I Know I Shouldn’t Be Watching TV….
I’ve just finished watching an SBS screening of the French production, "Homo Sapiens". A very disquieting watching it was, too.
For a start, the producers seemed to have a hidden agenda in the first installment, that religion is only a fortuitous codification of superstition. Secondly, the producers have totally ignored Cro Magnon Man, whose existence has been a fixture in my lifetime dilettante study of anthropology. Even though many consider this evolutionary step to be indistinguishable from modern man, at least he could have been mentioned.
The series’ producers also claim that Neanderthal Man, as a develoment of Erectus trapped by the ice ages, was totally supplanted by sapiens (with whom he wa isnfertile LOL), with sapiens spreading as far south as Australia 50,000 years ago. Now, these claims I would dispute as passionately as my unemotional self will alllow.
When I was at university I studied Piagetian development theory. For the uninitiated, this theory (well-supported by observation and testing) claims that modern individuals develop such concepts as conservation of volume at specific young age ranges only, and provided the environment is rich enough to provide examples of such concepts.
A professor who taught this subject claimed he had tried testing (in some tribes in the late 1960s) for the development of such Piagetian concepts amongst the Aborigines of Northern Australia and discovered that the existence of this concept was only randomly distributed in this population when the Aborigines were full-blooded (the only ones allowed in the tribal reserves – but that is another story). When the same concepts were tested for in mixed-blood Aborigines in South Australia, the development of the concept was always found regardless of any small amount of non-Aboriginal blood. This was a very politically incorrect result!
My examination of these findings, conducted together with studies of Aboriginal culture and the effects of evolutionary pressure, lead me to the conclusion that there was no evolutionary need for the maintenance of such an ability within the population, and therefore it had either randomly disappeared or was only randomly selected for in Aboriginals populations. By the same token, the develoment of modern man hinged upon the existence of such concepts, as any sapiens who never developed these concepts in childhood would be unlikely to either survive to breeding age or be allowed by societal pressure to have viable offspring.
Tyranny of Time and Distance
In later years, I finally read Blainey’s classic, "The Tyranny of Distance", and in spite of its age and, found a few interesting observations.
According to Blainey, the Australian Aborigine first migrated here from the north about 50,000 years ago. A second wave folowed about 8,000 years later, and a third wave followed about 3-5000 years ago. The spread of the first wave coincided with the destruction of the Australian meglafauna (giant wombat and kangaroo, for example), another politically incorrect fact. The arrival and spread of the second wave resulted in the original wave’s survivors being restricted to Tasmania (where the Caucasian colonisation finally destroyed the last full-bloods in the 20th century).
The spread of the third wave of Aboriginal invaders restricted the second wave to just the south and south-east of the continent by the time of the Caucasian colonisation. In total, when James Cook arrived here, there were less than 400 distinct tribes and tribal areas in Australia (each isolated from the others by societal limitations). Each had been reduced to primitive hunting and gathering. Even those tribes occupying the shorelines had lost the ability to make anything larger than simple bark floats (a problem encountered by Rolf Harris when he attempted to write a song about Aboriginal war canoes). In fact, it was only a decade ago that a group of Aboriginal singers and dancers visited the New Guinea highlands (the home of the most primitive people on Earth), and discoved how far they had degenerated since invading Australia.
Whither Cro-Magnon Man?
The reason why the absence of Cro-Magnon man from the French documentary (and the argument that Neanderthal Man existed solely in Northern Europe) was so annoying to me, apart from some obvious bias and inconsistencies, was that the timelines for the spread of Neanderthal Man and his displacement by Cro-Magnon Man were a close fit to the migration of Aborigines to Australia (even the last wave could be considered the remnants of a supplanted Neanderthal Man). Frankly, any physiological or psychological examination of the Australian Aborigine shows in the main racial traits that were/are used to distinguish Neanderthal Man. I don’t think my observations in this are what would be terme "racist", and in fact I applaud many of the psychological differences (different to Caucasians, that is) found in pureblood Aborigines.
I suppose I am tired of false claims of 50,000 years of habitation, superior culture, Cauasian atrocities, and inappropriate land rights demands made by mixed-blood Aborigines who have been rejected by their tribal elders. And I definitely reject calls for an official apology by the Government for crimes none of the voters ever committed.
Tend to spend too much time watching the garbage on TV and making comments about its inacurracies when you are too crippled to do much more than make coffee and try to avoid becoming a vegetable. ** SIGH **
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Friday 09 November, 2007 – 02:26
The events of the past weeks have caused me to rethink my opinions about terrorists. I abhor them: the taking of innocent lives to make a point, just because no one seems to be listening, is never just.
But I have been screeming for help for a long time. When I run across a medical practitioner, for example, who is operating to an agenda at odds with me finding out what went wrong, or doesn’t care what I have to go through to get anything done, or doesn’t seem to think that finding a way to better live with my disability (or heavens forbid, doesn’t seem that any chance at a cure is an opportunity), is worth the effort, or is so incompetent and filled with self-importance that he/she isn’t willing to listen to anything that doesn’t support his/her preconceptions, I am pushed to go postal.
What these waste managers fail to understand (or maybe they understand too well) is that for people who seem like me, they are the only conduit to help. If, for example, a specialist is unwilling to see beyond the immediate, I have to go through the motions (literally and figuratively) to find another specialist who might listen. I really have no choice. Except to make a statement someone will be sure to hear!
