Arming teachers. W&D: 1 ABC: 0. Melbourne-Brisbane by train.
It's quiet out there...
...well it was. Until Tsar Trump gave Wry & Dry, and others, the benefit of his bountiful wisdom. He suggested that arming school teachers could help prevent massacres, such as occurred last week in Florida.
W&D fully agrees. And suggests that all teachers be armed as below.
Notice the swivel platform, desk space for critical teaching notes, helpful eye-shades and the superior and ergonomically-designed sitting position. And the handy coat hook.
And if the teacher is out of the room, W&D thinks that Tsar Trump might suggest a robot be deployed:
Readers will notice the all-terrain wheels, multiple gun barrels and, bonus, four rocket launchers! Every school in the Yoo-Ess-Aye should have one. Just to keep handy. Just in case.
W&D has no end of admiration for Tsar Trump's creative mind.
It's a strong week for crackpots
Serial offender, former PM and Relevance Deprivation Syndrome sufferer, Tony Abbott, had been out of the media for too long. And so he waded in the public eye. Abbott suggested that Australia's annual immigration rate should be halved. Sadly, in a chaos of data manipulation, illogicality and economic ignorance he:
- confused refugees with migrants, ascribing the high welfare dependency of the former to the latter
- ignored the basic economic proposition that a key to economic growth was population growth
- made the laughable suggestion that more labour market supply means a lower price for labour
- ignored the fact that two-thirds of our immigrant intake is of skilled labour (and it is skilled labour that enhances productivity)
etc, etc. Pleasingly, he was slapped down by at least two of his former right wing allies (Dutton and Morrison).
"Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
Barnaby and 'alien surroundings'
[This week's Wry & Dry was written before Barnaby stood down. W&D has adjourned for his usual long and epicurean Friday lunch and is in no condition to rewrite the text. It is what it is.]
W&D was moved by the plea of a wealthy English widow, who was ordered to undertake unpaid community work as part-punishment for drunk driving. The lady's plea was that "she not be handed an order of unpaid work claiming it would put her in an 'alien surrounding' as she had never worked in her life and warned it would make her feel uncomfortable and out of her depth." 
And this is Barnaby Joyce's problem. If he resigned or was sacked by his party, he would indeed be placed in an 'alien surrounding'. That is, anywhere but Canberra and without his $400,000+ salary. And he would feel uncomfortable and out of his depth. That is, unsupported by his rustic and rusted-on acolytes. Especially his cabinet mate, Matt Canavan. Readers will know that Senator (for Queensland, where else) Canavan was the man who threw his mother under a bus when arguing his Australian rather then Italian allegiance.
Readers may not know that Senator Canavan used to be a staffer for Barnaby. And that Barnaby is godfather to his child. And that he hired, at we-the-taxpayers' expense, the mistress of his former and current boss.
Let W&D give Readers the whisper: Senator Canavan is not going to vote to oust Barnaby. Notwithstanding that last weekend's Newspoll showed that 65% of voters think that Barnaby should be given the DCM.
And Barnaby would indeed be in an 'alien surrounding' without the good Senator to protect his back. And back pocket.
PS Speaking of back pockets, last week W&D advised readers that a swing to the back bench would cost Barnaby over $200,000 p.a. (from over $400,000 to just on $200,000). W&D is not suggesting for one moment that Barnaby's decision not to resign is compelled by fiscal reasons rather than matters of high principle. But Readers will be aware that Natalie, Barnaby's estranged wife, has said that she wants her adulterous husband to keep his job. To sort-of quote Mandy Rice-Davies, "Well, she would say that, wouldn't she?"  Natalie, wronged as she is, has a fiscal imperative for Barnaby to earn as much dosh as he can.
W&D is beginning to feel sorry for banks
Well, just a little. according to the Millennial Disruption Index , 71% of young people would rather go to the dentist than listen to what their bank is saying. That might be harsh on dentists.
And 75% said they would prefer financial services from start-ups and tech companies (e.g. Apple or Google).
Everybody seems to be ganging up on the poor banks. Quite right, too. And this is not about the past and the various banks' corrupt practices. This is about the future.
Trouble is, the banks are now only just beginning to wake-up. Everyone is talking about 'fintech'. And technological delivery of financial products.
For example, NAB announced, to the chagrin of the banking union, it's going to slash 6,000 jobs over the next three years and hire 2,000 IT people. (It might have said that '6,000 employees would be stood down', but, ... oh never mind.)
In a numbers sense, this isn't as extreme as it looks, the bank loses about 3,000 employees each year through natural attrition. But W&D senses that NAB is going to more accurately target the targets. Banks' mid-and top-level management are populated with many loyal but ultimately time-serving and expensive dinosaurs.
But changing people is one thing. Investing in the business is another. For many years the banks have lined the pockets of senior executives and directors and paid out too much in dividends. This short-sighted approach has meant that technologically the banks have failed to progress. For example, First Samuel, a company with whom W&D is associated, uses one of the big banks to make payments for its clients. The mechanism for those payments doesn't support, for example, the latest version of Windows, is a hybrid of at least four applications and it takes nine 'click's to get to the transaction screen. It is painfully slow. Oh, dear.
