'Viscount' doesn't rhyme with 'discount'. D&D2. Bitcoin lemmings.
Former star actress to marry former soldier
Wry & Dry is excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding. The just announced nuptials of Prince Harry (5th cab on the rank) to Ms Meghan Markle  (she is of African-American descent) is a victory for minority groups.
It gives hope to rangas  around the world.
And more: Prince Harry's children might be Americans. One might grow up to be president  and also be in line for the throne at the same time.
W&D senses that the Brits are playing the long game here. Forget Brexit and Europe. The Brits want America back.
PS: Ms Markle, 'viscount' doesn't rhyme with 'discount'.
Claytons' Royal Commission
Readers will remember a non-alcoholic drinks by the name of Claytons . It was the subject of a major marketing campaign in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s, promoting it as "the drink you have when you're not having a drink".
The name has entered the Australian vernacular as a term for an ersatz or dummy thing.
Which brings W&D to the Claytons' Banking Royal Commission announced yesterday by the Claytons' Prime Minister, Croesus Turnbull.
And asks Readers to consider some observations:
The first was "the sky is falling" comment that predictably came from the CEO of the Bankers Association, Anna Bligh. The former Queensland (that state keeps on popping up) premier said that the Royal Commission would lead to higher interest rates, because of higher (offshore) funding costs.
A nano-second later the various credit rating agencies (e.g. Standard & Poors, Moodys) said that the RC shouldn't affect offshore funding costs.
The second was a statement from the CBA, which said that "The Commonwealth Bank will co-operate fully with the Royal Commission." Nice chaps and chapettes at the CBA. But it's a Royal Commission, chaps and chapettes. You are required by law to co-operate.
The third is from W&D: the government would have done better to undertake a non-binding postal survey to see what Australians think of banks. It could be over by Australia Day. What a celebration!
The term 'Brexit Bill' is being tossed around London like stilettos at a Sicilian wedding. The BB is the price that the EU wants Britain to pay for shifting out of their tepee. The net cost is expected to be between €40 billion and €65 billion and will be payable as existing obligations come due.
W&D is bemused by the €25 billion difference. Why is it that the UK bean-counters haven't determined over the years the value of UK future obligations to, and future benefits from, the EU? In the same way a company is required to do?
Dumb and Dumber 2
One Nation is a far-right wing political party. Right? And wouldn't such a party give its next voting preferences to another right-wing party? Such as the Liberal National Party in Queensland.
One Nation, Queensland born and raised, preferenced the sitting member: last. Thus gifting the ruling Labor Party at least four seats in the new parliament.
So, but for this idiocy, the LNP would be in government in Queensland. And all the sky-is-falling comments from the Federal Gnats wouldn't be happening.
Not that the Queensland LNP deserve to be in government. Their election campaign suggested a 1950s conservative-agrarian-socialist party, but without trade unions.
The Gnats' Big Os
W&D reported last week on the time-serving career of Gnats Queensland Senator Barry O'Sullivan, which included 15 years with the Queensland police force. O'Sullivan is the MP who has been pushing for an enquiry of some sort into the banks, as payback for the Liberals supporting a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. His push for the enquiry on Wednesday gained the support of Llew O'Brien, Gnats House MP for Wide Bay, a Queensland (where else) electorate. Prior to becoming an MP in 2016, O'Brien had also spent 15 years in the Queensland police force. W&D leaves it to Readers to join the dots on that.
O'Brien's reason for supporting the enquiry was that he wanted to "stop banks from sacking workers" in his electorate. Run that past W&D again.
Anyway, O'Sullivan, emboldened by O'Brien's support and his own increasing public profile, welcomed into his tepee all supporters of his enquiry. Including Greens and Labor senators. These senators were more than a little smarter than O'Sullivan (no surprises there) and soon the terms of reference for O'Sullivan's enquiry exploded and were subject to control by the Greens and Labor. Unbeknownst to himself, O'Sullivan had lost control of his pet project.
