Ethics

Boeing 737 MAX-8 piñatas

The loss of life through any accident is tragic. Make no mistake. Yet if aviation authorities (AA) across the world were truly worried about the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX-8 they’d have grounded it after accident #1 when they’d learnt about the faulty AOA sensor issue. They could have issued Boeing with an immediate action to fix it. They didn’t. Just let the FAA do its work and adopted its resolutions. Now it appears they’ve merely followed the followers. It is as if they’ve felt social media pressure to cover their behind so as not be the last AA do so. It’s irrational. Think of it as aviation piñatas. Bashing with a blindfold.

China was the first to ground the plane. The stunt was in part a trade related issue because the FAA airworthiness directive wasn’t just issued inside a cornflakes packet and as the strictest aviation authority should carry weight. The FAA has said the evidence is not broad enough to justify a ban.

Having been a former aerospace analyst, this is the first time in a very long time CM can remember that a virtual global ban was put on any aircraft type. When Qantas flight QF32 (an Airbus A380) had an uncontained engine failure which ruptured the wing tanks and severing hydraulics, the airlines grounded their own planes as a safety measure, not the authorities. Singapore Airlines suspended its A380 flights for one day before resuming operations.

When AA587 crashed in Queens after the tail and engines sheared off, Airbus A300s weren’t summarily grounded. When AF447 crashed into the ocean off Brazil, A330s weren’t grounded as a precaution.

The Boeing 737-400 series had inert fuel tank issues where near empty scenarios could cause the vapor to ignite in the centre tank and lead to a deadly explosion. Several did explode. Some in the air. Some on the tarmac. These planes weren’t grounded. World aviation authorities, like Australia, issued advisories on how to ensure it doesn’t happen. Not knee jerk copy thy neighbor responses.

The list of 787 airworthiness directives (from fire issues, wings, flight controls to landing gear) stands at 52. FIFTY TWO. Sure a 787 has not crashed yet but where have the authorities been trying to ground the type until it has no ailments at all? Do they need a crash to rally into action? Or do they look at the issue on its individual merits? The 737 can fly without this AOA safely, which is why the FAA still allows its operation.

This seems to be follow the pattern of board governance today. Aviation authorities reacting with emotion, not data. Seemingly acting for fear of a twitter backlash rather than applying common sense to a problem and shutting out noise. Are social media trolls experts on aviation matters? Yet another “it’s better to be morally right than factually so” argument it would seem.

Maybe the biggest qualification is whether airlines ground them because passenger refuse to board 737 MAX-8s where they’re allowed to operate. However most passengers don’t look at the “registration plate” affixed to the top of the front left hand door jam as they board to see what type of plane they’re on. They don’t look at the safety placard in the seat pocket. Most certainly don’t pay attention to the cabin attendants during the pre flight safety instruction.

By the way, flight AA293 from Miami to Washington DC is scheduled to land 11 minutes early today. It’s a MAX-8. Passengers in America are prepared to put their faith in the FAA not the whims of social media activism led policy to unnecessarily ban something to appear virtuous.

Trump is right to cut NSF funding – here’s why

So the media unsurprisingly hurled abuse at Trump for his plans to cut National Science Foundation (NSF) funding by $1bn. Typical. Yet maybe it’s worth reminding ourselves how the NSF has misappropriated taxpayer funds with such reckless negligence. No doubt if Obama (who raised its budget $1.5bn which in office) had lopped $1bn off the NSF budget on discovery of the below the media would be in raptures.

The NSF is a US government agency responsible for allocating 24% of science funding. It was raked over the coals by the US Senate for gross mismanagement, fraud and waste. The “National Science Foundation: Under the Microscopepaper from 2011 documented some of the misappropriation of funds as follows,

An $80,000 study on why the same teams always dominate March Madness”, a “$315,000 study suggesting playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships”, a study costing “$1 million for an analysis of how quickly parents respond to trendy baby names”, a study costing “$50,000 to produce and publicize amateur songs about science, including a rap called “Money 4 Drugz,” and a misleading song titled “Biogas is a Gas, Gas, Gas”;” a study costing”$2 million to figure out that people who often post pictures on the internet from the same location at the same time are usually friends”; and “$581,000 on whether online dating site users are racist”.Ineffective management examples, cited in the report, included “ineffective contracting”, “$1.7 billion in unspent funds sitting in expired, undisbursed grant accounts”, “at least $3 million in excessive travel funds”, “a lack of accountability or program metrics to evaluate expenditures” and “inappropriate staff behavior including porn surfing and Jello wrestling and skinny-dipping at NSF-operated facilities in Antarctica”.

