Friday’s Missing Link


Andrew Leigh reckons we should adopt the Eureka flag as Australia’s national flag. Nice idea, except that Howard would just use any such suggestion as a diversionary dog whistle …

Together with Wednesday’s omnibus edition, today’s Missing Link should provide readers with an abundance of Australia Day long weekend  browsing material.

As usual, it’s fairly evenly split between serious news and politics-related material and more light-hearted stuff (mostly in the Mad Bad Sad Glad section).

Blogger and Canberra Times economics journalist Peter Martin ends up dominating the news and politics section of today’s Missing Link.   He’s rapidly turning into a  real “one man global content provider”, albeit  based on intelligent, thoughtful  analysis of issues instead of  the predictable partisan polemic of Mark Steyn who originally adopted that label for himself.

Happy Australia Day* and on with the show.

*Unless you’re the sort of person who sanctimoniously refers to it as “Invasion Day”, in which case I don’t wish you anything good at all.   On the other hand, I do  agree with Tony the Teacher:

Today used to be a nice, peaceful day of watching cricket from Adelaide – Go the Aussies! – with maybe a Roulettes flypast. Now, because we just have to overegg the golden goose, Straya Day has become a Have A Great Day Day with simulcasted fireworks. It gets right on my tits.

The public holiday is fuckin’ grouse, but.


News and politics stuff

Water water water

  • Cristy Clark doesn’t trust Howard to take over water policy from the States  (he’s in the farmers’ pockets), doubts he has the constitutional power (I’ll post on this separately), and likes  the  suggestion of Patrice Newell that  water should be controlled locally.   How the latter could assist in combatting the  parochial upstream self-interested behaviour that has caused the problem in the first place is beyond me, but what else would you expect from Phillip Adams’ missus?   On the other hand,  Harry Clarke assesses the Howard government scheme positively, while Tim Dunlop reckons the whole thing was a cunning Howard wedge that Kevie was too smart to fall for.

More on Tristar dying worker redundancy deal

  • Tim Dunlop and Trevor Cormack (here and here  and here) point out that Tristar in fact dudded dying worker John Beaven to the tune of around $100,000, despite the intervention of  the avuncular Joe Hockey at the behest of Howard at the behest of Alan Jones.     Meanwhile RWDB Matthew K also reckons Tristar were bastards, but somehow concludes that Alan Jones is a hero and John Howard did the right thing.   No mention whatever of the $100,000 Beaven didn’t get, or the remaining Tristar workers still being stonewalled out of their redundancy entitlements,  or the Howard IR laws that promote this sort of unprincipled, predatory conduct.

Global warming

  • Tim Blair highlights suggestions that the forthcoming UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report will say that effective measures to combat GW will cost some 5% of world GDP, in contrast to Sir Nicholas Stern’s asserted 1%.   Meanwhile, Steve Munn (who often writes sensible stuff in between aspiring to Tim Blair’s bullying pedant mantle) points out that economists consistently drastically overestimate the cost of compliance with environmental regulation.
  • And fellow global warming denialist Andrew Bolt focuses on various hyperbolic statements by newly-announced Australian of the Year Tim Flannery.   Bolt’s points are mostly correct as far as  I can see, but of course both he and Blair deploy these sorts of stories as part of a far more dubious campaign to debunk the science behind global warming generally.

Other news stuff

Speculation is building that Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan will bid for the channel ten television network.


Life and other serious stuff

Prejudices are difficult to kill“ is the title of the article by Gabriella Coslovich, and it really storms the bastion of prejudice, yes it does. Shorter Coslovich: I’m sick of people banging on about mothers having problems getting higher positions. I’m here to tell you we single women have it much, much worse. These people with kids get everything given to them and they’re never satisfied! Take that, you ignorant, selfish breeders! Yes, by cracky, this article is about opposing prejudice all right!


