- 1. News and Politics Stuff
- 2. Life and Other Serious Stuff
- 3. The Yartz
- 4. T.S.S
- 5. Mad, Bad, Sad and Glad
Well, it’s not often we get Culture Wars, inter-blog stoushing, religion and grievous bodily harm all rolled into one, but today’s issue of Missing Link highlights a memorable instance of the genre. The catalyst? A visit to the Sydney Writers’ Festival by Islamic apostate and feminist intellectual Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Like Bertrand Russell and Joachim Kahl, Ali loathes religion, in this case Islam. This loathing – in your humble scribe’s view – stems partly from what it did to her physically, but is also because she feels it sold her an intellectual lemon. She is also – we may as well get this out of the way early – stunningly beautiful. The graphic in today’s edition comes courtesy of Pommygranate, who attended her session at the festival. It explains her beauty more eloquently than words do.
She is a lightning rod and a polarizer – big time.
Kim at Larvatus Prodeo started the ball rolling with a fairly innocuous post that – perhaps foolishly – linked Hirsi Ali’s ideas to those of Pamela Bone, one of a group of lefties who supports ‘liberal interventionism’, a doctrine that endorses deposing totalitarian regimes and imposing liberal/Enlightenment values on subject populations. It’s not quite the same as the views held by the neo-cons in Bush’s cabinet, but there’s a pretty decent link, which is explained nicely in this piece by Gary Sauer-Thompson. Tim Blair spotted the infelicities in Kim’s original work, and launched a broadside at her, getting stuck into what he alleges to be double standards by Western lefties in not denouncing female genital mutilation.
Thereupon commenced a furious exercise in interblog snark, one so large it spread to Catallaxy’s open thread, led to Pommygranate actually attending Hirsi Ali’s seminar at the Writers’ Festival, saw Amir at Austrolabe try to explain where Muslims actually stood on the issue (in a post intelligently critical of Ayaan Hirsi Ali), made Irfan Yusuf decide to get out an extra large wooden spoon, and even produced some overseas commentary.
And it still wasn’t finished, because both Kim and Tim came back for another go. Tim’s effort was one of the longest and most detailed posts he’s ever written, while Kim’s piece was one of the gutsiest posts she’s ever produced. Interestingly, the one MSM effort – by Greg Barns in the Mercury – is distinctly average. Compared to anything produced by the bloggers linked above, that is.
Today’s issue of Missing Link – boldly carved from the intertubes by the indefatigable-in-the-face-of-ongoing-technical-kafups Missing Link crew – was compiled by Amanda Rose, Jason Soon, James Farrell and Ken Parish, with editorial by Helen ‘skepticlawyer’ Dale. Enjoy.
1. News and Politics Stuff
The hot topic of the weekend was the release of the report by the task force on emissions trading. John Quiggin’s first reaction is that ‘the main implication of the Report is that we should have got started on all this ten years ago’. The comments thread clarifies some important points. John also has a handy summary, reproduced from the AFR of Clive Hamilton’s Scorcher, a book documenting the campaign against carbon emission controls in Australia. Robert Merkel supplies a short summary of the recommendations, and also does Missing Link’s work for us in this useful wrap-up of posts on the Report. (Again, by the time you read the comments thread, you wonder why you bother reading newspapers on these issues).
Harry Clarke has two lucid pieces on the ‘cap and trade’ scheme, while Tim Dunlop and Jason Soon are excellent on how the system can be gamed. Brian Bahnisch reports that George W. and John W. are about to seize control of the world fuel agenda. Here at Troppo, Don Arthur enlists the help of neoliberal economist hero Gary Becker in establishing that climate change denialism may well serve a utility maximisation function irrespective of its truth or falsity. Peter Martin also summarises (and largely applauds) the Shergold Report.
Still on matters (tangentially) green, Heath Gibson returns to the plastic shopping bag ban, and now has figures to back his assertion that banning plastic bags is pure political symbolism.
Turning to IR policy, Tim Dunlop argues that the government’s industrial relations system is penalising its own constituency with an excess of red tape and compliance costs. Tim also suspects that well publicised union indignation about Rudd’s ‘back-pedalling’ will play into Labor’s hands. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any spectacular back-pedalling, as Andrew Bartlett points out. Given that they have become the buzzphrase of the month, Ken Lovell explains in an indispensable post what common law employment contacts are and where they fit into the picture.
On other topics, Andrew Bartlett notes the continuing abuse of human rights in Vietnam, and wonders why a group of asylum seekers – now all recognised as genuine refugees – had to endure two years’ imprisonment on Christmas Island. Kim notes that the definition of military success in Iraq is still changing. The graphs by themselves explain why. Eric Martin explains why proposals for a long term, ‘sustainable’ military commitment in Iraq ignores the ugly facts.
Regarding the Case of Merri Rose, Kieran at The Dead Roo proclaims Catch Twenty-Two.
Arleshaar at Stoush.net focuses on John Howard’s typically dodgy attempt to wedge Labor by demanding that HIV sufferers be absolutely banned as immigrants (in fact that’s already effectively the case and most of the exceptions are cases where Howard’s own Ministers have made the decision to allow entry).
Meanwhile, Bryan Palmer crunches the numbers in a comparison between the 1996 and 2007 elections, concluding that this year is about voters flirting with a new love (Rudd) rather than spurning an old and now reviled one (as was the case with Keating). It leads Bryan to some interesting questions:
- Should the Coalition simply do nothing and wait for the wayward electorate to return to its first love?