Sorry, which part of lopping $1bn would taxpayers be upset by?

ZeroHedge ban – nothing helps publicity like scarcity

ZeroHedge

ZeroHedge (ZH) has been banned from Facebook. ZH has the occasional spicy article but it is hardly a purveyor of information that could be remotely deemed hate speech or attacking ‘community standards’. It is punchy journalism. The good thing is that ZH already has quite a good following from readers who access the website directly. The irony of these arbitrary bans is that it only makes sites like ZH even more attractive. Nothing helps publicity like scarcity.

In the last few years, privacy and other issues have plagued the social media giant. By all accounts, users are moving away from the platform. ZH reported

More than 17 million young Americans have abandoned Facebook over the last two years after a series of data privacy scandals damaged public trust in the social media platform… to the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America conducted by Edison Research, Facebook users between 12-34 years-old are now flocking to Facebook sister site Instagram, reports the Daily Mail

…Older people over the age of 55, meanwhile, increased their Facebook usage – marginally offsetting the drop in younger users for a net loss of 15 million users over the last two years

The longer term problem for social media is that kowtowing to a wafer thin number of activists who complain (no matter how much Facebook might align ideologically), means that those who are sick of being told what is deemed acceptable for them will just grow tired and leave. The irony in all of this is listening to a minority will ultimately drive the majority to a place which provides a marketplace that offers personal choice on what is deemed acceptable.

Dr Kerryn Phelps MP misdiagnoses the cancerous white patriarchy

Dr Kerryn Phelps AM MP posted the following graphic on Twitter to howl at the patriarchy on International Women’s Day (IWD). She posted these figures from a (pre-Channel 9) Sydney Morning Herald article from April 2018.  Most of the statistics above are inaccurate or misrepresented but when it comes to bashing middle aged white men, no-one dares questioning the accuracy when it comes to this demographic.

The basics.

1. Whites in Australia make up c.80% of the population. This is census data. No room for much conjecture.

2. Men make up 63% of all full time employment in 2018. In 2000 this was 75%. 13% of those aged 65 and over still participate in the workforce, 65% of those are men. This is down from 79% in 2000. By pure logic, if men were 75% of FT jobs two decades ago, stands to reason they’d have a higher chance of being in positions of seniority today.

3. We stick to the SMH’s definition of ”middle age’ of 40-60 which equates to 2.8mn white men, or 10.7% of the total population.

4. In the Australian Federal Parliament there are 150 lower house & 75 upper house seats. 225 positions up for grabs during election cycles (longer terms for senators). On Phelps’ SMH derived assumptions that means 160 of the seats are occupied by white middle aged males. 160 seats means that federal politics as a profession at present is only 0.0057% of their representative demographic. Phelps might reflect that 30 out of 75 senators are women, or 40% of the total. 60% are males. 17.5% of all Senators are white males over 60yo meaning only 32.5% of senators are middle aged white males.

30% of the House of Reps are women. Yet 17% of the white males in the lower house are aged over 60. So only 53% of our lower house is middle aged white male. Not 70%.

5. There are 2,185 stocks listed on the ASX. If 75% are run by middle aged white men then 1,638 companies fit Phelp’s parroted profile. 0.059% of the all middle aged white men run listed corporates. Although the average age of CEOs in Australia is around 54, or at the upper bound of the 40-60 cohort. Going back to point 2, the higher proportion of men in FT roles seems consistent with this. There should be no surprise.

6. There are 1,054 state and federal judges and magistrates in Australia. Of that, 63% are white men according to SMH. The actual figure is 62%, or 405. Close enough. So 669 members of the judiciary would fit the claim. To hit the top echelons of the judiciary requires long service. Even if we took the SMH at its word, 0.023% of the white middle aged male cohort would take those roles. Note 42% of judges on the High Court of Australia are women.

7. In our tertiary education system , APH notes only 21.6% of university academia in Australia were women in 1985. It rose to 39% in 2002 and is just over 50% today. Today tenured females at universities exceed tenured males. Over 50% of all associate lecturers and lecturers are women. Male senior professors make up 75% of the total. Their average age is well above 50. Senior professors are able to get a higher percentage of research grants because they are mainly in STEM fields.

