Missing Link Daily

A digest of the best of the blogosphere published each weekday and compiled by Ken Parish, gilmae, Gummo Trotsky, Amanda Rose, Tim Sterne, Jen McCulloch and Stephen Hill



Random photo from Flickr – page 1 of 72,701 hits for “teenager”.  Is this more or less “sexualised” than those of Bill Henson?  Does the nakedness of some of the latter make them porn?  How do you “sexualise” teenagers who spend much of their time obsessed with sexuality anyway?  Would a pedophile be more or less aroused by a Henson shot than by the innocently posed kiddie underwear models in Target catalogues?  Is the incidence of child sexual abuse rising or falling?  Would it be reduced by banning publication of all images of children under (say) 16?  Or only “sexualised” ones? Would teenagers be less likely to develop anorexia or depression if the media didn’t “sexualise” them?  Who decides what is unacceptable “sexualisation”?  The police?  Kevin Rudd?  Hetty Johnson?  Roslyn Oxley Gallery?  Me?  What will be the next issue to obsessively occupy the fleeting attention span of blogosphere and talkback radio?  How can I stop myself typing these bloody rhetorical questions?

Graham details the Queensland electorate redistribution.

tigtog is contemptuous of Glenn Milne’s attempt to smear Darren McCubbin, the ALP candidate in the Gippsland by-election. Brendan Nelson tragic in denial, The Editor, despises Brendan for repeating the smear in Parliament. Andrew Landeryou notes that Brendan has dropped Ted Baillieu right in it.

It’s Senate Estimates time again for Andrew Bartlett. He’s also been learning more about autism over breakfast.

tigtog applauds ABC’s passing of a journalistic standards test/survey, but churlishly suggests its TV current affairs programs have deteriorated through the imposition of balance requirements.

John Quiggin and Robert Merkel are both mightily unimpressed by Labor government noises about removing GST on petrol, and comforted only by their vagueness. Meanwhile Trevor Cook looks at the leaking of a letter from Mar’n Ferguson opposing the proposed Labor FuelWatch schemeMark Bahnisch, Peter Martin and Jeremy also take a gander at the issue.

Euthanasia supporter Niall Cook has severe doubts about its imposition by bureaucrats by backdoor means.

Andrew Norton lays out the welcome mat for a new left-wing think tank.

Ralph Buttigeg feels the pain of the (ADF) man (not) in the (Iraqi) street.


Roger Migently looks at a US military decision unlikely to endear occupying forces to the Afghan people.

Derek Barry reports on Rupert’s appointment of a new publisher for The Wall Street Journal.

wmmbb thinks Paul Krugman makes a better economist than political analyst.

Lauredhel lays into the Beijing Olympics guide for volunteers.

Dale looks at ignorance, elitism and the American voter, while Dave Nalle defends beleaguered Hillary Clinton’s remark about the Robert Kennedy assassination.

At openDemocracy, Antoni Kapcia looks at Cuba after Castro.


Peter Martin approves proposals by the Business Council of Australia to pay the best teachers top dollar. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Andrew Leigh advocates a randomised trial.((But all teachers reckon they’re great and hard-working whereas a significant proportion are ordinary at best and less than diligent. You’d need to create an entire structure of teacher quality assessment, something that has been dismantled over the last 30 years or so at the behest of teachers’ unions. ~ KP))

Joshua Gans is begging for someone to tell him the ACTU’s parental leave proposal is just some sort of prank, some sort of joshing about.

Harry Clarke endorses road-use pricing and congestion taxes to encourage selective use of cars, rather than discourage car ownership. Later, he talks about an alternative,park and ride.

John Quiggin’s guest post from Bruce Bradbury on regular inflation has Kim wondering if economists buy food.


Peter Timmins points out that cracking down on political donations is one thing, but the Labr government has so far been much less keen to focus on the transparency of sitting MPs’ various electorate allowances.

hey fatso!

look out

and up!

fluffy toys for baby daleks

Issues analysis

Shirley Temple from her own website Shirley Temple.com (she titles it “cheesecake”).  Can we expect an extradition warrant from Kevin? 

Richard Posner and Gary Becker look at the pros and cons of paying the poor to send their kids to school (the carrot version of the stick of the NT Intervention).

Tim Dunlop reckons neither Kevin Rudd nor John McCain can argue the case for banning gay marriage.

Peter Martin is not crying for the poor private health companies and their no-care, levy evading policies.

Colin Campbell scoffs at a publicity stunt by Telstra and demands a level playing field in telecommunications.


Pavlov’s Cat offers some thoughts on Helen Garner’s new novel The Spare Room, exploring the manner in which Garner depicts the nature of friendship and considering Garner’s movement between fiction and non-fiction.

Video may have killed the radio star, but Kim ponders whether blogs are killing the literary critic.

Decomposting Trees offers a link to some streaming live footage of the Wordless Series concerts (includes Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood’s side project and Sigur Ros).

