Taking your chances on the lottery of life

THEY called it the Lottery of Death. A dice with demise in the mid-1960s when a small marble drawn from a rolling lottery barrel determined whether a callow Yoof continued to saunter down Civvie Street or found himself (never herself) forcibly conscripted into the army.
Nanjing Night Net

And that was before being attired in khaki and shipped off to trudge through a muddy Vietnamese paddy field to dodge Viet Cong bullets in an unpopular war.

A bit like Afghanistan today, only wetter.

Helpfully supplied by Tattersalls, the big wood-staved barrel was turned with a handle live on black-and-white television by a representative from the Returned Servicemen’s Association.

After a marble was carefully withdrawn through a hinged flap by an ancient hand, the inscribed number was examined closely by the RSL chappie and announced to spotty-faced Herberts cowering on sitting room sofas right across our wide brown land.

Talk about luck of the draw.

And all depending on whether the figure, perhaps an unlucky “13”, matched one’s birth date.

With the average sun-bronzed Aussie’s gambling obsession, authorities must have considered this obscene spectacle a relatively painless way of extracting chosen young men not only from their parents’ hearth and home but also their girlfriends and FJs.

Now reader, forgive the long preamble, but there is a long-bow segue here (OK, of early Middle Age proportions), concerning the current Tasmanian cigarette debate.

It follows anti-smoking advocate Windermere MLC Ivan Dean’s move to ban kids born in the year 2000 to be permanently barred from smoking.

“This would be a smoke-free generation,” Mr Dean said proudly of a worthy, if not odd and discriminatory, scheme that would ban anyone born from 2000 onwards from buying tobacco when they turn 18.

“It wouldn’t be prohibition because you would be dealing with a group that had not smoked so you wouldn’t be taking something away from them,” was Mr Dean’s quoted reasoning.

There’s a flaw in that argument somewhere and it’s not necessarily based on not wanting to offend current legal-age addicted puffers and chronic wheezers shrunken of lung and yellow of finger.

Anyway, born at one minute to midnight on December 31, 1999?

Not a problem, inhale away come 18.

Born in the first minute after midnight on January 1, 2000? Sorry, nice try, but no cigar (or any other form of gasper, for that matter).

It’s all down to the numbers, in’nt?

A particularly weird ageist argument for deciding what one may or (more especially) may not do.

Hey, come on now, let’s decide a few other thorny issues by blowing the dust off that ol’ lotto barrel and filling it with the rumbling sound of entire numbered years inscribed on each marble?

Want to lower the road death rate and make sure folk of a certain age are never allowed to get behind the steering wheel?

Roll, roll, roll, hmmm, anyone born in 2001, and current age 11? Embrace a pedestrian future or buy a Metro ticket.

No booze for anyone born in 2003, junk food is right out for those hatched in 2004 and so on.

And with a predicted tidal wave of obesity and heart problems, no more ice-cream or lollies for you kids born in 2005.

Um, and no circumcisions for anyone born from 2013.

And if within a decade smokers have to produce a birth certificate to prove when they were born, how long before boffins work out that that the pesky ’60s Vietnam War generation is more prone to hip fractures and ban anyone born in or before 1950 from leisure centres?

Roll out the barrel – we could call it the Lottery of Living.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.