8. There are 39 Vice Chancellor positions in Australia. 12 are currently held by females. 70% are males. 66% are held by white males. Phelps mistakenly thought that 85% were middle aged white males. In fact the article mentioned that 85% of Vice Chancellors were of Anglo-Celtic background. Still it sounds better if it attacks middle aged white males.

9. Phelps believes the claim that 80% of highest paying jobs are held by white middle aged males. Assuming that 85% of the population was white two decades ago and the Australian Government claims 90% of executive roles are full time roles with men a higher proportion of the workforce back then it should make for little surprise. It is representative.

Labour participation rate among males 15-64 is 82% vs 71.7% for females. Note in 1978 these figures were 85% and 50% respectively. The highest quintile of compensation was 48% of the total in 2017/2018. This quintile also paid 78.7% of total income tax. The top 10% of income earners paid 44.9% according to the ATO. The top 1% paid 16.9%. So the bottom 90% pay less than 56% of total income tax. Middle aged white men pay more tax.

10. Phelps the SMH article that says 80% of film directors and writers are white middle aged males. According to the Australian Directors Guild’s (ADG), ‘Gender Matters – women in the Australian screen industry‘ report, 21% of writers and 16% of feature films are directed by women. There is no “age” breakdown for either gender. 34% of documentaries since 1988 have been directed by women, 41% of producers and 37% writers. The in-house analysis by the ADG shows that teams with at least 50% female creative teams gets 58% of all funded projects. In 2017, the Australian Director’s Guild started a female scholarship mentor program.

In an industry that leans heavily to the ideological left, surely that is a self inflicted wound. In the arts and entertainment industry, the ability to source funds to make films is mostly based on a track record to convert that investment into box office revenue. The ability to write a movie script is based on the creativity of the author, regardless of gender. Page 8 of the report notes, “Anecdotal evidence indicates that women are far more likely than their male counterparts to underestimate and undersell their skills and abilities.” Supposedly this is caused by toxic masculinity?

Will striving for more politically correct measures improve things in the art & film world? America has been trying this path for quite some time now and the results have continued to drift lower and lower. More films but less revenue.

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Things have come a long way over the last 50 years. Yet some industries remain very skewed toward men, not because of some evil patriarchal conspiracy.

99.7% of bricklayers are men in Australia. 96.4% of truck drivers are men. 95% of miners are men. 93% of our fire fighters are men. 85% of our defence force is comprised of men. Isn’t this merely individual work choices rather than a deliberate plan to shun women in those industries?

Should there be a Royal Commission to find out why more women don’t want to be brickies, truckies, miners, firies, coppers or soldiers? Should we force quotas? That is what the ADF is now doing with disastrous results. The ADF missed its original gender targets so lowered them but missed by an even wider margin. The Air Force openly practices discrimination to such a degree that if the private sector adopted similar methods, the corporates would face harsh penalties and sanctions. Women in the ADF can achieve their service medal in half the time of men. Then they wonder why morale in the military is drifting lower every year. The irony is that almost 50% of women in the ADF surveyed think these affirmative action measures are meaningless.

On the flip side 98.7% of personal assistants are women98.4% of dental assistants are women94% of receptionists are women. 85.7% of special education teachers are women80% of cafe workers are female.  75.9% of nurses are female. Should we seek to redress the gender imbalance there? Men are 92% of the prison population in Australia? Should we equalize that?

Should we enforce quotas among politicians? Political parties place candidates who they think can win elections whatever their identity – gender, sexual proclivity or otherwise. If parties think women are the magic elixir to secure more terms in government, women will make up a growing proportion of the pre selection process. The patriarchy would be crazy not to run candidates that allow them to sustain their thirst for power.

Lenny lectures on the ladies

There is no question there are/have been some disastrous male leaders in politics – in no particular order – The North Korean Kims, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Amin, Saddam, Juncker, Chamberlain, Rudd, Turnbull, Hoxha, Trudeau, Obama, Carter, Bush Jr, Yeltsin, Erdogan, Chavez, Maduro, Macron and so on. Many would be well within their rights to demand Trump be included too. It’s all subjective of course. The list above will undoubtedly trigger some complaint.

However does Lenny Kravitz honestly believe that genitalia is the key determinant for success in world leadership? Or is this a cynical virtue signaling hijack of a well publicized cause (International Women’s Day) which might help resurrect dwindling industry-wide revenue in a music streaming world? Then again Lenny has first hand experience in letting it all hang out to get media attention when his wardrobe failure exposed his Prince Albert in 2015.

