Month: July 2018

If you’re easily triggered don’t join the military

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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) should never be actively trying to recruit spent cartridges to serve. What is the purpose to train people that don’t wish to step in harm’s way? Yet our top brass is hell bent on diversity and equality targets. Let’s not get the message confused. Those who actively seek to defend our nation with dignity and bravery deserve our highest praise and support. As written yesterday, it is absolutely clear that the project, even by the ADF’s own data and reporting, is failing. Instead of admitting defeat, the armed forces leadership believes doubling down is preferable.

The Navy thought serving RAN seamen painting fingernails pink in order to push the ‘100 Days for Change’ campaign was more virtuous than spending to defend our nation. Make no mistake, China’s military is not pandering to politically correct posturing. They must have chuckled at this overt display of weakness. President Xi wants to make his country the dominant, God-fearing player in the region and as far as displaying weakness goes Australia may as well hand over the keys to the Lodge.

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Speaking to people related to personnel in the Defence Department yesterday, the argument was that diversity is a good thing. When asked to defend the position the individual couldn’t come up with a credible answer. The strongest argument offered was that allow smoother integration into civilian life. Since when did it become a current employers role to help the transition of leavers? Surely the aim is to keep soldiers for the long term not support the 25% who are actively looking to quit.

CM posed a question back. Usain Bolt can run 100m faster than me. I’ve wanted to hold the 100m world record since I was a kid. In order to fulfil my subjective sense of self worth he should be forced to run 150m while I’m at 75m. It’s a stupid argument.  Much like a heavyweight male boxer fighting a female heavyweight in the quest for equality.  The man is likely win 100% of the time. Look at men identifying as women  making such a mockery of women’s sports. Let’s openly accept that I’ll never beat Bolt and there is no point pretending it. If the ADF want to celebrate diversity, embrace the existence of biological and  physiological differences. Stop this nonsense that “diversity is our strength”  because outside of diversity of thought it doesn’t.

Therefore “if” men happen to be more qualified in terms of strength, endurance, fitness, accuracy or whatever metric that is chosen, why shouldn’t they be recruited over women? If women prove to be superior than men on the same metrics then they should be hired over the men they beat.  As written yesterday, the ADF lowered the targets for women because they were too onerous in the hope the execution rate would be more easily achieved yet they missed by a wider margin. Instead of actively accepting fewer women are interested in a military career than men, males are actively discriminated against. Recruiters face demotion for not complying with big brother. In civilian life companies would be fined and face jail terms for operating similar structures. So much for equality!

It’s not rocket science. The military should never be a social experiment. Period. Our military leadership even wants to ban death symbols. Honestly if death symbols make our troops feel better morale then let them. What  surprise that our diversity programs are sinking morale to record lows? Even a large slug of female military  personnel don’t believe these programmes are effective yet we will push our Waterloo strategy.

CM is going to take a wild stab in the dark. War veterans or those in special forces must be rolling their eyes. Some SAS soldiers have confessed that in training, new cadets are able to raise a red card if they feel their instructor is being too harsh? Discipline is the most important part of a military. Following orders. Surely in the heat of battle a commander needs to be able to order troops to take a hill or position, not spend crucial minutes debating subordinates on the validity of the plan. If one is so easily triggered by members of the home team how effective could they possibly be in battle? Instead of waving a white flag why not waggle pink fingers to the enemy in the hopes they won’t be shot?

Time for the military to be handed back to professional soldiers not caught up in political correctness. If our enemies are “sons of bitches” best we become “total sons of bitches” rather than “fairies”.

Harley-Davidson to go into the Adventure category

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Actually credit where credit is due. Harley maybe very late to the party but realizes it must be bold to survive in the long run. Adventure (ADV) bikes (think of them as 2-wheeled SUVs)  are one of the most popular motorcycle segments now due to versatility but the competition is fierce and only getting moreso. Harley plans to launch a 1250cc ADV bike in 2020.