Horrified at the horror that O'Sullivan had created, smarter heads in the government (i.e. Treasurer Morrison) decided to take control. The outcome, a podium-finish and humiliating back-flip by Croesus Turnbull.
But for O'Sullivan, humiliation also: his original terms of reference, which specifically included inquiry into farmers who had been allegedly unfairly treated by the banks, have been boned. The RC's Terms of Reference are so narrow that the RC's outcome will be benign.
Amazon and Black Friday
Some astute Readers would have been aware that last Friday was Black Friday. Whaaaat? What started out as a convenient shopping day in the US between Thanksgiving Day (always a Thursday) and the following Saturday has become the major shopping day of the year. And it has spread globally.
Amazon took in some 50% of all sales in the US on Black Friday! And the best selling items?
- Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker;
- Amazon Fire TV streaming stick with Alexa remote;
- TP-Link smart AC plug;
- a pressure cooker; and
- the 23andMe DNA test.
W&D imagines that the good One Nation/ LNP folk in Queensland would know what a pressure cooker is.
Deepak, W&D's Uber driver...
...was talking about Tesla. "What about the new Tesla Roadster!" he beamed. "Zero to 100 kph in 1.9 seconds. And a range of 1,000 kilometres. Wow!"
What did W&D think?
Err, not much. To W&D's mind, Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, over promises and under delivers. In a big way. Consider his earlier promise of delivering 1,500 Model 3 sedans per month by the end of September. The track rate is 260 per month.
W&D has done the research on batteries. To achieve the speed and range that Musk is promising, a 200 kilo-watt hour battery would be required. Notwithstanding improvements in battery-density technology (+7.5% p.a.), such a big battery is just not going to fit into the Roadster's tiny frame.
Musk is promising the Roadster in 2020. But Deepak would need to put down a US$50,000 deposit, today.
He looked saddened. "Then, Janali won't allow me to buy one."
W&D has two observations to make about this Bitcoin craze (the price of which exceeded US$10,000 this week).
Firstly, consider the Bitcoin as the reverse of the Zimbabwean dollar.
Readers will remember that Zimbabwe suffered from hyper-inflation as the government printed money, so that the incentive was to spend the currency as fast as possible, as its value became less and less.
W&D views Bitcoin as the mirror. As it increases in value, the cost of what it can buy, in Bitcoin terms, is getting cheaper and cheaper. This causes the reverse of the Zimbabwean dollar: instead of spending it, people are hoarding it. Which pushes its value even higher.
Until the painful realisation of nature's self-repair mechanism: regret.
Secondly, W&D asks Readers if they can see a trend in the following chart.
Danger lurks everywhere in the UK. The prospect of a radical Left-wing lurch under UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a more serious threat to British asset markets than Brexit and risks setting off a drastic repricing of UK plc, Morgan Stanley, a leading US bank has warned.
The bank said the "double whammy" of Brexit and a Labour government together could prove toxic for UK stock markets, with the bank’s full-blown ‘bear case’ leading to an economic recession.
Speaking of politics...
Readers would have seen that the oleaginous Labor Party Senator, Sam Dastyari, is up to his neck in whoflungdung. It looks as though he has been taking massive political donations from Chinese of dubious intentions. He also had some large personal debts paid by the same folk. And then he delivered a public and detailed defence of the Chinese government's aggressive creation and occupation of islands in the South China Sea, in defiance of his own party's policy (and the government's).
W&D is appalled, appalled at his comments that Australia and the Labor Party "should observe several thousand years of Chinese history" in respecting China's claim to disputed territory in the South China Sea.
Err, sorry Sam. By all means, take gifts from the Chinese. And get them to pay your debts. But don't come the raw prawn with W&D about history.
There is absolutely no record of any Chinese occupation or claim to any of the now built upon and occupied islands, atolls and rocky outcrops in the South China Sea prior to 1935. In that year the so-called Nine-Dash-Line appeared in a map published by the Republic of China's Land and Water Maps Inspection Committee.
