Missing Link Daily

A digest of the best of the blogosphere published each weekday and compiled by Ken Parish, James Farrell, Gilmae, Darlene Taylor and Saint.



Jim Fryar takes a libertarian look at (repugnant) police raids in Melbourne on the homes of terminally ill people contemplating euthanasia.

Tim Dunlop looks at the Rudd government’s mooted cutting of benefits to carers and concludes it isn’t as bad as it looked at first blush.  Whether carers will agree is another question.

Andrew Bartlett examines Labor’s short-lived plan for Friday sittings of Parliament.

Peter Martin reports again on the ongoing application of Treasury boot to Coalition groin.

John Quiggin proposes scrapping the surface navy (he most likely has ambitions to become a submarine commander).


Jack Balkin looks at the broader aspects of President Bush’s vetoing of a bill that would have effectively outlawed enhanced interrogation techniques aka torture, while Marty Lederman looks at the issue from both a legal and moral viewpoint.. 

Hilzoy discusses the forced resignation of an Obama campaign worker who called Hillary Clinton a monster in an unguarded moment,  while Henry Farrell muses that it shows just how bad most blogging academics would be at real world politics! 

Hilzoy also mounts a persuasive case that Bill Clinton’s claim that Hillary (privately) tried to convince him to intervene in Rwanda to stop the genocide has about as much credibility as his “I did not have sexual relations with that woman Miss Lewinsky” statement.  On the same apparent Clinton strategy theme, Slate highlights another instance of Clinton staking credit for something she didn’t do, namely bring peace to Northern Ireland.   Even if like me (KP) you find Obama’s rhetoric simultaneously overblown and underwhelming, it’s hard to disagree with this assessment:

Trimble, the leader of the main Protestant political party at the time, says that while he did meet Hillary a few times in Belfast, “there was nothing that she did, apart from accompanying Bill” that he can remember: “Being a cheerleader for something is different from being a major player.” 

Jason Soon examines current developments in Malaysian provincial elections through the lens of historic and ongoing tensions between ethnic Malays and Chinese, while Andrew Leigh posts a detailed piece on the Malaysian situation by his political scientist father Michael. 

Andrew Bartlett hopes that Rudd’s recent visit is the dawn of a more constructive role for Australia in improving PNG’s prospects. ((I can’t quite follow how he manages to blame John Howard for these things though.  They have more to do with endemic corruption, tribalism and gross ignorance caused by abysmal education standards, none of which are obviously Howard’s fault ~ KP))

Turcopolier focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian “peace” process, and explains something I (KP) hadn’t realised:

It was Rice who insisted that this militant Islamic group be allowed to participate in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, over strong protests from both Israelis and moderate Palestinians. Rice argued that the Islamic militancy represented by Hamas had to be given a political voice. But when Hamas won and predictably continued to reject Israel’s right to exist, the United States had no coherent follow-up strategy. A new article in Vanity Fair says that Washington secretly egged on the rival Fatah movement to stage a coup in Gaza, but Hamas moved first with a countercoup that expelled Fatah security forces.

Pommygranate also looks at the current escalating (again) violence in the Middle East and what he sees as the usual anti-Israel responses from the UN and EU.

Saint quotes extensively a former chief economist of Venezuela who notes that the myth of Chavez is nothing like the reality, that he does little for the poor. ((Colour me shocked~gilmae))


Peter Martin examines the psychology of the freebie, while Stuart Buck looks at the related phenomenon of people overvaluing things that cost more.

Brad DeLong argues that we’re living through the end of the age of Friedman, and reviews a book which argues that the Industrial Revolution wasn’t all that remarkable or out of the ordinary except for the textile industry!

John Quiggin argues that ratings agencies like Moodies have a lot to answer for in the wake of current international financial market turmoil.

The failings of ANU Masters students do not include underconfidece, as Andrew Leigh discovered in a class experiment.

Ultra-leftist Joshua Gans advocates a plastic bag levy on the basis of promising results in communist Ireland. ((I wonder whether Joshua has read the Productivity Commission’s report on whether attempting to reduce plastic bag use is even a sensible policy objective, which is surely the question you need to answer before examining whether a tax would be effective in achieving it ~ KP))

Harry Clarke protests that the RBA’s tight monetary stance is short sighted, and will stunt the investment boom. He blames the Government’s labour market policies.