It is unlikely to cause segment leader BMW to quake in its boots with respect to its best seller GS series although the question is can the Harley brand can carry any sales at all? At the luxury end BMW, KTM, Ducati, Triumph, Moto Guzzi and Aprilia all have ADV bikes. BMW & KTM are the sales chart leaders. BMW for inventing the segment and KTM for strapping a 160hp nuke to its expertise in off road and 17 straight wins in the Paris-Dakar.

It is fast becoming a horsepower war. BMW is looking to launch a 145-150hp 1250cc next year for the GS from the 125hp 1170cc twin it currently has to keep up with the competition.

Without a spec sheet it is hard to tell much about the Harley ADV. It looks heavy. Weight matters. The BMW is around 240kg. The KTM 210kg. Will the Harley keep it under 260kg?

Horsepower is not a Harley strong suit. You won’t find power in a Harley spec sheet at the dealer. Will it use a clump of lazy torqued Milwaukee pig iron for an engine? In a low slung cruiser one can get away with it but in a tall ADV bike, when negotiating goat tracks (that’s a wide belly pan!), traction, power delivery and how a bike carries its weight is crucial. Can Harley produce over 120hp from this 1250cc engine with flexibility across the rev range? Will it be chain driven? Shaft? Belt? These things matter to the ADV snobs.

The design of the ADV Harley is certainly bold. CM likes it although if you drop it that headlight unit sure looks expensive to replace. Like many SUVs never see more off-road than a gravel driveway, the most dirt tracking Harley ADVs will see might be some road repairs on Route 66. The Pan America name certainly rings of highway biased use.

The next thing will be price. Even before (and after) we have full specs can Harley launch the bike at a competitive price? Harley can’t just rock up into a segment it’s never been active in and demand the type of premium it’s cruisers carry. It’s top of the line CVO series can be $50,000. BMW is considered the premium offering in ADV. Luxury Italian brand Ducati tried to price it slightly north and was caned in the sales race. KTMs are priced slightly cheaper but BMW remains king and having owned one know exactly why. The BMW is good at absolutely EVERYTHING.

Harley has history in new ventures. It broke the mold decades ago and took a stab at sports bikes with the Buell brand, but it was an abject failure. Porsche was called into help develop the V-Rod engine some 18 years ago but that is no longer sold.

Harley also aims to launch electric bikes, smaller 250-500cc categories for Asian markets and a mid range 500-1250cc for new sport type street fighters. All looks margin crushing from a distance.

From an investor perspective the accountants will require a lot of volume to justify the R&D expense. The shares closed toward the lows on the announcement.

Without getting too Harvard MBA, Harley feels extension of product is vital. To a degree it is right. Unfortunately graveyards for such strategies are too commonplace. Few get it right. Buell was case in point. BMWs K1600 Bagger will flop because it was an excuse trying to find a home for its 1600cc 6-cylinder regardless of capabilities. Customers see through this.

Harley’s ADV will have distribution channels as it’s biggest weapon. It will have a hard time converting ADV faithful unless it offers something truly better at a competitive price. Otherwise it will gather dust on showroom floors.

Personally this ADV will probably do better than most think. It won’t get close to toppling the Beemer but there are enough quirky people out there who want to be different. Nice job Harley but can it turn groups profitably around? The last 5 years have been a disaster. The question is all this product arrives at a time when the economy is likely to turn south.

But only after you told us…

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Once upon a time FB thought our data was its BFF. So one could question the advertising campaign from the social media giant as a sop to the regulators. Where was Zuckerberg telling big government that he is not to blame for the FAANG giant’s users voluntarily giving all their information and broadcasting it to the world. While the group may not have asked for express permission, if one’s privacy really mattered that much one wouldn’t be so active in screaming from the mountain tops what, where, how and with who they were active with.

Still better to seek forgiveness, right?

Diversity in the ADF – lower targets missed by even wider margin

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What sort of defence force can Australia rely on if our military brass blathers on about the importance of “diversity”? The irony is that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) reduced the actual female recruitment target and missed it by an even wider margin. Instead of respecting the pure vocational choices of men and women somehow the military seems to think ever higher levels of discrimination will overcome it. Military morale is not high.

