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Comment My father has held this position. (Score 3, Interesting) 226

It's very hard to qualify for. My father served two winter tours for the Antarctic Division in exactly this role. He loved it to bits -- he's a bit of a hermit, so only having to deal with the same dozen people for months at a time was his idea of heaven.

However, a lot of people apply. A lot of them are very smart and qualified. My father has decades of experience radio, satellite, microwave, land line and LAN communications. You may need the same.

Next you need to pass the rigorous screening process. You need to be in good physical condition. Dad spent months sweating away in a gym to meet the weight, blood pressure and cardio requirements. You will be checked for a large number of medical conditions, and if any of them turn up, you will not be accepted.

Finally, there's the psych review. If you're going to be a winterer, you'll be living in isolated darkness for months with a small group of people with a pitiful satellite uplink to the internet (no youtube or games for you). Not everyone is suited to that.

Comment Re:Yes it is, but genocide isn't. (Score 1) 233

"Genocide"? Really? I was not aware that non-aboriginal Australians were consciously and systematically trying to kill all aboriginal Australians in concentration camp ovens. Having been an Australian since 1980 you'd think I'd have noticed that by now.

Particularly since, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the aboriginal and torres strait islander population of Australia is growing at a faster rate than the national average.

Comment Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (Score 5, Informative) 233

But nothing changes. And you can understand why ... their culture is most fundamentally a nomadic one. They have no concept of 'ownership' of land or property, and rarely stay in one place for long.

Because of the construction of townships and outstations, this is no longer true. Or rather, it is not as completely true as it used to be.

It is very simplistic to say that "their" culture is nomadic. Firstly, there are dozens of distinct cultures, each with different features, languages and laws.

Secondly, aboriginals understand freehold title pretty well at this point. It's not as if they haven't hundreds of years of seeing everyone else have it except for them!

We've handed back vast tracts of traditional lands to the Aborigines (much like the Indian Nations in the US), but the native Americans seem to have done much better for themselves than the Australian Aborigines...

You are probably thinking of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory), the High Court decisions in Mabo and Wik and the Native Title Act which followed those decisions.

However, the Land Rights Act did not give aboriginals freehold or even leasehold. Instead it created monstrously bureaucratic Land Councils which have mostly enriched a very few at the expense of the many. Thus the average aboriginal living on "their" land which was "given" to them can't actually do anything with it. They don't own it, and they can't own it. Consequently they can't start a business, or own a house. They cannot get a loan secured by the land. They can't do anything with it, in fact, except hope that they have mates in their Land Council.

As for Native Title, again it grants nothing like freehold rights to land. All it grants is traditional rights, and only under very particular and difficult-to-prove conditions. Win Native Title and you might get Crown land back, but not always as ordinary freehold. Most likely you'll only get hunting rights or ceremonial access. Again it's basically economically useless.

Aboriginals are human beings. They behave according to their perceived self-interest. I suspect that if we gave them freehold of their land, instead of trying to put them in a sort of cultural museum to assuage our own guilt, we'd learn that they're a smart and capable people.

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.

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