Mad Bad Sad Glad


Uber-Ova Ana

Like fallopian tubes in perpetual ovulation, the world tennis stage is veritably saturated with -ova.

Egged on by a chance at fame and fortune, young female tennis players with surnames ending in -ova are now ubiquitous; 14 alone can be found in the Top 100.  

In a major ova-sight, Scott forgot to mention the biggest Ova of them all, Ana Kournikova.   In the interest of thoroughness, we’ve included her at right.

  • By Jingo! It’s ‘Straya Day – ‘Roger Migently’ takes a satirical look at Tamworth’s contribution to Australia Day.
  • C.H.O.P.S. – Ms Fits discovers a typically American organisation whose acronym stand for “Changing Homosexuals into Ordinary People” (but doesn’t know what the “s” stands for).
  • Darryl reviews Darryl – Tim Blair’s eagle eye catches out earnest (if often verbose) young blogger Darryl Mason in a bit of surreptitously pseudonymous  self-promotion for his self-published novel about bird flu.
  • Maintaining the rage as is his wont, Andrew Landeryou examines  ongoing German government bastardry over stolen Nazi art treasures, and also slags leftist politicians Kerry Nettle and Meredith Burgmann for Israel-bashing statements during Christmas junkets to the Middle East.  
  • Huxley’s utopian family – Mark ‘Oz Conservative’ Richardson somewhat bizarrely equates the modern “liberal” attitude to marriage and the family with Aldous Huxley’s fictional account of a “Mutual Adoption Club” in his last novel Island and the anti-nuclear family utterances of a Russian communist apparatchik in 1918.   Presumably Mark finds his own logic persuasive anyway.
  • Celebrity Gossip Friday – Darlene Taylor with celeb gossip every bit as reliable as the crap you’ll read in the MSM gossip mags.
  • Sounds/sights – Adrian the Cabbie muses about the world’s most disgusting sounds.
  • You may want to sit down before reading this – Andrew Leigh reveals what game theory can tell us about the economics of leaving the toilet seat down and faking orgasms.
  • Cruise the new “Christ” – Caz at TSSH

And 1  leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion.

A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

  • Finger for sale – Caz highlights an unfortunate Melbourne man who ran foul of the planning bureaucrats twice, and now has to sell his 1.5 tonne comment on what he thinks of them (and his neighbour).   I wish I had it to drop from a great height on the moronic bogan prick across the road who revs his outboard motors for hours both before and after he takes  his boat  out for a spin on the harbour every public holiday.
  • Shed drinking epidemic worsens – Yobbo suspects the Australian Hotels Association of orchestrating an unAustralian campaign to stop Aussie blokes from drinking at home with their mates.
  • Finally, in case you’re in need of an effective emetic  in the wake of  Oz Day over-indulgence, I can’t go past this classic passage from the blogosphere’s Queen of Talentless Nepotistic Onanism:

Last night I was on a date which was very pleasant until my ex-husband’s record was put on the pub stereo. It’s a little unnerving making polite talk with someone when beautifully heartfelt songs about you and your relationship are on high rotation in the background. Has this happened to anyone else?

Now. Shall we get on with our questions or do you have better things to do with your Invasion Day, you flag-waving racist?


  1. Scientology[]

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
17 years ago

“predictable partisan polemic of Mark Steyn’

I think Steyn is a brilliant, often achingly funny writer who is in his element when he dissects popular culture. His linked assault on the lugubrious, cobwebbed Victorian horror that is “Advance Australia Fair” was a tour de force. Comparing him invidiously to Peter Martin is a bit like saying that Coles is better than DJ’s foodhall because Coles has got more stuff.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
17 years ago

Yeah, yeah. He’s a rabid right winger. But great prose is great prose and I don’t don’t have to know where the writer fits on the political spectrum in order to make a judgment about whether I’m enjoying a funny piece about national anthems. He’s also the only straight man in the world who has made the study of the Broadway show tune his life’s work. What’s not to like?

