Wry & Dry

Putin 4 Trump 0. Google belted. Bastille Day reality.

Putin 4  Trump 0

W&D was predicting a 1-0 (Putin) outcome.  Not a 4-0 drubbing.

In a US diplomatic disaster probably only matched by Kennedy [1] being slammed by Khrushchev [2] at Vienna in 1961, Tarzan Trump was roundly routed by Tsar Putin in Helsinki on Monday.  The disaster was moreso in that Tarzan Trump fell to the canvas (four times) rather than Tsar Putin landing any punches.  Tarzan Trump's later-corrected misnegation didn't help (see Quote of the Week, below).  

Cartoon Trump to the Finland station

Following his diplomatic shambles in the UK (and was there ever a ruder guest [3] at Windsor Castle?) and in Brussels, Tarzan Trump has made Legend Status in the W&D Diplomatic Disasters Hall of Fame.  And this after less than two years in office.

It was always going to be tough for Tarzan Trump.  A survivor in the political world of Russia, Tsar Putin honed his ruthlessness working for the KGB.  And then took control of Russia.  And after creating some order out of the disorder of Yeltsin, Tsar Putin seized Crimea; covertly invaded eastern Ukraine; provided the missile that shot down a civilian aircraft; bombed tens of thousands of refugees out of Syria; poisoned foreigners; unleashed a cyber attack on the US; and attempted a military coup in Montenegro.

Tsar Putin: why, man, he doth bestride the world Russia like a colossus [4].  He has been in charge for almost 20 years.  And neophyte Tarzan Trump?  A not-too-bright, bullying property developer-cum-reality-television presenter: what could he do?   

The mastery of Tsar Putin was shown when a reporter asked him about Russia's interference in America's elections.  With a straight face, he hilariously protested that he had not been provided with the details of the allegations against his government.  And moreover, he offered Russian investigative assistance to get to the bottom of it all.  Tarzan Trump was silent. 

Make that 5-0.            


Readers will know there are some vital elections upcoming.  And it's not those by-elections that are giving Croesus Turnbull and Shorten the conniptions.

It's Wednesday's presidential election in Pakistan.  W&D is watching as former star cricketing all-rounder, Imran Khan, is seeking to become its next President.  W&D is a keen follower of Pakistani politics.  And with all of the stuff that goes on in Pakistan, can advise Readers that Tarzan Trump would be quite at home in Lahore.

What do you mean "too long?"

In an engineering snafu normally the domain of Italy, the Spanish government's new S-80 Plus submarine is too big for its dock.  The Spanish designed and Spanish built vessel, the first of four, was a problem child from conception, much less from birth.

In 2013 a design flaw was found that meant the vessel was so imbalanced that it could submerge, but not resurface.

Not a useful characteristic.  Especially for those on board.

So, to improve its buoyancy, the vessel had to be lengthened by 10 metres.  But no-one measured the length of the specially built submarine dock, which now has to be rebuilt. 

Each of the four submarines will now cost over €1 billion, almost twice what Israel paid for the similar German Type 214 submarine.


Bastille Day: a National Day originating in slaughter?

Readers will know that the French celebrated their national day last Saturday, on 14th July, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, the landmark event of the French Revolution.  W&D guesses it all has to do with the overthrow of the Ancien Régime, the Bourbon monarchy of Louis XVI.  

Sadly, the French Revolution ushered in a reign of extreme terror, until Napoleon came to power in 1799.  The peak of the terror was what many call a genocide: it was undertaken by modern, progressive apostles of Enlightenment and aimed principally at pious peasants in the Vendée region of France.  By its end up to 300,000 civilians had been brutally butchered by the armies of the Republic. 

W&D mentions this as the origins of different countries' national days can be quite, well, weird.  And the celebration of what a country stands for is not necessarily defined by what happened on the National Day, however many years ago.

Otherwise, W&D would suggest that France's National Day should fall on the day that the French Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon invented champagne. [5] 

Cartoon French champagne


W&D isn't sure to which beauty parlour Tarzan Trump goes.  But they sure messed up either his fake tan or his make-up for his trip to Finland for the summit with Tsar Putin. 