Andrew Norton argues that there are good explanations for the rarity of for-profit education, that do not — contra Quiggin — imply inferior quality or efficiency.   Meanwhile Andrew Leigh asks: Do kids do better with bigger classes but well-paid teachers?


Single sex gyms like Fernwood (“no Toms, no Harrys and definitely no Dicks”) have had no difficulty getting administrative exemptions from anti-discrimination laws in Australia.  David Bernstein examines the American experience, which has been rather different.

Sandy Levinson wonders why pundits are obsessing about the more irrational aspects of the Presidential primaries process, but never give a moment’s thought to numerous at least equally arcane and archaic aspects of the US Constitution.

Peter Timmins looks at a rare FOI case where the AAT has actually ruled that the public interest in disclosure of documents outweighs government’s (oops! the public) interest in keeping them secret.

Eugene Volokh looks at the legal ethics position of a lawyer who can only save a person falsely accused and convicted of murder by breaking a client confidence, and at the broader human ethical position as he sees it.

Issues analysis

Amir Amal blogs Tariq Ramadan’s keynote at the Brisbane Islamic studies conference.

Brad DeLong and Robert Waldmann put research and media claims that anti-depressant medication is no better than a placebo under the microscope and find them wanting.

Is public shaming an effective strategy for disciplining kids? asks Doug B at Lawprawfsblawg.

We previously covered John Quiggin’s argument on the evident strand of anti-science orientation among conservatives, and Jake Young’s reponse to it (religious conservatives are iredeemable but maybe the Burkean skeptics aren’t so bad).  Dale at Faith in Honest Doubt has his own thoughts:

I think people accept and embrace “Burkean gradualism” when they don’t care about the outcome, which often is the same as saying they have incentives or motivations not to care about the outcome — a VP at Exxon can rather readily convince himself that climate change is a matter best left to unconscious mechanisms that, incidentally, won’t have any foreseeable tangible impact before he’s retired and gone fishing.

On the same theme, Mark H zeroes in on the Heartland Institute’s Global Warming Conference.

Russell Arben Fox takes a long political philosophical look at the implications of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia.

Will Wilkinson looks at a recent happiness study which seems at least partly to contradict earlier happiness research relied on by neo-socialist Jeremiahs like Clive Hamilton:

1t is not true that there is some critical level of GDP per capita above which income has no further effect on life satisfaction. Instead, each doubling of income adds about the same amount to life satisfaction, across poor and rich countries alike. 

Robin Hanson looks at why people exhibit kneejerk reactions of either excessive deference or defiance towards power.


In an oblique comment on Obamamania, Jeff at Rigorous Intuition looks at HP Lovecraft, jellyfish and the madness of crowds.

Perry Middlemiss interviews lapsed Troppo blogger Wendy James and (rather more briefly – he was obviously far too busy and important to waste much time talking to a blogger) Shane Maloney as part of the ozlit bloggers series Australian Crime Fiction Snapshot.

French Women Don’t Get Fat – The Secret of Eating for Pleasure sounds like the sort of book that a self-indulgent, ageing hedonist like me (KP) should probably read.

Alison Croggon reviews Love Story, billed as a whimsical, off-beat romantic comedy, on at the Fairfax Studio of the Victorian Arts Centre.  Meanwhile, Chris Boyd also looks at Love Story and disses the new Nick Cave album in an entertaining if disjointed rant.


Don’t reckon a post about the Terrigal-Matcham Bellbirds eighth grade cricket team could be worth reading?  You’d be wrong.  And Shaun likes the new NRL commercial too.

Tony T looks at Harbhajan’s Singh’s parting shot after a weird and unpleasant summer of cricket. ((It’s beginning to seem that the administrators of world cricket have developed the same sort of self-destructive mindset that currently sees world rugby sliding into irrelevance by refusing to embrace rule changes needed to moderate stupefyingly boring 10 man tactics ~ KP))

Displaying uncharacteristic slackness, Niall Cook has only blogged one of the weekend’s three V8 Supercar races at Sydney’s Eastern Creek.  Lift your game son.

Snark, strangeness and charm

Dale is underwhelmed by the possibility of in-home nuclear reactors to cut power bills and greenhouse gases.

Blazing new trails in blog topics, Tim Blair looks at broom brooms programmed to play various anthems (though strangely not John Farnham’s You’re the Voice) and karaoke-driven homicide.