In 2016, an arbitration tribunal constituted under United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea ruled that China has no legal basis to claim "historic rights" within its so-called nine-dash line in a case brought by the Philippines. Not surprisingly, the ruling was rejected by the Chinese government. And by Senator Dastyari.
The Senator should be fired for his wilful distortion of history.
The U.S. leading index (a composite average of ten leading economic indicators in the US) surged 1.2% in October to 130.4. Expectations were for it to have been up 0.8%. This month’s gain was the largest month-over-month move higher since November 2013. Nine of the ten components made positive contributions.
US GDP growth for the 12 months to end of September was revised upwards to 3.3%.
And, to soothe your troubled mind...
"Stay indoors and don't drive."
- Craig Lapsley, Victoria's Emergency Management Commissioner, giving advice to the good folk of Victoria about an upcoming rainstorm.
"..and don't drive". Especially if you are indoors.
First Samuel client events calendar
2018 Events (Invitations not yet sent)
Eat Street - food & wine fest
NGV Winter Masterpieces Exhibition
Masterworks from Moma (New York)
Forum - guest speaker TBA
Some lightly salted absurdities from all over...
At the extreme left-hand end of the Bell Curve
Julie Gagne, 47 of Barrington, Illinois, decided she needed some money. So she decided to report her 2016 Infiniti QX70 SUV as stolen, torch it and claim the insurance payout. What could possibly go wrong?
So she bought an X15 Flamethrower online (!), parked her car in a dead-end, phoned the police to report her car stolen. And then torched her car using the newly purchased flamethrower. She threw the flamethrower to one side and fled.
Neighbours reported the burning car to police. The police found flamethrower near the car. And traced it to the manufacturer, which advised that it had sold it online to Julie. Police joined the dots.
Arson, disorderly conduct, and filing a false police report, etc.
Guess what happens next
Alex L. Shultis, a 25-year-old Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA man was driving home in his truck. He had his one-year-old twins (strapped-in) and 4-year-old (not restrained) in the back seat. His truck failed to take a bend and ended in a ditch. The four year-old girl was thrown from the truck. What did the man do next?
a. Got out of the truck and tended his child until the ambulance arrived;
b. Got out of the truck and waited for the ambulance;
c. Couldn't get out of the truck as he was trapped; or
d. He fled.
Close. But no cigar. The correct answer is d. He was drunk. And managed to drive the truck out of the ditch, leaving the four year-old behind. The 4-year-old ran behind the truck for a while before being tended by local residents. Shultis was later found in his home. The twins were still strapped in their harnesses.
Three counts of causing injury while operating a motor vehicle under the influence with a passenger under 16 years of age; open intoxicants in a motor vehicle; violation of child safety restraint requirements; inattentive driving; failure to keep vehicle under control; failure to notify police of an accident; three counts of child neglect causing bodily harm; three counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety; etc, etc.
But officer, I don't drink...
42-year-old Chad Donahue, of Milwaukee, was picked up whilst speeding (110 kph in a 60 kph zone) and driving erratically.
The police sharply noticed that there was a strong smell of alcohol coming from his breath, he had slurred speech and glassy eyes. He said, "Officer, I don't drink."
The breathalyser reading was 0.20.
Tell it to the judge, son.
Have a wry and dry weekend
 Ms Markle cannot ever be Princess Meghan, no more than the Duchess of Cambridge can be Princess Kate. Prince Charles' first wife Diana was often and erroneously called Princess Diana. Essentially, the title 'prince' or 'princess' can only be given to a child or male-line grandchild of a sovereign or by Letters Patent (e.g. George and Charlotte, the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been given title of Prince of Cambridge and Princess of Cambridge The title prince is also given to the consort of a queen e.g. Prince Phillip.
 To be eligible to be a President of the US, a person must be born in the USA.
 Claytons was originally blended and bottled by the Clayton Brothers for the Pure Water Company, Battersea, London, in the 1880s.