Monday, March 31, 2014

Can money buy happiness?

Happiness is a much debated theory by philosophers such as Socrates in the ancient world, to Eckhart von Hochheim in the middle ages, to Arthur Schopenhauer in modern philosophy and current philosophers such as Professor Ludwig Marcuse. There are many different branches of thoughts in regards to what is happiness and how to obtain it. I will evaluate Plato’s work on Happiness in the light of modern views in whether having more money can equal more happiness in a capitalist society.

What is the purpose of life? It is to become happy. Humans all have the same deep desire: to become happy. In our daily life we constantly experience happiness and unhappiness, but we are still quite ignorant as to what happiness really is. 

So what is Happiness? 
According to Plato, the human soul consists of three parts: the reason, the will and the desire. A man is happy when all three parts of the soul are in balance. In the Euthydemus (a diagolgue written by Plato circa 384 BC), Socrates presents two main views on happiness. The first view is that happiness is what all people desire: it is the end goal of our activities, an unconditional good. The second point is that happiness does not depend on external things, but rather on how those things are used.

For example, a wise person will use money in the right way in order to make his life better; an ignorant person will be wasteful and use money poorly, ending up worse than before. Hence we cannot say that money by itself will make one happy. Money is a conditional good, only good when it is in the hands of a wise person. In Plato’s work The Republic, Socrates argues that the just person is happier than the unjust person. He makes many points regarding what happiness is; the relationship between pleasure, happiness and virtue.

The first argument Socrates presents concerns the analogy between health in the body and justice in the soul. It is natural to prefer to be healthy than unhealthy, but health is nothing but the harmony among different parts of the body, each carrying out its proper function. Justice is a similar kind of harmony, but among the different parts of the soul. A just life brings greater peace and inner tranquility, which is more pleasant than the unjust life that tends to bring inner discord, guilt, stress, anxiety, and other characteristics of an unhealthy mind.

The second argument concerns an analysis of pleasure. Socrates wants to show that there are further considerations to emphasise the higher pleasures of the just life: not merely peace of mind, but the excitement of pursuing knowledge, produces an almost godlike state in the human being. The “relativity of pleasure" argues that most pleasures are not really pleasures at all, but merely result from the absence of pain. For example, if I am very sick and suddenly get better, my new state is pleasurable, only because it is a relief from my sickness. Soon this pleasure will become neutral as I adjust to my new condition. Nearly all of our pleasures are relative; hence they are not purely pleasurable.

Socrates claims that there are also types of pleasures that are not relative, because they concern higher parts of the soul that are not bound to the relativity produced by physical things. He calls them the philosophical pleasures—the pleasures that result from pursuing virtue and knowledge are of a higher quality than the pleasures resulting from satisfying mere desires.

So, does money buy happiness?
According to Assistant Professor of Economics Benjamin Ho and Associate Professor of Psychology Michele Tugade, Ho states “Money can make people happy, but there is a point of diminishing returns.”  He further states “Our brain is like a thermostat; it returns us to our natural baseline.” “You might win the lottery, but the money might reduce your motivation and you’re less fulfilled.  Simiarly Tugade says “the relentless pursuit of happiness (as defined by acquiring material things) can paradoxically make you unhappy.” In other words, when we buy material things, we get a temporary boost in happiness. We quickly adapt to that feeling. And because we want to feel that same level of happiness again, we increase our expectations and we aim to buy more and more things. Rather than increasing happiness, this striving or pursuit of happiness tends to make us feel worse.

Daisaku Ikeda (a Buddhist philosopher) in an article abouthappiness said “A young friend once spent a long time trying to work out what happiness was, particularly happiness for women. When she first thought about happiness, she saw it as a matter of becoming financially secure or getting married. The view in Japanese society then was that happiness for a woman was only to be found in marriage. But looking at friends who were married, she realised that marriage did not necessarily guarantee happiness. She saw couples that had been passionately in love suffering from discord soon after their wedding. She saw women who had married men with money or status but who fought constantly with their husbands. Gradually, she realized that the secret of happiness lay in building a strong inner self that no trial or hardship could ruin. She saw that happiness for anyone—man or woman—does not come simply from having a formal education, from wealth or from marriage. It begins with having the strength to confront and conquer one’s own weaknesses. Only then does it become possible to lead a truly happy life and enjoy a successful marriage. She finally told Ikeda, ‘Now I can say with confidence that happiness doesn’t exist in the past or in the future. It only exists within our state of life right now, here in the present, as we face the challenges of daily life.’

In my opinion, money is directly related to your happiness when below certain economic level. The correlation is less tight once your basic everyday needs are easily met. Money buys things that in turn make you happy. Studyafter study has shown that people's self-reported happiness rises as their income/financial security rises. A common perception is that there are things that money cannot buy, such as love, family, leisure time and health. However, the problem is money might in fact buy part of these things. For example, someone working three jobs to make ends meet does not have the privilege to spend quality time with their families. He or she does not have any leisure time and such stress often leads to divorce and an unhappy meaningless life.

