degree of clarity with which he/she can convey this understanding to others (in spoken or written words).

This may be rather obvious, but how often do we not realise this and draw the wrong conclusion ?
You listen to a guy talking about a subject (on a lecture, in a social gathering, or just one on one) and you think :

"Boy, this is way over my head. This guy is very clever indeed, he sure knows what he is talking about !"

What did you do ? You automatically assumed that it was you, rather than him (or her) who lacked in intelligence.
So here is the good news: Nine out of ten it is you and not him (or her) who is the smart one.

Hmmmmm ? I personally have taken this attitude for many many years, from my early professional life as a geologist onwards, both in professional and social encounters and (I believe) never have been proven wrong. When a guy can not express himself in simple to understand logical terms (often throwing in difficult terms) he does not really know what he is talking about. Of course some people express themselves better than others and one must allow for that fact, but the general principle holds.

I apply this what you might call clarity principle as much to myself as to others. For example, when someone emails me a question about my music lessons I realise that I have not explained something properly. And when I look back into that subject element I usually find a better understanding of it myself and a simpler way to express it.

To understand a subject you have to dig down to its roots, to the fundamental basis on which the subject is based and from which it has developed over time. Once you have reached that base you start to get a clearer understanding of that subject and are able to explain it in simple terms anyone can understand.
Many people however, do not seem to understand this and endlessly wander around, "horizontally" as it were, in the upper layers of their subject.

It occurs to me that most subjects appear to follow the second rule of thermodynamics (as explained in David Greene's 'The Fabric of the Cosmos' page 156) which states that :

Systems have a tendency to evolve from low entropy (= high order) to high entropy (= high disorder)

Just a coincidence, a curiosity which is neither here nor there ? Perhaps, but I kind of like the idea.

Anyway, next time you listen to someone and are not sure what he/she is talking about, apply the clarity principle. You will probably feel a lot better about yourself.

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Tuesday November 25, 2008 (diary, freedom, opinion, politics)

Freedom 7 continues from February 29
Several articles in today's Australian newspaper are provoking my memory and thoughts. Here is one.

Jan Garvelink with daughter Gertha, 1961 Mindful of my parents' having lost all their possessions and almost ruining their lives as a result of it, I made a firm pledge to myself as a young teenager (in the mid 1950s) never ever to get involved in politics at all. I kept very much to this promise until arriving in Australia where my thoughts have been harmless as I am a permanent resident in this country, not a citizen and therefore not allowed to vote.

One evening (around 1959) when I was just starting to go out with my wife to be Antien, riding on my bicycle towards her home, I noticed a pre-election banner erected across the road which read : Voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD, "For Freedom and Democracy").
Arriving at Antien's place I commented to her father, Jan Garvelink what a stupid slogan this really was. Wasn't World War 2 well and truly over and hadn't we enjoyed freedom ever since mid 1945 ? I was not aware at the time that my father in law to be was not only a member but also a local official of the very political party, the Conservative VVD which I was having a crack at.   I have made some clangers over the years, but this one surely rates as one of my most stupid remarks.

Garvelink, wisely, did not respond to my outburst and kept his thoughts to himself. For a while however (as Antien related to me) he was not much in favour of me as a future son in law, and I can't blame him for that. I was very ignorant, naive and stupid.
Over time however he got to know me better and totally reversed his opinion of me. Many years later in 1981-83, and, paradoxically, especially after I had walked out of my marriage with Antien, always his favourite child, we became very close. And as I have related earlier in this blog, I still miss him enormously to this very day.

Being invaded and occupied by a foreign country, like Holland was by Germany in WW2, is an enormous loss of freedom, which for every Dutch citizen who has lived through that time (me included) was an experience he will never forget. Unless you have actually lived through such experience you will never, ever, fully appreciate what freedom really is.

Nevertheless, even in peacetime in a democratic country like Australia, the more subtle forms of freedom are forever under threat. The freedom of choice, of minimal Government interference, the incentive for personal growth, because effort, initiative and excellence are rewarded on an individual's merit. Like the VVD in the Netherlands the Conservative Liberal Party is and always has been the guardian of Freedom in Australia.

The vastness of Australia, NT 2008 But at times the Liberal party strays away from its root believes, becomes stagnant. Or the general public, so used to the comfort of freedom, temporarily focuses their attention on small material gains and advantages.

That is when that other party, Labour has stepped in as a custodian.
These are times when you don't have to make decisions yourself any more. They will do all that for you, make strict rules so that everybody will become the same.   "Are you good at your job, bad, indifferent ? It does not matter, you all get paid the same anyway. But sorry my friend, no more freedom of choice or that other ridiculous notion : initiative. Oh, and I almost forgot, you'll have to pay the bill of course, like you did last time!"
The Labour party itself is captive to the mighty Unions, who, despite their dwindling numbers, have the Labour polies on a string. That is those few who have not been Union officials in the first place.

  • They have ruthlessly wrecked the State of NSW to become an economic basket case, and are now regaining their stranglehold on all Australian enterprises, through new Industrial Relations policies, being introduces today.

  • About a week ago, also undoubtedly under Union pressure, the Government has caved in, forking out billions of taxpayers dollars to the inefficient, no hope car industry, acting against their very own and the world's determined promise of lifting International trade barriers.

  • To top it of the Government is proposing security screening on Australia's World Wide Web.

And that is only this week's catch, but I am sure you get my drift. Freedom (in my humble opinion) is on hold for the present time.

Am I pessimistic about this country ? Not at all. The very physical nature of this wonderful continent we are privileged to live in, induces, no demands, a sense of freedom. Only freedom will ever be compatible with the age old spirit of this Continent. History clearly confirms this.
Only a few times during its modern era (from WW2 onwards) has Federal Labour been permitted to reign over this country, just long enough for the Liberals to catch their breath or renew themselves. Under Malcolm Turnbull this is already happening, and it appears at record pace. Therefore Mr. Rudd beware, the clock is ticking, make the best of it while you can.

Freedom continues on December 9

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