The banks are now madly investing in fintech companies - but W&D is not sure if such investments are really relevant to each bank's future. Perhaps the investments are made just so that the banks can learn.
At the moment, the banks have just one thing going for them: a government supported balance sheet that allows them to lend.
W&D 1 ABC 0
Readers will recall that last week, W&D took issue with a very lame and woefully misleading article on company tax by the ABC's Chief Economics Correspondent, Emma Alberici.
W&D will not reduce Readers to snores by repeating poor Emma's article or its many failings. Except to note that she did not know the difference between revenue and profit, that expenses are tax deductible and that prior year losses are carried forward and can offset current year profits for tax purposes. Pretty basic stuff, really.
And this from the national broadcaster's economics guru. Well, that guru, whose economic and commerce qualification is, err, a BA in Italian from the University of Melbourne and who took her current position after her previous role as a current affairs presenter was closed in 2017, has had her article pulled from the ABC website and an investigation undertaken.
W&D would like to say that it was his acute and timely article that forced the ABC to act. Sadly, no. The cries of outrage were overwhelmingly from more than W&D's quill.
But, Titanic-like, or is it Canute-like, poor Emma is going down fighting, citing "25 years' experience in the fields of business and finance reporting."
Sorry, poor Emma. You stuffed up badly. The decent thing would be to admit you so did. And apologise.
Breaking news: Poor Emma's parvulum opus has been re-written and has re-appeared on the ABC's website.
Speaking of economic illiteracy...
...Readers will know that William Shorten is not W&D's favourite politician. Mind you, it's a long list, headed by the Triple As: Abbott, Andrews and Abetz, then Ms Hanson and then any Green. But occasionally William Shorten says things which get a bullet rating. Clearly, he had read Emma Alberici's kindergarten level analysis of whether Australia should reduce its company tax. And hence spouted this nonsense:
"Labor isn't going to give away billions of dollars to large banks and multinationals and giant mining companies, many of whom don't even pay tax anyway now... because we are not going to give Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts to the top end of town."
What is the 'top end of town'? For Australian companies, most of the investors are superannuation funds, the members of which are hardly the top end of town. Shorten knows this. And he also knows that because of the dividend imputation system a change in company tax rate makes no difference to Australian investors. It's the non-resident investor that benefits from the tax cuts. And hence to make Australia an attractive place to invest, compared to other countries, it seems to make sense to lower the tax rate - even at the glacial speed proposed by Croesus Turnbull.
If Shorten is going to argue against the company tax cuts, he should do so with an element of honesty. But, then again, looking at Shorten's track record...oh, never mind.
Chickens 1 KFC 0
Well, the KFC chicken didn't cross the road. Because of a logistics failure, last week about 560 of KFC's outlets in the UK had to close because of 'operational issues.' They ran out of chickens.
But W&D had little sympathy for the KFC customer, who exclaimed, "So we're going to have to hit a McDonald's up." The syntax of which says it all.
Lies. Damned lies. And statistics
The Age headline said it all: "Women working for the Victorian government are earning $10,000 less than their male colleagues, despite outnumbering the men by two to one."
W&D gets grumpy at this sort of lazy analysis. And how about the irrelevant non-sequitur: "despite outnumbering the men by two to one." The article then went on to speak of the 'gender-pay gap', and how badly women were treated because they were, well women.
Readers will know that up to 95% of the 'gender-pay gap is explained by factors other than gender.  The rest is because of a multiple factors such as the obvious (women leaving the work-force to have and rear children; women tend to self-select for occupations that happen to earn less than many roles that men do, e.g. nursing) and the less obvious (women are more risk-averse than men and therefore do not apply for occupations where higher risk is compensated by higher compensation).
Hence to create a frenzy about the 'gender-pay gap' is perhaps creating a frenzy where none is needed. The frenzy should be elsewhere.
W&D noted that 67% of Victorian government employees were female. Logically, 33% were men. There was also one government employee who identified as 'intersex'.
Readers might very well ask what was W&D doing reading The Age anyway?
Deepak, W&D's Uber driver, was talking about...
...the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail project. "What's all the fuss about," he asked. "Who would want to go from Melbourne to Brisbane by train? Anjali would rather fly. Business Class, or course."
"So would I," W&D responded, "But to go by train? Nuh. But that's not the point. It's all about freight and Barnaby Joyce."
"Oh, dear" said Deepak. "I thought Barnaby was on stress leave."
W&D looked to The Bard for guidance, " 'The evil that men do lives after them. The good is often interred with their bones.' . Barnaby is not yet dead. And there is little evidence that he has ever done any good, except enhance Australia's birth rate. But he sure has done, well, not evil, but enough to suggest rural pork barreling of a biblical scale."
Deepak looked confused. "So, what is the project?"