For those who have not met someone yet, money might buy love. When you are trapped in a depressed area, there may not a potential mate that is compatible with you. To leave you may need a car and the skills to get a decent job, neither of which may be available to you if you are really poor. If you can leave you can increase your pool of potential mates. If you can go to college you can really take your time finding the right person. Health is also partially bought by health insurance. People without insurance are subjected to more illnesses because they cannot get good preventative care. Poor people buy cheap food, which leads to poor nutrition and in turn leads to poor health. Vacations are bought with money. If you have a lot of extra money to spend on activities such as going out to dine with your friends or family, taking trips, going to concerts will actually bring more happiness than spending it on material objects which brings temporary happiness that quickly levels off.

In conclusion, I agree with Michael Brew’s analysis that “money may enable us to attain happiness, but it is certainly no guarantee of it, as has been evidenced by accounts of the ‘unhappy rich. Happiness is based on what individuals’ value and how they strive to meet these values. Money plays an important role, but there is much more to it beyond dollars and cents” and “money certainly brings more freedom of choice in life.”

Written by Felix Kwan, student Raffles College of Design and Commerce.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Qantas. The world's worst performing airline?

Qantas shares climbed 7% on Wednesday after Australia’s Treasurer Joe Hockey indicated the government would make a special case for Qantas and toss them a life-line. The next day the Prime Minister Tony Abbott quashed that suggestion and the flying kangaroo’s shares nosedived. The only crumbs that fell from the government’s table was an offer to repeal the Qantas Sale Act provision for 51% Australian ownership.

Qantas’ antagonistic Irish CEO had spent weeks lobbying both the government and opposition for corporate welfare. Whilst members of the Labor opposition are literally sleeping with Qantas executives, government MP’s are also in bed with the airline as seen in Joyce’s cosy cocktail lobbying of 50 MP’s eager to hear his message. While Joyce was preaching to the converted, his message failed to win friends and influence MP’s primarily because the man himself is an arsehole

Qantas knows which side its bread is buttered on and has invested heavily in buying influence with governments and decision makers. A majority of MP’s, as elite members of Qantas’ loyalty program, have been recipients of gratuities and lavishly pampered for years and are not keen to lose these benefits, while Qantas is simultaneously a regular financial contributor to political causes which aid them strategically. Had a likable Australian been pleading Qantas’ case the airline almost certainly would have gained enough parliamentary support to win tax-payer funded aid. Under the circumstances Tony Abbott seeing beyond Qantas' influence buying, deserves credit.

No amount of automation can replace humans in aviation and airlines are judged by their staff. Like the remaining department stores, airlines require charming leaders to inspire both their staff and win fans with customers. The best airline’s have the best staff overseen by the best managers. One needs to look no further than Sir Richard Branson or the sophisticated CEO of Virgin Australia, John Borghetti to see this in practice.  

In 2008 Qantas rejected the charmingly sophisticated Mr Borghetti in favor of the uninspiring chubby little gay Irishman. Qantas felt it was more important to defeat unions than please customers. In tandem with the anti-union Chairman Leigh Clifford they grounded the airline in a failed attempt to show the unions ‘who's boss’. Joyce and Clifford have overseen the six worst years in Qantas’ post-war history and their removal is essential for the survival of the airline. Leaders who have engineered the demise of a company are not the right people to engineer its recovery. Qantas needs a new face and a new board, if it hopes to survive.

The magnitude of Qantas’ predicament is contrasted by Air New Zealand which operates on similar routes in the same markets as Qantas and has many of the same legacy burdens. Hours after Joyce announced record losses for Qantas, Air New Zealand announced a record profit, up 40% on last year. An Aviation specialist interviewed for this blog was asked which airline was performing worse than Qantas. After thinking the reply was “there is none”.

Qantas’ future
Senator Nick Xenophon has documented Qantas’ statistics massaging for years. Hailed as the savior of Qantas, this week its discount offshoot Jetstar also declared a $16 million loss with growth plans in Asia backfiring. Xenophon has pointed out how Qantas have shifted profits from Qantas to Jetstar for years to make Jetstar's performance appear better. However as the company now has no profit to shift anyway; their deception is plain for all to see. Given Qantas’ failure to respond to competition in any meaningful way and failing to explain how the Emirates alliance has done anything more than giving that superior airline, their customers; Qantas appears to be in a deathly tailspin.

Given the current Senate's unlikeliness of approving a change to the Qantas Sale Act's Australian ownership provision, the airline may be pushed into doing the only thing it currently knows how to do; retreat. Qantas can sell off its frequent flyer program to buy time, sell and lease back domestic terminals at Sydney and Melbourne airports and when cash finally dries up, shut down most of its international operations and retreat to being a primarily domestic airline. With the airline having only a single highly profitable route (Sydney-Johannesburg) and no ideas on how to turn things around, the airline my be forced to take this step. However before the ship really sinks, expect the rats on Qantas' board to jump. Former General Peter Cosgrove, the stuffed shirt on both the Qantas and Qantas Superannuation boards, has already secured for himself the blumest of lifeboat seats; Australia's governor-general ship. Expect others to jump or be pushed.

