Missing Link


Inevitably, the mass killing at Virginia Tech University in the US brought forth commentary from around Ozblogistan, much of it bemused by US gun laws or – alternatively – by the US tendency to produce mass killings of various sorts, with or without guns.

Some of the best material was in comments threads, and if you’ve got the time, I’d (SL) recommend a look at these two lengthy efforts, one at Larvatus Prodeo and the other at Catallaxy. The latter developed into a serious ideological stoush, drawing further thoughtful observations from Jacques at Club Troppo.

In terms of individual responses, Legal Eagle asked the inevitable question, while Tim Lambert responded to the inevitable claims that the Virginia shooter would have been stopped sooner if more people carried guns. A contrasting view emerged over at the ALS.

Pavlov’s Cat took a more literary approach in a beautifully written piece. Peter Black noted a media shift, as the first draft of history was provided not by journalists but by bloggers. Andrew Leigh offers some interesting cliometrics, while Bannerman took the time to review the relevant Virginia firearms laws. Dr Faustus discussed the catastrophically high US homicide rate more generally, providing some very sobering statistics indeed.

This edition of Missing Link compiled by Jason Soon, James Farrell, Helen Dale and Ken Parish, with Helen standing in as editor and Ken standing in as arts reporter due to Amanda’s illness.

1. News and Politics Stuff

Yes yes, I know it isn’t worksafe, but a great image just the same: The Three Disgraces from Gallery of the Absurd. Only a boss who was a bum would sack someone for this …

The great refugee swap proposal has bloggers baffled. Wmmbb finds it odd that ‘governments who have refused to trade in carbon, but are prepared to trade in humans’. Kim at LP discerns a case of political mates helping each other out, but expects the stunt has better prospects in the US, because of its novelty value. Tim Dunlop endorses Kerry Nettle’s suggestion that it could actually backfire on the Australian Government:

“I think that a shortcut for a Green Card into the United States is actually going to encourage asylum seekers to come to Australia,” Ms Nettle said.

In a new instalment of ‘Howard Watch’ Kieran exposes the varied rhetorical tricks that the PM uses to portray his negligent environmental policies and himself as the embodiment of balance and reasonableness. John Quiggin detects a transition in federal politics from a phoney war about character issues to a more substantial debate on policy, to Labor’s advantage. With the government’s policies on climate change, Iraq and broadband in disarray, their only hope is a brawl between Rudd and the unions over IR reform. Guy at LP says he is

personally unsure as to whether to be disappointed by Laborâs watering down of their stance or impressed that Rudd is really trying his darndest to take both business and the unions (e.g. everyone) along with him.

For his part, Tim Dunlop wonders how small business managed to exist in the decades before Work Choices. Peter Martin interprets Kevvie’s IR policy as evidence that Howard has won the battle to transform Australia’s IR landscape permanently.

The Ruddmeister started the ball rolling and now every pet shop galah is talking about Freddy Hayek. The latest spotting, made by Diogenes Lamp is ex-Communist and now ‘writer and sculptor’ Eric Aarons, on the ABC:

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this transcript is Aarons mentioning F.A. Hayek. Not too many years ago no Labor supporter, right up to shadow ministerial level, had even heard of Hayek, much less the Austrian school of economics. Now he is class enemy number one.

Clearly knowledge of Hayekâs name (but not of his ideas, alas) has seeped in somewhere. Kevin Rudd was the first to pretend that he knew something about Hayekâs ideas, although he plainly didnât, and one could tell that his contact with Hayekâs work was very recent and limited. And now we have Eric Aarons talking about him.

Diogenes Lamp also has some reflections on Ted Trainer’s utopian vision for curbing carbon emissions.

As is his wont., RWDB has another stoush with Tim Lambert, this time over whether the founder of the Sierra Club was a racist. Modia Minotaur analyses the comings and goings of the Baird political dynasty in NSW.

Bryan “Ozpolitics” Palmer analyses some research which used multiple regression to see whether socioeconomic or demographic characteristics could explain variability in voting patterns. The results were predictable but nevertheless interesting:

  • The Labor Party is clearly separated from the other political parties, being located within the multicultural/younger â disadvantage quadrant of the graph.
  • In contrast, the Liberal Party is located within the opposite monocultural/older – advantage quadrant of the graph.
  • The National Party is located in the monocultural/older – disadvantage quadrant of the graph.
  • The Australian Greens Party and the County Liberal Party are both located in the multicultural/younger – advantage quadrant of the graph. ((Does this mean the NT Country Liberal Party – an interesting result if so.~KP))((Not so interesting – demographically the NT is already younger and more multicultural than the rest of Australia, which might account for the result.~JC)).

