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Monday Message Board

January 27th, 2014

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic, but Australia Day is an obvious discussion starter. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please

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  1. paul walter
    January 27th, 2014 at 09:36 | #1

    Here we go.. what has become the sleaziest day of the year and a monument to Howardism.

    They have killed there first Noah’s Ark in WA and in Orange NSW someone has already been king-hit at a party and is unconscious in hospital.

  2. Ikonoclast
    January 27th, 2014 at 10:34 | #2

    I pay no attention to Australia Day. It is meaningless jingoism inflated by corporate media and their lackey politicians.

  3. Megan
    January 27th, 2014 at 10:39 | #3

    I was dreading the nauseating jingoism and had almost decided to go into hiding for the day, but glad in the end that I ventured out.

    On the way into Brisbane I could count the number of car-flags on one hand. At the anti-VLAD rally I was in a crowd of maybe 3,000 diverse and seemingly intelligent people make their disapproval very loudly heard. Their determination and non-partisanship was uplifting to be around. The roar of a few hundred bikes was quite a spectacle, too.

    I would have liked to see “Utopia” at Musgrave Park but didn’t make it.

  4. Donald Oats
    January 27th, 2014 at 11:05 | #4

    A few weeks ago I thought about the idea of a fine for being intoxicated (and a nuisance, e.g. looking for a fight, breaking things, etc.), which would free police from having to make an arrest/no arrest decision. Turns out we actually have such an idiot tax in SA, and from October 2013 to Dec 31st 2013 it brought in $284K from 560 issued fines for drunken and disorderly behaviour.

    Unfortunately, that makes the number of idiots in SA more transparent. Come visit SA, the home of the idiots… 🙂

  5. iain
    January 27th, 2014 at 11:25 | #5

    Morning. Beach, barbie, bogans. Late afternoon. Intoxicated punch ups and racial targeting.

    What is the solution to the rampant nationalism and not so subtle racism that pervades Jan 26?

    Changing Jan 26 to a “remembrance, lest we forget” type of day? Doesn’t work – see for example April 25 – we still send troops on meaningless and abhorrent invasions.

    Have a national holiday, on another day? 27 May? May be better.

  6. Collin Street
    January 27th, 2014 at 11:41 | #6

    What is the solution to the rampant nationalism and not so subtle racism that pervades Jan 26?

    Abolish it and rededicate the spare holiday to some islamic festivity, so that bogans have something to thank the muslims for.

    Do the same thing for queen’s birthday and give it to the hindus.

  7. Terje
    January 27th, 2014 at 12:10 | #7

    I’d go the other way and take religion out of some of our public holidays. Christmas would be “Summer Festival Day” and Easter would be “Find the Egg Day”. :-p

  8. Megan
    January 27th, 2014 at 12:36 | #8

    According to the BBC, HSBC in the UK has placed restrictions on withdrawals.

    I would have thought that a potential bank run might be news but our hard-working journos don’t seem to believe so.

  9. David C
    January 27th, 2014 at 13:16 | #9


    The reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimise the opportunity for financial crime.


    Maybe these measure are to reduce the risk of money laundering and funding terrorism. In any case I think that using electronic funds transfer and bank cheques are much safer than carrying around large wads of cash, even if you lose a bit of privacy (i.e. the bank knowing where your money is being spent).

  10. alfred venison
    January 27th, 2014 at 13:21 | #10

    ideally it should commemorate the first day of “national” self government, not the foundation day of the oldest colony. for a start, it shouldn’t be on nsw day and given jan 1 is already taken for a holiday a move there seems unlikely to happen. perhaps it should be rotated, on each state’s foundation day, on a six years cycle. you could make that a seven year cycle if you wanted to throw in the nt & the act. -av.

  11. Ikonoclast
    January 27th, 2014 at 13:30 | #11


    My wife and I noted the almost complete absence of car flags too. Fortunately, Australians don’t like being told what to do by self-appointed tin gods. As soon as the tin gods started ordering us to celebrate Australia day and celebrate it in the way they decreed, people just started turning off.

    I like the way we disrespect authority by ignoring it and peacefully doing our own thing. It’s a form of peaceful non-cooperation, the best way to be.

  12. David Allen
    January 27th, 2014 at 14:05 | #12

    Terje :
    “Find the Egg Day”

    Wait, isn’t that what it’s called already?

  13. January 27th, 2014 at 15:35 | #13

    Maybe we could move it to 5th November. Nothing to do with Australia, but I used to like the fireworks.

    Or maybe to Empire Day? Does anyone remember when that was?

  14. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2014 at 15:53 | #14

    I don’t see a need for a national day at all. Let’s have a day when all of us forget our nominal nationality and press to the front of our minds the bonds tying each of us to every other human on the face of the planet. Perhaps it could be called “Common Humanity Day” and each of us could reflect on what we have done to contribute to the ethos of “playing nicely with others”.

  15. Cambo
    January 27th, 2014 at 16:04 | #15

    My grandfather (a WW2 RAN veteran) taught me that “patriotism is un-Australia” and he told many tales of using the “reflex patriotism” of Americans to easily start bar fights.

    This also goes to the suggestion that king hitters could do with a period of national service – likely to have the opposite outcome I’d suggest.