When a company is run by managers bereft of ideas, overseen by directors in agreement with a failing strategy, operating within a culture of corruption and ineptitude; bankruptcy seems the likeliest destination. If a company does not change the direction its heading in, it will arrive where its going. Captain Joyce is flying Australia's flag carrier towards oblivion and it is approaching soon.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Qantas Frequent Flyer points worth 0.625 cents

In the same week that Qantas’ CEO forecast a half yearly loss of $300 million and the airlines’ Bonds were downgraded to junk statusAir New Zealand operating under similar conditions, in similar markets announced a 172% lift in profits to NZ$256 million. Qantas' financial crisis is either a stunt or prima facie evidence of management’s ineptitude. Whatever the truth the Qantas board lacks credibility and the survival of the Qantas Group now depends on the replacement of the upper echelon of the airline’s management ‘team’ starting with the disappointing Leigh Clifford and the spectacularly incompetent Alan Joyce.

Buying Time
Failing businesses with management teams bereft of ideas often resort to selling profitable parts of their business to sustain the unprofitable core in a vain hope they can turn things around before catastrophe strikes. Seldom does this achieve anything except delaying the inevitable demise of the business. Because Alan Joyce’s request for corporate social welfare in the form of tax payer funded aid has fallen on deaf ears, selling part or all of Qantas’ popular Frequent Flyer program is again on the agenda.

In May 2007 Qantas’s Frequent Flyer program claimed 4.9 million members and was thought to be worth $1.5 billion when the airline contemplated its sale. Today it exceeds 9.7 million members, yet ironically is not necessarily worth more than it was before the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. The spectacular growth in members has come exclusively by enrolling vast numbers of low value Red members. Entry level members cost the airline in establishment expenses and represent little value to the airline. Red members typically also belong to several other ‘loyalty’ programmes, in particular Virgin Australia’s Velocity scheme.  Today, membership schemes are no sign of loyalty and can be an administrative burden.

While Qantas’s Frequent Flyer programme has seen its membership swell, its lucrative top tier Platinum membership ranks have dwindled dramatically since 2007. Today the decline in top ranking members is so embarrassing instead of boasting about how many top tier members the airline has, it is regarded as a highly confidential matter and statistics are no longer published. As Qantas’s international network shrinks, so too has its number of premium passengers. Airlines with superior networks and services, such as Emirates and Etihad and cheaper rivals like China Southern and Air Asia X have picked the cherries from Qantas’s cake. On the home front, Virgin Australia’s improving reputation is robbing Qantas of domestic profitability.

Frequent Flyer points worth 0.625 cents each
If all Qantas Frequent Flyers redeemed their outstanding balances for Myer department store gift cards at the current rate of $25 = 4000 points (which values a point at 0.625 cents) this could theoretically cost the airline in excess of $2 billion and bring the airline to its financial knees. Fortunately for the airline, most points are never redeemed. As Qantas looks to offload their Frequent Flyer programme to buy time, expect to see the airline spruik up its value. While other airlines, particularly Air Canada did a great job spinning off their Aeroplan scheme in 2005, it is doubtful Qantas could achieve such results without appearing to be conducting an asset fire sale. Qantas’ failed Frequent Flyer internet toolbar won Choice Magazine’s 2013 Shonky Award, and a spin off of Qantas’ Frequent Flyer program would similarly make a great candidate for their 2014 Awards.

An analysis of Qantas’ Annual Report seems to indicate the airline has only a single profitable route (Sydney - Johannesburg). An airline of this size needs more than a single cash cow to survive. Given Leigh Clifford’s and Alan Joyce’s self preservation instinct, it seems likely they’d rather fly the airline to oblivion than resign. In 2014 expect them to buy time by selling off their overvalued Frequent Flyer programme. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Does canola oil cause Type II diabetes?

Does canola oil cause diabetes mellitus type II?

Incidents of diabetes mellitus type II (type II diabetes) exploded since the 1980’s.  The public’s perception of type II diabetes is that it is a lifestyle disease which occurs where poor diet, sedentary lifestyles and prosperity meet. This image is not entirely true. The exponential rise of the condition affects people with a variety of diets, it affects those with active lifestyles and it is a global phenomenon affecting the developing world as much as wealthy countries.

In 1985 Canola oil (a genetically engineered relative of rapeseed oil) was approved for commercial release by the US Department of Agriculture. Due to canola’s high yield at lower unit cost it won near universal acceptance as the preferred oil of choice in the commercial and home kitchens of the world. The rise in global consumption of canola oil has increased at a similar rate to the rising rates of type II diabetes.

