Friday, November 20, 2009

Ignorant scientists again: Say "Hobbit" was distinct species

They say the female "hobbit" was too short to be a modern human but, at 3'6' tall, there are Australian blacks alive today of that height. These "experts" are just ignorant of basic physical anthropology -- which is what they are talking about! They obviously know nothing of Australia's pygmy race. I come from the area where they survived and have had them walk right past me in the street. And Australia is quite close to Indonesia

Researchers have added new weight to theories that a prehistoric "hobbit" found by Australian and Indonesian scientists in Indonesia is an unknown human species. Bones belonging to a mini-human and believed to be about 18,000 years old were unearthed on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004, sparking theories about our ancient relatives. Since then, scientists have debated whether Homo floresiensis was a descendant of a known human species suffering from some sort of genetic disease which caused them to be so small, or whether they belonged to a new species.

A new study of the bones of a female "hobbit" (several skeletons were ultimately unearthed at the site) by American scientists William Jungers and Karen Baab has given fresh impetus to the theory that floresiensis is a genuine ancient human species and not a descendant of healthy humans dwarfed by disease.

Their study, published in the December issue of Britain's Royal Statistical Society magazine Significance, was based on a detailed examination of the individual's skull and other bones which led them to estimate her weight and height. Their analysis suggests it was unlikely she was a relative of Homo Erectus or other known human species and was instead "probably derived instead from an even more primitive hominin species".

They found her brain was "remarkably small" compared to living humans, including modern pygmies, and more similar to those of chimpanzees and ancient hominins like the bipedal "ape men" of Africa. While some scientists have argued the hobbit's head was unusually small because she suffered from a disease, Dr Jungers and Dr Baab found no resemblance between her brain shape and that of modern humans with abnormally small heads.

They suggested the hobbit was not a dwarfed descendant of Homo Erectus but a different species "with already-small bodies and smaller brains when they arrived on Flores".

Dr Jungers and Dr Baab also reconstructed the hobbit's body shape and size and found it to be unlike any modern human because of its shorter thigh and shin bones. They estimated she was much smaller and stockier in shape to modern humans, even when compared to the smallest living people. [Rubbish!]

She was just 106cm tall and weighed 30-35kg, suggesting a "very non-human body shape for our hobbit, in the sense that a relatively large mass is being distributed over a relatively small skeletal frame". "This is not a pygmy human," Dr Jungers, who works closely with the Australian scientists who discovered the skeletons, said.

The Australian Research Council is providing funding for a five-year project so Dr Jungers and Australian scientists can continue their work on trying to establish the hobbit's status.

Dr Jungers said the team would return to Indonesia to examine sites near to where the skeletons were found and where tools dating back one millions years have been unearthed. "We will focus on finding skeletons that go with the tools," he said. "If we dig up bones of H Erectus, the diseased dwarf theory will gain credibility. "But if there are bones like Lucy's (Australopithecus afarensis, a 3.2 million-year-old set of fossils found in 1974) or H Habilis, our hypothesis that this is a more primitive human than H Erectus will gain more support."


Unbelievably brainless waste of taxpayer's money

$600k for 'sub-standard hot-box' house that is totally inappropriate for the tropical climate and for the people concerned. Open timber houses were needed. The most any aborigine would do with such a house is sit outside it

SMALL brick houses with no airconditioning, no fans and no landscaping are costing taxpayers $600,000 a pop to build in remote communities. Kennedy MP Bob Katter has condemned recent federally-funded community housing "slapped up" on Mornington Island, saying it cost $4 million to build seven tiny homes that local contractors have since valued at being worth less than $300,000 each. And the high building costs do not include the "hundreds of millions" blown on the government administration of community housing projects - all to provide indigenous communities with "substandard hot-boxes".

"The house I stood outside of was a hot-box that you couldn't even swing a cat in - it was a bloody disgrace," Mr Katter said. "And they set the taxpayer back about $600,000 apiece."

