Tony Greig’s death: is it relevant whether he smoked?

Margot Foster writes: Re. Greig passes on (Tips and rumours, yesterday). I think it relevant to a news report to say he wasn’t a smoker if that’s the case. Otherwise the usual assumption is that he was at some stage in his life and that led to his lung cancer diagnosis. Most people I suspect assume the link so it is important to let people know that sometimes there isn’t one.

Brian Reid writes: I support the idea of the media saying if a lung cancer sufferer is/was a smoker or not. I (and, I suspect, many people) assume someone with lung cancer is a smoker, though I understand about 10% are not. A sufferer who is not a smoker gets a lot more public sympathy. I am not a smoker.

Pattie Tancred writes: Enough with the ghoulish and intrusive curiosity. When will the media learn that not every detail of every person’s life (or death), even if they are well known, is fodder for the masses? What business is it of the media (or the nosy reader who posed the question) if Tony Greig smoked? If he did, it was his choice; if not, so what?

Are we going to start questioning the lifestyle practices of, and pointing the finger at, any well-know person who dies? Someone dies of bowel cancer? Ooh er, they didn’t eat enough roughage. Someone has a heart attack? Ooh er, they didn’t exercise enough. Someone dies of melanoma? Ooh er, they spent too much time in the sun.

Come on, let the dead rest and allow their nearest and dearest some respite from this relentless intrusion and prying. Crikey, this is one you should have left alone.

Lynne Redknap writes: In my experience as a retired registered nurse, many individuals who never smoked at all contracted lung cancer and died. Some were, and are, young, in their 40s. One such woman I know who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of it, is a qualified horticulturalist. Aged just 50, she’s spent years working with soils and plants etc.

Anyway, it is my opinion that the media should NOT immediately home in on on whether or not a deceased celebrity was a smoker, because he or she had lung cancer. Tony Grieg died of a massive heart attack, it should remembered too.

GDP economic barometer

Niall Clugston writes: Re. How the internet killed GDP as a reliable economic barometer (yesterday). Has the internet made GDP “irrelevant”? I don’t think Adam Schwab’s argument passes scrutiny.

To the extent that the internet provides efficiency, it cuts costs. As GDP is the sum of all prices, it reduces GDP. But this is true of any efficiency measure in itself. But efficiency measures don’t exist in themselves. If they allow for a boost in productivity, they could increase GDP. There has been no decline in GDP in the general economy associated with the introduction of the internet.

No, GDP doesn’t measure everything. It doesn’t measure the natural world, nor any human activity not directly related to money. But that doesn’t make it irrelevant. GDP is also the sum of all incomes. And if incomes decline over two consecutive quarters, I don’t think it’s only economists who are going to notice.

Melbourne’s Myki

Garry Andrews writes: Re. comments (yesterday). Gavin R. Putland needs to chill out about public transport in Melbourne. Myki being the only option does make buying tickets harder, but claiming it amounts to the government aiding and abetting a crime is clearly hysterical.

Just like the government’s requirement that we physically turn up to polling booths instead of voting online or over the phone doesn’t amount to encouraging Australians not to vote, no matter how difficult it has become to source a ticket, if you don’t have one, don’t get on that tram.

Graph trouble

Brian Mitchell writes:  Re. Richard Farmer’s chunky bits (yesterday). With graphs, visuals are everything and in “rating the cabinet” Richard Farmer commits the sin of displaying two images side by side that use different measures, thereby distorting the visual impact of the actual differences.

The Gillard cabinet measures start at 2 and go up in 0.5 increments.

The Abbott shadow cabinet measures start at 1 and go up in 0.75 increments.

Most people don’t read such details, they only see the visuals, and the visuals suggest Joe Ludwig (who scores a little more than 2) doing worse than Brandis, who actually scores half Ludwig’s approval.

Similarly, the visuals suggest Turnbull in similar approval territory to Combet, Wong, Plibersek and Gillard, when he’s actually much closer to Burke and Butler.

The cabinet and shadow cabinet graphs should both have been published using identical measures, in order to accurately portray the comparisons.

Peter Fray

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