Luck & Good Fortune

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Sometimes we all need to change the window we look out of to forget politics, work, relationships or finances. Bathe your feet in hot water while you dine. Find your place of peace. This is 東府や(Toofuya) in the Izu Peninsula. 静岡県伊豆市吉奈98 Bakery & Table

Why winning matters

In a world that is sliding down the slippery slope of participation prizes and everyone is a winner, Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovisioso proved why winning isn’t a bad thing (watch the video) and why competition breeds success and overwhelming joy to the victor. Since joining the MotoGP class in 2011, Dovi had only won 2 races til last season. This year he has won 5. He had been in positions to win in the past but misfortune (usually being wiped out by other riders) has stifled any shot at the title.

Today he was up against championship leader Marc Marquez who is without a doubt the toughest rider to face on a last lap. The word “give 150%” doesn’t even begin to describe his riding style.He rides that bike like he stole it.  Even in the pouring rain with no real safety aids in braking or traction control, Dovi managed to outbrake Marquez in a risky move that (literally) stuck.

Now these bikes way 157kg and have 270hp. These two riders are 1&2. Dovi is smelling the championship that he’s not attained (Marquez already 3) and had to risk it to stay in the hunt. So under intense pressure he produced a diamond and spoke of utter grit. No knees taken. No politics. Just a win that defied the odds. The satisfaction that came with his win could be felt by the crowd and even those who support others congratulated him.

So whenever I hear of read of participation medals given to all these kids in sports events I wonder what lessons are we teaching them about the real world which is nothing like this. Wrapping kids in cotton wool is pointless. The daughter of a friend said she was told after winning three races in a row would she mind not winning again in the following races to give the other kids a chance. Is it any wonder we have a generation of self entitled kids who expect to get a good paying job without having to “earn it”. Dovi if you manage to beat the best over the final three races then we’ll know you earned it and deservedly so.

Tokyo’s Iron Lady preparing a wrecking ball

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PM Abe may have more than met his match. It seems Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike could win the support of defections from the flailing Democratic Party of Japan. They are considering running no candidates under their own banner but under hers – The Party of Hope (Kibo no To). Koike isn’t playing by the rules and PM Abe’s wish to hold a snap election knowingly ceding seats so he could keep a majority may end up backfiring. She has next to nothing to lose and she represents a  “fresh” scandal-less face to the electorate. She is on a wave. Abe’s majority under threat.

Think of it this way. The LDP is embarking on a strategy that seeks to take some losses. In a sense they are openly conceding it is all about clinging to power. Hardly a promising election strategy. The slew of scandals (two with the PM himself) works to Koike’s favour in appealing to those that see her as a reboot to the decades of LDP cronyism.  Still early days but the momentum is almost tsunami like. Drain the swamp?

Countering the White Supremacist narrative

It is hard not to listen to the common sense spoken by Larry Elder. From a man who grew up in one of America’s most underprivileged and violent neighborhoods he puts up an interesting argument to the hollowness of today’s biased media. I’m glad liberal Rubin keeps getting this guy on. Elder has a talk back program where he has invited Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters on his show and they’ve refused every single time. His answer is that they have no solid facts on the views they push. Telling.

The idea of Nazism and hatred is abhorrent beyond words but believe that if these groups are doing it legally then those who think they shouldn’t be prepared to change laws that curtail their own civil liberties. Let the hollowness of their arguments be shot down by common sense. Giving these protestors a voice doesn’t enhance their cause. It gives the rest of us a window to see how little they matter.

TM is no MT

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Theresa May (TM) is no Margaret Thatcher (MT). The fact their initials are the opposite of each other is almost as eerie. Some look at the second ever female UK PM as a sort of MT Mk.II. TM isn’t. In fact her total lack of judgement to host this election is made even worse by the fact she isn’t resigning her position. Is she was the CEO of a multinational and presented a strategy that caused such damage to the brand as this election has she’d resign. Period. TM channeled the wrong MT (Malcolm Turnbull) in the election campaign who also suffers from the same belief of thinking he is more popular than he really is.

TM sold this election as a victory for her party yesterday. Her lack of humility was telling. Apparently she will “provide certainty’. Losing 12 seats while her arch enemy won an extra 29 doesn’t ring “mandate” from the people. Enlisting Arlene Foster’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to make up the numbers is patchwork and she knows it. This sign suggests that they can push hard on policy positions.

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The DUP want a soft border with the Republic of Ireland effectively diluting a hard Brexit, no change to same sex marriage or abortion laws, immunity for British soldiers in legacy cases, no border poll and a bump in its share of budget appropriations to offset a drop after Brexit. A mixed bag for May to negotiate.

While the election was interesting in the decimation of UKIP and the drubbing of the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon (who also sold it as a win), this was May’s Stalingrad. She thought she’d crush the Comrade Corbyn but didn’t bet on the resilience, resolve or resurgence in those who wanted to have a second shot at ‘Remain’. Now she leaves the Tories in a winter of discontent.

TM, you’ve lost your legitimacy – time to go.  MT would tell you the same.

A reminder of credit ratings and ability to pay – both awful

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An astute market’s person sent me an interesting chart (above) from the IMF highlighting that US companies have added $7.8t in debt & other liabilities since 2010. The ability to cover interest payments is now at the weakest level since 2008 crisis. When looking at credit ratings for US companies over the last decade, the deterioration has been marked. For all of the turbo charged low interest rate environment set by central banks, the ‘real’ state of corporate financial health on aggregate continues to worsen despite near full employment, record level equity markets and every other word of encouragement from our politicians. However if this is the state of the corporate sector at arguably the sweet spot of the economic cycle I shudder to think the state of potential bankruptcies that will come when the cycle takes a turn for the worse. This is a very bad sign.

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The golden rule of customer service

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Customer service! What is it? How well do we know our customers? In my case it is a Mr Kamimura, a diligent garçon at Aux Bacchanales in Kioi-cho, Tokyo. No matter what mood you’re in he has an innate ability to make you forget and laugh at yourself. In my case today new shoes are causing blisters. He saw me with bandaids at hand. Sensing what was wrong he scribed “blister” in my latte. A small thing perhaps but isn’t it amazing how something so simple, not discovered in any manual can keep a customer coming. The coffee is pretty good too so it’s a win-win. I’m fascinated how in today’s smartphone gazing culture how as humans were actually missing out what really matters.