Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 130

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Wednesday, December 16 2009 (diary, news suppression, global warming)

Book illustration by Rachel, 1969 I still vividly remember the outcry of many Germans "Wir haben es nicht gewusst!" (We did not know) after revelations of the WW2 holocaust, and the incredulity and scorn with which people from other countries responded to this.
But I was there, in Germany during the last year of the war, and believe me nothing was easier for the Nazi regime, with their complete control over radio broadcasts and newspapers, than to keep the entire population in the dark about this (as well as about the disastrous course of the war on the Eastern front).

Now, sixty years later, despite Internet, worldwide TV, etc. etc., it is still relatively easy to keep large portions of a population in the dark, at least for a period of time, about major issues of concern, like man made Global warming for example.

In a so-called free country like Australia, any information or comments from "sceptics" during the past few years have been largely ignored, suppressed or ridiculed, notably by the Fairfax press and Australia's National (but socialist controlled) radio and TV broadcaster the ABC. Information just dribbled through via the independent The Australian newspaper and a few brave sceptic journalists like Andrew Bolt.

Cartoon by Peter Nicholson Dec.16 2009 But finally, thanks goodness, the dam of suppression and ignorance has burst.
As a result a very recent survey in the USA has revealed that the number of people that "believe" in man made Global warming has plummeted from 57% to 45%. The numbers are still falling with the only support coming (like everywhere else in the world) from the socialists (the US Democrats), clearly demonstrating that so far this has not been a scientific but largely a political issue.

How are the numbers in Australia ? I believe no survey has been conducted yet, but the people I speak to appear to be just as sceptic as I am.
But whatever your position is on this issue, at least what we have now is a better chance for genuine debate, rather than the political spin, despicable stand over tactics and manipulated pseudo-science (for years protested against by more than 30,000 genuine scientists online) we have had to suffer for the past few years.
"Wir haben es nicht gewusst." will then hopefully no longer be a valid excuse.

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Thursday, December 17 2009 (diary)

"Have you ever felt that your life at one point was being (re)directed by a higher force ?" was the question (or words to that effect) Gemma, Doug's daughter (from his previous marriage) asked me when we were having a chat in the Mooloolaba Surf Club today.

Gemma is a young, thoughtful and intelligent woman in her late 20s. She is staying with us at ThreePonds for a couple of days before heading back home to Melbourne. As Doug had to teach in Brisbane this morning I took her with me on my daily trip to the beach and surf, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
My reply to her question was an emphatic No!

Oil pastels over acrylic But Gemma's question just happens to touch the most fundamental premiss on which my life philosophy is based. Let me first give you a metaphor as example.

Say you are a painter and in the process of working on a canvas. Someone walks in, takes the brush out of your hand, then starts to paint on your canvas instead of you. I am sure you would have none of that.

Or take a less aggressive intruder, a friend, who tells you (while watching you at work) to paint a house in the right bottom corner, and, yes, a couple of trees over there please.

Well, I am sure you get my drift here. I consider my entire life a painting. Through birth I was given a blank canvas and the unique opportunity and responsibility to independently create a piece of art that reflects as near as possible who I am and what I stand for. I felt this already from a very young age (at 8) and never wavered from this conviction.

I see as the main purpose of my life : living my own life independently and without any interference or influence from any other force, be it a "higher force" (a God) or a horoscope, tarot card reader, fortune teller (which merely represent a fictitious higher force creeping in through the back door) or a glimpse at (equally fictitious) predestination.
To me reading a horoscope or taking advise of this nature from someone else is like cheating at a school exam. It reflects (I strongly believe) a degree of personal weakness, of shirking the responsibility for making a decision, and has the effect of contaminating the "painting" and downgrading one's individuality.

Prior to becoming an atheist I believed for most of my life in a higher force, but always felt it was of an abstract universal nature, not directly connected to or involved with the behavior of individual living beings. And I have never felt (or rather never imagined I felt) a higher hand guiding me at any point along the path of my life.

But I do believe there is a force flowing, however not towards me but instead outwards from me to the world around me. Through my behavior and conduct in life (the "painting" I create) I try to generate and sustain a positive force of (common sense) enlightenment and of goodness and generosity towards mankind, in the hope that in a very small way I may contribute to the gradual evolution towards a more humane and enlightened human species.

