Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 150
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Friday, March 26 2010
The Euro is still falling against the Aussie dollar, now worth 68.3 Euro cents.
Looks like it will be 70 cents by the time I get to Germany.
I have duplicated my
Blog entries on Galicia and Music and combined them into separate series, like I did earlier
for Awareness and A Philosophy
of Happiness. All series are open ended and may be extended as inspiration strikes,
like the Entropy story yesterday.
We are still not quite out off the wet season, with brief localised rain downpours most
afternoons or nights, not unpleasant in fact.
I received a letter from Del Coleman today. I see Del, now in her early 90s, from
time to time in the Mooloolaba Surf Club. She is most passionate about music and still
plays daily on her piano. Whenever we meet she continually moves her hands and fingers
on our table, as if playing piano. She very much reminds me in this regard of Mr.
Harding (the central character in Anthony
Trollope's novel "Barchester Towers"), who, whenever exited, starts playing with his
hands an imaginary cello.
At our last meeting in January I promised Del a copy of my music CD, but never saw her
again after that. I finally passed the CD on to the Surf Club staff who posted it to her
for me (Privacy regulations forbid staff to give out addresses from their members). So I
am glad Del received my CD.
Also a letter today from Irene van Amsterdam's solicitor, with the Dutch tax forms. For the
past 20 years I have done Irene's tax return, as she herself did not read or write
Dutch. This is the last time I will do this for her, as she passed away a few months
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Saturday & Sunday, March 27 & 28 2010
My water colour artist friend Malveen is a member of an
art group located in and around Mapleton on the Blackall Range of the Sunshine Coast hinterland (10
km west of Nambour).
The art group now has an attractive website
with art samples of all their members. I had been looking to include a recent photograph
of Malveen on my Blog (seeing that I have some of her work on display), and
here it finally is, taken from her own web page.
The EU has finally agreed on a financial rescue package for Greece and as a result the
Euro has risen slightly against the Australian dollar (today 67.4 Euro cents), but I
doubt that this will be a permanent change in direction. There are several other EU countries with large Governments depths, which they possibly will not be able to repay by themselves, Portugal in particular.
We had a hectic week of bridge this week and are halfway through two hotly
contested competitions. So far we have done well, but anything can change instantly next
week, we shall see.
These present two days I am resting up and making good
progress with Richard Dawkins' book The Greatest
Show on Earth. As a former geologist I am of course well acquainted with Darwin's
Theory of Evolution, but Dawkins' extensive coverage of so many angles of this most
important feature of the development of life on earth is truly mind boggling and
enormously informative and enlightening.
Frankly if you are genuinely interested to view your life within the greater context
of life on earth and the universe as a whole (which I strongly believe you should do at one point in your life) you need to read only two truly remarkable
books : Richard Dawkins'
"The Greatest Show on Earth" and "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene. I
have referred to both throughout my Blog pages and I assure you, you just can't do
better than that. Both books are easy to read and comprehend and will expand your
awareness of life and the universe forever. Trust me!
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Monday, March 29 2010
Strange how you sometimes use a colloquial expression without realising where it is
derived from. "Zand erover" means "let's forget about our quarrel, forgive and
forget." "Zand erover" in Dutch literally means "lets cover it with sand".
does it come from ? You can extinguish a small fire by throwing a bucket of sand over
it. Interesting, I have never really thought about that.
This morning I received an email from Ab van der Meij, one of my childhood friends from the farm across
the Flierderweg in Gorssel. Their mother Aaltje has just passed away peacefully.
She was a strong woman, well into her 90s and still mentally very alert when I met her
last in 2008. She is survived by five sons and one daughter. The youngest son, Jan, is
not very well at present, we hope for the best.
I am very much looking forward to my trip back home in August this year. I feel an
urgent need to speak my father and mother tongues again (Dutch and German), and to give
those two original "souls" of mine some space
to breath and come to life again.
It was a great joy earlier this year at ThreePonds to have two opportunities to briefly speak some Dutch
again. Once with my ex Antien and once more with
Babette's Dutch friend Hermina. Such occasions are like
a dam burst, the "water" having been pent up high for all too long.
That is not to say that I don't enjoy English, in writing it is in fact my preferred
language these days. But speaking it I will always feel like a "foreigner" (a happy one,
mind you), and that of course is exactly what I am here in Australia. But then, as a
strong introvert, I remain a foreigner wherever I am in the word, that is our nature
and we are quite content with that.
