Missing Link 3 July, 2007

First up, some housekeeping. The Missing Link crew have added a new committee member, and we’d like y’all to welcome Legal Eagle to the fold. For those of you who’ve been following this illustrious publication, you’d know that Legal Eagle is a young mum, legal academic and (former) litigation solicitor. Her blog, the Legal Soapbox, has ensconced itself as one of our favourites, and for this reason we thought she’d make a great addition to the team.


Next up, much amusement was had in blogland when Crikey decided to apply their bias-o-meter to Ozblogistan. Unusually for the blogosphere, the collective reaction to Crikey’s efforts was remarkably polite, even from Jeremy Sear, who was somewhat bemused to find himself parked out to the left of the Marxists at Leftwrites. Thoughtful bloggy reaction to Crikey’s analysis was also to be found at Catallaxy, Larvatus Prodeo, Pavlov’s Cat and Andrew Norton. Also interesting was Kieran’s take at the Dead Roo, where he decided to substitute an analytical graphic of his own (which, along with Crikey’s, I’ve included in today’s Missing Link).

blog_ratings.JPGToday’s edition of Missing Link brought to you by James Farrell, Jason Soon, Amanda Rose and Legal Eagle, with Helen ‘skepticlawyer’ Dale doing the editing thang. Ken Parish is currently neck deep in examination scripts, but will be back soonish.

Before hopping into Missing Link proper, I’d like to draw our readers’ attention to a superb piece by David Coles here at Troppo. Whatever you think of John Howard’s response to the dysfunctionality across indigenous Australia, David’s piece (and the ensuing comments thread) comes highly recommended. David:

left government 2 years ago as Executive Director Local Government and Regional Development with the Northern Territory government and over his time in public service managed the Indigenous Housing program and led the DCM Aboriginal Development Branch as well as being a senior Ministerial Officer to the CLP Minister for Health and Community Services at one stage. David was also appointed in May 2006 by current NT Chief Minister Clare Martin as co-ordinator of government responses for the Wadeye community in the wake of the major riots there, which in considerable part (along with Dr Nanette Rogers revelations on ABC Lateline) stimulated the current national focus on matters indigenous in the Northern Territory.

1. News and Politics Stuff

More bloggers have submitted answers to Joshua Gans’ question in Round 3 of the 1Q challenge. Tim Dunlop argues that catching up is better than nothing as long as it’s not grudging and symbolic. Thus, the Government’s aboriginal intervention qualifies, but its climate policy doesn’t. tigtog agrees, with the qualification that unless the catch-up policy is very good, its tardiness will count heavily against the government when the election is held. And Andrew Bartlett says:

Im all for catch up politics when it means catching up with good ideas that should have been implemented ages ago. I hate catch up politics when it means catching up with bad ideas that have turned out to be politically popular.

Elsewhere Andrew vents his frustration that anyone who criticises aspects of the initiative is accused of willing the government to fail. Even Noel Pearson, who himself recently argued that sound ideas have failed because of poor implementation, has been up to this trick.

Given that the other responses have all touched on the NT emergency package, John Quiggin’s post assessing Howard’s motives in the context of his record, is a de facto 1Q response. Also related to the NT emergency package, Andrew Landeryou knocks down a patronising rant by Guy Rundle against Noel Pearson.

Robert Merkel can’t see why the Victorian Government needs to build a desalination plant if it’s going to pipe water from the Murray-Goulburn system anyway.

Tim Dunlop wants to know about the methodology underlying Mustapha Kara-Ali’s claim that up to 3000 Muslim Sydney youth are on the brink of being radicalised.

If the threat is that clear-cut, shouldnt we be making some arrests? If not, I repeat: what exactly does it mean? How do the reports authors know these people are in sleeper cells? Isnt the nature of a sleeper cell that it is a secret? And if you are in a sleeper cell, arent you already well past the brink of becoming radicalised?

Amir at Austrolabe also gets stuck into this issue and tries to quantify the risk of radicalisation of Muslim youth in Australia. He also has a nuanced take on the recent Tim Blair vs Media Watch brouhaha.

Still on matters Muslim, Saint in a Straightjacket draws attention to a piece by Muslim psychiatrist Tanveer Ahmed on the troubled relationship between Islamic theology and sexuality. Mark at Oz Conservative has a related post – and a salutary tale – on what happens when people with culturally incompatible values are forced to cooperate.

Tim Dunlop points out that if the Sunday Telegraph report — revealing a secret plan to announce our withdrawal from Iraq just before the election — is true, the implication is that Australian soldiers’ lives are being risked for political advantage. Gianna has similar reaction. Meanwhile, Tim Blair takes issue with the recent coverage of the Glasgow terrorist attack.