  16. peter
    January 27th, 2014 at 17:34 | #16

    Three indigenous teenage boys undergo a botched initiation ceremony in the NT and are flown 700 kms to Darwin for medical ‘repairs’. Those responsible are not charged. I thought genital mutilation was unlawful in Australia. Have I missed something?

  17. kevin1
    January 27th, 2014 at 17:41 | #17

    @Donald Oats
    ny idea of the policy background to this as history can be enlightening – a? Is my memory correct that it was introduced in the early 80s as a non-custodial deterrent to aboriginal people drinking in public places such as Victoria Square? I have a feeling it also reflected govt sotto voce concern about its “SA great” slogan, since Vic Sq was outside the new Hilton, which was prime international tourist accomm.) Pity that a town (sorry, city now that you have airbridges at Adel airport) which produced, Mawson, Oliphant, Florey, Traeger has a reputation for football supporters who are “morons”.

  18. kevin1
    January 27th, 2014 at 18:04 | #18

    @Collin Street
    I see Antony Loewenstein in The Guardian on 20 Jan (“It’s time for UN sanctions on Australia. Our government deserves nothing less”) is advocating a sanctions campaign to highlight the govt’s contemptuous response to inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. The open brutality this govt now exhibits may create a useful space for political action to coalesce opposition, and resume debate about the inconsistency in the Australian populace between its long standing and intractable intolerance towards “irregular entry” refugees, while it strongly supports an expanded humanitarian intake.

  19. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2014 at 18:24 | #19


    I’m a fully paid up member of the cricket tragics demographic, but I’d support other jurisdictions putting sanctions on the Cricket World Cup to be held here, in pursuit of a humane and transparent asylum seeker policy.

    Don’t imagine that it will happen of course.

  20. January 27th, 2014 at 18:33 | #20

    In Perth, 1984 was the best Australia day ever. Maybe it wasn’t even Australia day, because back then common sense prevailed, and the public holiday and fireworks were held on a Monday, regardless of when Australia day actually was.

    In 1983 we’d had our first ever fireworks on the Swan River, and about 30,000 turned up to watch. I was one who heard about it at the last minute, and missed out. So in 1984, I made sure to get there early. As did 250,000 other people. There was total chaos! No parking restrictions, no police, no alcohol restrictions, no portaloos. Just lots of people, lots of alcohol, lots of music and fireworks. It was fantastic.

    It was before mobile phones, so we nominated a particular tree beforehand, and somebody would go there every half hour to meet any new arrivals and bring them back to the group.

    People parked everywhere. People stopped on the Narrows bridge to watch. It took hours to get out of South Perth. Because people parked everywhere, there were car stereos everywhere, so there was music everywhere. Fantastic.

    The toilets were overwhelmed, with woman taking over the men’s loos, men being slightly more flexible in that regard.

    The next day, there were mountains of rubbish around the river. A reminder of the very good time had by all.

    We planned things better in future years, riding bikes to avoid traffic. But the magic gradually faded and now it is a ridiculously overplanned event.

    In the intervening years much was made of violence at the fireworks, but the fact that most of the violence happened several hours after the fireworks had finished and all the families had gone home was not highlighted. In some ways, I blame the violence on having the public holiday on the 26th. If that is mid week, then people can’t plan for a long weekend, so the yobbos have no option but to just get pissed for the day and cause trouble. If it was more sensibly held on the Monday of a long weekend, everyone would have had a couple of days to mellow out, and there would be less trouble.

    For me, this shows how what I regard as “Australian values” have been lost. To have the opportunity for a long weekend, but to pass it up instead, surely that is unAustralian. Or just plain stupid. And that is what we’ve become since we stopped just being ourselves and enjoying it, and started being patriotic jingoistic Aussies.

  21. paul walter
    January 27th, 2014 at 19:54 | #21
  22. paul walter
    January 27th, 2014 at 19:55 | #22

    They wanted foreskins and there was only three of them.@peter

  23. Ron E Joggles
    January 27th, 2014 at 20:06 | #23

    @Fran Barlow Sadly, Fran, there is no “humanity” – there are 7 billion humans competing ever more savagely for the rapidly shrinking resources of our poor unappreciated planet.

  24. sunshine
    January 27th, 2014 at 20:34 | #24

    Circumcision is not considered genital mutilation in Australia.

    We should at least move Australia Day so its not on Invasion Day .The trends of increasing Australian exceptionalism and the militirasition of our history concern me. Governments have set the wrong example .

    Labor have an opportunity. To achieve long term budget sustainability cuts must be made . Liberals want those least able cope to pay ,Labor (presumably ) wants each to pay according to their means . Labor wants to cut according to ability to cope – Liberals simply want to cut according to social class. Isnt that class warfare ? The Liberal way is un-Australian . They are hoping to be able to cut to the lower classes without being forced to say clearly what they are doing or why they are doing it . Labor should not let them get away with that – they should draw the Libs out into the open on this , distinguishing themselves from the Libs in the process. Get ready for a barrage of dole bludger stories in the mass media.

  25. January 27th, 2014 at 21:05 | #25

    @Ron E Joggles
    You know what – there’s plenty to go round if we used it wisely and shared it fairly.

    There’s a billion or so obese and a billion or so undernourished – that’s a fact (moreorless) but it’s also a powerful metaphor for what’s wrong.

  26. zoot
    January 27th, 2014 at 21:08 | #26

    DI(nr) @13: From 1905 to the 1950’s Empire Day was celebrated on May 24 (Queen Victoria’s birthday) it says here. Apparently it was also known as cracker night, but I don’t remember fireworks as part of the celebrations during the mid fifties (in WA).

