Good monsoon (so far) points to Indian GDP growth of over 8%

July 28, 2016

The monsoon season is half over and the rains are at the long-term average which is considered “good”. The difference between a “good” and a “poor” monsoon is generally thought to be over 2 percentage points for GDP.  The Indian ratings agency CRISIL is sufficiently encouraged already to begin talking about a GDP growth of over 8% for the Fiscal Year ending March 2017.

moneycontrol:A good monsoon with even rainfall distribution across regions will give a boost to farm sector and may push India’s GDP growth beyond the 8 percent mark in the current fiscal, Crisil said. However, stress in rainfall in certain parts of the country and excess downpour in some other regions may be a cause for worry, the credit rating agency said in a report. In a positive scenario — good monsoon backed by favourable temporal and spatial distribution — agriculture growth can surge to 6 percent from a weak base of last year and therefore push up GDP growth above 8 percent, it said. According to the report, assuming rainfall is evenly distributed across time and regions, GDP growth may rise to 7.9 percent, if agricultural growth comes at 4 percent and CPI inflation remains contained at 5 percent in the current fiscal. …..

Despite a slow start in June, rains have caught up and were just 1 percent below normal as of July 25. This has helped reservoirs to bounce back from the lows seen in the beginning of the fiscal, boosting farmers’ confidence, the report said. Excess rainfall in 89 districts across eight states could impact sowing and therefore agricultural output for the kharif season. Hence, spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall in the second half of the season, especially in August, will be crucial, it added. 

Today’s picture from Skymet shows the monsoon covering the entire country reasonably evenly.


July 28, 2016 11:46 AM – Skymet


Trump dominates even the Democratic convention

July 28, 2016

The DNC convention should have been all about Hillary. Instead it is becoming all about Trump.

Not unexpectedly, it has been Trump-bashing all week both by Democrat politicians and by the – largely – anti-Trump media. Last night Obama came out strongly in Clinton’s corner and criticised Trump. Michael Bloomberg stated that Hillary was “sane and competent” unlike Trump. Somebody else went down the dubious  “all good girls have abortions” line. and attacked Trump. Harry Reid attacked Trump, Martin O’Malley attacked Trump, Joe Biden attacked Trump. Joe Biden went on to say that “America was already great”. Chris Murphy attacked Donald Trump, Tim Kaine attacked Trump. Michelle Obama attacked Trump and said that “America was the greatest”. Bernie Sanders attacked Trump. Bernie Sanders’ supporters were very unhappy with the DNC and Hillary Clinton, but they too attacked Trump.

Everybody in sight and his pet dog attacked Trump.

Many of the attacks are so contrived or so over-the-top that they can only be counter-productive. The Democrats have effectively handed Trump a full week of attention and publicity on a plate. There’s still another day for the DNC convention to run, but it is quite clear that attacking Donald Trump dominates the proceedings – even more than supporting Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is dominating the media and all attention even at Clinton’s party.

Donald Trump is holding out being “Great Again” as the hope. To counter that by just saying America is “Already Great” could be the strategic blunder of this election.

It has been my theory for over 6 months now that full-frontal attacks on Trump are counter productive. His support feeds and grows on such attacks from the establishment. It is also my theory that to diminish his support requires occupying some of the ground he stands on – not by denying that the ground exists. “Great Again” is what an increasing number of the electorate aspire to. For Michelle Obama to merely claim that “America is the greatest” gives such aspirations no hope at all. Is she really saying to “black live matters” that all is “sweetness and light”? Barack Obama – after 8 years of “where he could but didn’t” – merely asks them to live in hope rather than in fear. For Joe Biden to also say that “America was already great” was a denial of hope for those who live in a depression and keep going only buoyed by their  aspirations for something better.

“Already Great”  smacks of complacency. It gives no room for aspirations. It is likely to be a bad loser against “Great Again”.  It is not what Democrats would like to hear or to acknowledge but “Great Again” is about hope and “Great Already” is about complacency.

The Democrats are turning Trump into the candidate of hope.


Flies are immortal, can reincarnate and can teleport

July 27, 2016

We have some building work going on in the yard and the door is left open at times. It has been pretty warm (about 30ºC and humid) for the last few days. Leaving the door open for 5 minutes is sufficient for 20 – 30 squatter flies to enter and take possession. They congregate mainly in the kitchen but they get everywhere in seconds. They are in my study – one floor down – and in the bedroom – one floor up – and in every bathroom even though the doors are shut.

I have flyswatters in every room.