Canola oil has never been subjected to prolonged medical trials to measure the possibility it is a cause of type II diabetes. Type II diabetes has multiple causes and the disease is far older than canola oil, but due to the absence of medical trials gauging its prolonged health effects, it cannot be ruled out as one cause for diabetes. The molecular structure of Canola oil and its industrialized oil extraction process, which make it suitable as an industrial lubricant and bio-fuel may signpost the human digestive system has difficulty processing the oil efficiently with one consequence that long term consumption increases the risk of succumbing to the disease.

What is already known
Primarily the importance of further research lies in the fact that there is so little scientific data available about the effects of Canola oil on humans. Canola oil was developed at the University of Manitoba in Canada from genetically engineered rapeseed crops. The ‘Can’ in Canola comes from ‘Canada’ and ‘ola’ represents oil. The name ‘Canola’ was originally a trade mark but has taken on a general usage.  Today Monsanto is the global leader is supplying the genetically modified seed that grows the world’s Canola crops. Recognising the potential of the crop the US Department of Agriculture gave the crop the green light in 1985 with minimal scrutiny. Because of the crop’s pest and drought resistance Canola is economical to produce and its high smoke point of 520 degrees and shelf life of 20 years won it fans far beyond the deep fliers of fast food chains. As well as acceptance in the kitchen, Canola oil is also used as a bio-fuel and can be used as an industrial lubricant. Canola oil was promoted by giant multinationals and swiftly displaced other vegetable oils due to its cheaper cost, higher smoke point and unobjectionable flavour.

Canola oil’s manufacturing process begins with slight heating and crushing of the seed, which is 43% oil. Most Canola oil is processed using hexane, an alkane comprising six carbon atoms and 14 Hydrogene atoms (C6H14). Hexane’s are prominent ingredients in gasoline. The use of this petroleum chemical in the oilseed extraction process results in practically 100% of the oil being removed from the seed. ‘Healthier’ processing techniques involve crushing seeds using hydraulic processes to expel the oil but these methods yield only 50-70% of available oil. Crude Canola oil is then bleached and deodorized to achieve a neutral flavour by removing substances which would otherwise cause Canola oil to foam, spit or burn at a lower smoke point. This additional processing includes the addition of antioxidants BHT, BHA and TBHQ which at elevated levels are acknowledged carcinogens.  Because hexane evaporates during the oil extraction process, the US Federal Drug Administration permits Canola Oil’s labelling to omit hexane as an ingredient.

While Canola oil was winning fans with customers from 1985, type II diabetes began an exponential global rise. Prior to WWII type II diabetes was a relatively rare disease and restricted primarily to developed societies. Many countries had no cases at all. Nauru, which today has one of the world’s highest type II diabetes had zero cases of the disease in 1950. Between WWII and 1985 type II diabetes rates slowly climbed to around 1% of the world’s population. From 1985 the incremental rise turned into a flood. As an example of spirally rates the US based Center for Disease Control and Prevention documented rates increasing 84% from 4.5% to 8.2% between 1995 and 2010. At the same time the International Diabetes Federation claim that only half of diabetes sufferers are actually diagnosed. If they are correct US rates alone could be closer to 20% of the population. The disease shortens sufferer’s lives and affects their quality of living and has an economic burden which government’s and health care organisations are responding to.

Type I diabetes is a total absence of insulin caused by the destruction of the pancreas’s insulin producing islet cells. However type II diabetes is a metabolic condition producing excessive blood glucose caused by insulin resistance together with insulin deficiency. Symptoms include excess thirst, constant urination and abnormal hunger. Obesity is regarded as the primary cause of type II diabetes, particularly in combination with inactive lifestyles. Medication is frequently required to lower glucose levels in sufferers when exercise and dietary changes are inadequate. Type II diabetes facilitates heart disease, strokes, retinopathy and can affect eyesight, cause kidney failure and poor blood circulation resulting in limb amputation. Type II diabetes was blamed for 4.8 million deaths in 2012 by the International Diabetes Federation and its treatment cost US$471 billion.
Type II diabetes is acknowledged to be caused by lifestyle and genetics. Genetically a tiny minority of sufferers are susceptible to the condition, while the vast majority of sufferers contract the disease by way of diet in combination with other factors affecting their metabolism. Obesity, age, gender and behaviour traits, such as sleep deprivation all play a part in type II diabetes contraction.

Knowledge gap
Dr Brierley Wright can correctly claim “The truth is there are no sound scientific studies suggesting a link between canola oil and any disease.” She’s able to defend Canola oil by this statement not because studies revealed nothing, but because the “scientific studies” she is referring to simply have not been conducted. Because of a lack of research into the physiological effects of Canola oil consumption on the human digestive system the knowledge gap is vast. Other than having the lowest rate of Saturated fat of any edible oil, (at 6%) its other molecular structure does not highlight any obvious anomaly. However fatty acids with more than 20 atoms of carbon per molecule are categorised as Very Long Chain Fatty Acids. With 22 carbons, Canola oil is not dissimilar to wax and without its excessive processing would solidify at room temperature in a similar manner.

