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Monthly Archives: April 2009

Counting the unemployed

I have raised this issue before: Unemployment rate: fact or fiction? Then (2006) I noted: “I still am amazed that people like Howard can keep a straight face when they talk about the subject.” The Australia Institute has drawn attention to this again.

unemploymentThe criteria for “employment” include having worked for pay for ONE hour in the past week. See the Australian Bureau of Statistics for this and other criteria. These have not changed under the present government.

3.9 The definition of employment used in the Labour Force Survey aligns closely with the concepts and international definitions outlined above. Employed persons are defined as all persons 15 years of age and over who, during the reference week:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, in a job or business or on a farm (comprising employees, employers and own account workers); or
  • worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm (i.e. contributing family workers); or
  • were employees who had a job but were not at work and were:
      • away from work for less than four weeks up to the end of the reference week; or
      • away from work for more than four weeks up to the end of the reference week and received pay for some or all of the four week period to the end of the reference week; or
      • away from work as a standard work or shift arrangement; or
      • on strike or locked out; or
      • on workers’ compensation and expected to be returning to their job; or
  • were employers or own-account workers, who had a job, business or farm, but were not at work.

However, it must be said that this highly unrealistic definition is in fact a basic standard set by the International Labour Organization. That I had not taken into account in my earlier entries.

Compare the US Bureau of Labor Statistics How the Government Measures Unemployment. The US figures are based on similar criteria to ours, except they start the count at age 16 and have a different attitude to family businesses.

…employed persons are:

  • All persons who did any work for pay or profit during the survey week.
  • All persons who did at least 15 hours of unpaid work in a family-owned enterprise operated by someone in their household.
  • All persons who were temporarily absent from their regular jobs because of illness, vacation, bad weather, industrial dispute, or various personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off.

From that site you can also get a useful and up-to-date international summary.

Nonetheless, The Australia Institute is quite right. Unemployment figures are a partial truth at best. Real experience is somewhat different.

 

There really IS an autumn light

Today you get your photo here. I will hold off on the photoblogs for a day or two.  I have plenty in reserve.

This was taken yesterday at around 4.30 pm in Belmore Park near Sydney Central Station.

0428 006

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2009 in local, personal, photography

 

Microsoft stole my bandwidth this morning

Windows has a surprise for us today: a new service pack (plus a couple of smaller bits) for Office 2007 – just 241.5 MB.

Netmeter tells the story.

stolen

That includes the usuals on startup – antivirus update (protecting my computer against swine flu?) and so on… All before I have actually done anything. Oh well…

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2009 in computers, web stuff

 

Depression and creativity

I read about this first on Matilda, Perry Middlemiss’s OzLit blog.

A couple of weeks back James Bradley, on his "City of Tongues" weblog, reprinted an essay he had written and had published in "The Griffith Review". The title of that essay was "On Depression and Creativity", which was reprinted, in an edited version in "The Age" Review section over the weekend [not currently on the paper’s website].

And for the past couple of weeks I’ve wanted to link to this piece and bring it to your attention. The trouble was that every introduction I thought of came across as insignificant and trite. So I’ve decided not to bother with one…

In the same spirit I refer you to Never real and always true: on depression and creativity. I found it personally interesting too of course.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2009 in health, humanity, OzLit, personal, writers

 

Some curiosities of scientists

I am not a scientist, though I did at one time plan to be. My idea of fun when I was 10 to 12 was a day at the Australian Museum, and I collected insects. However, Chemistry in my last year at school soon revealed I should pursue English and History instead, and my Maths was woeful. Still is.

Nonetheless I am still interested, and thus I have taken an interest in the topic of climate change, as you may see from one of the notes in the sidebar. I refer you to that because there are real scientists over there.

Just now Professor Ian Plimer is getting a lot of attention. I didn’t see him on Lateline last night**, but will read the transcript when it appears later today. I note he was on Lateline Business last year. Ticky Fullerton seems there to be implying he is a spokeperson for the mining industry, but that may be unfair.

It strikes me that it is bleeding obvious that in geological time most of the change that has overtaken this planet has had nothing to do with us johnny-come-latelies called homo sapiens. However, it also strikes me as obvious from history that once we arrived we have had a considerable impact, rather as something as inconsiderable in itself as a virus can have an impact on homo sapiens. Not that I am pushing that analogy…

Still, when you do read Professor Plimer you might also read some other scientists: Ian Plimer – Heaven and Earth by Professor Barry Brook, Foundation Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change and Director of Climate Science at The Environment Institute, University of Adelaide; The science is missing from Ian Plimer’s "Heaven and Earth" by Tim Lambert, a computer scientist at the University of New South Wales.

See also Geological Timescales and the Effects of Climate Change.

Another recent science-related story that fascinates me because it says much about how the internet has changed the world concerns Jared Diamond, whose books I have enjoyed.

“While acting on vengeful feelings clearly needs to be discouraged, acknowledging them should be not merely permitted but encouraged,” wrote Jared M. Diamond in an essay in The New Yorker last April.

Now two of the subjects of that essay are acknowledging their own vengeful feelings. This week a lawyer filed a $10-million defamation claim (PDF) in a New York court on behalf of two Papua New Guinea men whom Mr. Diamond described as active participants in clan warfare during the 1990s.

Mr. Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of the best-selling Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (W.W. Norton, 1997), and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (Viking, 2004), based the essay almost entirely on accounts given to him by Hup Daniel Wemp, an oil-field technician who served as Mr. Diamond’s driver during a 2001-2 visit to New Guinea. (The full text of the essay is open only to New Yorker subscribers, but a long summary is available here…

In a post on Wednesday at Savage Minds, an anthropology blog, Alex Golub, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii-Manoa who does field work in New Guinea, suggested that this affair was emblematic of “a fundamental ethical issue that anthropologists will have to face for decades to come.” The rise of the Internet means that whatever scholars write about their field informants—no matter how remote those people might seem—will inevitably be read by the communities they have described.

“While this should always have been important to us,” Mr. Golub wrote, “it is a topic we can no longer ignore in a world where their ‘informants’ are more connected than ever before to the flows of media and communication in which ‘we’ depict ‘them.’”

** Friday 1 May

Yes I know; the transcript is still not up. I emailed Lateline about it and received a copy of it in reply yesterday, and an assurance the missing transcript should have appeared and this would be looked into. Hope it goes up soon, as it really is a performance and a bit!

 
 

Sunday is music day (on Monday) 15 — “Keating”

This was rebroadcast on ABC1 last night.

See also Extraordinary kindness… and It’s Keating day….

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2009 in Australia and Australian, Lord Malcolm, memory, music, replays, Sunday music, TV

 

Sunday Floating Life photo 15: Sirdan surveying scene

0426 008

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2009 in friends, photography, Sirdan, Sunday photo