Navy News reports that,

100 Days of Change, running from July 1-October 8, aims to strengthen the momentum for individuals to improve our operational effectiveness by committing to gender equality and equity at all levels.

There is only one thing a military needs to do – be capability effective. It should focus on candidates who fit that requirement. Nothing else matters. Yet RADM Mark Hammond said,  “We must do this as one Navy, regardless of age, rank, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or gender,” Indeed he should but such outcomes do not come through blatant discriminatory practices.

Shouldn’t a military focus on capabilities of the individual – whether he/she meets the “same” minimum fitness requirements (women have easier standards to pass), can hit enemy targets or whatever objective is set out. If 100 women are better than 100 men for the specific role then the military should hire 100 women and vice versa. Imagine if 100 men proved to be more capable than 100 women for a particular skill? In order to to hit targets, 25 men would be shunned to make way for inferior skills. If 100 women were better in this hypothetical situation, imagine the outrage if only 25 were selected for the 100 positions to keep the diversity target? It wouldn’t and shouldn’t happen.

Is discrimination, where recruiters face demotion if they don’t hit gender based targets, the way we want to run a military? Let’s take a look.

In the 2015-16 Women in the ADF report we see the Navy wishes to have 25% women by 2023  it stands at 21.3% today, up from 19% in 2016.

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If we were to look at actual vs target, it seems that the path is diverging. Isn’t that indication that women are less interested in the military as a career choice? Yet the Navy is forced to discriminate against males in order to hit targets.

So has the Army  it wants 15% by 2023 and is tracking marginally ahead with the ultimate aim of 25%. Could it be that 15% is the “natural” rate of women wanting to join the armed forces?

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The Air Force is also aiming for 25% by 2023 but is tracking below target.

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We should reflect on a study conducted around the world covering over 100,000 subjects which revealed that the countries with the biggest push/policy provision for equality and diversity cause the opposite to occur when choices are exercised. Scandinavia is the perfect example. Men and women don’t sort themselves into the same categories if we leave them alone to do it of their own accord through policies that tend to maximize equality. In Scandinavia it is  20 to one female nurses to male and approximately the same male engineers to female engineers,

Yet look at the lengths the Royal Australian Air Force goes to in order to hit diversity through blatant discriminatory practices.

“In support of this growth path Air Force has implemented, or is in the process of implementing, a number of recruitment and retention initiatives such as:

  • specific female recruiting target
  • Women in the Air Force marketing campaign
  • continuation of embedded specialist women recruitment team in Defence Force Recruiting
  • the trial of a reduction of Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS)
  • introduction of the Graduate Pilot Scheme (GPS) for women
  • changes to direct entry female pilot return of service obligations
  • continuation of experiential camps for girls (technical and aircrew focussed programmes)
  • release of an Air Force produced recruitment guide, ‘PropElle’, to support female pilot candidates through the recruitment process.

No such programs are available for men.

Despite all these programmes, surely any squadron leader with any common sense wants the most effective fighting force. Once the canopy closes, they depend on each other.

What an insult to women to think they need all these artificial prop ups to get ahead. Every ambitious women CM has ever met has never relied on free kicks but sheer determination, grit and above all ability.

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It is clear in the table above that all three military branches missed female recruitment targets in 2015/16. The irony is even after lowering the numerical targets of female hires in each military branch over 2014/15, recruiters missed by an even bigger margin. Evidence that on balance women are less likely to join the military when driven by personal choice!

The ADF paper also notes that women quit at higher rates than men, especially at the trainee stage. Men are also much more likely to remain in the military than women after 18mths of parental or maternity leave.

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In terms of gender pay gap there are marginal differences. In the senior ranks – Commodore (Navy), Brigadier (Army) and Air Marshall (Air Force) – women are paid more than men on average. Although the ADF “determines work value and subsequent remuneration proposals based primarily on capability delivery. Where there is a direct or similar civilian (non-military) occupation, market relativities may contribute to remuneration determinations. One example of this is in Defence’s technical trades, where there are measurable market influences and relativity for trades such as vehicle mechanics.

