July 30, 2005

More Bags II – The green bags that aren’t


Environmentalists are now starting a campaign to reverse the trend of all and sundry using disposable nappies on the soggy bottoms of bubs and toddlers. Said greenies are eager and optimistic about being very successful in this new endeavor, citing the brilliant success they have had in shaming shoppers everywhere into buying those ugly, small, and badly made shopping bags, in lieu of contaminating the world with yea good old plastic supermarket bags.

Just two small and outrageous problems with this:

One those tacky, but reusable bags are not “fabric”, as the Clean Up Australia crew like to call them. Fabric? Have they ever used one; ever touched one? They are not fabric!!! Worse still, they are made from the very same plastic used to make a wheelie bin, and other tough, made-to-last-forever plastic stuff. In other words, those millions upon millions of environmentally friendly reusable grocery bags will never, ever break down once they get to the land fill. Well, depending on how you want to define a few thousand years, which to me is pretty much never ever, in the time scale of things. Are they reusable? You bet: if by which you mean that when the stitching falls apart (well, what do you expect for one dollar?), we can never really get rid of them; they will hang around for ever and ever… amen.

Two – when greenies decided that reusable bags were the way to go, it coincided with the wide introduction of plastic bags made from corn starch. Corn starch being entirely biodegradable, within a very short period of time – like, you know, a few weeks or months, instead of a few thousand years.

“Reusable” bags are now, allegedly, used by 64% of shoppers, with, allegedly, up to 80% of shoppers refusing “plastic” bags. This is fine, so long as the reusable bags are fabric, not the last-forever plastic things promoted by environmental groups, as well as our governments.

Wouldn’t it be more honest to educate shoppers about the difference between a plastic bag and one made from corn starch; and about how the latter compares to their investment in a few dozen, or so, reusable non-fabric $1 bags, which will eventually sit in the landfill forever?

So, bravo, to the greenies, and let’s see what dazzlingly and blindingly stupid solution they’ll force upon everyone in lieu of disposable nappies. Let’s just hope they don’t have the same success that they have had with the reusable and non-biodegradable shopping bags, which aren’t even the right size for anyone’s groceries.

Initial vague comments seem to suggest that they wish to encourage the makers of disposable nappies to use corn starch plastic……gosh, what a good idea, who would have thought of such a thing? At least they’re not suggesting that disposable nappies should be coated in the same “fabric” going into the reusable grocery bags they so vigorously promote.

Next time you see someone smugly and conspicuously waving around their brown or green reusable non-biodegradable grocery bags, while you are carrying your corn starch totally biodegradable bags, make sure you sneer at them - at the very least - but preferably take the time to let them know just how long their $1 bags will be sitting in the landfill.

July 28, 2005

More Bags, No Style


Just when you thought it was safe to catch a train, along comes a new designer bag to put the fear into commuters everywhere.

It’s a hideous neon orange thing; large, chunky, clunky – plenty big enough to hold at least a 4 kilo bomb, with room to spare for the yoga mat and the latest Harry Potter book.

Six of these monstrosities – yes, that’s six only – have found their way to our shores. Just so we don’t get too overwhelmed, they have been evenly distributed between Sydney and Melbourne, with three going to each city.

The three Melbourne bags had their very own soiree last night, presumably sitting behind protective glass, so that the assembled D-grade crowd couldn’t lay their scrawny little fingers upon the bags, which even have their very own name – “Will You Be Mine”. Hmm……and I thought people with hyphened surnames had a hard time of it, but perhaps in New York, the trend in monikers has shifted away from the silly to lengthy.

So, the challenge will be this: find the three pretentious twits in each of Sydney and Melbourne who have purchased these bags.

If you are fortunate enough to spot any of the women with the really hideous “Will You Be Mine” bag – as carried by many silly celebs – firstly, immediately turn to your friend and start whispering, giggling, and pointing, but only briefly. Secondly, let your lightness of mood shift, very suddenly, and move through a look of being alert, then alarmed, and finish with grave concern, as you desperately scour the street for a member of the constabulary. Once the latter is found and eye contact made, rush to the officer with a mix of panic and relief. Finally, point out the enormous orange “hand” bag, and explain the obviously suspicious nature of such, then leave the rest to the police.

Go to it – only six in the country, it can’t be too difficult to have them all confiscated by the police by the end of the week. Let’s hope this campaign is successful, both to save lives as well as to preserve the aesthetics of our local streets.

