Saturday salon 2/7

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:


2. Helium discovery a ‘game-changer’

    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.

Michael Chessum says:

    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.

16 thoughts on “Saturday salon 2/7”

  1. Election day! – at last. Now for the show tonight and the analysis.

    People I know were generally unsure of who to vote for. I’m guessing that was widespread but don’t really know.

    I pre-polled and waited in a very long line and was bombarded with enough pamphlets to start a recycle plant. It was pretty lively and staffers were literally pushing the cast votes down in the boxes with wooden sticks to fit more in.
    And they were needed. Whilst the Senate voting paper was well-sized the HoR ticket is a bout one metre long. It has to be folded a number of times to fit into a booth. If you vote along party lines as defined on a brochure the voting task is not too hard. But if you wanted to thoughtfully craft your own vote you had little chance unless you had already decided it – such was the complexity of choices.

  2. There’s a story doing the rounds in Britain, that Mr Corbyn is clinging onto the Labour leadership until Wednesday or Thursday of the coming week, for the release of the Chilcot report into Britain’s participation in the 2003 Iraq invasion.

    So that he can sink the slipper into Mr Blair, who – it is claimed – he believes is a war criminal.

    And you thought Australian politics could be discourteous at times?

  3. This opens up some very difficult issues.
    The International Criminal Court in The Hague was set up to try leaders accused of ‘crimes against humanity’ or ‘war crimes’, if their own nations could or would not prosecute.

    Apparently in the UK there is a parliamentary process known as impeachment, last used in the early 19th century. If Mr Blair is seriously considered to have committed high crimes and misdemeanours, is the British justice system – and parliament – sturdy enough to act?

    I recall after a talk Cherie Blair gave in the Vic Parlt, an audience member during the question time, asked if her hubby had committed war crimes. She opined not. She is a barrister, I think.

  4. Thanks Jumpy, an informative piece.

    It seems Mr Blair’s deeds cannot be investigated by the ICC.

  5. Oh, by the way….

    Guy Rundle is a grub.

    Sorry, we seem to have too many of those in Victoria.
    Mr E. McGuire, Mr S. Newman. G. Rundle, etc.

  6. Okay, I’ll stick my neck out again and go for Homo Habilis. Though my picking of Melbourne Cup winners hasn’t been too great either.

    Helium in East Africa? Don’t they have enough cares trying to develop themselves to the best of their ability without someone starting a Helium War there to drag them back?

  7. I saw an eye specialist today. All is OK apart from my bank balance. Turned out to be a bloke called William Glasson.

    Any way she said my vision would be OK after 4 hours. But it’s not. everything is blurry. Hope it is better later tonight.


    Sorry, couldn’t make it Bold in 16point type. 🙂

  9. Just on the state of my eyes. Things look normal again this morning.

    About four years ago I was found to have glaucoma, which is a one-way trip to blindness. They can slow it down, so it’s a question as to whether your optic nerves last as long as you do. It had been controlled by drops once a day, but my optometrist this year, when I went for my driver’s licence certification, said she wasn’t happy and referred me to Prof Ravi Thomas at the Queensland Eye Institute. They did umpteen tests, gave me a second set of drops, twice a day, charged me a heap, got a pittance back on Medicare, and they said “see you every 6-8 weeks for the next two years.”

    On the next visit, they said the progress was good, so he said , see you in 6 months.

    Next day the office rang me up and said Prof Ravi had noticed a “pigmented lesion” in my right eye, and he’s referred me to his colleague Dr Sunil Warrier, who I should see soon.

    I looked up the internet and found these things are not uncommon and range from nothing to worry about to melanoma. My GP said much the same when I saw her.

    Yesterday I fronted up and got, not Dr Warrier, but his partner in crime, Dr William Glasson, ex AMA who ran for the Liberal Party in the Griffith bi-election. He was very personable and cheerful, calling me “mate” and such. But a good doctor, nevertheless the only one I’ve encountered where an assistant was always there to help him find files in the computer etc.

    I had photographs/scans done with at least four machines. Glasson says I was probably born with it and he thought it entirely benign, most likely, no promises, but that’s what it looks like.

    He reckons Prof Ravi can keep an eye on it when he periodically looks into my eyes.

    So I paid them $600 and got back $142 from Medicare.

    The system looks pretty much privatised to me.

    On the public system I wouldn’t have known it was there, but would probably be losing vision by now with the glaucoma.

    It was strange and disconcerting walking back through town to catch the bus with seriously blurred vision. After 8 hours I could see well enough to complete this post, and today it’s all good!

    There are actually 11 products from the pharmacy I use every day, would you believe, and I’m not a pill popper as such, just someone with a body that wasn’t really designed to last this long. I get no help from the government beyond what everyone gets from PBS. I have to go the the GP every 25 days, who has been bulk billing me until this month, in a practice where they usually don’t, but last week she asked for a $10 co-payment.

    I get at least three blood tests a year, in practice more, which to date have been bulk billed.

    At least once a month a physio type works on my lower back, which has given me grief for 47 years, to be precise. He gets more than a bulk-billing doctor, and I get a bit back from private health insurance.

    Other than that I’m actually in quite good health, and keep being told I don’t look or act my age. The photo at top left was taken 8 years ago, I try to avoid mirrors now.

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