1. More hobbit remains found
For something completely different on election day, more remains have been found of Homo floresiensis (New Scientist, paywalled), aka The Hobbit, on the Indonesian island of Flores. The remains are 700,000 years old, far older than the range of 190,000 to 50,000 determined by previous discoveries.
H. floresiensis was about one metre tall and had a brain about the size of a chimpanzee.
There are three theories about The Hobbit. Firstly it could have descended from an ancient small species like Homo habilis. Secondly, it could have shrunk from the taller Homo erectus (about 1.7 metres tall) who reached the area about a million years ago. Third, it could have been a sick Homo sapiens.
This earlier find at a different place pretty much puts paid to the last, which was always silly, I think.
The new finding was only a jawbone fragment and six teeth. The jawbone is much more similar to H erectus than H habilis. Some worry that H. floresiensis could not have miniaturised in the time left available and would like to see another full skull before accepting it as separate species.
Here’s the jawbone:
Here’s where it was found:
- Using a new exploration approach, researchers found large quantities of helium within the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley.
It’s only a few years of global supply, but the strategy can be used to find deposits elsewhere.
Uses include MRI scanners in hospitals as well as in spacecraft, telescopes and radiation monitors.
3. Iceland adds to England’s woes
Iceland, population 330,000, with more volcanoes than professional soccer players, put England out of the Euro 2016 soccer finals.
Iceland’s 2-1 victory over England was a major surprise for a number of reasons:
- England not only boasted the most expensive soccer team in the European Championship but when comparing team coaches, England’s coach Roy Hodgson — who has since announced that he is stepping down — reportedly earned $4.6 million a year while Iceland’s co-coach Heimir Hallgrimson is a practicing dentist.
4. Britain’s politics broken
Tim Dunlop says that the EU was imposing:
- the sort of labour laws on various member nations that Australians would recognise as WorkChoices on steroids. That is, harsh neoliberal measures designed to “discipline” workers in the name of “competitiveness”.
Ironically Britain was doing much the same on its own behalf.
Dunlop says that:
- significant sections of the British public, and other member states [of the EU], feel disenfranchised by an organisation they see as being run by and for the benefit of elites at the expense of ordinary citizens.
He says around jobs and labour law:
- Instead of concentrating on the real reasons for joblessness, unemployment is being managed by xenophobia, with cynical elites shifting the blame onto immigrants.
The Brexit referendum is a perfect example of this sort of manipulation.
- The only argument that could have stopped Brexit was that austerity and neo-liberalism caused the housing crisis, falling wages and stretched public services – not Romanians and Bulgarians.
The only argument against Brexit that made sense was that social crisis was the result of austerity. In the same way, the only long-term solutions must come from the left.
The left of Labour, that is.
- From now on, the battle for social attitudes will be an insurgent task, bound up with the ability of the left to propose radical solutions to economic crisis and social disintegration.
Problem is that 80% of Labour politicians have made clear that they don’t want Jeremy Corbyn as leader. But as Roy Greenslade says, the Labour members do. 174 politicians should not overturn the choice of the masses.
But, he says, Corbyn may not appeal to traditional Labour voters.
It’s a mess. Corbyn won’t step aside and the issue may end in the courts. The party is infested with Blairites and Brownites who won’t be brave enough to come up with the necessary policies. The party may fracture, and if it does, it’s toast in a first past the post system.
I’ve no idea whether Angela Eagle is the goods. It looks olike they had a plan to shed Jeremy, but not what to do next.
Meanwhile Boris Johnson has pulled out of the contest for leadership of the Tories, leaving Theresa May looking good.
That might be good for the Tories, but I doubt it will fix Britain.