Notice that the areas around his eyes seem naturally coloured.  But the rest of his dial resembles an orangey/ brown hue.  Perhaps Pantone 7417 XGC?

To watch an American president dis his own intelligence agencies, blame both sides for the Russian hacking of our ...


Snippets from all over 

1.  Googled

The European Commission, in a significant 'anti-trust' judgment, has hit Google with a record €4.3 billion fine for abusing the dominant market position of its Android operating system for mobile phones. 

Cartoon Google memories

W&D comments: Readers will recall how the US Supreme Court broke up the Standard Oil company (the source of the Rockefeller gazillions) in 1911.   By 1904, Standard Oil controlled 91% of the refined oil flows in the US.  The court ruling broke up the company into 34 pieces, the two biggest of which were what became Exxon and Mobil.  Ironically, those two companies merged in 1999.   At what stage will Google be subject to US judicial scrutiny?  It's all up to the US Fair Trade Commission.  And they decided not to proceed against Google in 2013.  Perhaps the EC's decision might embolden it. [6]

By the way, the fine is about 5% of Google's cash at bank.

2.  Superfeet 

US sports footwear manufacturer Nike says the Zoom Vaporfly, its $250 running shoes, will make Readers run 4% faster. 

Cartoon Nike run faster

W&D comments: W&D will wait for the Zimmer frame version.  

3.  Study abroad

Australia is overtaking the UK as the world's second biggest destination for international students, says research from University College London.

Cartoon McUni

W&D comments:  Think of all of those extra Uber drivers...  But loyalty to Deepak remains.

4.  Meanwhile at Yekaterinburg...

...on Wednesday about 100,000 people were in a procession commemorating the 100 years since the execution of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, four daughters (including the famed Anastasia) and son by the Bolsheviks.  

W&D comments: Nicholas was the last Tsar, and his remains, and those of his family, were disinterred and reburied in 1998, in a vault in St Petersburg's Peter and Paul Cathedral

5.  California to stay one state... for now

Readers who have been following the so-called Cal3 measure - also known as Proposition 9 - which seeks to split California into three states, will be interested to hear that it has been removed from the ballot in November following a ruling from the state's Supreme Court.  

W&D comments:  Cal3 is a meritorious proposition.  The state is effectively the 5th largest economy in the world.  And too big to be run as a part of a larger entity (i.e. the Yoo Ess Aye).

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to Gottfried Waldhäusl, of the Freedom Party (the junior coalition partner in Austria's government), who is responsible for animal welfare in the state of Lower Austria.  Under his outrageous proposal Jews would have to register with the authorities to buy kosher meat. 

Readers will know that the last time Jews had to be registered in Austria was in 1938, after its annexation by Nazi Germany.  All but 2,000 of the approximately 195,000 Jews in Austria were killed in Nazi concentration camps.  Austria's Freedom Party was founded in 1956 by a former SS officer and now runs the foreign, interior and defence ministries in its coalition government.  Its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, has links with neo-Nazis.

Oh, dear.        

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver, wanted to hear all about ...

... whether another country disrupts the US government bond market.  "I hear that China is the world's largest investor of US government bonds.  I guess that means that the US government owes China a lot of money."

"Yes, it does.  Just over one trillion dollars," replied W&D.  "The US taxpayer owes about six trillion dollars to official and non-official foreign investors."

"So if China sold those bonds it would cause a crash in the US bond market?" Deepak looked worried.

"Yes, it would.  But as the selling started the price of the bonds would keep going down, so China would be selling itself out of profit. And what else is it going to do with the money it would raise from the liquidation? No, it is most unlikely that China would shoot itself in the foot."  W&D was reassuring.

"Ah, but the Chinese are smart." Deepak persisted.  "What if someone really wanted to hurt the US government.  Like Russia.  Could they do it?"

"Not by selling its holding of US government bonds," responded W&D calmly. "Russia holds only a tiny amount:  About $15 billion."

US government debt holders by country

W&D went on, "And if Russia wished to 'hurt' the US government, it has many easier ways to do it.  Without hurting itself."

"How?" shot back Deepak, intrigued by what might happen.