Pommygranate digs up an amusing factoid on the (fortunately) hopeless terrorists in the UK. Jason Soon argues – very perceptively – that proponents of big government are using both climate change and terrorism to coerce people into accepting erosion of both personal choice and civil liberties. Tim Lambert takes exception ((Justifiably in my view.~KP)) to his treatment by Jason.

And while we’re on the subject of Iraq (and terrorism), Mark Bahnisch has a favourable review of Gwynne Dyer’s The Mess They Made.

Harry Clarke has a great piece on dealing with negative externalities using things like congestion charges. He highlights London Mayor Ken Livingston’s system as an exemplar. John Quiggin uses the occasion of Blair’s departure to ask what’s left of Thatcherism.

Terje at Thoughts on Freedom wonders if the economic costs of setting a minimum wage can be mitigated by regionalising it while John Humphreys finds hints of free market reform in the Middle East.

The Nuclear Australia blog subjects a recent anti-nuclear piece by Ian Lowe to some back of the envelope number crunching.

Public Opinion has a post on that old perennial, the worth of political bloggers in the eyes of the MSM.

2. Life and Other Serious Stuff

Gummo Trotsky interprets Paul Frijters’ essay on the prevalence of lying as an apologia for rule by technocrats.

Mark Bahnisch interprets the census data on declining religious belief as evidence that the ‘traditional values’ camp in the culture wars is fighting a rear-guard action.

Prolifically apathetic Sarah has a blast at the tobacco companies, who have moved their evil trade to China; and convincingly debunks the myth of the seven year itch.

Pavlov’s Cat has discovered the Political Compass, and is comforted to find herself at the same bearings as Beethoven and Mozart.

Tim Lambert shoots Glenn Reynolds full of holes in response to an attack on Al Gore; while Gianna makes short work of the latest theory on why ‘the left has no sense of humour’, this one from Stephen Matchett.

Over at Random Brainwave, Tom Violence, a smoker, makes some interestingly libertarian arguments on the government’s attitude to his personal choices.

3. The Yartz

What books do you reckon are unjustly out of print?

The frenzied Gen X blog meme for the week? The Transformers movie. And if you’re baffled by the reference let’s just say Transformers are Autobots who wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. They’re Transformers, more than meets the eye. They’re Transformers, robots in disguise. @ Spark Online, 20/20 Filmsight, Ben Peek, Among the Dust, White Boy Dance Floor.

Scott has Kelly Clarkson’s new album fully dissected and rated, and snark a la Spice Girls.

Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and Australian Colonial Gothic Fiction in one post. Blogging rulz. Kirsty runs the gamut of art and culture concerns in this post, linked by the question of SMS language and the phenom of texting.

PAUL Martin on a Kieslowski classic.

Horror comics in Australia and a review of “the most controversial Australian horror comic ever published.”

Australian GLBT books for young readers. Learn Hawaiian guitar with Shaun.

Finally, I find an opera blog! In fact, two. A review of Opera Australia’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, also an offshoot blog devoted to discussion Opera Australia productions.

An MP3 from the Folk Australia blog. Legendary Australian folk-country troubadour Gary Shearston and …. Whiter Shade of Pale.

4. T.S.S

(troppo sports stadium)

Chris Fryer thinks that Collingwood made the right decision not to punish Alan Didak. RG wonders if the real issue is that footy players still prefer to hang out at dodgy strip clubs, despite policies promoting respect of women.

Chris Sheil has one of his super rugby posts. Go read, especially if you’re a Kiwi.

5. Mad, Bad, Sad and Glad

Darryl at Your New Reality has posted an awesome picture of a Zorse. He also has a far more disturbing post about an American who has developed a paddle (purportedly inspired by God) with which to beat one’s child. To show the child that you love it. Yeah, right.

A Roll of the Dice tells us that “calculation” has been removed from the Physics syllabus in the UK – it’s important for students to discuss “concepts”. How can you discuss a concept if you don’t know how it works to begin with? In other teaching news, The Blonde Canadian has translations of school report cards for mystified parents.

Jane from Diversion Cubed wonders how doctors who swear the Hippocratic Oath can then (allegedly) become involved in terrorist plots to harm people.

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39 Responses to Missing Link 3 July, 2007

  1. Hmmm,
    Will this change catallaxy’s “Tabloid” vs “Reasoned Discussion” position?

  2. Dunno, Andrew. That’s up to Kieran.

  3. pommygranate says:

    ‘factoid’ is stretching it! thanks for the mention. seems like i’m missing another blogging shitfest. uk bloggers are obviously way too polite to each other.

  4. That Zorse looks more like a Hebra to me.

  5. Legal Eagle says:

    Apparently it’s very unusual for Zorses to come out in patches like that. Usually they’re smudgy stripy things all over, rather than with patches of zebra and patches of white horse. Maybe it’s a Calico Hebra.

  6. Tim Lambert says:

    Hey, you just linked to Jason’s declaration of inter-blog war. Here’s my post: Catallaxy’s war on everything.

