Monday, February 08, 2016

Is Australia More Equal Than Other Countries

SOCIOLOGY
Class in sociology is based in income - low, middle and high income earners, plus wealth. This is in conflict with assumed class by the ordinary person who believes that class is based on status. In England, for example, one's position in society can be inherited. An English earl will remain high class even though he has little income and lets the paying public into his home to pay for its upkeep. Anyway, let's get back to the issue, "at large", which is how income and wealth inequality has changed in Australia.
Income and wealth equality in Australia
Egalitarianism is an Aussie "thing". There is a strong belief that all Australians are equal, in daily interactions at least. An Australian can have a drink with the CEO of the business where he works. In England this is unthinkable. It simply will not happen because the boss will not allow the lowly employee into his/her circle.

In the 1950s income in Australia was relatively level. It was far more equal than in other Western countries. It even got more equal until the late 1970s. There has been a widening gap in income since then.  The Gini coefficient which measures income differential rose from 0.27 per cent in the early 1980s to 0.34 in 2011 (when one household has all the income the coefficient is 1.0).

Wealth inequality has, unfortunately, not been tracked over time. This is an unfathomable situation. After all, this should be a thing of great interest for sociologists. We do know the present state though. The wealthiest 20 per cent have A$2.2 million dollars in assets. The poorest 20 per cent have an average of $31,000. Of course, some people do not have any real assets at all.

How does Australian stand in regard to other nations? Of the 34 OECD countries, Australia is number 23 on the measure of income equality. On wealth Australia does much better. The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report puts Australia as the second most equal country of 34 "advanced" nations, after Japan.

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ARE AUSTRALIANS MORE EQUAL?
#equalty #australia #australian #belief #culture #sociology #assumed
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Friday, February 05, 2016

Schizophrenia Gene Found

genetics
The gene responsible for schizophrenia has been found. Contrary to the popular view the ailment doesn't only cause multiple personality issues. It has three variants: 1) Positive, causing delusions, dysfunctional thoughts, movement irregularities and hallucinations; Negative, unhappiness, not finishing activities, reduced speaking and low bodily expression; and Cognitive, poor decision making, low attention, memory problems.
schizophrenia sufferer
Ten in a thousand people suffer from schizophrenia. It usually begins before the age of 30 years. In 2014 an international program was organized to isolate the causative gene. It has been identified in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The C4 gene goes wild in sufferers, binding to more foreign molecules. This reduces the synaptic connections in the brain.

Hopefully, a new more specific medication can be produced from the research data. Currently, drugs are not effective because the target has been unclear.  lifelong treatment is necessary involving medication to smooth-out symptoms.  Ironically, psychological therapy has been practised.  This now seems to be the wrong thing to do if it is cause by a gene.
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#schizophrenia #treatment #gene #responsible #cause #drugs #medication
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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Archeology in the Rottnest Island Region

SOCIOLOGY
Work is being done to make the earliest human habitation of the Great Swan Region in Western Australia clearer. This covers the glacial period before the post-glacial sea rise, 30,000 to 6,000 before the present.
aboriginal stone tools
Aboriginals were making flake stone tools. Though for the most part natural forming cutting edges of quartz and chert were utilized Aboriginals evolved to adapt to hot conditions they survived the extremely cold conditions. Rottnest Island was inhabited during the fall in sea level but not thereafter. Aboriginals do have folk memories in the their culture about a past period when trees grew on intervening land now beneath the sea. The sea flooded in 6,500 years ago, quite recent.

Pollen records of close onshore land that wetland and woodland. There were changes over the years as the climate changed. Aboriginals did not take to cave dwelling as they had to hunt for food. They lived in the open around fires. Bush food and fresh water were available there.

The sources of material for stone tools have not been found. It is assumed that they were in the now submerged land between the Australian coast and the offshore islands. The claim that islands were not occupied after the inundation is suspect because limestone flakes were found on Garden Island and not on the mainland.
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ABORIGINAL STONE TOOLS
#aboriginal #stone #tools #quartz #limestone #chert #flakes #cutting #edge
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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Very Interesting Things About Australia

science
Interesting things abound about Australia. It is a unique continent being isolated from the other land masses for millions of years. Animals have evolved with unusual behaviors. The cute, tiny Antichenus gets so high on testosterone that the little fellow doesn't eat or drink. He mates until he dies.
antichenus
The ugliest fish live in the deep sea off Australia's coast. They have large eyes, a necessity where light is almost total nonexistent.  Land creatures have evolved where some beauty is required to facilitate mating.  living in the darkest depths means seeing your mate is not so important, but large eyes, huge jaws and venomous spines are.
Australia's ugliest sea monsters
Tourists and locals know about the deadly creatures living here. Oddly, Funnelweb spiders are not dangerous to dogs, cats, mice, lizards or snakes. An unlucky human can die if bitten by this spider.  Muscles in our bodies fibrillate.  Unsynchronized contraction of heart muscles can kill us.
Bundaberg is the home of the world's oldest tagged turtle. X23103 is a flatback turtle. The tag was put on in 1976 and she has been tracked ever since. The old lady continues on her way at the age of 60 years.
X23103 oldest  tagged sea turtle
Europe is well known for its stinging nettles. Children try all ways to stop the painful sting. Australia has the little known Gympie-Gympie stinging nettle. If its large leaves are just touched by human skin a part of the leaf breaks off and embeds itself so that it cannot be removed. It is a painful reminder to steer clear of it.
Image result for gympie gympie stinging plant
Forget Brazil and the rest of South America, Australia has the last remaining regions of wilderness. Cape york on Queensland is virtually untouched native vegetation. It has mangrove swamps, wetlands, tropical raingforests and eucalyptus wooded savannahs, home to ancient wildlife.

