Well, after my R v Hurley-imposed-hiatus, I’m back (thank Christ). Once again bringing the best of the blogosphere to you via the redoubtable Missing Link crew (if I ever make enough money, I’ll be commissioning Hilltop Hoods to write us a theme song). I could have done without being featured in dispatches myself, as though the trial itself didn’t have enough colour and movement for members of the media class.
Two further candidates for post of the year kick off this edition. First, Robert Merkel’s eloquent piece of scienceblogging on Enrico Fermi. Please don’t be put off by the thought that it’s written by a mathematician about a physicist. Everything about this piece is lovely, including the writing. Next up is James Farrell’s thought-provoking take on Media Watch’s hatchet job on everybody’s favourite finance journo, Alan Kohler. Beautifully researched, the piece links into recent bloggy stoushes about the role of Media Watch and its apparent inability to ‘get’ the blogosphere (of which more below).
The image for today’s edition is John Pasquarelli’s Riverboat on Murray, courtesy the artist (and he’s clearly photographed it while still on the easel – hence the wonky orientation).
This issue compiled by Amanda Rose, James Farrell, Jason Soon and Ken Parish, with Helen ‘skepticlawyer’ Dale in the editor’s chair.
1. News and Politics Stuff
Joshua Gans has launched the third 1Q challenge, with a question on the merits of ‘catch-up’ politics, and his own thesis that
… playing catch-up politics gives the Opposition incentives to propose ideas that are more varied and politically risky than others. In this regard [it] actually promotes debate on a wider range of issues that might otherwise be the case.
The first response comes from Kim at LP, who thinks it depends on whether the party doing the catch-up is sincere, judged against their ideology and track record.
Meanwhile, debate on the PM’s military solution to the indigenous mess continues.
Gam has no patience for debates about how many officers are needed to carry out Howard’s plan.
If you don’t have community support the number of cops is irrelevant. If you refuse to listen to pleas to redress injustice, how can you bring justice?
tigtog thinks that the best hope for sensible government action on the indigenous crisis a balanced Senate, which will compel the major parties to work together, and ensure input from Greens and Democrats. Mark Bahnisch agrees. He argues that the tactic of declaring a ‘national emergency’ and asserting it to be ‘above politics’, far from signalling a true bipartisan spirit, is a tried and tested method of discrediting critics. Helen makes a similar argument, and offers a good collection of links.
Andrew Leigh points out that the extent of quantified data establishing the extent to which child sexual abuse in remote indigenous communities exceeds that of mainstream abuse is rather lacking (although conceding that the figures if they existed would almost certainly be worse, given that all other indigenous statistics are worse than the mainstream). David Tiley has an excellent and very detailed analytical post, while another of the blogging Andrews (Elder) has some quite detailed views on Howard’s indigenous initiative/stunt, and doesn’t join the Howard cheersquad despite being a lapsed Liberal.
Harry Clark, for his part, brings a gimlet eyed economist’s perspective to the indigenous crisis, while Pommygranate well captures the libertarian caught between statism that may work but is more likely doomed to fail and his own doubts. Rafe Champion is bound in a similar conundrum, but also wants to know how things got this bad in the first place.
Tim Dunlop notes that the Office of Workplace Services has released its report on the case of Therese Rein, WorkDirections and the underpaid workers.
State governments have occasioned vexation. Gam curses the Beattie Government for forcing him to vote Liberal in protest against the ‘North Bank Monstrosity’. If they have to have a desalination plant in Melbourne, Jeremy would rather the government borrowed to pay for it than get tangled in another PPP:
Borrowing to build infrastructure? Apparently that’s not allowed. Sure, pretty much every successful business borrows continuously to grow. Almost all of us borrow money to buy a house. Does that make us financially-irresponsible cretins?
As Chemical Ali begins his march to the gallows, Kieran wonders when justice will catch up with the people who used depleted uranium munitions on the residents of the same country.
Eric Martin is not surprised at reports that relations between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds are at boiling point.
The panel to draft a national history curriculum has been announced. Tim Dunlop gives thumbs up to Geoffrey Blainey and thumbs down to Gerard Henderson.
Mirko Bargaric comes out in favour of open borders and the free movement of people as the best form of foreign aid.
Amir at Austrolabe blogs on what he aptly calls an exercise in pointlessness – proposed federal government plans to filter Internet ‘hate sites’ while Tim Blair continues the stoush started by Media Watch over comments policies with some charges of his own. Jason Soon has a polemical follow-up, and Tim Blair also uncovers a level of cooperation between Media Watch and an Islamic hate site that is, ahem, interesting.
Bryan Palmer focuses on Reuters Poll trend graphs which strongly suggest that Howard isn’t making up electoral ground anywhere near fast enough. Could that at least partly explain last week’s indigenous announcement? Simon Jackman at least doesn’t think indigenous issues in themselves are big enough “vote switchers” for this to be the explanation.
Peter Martin examines the current position of Telstra in the wake of the recent Howard government announcement on broadband rollout using an Optus-based consortium. It’s beginning to look as if Sol and his band of yank thugs might have overplayed their hand and just about lost Telstra its terrestrial network monopoly through ane xcess of pig-headed greed.