Did Lenny forget Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was given a 12 year sentence for money laundering and corruption? Or former South Korean President Park Gyun-hye who was locked away for 24 years for her abuse of power, coercion and bribery? Former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko received a 7 years jail term for embezzlement. Elena Ceausescu was executed by the Romanian Armed Forces for heinous crimes against her people.

Let’s not go near the toxic trail of disaster left behind Hillary Clinton. Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s $93 trillion Green New Deal thought bubble the type of leadership the world is craving? Do we want the shoot from the hip without facts style of Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris or Maxine Waters? Or does Lenny think we should channel the moral high ground calibre of Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib to run international diplomacy?

This is not to cast aspersions on the huge number of successful and capable women that exist in world politics. Do we really think the following women want constituents to judge them on the basis of gender or hope they look to their track records first and foremost?

Exhibit A – former US Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. Sign CM up. She is intelligent, strong, articulate and just happens to be a woman. CM sincerely hopes she runs for POTUS. She’d be fantastic.

Exhibit B – Australian Senator Linda Reynolds. She gave an incredibly powerful speech about lived experience with respect to people smuggling. Principled and earnest. Just happens to be female.

Exhibit C – Former Canadian Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose regularly tore strips off Justin Trudeau through reasoned logic and sensible argument. Just happens to have XX chromosomes.

Exhibit D – Australian Labor Party Senator Kimberley Kitching appears another impressive politician. CM shares little in the way of political ideology with her but once again she appears intelligent, measured and confident in her own skin.

We could go on and on.

On the other hand CM wonders what is this obsession with gender and identity taking a premium to merit and ability?

In the upcoming federal election in Australia the parties are chest-beating about their relative diversity. Parties preselect candidates on their ability to win seats. No point putting up women (or men for that matter) on the ticket on the basis of their gender if the talents won’t garner a tick at the polling booth.

Social media is likely to lavish praise on Lenny Kravitz for being so ‘woke’. Best check his ranking on iTunes next week to see if his little stunt paid real dividends thanks to a bump of “Always on the run” downloads.

Maybe our Lenny needs to play the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin tune, “Sisters are doing it for themselves“, on a loop. They believed they could stand on their own two feet back in 1985. Far easier in 2019 to do so.

Twitter bias – who’d of thunk?

Judge for yourself on whether Twitter targets particular groups. Think Sarah Jeong faced no Twitter ban for calling to #CancelWhitePeople whereas black conservative Candace Owens got a suspension for changing Jeong’s words from “white” to “Jewish” and “black”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg openly admitted in a congressional testimony that Silicon Valley was littered with people from the far left. Think of poor old #WalkAway activist Brendan Straka , the articulate, openly gay hairdresser who was suspended for 30 days for highlighting he’d appear on the then banned InfoWars. Not for posting a video.  Just that he’d appear.

The publishing of Google’s internal post-election debrief video shouldn’t have surprised anyone in the slightest. All the outer appeals to the group’s impartiality were smashed by this leaked video. In a sense Google was the victim of the half-life nature of the very digital media feeds it seeks to control. Even worse it was all the senior management talking about what really goes on behind closed doors.

Sunlight is truly the best disinfectant.

Tesla – Musk baits the regulator again?

Anton Wahlman on Seeking Alpha has reported that Tesla held a secret telephone conference call to a limited audience which apparently contradicted statements made earlier in the public domain. If true, from a pure compliance and governance perspective that would violate fair disclosure rules. It is surprising that given Elon Musk’s run ins with the SEC that shareholders would hope he’d look to avoid further investigation rather than taunt the regulator.

According to the call transcript, Tesla provided new profit/loss guidance to the select few on the call. Even more bizarre is that Deutsche Bank compliance apparently let its Tesla analyst publish a report on March 1 based on the contents of the call, including margin guidance on the $35,000 Model 3 which was not divulged to others.

CM has always held that Tesla is an amateur car maker. Luring owners to deposit a non refundable $2,500 for a $35,000 Model 3 smacks of a silent fund raising to keep the ship afloat.

The company recently admitted it would close much of its dealer network and move to mobile servicing. Cute in principal but unlikely to be sustainable. Mainstream makers know that dealer/service networks are vital to keeping customers connected. If large recalls need to be conducted, mobile units aren’t going to cut it.

None of the above really surprises. Owning Tesla is sort of like joining a cult. The preachings from the fearless leader are designed to keep the disciples fiercely loyal. However if the government gets enough evidence to gather the SWAT team it will swarm the compound. This company is not worth anything like $50bn. Grab your popcorn.