"It's a 1,700 kilometre, $10.9 billion rail line from the docks at Melbourne to almost the docks in Brisbane. And passing through, in Victoria, once out of the suburbs, one Labor electorate and one wannabee National Party electorate; in NSW, three National Party electorates, one Liberal and zero Labor; and in Queensland one National Party electorate, one Liberal electorate before hitting the 'burbs.' It's Barnaby's pet project. And it will not pay its way. On a best case basis, it will return $1.10 for every $1.00 invested. But that is the best-case scenario and there is yet to be an Australian best-case project outcome success."
"Wow," Deepak looked shocked. "That's a huge amount of money. But I cannot remember hearing about it in the budget."
"Exactly," W&D nodded. "Like the disastrous NBN, it is a 'capital project'. And is therefore not in the budget. The budget runs on a 'cash-in, cash-out basis'. That is why you rarely read anything about it. "
"And when will it be completed?"
"2025, at the earliest."
Deepak's face lit up. "That's why Barnaby won't resign. He wants to wait around to open it."
Meanwhile in Italy...
...Readers will know that there is a general election on 4th March. Who cares? W&D hears Readers asking. Well, no-one it seems.
Notwithstanding the return of octogenarian Silvio Berlusconi, the rise of the populist Five Star Movement and the rhetoric of the xenophobic Northern League, nothing will change. The Italian political system is completely dysfunctional. Political and bureaucratic entropy has ensnared this beautiful country.
Yet, somehow, Italy survives. For now. W&D's worry is that sooner or later, the economic polls will come home to roost. And the country will split between, simplistically, the industrial north and the agrarian south.
W&D suggests that Readers don't lose sleep over whatever happens on 4th March.
And, to soothe your troubled mind...
"So, does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?"
- Kylie Jenner, a person famous for being famous, tweeting about something called Snapchat.
The shares in Snapchat's parent fell 7.2% last night following the tweet. W&D notes that it CEO, Evan Spiegel, may become one of the highest paid executives in the U.S. After the company’s IPO last March, Spiegel got a $636.6 million stock grant.
Nice work, if you can get it.
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
Guess what happened next
Aldo Morue, 44, had been charged with attempted murder, but was free on $500,000 bail. He was set to turn up to court on the final day to hear the jury's verdict. What happened next?
a. Aldo turns up on the final day. And the jury finds him not guilty;
b. Aldo turns up on the final day. And the jury finds him guilty. Twenty years;
c. Aldo turns up on the final day. And finds that the charges have been dropped; or
d. Aldo fails to front. And cannot be found.
Close. But no cigar. The correct answer is d. Aldo read the tea leaves and didn't hang about. His instinct was correct - he was found guilty, and will probably get 20 years in the slammer. If he can be found. Egg on face for the bail judge.
Pro-tip: when you have shot and killed someone, if you post it on Facebook, someone will come and get you
Graciela Paulino got really grumpy with Marc Devoe, when Devoe cut her off as she drove along the freeway in Massachusetts. Paulino followed him, pulled a shot gun and killed Devoe. She then drove off.
But they couldn't find her or her car. But a friend of Paulino reported to police that she, Paulino, had posted on Facebook that she had shot another driver. The police turned up.
And charged her with murder plus, from a previously pending case in which she failed to appear, assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of marijuana, resisting arrest, assault and battery and disorderly conduct.
Show me the way to go drone...
Tyler Bohot, 26, from Walworth, Wisconsin, got really smashed at a strip club late one night and started a fight. Just before the police arrived he fled in a stolen car. Police caught up and got ahead of him and laid out 'stop sticks' - but that didn't stop Tyler, who kept on driving. Ten minutes later they found his car some miles up the road but no sign of Tyler. The K-9 team lost track of him and the police didn't know where to look (it was 2am).
So a heat tracking (i.e. thermal imaging) drone was called. Tyler was found within minutes, unconscious and about to drown in a swamp.
Tyler was taken to hospital. And then to jail.
Have a wry and dry weekend.
 Henry II, speaking of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Four of Henry's knights, perhaps not the sharpest knives in the drawer, took this as a call to action. And Henry was rid of Becket.
 The magistrate was not moved by her innovative plea. For the full story on this fascinating case, Readers should go to the following website
 Mandy Rice-Davies was, err, a model, best known for her role in the 1963 Profumo affair, which almost bought down the UK government. Rice-Davies was never charged with being a prostitute, but Stephen Ward was found guilty at trial of being her pimp. While giving evidence at Ward's trial for living off the avails of prostitution (immoral earnings, in U.K. law) Rice-Davies admitted having one sexual encounter at Ward’s home with a Lord Astor. This produced from Ward’s inadequate counsel, the most disastrous question ever asked in the history of cross-examination: "Don’t you know that Lord Astor has denied your allegation”? The transcript reports the reply as: “Well (giggle) he would, wouldn’t he?” R v. Ward, 1963. Arguably, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history. Readers may wish to read Geoffrey Robinson's excellent 'Stephen Ward was Innocent. OK'.
 A three-year study undertaken by Viacom (as large US multi-media company) subsidiary Scratch to assess which industries are most ripe for disruption by millennials. See results here
 The figure varies from country to country and from researcher to researcher. The 95% is from a Cornell University Study (2016), there is a 62% figure from a 2017 Berkeley study.
 Act 3, scene ii of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony's famous speech.