While minimal scientific attention has focused on Canola oil, considerable research has been conducted into type II diabetes and the prevalence of the disease has been meticulously documented, especially during the 20th Century. Health care professionals and public interest groups have largely united to promote the idea that the disease is a result of modern living. Spiraling rates of type II diabetes have alarmed governments and medical professionals who need to pay for solutions yet it appears no one seems to have joined any dots between increasing type II diabetes rates and increasing consumption of Canola oil. Kenneth Hayes produced a 2007 discussion paper where he identified the spike in type II diabetes rates, particularly in the 1990’s and later observes that Canola oil is becoming the world’s favourite cooking oil. While he observed both facts he does not suggest a connection.

The knowledge gap is twofold. Firstly there is a genuine absence of knowledge concerning the way Canola oil is metabolised by the human digestive tract. Secondly there seem to have been no trials on specifically measuring the relationship between Canola oil consumption and type II diabetes susceptibility. It is not essential to satisfy both answers to reach conclusions. If a relationship between Canola Oil consumption and type II diabetes can be demonstrated, while still not understanding the full effect of Canola Oil on human metabolism, this finding on its own will still be significant.

Research scope
While Canola oil is regarded as benign reality may differ. Other than increasing consumption of Canola oil, the world’s population has experienced other significant changes in diet and lifestyle which are influencing the rise of type II diabetes. It is quite possible that Canola oil may have no influence on  type II diabetes rates whatsoever, but conclusive evidence either way is simply not available. Specific research that expanded human knowledge would justify the time, effort and expense of finding out if any link between Canola oil and type II diabetes exists.

To satisfy the question concerning the effects of Canola oil, it will be necessary to conduct interventional research of an experimental nature. Medical research into type II diabetes has resulted in the deliberate breeding of genetically modified rodents to induce susceptibility to the disease. However using genetically modified mice or rats for testing Canola oil’s role in diabetes is unsuitable because rodents do not metabolize any oil well and do not make suitable candidates in any lipid research. Results from rodent testing would not conclusively prove transferable to humans, due to significant differences in the two species digestive systems. Because Canola oil is a totally acceptable human foodstuff it is preferable to conduct tests on groups of human beings directly. Human interventional research would need to include groups of people consuming different diets, some Canola oil-free. Today the inclusion of Canola oil as an ingredient in other foodstuffs is so ubiquitous, keeping test groups on a prolonged Canola oil-free diet will be extremely difficult and restrictive, but would be necessary for any study. Canola oil-free diets are likely to differ greatly from regular diets and research results may be influenced by non Canola oil foods.

Discovering facts about Canola oil is likely to encounter opposition from vested interest groups. Government health authorities, medical professionals and the food industries all have their own agenda’s surrounding type II diabetes. No one denies a problem exists, but each has different explanations for its origins and answers to solve it. Governments are concerned at the economic cost of type II diabetes. The medical profession has a mixed agenda; sections of the industry provide profitable health services to type II diabetes sufferers while others are alarmed at the human suffering. Food manufacturers, particularly junk snake producers acknowledge their products play a part in the epidemic but are motivated by the bottom line to resist advertising restrictions or changes to ingredients. Serious medical research into links between type II diabetes and Canola oil consumption is consequently likely to encounter genuine opposition but the possibility of a knowledge breakthrough justifies the exercise.

While Type II diabetes rates soar and consumption of Canola Oil skyrockets it is only natural to investigate if a connection exists. Someone do it, please.

Edited by: Paul Warner Dobson

Thursday, October 31, 2013

9/11 Solved?

The Great American Psy-Opera is the most comprehensive and entertaining documentary about the events of 9/11 that has ever been produced and answers most of the questions the 9/11 Commission failed to ask. California based award winning music producer, film editor and special effects guru, Ace Baker spent four years evaluating the evidence, anomalies and inconsistencies in the official story and produced possibly the most important documentary of our generation. The mainstream media, YouTube, Wikipedia, IMDb and even the self-styled 9/11 Truth Movement have gone to exhaustive lengths to ignore, discredit and suppress all record of this remarkable 2011 documentary and the filmmaker behind it. Ace Baker’s brilliance is demonstrated by the skill with which he sifts facts from bullshit. Only someone blind to reason and deliberately refusing to accept the evidence can be unaffected by the eight installment 4 hour long Great American Psy-Opera. This epic documentary is compulsory viewing for anyone interested in understanding the Millennium’s defining moment; 9/11.  

Like other Americans, September 11th is chiseled into Ace Baker’s soul. That morning he was driving his daughter to school on the first day of term and heard the shocking news on his car radio. He rushed home and along with hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide was glued to TV news for updates. “I found 9/11 shocking, mesmerizing very numbing, astonishing and horrifying. It stirred large and horrible emotions in me. There was an evil generous to the design of 9/11.” His world and ours has never been the same again. As a professional special effects compositor, Baker began to analyse the official footage and found disturbing evidence of manipulation. “No question 9/11 was mass murder but who did it?” Whoever it was, Ace Baker says “They got away with it” but the perpetrators left their fingerprints in the footage.