  7. Jason Soon says:

    Tim you little, little man, again you choose to draw attention yourself to your very minor role in my blogpost which is supposed to be about anti-terrorist laws. Is the presumption of innocence for suspected criminals less important to you than your own inflated ego?

  8. Amanda says:

    Why don’t my contributions ever spark petty bickering in the ML comments thread?

    Must try harder, obviously.

  9. John Surname says:


    I am actually anti-smoking, the piece in question was written by contributor Tom Violence. Can you please update that?

  10. Yikes! Someone else is morphing into a group blog. Will do, John.

  11. Tim Lambert says:

    If anyone cares, the “very minor role” was the title and the first one third of the post where Jason maliciously criticised me for “generating a climate of fear” about global warming. According to Jason, I generated this “climate of fear”, not by actually writing anything on my blog, but because I “seemed to support” someone who commented at my blog. And what did I do to support this person? Nothing. Literally nothing. Rather than concede that maybe, just maybe, this was a little unfair, Jason chose to invent more spurious charges against me and call me a bunch of names. He’s now trying to play the victim, pretending that his post, despite my name in the title, really had nothing to do with me and I just came along and derailed the discussion.

  12. Tim, lighten up. You’re pretty statist, and so is Graeme (despite his protestations to the contrary). John was taking the mickey, and so was Jason.

    That said, Jason’s larger point is a legitimate one: there’s a great deal of scaremongering about terrorism and global warming going on right now. Maybe some of that scaremongering is legitimate, but most of it isn’t. Jason chose to focus on terrorism, something that interests me as a lawyer, particularly when my preferred PhD supervisor (after Oxford, Chicago) starts endorsing stuff like secret trials.

  13. John Surname says:

    Yikes! Someone else is morphing into a group blog. Will do, John.

    Thanks! He’s actually been a contributor for a while now, he just never gets off his arse to post often enough.

  14. Tim Lambert says:

    Sorry SL, but Jason did not just say that there was scaremongering out there. He specifically accused me of scaremongering because of a comment posted at my blog by somebody else. Do you think that it is right to attribute to the blog owner comments posted at their blog by other people?

    As for Jason “taking the mickey”, here is some of what he directed at me in that thread: “Gaian Inquisitor”, “Pope Pius III”, “you people must be for torture and secret trials” “LamBird”, “alarmist”, “Pope Pius Lambert the Third” “looks like Pope Pius the Third has been caught out telling more lies”, “intellectual hobbit”, “little man” and “absolutely dishonest runt”. Wow, that Jason, such a kidder.

  15. adrian says:

    As a disinterested observer of this little stoush, it seems to me that Jason Soon is the one that needs to ‘lighten up’ (among other things), and SL’s pretence at objectivity in this matter is all too obvious.

  16. Ken Parish says:

    I didn’t detect any light-hearted “taking the mickey” in Jason’s post either. Nor, quite frankly, do I blame Tim Lambert for taking exception to being bracketed with Graeme Bird, or for the rest of the abuse in the post and accompanying comment thread. I’m going to add Tim’s response to the body of this edition of Missing Link as a matter of basic fairness.

  17. tim says:

    Secure your valuables! Lambert’s in the room!

  18. lauredhel says:

    Hi Legal Eagle! and welcome.

    I wonder what Pavlov’s Cat and Hoyden would have scored on the DeadRoo Bloggrid?

  19. paul frijters says:

    I think its a great credit to this site and the Missing Like team that Kieran names this site as the site with the most reasoned discussion, and that its put smack in the middle of the political spectrum (slightly to the left in Crikey and slightly to the right at Kieran’s).

  20. Tim Lambert says:

    Tim Blair writes: “Secure your valuables! Lamberts in the room!”

    Now here’s someone who really needs to lighten up. I took the mickey out of Blair something like a couple of years ago and he’s still carrying on about it. Let go, Tim B. All that anger can’t be good for you.

  21. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Pssssht. That’s not a battle.
    This is a blog dispute worthy of the name.

  22. Geoff Honnor says:

    “If anyone cares….”

    I’d be surprised.

  23. tim says:

    TL: I just think it’s amusing that you [snip] feel able to lecture anyone on online behaviour. You’re not exactly Mr Ethics, mate.

    [This post has been edited]

  24. Jason Soon says:

    My mention of Tim Lambert *was* light-hearted.

    The term ‘LamBird’ and the concept behind it wasn’t coined by me but by Humphreys. Why is Lambert only making a big issue of it now just because I decided to apply it to anti-terrorism laws?

    There was no ‘abuse’ of Tim in my original post – the only thing I directly attributed to his person was ‘two well known Ozblogistan commentators and advocates of big government’ – this is the only thing that I implied Lambert had in common with Bird, contrary to Ken’s dishonest implication that I was saying they were akin in all other respects. The rest of the mention of Lambert is merely my reproducing bits of John Humphrey’s original blogpost to set the background for the idea.