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
17 years ago

I second Geoff’s praise.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
17 years ago

Check the link out and read the piece in question, Ken. You’ll probably quite enjoy it. There’s certainly nothing partisan or polemical about it.

17 years ago

That’s a lot of Peter Martin but I think when you brought him up before I said he was a gold mine. I must remember to add him to my blogroll.

17 years ago

The only Mark Steyn I’ve read has just been woeful right-wing rubbish in Oz opeds. His writing didn’t impress either.

Tim Lambert
17 years ago

Perhaps I’m missing something, but Blair does not seem to have any evidence that Mason was using a sock puppet. It appears that he thinks that anyone who makes a favourable reference to Mason must be a sock. Since you link to Mason in this post, perhaps you’ll be added to the list of Mason socks.

17 years ago

That’s a very good piece. He knows about folk music, and singability, and stuff.

17 years ago

Your assessment of Cristy’s post wasn’t quite right, if you scroll down the comments you’ll see her clarify that local management of water has problems too.

17 years ago

Used to enjoy reading Steyn if only for the funnies. But he became quite one dimensional so i give him a miss. Once you have read how Europe is going down the gurgler because of Muslim overbreading and Euro native underbreeding you begin to get a little reluctant to keep reading the sme thing over and over and over again.

David Jackmanson
17 years ago

Unless you’re the sort of person who sanctimoniously refers to it as “Invasion Day”

17 years ago

There are far better funny political writers than Steyn.

Mind you, I don’t read him that much (once or twice) at the most.

I listened to a speech of his on the radio and it wasn’t runny at all, just smug and up himself.

I suppose if that’s funny, well, ha ha.

To Ingolf
To Ingolf
17 years ago

(Moderator – Please place this post in the Martin Amis forum. I was unable to post it there myself due to some error. Thanks.)


I find this exchange far too interesting to leave without one more sally. You are free not to respond of course.

The Kennan quotes you mentioned, I notice, are from 1985 and 1987 respectively. This will have some bearing on my opinions of them.

The first one rings true, but the second I am not so sure about. In fact the second quote seems shot through with misunderstandings. For instance, how can we look at “Soviet positions” in any country around the globe without even knowing where all of them were, or what they were doing? Yes let us not exaggerate, he says, to which I say fine. But let us also not assume that where the lights are off, everyone is tucked safely in bed. Let us not exaggerate the extent of knowledge about Soviet dealings around the world either.

And this goes to one of my personally-held rules about Soviet studies. And it is the following: Until Mitrokhin and Perestroika, nobody knew much of anything. And, as much as Kennan had an even hand and a keen mind, he was still a product of his time and the information available.

And this is the benefit the Soviet information control machinery accrued. That even reasonable men, wrong assuming some degree of complete knowledge, could make egregious errors in judgment on the Soviet threat.

Thus Kennan could assume, also, that Russia merely sought to establish “ideological enthusiasm and political loyalty” in third worlds countries. This misunderstands the role that sowing pure mischief was part of Soviet foreign policy.

Because it is mostly open societies who believe in human rights and worry about terrorism, it is they who must contend with the strife in the world beyond their borders. Authoritarian regimes are far more protected from radicals and care not a whit about human rights. In fact, instability in strategic regions can be a bulwark to an Authoritarian country, as in the case of the Soviet Union.

Prior to Mitrokhin especially, it seems from the evidence, (except for an ignored and ridiculed handful, Robert Conquest comes immediately to mind), western academics were mostly “useful idiots”, to use Stalin’s famous phrase. So were a huge number of journalists and politicians. And not just those who were being paid for their services by the Politburo. The effects of this mass stupefaction of the western medias are in blatant evidence today.

A few examples: There was a highly touted symposium of many of the most celebrated western Sovietologists organized in ’85. Soviet economic success was the topic du jour. Later information demonstrated that each and every one of these “experts” was either prevaricating or a propaganda dupe. And very famous names were on the dais, I believe Galbraithe and Hobsbawm among them.