  27. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2014 at 21:24 | #27

    @Ron E Joggles

    To be fair the savagery isn’t evenly distributed. Apparently the richest 87 people in the world account for 0.7% of the world’s wealth. So do the poorest 3.5bn.

    If Pareto distribution holds (and why wouldn’t it?) then the top 18 or so have as much as the poorest 2.7bn and the richest of them all is worth 1.6bn people or so.

    You know it makes sense.

  28. Ron E Joggles
    January 27th, 2014 at 21:27 | #28

    @Val My point is that the notion of “humanity” as a united and cooperative entity is an artificial construct with no basis in reality. At every level we identify with smaller groupings which are primarily defined by their difference from and competition with other groupings.

  29. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2014 at 21:46 | #29

    @Ron E Joggles

    Precisely why there’s a place for Common Humanity Day. How else could so few privileged and comparatively educated humans so recklessly disregard the well-being of their peers?

  30. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2014 at 21:48 | #30

    One may argue that the celebration of the narrow-minded parochialism to which you allude is precisely what is wrong with national days.

  31. Ron E Joggles
    January 28th, 2014 at 05:40 | #31

    Fran Barlow :
    @Ron E Joggles
    How else could so few privileged and comparatively educated humans so recklessly disregard the well-being of their peers?

    Precisely because the rest of humankind are not seen as peers! Our peers are other Collingwood supporters, or other farmers, other Australians, other white people, and yes, “the celebration of narrow-minded parochialism .. is precisely what is wrong with national days”, but that ain’t going to change, because it is not just choice or culture, it is evolved, it is inherent in our behavior, and it is why we are so successful, if overpopulating every environment to the point of collapse can be considered success.

  32. TerjeP
    January 28th, 2014 at 11:05 | #32

    I would like to hear JQ publicly defend e-cigarettes against burdensome and harmful regulation.

    The following is a primer:-


  33. Ikonoclast
    January 28th, 2014 at 11:53 | #33


    E-cigarettes need some oversight and regulation like any new product. It is a matter of ensuring public health and safety without being “burdensome and harmful”. Corporations, entreprenuers and people who usually care only about making money cannot be trusted to care about general public safety and health. This has been proven countless times in the capitalist era.

  34. January 28th, 2014 at 13:54 | #34

    Cracker Night moved from 5th Nov to Empire Day (although it was probably Commonwealth Day or something by then) in the early 60s from memory, because everyone got sick of the bushfires which were an inevitable consequence of freely-available fireworks in November.

  35. TerjeP
    January 28th, 2014 at 13:56 | #35

    Ikonoclast – the rules in Australia require you to buy e-juice with Nicotine online from New Zealand. You can’t buy it via local retail. That seems needlessly burdensome given regular cigarettes, which we know are harmful, can be bought retail with nicotine.

  36. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2014 at 15:54 | #36


    The word ‘regulation’ seems to have chewing gum qualities in the sense that it can mean anything from legislated micro-management of how people are to do up their proverbial shoe laces to essential quality control.

    IMO, e-cigarettes with nicotine juice do require grading of nicotine concentration and quality control and the allowable nicotine concentratons should be based on the best available medical knowledge and related disciplines.

    While there is no side-smoke (true negative externality) problem and therefore more responsibility can be placed on the users (consumers in Econ speak), the users cannot be assumed to take full responsibility because they have no experience (direct or indirect) with how they react to nicotine that can be supplied more or less continuously and they have no control over manufactured nicotine juice.

    My casual observations suggest even long term heavy cigarette smokers are not really interested in getting more adicted to nicotine or killing themselves with one overdose. On the other hand, my sample also includes cases where a ‘heavy dose’ (cigar) at the age of 10 or 12 turned out to be a life-long turn-off for some people whom I met when they were in their 40s or 60s. I’d like to sum up by quoting an actuary friend of ours. It is a case of “life and other contingencies”.

    From an economists’ perspectie, I’d be particularly interested in the taxes levied on e-cigarettes with nicotine juice, relative to cigarettes.

  37. Terje
    January 28th, 2014 at 17:16 | #37

    EG – a fair point.

    Another aspect to consider is that a disposable e-cigarette with a pre-defined quantity of nicotine (currently prohibited) may well be safer than the do it yourself variety based on internet imports (currently permitted).

    However also consider that caffeine pills can be freely bought in lethal quantities. Eat just half the pills in the following bottle in a single sitting and you will likely be dead. I don’t see why nicotine should be regulated much differently to caffeine.


  38. John Quiggin
    January 28th, 2014 at 20:15 | #38

    On e-cigs, it would be useful if someone could link to a statement of the case for prohibition. On the face of it, it seems hard to justify differential treatment relative to nicotine patches etc, but perhaps there is an argument we haven’t heard.

    Terje, I really don’t think comparisons to caffeine are helpful.

  39. TerjeP
    January 28th, 2014 at 21:15 | #39


  40. January 28th, 2014 at 21:54 | #40

    I would expect that tobacco companies would not like e-cigarettes. But I suggest that even if e-cigarettes aren’t made totally legal, they be introduced for “registered nicotine addicts”. One of my sisters lives in a residential complex for people with various degrees of mental illness. Just about everyone there smokes. The manager keeps some of their pensions and buys bulk cigarettes which he distributes at the rate of 15 per day.