I swat them here, I swat them there,

My wife, she swats them everywhere,

Are they immortal? Are they from hell?

Those damnable Musca domesticels

I have swatted them singly, in twos and threes (but I have never managed seven in one blow). I flush their dead bodies down the toilet, directly into the rubbish bin, wrapped in tissue or wrapped in foil. It does not matter how I kill them and how I dispose of them. They reappear in about 5 seconds. It has become quite clear that they immediately reincarnate and teleport themselves to a place of safety from where they can attack me again. Where they store their spare corporeal bodies is beyond me.

The simple and unavoidable explanation is

  1. that they are immortal,
  2. They have an infinite number of spare bodies they can reincarnate in when one is destroyed,
  3. they can teleport


Now it’s the Democrats (and their media) embracing conspiracy theories

July 25, 2016

We had some fun and games at the Republican convention last week. Especially from Ted Cruz who wanted his moment in the sun. Of course there is a scenario in which he can capitalise on his breaking of his “pledge”. That requires a Trump debacle in the November election, and Cruz winning the GOP nomination in 2020 on a “I told you so” platform. But Trump himself did rather better than expected in his final speech.

But the fun and games aren’t over yet. The Democratic convention this week promises to be equally entertaining. This morning the media were full of the Wikileaks release of the DNC e-mails. It is pretty clear that the entire nomination process was heavily rigged in Hillary Clinton’s favour and against Bernie Sanders. She would probably have won the nomination anyway but it does show rather conclusively that the DNC would not have permitted Sanders to be nominated in any circumstances. Even if he had won a majority of delegates, the super-delegates were all already in bed with Clinton.

What I find particularly entertaining is the entire liberal press trying to play down the substance of the emails, but instead floating the conspiracy theory that the Russians and Putin had orchestrated the release of the emails. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and, of course, Huffington Post headlined the Putin conspiracy theory and consigned the content of the emails to much smaller print. facebook went even further and blocked the Wikileaks page before the hue and cry about censorship led them to reverse that. Twitter started removing users who were Trump supporters.

Pots and kettles

What is ironic is that while the DNC and their pet media are ranting about a Trump/Putin conspiracy, they are carefully playing down the real conspiracy against Bernie Sanders.

Pots and kettles.

Black kettles too matter.


A flying boat or a swimming aircraft? China rolls out the AG600

July 25, 2016

China unveils AG600 – Peoples Daily

AVIC TA-600, Flying boat
The AVIC TA-600, also known as AG-600, is a large amphibious flying boat that is being designed and built in China by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.  
Top speed: 570 km/h, Wingspan: 40 m, Length: 40 m Maximum take-off weight 51.5 t.
Manufacturer: Aviation Industry Corporation of China Wikipedia
AG600 - AVIC
China has just rolled out the world’s largest amphibious plane, AVIC’s TA600 designated the AG600.  The AG600 is intended
to fight forest fires and be used for maritime search and rescue (SAR) operations. Being able to land on water means that they can quickly pump in tons of water to fight forest fires. For SAR purposes, the ability of large seaplanes like the TA-600 to land directly near survivors means more rapid rescue responses compared to slower helicopters, which will be attractive to Chinese maritime enforcement agencies. Perhaps most important to current regional tensions, the TA-600 may also offer a new scale and means to rapidly deploy or resupply any current or new remote island garrisons in the South China Sea. A number of islets and reefs are too small to have runways to accommodate conventional transport planes like the Y-8, but sited so as to have strategic value.
It is not as large as the eight-engined Howard Hughes H-4 “Spruce Goose”, the largest seaplane ever built, which weighed 180 tons in full and had a wingspan of 97 meters. But the Spruce Goose only flew a short distance on its maiden flight in 1947 and never lifted again.
But more to the point, the AG 600 can carry 50 passengers whether people being rescued, or troops on the move to a South China Sea island. Certainly the AG600 adds significant strategic capability to the Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
Nov. 2, 1947: The Hughes Aircraft H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" during short flight in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor. This photo was published in the Nov. 3, 1947 LA Times.

Nov. 2, 1947: The Hughes Aircraft H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” during short flight in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor. This photo was published in the Nov. 3, 1947 LA Times.


Trump can’t do “issues” and Clinton can’t do “mood”

July 24, 2016

It is my observation and experience that logic and rational arguments on the one hand and emotional arguments on the other are like parallel lines which never meet. If logical argument is pitted against emotions, a meeting of minds is not possible, nobody is persuaded and nobody “wins”. It strikes me that the US Presidential election is going to be between one candidate trying to get the electorate to respond to emotions and the other to argument. But it would be wrong to think that an apparently reasoned argument is always more correct or “better” than an emotional one. Intuition, gut-feelings and hunches are often correct and are all essentially examples of “emotional” decision making. Even economic decisions – which one might expect to be very rational – are nearly always trumped by the “mood” in the markets.