cape york wilderness
The longest "range" of volcanoes stretches down the eastern seaboard from Queensland's Pinnacle Rock all the way down to Melbourne. It is three times longer than the Yellowstone National Park volcanic track in the U.S.
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ANTICHENUS
#sex #antichenus #tiny #cute #testosterone #drive #mating #breed #eat #drink
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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Household Robots Not Here Yet

technology
Despite the advances in artificial intelligence, useful robots are a long way off. Humans can do limitless things, whereas robots can only do one thing well. They cannot have the broad perspective. So don't hope to have a "Maisy who washes the dishes and cleans the house anytime soon.
Businesses want to profit from new technology. However, adapting quickly to advances in artificial intelligence is difficult. The business that shows the way will be the winner. Those who follow will have to pick up the scraps. The leading business will have moved on to something else.

The time is approaching when the first damaging, even fatal, decision is made by a computer. It could be a major disaster. Artificial intelligence is not sentient: it does not feel any harm it does. Machines can now learn both good and bad. To a computer everything is equal. Give a robot a conscience - that will be a great leap forward!
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ROBOT ALIVE!
#robot #artificial #intelligence #computer #tasks #chores #calculate
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Guaranteed Minimum Income is Fairyland Stuff

SOCIOLOGY
Many in Australia are calling for a guaranteed minimum wage whether a person earns it or not. If a low paid job for say 30 hours a week is below this minimum then the state will top it up. This sounds fair at first instance, but there is the problem of government income to pay for this and the world economic environment that thrives on low wages.
Guaranteed income in Australia
If every country in the world did it, the system would be viable. Unfortunately, humans are greed driven. We are nice to each other. This in only to a degree, however. Man is torn between egalitarianism and competition. The Star Trek world where only those who want to work abandon their sloth and actually go to work is far off in the future.

When I was young the dole was quite high. It was meant for times between jobs to maintain family income. Indeed, in England those who paid more tax got a higher rate of unemployment. This was definitely not egalitarian. The Australian benefit has fallen way behind the cost of living - the lowest in the OECD. It is only food money now. Forget putting a roof over you're head. It can't be done, unless you are female with eight dependent children.

The question has also been made about voting rights. If you have no abode you do not have the right to receive unemployment benefits nor can you vote in elections. The marginalized get more marginalized.

Paul Keating, ironically a Labor politician, brought in compulsory superannuation with the aim of virtually eliminating the old age pension. This concept has gone by the board now with a series of conservative governments messing around with the rules to reduce accumulation of capital for retirement. The idea of allowing drawing of superannuation to purchase houses was an idea to 'feel the waters". It was quietly dumped.

There has always been a pool of very poor people to fuel economic growth. They are essentially needed for manual or repetitive tasks to generate income for the already rich. The poor do drive the world economy even today. If this pool did not exist, consumers would have to pay a higher price for goods. It would make for a better world to live in.
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POOR PAY
#poor #low #income #pay #money #australia #minimum #wage #guaranteed
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mice in Madeira

GENETICS
I've been everywhere man - I mean mouse! João Gonçalves Zarco, the Portuguese explorer, thought he had discovered a pristine island untouched by man. However, Madeira had been reached earlier by other people. Mouse move with man and their genetic fingerprint showed that Vikings had got there first.
Madeira mice
Mice began "travelling" with humans when people stated storing grain. There is nothing like a free feed to hitch a ride. As grain was moved aboard ship, mice got on too. When a ship reached its destination the mice alighted and started a new colony of their own.

The mice who populated Madeira do not have DNA traces of Portuguese mice. They are related to north eastern European mice. Apparently, viking did not construct any lasting structure on the island. This is also the case in North America where very little evidence has been found of Viking exploration.

Carbon dating of mice skeletons on Madeira show the earliest to be 1,000 years old. This was the high point of Viking wanderings across the globe. Like humans, mice do damage. Their presence is responsible for the extinction of native marine birds - they ate them!
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MICE BREEDING
#mice #population #madeira #island #spread #colony #vikings
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Fish Species by the Dozen in the Kimberley

Scientists know everything! Unfortunately, they don't. Much is still being discovered. The Kimberley in Western Australia should be called the place of the unknown because new species are being found there all the time.
New species of gudgeon kimberley
New Gudgeon Species
Forays into the Kimberley rivers area have brought to light 16 new species of grunter (Terapontidae), three gudgeons (Electridae) and a hardy head (Atherinidae). Twelve were found during the first three weeks.
New hardyhead species kimberley
Hardyhead from the Kimberley
Famous people become more famous because they are - well, famous it seems: one of the new species is to be named after the writer Tim Winton. The rest will be given Aboriginal names, after all, there is the little thing about them being the first on this continent.
New grunter species kimberley
Kimberley Grunter
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NEW SPECIES
#fish #gudgeon #grunter #hardyhead #kimberley #discovery #region #wa
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