    I’m not sure if the residents would be prepared to swap from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, as I’m not a smoker. But not inhaling the tar must surely be a lot healthier.

    The one thing that might influence smokers to change would be price. If the excise was small, then the motivation of actually having some spending money might be enough to convince people to take the healthier option.

    Most people with mental illness are hopelessly addicted to nicotine. Maybe some mental hospitals could be used as a trial of e-cigarettes.

  41. TerjeP
    January 28th, 2014 at 22:11 | #41

    @John Brookes

    Some Tobacco companies are now getting into the e-cigarette business. But initially it was treated as a threat and pioneered by others.

    I don’t think e-cigarettes should be more restricted than cigarettes. As such I’d oppose the need for a doctors prescription. Just retail them like cigarettes without the taxes or graphic labels.

    I have vaped an e-cigarette in a night club. It has none of the after smell or irritation of smoking. And it’s legal to vape in such a venue. The only hang up in Australia is that nicotine based e-juice must be purchase over the internet from a foreign source (eg New Zealand). It can’t be retailed in Australia.

  42. TerjeP
    January 28th, 2014 at 22:12 | #42

    p.s. although as with cannabis plenty of suppliers flout the law.

  43. Megan
    January 29th, 2014 at 00:33 | #43


    Is nicotine good for you?

    Just retail them like cigarettes without the taxes or graphic labels.

    Surely if it isn’t, then there should be consistency across labelling?

    i.e.: “This is the same poison we’ve been warning you about in cigarettes for all these years. You may die.”

  44. January 29th, 2014 at 00:37 | #44

    I just think it is barbaric to allow smokers to kill themselves without putting a reasonable effort into safer alternatives for addicts.

  45. JKUU
    January 29th, 2014 at 01:47 | #45

    Every year around this time, I ponder the appropriateness and meaning of “Australia Day.” January 26 marks the founding in 1788 of the colony of New South Wales (not Australia) by landing a squadron of largely involuntary boat people — much to the dismay of the local residents. Considering the history of settlement, it is clear that the other states and territories need not feel unduly patriotic about the foundation of the NSW colony*. Declaring January 26th as a national founding day for Australia is rationally equivalent to celebrating May 14th as the official foundation day of the United States because on that date in 1607 the Virginia Company founded the first permanent English settlement in North America (again, to the consternation of the locals).

    It is often said that the United States gained nationhood through revolution against imperialism, whereas Australia gained its nationhood by evolution. Some even say Australia is still evolving, but slowly, and that complete independence will arrive when it, too, severs its connection to the British crown. America’s national day, Independence Day — July 4th, is couched in a period of violence and bloodshed from which emerged a new nation. What is remarkable about Australia’s history, on the other hand, is that it is markedly unremarkable. As David Stevens over at OLO said there should be more to a commemorative national day “than convicts disembarking, heroism in bad causes [or] a horse-race.” Australians should feel ambivalent about celebrating January 26th as their national day. But what else is there? Ennui now consumes the writer.

    *- I hesitated to post this because the discussion has moved on. In any case, a.v. ( at #10) already made the point I was trying to make in the first paragraph. I apologize – writing from Time Zone -5 always makes me late to the party.

  46. JKUU
    January 29th, 2014 at 05:29 | #46

    On a different note, I read the tragic news today (Fairfax) that Queen Elizabeth is ‘down to her last million.’ Apparently, the Queen’s reserve fund has fallen from £35 million to just £1 million over the last 12 years. British MPs have been told they are now at a “historic low.” I hope the poor dear doesn’t have to pawn the crown jewels to keep the wolf from the palace door. Some of us should be so lucky as to be down to out last million.

  47. TerjeP
    January 29th, 2014 at 06:39 | #47


    No Megan you are spreading misinformation. There is no indication that nicotine is carcinogenic.


    Like caffeine or paracetamol it can be lethal in high dosage but quite safe at low dosage. What is clear is that tobacco smoke, which contains thousands of chemicals including tar and carbon monoxide, is carcinogenic. E-cigarette vaper by contrast is on par with a cup of coffee.

    Nicotine patches don’t have a warning saying they will kill you because they won’t. There is no reason to label e-cigarettes saying they will kill you. They won’t kill you. In fact if you are using them as an alternative to tobacco smoke they are saving you. We should be celebrating this technology and promoting it.

    Nicotine is addictive but so is caffeine and we don’t have warnings on cups of coffee.

    For some reason John Quiggin doesn’t like the comparison with his favourite drug caffeine. He hasn’t said why.

  48. January 29th, 2014 at 10:29 | #48

    It looks like Abbot is testing the waters to see if he can get away with cutting funding for the ABC. I guess this is part of his pay back to Murdoch so News Ltd can have an even stronger hold over the news media in this country.

  49. Hermit
    January 29th, 2014 at 10:59 | #49

    I note that after CSIRO said soil carbon was dodgy their budget was cut. Soil carbon being a linchpin of Direct Action. My sense is that Middle Australia likes boat non-arrivals but will not like austerity.

