Month: December 2016

Regulating cow farts

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You have to wonder at the genius of law makers.  From tomorrow cows in California will be subject to a flatulence tax in an aim to cut methane emissions 40% by 2030. All that farting is creating untold global warming. If only we’d taught man 5,000 years ago the dangers of animal husbandry. His reckless (although admitted lack of awareness) has added to warming the planet.

First question. Do some cows fart more than others? If I picked a random bunch of my friends I’m sure the statistical range (no pun intended) of their emissions would be insignificant. Surely cows too. We run a cow farm in Australia and when we do weigh ins, there is a difference of 100s of kg between animals. Surely the belching and farting would be skewed by that. Will farmers be asked to weigh cattle in order to assess potential methane calculations?

This is the same madness displayed by those that pay carbon offsets on planes. Those calculations are so inaccurate because so much would depend on passenger numbers, head/tail winds, take off queue length, holding patterns, aircraft type,airline maintenance etc. There is no standard formula yet those that pay it get to ‘feel good’ about saving the planet when their actions are hypocritical. The flight partially takes off because you look to fly on it. If you want to stop emissions then don’t fly and while you’re at it try to keep others from getting on board so you can put the airline out of business. Ah yes, you have a job and must put food on the table so your sense of self preservation is far higher than saving the planet. Perhaps they should weigh passengers instead so they can proportionately pay for carbon offset.

Supposedly experts don’t know how they’re going to trap methane. $50mn of the $900mn designated for climate action in California will be dedicated to flatulence reduction.

Here is a simple idea. If people are truly worried after a massive ad blitz on the dangers of cow methane they’ll stop buying dairy and beef and we’ll get a rapid correction in methane emissions as farmers go out of business. If it fails well you’ll work out as lawmakers that the public think you are a full of bullshit.

Hokkaido is great for skiing but it’s dying a quick death from depopulation

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Two decades ago the Japanese government embarked on a program known as ‘Shichison gappei’ which loosely translated as ‘merging cities and towns’. In 20 years Japan saw a halving of its towns to 1,800 or so. However as much as that plan was to sensibly merge public services – waste collection, councils, schools and hospitals – the cities (especially to the north) are rapidly depopulating. Of course the towns devastated by the tsunami and earthquake back in 2011 were natural candidates but Hokkaido holds 6 of the top 15 cities that are emptying. Yubari, the town where the most expensive rockmelons are made, has seen an almost 20% drop in its town’s register.

Minamisoma, a town lying on the 30km exclusion zone to the north of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor has seen an 18% desertion in the past 5 years. Switching gears to the population growth areas, people are flocking to where the economy is moat likely to sustain them meaning the exodus continues. Tokyo has experienced an average 67,000 people per annum moving there over the last 15 years. Similarly, Kanagawa (Yokohama), Chiba, Saitama, Aichi (Nagoya), Shiga and Fukuoka  are the only other places properly growing.

There is  also the small matter of how prefectures can be self sustaining in the future. The Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communications notes that Hokkaido’s future burden is 317%. Akita, 241%, Kochi 158%, Mie 190%, Shizuoka 230%, Iwate 236% and Fukushima 140%. As more people realize these regions have no future they will move to the big smoke. Moreover the pressure on these burden ratios will go up, not down inevitably making cities and towns insolvent.

When we switch to regional budget strength, these towns are looking bleaker. On a scale of 0 (terrible) to 1 (good) the Ministry views Hokkaido a 0.4, Mie a 0.56, Fukushima 0.47, Iwate 0.32, Akita 0.28 and Kochi o.23.

Hokkaido has the third lowest number of 0-14yo at 11% of its population. 29% of its population is 65yo+. Akita is 10.5% and 33% respectively. Iwate 11.9% and 30%. Mie 12.9% and 27%. Kochi 11.5% and 32%.

The problem is unless the government starts putting a lot of energy into tax incentivisation to help revive the regions there is only one outcome – bankruptcy of the regions something I wrote about America a few months back. It may arrive far sooner than we think. The implications dire.

The petulant President land mines the White House

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True colours are coming out everywhere. Perhaps we could cynically say that this is the most work Obama has done on foreign relations in 8 years. His petulance couldn’t be more obvious. Such is the mark of his total lack of disrespect for his successor he is literally planting land mines around the White House to obstruct him in anyway he can. It certainly isn’t the mark of a great leader that so many fawn over him for. It is clear Obama never read Aesop’s fables. If he had perhaps he might reflect on the NSA’s hacking of Angela Merkel’s mobile phone calls in 2013. Somehow to me eavesdropping on an ally is more egregious than seeking intel from a historical foe.