Terrorists seem to have two significant aspects that seem similar to mine. Firstly, they think no one is listening to their statements, so want to make as big impression as possible in the hope that someone will hear. Secondly, they have no regard for their own lives (an exception here: really intellient terrorists are rare; only an idiot wants to die for his beliefs; smart people prefer others to die for theirs; smart terrorists rely on dupes or remote controls). So making an explosive statement that kills the innocent makes sense to them. After all, people who think they are dead think they have nothig to lose. Their disassociation from society is pretty fatal. The question here is: what has society done to make what would normally be a harmless person into someone who would kill the innocent (regardless of what the terrorists propagandise), just to get someone to listen?
Monday 19 November, 2007 – 19:55
There is an oft-repeated joke about economists, somewhat like this. If you laid all the economists in the world head-to-foot around the equator, you would not find two with the same opinion. Economics is an arcane art. This gives rise to such university-level subjects as "Creative Accounting" and "Entrail Examinations". Also gives rise to a pair of economics-related jokes I will try to relate later!
My Thinking Space
At my usual haunt in my local RSL Club, where I often go because it offers a convenient location for my two quiet drinks and a chance to avoid looking at the work I have to do, I have been asked recently the questions of why politicians do not offer huge spending promises in order to attract votes. We all know we can’t trust their promises, but we do give votes for interesting lies. My half-truth answer is that too much spending causes deficits, and all politicians try to avoid that. The full truth is that with Australia having a $1.1 trillion economy, even a 20% increase in spending will not always immediately cause a deficit.
The reason I only have two drinks at the RSL Club is manifold. It is impossible to carry a drink while trying to stumble through the doors to the smokers’ lounge on two walking sticks. I can impose on others to provide assistance, having sufficient influence (as well as such an angelic disposition) to do so. Unfortunately, if I drink too fast, I end up choking and wasting good beer on the tiles (isn’t the saying, "good beer", an oxymoron)? As well, I can’t carry more than two beers internally and myself externally.
One of the truths about income was pointed out decades ago by adman John Singleton, when he formed the Workers Party. All money you earn and subsequently spend ends up in government coffers. All the money. The exceptions are funds remitted overseas, funds on deposit, and any cash you use to make rollies because you have run out of cigarette paper.
I know you can’t make rollies from plastic notes. The fine paper from a small Bible is better for this, but I hope you get the point.
A Taxing Time
Yes. All the money eventually ends up back in government hands. Only the cynical will believe me. The minority of you, I suggest you think about where every dollar you spend goes. How fast it makes the trip is called "turnover", and it has a nasty effect on inflation.
For example, the government could announce an annual increase in pensions of $100 billion. During the year, as this money is spent on rent and food and other luxuries, about $70 billion will end up back in government hands via taxation of the suppliers’ income. The next year, a further $20 billion will trickle back. In the third year, the final $10 billion will trickle back. Over the three-year period, the total deficit will only be a total of nil. But there will be an initial deficit of $40 billion over two years. Assuming a 10-year time frame, thus is only 4%, probably under the inflation rate caused by the increased money supply.
Of course, the increase in spending money means upward pressure on inflation and interest rates, leading to more inflow of money from overseas into the economy. As this is spent, the returns to the government coffers increases, reducing the short-term deficit. Otherwise I’ll ignore the follow-on effects to the balance of trade, spending rate and the economy.
I don’t know about you, but inflation scares me. I’d rather offer a homicidal Hassidic Jew a ham sandwich that suffer through inflation.
Money spent overseas does have a beneficial effect, especially if it is spent on me. Foreign Aid does help the political image, and might help trade. But it is still money coming out of our economy. I object to call centres in New Delhi, not because the employee doesn’t know a damn thing about my situation (even the next door neighbour doesn’t know that), but because his salary is reducing the amount of money the government will spread around here.
Now, the recipient of this largesse may decide to borrow the expected pension increase over two years now, spend the money on a lounge suite now, and then repay it over two years later. This actually increases the turnover rate. If enough people do it, the rate might not only remove the initial deficit, but contribute to a small inexplicable surplus in the short term.
Sheeting Home the Surplus
It is quite likely that one night, a government bureaucrat playing in his bedroom with taxation figures in his spreadsheet (instead of playing with the otherwise taxing figure spread under his sheets), will notice this small surplus. Being a good bureaucrat, he knows that a by-election is looming, and this surplus could be used to sweeten the rice farmers in Leeton, so they can add some snap, crackle and pop to their cooked products. This increases again the pressure on inflation.
The whole matter gets terribly complex, as politicians have discovered. Even spendthrift pollies tend to be conservative. The poor economists, who are so confused that they only wear black suits and white shirts in order to not have to make a decision about what clothes to choose, will answer any questions with enough gobbledegook to confuse any bureaucrat, while confirming their scheduled weekly appointments with their psychiatrists (neurotics make castles in the air, psychotics live in them, economists make us pay the rent, and psychiatrists collect it on behalf of the government).
Like many other things bugging me, I just wanted to get this off my chest so I can get onto other things. This is what happens when you are condemned to keeping the body still while keeping the mind in motion. There are about 200 federal pollies who will answer your economic queries (and get paid for it). So ask them. I only had to manage budgets of millions, not billions, and my opinion is only as good as my results (which were actually OK). After all economics is for comics, and only scientists (hem) have nous.
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