Daily Flute argues that the polls suggest the Coalition’s attempt to derail the Kevvie Express, using his ill-advised complicity in a fake Anzac Day dawn service, has failed.

Andrew Elder focuses on the NSW Labor sleaze revealed by the Paul Gibson/Sandra Nori fiasco.

Graham Young reckons Kevvie’s campaign ads reveal a distinctly narcissistic character, while gleefully spreading a conspiracy theory by asking: are Brisbane’s dams leaking? Meanwhile, Arleeshar argues that Kevvie is over-exposed on tabloid TV.

Robert Merkel argues that a Crikey story about an allegedly missing 3 kilograms of uranium is a complete beatup, and that it’s nothing to worry about. Robert also accuses the anti-nuclear movement of misrepresenting research about the effects of exposure to low levels of radiation.

2. Life and Other Serious Stuff

Andrew Bartlett reports on the launch of the Close the Gap campaign to improve Aboriginal life expectancy. Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe brought some star appeal to the event, but unfortunately the media only cared about Thorpe’s drug test results:

It made me sick to watch trivia triumph over substance in such a blatant way – I can only imagine how angry the Indigenous and other organisations behind the campaign, and Ian Thorpe himself, felt about it.

By means of pictures, Tigtog makes a firm stand on the meaning of ‘godbag’. Intolerance, she insists, distinguishes the godbags from the merely religious. While we’re admiring photo essays, this one from Ken Lovell is as succinct as they come.

Andrew Leigh continues his analysis of the campaign for performance pay for teachers.

Saint in a Straitjacket has some fairly blunt views about partial-birth abortions, while LP’s tigtog provides the alternative view.((Not for the faint-hearted.~SL))

News that Melbourne University is planning radically to change its provision of undergraduate degree offerings, adopting an approach more akin to that taken in the US, brought forth some interesting observations from Andrew Norton , Harry Clarke and Paul Frijters here at Troppo, all of whom have their doubts.

Further news that former world chess champion Garry Kasparov has been arrested in Russia for ‘propagating extremism’ led Jason Soon to take a look at Vladimir Putin’s increasingly authortarian regime. Look out in the comments for observations by Boris, a recent Russian immigrant (via Israel) to Australia.

Pommygranate is in a satirical mood, so his pisstaking definitions of the various scientific laws we all learnt in high school physics is well worth a read. ((Even for those who disagree with his politcs.~SL))

3. The Yartz

Harry Caul gives rave reviews to Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys. Alison Croggon loved the production and acting too, but has distinct reservations about Bennett’s writing and some of the moral assumptions underlying it (e.g. as to child molesting).

David at Sarsparilla on the (un)reliability of Wikipedia after discovering misinformation about Canberra’s Westgarth Theatre:

So, I was pretty angry, and I think you can see why. This is where Wikipedia falls down, totally. People dredge up everything they ever thought they knew, and stick it in an article. Pedants like me come through and whisk away little crumbs of pseudoknowledge. Next week, someone will come back and replace the Griffin thing, as the one âfactâ they know about Westgarth Cinema that completes the picture. I am not going to be vigilant.

But Wikipedia has a real future, and this to me is it: it is a beautiful, worldwide record of what people think they know. Day by day it is going to become a bigger, bolder better record of changing attitudes and ideas …

Simon Sellars discovers the Gallery of the Absurd, a great site by artist ’14’ (and then uses it as a springboard for one of his trademark Ballardian riffs). The Gallery site contains lots of works about modern culture icons, in Dali-esque and other styles. I especially liked Three Disgraces, depicting nakedly graceless Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. ((A fertile source of images for this edition of Missing Link methinks.~KP)).((A worksafe sample is included – but do go take a look, people.~SL))

Simon also muses about highrise apartments, again with a Ballardian spin.

