Friday, March 28, 2008

Binge Drinking in Australia

There is a shared value in Australia that it is right and good to drink as much alcohol as you can, get plastered out of your brain and do whatever stupid thing comes to mind. A set of behaviours around drinking have been repeated so many times and over such a duration that values and attitudes have developed that this behaviour is OK. For example, when the Turks at Gallipoli complained about the behaviour of drunken Australian visitors at an Anzac commemoration, then Prime Minister John Howard said, 'You think that's bad? You should see Circular Quay in Sydney after a New Year's Eve celebration.' Hmmm.

One way to alter drinking behaviour would be to enact and enforce number changes to the laws govenring drinking. Here are some possibilities:
  1. Change the penalty for licensed premises selling to under age patrons from a the current slap on the wrist to a license revocation. 1 week for the first offense, 1 month for the second, one year for the third offense.
  2. Institute breath testing in Pubs and Clubs.
  3. Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) legislation: Increase the penalties for employees of licensed premises to sell or supply alcohol to a drunken person (BCA could be set higher than .05.) Start the penalty at $1000 and increase to $2500 and $5000 for 2nd and 3rd offenses.
  4. If a licensed premises has 3 RSA infringements in one year, that premises suffers a license revocation of one week and an additional week for each RSA infringement thereafter.
  5. Include Patrons in Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) legislation. Just as for licensed premises servers, make it illegal for a person to supply alcohol to a drunken person. Same penalties as for servers in licensed premises.
  6. Make it illegal to leave drinking litter (bottles, cans, cups, packaging) in a public places. Enforce this with on-the-spot fines of $500 for each person in a group that leaves drinking litter in a public place such as a street, park or beach.
  7. Severely tighten the laws and increase the penalties for drinking and driving.
  8. 0% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to age 25 on penalty of suspension of license
  9. If over 25, automatic suspension of driving license for BAC greater the .05
  10. Automatic custodial sentence for second BAC offenses
  11. Strategies can be implementing in the workplace to reduce the consequences related to excessive alcohol use. One change could be for companies to stop re-imbursements for alcohol related entertainment expense.

There a many possibilities for using the laws to change behaviour. Once behaviour changes attitudes and culture will follow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Early Leader in the battle against Binge Drinking

Now that Australia seems to have discovered our national problem with binge drinking, it surprises me that no one has recognised (Manly, NSW) Mayor Peter Macdonald's early leadership on this issue. It seems that the evils related to alcohol abuse such as violence, unruly behaviour, and litter which were so hotly disputed in Manly are now accepted as fact. I would like to thank Dr. Macdonald for his leadership on this issue, apologise for the personal abuse he had to sustain in the process, and ask that he reconsider his plans to give up the mayor's job. Given the current recognition of this problem nationally, I'm sure we could finally achieve progress addressing this problem in Manly.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Abu Bakar Bashir

The Herald Sun reported that "Abu Bakar Bashir urges attacks on 'infidel' Australians." The Australian reported that "Bashir urged his followers to "beat up" western tourists, whom he called "worms, snakes and maggots." There was little context to any of these claims, nor any translations of the speech itself, said to have been filmed by an Australian researcher.

My reading of the reports is that Bakar Bashir was referring to the gathering at which he was speaking and to foreigners who may be hiding there when he said "God willing, there are none here. If there were infidels here, just beat them up. Do not tolerate them." One wonders how this could come to be reported as Bakar Bashir urging attacks on 'infidel' Australian tourists.

Another report said that the Bashir called for signs to be erected across Indonesia warning tourists they were entering a Muslim area, and directing they cover up appropriately. He likened non-Muslims to crawling animals. "Worms, snakes, maggots - those are animals that crawl. Take a look at Bali ... those infidel tourists. They are naked." This is how strict, religious clerics view western morals regarding nudity and is indicative of the gap between Islam and Christianity.  Looking at the state of the west, and disregarding geopolitics for the moment, considering only advertising, consumption/resource devastation, and pornography, I don't totally disagree with his view.

Barak Obama and Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

I caught a bit of U.S. news on this latest election campaign scandal. I did a search and navigated to the one Jeremiah Wright sermon (actually an anti-Wright post) that I've listented to: . Please listen to this 3 1/2 minute snippet. I'd like to post an opinion.

This is not hate. This is not racism. This is not the politics of division. Wright is politicking here. He is speaking to his black congregation. He is saying that Obama understands what is to be black in America. He is saying Hillary Clinton does not really understand what it means to be black in America. And he is saying to his congregation: Therefore, if you are black, vote for Obama, not Clinton.

The Reverend Wright makes a very persuasive argument to black people to vote black. Notwithstanding his logic (which I do not fault) I find his combination of cadence and passion and religion to be really quite moving. It is no wonder to me that he is considered to be one of the most influential black pastors in America.

And to white people: What is wrong with what Wright is preaching? Should black people pretend that being black in America does not matter? Should black people overlook their history of slavery and discrimination. Should they forget that a mere 40 years ago there was an Alabama Governor named George Wallace who also ran for the presidency? Should black people aspire to such an elevated level of political correctness that they pretend Obama is not black?

C'mon... Obviously black people should vote for Obama.

I believe that there are many reasons to vote for Obama because he is black; here is one: This is a world divided between haves and have nots. The politics of terrorism takes root in the soil of poverty. Like it or not, you cannot escape the fact that most blacks are have nots. Who better to reach across this divide of poverty and of colour than a black President of the United States?

Why I'm Blogging

I have opinions that I'd like to put into writing. Writing something down will encourage me to examine the logic and rationality of my thoughts; it will force me and to sharpen my composition and hence improve my thinking. A blog will be like a journal, allowing me to examine my thoughts and observations over time.