  50. peter
    January 29th, 2014 at 11:11 | #50

    JKUU @ 46. Maybe Liz could ‘touch’ our new guv, General Cosgrove who is to be paid some
    $400 000 perannum to do the gig, all of it tax free I understand. A bit of payday lending to his boss might be in order. Incidently I thought he was retired from the military which should mean he drops the ‘general’ tag or have we got the American disease of high flyers, eg presidents and ambassadors retaining the moniker. Then again we wouldn’t have the delightful monty pythonesque, (apologies to G & S) of addressing ‘governor general general’.

  51. Megan
    January 29th, 2014 at 14:45 | #51

    Throughout the neo-liberal controlled western world there are two constant themes, or non-negotiable core tenets.

    They are:

    1. The terrrrsts are everywhere and require the police/surveillance state we now have with no privacy and rapidly vanishing rights and freedoms;

    2. The only way to run the world is by privatising all aspects of government and placing almost all power and control in the hands of private for-profit corporations to run what used to be government functions.

    In this light, I find it darkly amusing that the US justice department is suing the company that was supposed to do the security checks on Edward Snowden (the NSA contractor and whistleblower who worked for a private corporation but had authorised access to all the nasty secrets we are learning about).

    They outsourced the spying and they outsourced the security checking! What could go wrong?!

    In a 25-page complaint, the Justice Department said that U.S. Investigations Services, the largest of several firms that have government contracts to investigate current and prospective federal employees, lied about 665,000 checks it conducted between March 2008 and September 2012.

    USIS devised an elaborate scheme in which the Falls Church, Va.-based company told the government it had completed probes of people whose backgrounds, in fact, had not been thoroughly vetted, according to the complaint, which was filed Wednesday in a federal district court in Alabama as part of an ongoing civil lawsuit against the firm.

    That company got $2,000,000,000 from US taxpayers during the period in question.

  52. TerjeP
    January 29th, 2014 at 15:56 | #52

    Megan – my response to you regarding nicotine warning labels was stuck in moderation but is now visible on the previous page of comments.

  53. Tim Macknay
    January 29th, 2014 at 17:28 | #53

    I agree that it wouldn’t make sense to put the exactly same health warnings on e-cigarettes as on cigarette packets, since e-cigarettes don’t have the same health risks.

    It seems to me that the biggest potential issue with e-cigarettes (and possibly the case for regulating them) is that by enabling nicotine addicts to perpetuate their addiction they maintain the market for regular cigarettes, with the relevant health consequences. It’s interesting that you mention vaping an e-cigarette in a nightclub. A friend of mine, who is also one of my few remaining acquaintances who still smokes, uses e-cigarettes for precisely this reason (i.e. to ‘smoke’ in indoor public places), but smokes regular cigarettes when he is outside or at home. So e-cigarettes enable him to avoid the social restrictions currently imposed on smoking, but without avoiding the health effects.

    But e-cigarettes also raise an alternative question – if they were made readily available, then what would be the basis for allowing lethal, conventional cigarettes to continue to be sold? If a safer alternative is readily available, surely such a dangerous product should be banned. 😉

    Similarly, the comparison with caffeine and paracetamol is potentially as much an argument for the sale of those products to be more tightly restricted as it is an argument for the sale of alternative nicotine delivery systems to be deregulated.

  54. January 29th, 2014 at 17:32 | #54


    How easy is it to overdose on the nicotine vapour fluid, either through inhalation or ingestion? Is it something that an addict desperate for a fix could foolishly use in a way that could harm themselves. You can only smoke cigarettes so fast and even a die-hard caffeine addict would have a hard time downing 100 odd pills. Is the e-cigarette fluid just as inherently difficult to over-consume?

  55. Megan
    January 29th, 2014 at 19:14 | #55


    Yes, I missed that.

    I wasn’t “spreading misinformation” and I didn’t mention “carcinogenic”, in your comment you say nicotene can be lethal. There is nothing inconsistent in what I wrote, but I note that you didn’t respond to the actual question: “Is nicotene good for you?”

  56. Megan
    January 29th, 2014 at 19:16 | #56

    “Nicotine”, obviously. Stupid brain.

  57. Ikonoclast
    January 29th, 2014 at 19:25 | #57


    Yes, the US has gone so comprehensively stupid, it’s collapse is assured. Pity they will drag the rest of us with them.

  58. Ikonoclast
    January 29th, 2014 at 19:27 | #58

    Oops, I used “it’s” for possessive case. Silly mistake.

  59. Fran Barlow
    January 30th, 2014 at 05:58 | #59

    Another perspective on e-cigs and vaping …


  60. Ikonoclast
    January 30th, 2014 at 07:40 | #60

    @Fran Barlow

    Yes, I’ll apply my basic heuristic.

    “If corporate capitalism is pushing it then it’s bad for me and bad for the planet.”

  61. Donald Oats
    January 30th, 2014 at 12:18 | #61

    Noting the PM’s issues with ABC not playing for the team, perhaps Australia could introduce the Egyptian Solution of arresting and charging the offending journalists with the following items in the quote below:

    In a statement, prosecutors said the defendants aimed “to weaken the state’s status, harming the national interest of the country, disturbing public security, instilling fear among the people, causing damage to the public interest, and possession of communication, filming, broadcast, video transmission without permit from the concerned authorities”.

    Well, who could argue against that? (Certainly not a journalist…)

  62. rog
    January 31st, 2014 at 17:11 | #62

    QLD and other states War on Bikies could be termed as an assault on freedom of association.