What to do next


When Cell Phones Become Oracles


Finally – and it’s long overdue - help may be at the fingertips of anyone who forgets what they were going to do next. At some point in the future, probably in a year in your lifetime, you’ll be able to use your mobile phone to data mine your own life, which sure beats having everyone else data mining your life without permission or purpose.

It’s only 85% accurate at the moment, even down to being accurate about a person suddenly deviating from their mundane predictability, but still, 85% is pretty good when your brain stops and you just don’t know what comes next. This would definitely be a handy little gadget when Alzheimer’s starts setting in.

This can even let you know who you should, or shouldn’t, be having lunch with on Thursday, based on past patterns of behaviour. Ah….actually, that won’t be such a problem soon...we’re all set to negotiate the indulgence of our lunch breaks away under our collective new working conditions. Well, that’s a good thing then, one less thing to not need to remember - and any deviations will be recorded, ready for mining.

July 27, 2005

Start scheduling for the extra long year!


No-one has enough time.

We yearn for a 25 hour day, or an eight day week – preferably with at least a three day weekend.

So busy we don’t have time… well, for much of anything really.

So busy that, once upon a time, people would use up much of their day bemoaning, with a smidgen of hubris, just how busy they were, to anyone within yelling distance, but now no-one has time to listen.

Henceforth - or at least until next year - no more complaints about lack of time, or being so, so, so, so busy you don’t have time to think about how busy you are.

Start planning – right now – for how you intend to use the extra long year that will be 2005!

Yes, truly, this year, as a gift, we will have one extra second on New Year’s Eve.

Atomic clocks will be bought into alignment with the earth’s rotation, on 31 December, thus affording us one second that we would otherwise not enjoy – commonly known as a leap second.

So, before leaping unthinkingly into 2006, we will have one extra second to pause in contemplation; or to sleep; or to have sex (twice, for some); or to flick the dandruff off your shoulders; or to rearrange your testicles one more time before launching into Auld Lang Syne; or to merely stop and consider the truism that time really does fly.

Make the most of your extra second; don’t waste it! Put it in your diary, damn it, and stop complaining that you never get anything you ask for – you wanted more time – well, this year you got it – be grateful!

July 26, 2005

Bags & Balderdash


I haven’t even finished mulling over the problem of what, these days, may constitute “suspicious behaviour”, when, without any breathing space, along comes yet another conundrum: the random bag search.

I live in a city with absurdly changeable weather, and being a total wuss about the cold, I tend to continue wearing my winter coat (a common looking removable garment, rather than any failure on my part to epilator during the winter months) long after all the other, much hardier inhabitants have exchanged their winter woolies for flimsy frocks, thongs, and Bonds singlets. I know this isn’t a major problem, in the scheme of things, but if walking to work wearing a big coat is now – officially – such deeply suspicious behaviour that it warrants being shot dead, then rethinking my wardrobe, not to mention my manner of walking to catch a train, takes on a whole new level of priority and challenge. (Memo to self: really, really, must learn how to drive.)

Comparatively, the random bag search is a minor blip on the political radar, as it’s surrounded by one of those lovely unarguable truths. It will be a deterrent, a preventative, we are told, and will thus keep us all much, much safer than we are at present. No one can argue against this logic, not ever, ever, ever, since no random bag search has ever, or will ever, uncover a suicide bomber as they casually saunter to catch a train, or a bus, or a tram. (Airports are a different kettle of fish, as are military check points, for example.)

No bomb will ever be found in any bag, backpack, or parcel being carried onto mass public transport. Yes, the potential bombers may have considered taking their homemade handy work to the local station, but, with random bag searches, they will have second thoughts.

“Gosh”, you can just imagine them thinking, “our plans may be foiled before we even get through the turnstile with our full-fare return ticket. Darn, we’re not going to try this; we’ll have to do something else.” The random bag search at public transport stops and stations will be declared a grand success and will be implemented on a permanent basis, before eventually becoming non-random.

Meanwhile, any self-respecting would-be bombers will catch a train back to the suburbs to re-consider their options, their targets, their means and magnitude of inflicting damage - somewhere other than on a train. Ah, the smorgasbord of locations!

The problem will be successfully shifted. The trains, the buses, the trams, which will be safe, so that’s OK then.

The problem will be deftly moved to every other location and building in the city.

Just a little bit annoying; just a little bit intrusive; just a little bit of liberty traded-off for the perception of security; just a little bit of spreading the problem around to the greatest and most random area possible. Then we await the next round of preventative security measures, rolled out in ever decreasing cirles.