And indigenous mayors from the Cape met in Cairns yesterday to debate land leases tied to future funding. The proposed 40-year lease system will see indigenous communities sign over their land in return for a share of more than $1 billion in social housing dollars in the next decade. "To me, this is the Federal and State governments saying, 'We're going to give you a fair trial, then we're going to hang you'," Mr Katter said. "They are telling these people they aren't capable of running their own affairs.

"When it (housing) was controlled by the council, they were getting 10 times as many houses built for infinitely less, but if you compare the (Federal Government controlled) Northern Territory to Yarrabah, then I think it will become clear who is doing the better job. "This is just blood sucking for white fella bureaucrats."

The caucus of mayors, who labelled the 40-year-lease as ransom bargaining, unanimously called for the State Government to extend the December 11 deadline for four months to allow the communities to pursue their own legal advice in regards to the land sign-over bid.

"Communities are in dire need of housing, but the delivery should be one of consultations, not predetermined policy and those who must benefit most are those on the ground, not only for this generation but for the generations to come," Cherbourg Mayor Sam Murray said.


Australian conservatism less divided than its American countertpart

By Hal. G.P. Colebatch

AUSTRALIA'S conservative intelligentsia may have a lot to complain about, but there is one thing at least that they should be grateful for: the Australian conservative movement has almost entirely escaped the toxic division, which in the past few years has bedevilled much of American conservatism, into so called neo-conservatives and paleo-conservatives.

This is probably largely due to John Howard's position that the Liberal Party is the bearer of both Australia's liberal and conservative traditions, and the fact that Howard himself has taken, and continues to take, far more interest in the intellectual content of Australian conservative thought than any other Liberal prime minister. It also owes a lot to the fact that most of those associated with Quadrant, Australia's most important anti-left intellectual journal, including long-time editor Peter Coleman, the late P. P. McGuinness and present editor Keith Windschuttle, have not been concerned with expending their energy fighting their own allies, or exposing alleged traitors and heretics in the conservative ranks. Further, since its foundation they have kept Quadrant and its circle free of the "anti-Zionist" ratbaggery that has crept into some American paleo-conservative work.

This anti-totalitarian ethos may owe a lot to Quadrant's founder, Richard Krygier, a Polish Jew and former social democrat and its first editor, the Catholic poet James McAuley. After more than 50 years this ethos seems firmly established.

Certainly there are crank groups on the Right but in terms of serious political and intellectual debate they are of little relevance.

This is in considerable contrast to the situation in the US, where attacks on the so-called neo-cons - and Israel - have become major pre-occupations of Patrick Buchanan, former Reagan speech-writer, former hopeful Republican presidential candidate and founder of the grotesquely misnamed American Conservative, and much of the American conservative circle.

Recent effusions by Buchanan include attacks on the pre-World War II Polish "regime" (his term) for provoking World War II by not giving Danzig to the patient and reasonable Adolf Hitler (a line also taken up recently by some Russian militaristic, ultra-nationalist and anti-Polish circles), and claims that, in effect, the countries liberated from Soviet occupation at the end of the Cold War have no right to self-determination because they lie within Russia's sphere of influence. The fact that tiny Estonia, the victim of countless Soviet atrocities, moved a war memorial erected by the Red Army from the centre of its capital has been described by Buchanan as a reckless provocation to Russia. The American Conservative, as well as all its other attacks on Israel and Zionism, actually published an article after Buchanan left the editorship insinuating - with obvious implications - that Israel had prior knowledge of 9/11.