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Friday, December 18 2009 (diary)

Basilio and Joseliño, Caión 1961 I was much delighted to receive today from my fellow geologist Charley Arps a great photo of the two characters I wrote stories about in this Blog : the fisherman/grave digger Joseliño and the 80 year old eccentric Basilio, both from Caión in Galicia (NW Spain).
I wonder whether my sister Wivica and wife Antien still remember them and recognise them from this photo.

Charley also sent me proofs of two of my stories from my Galicia days (about Maria-Luz and Joseliño) for inclusion in a Commemorative Publication of the 75th Birthday of the Leidse Geologische Vereniging. Also to be included in that issue is a collection of letters from my late Geology and Pimpernel Club friend Henk Rijks (to his family and friends). More or less a Diary in fact of his field work days in Spain, quite interesting. I am rather surprised, as I was not aware of Henk's home writing at the time although I met up with him frequently during our days in Galicia.
I never wrote a letter back home when I was in Spain, despite frequent pleading from my mother. I just got on my motorbike and disappeared for two months or so. Upon my return I always first stopped by at my local Pub (Cafe Beuse) to refresh myself from the long journey (2,200 km), then finally arrived safely back home, much to the relieve (I imagine) of my parents.

The wind has come up and shifted, now coming from a northerly direction again and the Bluebottle warnings are out on the beach. So I have a brief dip in the water only today. The rest of the day passes by quietly, with reading and contemplation.

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Saturday & Sunday, December 19 & 20 2009 (diary, philosophy, sense of purpose)

Philosophy of Happiness : 3 continues from December 11
Many of my thoughts and ideas in this Blog are really "works in progress". I always try to follow to the best of my ability the principle of proper standard scientific analysis. That is : (1) you gather some facts or data, (2) then combine them into a hypothetical model. This model is then tested (3) as new data becomes available. When the data fit, the model is (temporarily) confirmed. When the data don't fit the original model, the model is either (4) modified or discarded and replaced by a new model. The diagram below illustrates this process.
Standard scientific analysis

When I read (today) about Jean-Paul Sartre's philosophy portrayed in his novel La Nausée (Nausea) by the character Antoine Roquentin, I suddenly realised I had overlooked two aspects in my earlier model about achieving happiness.

At a first glance 30 year old Roquentin appears to be free : he has a private income, no family, no job, no friends, no ties at all, and can live where he pleases. Sartre however argues that Roquentin is not really free, but instead merely non-attached or uncommitted. He is, Sartre explains, a mockery of freedom and is running away from it. Roguentin is decidedly not happy.

Epicurus : logo of the website The first aspect I overlooked (or rather did not consider) is that one happiness factor by itself is not enough. Only the combination of a number of factors can achieve happiness.   Roquentin has his freedom, but he has no friends, no-one he can really talk to, no thoughts other than casual ones. This makes his freedom by itself empty and useless.

The second aspect I missed was also overlooked by Epicurus himself. It is an additional and important factor for happiness : a sense of purpose.
Epicurus moved with his friends into one house (rather like a commune). They all quit their jobs to achieve their freedom and sustained themselves by growing their own food in a large garden. But they were not without a purpose. Most of them were philosophers, some writing books and all contemplated and discussed subjects of mutual interest and importance.

Therefore here is my modified list of factors for achieving happiness :

1. Health     2. Freedom     3. Sense of Purpose     4. Thought     5. Friendship     6. Environment

Perhaps it is possible to be relatively happy without a sense of purpose for a short period of time, but soon (I believe) one gets tired and bored with this. For me personally a sense of purpose (like for Epicurus and his friends) is achieved through occupying my mind with appropriate subject material to contemplate, analyse and pass on to others.

These can be ideas I have about music, bridge, philosophy, or any other area which catches my interest, and may be passed on verbally face to face, or through books, or (like these days) through my lessons and Blog entries on the Internet.
For others their sense of purpose (after retirement) may be achieved through physical activity, such as volunteering for charity or community projects, getting involved in gardening, selling produce on a local market, etc. etc.

Achilles' heel A sense of purpose is particularly important because it tends to utilise and enhance the factors of Freedom, Thought and Friendship.

But watch out ! This Sense of Purpose factor is also rather fragile and can easily become your "Achilles' heel". For if your efforts are not being appreciated by those you had meant to benefit from it (your students, superiors at work, etc.), then your happiness and sense of fulfillment may instantly disappear and instead turn into disappointment, frustration and depression. I certainly have had that experience myself at times and perhaps (dear reader) you have too.
Philosophy of Happiness continues on January 6

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