The Russian response (above) to Obama shows once again their lack of respect for him much the same as China. The allegations of election hacking are absurd. I’ve made the point many times before but the intelligence agencies of all major powers hack each other on an industrial scale. The CIA, NSA and so on are cyber-droning for competitive intelligence. The Russians, Chinese, Brits, Germans, Italians, Israelis, Australians (busted for spying on ally Indonesia), Iranians, Saudis and so on.Where does he think intelligence comes from? Do the CIA call up and ask the enemy? No it steals it. That is why in wartime, armies use encryption to make sure it isn’t hacked.

Despite recounts, riots, protests, hopelessly biased mainstream media and many other forms of excuses to undermine the legitimacy of the incoming President the outgoing President is doing his utmost to ensure a smooth transition is impossible. At the very least with less than a month to go he might have consulted Trump on his intentions on Russia and Israel.

Abstaining from voting on the UN resolution was gutless. Not voting at all was a weak act. If Obama truly wanted to give his disapproval he could have voted against Israel with a direct act of disapproval. Instead he did what he has one for 8 years on foreign policy – nothing.

The irony of all of this is simple. If Trump manages to fill the potholes and clear the garden of land mines laid by Obama in short order once again it will highlight just how empty those 8 years have been. Nothing but hollow posturing and moral preening. Outside of that his legacy will be neutered and that is the true hallmark of a lame duck.

Japan’s population problems going to get worse. 7 out of 47 prefectures are seeing net positive migration.

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Demographically speaking it is no surprise that Japan is witnessing a decline in population. Birth rates (despite a mild rise in 2015) are looking to set the first sub 1mn number ever this year. The chart above shows how little child bearing is going on. Delving into the 2017 Japan Statistics Handbook and we discover the long term trend of net migration out of the regions into the big cities. Only Tokyo, Kanagawa (Yokohama), Chiba, Aichi (Nagoya), Fukuoka,  Miyagi (Sendai) and Saitama are seeing net migration inflows. Japan’s second largest city Osaka saw its population decline in 2014, the first time in 5 years.

The alarming prospect here is simple. Regional Japan is bleeding people it can’t afford to lose. Shimane Prefecture on the Japan Sea coast has seen its population sink below the level it was in 1920. What hope for a sustainable career has a kid got in the regional areas? Why would companies look to actively invest in an area which relies on other businesses to keep on the ground to make sure there isn’t a drain on employment resources that will drive up wage costs given scarcity. This is exactly what happened in Germany when it reunified. Those in the former East fled to the more prosperous West for employment opportunities. Business in the East either folded, had to relocate or had to drive up wages to keep the flood of people leaving. It is no surprise that unemployment rates remain higher than the national average in the brain drain areas because often the people that remain are not qualified to do the tasks required.

Another alarming statistic is the rise of single person households in Japan. More people live alone than any other demographic. In 1990 single person households numbered 8mn. Today that number is over 16.8mn. Of that those over 65 years old in single households has soared from 2mn to 5.6mn respectively. That is right, since Japan introduced the law that allowed housewives to claim 50% of a husband’s pension, more women are pulling the trigger on divorce after the kids leave home. Divorce rates for those above 55yo has risen from about 17% of the total in 1990 to around 35% today. 1/3rd of divorces!

Society in Japan is decaying rapidly. 25% of all marriages in Japan are now the result of shotgun (unplanned pregnancy before marriage). Domestic violence is up sharply and spousal related incidents (involving police investigation) has quadrupled in the last decade. Child abuse cases have risen 22x in the last 20 years to around 90,000 cases. Single parent households have risen from 15% in 1990 to 25% of all households with children today.

Which points back to how the government is going to arrest falling population rates. How can it encourage child rearing, looking to encourage more activity in the regions with large tax breaks into specialized economic zones to avoid the brain drain or eliminate tax rates for pensioners working beyond 65? The elderly still need to work but the companies use the labour law to boot them out at mandatory retirement. They are forced into doing roles (e.g. convenience stores, taxis) which allow them to scrape by. If the government wants to turn the workforce situation around it needs to invest in retraining the elderly, not just hope new daycare center openings will get mothers back in the workforce. The elderly are the keenest participants but the labour laws aren’t exactly helping them.

Why America needs to upgrade its nukes even though they can blow the world up 20x over

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Once again I read a bunch of newspapers taking a dig at the incoming president’s plans to upgrade America’s nuke arsenal. Sure Merrikka can nook the world 20x over with its current stockpile. Even better it fits a narrative that he’s a red button trigger happy fool who will embark on nuclear war on Day 1 in office.