Each of the documentary’s eight installments deals with a separate aspect of the attack. It begins by identifying the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a right-wing think tank associated with the Bush Administration as the brains behind the operation. PNAC recognized the need for a dramatic new 'Pearl Harbor' to shift public opinion dramatically and with the election of Bush, their project was set in motion. The documentary points out the media were operating according to a script and solved the 9/11 mystery 32 minutes after the attacks began, despite a total lack of evidence or facts at that stage. Live BBC footage from the day shows they got ahead of their lines, discussing the destruction of Building 7, 20 minutes before it occurred with the still standing structure clearly visible over the live reporter’s left shoulder. 

Rather than making vague claims about who and how the events occurred Baker presents startling ‘new’ evidence about precisely how the buildings were destroyed and by whom. In the weeks before 9/11 a group of performance artists leased the entire floor where the first plane hit and left behind detailed floor plans showing the trajectory of something impacting the Tower, strikingly similar to the eventual televised plane impacts. Baker documents the mysterious artistic group ‘Gelatine’ who have never been heard of again, as demolition experts preparing the building for its destruction weeks later. Similarly Baker points out, in the months before 9/11 fire proofing ‘upgrades’ were conducted on the impact zones of both World Trade Towers and the precise section of the Pentagon destroyed on September 11. Rather than ‘fire proofing’, these upgrades were installing devises which would eventually destroy these buildings.

The Great American Psy-Opera honors the academic luminaries who’ve risked their careers by scientifically confronting the fanciful theories presented by the 9/11 Commission and promoted unquestioningly by the conformist mainstream media. Dr Steven Jones demolished the collapse theory and documents the widespread presence of molten steel and explosive thermide residue in the debris. Dr Judy Woods goes further by pointing out the elephant in the room – the near total absence of debris. If the buildings collapsed “where is the rubble?” she asks. Answer is; the buildings were pulverized in mid air and scattered across Manhattan as dust, in a molecular disassociation process she describes as ‘dustification’. The photographic evidence is compelling.

As a film special effects expert himself, Ace Baker points out the surprisingly simply way Hollywood can insert fake stuff into footage with video editing software. While no one believes in fake dinosaurs, people refuse to accept the possibility of fake planes being added to live news footage. Baker observes “We all know about special effects. But for some reason we don’t want to face the facts the Government has the same technology. We don’t want to believe they would use video compositing”. The film demonstrates how easy it can be done and was done, by Kai Simonson a live video compositor who filmed the famous shot of the second aircraft strike, from Chopper 5. Baker exposes the compositing ‘blooper’ Simonson made which allowed the plastic nose of the plane to impossibly protrude from the other side of the building and Simonson’s cover-up lies explaining why he swiftly faded the camera to black to conceal his mistake. The Great American Psy-Opera totally discredits eyewitness testimony to planes hitting the towers and expertly shows how standard Hollywood techniques were used to create what the live ABC newscaster described as the “bad special effects” showing the planes disappearing into the second tower. Baker states “they looked like ‘bad special effects’ because they were ‘bad special effects’”. Baker cheekily designs a red 757 Boeing to show us how simply it can be done.

The film’s most disturbing revelations concern the ‘nuclear mushroom cloud’ which was observed by BBC and ABC reporters on the day. Baker claims the reason the reporters could accurately compare the observable mushroom clouds to nuclear explosions is because that is exactly what they were; nuclear explosions. “Tiny nuclear reactions are the only explanation that fits the facts”. The film points out the tremendous energy required to create the volumes of super fine dust particles which the buildings were reduced to, would be available by small nuclear devises and the suspicious round holes in adjacent buildings resemble damage from radioactive debris. The discovery of barium and strontium at inexplicably high levels at Ground Zero is the undeniable signature of a nuclear device as is melted rock and evidence of tremendous heat without fire. Victim burns reminiscent of Hiroshima and alarming rates of rare cancers are all explained by thermo-nuclear explosions. As well as physical evidence of a nuclear explosion, footage shows a brief power outage at the exact moment of the first explosion consistent with a thermo-nuclear pulse which temporarily disrupts electrical circuitry with any nuclear detonation. Baker admits the facts are hard to accept as most people “fear the truth more than the lie” but “no other explanation fits the facts”.