- Is it a fear campaign along the lines of, be careful with Kevin, you know he has the pox?
- Does John show some more of his policy leg in an effort to outshine Kevins allure? Or,
- Should the Coalition opt for the complete makeover with Peter Costello as the new suitor? 11. KP: At the moment, it looks like Johnny is relying on numbers 2 and 3, but some are suggesting 4 is a real possibility, unless yesterday’s Galaxy poll is the beginning of the much-awaited swing back to the Coalition. [↩]
2. Life and Other Serious Stuff
Andrew Leigh reproduces a superb speech he recently gave on constitutional reform and republicanism in particular. Do yourself a favour and read it. Andrew also continues the argument about merit pay for teachers, reproducing an exchange of correspondence with a couple of other academics who disagree with him.
JF Beck has another post on the perennial question of Was DDT banned and did it lead to more deaths from Malaria? Yes I know, it’s been done to death but this one is a lengthy post with lots of links and an attempt to go through the arguments comprehensively again and therefore provides a good summing up of the righty side of the debate. In another foray into this parallel universe, Tim Lambert traces the origins of the ‘Rachel Carson killed millions’ meme.
John Ray reproduces an excerpt from John Lott’s ‘Freedomnomics’ which challenges Freakonomics‘ Steven Levitt’s ‘abortion reduces crime’ theory. John Humphreys at the Australian Libertarian Society blog posts on scare campaigns (whether on the issue of terrorism or the environment) and their deleterious impacts on freedom. The winner of the ‘best solo libertarian’ blogger poll is also announced, and it’s Andrew Norton. The ALS blog follows up with a new poll on voting intentions at the federal election. Amusing fallout from the libertarian blogger poll continues at Andrew Norton and Catallaxy.
Diogenes Lamp has a long, reflective piece on modern journalese.
Mirko Bargaric’s latest moral dilemma post is a reconsiderations of the animal rights debate in light of the recent Japanese whaling controversy.
Tigtog finds that a new test for inherited susceptibility to cancer has been over-hyped in the mainstream media.
Lauredhel links to the story of Leonie Pope, stolen from her mother at birth and raised in Wales, and now, thirty-five years later, looking for answers.
Dr Faustus rents his soul to the devil by not only qualifiedly supporting China’s use of the death penalty but also flirting with the notion that capital punishment might well have a stronger deterrent effect on white collar criminals.
3. The Yartz
Review of the new Shane Moloney novel at Crime Down Under.
Is reading like eating a healthy diet? Are bush ballads the sweet transfats of the literary world? Matilda discusses.
Credible Witness on attitudes to women in the theatre.
A passle of reviews at Melbourne Film Blog.
Kim at LP spotlights a film set in Glasgow that isn’t all nihilistic ennui, dingy bedsits and knife fights.
Squid Ink on rock music poetry.
Richard Watts reproduces his launch speech for Cyril Wong and Terry Jaensch’s Excess Baggage and Claim. The two lived as a gay couple in Singapore, an act requiring no small amount of courage. Worth a look.
Mark has a great short piece at LP on that old chestnut, authorial intent, in light of Ray Bradbury’s recent complaints that people are misreading his seminal work, Fahrenheit 451.
(troppo sports stadium)
Scott Wickstein succinctly reviews the AFL season to date.
5. Mad, Bad, Sad and Glad
Graham Young gives vent to his frustration at the spectacular level of non-service delivered by his telephone service provider Optus. Sadly, my own experience (KP) tells me that Telstra and AAPT are just as bad.
Legal Eagle tosses up the pros and cons of being a lawyer versus a taxi driver, concluding that lecturing in law is the best bet at her current stage of life (leaving aside the fact that the money even a very good and hard-working taxi driver can earn is nowhere near a lawyer or even a law lecturer). Meanwhile, the cabbie she chats to in this post, Adrian, is tempted to display a ‘The Psychiatrist is IN’ sign along with his ‘For Hire’ light.
Like Vest at Daily Gaggle , I can understand and almost sympathise with this man’s actions:
MANILA: An unemployed man was shot dead by a security guard for singing out of tune in a Philippine karaoke bar.
Romy Baligula, 29, was halfway through Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ when 43-year-old security guard Robilito Ortega yelled that he was out of tune, before pulling out his gun and shooting him dead.
Vest also follows up his much-admired piece on women’s behaviour in public toilets by focusing on blokes’ dunny antics.
Meanwhile, David Tiley eclectically vents his spleen on Microsoft, NASA and Russian cyber-thugs, argues persuasively that the “reality” TV stunt where contestants competed for a kidney “donated” by a “terminally ill” person was actually far more ethical and even praiseworthy than it looked, while the recent stunt where a 10 year old kid butchered the world’s largest “wild” pig was a pretty disgusting scam.
Saint in a Straitjacket zeroes in on ‘honest’ Christians in Uganda. I bet the dodgy parishioners are the same ones who send those emails seeking co-conspirators to hide millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. Saint also explains why, despite being a fervent Christian, he (mercifully) isn’t a creationist.
So much shit has been heading Audrey’s way she’s starting to wonder if she’s been cursed. As she once dated a witch, this is a distinct possibility.
Ariel’s young son is already developing what is sure to be a lifetime habit of reading while perched on the crapper. 22. SL: This is a hilarious post, do go read it. Just don’t try to drink coffee at the same time. [↩]