Thursday, March 12, 2009

Current Thoughts

Really just a selection of current thoughts.

I will finish Julia Gillard's proposals for Australian Vocational Education and Training tomorrow.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian unemployment statistics for February came out today. In seasonally adjusted terms, unemployment as officially measured increased from 4.8 to 5.2%.

I hope to write a proper post on this. For the moment, the figures were a little better than I expected and also had some interesting features. Employment is a lagging indicator, so the numbers will get worse. But still not bad.

The World Bank G20 briefing paper report on the impact of the global financial crisis on developing countries came out during the week.

It was mainly reported in Australia as a World Bank report on the global economy. It was not. The economics was largely based on previous IMF material. The focus in the paper was on the developing world. The key point was that the global financial crisis meant that only those like Australia or its banks could borrow; higher risk countries were being squeezed out. That is true, and it's a real problem.

I have switched my train reading to John Mulvaney and Johan Kamminga's Prehistory of Australia (Allen & Unwin 1999). So much has happened since I did my first work in this area that I wanted a primer. I read this book some time ago, but now wanted my own copy.

I also looked at buying a copy of Records of times past: Ethnohistorical essays on the culture and ecology of the New England tribes, a book that includes my only formally published work on the Aborigines. I had a copy, but it is in storage and I do not know where it is. I was staggered to find that I would have to pay over $100US including freight. I guess I have to wait for a little while.

Tonight over dinner I got on a bit of a roll in discussions with eldest on Indigenous issues, outlining certain current problems. Eldest asked me if I would continue to work and write on Indigenous issues.

I explained that I did not know.

By accident of circumstance, I have recently had a chance to test some of my ideas and pre-conceptions. Some of my views have shifted at the margin. I know more than I did about some of the institutional factors. I have greater awareness of some Aboriginal divides and sensitivities. Yet my core views have also been confirmed.

I have to think about how I might write about some of this. At the moment, I don't know.


One of the strengths of Prehistory of Australia is the way it presents a picture across what is, after all, a very big landmass. There are still major gaps, but the overall picture is there.

I also found another word I did not know, cline - A gradual change in a character or feature across the distributional range of a species or population, usually correlated with an environmental or geographic transition.

I have spoken before about the variety in Aboriginal history and experience. I was always aware that there were superficial variations in Aboriginal appearance, but physical variation across the continent was greater than I had realised.

More in another post.

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