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Tuesday, March 30 2010
(diary, sport, politics)
The 51 year old Liberal Opposition leader Tony Abbott has accomplished a quite remarkable feat this
weekend. He competed with 1,500 other sports enthusiasts in the gruelling super
triatlon of a 3.6 km swim, followed by 160 km bike race, finishing
with a full length 42 km marathon run. Tony completed the event in 14 hours, a
feat (I am sure) no other politician of similar age in the world has ever accomplished.
Nevertheless present Australian Health minister Nicola Roxon,
remarked that he could have spent his time better formulating a Liberal Health policy.
She blatantly and most insincerely, chose to overlook the well known fact that
Abbott has spent a considerable portion of his recent book Battlelines outlining
just such policy, never mind that he has had far more experience in the Health portfolio
as minister than she has.
Politics is a gullible business by all sides, but this week the Socialist Governments
in the UK (Brown) and the USA (Obama) have excelled in this regard by taking the purely
self serving populist road of "Israel bashing", at a time when this country
needs its best friends onside (Australia's leading foreign affairs commentator Greg
Sheridan has had plenty to say about this). Tony Abbott has urged the
Australian Government not to go this despicable road, but to do the right thing and
stand by Israel in its time of need.
Full marks, on the other hand, for Germany's leader Angela
Merkel this week, for standing up against the French and insisting that it
should be money from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) that should be used to save
Greece from bankruptcy, and that EU funds should only be used as a last resort.
Quite frankly (I believe that) the disgraceful financial irresponsibility by the
South European countries (Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy) deserves no better than to
be treated equal to countries from the underdeveloped world. Although Merkel's thread
of expulsion from the EU (of countries that do not meet EUs financial standards) is not a legal option at present, this may very well become a serious
consideration in the not too distant future.
But expulsion of one of the financially weaker members of the EU would have a
significant effect on the Euro currency :
The value of the Euro is at any time a balance between an upward push by the strongly performing North
EU economies (Germany, France, Benelux) and a downward pull by its weak Southern ones.
Therefore if one of the weaker members would be expelled, the Euro would immediately rise
strongly in value. This would have a negative effect on the export competitiveness
of all remaining EU countries in regard to the rest of the world, especially the economically strongest of them :
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Wednesday, March 31 2010
The title struck a chord in my memory as soon as I spotted it in the Palmerston Library.
I read through Richard Adam's novel Watership
Down in record time, tears in my eyes more often than not and at its end crying
my eyes out, for having to leave (as reader) such a wonderful heart warming group of
living beings. If only humans were like that. If every human being on earth would read
it our world would become a better place.
Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki (Japan) in 1954, but migrated to the UK as a 6
year old boy where he has remained until this day. One would think that only a native
Englishman could write a book like The Remains of the Day about the memories of an ageing
old fashioned English butler (Stevens), but Ishiguro does an absolutely superb
job which won him the Booker Prize in 1989.
But thinking about it, this is not really so improbable, for although the Japanese and
English cultures are quite different, they are underlain by several very similar values
like : preservation of history - formality - constraint manners - ceremony (tea !!).
Ishiguro (through the voice of his main character Mr.Stevens, and portrayed by
Anthony Hopkins in the film version of the book) provides a beautiful definition of a
truly great (British) landscape, to which I whole-heartily subscribe, (but wherever it
occurs in the world) :
..... what precisely is the greatness in a landscape ?
I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the
beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its
sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its beauty, of its own
greatness, and feels no need to shout it.
In comparison, the sort of sights offered
in such places as Africa and America, though undoubtedly very exciting, would, I am
sure, strike the objective viewer as inferior on account of their unseemly
I personally feel this very strongly and have done so all my life. Spectacular features
in a landscape (the Grand Canyon, Niagara falls, Uluhru in Central Australia, Bungle
Bungles in the Kimberleys, etc.) have never ever greatly attracted me or affected me
emotionally. I am instead invariably deeply moved by the timeless beauty and stillness
of the vast expanses of the
Australian outback, or the quiet scenes in the UK, Europe, etc.
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I have in fact very similar feelings about man made structures. The pyramids,
Greek ruins, Thai Mahal, spectacular cathedrals, etc. leave me completely unmoved. Yes,
they are magnificent feats of human skills, knowledge and imagination. But they are
too loud and artificial for my taste.
In stark contrast I am deeply moved by
(yes here they are again) the simple hunnebedden in Drenthe. They are, like Ishiguro's landscapes,
understated in their beauty, ancient footprints of humanity which blend in with the
natural landscape, without shouting or "unseemly demonstrativeness".
Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner