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Weekend reflections

March 16th, 2007

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. March 16th, 2007 at 15:59 | #1

    I see the “So Easy Anyone Can Find A New Home” billboard featuring a President George W. Bush lookalike has reappeared – this time on Bowen Bridge Road (just outside the Old Museum) – http://www.springhillvoice.com/media.html

  2. March 17th, 2007 at 19:57 | #2

    For those interested in the freedom of the individual the Access Card Legislation is an interesting case study because of the ideas implicit in the legislation.

    The Access Card Laws, as they are currently framed, ask us to prove who we are to the government by producing sets of documents provided to us by the government. The government holds the information and yet we are being asked to present it to them physically so we can prove who we are???

    A simpler approach is to reverse the legislation and to pass laws requiring the government to tell us electronically, in a secure way, what information they already hold on us. Now we prove who we are by telling the government electronically that they already know us and they can find out by looking at their and do not need us to tell them again. If it is useful to us we can request the government produce physical cards that have a photo on them for us to use for physical identification. This approach easy to implement and we could have a system in place by the end of 2007 at the cost to the government of a few million not the billions that current approach will require.

    Why would a government go to all this expense when putting the individual in control saves so much effort and expense? Basically it so that the government can have a centralised database linking all relationships we have with the government and has little to do with improving Access to services. That can be done cheaply, more conveniently, and usable by others by building on what already exists. It is to be hoped the Senators who have asked for the legislation be reviewed hold out and insist on a sensible inexpensive approach.

  3. observa
    March 18th, 2007 at 15:08 | #3

    Have you opened up some new appliance or gizmo recently containing any plasic bags or wrapping for parts or instructions and come across dire warnings that the plastic bags can cause suffocation? All of a sudden manufacturers everywhere are waking up to the clear dangers of plastic bags everywhere. Except the suppliers of the roll of GladWrap in my kitchen who are apparently grossly negligent in only warning- ‘CAUTION: SHARP CUTTING EDGE – AVOID CONTACT’ Neither do the manufacturers of those ubiquitous plastic shopping bags. No it’s only if they contain appliances or instructions for same, that they’re apparently so spifflicatingly dangerous. But are these plastic films and bags the wanton killers they’re made out to be? I have to say in all my 55 years on this planet I’ve never heard of anyone being killed by a placcy bag or film have you? I’ve heard of some unusual ways of dying, like the 15 yr old walking her dog and tripping over the lead and hitting her head on the kerb. The mum, only recently pushing her baby alongside the Torrens, answering her mobile phone and when she turned around pram and baby were gone, presumably kidnapped but actually rolled away and drowned in the river. Kids suffocating in hot cars in boots and behind cargo barriers, but never from the dreaded plastic everywhere. What is it with this old wive’s tale about the much maligned plastic? Do I live a sheltered life or something? I certainly warn my grownup kids to ‘beware the dreaded plastic’ but it has nothing to do with plastic bags and such. Is this all just another urban myth?

  4. SJ
    March 18th, 2007 at 17:28 | #4

    observa Says:

    I’ve never heard of anyone being killed by a placcy bag or film have you?… What is it with this old wive’s tale about the much maligned plastic? Do I live a sheltered life or something?

    You’re weird, dude.

    Children Still Suffocating With Plastic Bags:

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received an average of about 25 reports a year describing deaths to children who suffocated due to plastic bags. Almost 90 percent of them were under one year of age. Recent reports often describe bags originally used for dry cleaning and storage. Some may have been used to protect bedding and furniture, and others just were not carefully discarded.

    Most dry cleaning bags and some other plastic bags bear a voluntary label such as:

    “Warning: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this plastic bag away from babies and children. Do not use this bag in cribs, beds, carriages or playpens. The plastic bag could block nose and mouth and prevent breathing. This bag is not a toy.”

    The CPSC has reports of children suffocating with plastic bags in cases like these:

    *
    Child pulled plastic dry-cleaning bag over face while lying on adult bed.
    *
    Plastic garbage bag (filled with clothes) fell over victim’s face and mouth while victim was on adult bed.
    *
    Child crawled into plastic garbage bag.
    *
    Child rolled off mattress onto plastic bag filled with clothes.
    *
    Child slept on mattress covered by plastic bag.

    Never put children to sleep on or near plastic bags.

  5. melanie
    March 18th, 2007 at 21:19 | #5

    Didn’d Michael Hutchence have a plastic bag over his head?