Trump may be exaggerating the gloom and doom but nobody in their right minds would argue that all is sweetness and light. And it would seem from the anger and frustration and powerlessness that is abroad among the US electorate, that there is a revolt against the direction that conventional, correct politics has taken the US. I see no other explanation for the “anti-establishment” wave present, not only in the US, but globally. There is electoral capital to be made – globally – by tapping into this “mood” that the wrong path has been followed for far too long.

Now, the US Presidential election is boiling down to be a fight between evoking a “mood” on the one hand against an argued presentation of “issues”. The contrast between the two candidates is stark. Hillary Clinton’s strength does not lie in appealing to emotions to evoke a mood of sweetness and light to counter Trump’s gloom and doom. Donald Trump, however, is not the best person for presenting a rational, argued position on a complex issue.

For the US electorate I think it is going to be a classic stand-off between heart and head, between impulse buying against a purchase based on a cost-benefit analysis. I don’t think that one is necessarily “better” than the other. I have made some impulse buys which were disasters and others which were inspired. In the corporate world I hardly ever made large purchases which were not based on some form of cost-benefit analysis. But I also remember how assumptions were skewed to cover the “intangibles” so that the analysis eventually matched the “gut feeling”. Apparently “reasoned” decisions were actually emotional ones.

Trump can’t do issues – but he can do “mood”. “We should have gone to Mars and not to the Middle East” is all about evoking a mood. “Make America safe again/ proud again / great again” is a naked appeal to return to “the good old days” which only ever exist in the rosy fog of nostalgia. In trying to evoke “mood”, Trump can ignore getting bogged down in policy details at which he is not particularly adept. Clinton on the other hand, may try occasionally to evoke emotions, but that always seems very contrived and could be counter-productive. She will probably be far better off to stick to reasoned argument.

In November it is going to be mood versus issues. Trump can’t do “issues” and Clinton can’t do “mood”. For the US voter it is, I think,  going to be the emotional choice between a high-risk, high-gain Trump or the reasoned choice of a low-risk, low-gain Clinton. Things have crystallised but not changed much since I wrote 3 months ago:

After 8 years of a lack-lustre and indecisive, risk-averse Barack Obama who promised much only to deceive, Hillary Clinton offers “more of the same”. She is as “establishment” as it is possible to be. She represents the safe choice. There is no chance of any kind of greatness, only of a slight improvement or a gentle decline. She removes the possibility of a “high gain” scenario.

But I see two possible outcomes with Donald Trump. The first is that he will be the unmitigated disaster that the media and the politically correct expect. In this scenario, the US will become a harder, more bigoted country, less tolerant of minorities and less compassionate. It will become divisive in domestic affairs and inept and dangerous in its foreign policy. It will become a sin to remain poor. …. The second scenario is that US domestic and foreign policy will become entirely “trade” oriented. International friendships and alliances will have to have a cost-benefit analysis. Public spending and government jobs will be drastically down-sized. Bureaucrats will be subject to performance indicators. It will not be a sin to be rich. The ideological shift will be to “people as they deserve” rather than to “people as they desire”.

Trump versus Clinton

High-risk, high-gain Trump or low-risk, low-gain Clinton


Hot air balloon does in 11 days and 6 hours what Solar Impulse 2 may do in 17 months

July 23, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 set off on its journey around the world on 9th March 2015. Tomorrow it sets off on its last leg from Cairo to Abu Dhabi and it should complete its journey in just under 17 months.

In the meantime, it is reported that Steve Fossett’s record of 13 days and 8 hours to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, set in 2002 has been broken. A Russian balloonist has completed the journey in 11 days and 6 hours. Fedor Konyukhov has been using a Cameron balloon and set off on 12th July.

Flyer: Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov has set off on a solo round-the-world flight in a balloon, aiming to beat Steve Fossett’s 14-year-old record for the 33,000 kilometre trip.

Konyukhov set off from Northam, Western Australia yesterday – the same place Steve Fossett set off from in July 2002. The record stands at 13 days 8 hours 33 minutes. Konyukhov is hoping to beat the record by a substantial amount using up-to-date technologies. He is, however, using a very similar balloon – a Roziere 550 built by British company Cameron Balloons.