2. Life and Other Serious Stuff
Tim Blair pans a lame attempt at blending lifestyle TV with environmentalism.
Peter Martin and Kim Weatherall add their weight to Nicholas Gruen’s post on the extradition to the US of software pirate Hew Griffiths. All three argue there was something outrageous about extraditing Griffiths, either because nicking software shouldn’t be regarded as seriously as nicking other stuff or because “economic crimes” shouldn’t, or because Griffiths was physically in Australia when he committed the offences. 11. KP: Wonder what they thought about attempts to extradite Christopher Skase? Do any of these factors provide strong logical arguments against extradition, or are they just attempts at justifying a form of crime in which some members of the middle class have become accustomed to engage? [↩]
LawFont’s Sarah asks if there’s anything better than Google’s algorithm.
Diogenes Lamp defends Tony Abbott’s comments on corporal punishment.
The Nuclear Australia blog, not surprisingly, casts a sceptical eye over the prospects of solar energy outweighing nuclear energy as the best low-carbon energy source.
Apathetic Sarah critiques Damien Murphy’s piece on Alex Hawke and David Clarke in the weekend Herald; she thinks he missed the point that doctrinal differences dissolve when religious zealots bond.
Gummo Trotsky tells the story of Edmund Burke’s rise and fall as the Member for Bristol.
Simon Jackman highlights increasing electoral under-enrolment in Australia, presumably mostly as a result of successive legislative changes under the Howard government which have made it harder to stay enrolled and almost impossible to regularise enrolment (or enrol for the first time) once an election is called. Presumably Howard must think the young and the geographically mobile are more likely to be lefties. But is that really true?
Niall “Bannerman” Cook analyses current record high mortgage repayment rates from the standpoint of a longtime finance industry professional.
Dr Faustus looks at the large number of people imprisoned “on remand” (who haven’t been convicted of an offence, and in some cases may eventually be acquitted) and the high cost both financially and otherwise.
Legal Eagle documents an amusing case of political correctness run amok.
The Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe notes that Second Life’s currency (Linden dollars) is taxable in Australia. Dang!
Andrew Norton continues his perceptive analysis of the link between status and income, and the link between those two variables and political outlook.
Peter Black has a skilled analysis of the different demographics attracted by Facebook and MySpace.
3. The Yartz
The Happy Antipodean is a bit harsh on the Art of Islam exhibition newly opened at AGNSW.
Big Brother is still on? Apparently. Catch up at Scott, To Be Certain.
Info on the register of Australian music planned by the National Sound and Film Archive at Decomposing Trees.
servethepeople on the poignant new Ry Cooder album.
Have a hankering for some New Zealandish crime fiction? Crime Down Under has some new titles.
Home Cooked Theory has a great backgrounder on the upcoming ‘Pig City’ symposium (named for both the city of Brisbane and music writer Andrew Stafford’s book). 22. SL: Since I went to uni with Andrew (and told him that he should be writing about music before he wrote about anything else), I’d better give the event a plug. [↩]
(troppo sports stadium)Mike Salter reports on the off-season soccer news.
Scott Wickstein argues that news reports of the possible loss of the Boxing Day and New Years cricket tests are mostly a complete beatup.
Ian from The Corridor (UK-based cricket blog) nominates his top 5 current cricket commentators (after confessing that his favourite is Richie Benaud). 33. KP: Personally I can’t see how anyone could leave out the great Kerry “The Skull” O’Keefe. [↩]
5. Mad, Bad, Sad and Glad
Prominent Queensland Liberal blogger and Online Opinion editor Graham Young reports that the Queensland branch of the Liberal Party has commenced disciplinary action against him for daring to exercise a very moderate measure of freedom of speech! This is a disgraceful development that really deserves much more publicity than it has so far received.
If you thought the Gold Coast was grotesquely kitsch, have a decko at this Dubai canal estate courtesy of Saint in a Straitjacket.
Saving everyone else the trouble, John Surname has been keeping an eye on the exploits of momentarily famous mile-high toilet-f*cking hostie Lisa Robertson and efforts to get The Spice Girls back together. And to round off a treble of bad taste, John also reports on attempts to revive Daryl Somers’ execrable Hey Hey It’s Saturday.
Cam Riley highlights the predictable hypocrisy of community attitudes to crime and sentencing: most people support tougher sentencing even though most people also report committing minor crimes themselves (like nicking office stationery, or illegally downloading songs or software).
Why do brides buy their dresses rather than rent (in contract to grooms’ suits), asks Peter Martin?
The late lamented (by me anyway – KP) RWDB blogger Professor Bunyip used to refer to Victoria’s Premier as “Bracks the Thief” because of his enthusiasm for raising revenue from traffic fines. But, as US-based ozblogger Cam Riley points out, even Bracksie would be awestruck with admiration at the efforts of the Virginia government.
And in a (shameless and successful) attempt at Missing Link notation, Niall “Bannerman” Cook muses about the phenomenon of group blogging, most prominently exemplified here at Troppo and at Larva Rodeo and Catallaxy. Some interesting thoughts.