"Just ask President Trump to have another summit with President Putin," dryly observed W&D. "That would be an inexpensive gift to Russia.  Speaking of gifts, did you give Anjali a small gift?"

"Yes," said Deepak, looking strangely glum.  "I bought her some expensive chocolates."

"Well, did they work?" asked W&D.  "Did she creep into your bed?"

"Not even close," he replied.  "My mother-in-law found the chocolate box I left on the bed.  And she ate them.  And will get even fatter.  And Anjali missed out.  I should give up."

"A fatal conclusion," laughed W&D as he stepped from Deepak's car.  "Never give up.  You should have planned for this.  Perhaps a card addressed to Anjali might have helped."

"No, it would not.  My mother-in-law got to the chocolate box first.  And she doesn't read English," yelled Deepak to the receding W&D.

W&D turned: "Keep trying.  Otherwise you will explode."      

And, to soothe your troubled mind...  


Last words...

"I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be."

 - Donald Trump, US President, when asked if Russia interfered with the 2016 US presidential election. 

Tarzan Trump later corrected himself, saying he meant to say "wouldn't be."  Err, nonsense.  And here's why (and thanks to the Economist magazine):  

Mr Trump said, “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” “I will say this” is kind of a pre-announcement. Strictly, nobody needs to say this ever. People are always about to say the thing they are about to say. But it does serve a function: in effect, “Listen up. I’m going to give you a short pause to gather your attention because this next sentence is particularly important.” It also gives the speaker a moment to plan. This was not a throwaway sentence where Mr Trump’s own attention might have wandered. He announced its importance.

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Some lightly salted absurdities from all over ...

At the extreme left-hand end of the Bell Curve

West Jordan, Utah, police stopped 38-year-old Brandon Briggs for a routine motorbike inspection.  But Briggs quickly sped off.

However, officers decided not to follow the Briggs, because they recognised him - he was out of jail, that morning, and now on parole. Instead officers went to his home and waiting for him to return.  About an hour later Briggs showed up at his house.  And was arrested.

(Fox 13, Salt Lake City)

Possession of a stolen vehicle, failure to stop at the command of an officer and violation of parole.

Guess what happened next?

A man in Fairfax County, Virginia, Yoo Ess Aye bought a A$430,000 McLaren 720S sports car.  And took it for a drive.   What happens next?

a.  The car got a flat tyre, and was towed;

b.  The car ran out of petrol after 10 kilometres, and was towed;

c.  The car got a flat battery, and was towed; or

d.  The driver failed to take a bend, and the car was totalled.       

Close.  But no cigar.  d. is correct.  

(Washington Post)

Tree 1  Driver 0.  

Bear v shark

How about this for a battle of beasts: Check the video here



Have a Wry & Dry weekend. 



[1]  John F Kennedy was the charismatic and narcissistic President of the US after Dwight Eisenhower. Better known for serial adultery (including seducing the 60-year-old actress Marlene Dietrich) and for being assassinated than for effectiveness, Kennedy said of Khrushchev at the summit, “He beat the hell out of me... He savaged me.” It's sort of weird, a Gallup survey disclosed that 53% of Americans wept in the days following his death. Rather like the countless Brits who cried after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, another glamorous and empathetic narcissist, the tears were for the loss of an unspoken promise from a relatively youthful figure. But that didn't make the promise real. Consider a counter-factual, what if Nixon, rather than Kennedy, had won in 1960?  

[2]  Nikita Khrushchev effectively ran the Soviet Union (i.e. Russia and its vassal states) from 1953 to 1964.  A hard-headed survivor of and successor to Stalin's reign, Khrushchev drove the further industrialization of the Soviet Union.  He was a bit of a showman and adventurer. He saw the weakness in Kennedy at the Vienna Summit as a sign of US weakness.  This led to his foolhardy plan to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

[3] Perhaps Trump is originally from Hungary: "that hairy hound from Budapest...Never have I known a ruder pest," Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, arguably the greatest of all musicals.

[4] "Why, manhe doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep about / To find ourselves dishonorable graves." Cassius, in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. 

[5] Readers will know that he didn't really.  His contribution was the method of blending grapes prior to sending them to press.

[6]Keen anti-Google Readers may wish to read the following article