Boyd van Hoeij’s Cannes diary continues with coverage of Paulo Sorrentino’s new film Divo, II

After presenting a glossary of terms needed to make some sense of the intricate web of Italian power politics, Sorrentino hurries away from the conventions of stuffy political biopics as quickly as he can, using humour (including a quote from Andreottis mother), Fight Club-like camerawork and editing, explanatory credits that are mirrored or upside down before finding the right direction, a dryly witty voice over by Andreotti (Toni Servillo) and a frenetically cut sequence of natural deaths and murders associated at various times with the politician and his interests. Completely off-kilter and set to blaring punk music by Cassius, the sequence is a brilliant coup de theatre of a director who displays a confidence in his abilities like few other contemporary Italian directors do.

Arrest Martin Scorsese immediately! How did we all fail to notice?  What’s more, he turned poor Jodie into a two-timing lesbian.  See what “sexualising” images can do to an impressionable child?

Ming-Zhu after the Henson controversy suggests it is “let’s bash artists year” referring the Brendan Nelson’s opportunistic attempt to attack the Labor candidate for Gippsland over a production of Beautiful Losers. (SH – which I am assuming is an adaptation of the Leonard Cohen novel.) Fortunately, in Australia despite the bleatings of certain wowsers it hasn’t quite reached the point of book burning.) Also, Ben Peek provides an insightful commentary on Friday’s gallery seizures.

Returning to Henson’s show, however, what it illustrates is the further trend in our society to render adolescent behaviour as perfect, vanilla innocence. Marbles in recess, comic books at lunch, writing in diaries about dreamy boys… oh, wait, that last one is connected to sexuality as well. But I suppose, really, part of the issue here is the ‘adult’ that is Henson showing them, and since he is apparently the more knowing, more intelligent, and can be argued to be taking advantage of them. Never mind, of course, that he’s dealing with models, never mind that they’re being paid, never mind indeed. But that fantasy of the older man and younger girl is no more worth tarring with the one single brush of inappropriate than anything else in the world, especially given that the older woman and younger boy relationship is not met with as much disapproval. One might even wonder, in fact, with Henson had been a middle aged female showing the similar images–perhaps with a slant on males–if such an issue would have been raised, even? Such a question is rather silly, of course, but then the reaction to the whole thing, and society’s increasingly conservative and blinkered attitude to sexuality is.

Shooting Down Pictures has a new film-essay on The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Columbia University blog honours Memorial Day, interviewing Michael Sledge author of Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, and Honour Our Military Fallen.

Scott Esposito’s Friday column returns to his reading of Thomas Mann’s Dr Faustus

Perhaps the thorniest subject Mann gets into in Faustus is to wonder whether art has moral content. Artists, and those who enjoy their work, seem to be generally sensitive to any attempts to mix art and morals; there’s a prevalent idea that to consider a work’s morality is somehow vulgar, dilettantish, beside the point, and I think a lot of people would simply disdain the question if it were raised. Perhaps a few braver souls would delve into the matter and come out simply looking foolish.


Shaun believes that NRL clubs might go broke if they keep playing at suburban clubs, but they’ll also go broke if they ignore their supporters, who seem to prefer the suburban clubs.

Moses at Beer and Sport previews the Waratahs versus Crusaders Super 14 final and resorts to faith in the face of statistics.

Meanwhile cricket bloggers (including Tony the Teacher) don’t seem to have had the intestinal fortitude to stay up and blog Australia’s win over the Windies (although Cricket-Blog belatedly posted a short review).

Snark, strangeness and charm

Jeremy says goodbye to a couple of blogs.((Including Marieke Hardy’s. There’s no accounting for taste I suppose, though I must say that of late I’ve actually found Marieke significantly less objectionable on First Tuesday Book Club than its oleaginous, vacuous, pretentious, inanely grinning host Jennifer Byrne. ~ KP))

Brigid Gread warns against swimming in shark-concocted waters.((In fairness to the various journalists decried in Brigid’s post, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that the waters weren’t infested with quantum shark wave functions. ~GT))

Andrew Bartlett now has a premier as a namesake.

Niall Cook sings a paean to Mars Phoenix, the latest probe to land on the Red Planet, and to the capabilities of humanity. And if that’s not enough, the coolest photo in the solar system was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of Mars Phoenix in mid-descent. More? Mars Phoenix has a twitter feed.

Nicholas Gruen writes about his namesake shopping mall founder, in a post that’s both charming and strange but certainly not snarky.

Guide dog owner DeusExMacintosh tells a story that should get all decent FaceBook users seriously considering a mass desertion/boycott. Actually (oops! I hope Prince Philip isn’t reading) the more serious point is to underline that the sole purpose of social networking sites is to harvest and sell your personal details to advertisers. If you don’t provide enough of them they don’t let you play.

