Metropolis: Smoke without the fire

The smoking debate re-ignited by Melbourne councillor Richard Foster might be losing oxygen, but work to create smoke-free zones continues to roll on behind the scenes. Cr Foster made international news with his pitch to stamp out smoking in public places in the Melbourne council area. But the council is yet to hand out a penalty for smoke-free zones backed last year. A "ban", it turns out, is quicker to say than it is to push through the bureaucratic process.

A sign of bygone times

Melbourne's history is being preserved, one ancient billboard at a time. AGFA might be a familiar acronym (Aktien-Gesellschaft für Anilinfabrikation) to anyone over 25, but as a company it was famous for making photographic film, which is as redundant as the Walkman. It leads us to wonder why the billboard over that busy intersection advertises a rarely used product. Are the days of film not actually over? Or is it a derelict ghost-sign? We wish the old billboard many more years. May it one day be placed in a museum of once-vital anachronisms such as CD-ROMs and videotapes.

Read the fine print

One voice stands apart from the call of the chattering classes for extra protection for the environment. Victoria's timber lobby wants you to cross your eyes in ecstasy and hit "print" on all those emails. Shaun Ratcliff, of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, subtly signs off his emails with the encouragement: "Please don't feel bad about printing this email as the pulp and paper industry is an important sector in making forestry viable." They even print it in the colour green. So rather than spread hypocrisy by printing it in this weekly book of dead trees, we salute Ratcliff's get-up-and-go. In his words, "Go ahead - press 'print'."

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