Monday’s Missing Link on Tuesday – Again

aha.gifWell, 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.

UPDATE: Saint in a Straightjacket also has a thoughtful contribution, and he’s directed my attention to a piece by Aussie Muslim feminist Maryam. Go check both out.

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 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? ((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.~KP))

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.

Jim Belshaw mounts some powerful arguments in favour of floating big law firms on the stock exchange (as ambulance-chasing mega-firm Slater and Gordon recently did).

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.

4. T.S.S

(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. ((This is a hilarious post, do go read it. Just don’t try to drink coffee at the same time.~SL))

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Christine Keeler
Christine Keeler
16 years ago

Why in god's name are you directing people to a hate-site like John Ray's A Western Heart?

16 years ago

I don’t do the RWDB roundup. I’m the general editor, which means I write the introduction, check for busted links, make sure the style is consistent throughout, strip out rubbish code, check spelling, syntax and grammar. I also do the lawblogging, psephology, moderate right and sporting round-up (although Ken sometimes pops a link in there, too).
As editor, I will include links in other categories if I think they’re good and/or relevant to the issue of Missing Link as a whole.
I also trust my team. If they select a link, I accept their judgment. The whole point of Missing Link is that we select a diversity of views. The people at AWH probably reckon LP is a hate-site. Sauce for the goose, etc.

16 years ago

On FGM from an Aussie feminist Muslim perspective, also check out <a href=””>Dervish</a>.

16 years ago

Ick stuffed the link but I think you can all find it.

16 years ago

Thanks Saint, I'll check it out.

Jason Soon
16 years ago

what's so hateful about an excerpt from a book calling into question Steve Levitt's theory that abortion reduced crime by killing all those black babies that would otherwise have grown up into criminals, Christine? (note I'm not advocating Levitt's theory should be dismissed simply because it can be formulated that way but in essence that is what it amounts to and I don't know what is particularly hateful about that excerpt, regardless of whether it's right or wrong)

16 years ago

I don’t think she’s beautiful. I think she’s pretty ordinary.

16 years ago

And we all have to defer to your superior taste, Justin?

Legal Eagle
16 years ago

Just want to clarify – the part-time sessional lecturing wages I get are about the same as a cabbie's wages.

If I had a proper position (ie, non-sessional) it would be different, of course. ;-) Here's hoping I get a proper permanent part-time position one day.

16 years ago

JQ has (or had) the best beard in the blogosphere. I hope he grows it back asap, too.

Part of the reason Ali is so polarizing is her looks. I'd rather admit that fact, not pretend that personal appearance doesn't count. Andrew Leigh's research on the benefits of being good looking when it comes to elections also – I suspect – holds in other areas.

And I'll have to ask you all not to use html in comments. For some reason it's not working; saint blamed himself, but nothing is working, not even paragraph breaks or italics.

Francis Xavier Holden
16 years ago

"…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.."

I'm a big Sinatra fan. He started it. Conversational singing. He swings. He's hip. Mic technique. I've got all his  good stuff and a lot of the bad. I've got bootlegs of live concerts, with big bands and small combos,  and studio quality outakes and swearing by Frank. I've got Vegas and Manhattan and Melbourne Festival Hall.

Let me tell you. MY WAY is mostly a load of crap even when Frank sings it.

Francis Xavier Holden
16 years ago

Legal Eagle: You want me to believe you earn about $6 – $12 an hour and sit in a car all day and pick up drunks and other idiots.

16 years ago

Nor do we have to defer to the editor’s

You hear that editors? No editorialising.

God, some people would argue about a fly walking up a wall.

Tim Lambert
16 years ago

Jason, Christine was saying that AWH was a hate site, not that that particular post was hateful.  (It wasn't hateful, though it was crap, with Lott citing his own research involving some dodgy econometrics that he couldn't get past peer review.)

16 years ago

Thanks Gilmae, classic. Whoops, I'm editorialising. Now to get the various bits of typeface pixels to work…

Sessional work pays well, but once you average it out over the year, the pay-rate sucks. If, however, you're doing sessional tutoring on top of an APA scholarship, then the pay rate is excellent. Scholarships are tax free, which means that you finish up with a tax-free threshold of around $20,000 rather than $6,000.

Jason Soon
16 years ago

Tim and Christine  Unlike the Vatican, Missing Link does not have a List of Prohibited Blogs. If anything the opposite – there are a list of blogs which we are obliged to review from every part of the political spectrum and A Western Heart is one of them. The fact that they have the occasional silly post doesn't disqualify them from a look-in. When did you lefties start picking up tips from the Spanish Inquisition?