  63. TerjeP
    January 31st, 2014 at 20:52 | #63

    A friend of mine, who is also one of my few remaining acquaintances who still smokes, uses e-cigarettes for precisely this reason (i.e. to ‘smoke’ in indoor public places), but smokes regular cigarettes when he is outside or at home. So e-cigarettes enable him to avoid the social restrictions currently imposed on smoking, but without avoiding the health effects.

    There are lots of warnings on tobacco as well as taxes. I don’t see too much point in conflating the issues. In terms of one purchase supporting another I’m sure there are lots of other products used in tandem. For example take away coffee and cigarettes are probable consumed in tandem a lot. I’m sure some people even use nicotine patches to tide them over between smokes. And lots of anecdotes show some people use e-cigarettes to quit smoking and some even quit vaping after they have used vaping to quit smoking. But anecdotes, whether yours or mine, don’t really amount to solid arguments either way.

  64. TerjeP
    January 31st, 2014 at 21:00 | #64

    Megan – I think I did already answer your question but just to be certain let me state explicitly that nicotine can be good for you depending on circumstance and quantity. It is not always good for you and at the right dose it is lethal.

    My reference to misinformation had nothing to do with your question. The misinformation was the claim that nicotine is the poison we have been warned about for years in regards to cigarettes. You suggested:-

    “This is the same poison we’ve been warning you about in cigarettes for all these years. You may die.”

    It is this claim that I criticised as misinformation. Tobacco smoke is carcinogenic. The nicotine in tobacco smoke is addictive. But the nicotine in tobacco smoke or e-cigarette vapor has no other significant health consequences.

  65. TerjeP
    January 31st, 2014 at 21:09 | #65

    How easy is it to overdose on the nicotine vapour fluid, either through inhalation or ingestion?

    I’d say pretty near impossible through inhalation. And not hard at all through ingestion.

  66. Megan
    January 31st, 2014 at 21:36 | #66


    It is this claim that I criticised as misinformation.

    You are being uncharacteristically sloppy and slippery.

    I made no such “claim”. And to say “It is this claim that I criticised as misinformation”, is not correct. It may have been what you intended to do, what you wished you had done or what you now say you did – but it isn’t what you did.

    When is nicotine “good for you”?

  67. Ikonoclast
    January 31st, 2014 at 21:38 | #67


    Thank you Dr. TerjeP. I take it you are a medical doctor or a PhD in medical science?

    Given all the problems in the world, is the “right” to “vape” all that important? If coffee was banned (and I am a bit of an addict) I suspect I would think; “Okay, I can drink a bit more tea, save money on coffee as it’s so expensive and my oesophagus will benefit as coffee seems to increase my acid reflux. Let’s look on the positive side. This could be a good thing.”

    But then I don’t believe every one of my whims, predilictions, affectations or self-indulgences is some kind of sacred right… or even that good for me.

  68. TerjeP
    January 31st, 2014 at 21:48 | #68


    Toxicological Data on Ingredients: L-Nicotine: ORAL (LD50): Acute: 3.34 mg/kg [Mouse]. 50 mg/kg [Rat]. DERMAL (LD50): Acute: 50 mg/kg [Rabbit]. 140 mg/kg [Rat].

    Above toxicology is for pure nicotine. Density of pure nicotine is about the same as water.

    eJuice is typically diluted to about 2% purity.

    So to kill a 50kg rat via oral ingestion would require 2500mg of pure nicotine or 125000mg of e-juice (125mL or ten bottles).

  69. John Quiggin
    January 31st, 2014 at 21:49 | #69

    I think Tim’s point is right. I’d be perfectly happy to legalise e-cigs while banning the carcinogenic kind, and that is what we would normally do in such circumstances. No one would suggest allowing asbestos to be used, given that we have safe substitutes.

    I’m sure Terje will agree, and thank him for pointing us all in the right direction.

  70. TerjeP
    January 31st, 2014 at 21:53 | #70
  71. Megan
    January 31st, 2014 at 22:00 | #71


    Where do you get a 50kg rat?

    I want one!

  72. TerjeP
    January 31st, 2014 at 22:03 | #72

    I’m sure Terje will agree, and thank him for pointing us all in the right direction.

    I think arguing the case for a ban on cigarettes would be much easier if e-cigarettes were widely available with solid uptake by ex smokers. So if you want to ban cigarettes then promoting legality and awareness about e-cigarettes as an alternative is a good path to follow.

    I wouldn’t personally agree with a ban on traditional cigarettes because at the point of wide availability and high uptake you’ve mostly achieved the health goal anyway and I personally think people should be free to smoke so long as they don’t significantly impinge on the right of others to not smoke.

    But we can follow the same path and part company at a later junction. And either way we can save lives relative to the status quo. IMHO.

  73. TerjeP
    January 31st, 2014 at 22:04 | #73

    Megan – obviously the 50kg rate is a hypothetical proxy for a 50kg human.

  74. TerjeP
    January 31st, 2014 at 22:10 | #74

    p.s. Prohibition can have unintended consequences. An outright ban on cigarettes prior to a sizeable transition to e-cigarettes would likely create a vibrant black market in tobacco at which point the tax effect on dissuading smokers disappears.

    p.p.s. I’ve probably smoked five cigarettes in my entire life. I’m not a smoker and I’ve never been a smoker and I generally wish other people didn’t smoke.

  75. Megan
    February 1st, 2014 at 00:25 | #75


    Dang! I really wanted a 50kg rat.