The Great American Psy-Opera is deeply disturbing and psychologically upsetting. Ace Baker apologizes “I never set out to be a person, out to disturb other people but the official version is not only wrong, it’s ridiculous.” This documentary essentially accuses the US Government of mass murder and perpetrating the Biggest Lie in History; aided and abetted by the mainstream media; and this film proves its case. Baker believes “people will accept the truth gradually over time” but “it is already slipping into ancient history. Eventually people will put it with the Kennedy Assassination”. Few people today believe that official story and like it “the perpetrators of 9/11 got away with it”. The mild mannered Baker admits most people reject the film’s conclusions because “People can’t go there. The event was incomprehensible and takes people out of their logic. The Twin Towers were disintegrated and rendered into fine fine powder. The genius of 9/11 was inventing and doing something so horrible people can’t get their heads around it. For most people it is too horrible to process the truth.” Nevertheless the Great American Psy-Opera is compulsory viewing and the ultimate MUST SEE documentary of our time.

Film Facts:
Available:            YouTube.
Released:            2011.
Time:                  312 minutes in 8 episodes (2 unreleased episodles).
Footage:              Sourced freely under US Fair Usage laws.
Production:           Edited on Macbook Pro, using Apple Final Cut Pro 7.
Music:                  All music written and produced by Ace Baker.
Reward:               $100,000 available to anyone with new footage.

Ace Baker has now retired from 9/11 investigation but has left behind the most important film legacy about the tragic events. The Great American Psy-Opera genuinely seems to have solved the mystery.

This film review written by Paul Warner Dobson.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Starting your own Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF)

Australia’s employers are required to pay an amount equal to 9.25% of an employees pay into the superannuation fund of the employees choice. The option exists for people to establish their own Self Managed Superannuation Fund. Currently the average amount in a SMSF is around $400,000 and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) suggest it isn't viable to operate one with less than $200,000 available. You decide. 

These are the fundamentals of SMSF which are surprisingly un-complicated.

  1. A SMSF can have between one and four members.
    All funds need a minimum of two trustees, one of which must be the fund contributor if the SMSF has only one member. 
  2. Corporate (i.e. professional) trustees can be appointed for the fund.
  3. The ATO oversee SMSF.
  4. Figureout an investment strategy and write a business plan.
  5. If you SMSF is going to have more than one member you need to have an accounting system in place recording individual members account balances, deposits, separate earnings, insurance etc.
Getting started.

1.       Cleardoc seems to be the cheapest place where you start your SMSF Trust. Once you have arranged who the trustees will be and have decided on an address for your trust etc, do the following. A) visit their website B) Scroll down the Superannuation (SMSF) heading C) Click on SMSF Change of Trustee. Fill this in and pay the required $137.50 minimum fee and all the paperwork will be available to print off and bind yourself, or you can pay a little extra and they will bind and post it to you.

2.       Visit ATO website and fill in Application for ABN registration for superannuation entities form. Filling it online will speed things up.

3.       Open a bank account and arrange to rollover investment funds into your new SMSF once your bank account it open.

4.       At the end of the financial year, financial records must be prepared. If you have some accounting qualifications you can do it yourself or hire someone else. Once completed they must be audited. The auditor cannot be the same person who completed the tax return.

5.       All SMSF’s must be audited annually before submitting the Tax Returns. SMSF Audit Link seems to be the cheapest and charge according to the number of transactions the fund makes. Less than 100 transactions will cost $385, 100-199 transactions is $470 and 200-299 is $522.50. (Amounts include GST).

6.       Your SMSF can register for GST but there seems little point as it shouldn’t be conducting any business of its own, but rather investing in others etc.

7.       Annually your SMSF must hold an annual general meeting of the trustees and forms to record this meeting are available on the Cleardocs website and cost $66.

8.       Once the above is done, submit your annual financial return to the ATO and begin your next year.

Costs less than you think
Many websites and bank brochures state that it costs around $2000 a year to administer a SMSF but it can be done for less than $1000, especially if you have some accounting training of your own.

Self Managed Superannuation Funds cannot be used to buy member's properties, give them cash loans or invest in their other businesses. All investments must have a degree of separation between the trustees and assets called ‘arms length’.

Given the very poor results that professional superannuation funds have made over the past decade it would be difficult to do worse than they have.

This article was written by Paul Warner Dobson, a former assistant accountant at People Telecom (M2 Communications).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boeing 787 Dreamliner - World's most dangerous aircraft?

James McNerney, Boeing’s CEO claimed the Boeing 787 Dreamliner had experienced ‘no greater problems’ than other newly introduced aircraft. His comments are contradicted by the facts and should be dismissed as corporate propaganda designed to protect Boeing’s share price, rather than its customers. The 787 Dreamliner’s flaws are so fundamental they have the potential of bankrupting Boeing and killing vast numbers of passengers. Around a quarter of the 787 fleet of 50 aircraft have already experienced major incidents justifying the label 'The World’s Most Dangerous Aircraft’.

