Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 144

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Friday & Saturday, February 26 & 27 2010 (diary, world politics)

I am slightly on edge these last few days, for two reasons.
Firstly I am getting really itchy feet about my nearing departure back up North. I am checking the various things I have to do and prepare before heading off. Also next week's weather for North Queensland and the Northern Territory is forecast to be rather wet and rainy. I hope I will get through OK in time for the GNOT and will be glad to be on the road and deal with it.

Secondly my previous meeting with Malveen affected me more than I had anticipated. Don't you dare and laugh !! Stomach flutters and the like at my age : 73 ??? Sounds ridiculous but it is true. Whatever you want to call it, a curse or a blessing, these things simply don't go away, no matter how old you are. Frankly I quite like it (and rather easily get affected that way), but don't get too excited, it may well all blow over in time.

There are a number of ideas and issues (other than the above) floating around in my mind. So here follows one :

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Feb. 2010 After the collapse of the Dutch Government this week over the issue of Afghanistan, the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates issued a strong warning to the EU :

"The demilitarisation of Europe, where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it, has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st," he said.

"Not only can real or perceived weakness be a temptation to miscalculation and aggression (as it was for Hitler in 1939), but the resulting funding and capability shortfalls (by most EU countries) make it difficult to operate and fight together to confront shared threats."

Gates' (exquisitely expressed) warning exposes merely a single symptom of a far greater problem facing modern Western Democracies around the world at the moment : the emergence of so-called "direct democracy".
In a direct democracy it are no longer the properly elected members of Parliament that determine and carry out Government policy, but it are instead the general public itself that, through ever more frequent opinion polls (published and expanded by the media) and mass demonstrations, are pushing nations into mediocre populist directions with dire consequences.

Think for example about Greece where populist uproars and strikes are preventing the execution of a responsible solution to their financial woes.
Or think about the US itself, where Barack Obama is fighting for the relevance of his Government because populist opinions on a range of incompatible issues have brought governance virtually to a complete standstill.

This is the very threat to a good functioning democracy that great thinkers throughout the ages from Socrates onwards have strongly warned against.

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Sunday, February 28 2010 (diary)

Mooloolaba Beach We have had intermitted downpours of rain the last few days, but this morning the sun breaks through. Great, so I quickly do my last batch of washing and have it dry before I go off to the beach.

Surprise ! The patrolled beach is closed as I arrive in Mooloolaba. In fact all beaches along the East coasts of Tasmania, NSW and most of Queensland were ordered closed by the State Governments who issued tsunami warnings this morning until late afternoon, expecting some effect of the disastrous earthquake in Chile. Indeed some effect did reach our coastline, about 15 hours after the actual quake event (traveling at 800 kph), a 1.5 meter (5 ft) wave in New Zealand, but only 20 cm (8 inches) on our beaches in Australia.

I confess I was one of the (many) bad boys who went into the surf anyway, but not far and only for a short period as there were some quite treacherous dumper waves. The tide was very low, unusually low even as it looked to me. Back at the Mooloolaba Surf Club all was normal. They just closed the windows ( :-) ) and forgot about it.

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