Buchanan's work is also pushed on a website run by Greek multi-millionaire Taki Theodoracopulos, another ceaseless critic of the neo-cons and of Israel, from a so-called paleo-conservative position. One article published on the Taki website earlier this year, "Little Miss Zionist Gossip Queen", was a self-congratulatory account of how the Palestinian author, one Adam Kharii, had intimidated and chased away a lone Jewish girl in a nightclub: "I shouted at her, 'Don't be here when I'm back.' She was not even worthy of all the insults I'd hurled at her." Such, it appears, are the heroisms of self-styled US paleo-conservatism, descended more or less from the isolationist, anti-Semitic-tinged America First movement of World War II. I doubt it is a conservatism that Ronald Reagan, William Buckley or John Wayne would recognise.

One Australian-sourced attempt in The American Conservative to blame an alleged collapse of Australian conservatism on a neo-con takeover left its author lamenting that no notice had been taken of it. Among the alleged neo-cons listed there were Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt, and the late Frank Devine. The same author lamented elsewhere that his application to edit Quadrant had been, for some reason, rejected. He further described Howard as: "a semiliterate school prefect, haunted (to an extent remarkable even for antipodean statesmen) by what Mencken would have called the nagging fear that someone, somewhere, might be free", a description which, whatever one thinks of Howard, is simply off the planet. The big battle facing conservatives in Australia at present is against the expansion of government power and control in the name of environmentalism and here neo- and paleo- divisions are also irrelevant.

Mike Carlton recently attacked "shameless neo-cons" in The Sydney Morning Herald. His rogue's gallery included Tony Blair, who far from being any sort of conservative is probably the most socially radical prime minister Britain has had.

It appears most Australian intellectual conservatives think that what unites them is more important than what divides them. Most of them also seem to think that Israel is an island of democracy and civilisation, to be supported rather than attacked. On the potentially divisive questions of the war in Afghanistan and attitudes to Barack Obama's America in general, there is little they can do anyway but wait and see.


The Dog on the Tuckerbox

This is indeed a famous Australian song but many people these days don't know why. What is notable about a dog sitting on a tuckerbox? Explanation: The original version, as sung by shearers and other such profane folk, was "The dog shat IN my tuckerbox"

He has always been five miles from Gundagai but now the nation's most famous dog and his tuckerbox are to be relocated to lure tourists to the town. In the legendary original version of the 19th century poem, the dog sat on the tuckerbox "five miles from Gundagai".

Historians are outraged at the idea of moving the iconic statue from its spot of 77 years, just off the Hume Highway, to the far end of town to drag tourists through it, The Daily Telegraph reports. The town is split between those who want tourist dollars funnelled into their drought-stricken tills and those outraged at the changing of history. A consultant has been paid $20,000 by the Gundagai Shire Council to survey the community and find the cost of moving the pup. A report is due soon.

"We're a little town in the bush, doing it tough, and we have a great Aussie icon five miles out of town only benefiting the multinationals," pub owner Peter Lot said. "You come into Gundagai and it's a ghost town. Our biggest enquiry is, 'Where is the dog on the tuckerbox?' People don't realise they've already passed it."

National Trust advocacy manager Graham Quint blasted the move, revealing that the Trust is considering listing the dog on the National Trust Register, which would save it from being moved. "This is probably one of the most well-known and celebrated roadside monuments in Australia," Mr Quint said. "It was dedicated to the pioneers and bullockies who made the highway of today possible. "The very location 'five miles from Gundagai' is part of the Australian psyche and moving the monument to Gundagai would make nonsense of its historic setting and severely degrade its historic significance and purpose."

Mr Quint said the site was chosen five miles from Gundagai rather than at the nine-mile mark in the original poem because it was closer to Gundagai. Town mayor Len Tozer said: "I'm sitting on the fence on this one."



Paul said...

I'd go to Gundagai to see a statue of a dog shitting in someone's tuckerbox. In town or 5 miles out.

Anonymous said...

Pub and shop owners who want to move the Dog into town should smarten up their businesses to get customers, not to be trying to get extra dollars out of the dog. Gundagai has a very shabby main street with shabby shops. One pub is Ok but the other shabby. That isnt what customers are looking for these days.