  • 7 Jan 13  Japan Airlines experience a significant electrical fire in an empty 787 at Logan International Airport, Boston, caused by the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries.
  • 8 Jan 13  Japan Airlines 787 experiences a fuel leak at Boston prior to take-off resulting in cancellation of flight.
  • 9 Jan 13  All Nippon Airways flight NH698 cancelled before take-off due to malfunctioning indicator on break light.
  • 9 Jan 13  United Airlines discover faulty installed wiring in one of their 787’s lithium-ion batteries.
  • 9 Jan 13  The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) open an investigation into the 787’s safety.
  • 13 Jan 13 Japan Air Lines discover a fuel leak from a faulty valve on a parked 787 at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
  • 16 Jan 13 An All Nippon Airlines flight makes an emergency landing in western Japan following a mid air battery fire with smoke in the cockpit.
  • 16 Jan 13 All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines ground their entire Boeing 787 fleets.
  • 17 Jan 13 The US FAA ground the entire Boeing 787 fleet, globally.
  • 21 Jan 13 Japan’s Ministry of Transport opens investigation into 787’s batteries.
  • 27 Apr 13 Boeing 787’s return to skies following their 99 days grounded. Ethiopian Airlines flight EA801 takes to the sky packed with Boeing and airline executives with a media entourage to reassure the public about the aircraft’s safety. (This very aircraft was destroyed on 12 July as it spontaneously combusted while parked at London Heathrow). 
  • 3 Jun 13 Japan Airlines Beijing bound flight experienced faulty battery compartment air pressure sensor prior to take-off.
  • 11 Jun 13 United Airlines flight UA139, bound for Tokyo makes an emergency landing at Seattle following an oil filter problem.
  • 23 Jun 13 United Airlines flight UA94 returns to Denver following an on-board malfunctioning brake indicator.
  • 26 Jun 13 United Airlines announced they discovered a ‘pinched wire’ in the lithium-ion operated emergency location indicator; believed to be the problem for the Ethiopian Airlines 787 fire. 
  • 12 Jul 13  Ethiopian Airlines 787, catches fire at London Heathrow while parked. Later investigation places blame on Lithium-ion powered Emergency Location indicator manufactured by Honeywell.
  • 12 Jul 13  Thompson Airways return to Manchester, enroute to Florida following an undisclosed ‘technical issue’.
  • 18 Jul 13  Japan Airlines flight JL7 returns to Boston, following malfunctioning of the lithium-ion powered emergency location indicator, manufactured by Honeywell.
  • 21 Jul 13  Qatar Airways ground 787, registration number A7-BCB for 10 days due to extensive smoke erupting from rear fuselage, near electrical boxes, while being towed at Doha Airport.
  • 24 Jul 13  Air India flight AI20 between Delhi and Kolkata experiences a mid-flight fire in a rear oven.
  • 14 Aug 13 All Nippon Airways discover faulty wiring in engine fire extinguishers installed in three of their 787’s.

Boeing Share Price
Billions of dollars were wiped off the value of Boeing’s share price following the fire on-board the stationary Ethiopian Airlines aircraft on 12 July 2013. In reaction to their falling share price, Boeing began a damage-control campaign limiting news of further 787 problems, aiming to reassure the flying public about the airworthiness of this accident prone aircraft. The first successful hush-up seems to be the Qatar Airways incident on 21 July. Scant information is available anywhere about why the airline grounded this aircraft, registration number A7-BCB, for 10 days, however following this incident Qatar Airways quietly shelved their plans to operate 787 aircraft to the Western Australian capital of Perth, presumably because most of the route is across the Indian Ocean. An on-board fire over the ocean, hours from the nearest airport, would almost certainly result in a catastrophe.

The Dreamliner's Nightmares
There are at least four problems with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
  1. The 787 has fundamental design flaws. The aircraft is over-engineered and relies on avionics too much. The light weight composite materials are also a potential disaster as no-one knows how they will behave in an accident. The carbon fibre composite materials may shatter and explode endangering all in the vicinity together with rescuers. The toxicity of fumes are likely to be worse than metal aircraft.
  2. The lithium-ion batteries are clearly flawed. They have no fire suppression systems in their electrical compartments, only smoke detectors. On board fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish, especially if you are over the Pacific Ocean, five hours from the nearest airport. Battery problems may be caused by condensation; hence the substantial number of on-ground issues. Lithium-ion batteries were cited as the cause of the UPS cargo plane crash on 3 September 2010 in the United Arab Emirates. Similar batteries are installed in 787’s.
  3. Boeing’s obsession with outsourcing is a potential problem with other issues, such as fuel valves. Because dozens of companies across the globe make components and deliver these components to the Boeing’s Everett factory according to their ‘just-in-time’ formula, defective components and workmanship is going undetected.
  4. The Boeing 787 was years behind schedule and management were under pressure to make deliveries before they were sure of the safety of the aircraft. The cosy relationship enjoyed with the FAA similarly fast-tracked the approval process.
Based on the number of aircraft in service divided by the number of incidents and at least one aircraft written-off it is safe to say the Boeing 787 is the least safest aircraft in the skies today.

This article was written by Paul Warner Dobson who is a travel writer for Destination Travel.