    An outright ban on cigarettes prior to a sizeable transition to e-cigarettes would likely create a vibrant black market in tobacco

    You realise there exists an enormously vibrant black market in tobacco right now? It becomes more vibrant every time taxes/prices go up – simply because people want to pay less for their tobacco than the government wants them to.

    You would agree to e-cigarettes being free?

    That would certainly deal with a lot of those other issues.

  76. TerjeP
    February 1st, 2014 at 07:24 | #76

    Yes there is already a black market and the government seems keen to move more people to the black market. An outright ban would really do it.

    If you want to hand out e-cigarettes to your friends for free I would agree to it and I would even praise you for your generosity.

  77. TerjeP
    February 1st, 2014 at 07:27 | #77

    p.s. If disposable e-cigarettes with nicotine like the Njoy King were readily retailed in Australia I’d buy a heap to hand out to friends who smoke.

  78. Julie Thomas
    February 1st, 2014 at 08:11 | #78


    This is the problem, as you say to Terje;

    “But then I don’t believe every one of my whims, predilictions, affectations or self-indulgences is some kind of sacred right… or even that good for me.”

    But it is a fact that some human beings do think that they have the sacred right to ‘force’ others to indulge them in these whims and do think that this is a good thing. We won’t ever change these hearts and minds now that these minds have been formed. Some people can change their minds but not people who are not interested in ‘the other’.

    This type of person actually seems to have no interest in others; in people who are not like them. I think this intense focus on ‘self-interest’ is a form of what psychology defines as a personality disorder. Personality disorders are not amenable to any treatment that is approved of by ethics committees.

    The only solution for the human species is to do as the Aborigines did and either breed these people out of the gene pool or ensure that they are raised so that the personality traits common to this type of person, are of benefit to the group.

  79. TerjeP
    February 1st, 2014 at 09:03 | #79

    Julie – Let me see if I have this right. You’re upset that some people who smoke are trying to force you to stop forcing them to quit? And they are the ones that have trouble seeing the world from other peoples perspective. And you want to use eugenics as a solution. Is that correct?

  80. Julie Thomas
    February 1st, 2014 at 09:07 | #80

    Nothing to do with smoking Terje – think the big picture and human nature and you might get close. I just do the civil disobedience thing if I wanted to smoke whatever I might want to smoke. If that was too dangerous I just get over my need to be different.

    Do yu see that Aborigines used eugenics as their solution? Because that is what I said was the way to breed out the potentially bad genes. Don’t you think that all cultures that set up marriages were doing selective breeding?

    But really it is the upbringing that is the critical thing because if raised up right, people with a lack of empathy for others can be very nice people and contribute wonderful things for a collective. 🙂

  81. Ikonoclast
    February 1st, 2014 at 09:42 | #81

    What bothers me is that modern corporate capitalism continually develops new modes of artificial consumption (highly sugary drinks, e-cigarettes and so on) and then advertises and promotes them heavily. Any opposition to these modes of consumption is seen by some as an infringement on individual liberty. But the “liberty” involved is merely the liberty to be the willing dupe and slave of modes of consumption and excess consumption which are wrecking individual health, societal health and the whole environment.

    Just as in the invention of financial instruments, so it should be with the invention of new modes of luxury or discretionary consumption. The burden of proof ought to be on the innovators to prove both non-harm and some form of utility, the later being assessed by social consensus. If e-cigarettes can likely move some or all nicotine consumption to a less harmful platform that probably has medical and social utility.

    But I still say we need to look through a far more critical lens at the proliferation of consumerist innovations, especially given the huge environmental and limits to growth problems we now face. If we don’t control and moderate ourselves and our impact on the planet, natural forces (biological and physical) will control us in a much more summary manner.

  82. TerjeP
    February 1st, 2014 at 11:01 | #82

    If e-cigarettes can likely move some or all nicotine consumption to a less harmful platform that probably has medical and social utility.


  83. Ikonoclast
    February 1st, 2014 at 11:03 | #83


    But don’t forget the rest of what I said. There is a larger context here – over-consumption and biosphere damage.

  84. Ernestine Gross
    February 1st, 2014 at 11:06 | #84

    Yesterday there was a health warning in Sydney. The authorities advised pollution from cars and industrial plants together with a particular ozone level is such that the outdoor air can adversely affect the lungs and the respiratory system of people. Children, the elderly and people with asthma are advised to minimise physical activity outdoors, particularly in the afternoon hours.

    My best guess is these warnings did not deter the private anti-smoking ‘police’ from controlling the few hiding places left for smokers in the CBD and in most suburbs.

  85. David Allen
    February 2nd, 2014 at 08:21 | #85

    The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has given permission to dump spoil from Abbot Point. Leaving aside the questionable decision making of GBRMPA both now and in the recent past this is the latest wound in a ‘death of a thousand cuts’. The main problem is not the spoil dumping or the construction/expansion of Abbot Point that requires it but the actual mining of new coal deposits in the first place. The whole enterprise should be shut down now before more money is wasted on this foolish investment.

    The next thing we’ll hear, I’m sure, besides the ‘who could have seen it’ damage to the reef, will be the ‘oh we can’t stop this coal mining because we’ve spent all this money already’.

  86. Luke Elford
    February 2nd, 2014 at 14:00 | #86

    I have a quibble with something Tim Macknay wrote a few weeks ago, if he’s around the traps.