The only cruise I (KP) ever took was on an old Russian rustbucket where every meal including breakfast was served with lashings of canned beetroot.  However this cruise sounds even worse.

Legal Eagle muses about her first pregnancy and Cate Blanchett’s current one …

The sharpeyed Stumbling Tumblr uncovers yet another surprising (perhaps even disturbing) fact:

The question that women casually shopping for perfume ask more than any other is this: What scent drives men wild? After years of intense research, we know the definitive answer. It is bacon.

Adrian the Cabbie posts a piece about a typical aggressive d***head passenger that reminds me (KP) why I was relieved to give up taxi-driving when I finished my legal qualifications and moved to Darwin.  It’s an occupation that has its attractions but they’re massively outweighed by the downside.

Dale looks at Facebook etc and reaches a damning conclusion:

Looking at these social networking sites, I don’t see any banality of friendship worth mentioning, just the banality of target marketing and teenage angst. And an ugly, blaring superfluity of banner ads signaling how successful they are.


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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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Andrew Bartlett
16 years ago

KP: I can’t see how I’ve said the serious situation in PNG is John Howard’s fault. I’ve had a swipe at Howard for being generally contemptuous and neglectful of the Pacific in general (incl PNG) but I don’t suggest its Howard’s fault things are as bad as they are. Obviously if there’d been more attention of a more considered nature, things might be better in PNG than they are, but even so Australia can only do so much – it will be up to the locals in the end, as it almost always is.

16 years ago

I took percentile SAN loss when I clicked on the Rigorous Intuition link and it turned out to be some faff about how Americans need to learn to put down the fork. The correct link is http://rigint.blogspot.com/2008/03/deep-ones-and-madness-of-crowds.html

Joshua Gans
16 years ago

KP, I most definitely have read the Productivity Commission report (see here: http://www.economics.com.au/?p=181) and I found it wanting. Maybe people should read beyond the exec summary.

16 years ago

Good image. Whodunnit?

16 years ago

I was so disappointed by Saturday’s depth of coverage and pathetic racing, I’m afraid I was otherwise occupied while watching yesterday’s two races. However, I was pleased to see DJR get up, and will be having something to say later today.

16 years ago

Hmmm, that cartoon is extemely similar to a New Yorker one which tigtog linked to in a LP thread a couple of weeks ago.

16 years ago

Like the the blogosphere-as-meaningless-angry-noise could be considered an original joke at any point after the turn of the millennium.

16 years ago

Ahh, but they are *real* journalists, not wannabes. And that makes all the difference. Or something.

16 years ago

I didn’t say it was plagarism or a breach of copywright. I think the way the NYer one is expressed is alot wittier. I don’t do scatalogical dog t-shirts though, I feel the same way about the Mambo dog trumpet one too. ;-)

16 years ago

Umm, I think that’s Amal who blogged Ramadan’s address at Austrolabe, not Amir.

Joshua Gans
16 years ago

Joshua, I thought the tongue-in-cheek was obvious, since plastic bags seem to have become a talking point on the libertarian right. Furthermore, in my case I was confident you would be familiar with the PC report.

Roger Migently
16 years ago

Infamous art thief and notorious plagiarist, “Sir Roger”, suddenly swept into the gallery, his dark cloak flying, unbuttoned his smoking jacket, firmly stamped his patent leather pumps squarely and apart, took a long suck on his Meerschaum pipe and stroked his evil, handlebar moustache. His black eyes stared low and darkly from beneath his bushy eyebrows at the throng of critics arrayed against him.

‘Tis but a pitcher,” he intoned. “It is what it is, no more. Of course it is derivative. We made no other claim. We are not in a competition for originality – this is not merely the internet. This is blogging. We meant it as a joke – and an offensive one at that – against our self (and any number of trolls), nothing more. Yes, we thought it was amusing, and the picture colourful. We included no requirement that the visitor buy the t-shirt should their eyes, whether accidentally, fall upon the image. But we did think that the more courageously risqué might wish to wear the t-shirt in the privacy of their own home or shopping centre and so we felt duty-bound to make it possible.

And with a grandiose sweep of his cape and a spring in his heel he was gone out the window, out of date, out of favour and out of ideas.

16 years ago

[…] – THIS JUST IN: Sir Roger Migently has been correctly accused by commenters on another website of using other people’s ideas to create the cartoon above, which the commenters compared […]