Let’s look at why upgrading nukes is a sad reality. Nukes from the 80s and 90s aren’t state of the art anymore. It’s a bit like stealth technology. The Americans pioneered stealth almost 30 years ago. Back then it enabled the USAF to go into enemy territory undetected and hit a target. However the Russians, being masters of detection worked out how to overcome stealth, with their S-400 surface-air-missile system (soon to be upgraded to the S-500) rendering it an obsolete technology. The US Forces have ended up taking around 10% of their original demand for stealth craft including the F-22A,  the increasingly inept F-35, B-2 and the F-117A. The Chinese worked out that while a F-22 would wipe the floor with Chinese fighters, the conformal fuel tanks and internal missile bays that kept the stealth signature limited combat radius meaning non-stealthy aerial tankers could be taken out meaning F-22s would fall into the drink. A non stealthy Boeing EA-18G was credited with shooting an F-22 down in aerial combat simulation – its electronic interference software made the F-22 think it was somewhere it wasn’t.

So back to upgrading nukes. Now that rogue nations have them, they aren’t the deterrent they once were. By upgrading the home arsenal with superior technology  enemies think twice and that is the real motive. It isn’t about simply lobbing a nuke from a silo and fly it across the world in a straight arc. The next gen  missiles are supposed to be able to evade anti-missile missiles with superior agility through state of the art kinetics to make sure it can hit its target.

Yes, it all sounds so futile to build up a new stockpile of missiles to finish a job which can already be done 20x over. The idea is to stay a step ahead in the arms race. The Romans realized the trebuchet was more effective than the gladius.  The samurai realized that rifles were more powerful than the katana. In WW1 armies realized machine guns were more powerful than rifles. In WW2 the Atom bomb was deemed more effective than deploying a whole army and so on. Defense today progresses in the same way.

It’s easy to run madman twitchy trigger finger scare stories that fit narratives but if they actually understood the motive of staying one step ahead  of perceived enemies they may actually seek to congratulate not censure Trump. I know it’s asking too much but perhaps we should look at how quickly Lockheed Martin has snapped into line after being told their rubbish, late, ineffective and massive cost overrun F-35 needs a rethink on price, performance and capability. He hasn’t taken office and defense contractors are complying like chastised schoolboys escaping a potential caning.

Ivanka the Terrible?

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Since when did people lose their manners? When will liberals stop bleating and start accepting reality. There can be no excuse for a passenger to be the subject of abuse when they’ve done nothing other than be a sibling of a future public official. Where do social justice warriors (SJWs) feel they have the right to exercise such unsolicited hatred? The airline did the appropriate thing but when did an economy cabin become a safe space? Are airlines supposed to issue trigger warnings to passengers? Furthermore how well must the perpetrator’s legal career going that he isn’t flying in business or first?

The double standards and hypocrisy of the left is shown in full colour. He ridiculed her for flying coach. I bet had she been in business she’d be ridiculed for elitism. Had she been on a private plane perhaps she would have been accused of burning up the planet, something that oh hang on, something climate change SJW Leo DiCaprio does all the time.

Had Ivanka been giving this person vitriolic abuse then I would have no issue with him defending himself but when she tries to ignore him and distract her kids (probably the most unnecessary part of it) he kept his rant going. Did he miss the Michelle Obama “when they go low, we go high” schpeil? Then to have his wife tweet about his husband going on a mission to harass her (to then delete it soon after realizing the folly) you wonder where has common decency gone? Had Ivanka abused him unsolicited we’d get 24-7 coverage of her typifying the stereotypical homophobic, white supremacist, bigoted hate preacher blasted across the NYT and WaPo.

Now to the spouse expressing outrage at the treatment of them being booted they go the victim card. I can understand if her body odor was of such putrid stink and she had a bout of Tourette’s that the airline might think different but if liberals must behave in ways that make snowflakes look like superheroes I truly fear for the future. Talk about elitism. Whatever happens to this couple from here on in I have zero sympathy for. Totally self inflicted, totally thinking they’d get celebrity status among their own when in reality they’ve yet again proven why Trump was elected. The growing majority are sick and tired of victimology. Common decency knows no race, religion or culture. It just is.

It seems the press haven’t learnt their lesson. I saw a video on CBS interviewing Bibi Netanyahu trying to see if they could twist a comment that Trump was anti- Semitic. He said, “what are you talking about? He has a Jewish son-in-law and Jewish grand children?”

Put simply, I truly hope the left stick to this strategy of hypocrisy. They are so blind to their own actions that they almost guarantee they’ll keep themselves out of positions of power. To me now it has become a kind of blood sport. The SJWs can keep crying for justice they clearly don’t deserve. The man hasn’t even taken office and apparently he’s already ruined the country. What a fantastic feat. If I was Trump I’d invite them for a sit down chat and see these two shrinking violets quiver and shower him in compliments. Afterall any father who talks to people who have been hostile to his daughters will know what I’m on about. More than that these SJWs have a bark worse than their bite. The big winner out of this will be their therapist.