    Tim, in the Monday Message Board thread of January 13, in a discussion about crime rates, you wrote that “the homicide rate has remained roughly stable for around thirty years”. It’s true that the paper you cite does say that “the homicide rate has remained relatively stable since it peaked in the 1970s”. However, the same paper goes on to say later that “Homicide rates since the early 1990s have fluctuated slightly from year to year…but the overall trend has been downward”, and reports a statistically significant downward trend in the *number* of homicide victims, never mind the rate.

    I think the discrepancy comes from the fact that the “relatively stable” remark is made in the context of a literature review, and refers to the view expressed in a 2000 paper. In it, the author does indeed say: “An upward trend occurred during the 1970s, reaching the level of around 2.0 per 100,000 population at the end of that decade. Since then, the rate has remained relatively stable, except for two temporary fluctuations in the 1980s.”

    Even by 2000 there were early signs of a downward trend, although commentators were being understandably cautious about interpreting it as such. But 14 years later, the picture is clear. Even the paper you cite is somewhat out of date—it’s from 2008. The most recent report by the Australian Institute of Criminology about homicide rates (which is summarised here: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/mr/21-40/mr21/04_homicide.html) shows how the homicide rate (in terms of incidents) has fallen from around 1.9 in the early 1990s to 1.2 in 2008-9 and 2009-10. The latest statistics from the ABS, presented in “Recorded Crime—Victims, Australia, 2012”, show a combined victimisation rate for murder and manslaughter of 1.2 in 2010 and 2011 and 1.3 in 2012.

    In a following post (to avoid ending up in moderation) I’ll link to an ABS article discussing crime rates, including homicide rates, over the course of the 20th century. It’s from 2001, so it also talks about homicide rates stabilising after the 1970s. But it shows that current homicide rates are close to the level about which rates fluctuated in the 1940s, when they reached their lowest recorded levels in Australian history.

  87. Luke Elford
  88. kevin1
    February 2nd, 2014 at 14:49 | #88

    @Luke Elford

    Haven’t read the link but numbers down with growing population must mean rate decline, yes?

  89. kevin1
    February 2nd, 2014 at 15:07 | #89

    On a different topic, the decline in Victoria’s road toll from 1024 in 1970 to 224 last year is a stunner, considering population growth and higher car ownership. Various causes no doubt but this has to be a vindication of regulation and behavioural programs and a reminder that government can successfully devise and implement a multi-variable social policy of benefit to all.

  90. Luke Elford
    February 2nd, 2014 at 15:21 | #90


    Yes. I detail some of the changes in rates in the second last paragraph: from about 1.9 to 2.0 per 100,000 population in the early 1990s to 1.2 to 1.3 in recent years, with essentially the same results whether you look at homicide incidents or victims (a given incident can obviously have more than one victim).

  91. Donald Oats
    February 2nd, 2014 at 16:13 | #91

    I’m still waiting for a decent response from the ALP, with regards to Abbott’s comments concerning the ABC recently. So far, Penny Wong and Jason Clare have made some pretty wimpy responses, mainly concerned with the notion that Abbott is going to make cuts to the budget of the ABC; well, that remains to be seen. I would have thought that the bigger issue was Abbott’s framing of the ABC as being un-Australian by virtue of the fact that they seem to support everyone but us. Why aren’t the ALP members out there and criticising Abbott for that? After all, it is clear that the role of the ABC is not to go around promoting the government of the day, or Australia more broadly; it’s role is to provide Australians with news that is reliable in its veracity, among other things. For a sitting Prime Minister to attack the ABC for not supporting his government (and by extension, Australia—I think that’s what Abbott was insinuating), instead of concentrating on whether the ABC is reporting in accordance with its charter obligations and with journalistic integrity—something in short supply in some commercial media BTW—which is really the issue.

    The problem with the latest attacks on the ABC over its reporting of the asylum seekers’s claims that the (Royal) Australian Navy caused them to be burnt on the hands, etc, is that the ABC’s reporting is accurate, as far as it goes: the journalists reported the claims made by the asylum seekers, they reported on the difficulty with getting information from the navy to rebut the claims, and they reported on the Indonesian police investigation into the allegations made by the asylum seekers. In all of the ABC news reports I heard and saw on the TV, not one of them stated the claims as fact, or implied that the claims were actually true. One journalist made a statement like: “If these claims were true, then…” and the next thing we know, the MSM has converted this into the ABC stating the allegations were actually true.

    We witness far worse in the MSM every day of the week. To use a Howardism, all this anti-ABC stuff is confected outrage, and nothing more substantive than that.

  92. Tim Macknay
    February 6th, 2014 at 17:46 | #92

    @Luke Elford
    Hi Luke – just came across your comment. Yes, I think I must have read that remark as having been made in the context of 2008, without realising that the observation itself came from a 2000 paper. I stand corrected on that point. I agree that 2008 is now a few years ago, and I’m happy to concede, based on your more recent data, that homicide has in fact significantly declined in recent years.

  93. Fran Barlow
    February 6th, 2014 at 19:20 | #93

    @cyenne40: Apparently the end of the Age of Entitlement includes our entitlement to facts.

    @profsarahj: @fran_b__ a whole new meaning to “queue jumping”

    @fran_b__: @profsarahj we will decide who goes to the toilet, and the circumstances in which they do.

    It’s all so horrible, one has to try to make light of it.

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