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Comment Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (Score 2, Informative) 233

The Indigenous culture here is dying off at an alarming rate, and little care is aimed at this travesty.

Most traditional Aboriginal cultures have already been lost since British settlement. Depending on who you ask, there might have been 600 independent cultural-linguistic "nations" in Australia in 1788 with the British claimed approximately 2/3rds of the continent as "New South Wales".

Nevertheless, a large amount of traditional culture still exists throughout the centre and north of the continent. I am from Darwin in the Northern Territory, for example. Just a few hundred kilometres from that beautiful little town you can find traditional law being practiced in all directions.

What cultures have survived are being studied by anthropologists, linguists and the like. Similarly, dreamtime stories and rituals are often sought for insight they can give into historical events and geological features.

I don't think that all elements of some existing traditions are praiseworthy and deserving of retention. In many places, for example, traditional law is brutal and inhumane. However, much as European culture grew out of the comparable brutalities of the classical world, we can adopt and learn the best elements of tradtional cultures and combine them within our own in the centuries ahead. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Stasis can be as destructive to cultural survival as anything else.

Comment Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (Score 4, Informative) 233

Dissipation is slower than centuries for two reasons:

  1. People get used to where they grow up. It's not as though every generation set themselves the task of moving as far from their parents as possible.
  2. Land bridges depended on ice ages. Australia was settled by (depending on who you consult) 2 or 3 waves of humans, corresponding with ice ages making it possible to easily reach Australia from the Indonesian / PNG archipelago.

As for the grandparent's claim that Aboriginal Australians have been on this continent longer than 75,000 years, the evidence is based on a single highly polluted sample. The evidence for 40,000 years of settlement is much stronger and corroborated by multiple sites.

Comment Re:Three things (Score 1) 1093

I'm definitely not a statistician and I am naturally a shameful blight on the face of our profession. But would adjustments follow some sort of distribution, at least? I'm more optimistic that we'll dig ourselves out of this with technology -- but that's not the issue at hand.

Comment Re:Hottest month in Darwin... (Score 1) 1093

Darwin was founded in 1869 as Port Darwin / Palmerston.

The data under discussion is a series from records beginning in the 1880s, which were later continued into a series taken from a weather station at Darwin Airport (from the 1920s onwards, I believe).

There are anomalies in the series which coincide with the Japanese bombing of Darwin and the city being struck by Cyclone Tracy, the worst natural disaster in the city's history.

Two things that aren't exactly clear to me are:

  • When the airport-based series takes over from earlier records, and
  • Whether "airport" means the current site of the airport, or the original site of the airport (which is much closer to the sea), or some mix of both.

I suppose if I still lived in Darwin I could ring the Bureau of Meteorology and ask them about it. They or the State Library should be able to sort out the question of what was gathered where and when.

Comment Three things (Score 2, Interesting) 1093

1. I'm from Darwin. It's a lovely town to live in -- relaxed, beautiful and friendly (though on the downside there's a housing crisis now). It's always great to see the homestead up in lights. I miss living there.

2. Adjustment is a fine thing but of course subjective. I'd be interested in seeing the average adjustment across all data points. If the law of averages holds -- ie if there really is correction for effectively randomised local conditions -- then the worldwide average correction should be close to zero. I don't think that's too much to ask, is it?

3. A worldwide emissions trading scheme will create an estimated $3 trillion market. That's hammer-of-god money. It scares me, personally. Carbon taxes have the same effect in economic terms, with fewer places for fiddles to hide. It's also easier to offset carbon taxes with income tax cuts.

Until recently I've been pretty much convinced of human global warming. Now I'm beginning to wonder. I'm not a skeptic / denialist / seal-murderer per se, but the current round of stuff is ... unsettling.

Comment I hate to sound snarky, but this is not new (Score 4, Interesting) 80

MMOs any many other kinds of game are addictive because they follow what's known as a "variable interval reinforcement ratio". The variable reinforcement ratio is a very well known and studied phenomenon amongst actual psychologists, having being one of the rock-solid discoveries arising from behaviourism during the 40s through 60s.

Variably reinforced behaviour is the most effective way to create a repetitious behaviour with the highest "resistance to extinction". That means it's pretty much an addiction.

The same finding explains why so much of gambling is highly addictive: the same random intervals of payback are at play.

You can learn more by buying or borrowing any book on classical and operant learning theory.

Comment Re:Google is suffering from success (Score 1) 155

"I do partly agree with you. Dividends should be paid from a "wildly profitable company", if it's in a strong long term position."

Google is in just such a position. They're athwart a river of gold due to adsense. It's an enviable position. They make some money on the side from Apps, but compared to the advertising dollars it's just peanuts.

I've said elsewhere that Google is not really a technology company, they're an advertising company. Follow the money.

That said, where R&D has paid Google back very handsomely is their investment in operations. MapReduce, custom PSUs, all that jazz has been a key component of their success.

Comment Re:Google is suffering from success (Score 4, Insightful) 155

In truth, Google is not a technology company. Really. HP, Sun, Oracle, Microsoft, Dell etc are technology companies: people pay them for products which are the fruits of research and development.

Google is not a technology company. Google is an advertising company with a sideline in email hosting. That's where their money comes from.

If you look at the technologies you listed, with the exception of Java, almost none of them was made profitable by the company that invented them. I don't know why companies who can afford really serious, advanced "blue sky" R&D so frequently fail to commercialise it, but it's really common.

Comment Re:Ever worked in R&D? (Score 3, Insightful) 155

I have a feeling I will be the designated baddy for today's thread :D

I am actually a big believer in research spending, and I think that any company with above-normal profitability is mad not to do a lot of it. But there's a difference between "research" and "entering every and all market segments you can hoping that one of them will be profitable".

Basically Microsoft and Google are almost totally reliant on single lines of business (Office + Windows vs AdSense, respectively) for their profits.

Because they're not paying *any* of that money to shareholders, there's no incentive to economise. More to the point, they suck up innovators and lock them up in a structure where they're beholden to internal process and not able just to say "fuck it, this idea is awesome, let's sell it!"

Google are already turning into Microsoft on this front too. Small companies regularly out-innovate (I hate that word too) them. So Google just buys them out.

I think that refusing to pay *any* dividend is just control-freakery. And it's bad for the economy because it encourages speculators to buy on the basis of short-term share price fluctuations. It used to be that you looked at the fundamentals of a company, then bought and held onto the shares in order to get dividends. Now you buy and flip it because paying dividends is old fashioned.

Comment Google is suffering from success (Score 1, Interesting) 155

Google have the same problem as Microsoft: they're too successful. They have a river of cash flowing through the front door and an allergy to paying dividends to shareholders.

Thus they're pursuing what I call the "spaghetti cannon strategy". They blast buckets of spaghetti up against the wall and hope that some of it will stick.

Eventually any such company becomes large enough that it cannot coordinate what the various bits and pieces are doing. The self-cannabalising overlap of Android and ChromeOS is a symptom of the spaghetti cannon working overtime.

Because god forbid you send any of the profits to the people who paid money to own part of a wildly profitable company.

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