16 years ago

Jason – the Vatican gave up its list of prohibited books ages ago :-)

16 years ago

I'm afraid you've run slap bang into my libertarianism on free speech on this one. As long the folks at AWH don't incite or defame, I'm happy to have their stuff included.

You may hate AWH and JF Beck (although I'd hope you're mature enough to hate their views, and not their persons). The feeling's probably mutual, to be fair.

Just because some people find them, or Leftwrites (a site I've linked to in the past, and where there have also been grumbles) offensive doesn't mean I'm going to suddenly stop linking to sites members of the ML team select. I'll happily take responsibility, though – I'm the editor, and the buck stops with me (or Ken, for the editions he edits).

You do not have a right to freedom from offence.

/libertarian rant

FdG: I edited the swearing because Troppo is a somewhat more decorous place than Catallaxy, where, ahem, a rather large amount of swearing goes through to the keeper. I just like being able to read blogs in chambers. Too  many swear words mean the filter thinks I'm looking at pr0n.

Ken Parish
16 years ago

What Jason and Helen said.  ML is intended to provide a broad digest of blog posts which a broad range of readers might find interesting.  The editorial team need not (indeed frequently don't) agree with the viewpoints in the posts we digest.  Jason digests the blogs that I have somewhat arbitrarily classified as generally of a Right Wing Death Beast orientation, of which A Western Heart is one.  Jason's own views would probably be closer to a "moderate right" or even "centrist" persuasion, but Helen bagsed the former and I bagsed the latter before Jason even agreed to join the team, so he kindly agreed to take on the RWDB category.

 Missing Link is designedly a "broad church", in a way the Liberal Party hasn't been at least since John Winston Howard assumed the federal leadership.  Thus, if you want to object to the inclusion of any particular post in a Missing Link edition, our answer (in the politest possible tone) is: tell someone who cares.

Tim Lambert
16 years ago

Jason, you misunderstood Christine, and I explained what she meant.  I don't quite see how I am adopting the tactics of the Spanish Inquisition here.  I find AWH to be entirely worthless, but I don't care whether you link to them or not.

Christine Keeler
Christine Keeler
16 years ago

Re AWH, I appreciate where you're coming from and I'm not suggesting anyone ban anything, but in light of SL's comments about defamation and incitement, this is a petty representative sample of AWH's contents:

Now do you people see why leftists need to be killed? Do you? This call
to ban the flag is a direct result of their influence on society.

I had to choke back the vomit when I heard pig-fucker fucker Morris
Iemma expressing his outrage at this. Listen to me you miserable little
fuck: It is your (and your fellow leftist) pandering to those Lebanese
muslim pieces of shit that has caused all this. If you and your ilk
would have done your job and cracked down on these pig fuckers without
mercy the second they put a foot out of line, Sydney would not have
such a problem and there would be no need for anyone to suggest such a
vile ban.

And Rudd saying it is political correctness gone mad?
It is you leftist fuckheads that have been pushing political
correctness for years.

I’ve said it many times before and will say it again. It is time to exterminate the left.

is long overdue for a civil war. The US is long overdue for a second
one. The West as a whole is in desperate need of one. It will be a
civil war between those who treasure our society and way of life and
want to keep the greatest and most successful civilization in the
history of this little planet and those who want to destroy it. The
filth of the treasonous left has been allowed to fester for too long,
and it has now become so bad that the wound can no longer simply be
drained of pus. The whole limb must be excised.

Check it out for yourself

Then there's this enlightened contribution:

Last night A Current Affair had the story of a stupid bitch who married
a muslim pig, had a child with him, and then watched as said muslim pig
kidnapped her daughter and stole her away.

Of course that begs
the question of what the fuck is wrong with you women? Why the fuck are
you still marrying these muslim savages and then wondering why they
‘change’ on you. Here’s a hint, you stupid molls – THEY DON”T CHANGE!
That is how they really are and you are either too fucking blind to see
through their bullshit act or you are too fucking stupid to understand
what islam really is.

I propose legislation that any non-muslim
woman converting and/or marrying a muslim should be stripped of her
citizenship and deported to a muslim shithole of her owner’s…sorry….
her husband’s choice. That way there is no need to steal any children
because they are already there.

Like I said, it's a hate site.

