i watched a documentary on the cigarette industry last night. It had a simple point:

“the cigarette industry is evil. it kills people and makes a lot of money doing so.”

The essence of the argument was that the cigarette industry effectively lobbies politicians, conceals and misrepresents data, markets intensively to vulnerable targets and even smuggles its products in an effort to make money. Oh and its products kill people.

One of the pervasive messages that come up was that its consumers were victims of marketing and the addictive nature of the product itself.

A few thoughts came to mind as I watched it.

1) The cigarette industry does indeed play hard. in many places, unethically, in some places, illegally. I expect no less from any industry that makes its money from selling products that it knows directly harm people. (see point 6)

2) Young people are more easily persuaded to start smoking. Because in general they are impressionable.

3) No one is making you smoke. Really. No one. And since these days, if you’re in a developed country, you know how bad smoking is for you, you are not a victim.

4) The cognitive dissonance that comes with being told and knowing that smoking is bad for you and will eventually kill you and the your inability to *easily* give up smoking makes it easy for you to absolve yourself of responsibility by blaming pretty much everyone else. That does not make you a victim.

5) If you cant give up smoking, you’re not trying hard enough. Really. Ok, so you’re addicted. Like you didnt know it wouldnt happen when you started. Big whoop. Try harder.

6) The cigarette industry *will* find ways to market its product and will keep making money unless tobacco is made illegal. At which point, organised criminal syndicates will make even more money.

7) If you know about the health hazards of smoking and you still smoke, you deserve your fate. I have no sympathy for smokers over the age of 21. Sell them more cigarettes and push them on private health insurance. Mind, funding more quitting programs that work using tax revenue from cigarettes is also a good idea.

8) Being one myself, I have a lot of sympathy for passive smokers. Passive smokers especially those in smoky workplaces have no choice in the matter. If anyone deserves the label “victim”, it is passive smokers who front up with cancer.

9) Banning all forms of advertising, selling of cigarettes to minors, placing warnings on boxes, banning smoking in all indoor venues are good things to do. It wont stop people from smoking though because of 3), 4) 5) and 6).

10) If we make recreational drugs fully legal (such as heroin, speed, dope), the industry that evolves to make and sell those drugs will be identical in behaviour, profitability and outlook as the cigarette industry.

11) alternative socialist, anti-capitalists left-leaning vegetarian types who smoke cigarrette industy made tobacco should be sneered at at every opportunity. Right wingers who smoke cigarrettes should be encouraged to take out private health insurance.

12) Smokers should grow and cure their own tobacco.


i went to an asian-australian meetup over the weekend. it’s a group of academics interested in asian-australian cultural studies. i’ve been on the mailing list for a couple of years now and been to a couple of meetups too.

i came away having spent an enjoyable lunch talking to a few people i would not have met otherwise and also thinking how this group of people are a varied bunch with pretty much the only major commmon area being the construction and experience of having an asian physical appearence in Australia.

There’s also a major sub-area of identity as in what effect having an asian cultural background might mean to one’s self, values and life-choices. And really, that’s a thorny ground that each individual has to find a path over by themselves.

Eventually, I think and hope, one becomes more used to oneself to the extent that labels are no longer quite as important for one to hang ideas of self on. With the result that the pre-judgement and classification attempts of others also loses its sting.

Reading the list and various blogs, I was reminded of the time when labels were important to me as were the opinions and reactions of others (including that nebulous concept of “society”). Thinking about myself now and the comfortable space I am in, one in which my skin fits quite nicely and perhaps a little complacently, I wonder if I would have listened if someone (a version of me now perhaps) had told me all those years ago that most of what burned so fiercely in me – my sensitivity to racism, to sexual racism, to cultural assumptions, to unfair media representations and the like – would lose its emotional intensity as i became happier with myself and much less interested about what others (including that nebulous concept of “society”) thought.

I probably wouldnt have. I guess the angry young can never comprehend living without the anger.

Of course, I recognise that I am privileged in that my experience of the world is on the whole free from discrimination and racism. But then, the strange thing is, looking back over my 18 or so years in Australia, it always has.


oh, and i’m waiting for a letter of demand from the car hit by my car.

i’ll be sending it directly to the hire car company (or its insurance) although it is possible that i will need to make a claim on my insurance if things get narky. which means that i’ll have to pay the excess. which will get refunded. apparently.


So the guy who hit my car called back. he was a young bloke, very ocker. i immediately assumed a hoon. he was driving a hire car from a place in Richmond called Afford A Hire car and he was agrieved that even though he was paying them $1500 to take care of the insurance, he still had to deal with my calls.

I thanked him for the info but he hung on to the line. There was a bit of troubled silence, then a semi-coherent tumble of words punctuated by heartfelt sighs.

“look mate, i’m uh, really sorry. i dont know …”

I told him not to worry, that these things happen.

I next called the hire car company. It didnt look good, they didnt have a website and I had to call three times before I got to the guy who owned the place. He reluctantly gave me his insurance details.

“Wont do you any good calling them until i put the claim in anyway. And I’m still waiting for the bloke to pay up.”

I refrained from telling him that his cash flow problems were not my problem. I told him I’d appreciate a claim number when he got it and that in the meantime, I’ll be sending him a letter with repair quotes.

Thing is, the other smash repairer i took it to just took out his business card and wrote on the back of it that in his opinion the cost of repairing exceeds value of vehicle. I’ll get another repairer to do the same and will then send a letter of demand to the hire car place for the write-off value of the car.

I’m going to attempt to try for the full price I paid for it 3 months ago. I’ll be attaching a receipt of the sale. My insurance company reckons it’s worth a go but i’m not likely to get it. If I get the write-off value, I’ll end up $1000 out of pocket.

Not much I guess in the scheme of things.


i took my car in to a smash repairers who i have taken two jobs to so far – both of which were happily fixed, one with some “extras” added in as it was an insurance job. They are a couple of brothers who drive in to work together – italian or greek background perhaps – very friendly, very upfront. They got out of their car, took one look at mine and shook their heads.

“it’s a write off mate”

I got conflicting advice, one was to take it in to the insurance company’s assessor and say i couldnt get through to the guy and get my money from my insurance company (as a writeoff). I’m able to do that as my insurance covers me against uninsured drivers (up to $3000 but my car is insured to a value of $2800 so that’s cool).

The other was to hassle the guy and then only if I cant get his insurance details, do I tell my insurance company and then pursue it as an uninsured driver.

The end result would be the same if he is insured – his company will likely write off my car as a quick estimate for repair was along the lines of $10,000.

I decided to pursue the more directly legal option which is to hassle the man. So I got to work and finally got through to his housemate. Now waiting for him to call back. Apparently he returns at 4:30pm today so I’ll call him then as well.

Anyway, in the meantime, I feel surprisingly ok about it. I’m a little sad that my car which appears to be perfectly driveable is going to go to scrap and spare parts because of 3 panels worth of damage. But that’s the way it works here in a developed economy – labour is more expensive than material.