Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 158

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Thursday, May 6 2010 (diary, photography)

Devils Marbles, 100 km south of Tenant Creek, NT In late August 2002 I took my then brand new Mercedes Vito for a test run from Darwin 1,500 km south to Alice Springs, where my son Jeroen was setting up a new business at the time.
After spending the first nigh in Tenant Creek (1,000 south of Darwin), I drove on next morning and stopped after about 120 km for a coffee at the old pub of Wauchope, located just past the Devils Marbles (outcrops of large boulders of granite).

Since my stop there I believe the roof has blown off in a storm or they had a fire, so the pub has been restored and earned some respectability. But back then it was a dirty old place, with a bar as rough as guts. It had hand written slogans in felt pen written all over the plywood front of the bar, many of a rather crude male chauvinist nature. One read (if I remember correctly) :

Sex is like using a gun,   you aim, you shoot, you run!

My own attitude towards sex has never been even remotely near to this rude statement, but I must confess that my approach to photography certainly has. And with these modern day pocket size digital cameras (and of course phones!) you can do this with considerable success : just aim, shoot and run.

The above passed through my mind when I attended the monthly meeting (first Wednesday of the month) of the Darwin Camera Club last night. There was none of this "aim, shoot and run" atitude here I assure you.
It was a most pleasant gathering of just over a dozen camera enthusiasts in their Club venue in Winnelly. This evening they were selecting photos for their Four Corners Challenge, an annual Inter Club Photo Competition which they have accepted with the Cannock Photographic Society (UK), The Camera Club of Brevard (USA) and The Blue Mountains Photography Group (Aus). Each Club has to submit 15 photos to the comp and the winner is selected from that total.

Emu, by Mark Cullenane, Darwin Camera Club The Club members spent about 2 hours viewing, discussing and selecting 15 from the 40 odd photos submitted, with the only restriction being that no member could have more than two photos in the final selection.
I very much enjoyed the process, all photos (at least to my untrained eye) where of a very high technical standard covering wildlife, portraits, sceneries in the most wonderful colour combinations, and way above my own camera and skill ability. But I was left wondering.

Broadly speaking there are two aspects to photography (as there are for example in painting) : technical skills and execution on the one hand, artistic composition on the other. I felt that just a few of the photos we looked at, although technical of a high standard, were let down a bit by (what to me looked like) a somewhat indifferent approach to composition. Whether this was as a result of careless cropping or of having insufficient surrounding "breathing space" on the original photo shot I don't know.

All in all a good evening out and I will certainly attend some of their other activities in the near future.

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Friday, May 7 2010 (diary, world politics)

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor To use a word made famous only last week by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he directed it at the wrong person, there are a lot of bigots on display, roaming the streets in Athens at the moment.

The Greeks are blaming their politicians for their woes, conveniently forgetting that it were they themselves who voted these leaders into power in the first place. They all were also happy enough to take part in the financial rorting and tax avoidance that lead to the Greek crisis in the first place. Now they have to pay the price. (In fact Germany and France will of course.)

From where I sit, here far away in Australia, and from the little I perceive, there appears to be one woman, and one woman alone, who holds the future of the European Union in her hands and will decide which direction it will take at this critical point : the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She (I perceive) clearly has the strength and the quality of a Margaret Thatcher, but with a humanist perspective to her decision making the abrasive Thatcher rarely (if ever) showed.
What will happen ? Will Greece and perhaps other South European countries eventually be kicked out of the monetary union, or will Merkel now push for a much stronger role of the European Government, giving it greater political and financial control over its member states ? Some European commentators interviewed on Australian TV are pointing to the latter scenario as the more likely outcome. It will cost dearly and cause much pain in the medium term, but in the long run will probably be for the better.
With the inevitable waning of the powers of the USA, a strong Europe to help counter the emerging strengths in the Far East is essential to maintain a political and economic balance (and ultimately peace) in the world.

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Saturday, May 8 2010 (diary, world politics)

With bridge partners Mairead (left) and Freda The world definitely has the jitters at present : another earthquake in Peru, oil slick off Florida, more ash clouds over Ireland. (My bridge partner Mairead is flying out to Ireland on Monday, but as long as she can reach Europe she will be OK she reckons.)
Still unrest in Greece and Thailand. The election results in the UK are out, but Gordon Brown does not appear to want to go until kicked out, which will surely happen.

The Rudd Government in Australia is a shambles and a joke. They have been throwing bucket loads of money at numerous hare-brain schemes which have all been ill conceived and poorly executed. They are still going ahead with a national fibre broadband roll out which will be out dated and obsolete by the time it is completed.
To recoup their money the Government now wants to charge the Mining companies an extra 40% tax, over and above the taxes and royalties they receive already. It is the Whitlam Labour Government of 1972 all over again, which overnight totally wrecked all exploration in this country for the 10 following years.

The only worthwhile scheme, executed by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, is the "My School" website (showing comparative performances of all schools in the country). This scheme is a great success by all parents, and loathed by the Teachers Union, because it is showing up their inefficiencies. But Gillard is standing firm, I am sure she will take over from Prime Minister Rudd within a year.

Through reading my Blog, you have no doubt gathered that I am by nature strongly pro Liberal Conservative and anti Socialist (a resident only and not a citizen in this country I never have voted in Australia).
I believe that Socialist politics were essential in the 19th and first half of the 20th Century to achieve a better deal for the working classes (in which they have succeeded). But since those days Socialism, where it has not renewed itself, like the Labour party in Australia, has become a negative and narrow minded philosophy, dominated by ruthless and selfish trade unions.

Socialist Philosophy A Socialist philosophy aims for everyone in the society to have equal rights but also equal benefits, paying little (if any) regard to an individual's effort or potential.
I have illustrated this in adjacent bell curve.
Everyone is being rewarded as if they had the potential of those individuals falling within the narrow green band.

This means that inadequacy, indifference and laziness (the individuals with a potential less than those in the green band) are being over- rewarded, while excellence and superior effort (of the ones with an individual potential higher than those within the green band) are being under-rewarded, restrained, usually by policies of envy (means testing of benefits, capital gains tax, fringe benefits tax, etc.)

Liberal Conservative Philosophy A Liberal Conservative philosophy also aims for everyone in the society to have equal rights, but it gives each individual the freedom to develop and prosper to its fullest potential.
It provides an adequate safety net for the weak and disadvantaged at the lower end of the curve, while setting incentives and corresponding rewards for all those who make the effort to aim higher and try to do better.

The Liberal Conservative philosophy is therefore (in a sense) in principle a humanist version of the process of Evolution of life on earth. The weak do not perish (as in natural selection) but are protected, while the right environment is created in which progress and human improvement can flourish and grow.

But in the real world political parties are not voted into power by their "true believers", but by the swinging voters, those who vote with their "hip pocket", based on what they can get out of it for themselves. Fair enough, we are not all born as idealists. Governments must therefore be pragmatic and compromise on issues where necessary. Nevertheless, their true underlying ideology generally shines true all the same.

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Sunday & Monday, May 9 & 10 2010 (diary)

With Hauk in Felechas, 1958 Through all that travel over the years I have lost most photos from the past, something I now regret, especially since writing my Blog.
My friend Hauk Fischer came to the rescue however and found one photo of our time in Spain while mapping the geology of the Felechas area (Asturias) during the summer of 1958. Here it is.

The nights have suddenly become pleasantly cool these last few days and I need a blanket to keep warm in the early morning hours. We are now definitely into the dry season although part of the days are rather overcast.

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