16 years ago

I’ve already seen it. It was linked in a previous issue of ML for pure nutjob value.


J F Beck
16 years ago

Lambert should know crap when he sees it; he writes enough of it.
See here:

Jason Soon
16 years ago

Some of the people who write for AWH are absolute nutjobs, John Ray is a harmless eccentric who sometimes posts very interesting stuff.

16 years ago

Fiasco “Nor do we have to defer to the editors”. Err, yes, you do. Here’s why. It’s their blog. It’s not yours. It’s their weekly round up. It’s not yours. Their opinions count. Yours don’t. If you don’t like this, then start your own weekly round up, and then your opinions will count. Oh, and do you have to gratuitously swear? It makes you sound like a sulky teenager rebelling against a strict upper-middle class upbringing, which may be the case.


[…] Club Troppo has a roundup of all the blog links discussing the topic at the […]

16 years ago

Jason, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

16 years ago

Should have done a 'Python Gag in 3… 2… 1…' in there somewhere ;)

16 years ago

JQ has (or had) the best beard in the blogosphere. I hope he grows it back asap, too.He's censored his beard!

16 years ago

On the subject of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one wonders whether Blair has ever bothered to listen to this woman speak on the issue of her own genital mutilation. Plenty of opportunities of late. LNL in January; Big Idea in March; The 7:30 Report in January and just last week on a Radio National program I can't locate right now where I distinctly recall listening to her answer at least one question on her own genital mutilation in regard to her religious beliefs, or lack thereof.   
I must say I'm constantly bemused at the Australian 'sphere's obsession with what Blair has to say on any issue, when all and sundry will openly admit that he rarely has anything of real substance to say or which is worth reading. Phillistine doesn't go even half-way to describing the man's irrelevance.                

16 years ago

Blair was riffing off the post at LP, as I pointed out in Missing Link.

That aside, his blog is enormously popular (and, unlike many people, I take popularity seriously, rather than writing it off as 'too mainstream'). He is also a very good writer, with great control and economy of expression.

16 years ago

Phillistine doesn't go even half-way to describing the man's irrelevance.

That is not surprising since I was not aware that Philistine had anything to do with relevance. :) Skepticlawyer seems to have a much firmer grasp on 'relevance' than you :)

16 years ago

I remember Cacofonix the Bard was fond of calling his detractors 'Philistines!' Perhaps Bannerman is Cacofonix in disguise?

16 years ago

He is enormously popular, but then, so is Big Brother, and 99% of Australia has heard of Big Brother so possibly deserves the moniker of “mainstream”.

Wry amusement at the idea of blog popularity aside, and arrogantly presuming that Blair even gives a shit what random CT commenters think, his format always felt to me to have the same problems as that of Media Watch, espicially back in the Littlemore days. Short excerpt of Other Media Story – preferably from one of the hosts many favourite and obsessively tracked targets – followed by some bitchy snark. I remember Littlemore used to devote whole minutes to spelling flames as well.

Like I said, he doesn’t give a shit what I think, but he is as boringly predictable as his mirror image, Jeremy Sears.

Stuart Lord
16 years ago

Well, Glimae, he is a lot more popular than Jeremy, so they arn’t complete mirror images. And Tim seems to write in a style much less conductive to eyeball explosion and retinal bleeding. But otherwise, yeah, mirror images.

As for AWH – even as a fully fledged RWDB and member of the VRWC, I sometimes find AWH excessive in invective or in its proposals and recommendations (which is why I never wrote there). However, John Ray actually finds an enormous quantity of interesting material (from books, journals and elsewhere) out there for examination, and also picks up on a lot of foreign news (especially from Britain) which we don’t get in Australia. And he is one of the few guys who actually goes and genuinely researches his refutations of other bloggers, and comes back with reasonably detailed replies. So he is worth reading, even if you (and I) don’t always (or in your case, along with Christine Keeler and Tim Lambert, ever) agree with him.

16 years ago

Hmmm. Comments are now going missing. There’s several half conversations on this thread. As the comments had already been posted – there are responses – this is curious. Apologies to those who have been deleted – it wasn’t us!

The popularity of Big Brother probably says more about us than it does about the show itself. And it doesn’t mean it should be ignored, either, or the people who watch it treated as idiots.

Irfan Yusuf
16 years ago

I managed to score an interview with Hirsi Ali which can be heard here (it has been somewhat edited and excludes some of Hirsi Ali’s more extreme pronouncements). From that interview, this article emerged.