Dean the Happy Antipodean has a jaundiced view of the new Tolkien ripoff (by his son Christopher) The Children of Hurin, apparently pieced together from an unfinished JRR Tolkien manuscript. ((I once stupidly bought a copy of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, which is apparently an earlier ripoff of the same unfinished Tolkien work. It was utterly unreadable.~KP))

Ampersand Duck focuses on the actions of aptly named Liberal MP Steve Pratt and his idiotic antic in scrubbing off “graffiti” as a media stunt. Apparently the graffiti artist is a blogger named Byrd, and A. Duck reproduces some of his work. Prophet also blogs a photo-essay on grafffiti art.

4. T.S.S

Shaun Cronin publishes his tips for the forthcoming weekend’s NRL round, and doesn’t think much of some of the Australian team selections for this evening’s rugby league test against the Kiwis.

Scott Wickstein muses about Weagles player Adam Sellwood’s (alleged) sledging of Des Headland, the (alleged) subject being Headland’s 6 year old daughter. Five at Sidelined also focuses on the Sellwood/Headland affair. ((The AFL Tribunal hardly distinguished itself IMO by not making either player give evidence in the other’s hearing, thus giving itself elbow room to avoid doing anything to either player. They seem to be as serious (not) about stamping out this sort of conduct as the Weagles are about stopping drug-taking among their own players.~KP))

Tony the Teacher shares the general view that the current cricket World Cup is about as exciting as watching grass grow, and doesn’t think much of the Sri Lankans throwing their game against Australia so they don’t have to play them in the semi-final. By contrast, Gilmae reckons it was fair enough:

With that in mind, the critics of Sri Lanka should pull their head in. It isnât the responsibility of Sri Lanka to provide Australia with testing opposition, itâs not even their responsibility to provide sparkling entertainment to the crowd â although Iâm sure the crowd would appreciate it. It is the responsibility of the Sri Lankan team to get to the final game, and then to win the final game.

5. Mad, Bad, Sad and Glad

David Tiley has one of his frequent extraordinary photo-essays on obscure exotic figures or events, this time an early to mid 20th century car designer named William Bushnell Stout. Adrian the Cabbie, meanwhile, tells a fare evasion story with an unusual outcome. Still on matters schooling (you’ll get that when you read Adrian’s post), Kev Gillett reveals that he not only plays the bagpipes, but gives an intersting history of a particular (and very famous) lament, Flowers of the Forest.

On a topic dear to many a young lawyer’s heart, Legal Eagle reprises some of the nutball questions that get asked at job interviews, which leads to the sort of wickedly funny responses we all wish we could have thought of while in the actual interview.

This entry was posted in Missing Link. Bookmark the permalink.
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
16 years ago

Slight fluff there – accidentally forgot to post this in the ‘Missing Link’ category. I’ve fixed it now so it should arrive in our subscribers’ inboxes shortly. Apologies.

Robert Merkel
16 years ago

One minor point: I wouldn’t (and don’t, in the piece) accuse all anti-nuclear activists of distorting science. I’m just noting that at least some do, and that they should be called on it.

16 years ago

Actually, SL, I don’t have a problem with Sri Lanka finagling the result, I have a problem with the structure of a tournament that allows them to do it at the ‘business’ end:

Not that I take issue with the Shree tactic, just the idea they can fine tune when things should be getting hot. About now, every match should count.

We did much the same thing in 1999 against the Windies, afterall.

16 years ago

Ahhh, yes, Old Trafford 1999. My partner and I were there, too, so I’m not likely to forget it. Complete with chants of boring, boring, Aussies!

16 years ago

thanks for the link, skeptic.

that’s a pretty comprehensive list! how long did that take?

16 years ago

Well my bit – basically writing the intro on the Virginia Tech material and inserting various links here and there, stripping out any dodgy code, then doing a final copy-edit – about an hour. This is a group effort, so it’s much less taxing that it was. When I did Missing Link alone, it took me around three hours, and I’ve worked as en editor professionally (both as a news sub and as general editor for a peer-reviewed law journal). It’s no little thing, shall we say.

16 years ago

My thanks also Skeptic, well done.

16 years ago

Not a problem Adrian. I see Ken has included the ‘Three Disgraces’. It is a good funny – just have to hope all the bosses out there are like Hawkie ;)

derrida derider
derrida derider
16 years ago

the US tendency to produce mass killings of various sorts, with or without guns.

Yeah, US foreign policy is a bit like that.