TroppoSphere, in case Missing Link email subscribers haven’t noticed, is now available as a convenient gateway to a world of news and expert opinion and analysis for those with feed reader phobia. It contains feeds to most of the blogs and other sources whose best/selected content we most regularly feature in Missing Link, as well as general news feeds and those from selected online magazines like openDemocracy, Reason, Slate, Spiked, New Matilda, Australian Opinion Online and Online Opinion.

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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15 years ago

Beautiful Losers doesn’t seem to have any relation to the Leonard Cohen novel.

Just on the ‘Target catalogue’ thing. I read these things religiously – they are inserted into the local paper now, I suppose too many people have no junk mail stickers stuck on the letterbox – and they never show kids in their undies.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
15 years ago

That may be true of Target. It apparently isn’t for many other chains. See this article:

In his submission, Mr Geary said that professionals working with offenders had told of clients’ “interest in, and use of, sexualised images of children within advertising and marketing”.

He quoted Royal Children’s Hospital Gatehouse Centre co-ordinator Karen Hogan, who said staff working with children and young people who engaged in sexually abusive behaviour had noticed “a marked increase in perpetrators using underwear advertising magazines for stimulation that are delivered to homes”.

“Males tell us that they are particularly interested in the children’s section and that they can use these magazines without detection as it is so commonplace to have this material delivered to their homes,” Ms Hogan said.

Victoria Police Forensic Interviewing of Sexual Offenders manager Patrick Tidmarsh is also quoted as saying such images encourage pedophiles.

“What sexualised/eroticised child images in advertising obviously do is provide validation for those considering further exploitation of children and sex as part of a pernicious descending spiral,” he said.

15 years ago

Yes, I don’t know. There’s also what FX said here (or maybe at Junk for Code?) a couple of days ago.

I actually have been following the Senate inquiry hearings. I thought this was one of the weakest submission points – it’s very general and second-hand – other submissions had actual magazines or talked about specific ad campaigns.

I just mention it because I suspect that the ‘kids in underpants catalogues’ might meme is a conveniently limited and narrow way of identifying what it is that pedophiles get off on. From personal experience (as the unwitting object of such attention) as well as observation I think there are few limits to what can be drawn into playing a part in sick fantasies.

Anyway, I’d have found this submission more convincing if it had presented some examples of the pictures. My impression is that the department stores have gotten a lot more nervous about including pictures of kids who aren’t fully covered up. They don’t feel confident that they can produce pictures of kids which aren’t sexualised, so they skip it altogether. I think in many ways this represents a victory for the pedophile way of seeing, since it’s being allowed to set the default.

15 years ago

I think I’m going to politely disbelieve such practices – semi-common publication of kids-in-underwear in commercial catalogues – actually exist until some one lodges evidence. It isn’t as if claims with little foundation in reality have never before bubbled up out of the field of child protection. Satanic child abusers running child care centres, &c.

IANA expert in the human mind, but I can readily imagine how a person who wants to believe can remember catalogues depicting children in underwear when the catalogue really only had kids in pajamas proximate to women modeling bras and things.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
15 years ago

Certainly the particular catalogues I browsed after reading Laura’s comment consisted, as Gilmae suggests, of kiddies posed in full length pyjamas adjacent to older models in underwear.

15 years ago

The Pavlov’s Cat link takes you to the view from elsewhere post on The Spare Room. The fiction/non-fiction issue is one of the more interesting aspects surrounding Helen Garner’s latest work, and elsewhere nicely sifts through HG’s justifications for identifying the work as fiction. A good companion post to Pavlov Cat’s.

Pavlov's Cat
15 years ago

Elsewhere is highly recommended reading, for anyone who doesn’t know this already. She writes fabulous posts on Indigenous affairs, life in Alice Springs, bike-riding, literature and writing.

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
15 years ago

Yes, apologies to View from Elsewhere, I read the post through the RSS feeder and assumed it was part 2 of Pavlov’s piece on Garner, I obviously confused the View from Elsewhere with a Fugitive Phenomenon (one of PC’s many blogs).

This is the second time this has happened, I unfortunately misidentified Tim Train’s comic post at Sarsparilla, assuming it to was the work of Tim Sterne.

Graham Bell
Graham Bell
15 years ago

Re Ralph Buttigieg’s blog:

I am astonished! How the hell can anyone serving with the Australian Defence Force in Iraq feel “ashamed[wtf!!!]” at not getting shot at or blown up?

If you are in a war then every day someone is not trying to kill you or injure you is a good day.

War is war. It’s not an action comic, it’s not a shoot-’em-up computer game. It’s real; if you get killed you stay dead, permanently.

Trying to count victory by the number of casualties you suffer yourself is downright stupid; we saw enough of that lunacy in the Viet-Nam War; it is only a cover-up for bad training and bad leadership – both political and military. In marked contrast, the ancient Spartans considered it a great victory if a war was won without a drop of blood being shed. Maybe we should be paying more attention to the ancient Spartan strategoi than to the armchair admirals and their silly theories in Washington and Canberra.