From personal experience: Speaking with some good friends last year on the AIDS crisis, the rumor that AIDS had been created in an American laboratory was bandied. Now, after the wall fell, Gorbachev himself admitted that this rumor was a KGB concoction. That my friend still carried the rumor, but was untouched by the admission, reflects quite clearly the quality and anonymous permeability of Soviet propaganda.

You also say, “If a cause, or set of beliefs, is not inherently strong enough to withstand the criticism it may recieve in a free society, then in my view there’s every likelihood it deserves to fall.” To that I reply that I would agree in the case of a perfect marketplace of information. But since that perfect market doesn’t exist, your statement does not hold water. The media is inherently biased towards, again, broadcastability, and populist dramatics, which tend to veer wildly between anti-authoritarian and jingoistic stances, often at the incorrect times. Not to mention political theatre, which is almost wholly founded on exploiting the emotionalism and miseducation of the masses by the media and divisiveness for petty partisan gain. And not to mention pure digestible simplicity.

To end this conversation, I should like to add that I am much more a liberal than you know. And in much greater sympathy with many of your beliefs than I am letting on. I was putting forth a more headstrong argument than I would normally with the hope that you would drive back with something ultimately swaying. Or at least paradigm-shifting. I consider your statement “I accept without qualification that the views you express are deeply held and entirely genuine” to be another condescension. I am sure we can both agree that a deeply held belief is not worth a damn if it does not have currency on the ground. I am perfectly willing to be swayed by new information, as I am sure you are.

Speaking of which, I hope you will find the time to read the two volumes currently available from the notes of Vasily Mitrokhin (edited by Christopher Andrew.)

Best wishes,

kevin Schnaper
kevin Schnaper
17 years ago

I particularly like how the phrase “right-wing” rarely sees the light of day without the modifier “rabid”. It completely lowers those rascist fascist religious fanatics to the level of an animal to be caged up, shut up and possibly put down. And it encourages debate!

I find Steyn hilarious. And he knows a great deal about song-craft too. I’ve found a lot to learn in his writings.

I can see how many would find his drone about the Muslim demographics in Europe a touch repetitive. But if it is indeed an important point to make, and I for one believe it is, and since most people dip in and out of the political debate like gulls into the sea, it would seem insensible not to keep these observations where eyeballs can see them more or less consistently.


Francis X Holden
17 years ago

Steyn is good great on musicals and american songbook stuff. Before now I hadn’t twigged he was the same guy as doing the politics.

Funny – Ken knows him first as the political predictable and finds it difficult to get to the other stuff. Me – I know him from Broadway Babies Say Goodnight and can’t believe the other stuff.

Darryl Mason
17 years ago

Tim Blair is digging a nice big hole for himself, and I’m quite happy to let him dig away.

The ‘self-published’ novel in question is about how a few hundred people survive the corpse-drenched streets of Sydney’s CBD after a devastating bird flu pandemic kills millions in a two day period.

The novel, for now, is a few chapters long.

The first chapters were published on a private MySpace literary group, where a few dozen other writers, and readers, rip and tear and shred each other’s work. And they ripped and tore and shredded mine. There were at least six people that I’m aware of from Sydney who were part of that group. Some of them were professional writers posting their comments under other names.

If someone read my novel chapters there and commented on them elsewhere, I can’t stop that from happening.

The novel, called ‘Dead Sydney’, will be published in instalments in a blog as I write them and I hope whoever reads it will feel like commenting, good, bad or otherwise, as each chapter goes up.

As far as I can determine, Blair’s only proof for my ‘socketry’ is a similarity of writing styles. He can’t stop sub-editing, even on his days off.

I would have engaged the commenters at Blair’s blog, but it was closed to new registrations. As TB’s site administrator, Andrea Harris, said in comments there a few weeks back : “This Is Not A Democracy”.

She wasn’t kidding.