In terms of effectiveness of these diversity programmes,  the data is also telling  a little more than half of women think it makes  difference. 45% of men also agree. Hardly overwhelming evidence.

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When addressing morale, only 40% of men and women feel positive. Confidence in senior leadership was around 63%. Not exactly the figures that make a war fighter. 22% of women are actively planning to leave the military and 25% of men. If the military keeps it up perhaps male  resignations will help boost the percentages of female recruits that don’t seem keen to join.

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The military is the last place that social experimentation should be conducted. Let’s be clear that China, Australia’s most realistic threat in the Asia-Pacific, doesn’t practice diversity in the PLA. It projects capability.

Should our frigates be sunk, our fighters shot down or our artillery troops shelled to smithereens, at least we can say they didn’t die in vain but won the war of diversity. Await the rainbow camouflage to broaden our “wokeness”

Zen and the art of motorcycle winter cleaning!

Well overdue winter clean of the 2015 Yamaha WR450F. It was filthy in every respect! Therapeutic- Zen and the art of motorcycle cleaning.

Fair facts about Fairfax

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Freedom of the press. A beautiful thing. By all means, the 177-yo Sydney Morning Hearld (SMH) executed full autonomy over what it published. In the end, the public didn’t buy it. For the staff to seek the union to block the Nine Network’s takeover of Fairfax Media smacks of the identical numb-skulled action that has brought them to this predicament. If the paper decided to listen to what the audience wanted to read (the mood) as opposed to telling them they “don’t get it” it might have retained its independence. Take a look at the pictograph above – 20 anti Trump articles in one day. Overkill?

Last year the SMH had to take two massive rounds of lay-offs inside of 12 months because the product wasn’t reaching. The SMH staff took a vote to strike because their evil overlords put profit ahead of people. Welcome to the free market. When one journalist at the SMH became a scab (because he admitted the paper’s journalism was the  problem) he was vilified by his fellow workers. Instead of opening their minds that they maybe the root cause, they protested. Finger on the pulse?

It certainly makes a strong case for how the diminishing readership base (i.e. the free market) viewed the content. Not very highly. It is why The Guardian now asks its readers for charity so it can stay alive? Could it be that media jobs don’t exist to serve the journalists needs but that of their audience? The Fairfax scribes might reflect on the fact that the taxpayer funded ABC – which produces identical product – was not the friendly ally it believed it was but the mortal enemy who ended it. As an audience, if we’re not offered a differentiated product where the same content  is free to consume, who would pay for the one that costs?

Yet the sale of Fairfax was obvious. Digging a bit deeper into the stats of the ABC reveals its biased left leaning journalism has dwindling popularity. Comparing 2016/17 and 2015/16 it is clear that TV audience reach for metro fell from 55.2% to 52.5% and regional slumped from 60.3% to 57.3%. If we go back to 2007/8 the figures were 60.1% and 62.4% respectively. For the 2017/18 period, the ABC targets a 50% reach. Good to see taxpayer dollars openly championed with enhanced levels of mediocrity. Yet the ABC screams for more funding.

Throwing more money won’t fix the problems. The ABC’s wage bill is 50% of revenue while its multicultural sister station SBS runs on 31% of revenue for salaries. Why hasn’t the ABC got superior economies of scale? On a global basis, the UK’s BBC spends 22.7% of its revenues on salaries. How can Nine Network survive on advertising revenues? Could it be audience numbers allow advertisers to make rational decisions to tap them?

Criticise Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian for right wing media bias but at the very least he serves a market who is willing to pay for the content. Simple. It is no difference overseas. Fox has more viewers than MSNBC and CNN combined. Don’t belt Fox viewers for following “Faux News” but question what is it about their offering that they’re missing? At what point do the likes of Fairfax or Time Warner realize the problem lies within.

In Fairfax’s case we have the answer – market forces.