    It was never intended to be an inter-blog war post as Lambert keeps insisting.

    I didn’t get annoyed until he started showing up and making an issue out of it and detailing the thread and what he calls ‘abuse’ was in the comments in response to his constant spamming.

    But if this is the only way the little pope can get his pathetic 15 mins of fame, so be it.

  25. I hope Kieran comes by to comment on his grid. I liked it from the get-go, think that it’s a useful metric and also wonder where he’d put a few of the other bloggers lauredhel mentions.

    WRT to polite discussion – and just to show we Missing Linkers aren’t some sort of hivemind – I’ll point out that I respectfully disagree with Ken on the whole Tim/Jason thing. That said, I should have linked Tim’s piece in the main body of Missing Link and let the two stoushes/stoushees speak for themselves.

    Also, I don’t mind if people ‘linkwhore’ in Missing Link threads, or pop links worthy of interest in the Catallaxy open thread. Legal Eagle has already invited people to do likewise over at her place. Yes, the ML team reviews lots of blogs, but that’s no substitute for the eagle eyes of Australian blogland generally. If you see something good, do tell us about it. We may never know otherwise.

    And yes, Legal Eagle is a treasure. I’m very glad she’s on the team.

  26. Tim Lambert says:

    SL, I asked you: “Do you think that it is right to attribute to the blog owner comments posted at their blog by other people?”

    If it’s not too much trouble, do you think you could answer my question?

  27. Tim, I don’t consider you statist based on commenters at your blog. I consider you statist based on your policy positions on the environment and environmentalism generally. Jason’s view (in so far as I can speak for another person) is similar. I think that’s a hat you’d normally be happy to wear, too, although you’d probably want to call it something like ‘social democracy’ or ‘legitimate regulation’.

    As should be reasonably obvious from Catallaxy’s spot on both Crikey’s and Kieran’s graphics, I’m likely to disagree with you on that. I don’t think excessive state regulation works very well, either with regard to civil liberties or the environment.

    Now I haven’t followed this particular stoush as closely as I might (it’s called a dayjob), and – unlike Ken – I don’t like the way you made the piece over at your place all about you, rather than about the issue (which was, ahem, the War on Terror). Obviously – as Ken’s comment shows – there’s room for disagreement on that point, and that’s fine.

  28. I can close off the thread if you like, Jacques.

  29. Tim Lambert says:

    SL, why won’t you answer my question?

  30. Fair call, Jacques. I’ve got stuff to do just now, but will be back a bit later on.

  31. Ken Parish says:


    May I suggest you pop over and debate this at Catallaxy (where SL is one of the principals). I felt you had a fair point in the first place, which is why I linked your response in the main ML text. But to be blunt, I don’t think this sort of interpersonal squabble is even remotely interesting for most readers. The idea of Missing Link is to publicise interesting posts from all around the blogosphere, so that readers can then trot off to blogs that interest them and join in the discussion there. The object certainly isn’t to attract spillover Catallaxy squabbles to be continued here.

  32. Laura says:

    Geoff, I almost posted the same thing you did.

    Maybe someone is interested, but I’m sure they can find their way to the blogs concerned.

  33. Patrick says:

    I agree with Ken.

  34. I think its a great credit to this site and the Missing Like team that Kieran names this site as the site with the most reasoned discussion, and that its put smack in the middle of the political spectrum (slightly to the left in Crikey and slightly to the right at Kierans).

    Club Troppo appears to have a higher proportion of well though out, original and informative posts.

    Tim Blair offers little other than a comment designed to start a (rather predictable) “discussion” and Andrew Landeryou is more flashing images than substance. This is only in my oh so subjective opinion.

    Sear and Leftwrites are of course both on the left, but Sear is a lot more tongue in cheek/sarcastic. I think the Crikey scale confused this with strength of conviction, equating the tone of the posts about left issues on Leftwrites with centrism.

    I feel Troppo has marginally less fluff than John Q (with the never ending open discussion threads) and LP. Catallaxy is usually very reasoned and informative about their topic of choice, but occasionally there is a post which I get the feeling is designed to do little more than start a new pointless stoush.

    In my own blog I use the word “I” a lot, and I feel that the broader world relevance of a post has an inverse correlation with the use of the word “I”. :-D

    None of this in any way entails a judgement about the value of various blogging endeavours.

  35. Thanks for that feedback, Kieran.

  36. Legal Eagle says:

    Thank you guys for the nice comments!


  37. Legal Eagle says:

    P.S. Like Ken I have been inveigled in marking all week – fortunately over now – there’s nothing more depressing than reading the same mistakes 100 times over – didn’t get around to checking out the comments thread till now. Marking. Blargh.

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