  6. SJ
    March 18th, 2007 at 21:57 | #6
  7. observa
    March 18th, 2007 at 22:39 | #7

    I know it’s physically possible to suffocate with plastic film/bags sj, and so would every parent, but just saying, of all the ways for childrem (presumably) to die, I have not personally heard of such a case. Cars and pushbikes kill plenty and I know of some, but they don’t come with warnings plastered all over them. Should dog leads come with ‘Warning! Attaching yourself to a dog by this lead may cause injury or death’, because it does happen? (you know, at least 25 times per year in the US?)At what threshold death rate should ‘we’(via manufacturers) be attaching warnings to everything and anything? Presumably in Oz with a popn. of 20 mill compared to US with 300 mill, we have a shocking, pro rata, death by plastic bag rate of 1.66 deaths per year. Now how many get killed walking the dog or walking about the streets listening to their ipods?(the latter being quite topical recently) When does common sense give way to nanny statism and treating us all like flaming drongos? As a wise man once said- “Shit happens!”

  8. observa
    March 18th, 2007 at 22:57 | #8

    Hey, but don’t get up me, get up the makers of plastic shopping bags and Gladwrap for chrissakes. Drag their CEOs kicking and screaming into the daylight like JH execs. Streuth I just thought of something. What if more kids die in Oz, choking on the food mum brings home in the plastic shopping bags than the plastic bags themselves?

  9. observa
    March 19th, 2007 at 00:35 | #9

    Well they have got some 5 year stats on injury deaths for kids up to 15 here
    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/1301.0Feature%20Article152006?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=1301.0&issue=2006&num=&view=
    On average about 40% of such deaths, or 117 p.a. are due to transport, with 2nd place being around 20% of deaths, or 57 p.a. by drowning, with around 33 p.a., or 11% due to ‘other accidental threats to breathing’. However 27 of these are under 5 and last time I looked at the Kindy system, couldn’t read anyway. Bear in mind too that these 33 deaths per annum includes accidental suffocation, strangulation, and hanging as well as selected other separate causes. So they could choke on a peanut, or be hyperallergenic to a bee sting, or swallow a European Wasp and asphyxiate. The 1.66 p.a. deaths by plastic, extrapolated from the US sounds about right here. Right up there with walking the dog, or taking the baby for a stroll in the pram.

  10. SJ
    March 19th, 2007 at 19:58 | #10

    I know it’s physically possible to suffocate with plastic film/bags sj, and so would every parent…

    Here’s the thing, though. Before they started printing the warning labels, parents didn’t know. Warnings in newspapers started in 1959, almost immediately after the introduction of plastic dry cleaning bags. There were 55 deaths in the U.S. in the preceeding year. Death rates initially fell, but then started rising again (warning, 3.3 MB .PDF file – see figure 6), perhaps because plastic bags became more widespread. Death rates started falling again around 1967, when the compulsory labels were introduced.

    If you stop printing the warnings, you increase the chances that new parents won’t know.

    You seem very cavalier about the prospect of the death of other people’s kids.

    Hey, but don’t get up me, get up the makers of plastic shopping bags and Gladwrap for chrissakes.

    Um, why should I get up them? You’re the one with the, um, issues about warning labels. Like I said earlier, dude, you’re…

  11. SJ
    March 19th, 2007 at 20:03 | #11

    (There’s two separate links above, but the underlining got messed up).

  12. observa
    March 19th, 2007 at 23:40 | #12

    ‘But most of all, the plastic makers are counting on public education. Says Harry Benberg, president of New York’s Spotless Stores (200 stores): “Plastic bags are something new, and people have got to learn about them the way they learned about matches, razor blades and guns.”‘

    Makes sense in 1959 and no doubt explains why the plastic bag has entered urban myth proportions as killers of children. It also explains why gizmos from China have warnings on the placcy bags, if the US has compulsory labelling laws and that’s the main market. EU too perhaps? At a probable estimated 1.66 deaths pa in Oz by plastic, it also explains why our supermarket and greengrocery bags, Gladwrap, etc are not. The bum wrap plastic has got as a kid killer has stuck with Oz parents it seems sj. Clearly there are more fruitful things to label in Oz, in order to save kids’ lives. Politicians and manufacturers largely concur here it seems.

    By the way sj, there is hardly any upper bound to the amount we can communally spend in order to save a statistical life, but it’s best spent where you get the most statistical life saved for that buck. We’d probably label bathtubs well before plastic bags in that case.

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