#Make Australia Great Again

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Make Australia Great Again. Yes, I buy that slogan. Politics in Australia has plunged such low depths that we need to drain Lake Burley Griffin and plug the fountain that espouses empty rhetoric. I honestly thought it would be hard for PM Turnbull to top the incompetence of the Rudd/Gillard years but his time will be remembered for what he didn’t do than what Rudd/Gillard mismanaged to. Inaction, constant blowing with the breeze, ordering Royal Commissions without all the facts in the hope it might buy him a smidge of popular support he so desperately craves. In his almost 16 months in office he has done nothing worthy of mention and his ‘style’ of politics so brazenly boasted and promised back in September 2015 have not even remotely been delivered. Most conservative Lib voters knew this would happen yet wondered how so many Liberal MPs allowed Turnbull to bury their judgment all based on lousy polls which have proven to be inaccurate. Abbott still would have won by a larger margin than Turnbull last election. I await insults at this statement.

The problem with so many politicians today is that they stand for nothing. That probably could be said throughout the ages. However many of today’s political breed merely want to appear good rather than do anything to make a difference. The serve up a platter of platitudes. The list is long – Obama, Trudeau, Cameron,  Merkel, Hollande, Juncker, Turnbull, Andrews, Weatherill, Palaszczuk, Barr etc. The sad thing about Tony Abbott’s demise was he actually stood for something. He wasn’t without fault (who isn’t) and he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I met the man in person and found him to be the genuine article.  There was no veneer. He was approachable. Foreign countries like Japan loved him (and couldn’t understand why he was turfed). He honestly had people’s best interests at heart. In that sense he wasn’t a politician at all. His service to the community such as volunteer fire fighting were actions over words yet the sneering mainstream media  had to take every opportunity to pot shot a dedicated party man for having several $50 bills in his wallet. Surely he should have been burnt at the stake for such a crime!

Hashtag politics to social media is rife. I wish ALL politicians would stop using it. I think it clouds judgement. A ‘like‘ or ‘share‘ on Twitter or Facebook means nothing in the grand scheme of things. It isn’t an endorsement and I’m sure many hitting ‘like‘ probably haven’t read much beyond the headline. Politicians should just get on with what they’ve been elected to do. If I had my way, social media for politicians would be banned.  Helping constituents is all about the long game. Not a knee jerk response to a Twitter feed.

I look at Brexit and question why certain politicians are taking it upon themselves to override the wishes of their constituents. The whole idea that many are regretting voting “leave” is utterly bogus. Yet the same mainstream media is begging for people to believe their biased discourse that a skewed survey of 2,000 people speak for 17,000,000. Is it any wonder NY Times is offering subscriptions at 60% off. People are tired of reading and listening to the out of touch.

Sadly, Turnbull has divided the Liberal Party, probably beyond repair. Their internal discord is only too evident. He has consistently thrown his loyal ministers under the bus if the public sentiment seems to criticize the action.

It makes sense for Bernardi to split. Record numbers of conservative voters (including me) elected to nominate other parties because they couldn’t consciously fathom their party could stoop to the shambolic antics of Labor. I’d voted Lib all my life except this election. It wasn’t a protest vote – it was that the Libs no longer represented my beliefs. Over half the party had sold out as mercenaries. What is sad is that if they were true mercenaries you’d ask for your money back such is their lack of will to fight for common sense. They are now obviously so caught up in their own folly they believe that sticking their heads in the sand will make the problem vanish. Fat chance.

Despite Turnbull scraping home in the election gone by, if he was a CEO in the business world he would be forced (or if he had the grace, offer) to resign to the board for such a woeful outcome. He knows it too. Yet becoming PM was more about him than serving the nation. Therefore if the Liberal Party remains motionless on the sidelines and fail to boot Turnbull they’ll lose the next election even with a Labor Party that is hardly flavor of the month. If Bernardi gives traditional conservative voters a place to go and Gina Rinehart backs him then I think it has a lot of legs. Australian politicians remain too fixated on small issues when the danger of recession looms large. The more the press gang up on Bernardi the more we’ll know how petrified they are of his chances. Maybe they need look at the NY Times which has seen revenue tumble 50% in the last 12 years with EBITDA plunging 2/3rds.

I want an end to the lost decade in Australia. Many Australians are sick of Politocs. Faith and trust in politicians plunges to new lows. Populist parties which ‘listen’ to the concerns of the people can’t help but gain – people don’t want more government, more regulation, less control and being lectured to about their concerns. Australian culture was founded on grit and toil. It isn’t about trading it for some apparent greater good bannered under the divisive practice of diversity. Make Australia Great  Again.