Smoking

Do people still discourage their kids from smoking by saying "it’ll stunt your growth"? Because I don’t think it’ll work. For one thing, I know a guy who smokes and is about nine feet tall. (Hi Andrew). No, I think honesty is the best policy. "It’ll give you cancer, son", I’ll say. "It’ll give you gangrene, a horrible cough, bad breath, a drug addiction and a lighter wallet".

That’s one thing I haven’t seen on the warning labels. Yeah sure, you get "Smoking causes heart disease", "Smoking kills", all that. But put "Smoking gives you terrible breath" and you might actually dissuade people.

The Bosnian situation

How has the West let this happen? Surely only a complete moron with absolutely no brain whatsoever could not have foreseen it… How did the conversations in the governments of Europe go?

"So, what is your plan for Bosnia? How will you keep all these people who hate each other’s guts from killing each other?"

"Well, we’ll have these areas that we’ll call ‘Safe Areas’ that the refugees can all shelter in."

"And how will they be protected?"

"Well, when they’re inside the ‘Safe Area’, they’ll be safe."

"How will they be safe?"

"I should have thought it was perfectly obvious. It’s safe because it’s called a ‘Safe Area’".

"Ah, I see. What do you think of the opinion that some have expressed that having ‘Safe Areas’ protected only by their name is a good way of putting all the refugees in one place to make it more convenient for their enemies to persecute them?"

"Ah well, that would be the case, but these are ‘Safe Areas’."

"And what will you do if the Bosnian Serbs invade the ‘Safe Areas’?"

"Well they won’t, because they’re safe. But if they did, we’d tell them very sternly that if they did it again they’d be in big trouble."

"What kind of trouble? If they did it again, what would you do?"

"We’d move in U.N. troops."

"To protect the refugees?"

"No, to protect the other U.N. troops."

Isn’t it ironic about the French government, so stubborn over nuclear tests, being the only ones who actually want to do something in Bosnia. Where does that leave the rest of us? Confused. There’s nothing that unites people more than hating someone else, and we’re all looking for someone to hate now that the South Africans have gone democratic. And now Jacques Chirac is presenting this love me/hate me image. Very confusing.

Boxing LIVE! from the Taiwanese parliament

What’s the deal in the Taiwanese parliament? Twice last week they got into punch-ups during debates. Do they really believe that beating each other up will help win the debate? "Well Mr Speaker, although the motion of the Agriculture Minister can’t possibly be passed on economic or ecological grounds, since his left hook is so good, we’ve decided to let it go through."

The guys from MET TRAM

Just something I’ve noticed… Why have our tram conductors started wearing high visibility jackets? Even during the day? With "MET TRAM" emblazoned across the back. Who do they think they are, FBI Agents? Armed Response Police? "Stand aside please citizens, MET TRAM coming through! All right, nobody move! Freeze scumbags! Tickets please!"

Maybe it’s to satisfy that small section of the population that believe motorists can’t tell the difference between a tree and any other green object.

No kidding, someone wrote a letter into The Age about this. This was after some (now dead) idiot smashed into the side of a tram. Heck, if he thought it was a tree, he probably wouldn’t have wanted to drive into it anyway. And anyone who can’t tell the difference between a tree (big wooden thing with green leaves) and a tram (big green wooden and/or metal thing on wheels carrying lots of people) probably isn’t paying enough attention.

Memories of the 7-11

There was a time in my life when I used to use the 7-11 regularly. It’s now a distant memory of days when I was so much less organised. Those days when I nearly always forgot to get something from the supermarket while it was open. Of course, now the supermarkets are all open until at least midnight, so it’s almost impossible to do. Which means the 7-11 hardly gets a look in.

But the 7-11 is a special place. No matter where you go, they all look the same. Better lit than a late-night tram, the pie and hot-dog dispensers in the corner, and huge rows of fridges down the back, resembling cryogenic freeze chambers in sci-fi films.

And somehow in less shelf-space than your average shoebox, they manage to fit all the essentials of modern life. Batteries, tampons, condoms, party hats, candles, pet food… and of course more varieties of junk food than you’d find in all the vending machines at Flinders Street Station.

And let’s not forget the Slurpee machines. It’s nice to know that some scientists, somewhere, taking time off from curing diseases and solving world hunger, managed to develop a machine for self-service icy cold flavoured-gunk drinks.

7-11 prices aren’t ideal of course. For a start there’s the "We’re always open" surcharge. Then there’s the "you know we’ll have it even if no-one else does" surcharge. Maybe they ought to give us a discount for having to step carefully over all the scruffy kids with bicycles who always seem to be hanging around outside.