“Nobody in the world makes better balloons that the Brits,” said Konyukhov, “so our balloon is being made by Cameron Balloons and it will fly on Russian helium.”

balloon australia

Fox News:

An official says a Russian balloonist has claimed a new 11-day round the world record. Support crew member Steve Griffin says Fedor Konyukhov’s balloon on Saturday passed directly over the airfield at the Australian town of Northam where he began his journey on July 12.

American Steve Fossett also started from Northam to set a record of 13 days and eight hours for his 33,000-kilometer (21,000-mile) journey in 2002.

Konyukhov has taken roughly 11 days and six hours. …… Konyukhov is expected to land later Saturday.

Cameron balloon

Structure of the Cameron balloon image via


Back to basics with an all-white US presidential election

July 23, 2016

The line-up is now Hillary Clinton /Tim Kaine versus Donald Trump/Mike Pence.

The US has persisted with its “diversity” experiment with Barack Obama across two terms and 8 years. That experiment has not worked all that well and the US is now returning to an all-white, all-Christians election. Not a minority in sight.

Back to basics.

all white election

  • one woman, three men
  • all white
  • all from relatively privileged backgrounds
  • all with good college educations. Clinton attended Wellesley and Yale; Trump graduated from Wharton; Kaine went to University of Missouri and Harvard; Pence was at Hanover College and Indiana University
  • all from Christian households. Clinton is a Methodist, Kaine a Catholic, Trump is Presbyterian and Pence is a Catholic turned Evangelical
  • Trump is 6’3″, Clinton is 5’5″ (but her PR claims 5’7″), Pence is 5’11” and Tim Kaine is 5’10”.
  • Trump is 70, Clinton is 69, Kaine is 58 and Pence is 57 years old.

Not all WASPs, but not very much “diversity” either. Of course, if Hillary Clinton wins, she will be the first woman to be President (though women really cannot be considered a minority in the US with 97 males for every 100 females). The Trump team is 11″ taller than the Clinton team. Both teams add up to the same age. Trump is the only one with a non-politician background. Three lawyers and one real-estate developer. All straight. No giants, no dwarves. No blacks, no Latinos, no Asian-Americans, no blue-collar experience, no military service. No Muslims, no atheists, no Buddhists and no Hindus.

The US has no need for a “white-supremacist” movement.


5 years today since the Utøya massacre

July 22, 2016

It was 5 years ago today, when Anders Behring Breivik massacred 77 people.

The victims of Oslo and Utøya: RIP

The torrent of words about Anders Behring Breivik is as nothing compared to the reality of the lives he snuffed out.

I found this montage of some of his victims unbelievably moving and more telling then many million words.

Courtesy and credit Aftonbladet:

The victims of the massacre in Norway : montage from Aftonbladet

The wolf of Perdana Putra (aka “Malaysian Official 1”)

July 21, 2016

Perdana Putra

Office of The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal Government Administrative Centre, 62502 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA

1MDB rolls on and it is probably getting quite warm in Perdana Putra. But whether Najib Razak is feeling the heat is not so certain.

Wall Street JournalU.S. prosecutors have linked the prime minister of Malaysia, a key American ally in Asia, to hundreds of millions of dollars allegedly siphoned from one of the country’s economic development funds, according to a civil lawsuit seeking the seizure of more than $1 billion of assets from other people connected to him.

The Justice Department filed lawsuits Wednesday to seize assets that it said were the result of $3.5 billion that was misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, a fund set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to boost the Malaysian economy. …. Among the Justice Department’s assertions: That some $1 billion originating with 1MDB was plowed into hotels; luxury real estate in Manhattan, Beverly Hills and London; fine art; a private jet and the 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Among those behind the spending, the lawsuit alleges, was Riza Aziz, stepson of Mr. Najib.

BBC: Malaysian PM Najib Razak is facing pressure internationally and at home amid US allegations of massive fraud at state investment fund 1MDB. The fund was set up by Mr Najib in 2009 with the stated aim of boosting the Malaysian economy.

But US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said evidence showed it had defrauded Malaysians “on an enormous scale”. On Wednesday, US authorities moved to seize more than $1bn (£761m) in assets related to the fund. Mr Najib is not named in the papers and has consistently denied wrongdoing.

But he is identifiable as “Malaysian Official 1”, whose account allegedly received millions in funds originating from 1MDB. The $1bn the US hopes to seize would make up only a proportion of the more than $3.5bn (£2.6bn) allegedly diverted.

I haven’t heard – yet – that Leonardo DiCaprio is being investigated.



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