Wry & Dry

North Korea: Let's be realistic. North-west frontier awakes. Westpac's lunch.

Let's be realistic

It will be a pleasant train ride from Hanoi (or just north of) back to Pyongyang for Emperor Kim Jong Un.  He got what he wanted from the summit in Hanoi with I-Wanna-Wall-Trump.  Stamps in his passport.

Readers know that there is no way that Emperor Kim is going to de-nuclearise the Korean Peninsula.  There was never any prospect of this.  And I-Wanna-Wall-Trump knows and knew it.  Ever since former President Clinton didn't demolish the embryonic North Korean nuclear capability in 1993 (as he was about to do), the genie has been out of the bottle.  

So why did I-Wanna-Wall-Trump go ahead with the summit when he knew there was no way he'd walk away with a deal?

Cartoon we have the coordinates

Well, firstly, I-Wanna-Wall-Trump sees a much-shouted No Deal is as good a Deal, if he is the one who walks from the deal.

Secondly, the process is part of a broader plan to try to keep Emperor Kim in check.  At least I-Wanna-Wall-Trump is doing something, which is more than the limp-wristed attempts of his predecessor.

Thirdly, next year is election year.  The bigger the I-Wanna-Wall-Trump cojones the bigger the vote.

Meanwhile, on the North-West Frontier `...

Readers will know that the last thing that Pakistan wants is a war with India.  Hence its offer of a 'peace gesture' to return the Indian pilot, whose plane was shot down after it destroyed terrorist bases in disputed Kashmir.  Pakistan's military muscle is puny, albeit it has nuclear weapons.  Anything less than that would be embarrassing.

Cartoon north west frontier

The trouble is that Pakistan is a breeding ground and safe harbour for terrorism.  The government cannot do anything about this, as the military effectively control the country.  And are happy to run interference, starting with terrorism in Kashmir.   

W&D senses that saner heads will prevail - there will be massive diplomatic maneuvering behind closed tent flaps.

But the chances of the resumption of India-Pakistan Tests (the last was in 2007) has lessened.  

Still drowning

W&D hates to say that he told Readers so.  But he did.  A week is a long time in politics [1].  And even longer in opinion polls.

Last week's 49/51 joy for the government was indeed shattered on the rocks of polling error.  And resumed its 47/53 trend. 

[1] So said Harold Wilson, former Labour Prime Minister of the UK.  

"Vietnam.  Vietnam.  I think I've heard of it."

I-Wanna-Wall-Trump has fled the confines of the Yoo Ess Ay for Vietnam.  The aim: to continue the lurv-fest with North Korean Emperor Kim Jong Un. 

W&D's agent in the White house overheard the planning meeting I-Wanna-Wall-Trump had with his Chief-of-Staff:

Trump:  Where?

C-o-S:   Vietnam, Mr President.

Trump:  Goddammit.  Vietnam!  Didn't we fight a war against those Fascist bastards?

C-o-S:   That was Germany, sir.

Trump:  Ah, yes.  That's right.  Guadalcanal and all that.

C-o-S:  No, sir.  That was the Japanese.

Trump:  Ah, yes, that's right.  Vietnam.  Vietnam.  Ah, yes.  That was where we fought the Chinese.

C-o-S:  Err, no, sir.  That was North Korea.

Trump:  That's it.  That's where we are going.

C-o-S;  No, sir.  We are meeting the President of North Korea.  But in Vietnam.

Trump:  Vietnam.  Vietnam.  Why does that name ring a bell?

C-o-S:  Well, sir.  We were fighting the North Vietnamese in the 1960s, sir.

Trump:  Ah, that's it.  I remember, I got a letter about it.

C-o-S:  Yes, sir.  That was about the draft.  

Trump:  Ah, yes.  I got that fixed up.  [2]   Too bad.  Too bad.  I really wanted to meet one of those cute, little Vietnamese women.  You know the ones I mean.

C-o-S:  No, sir.   Anyway, this is your chance to see Vietnam, sir.  We are going there on Wednesday.

Trump:  Hot dog!  And pack my golf gear.  And remind me, why are we going?

C-o-S:  To meet with Mr Kim Jong Un. 

Trump:  Who is he?

[the battery in the recorder failed at this point]

Cartoon Trump spurs

[2]  Trump had 4 deferments from the draft because of college education.  Then when he finished college (Wharton), he applied for deferment again this time because of 'heel spurs'.  Trump was quite a college athlete: tennis, football, squash.  And there is no record of him ever previously having heel spurs.  He never served in the US military.

Still alive

W&D thought that Ita Buttrose had long since shifted off this mortal coil.  So yesterday's news that she was still stomping around in Christian Louboutin stilettos surprised W&D.  And, doubtless, Readers as well.  It seems that Ms Buttrose remains active an age when even Brezhnev's Politburo members were retiring to their dachas.  She is aged 77, and has just been appointed to be chairman of the ABC, a government owned media company.

Cartoon bananas in pyjamas

W&D considers that Ms Buttrose's experience as a former edit of Cleo [3] and the Australian Women's Weekly [4] will provide a useful base to run the ABC.

But Ms Buttrose's expensive taste in clothes and shoes may not endear her to the some of the more, err, egalitarian types at the ABC.  Sort of like Ms Bishop.

[3]  She was the inaugural editor.  The first issue (1971) featured a story about 'How to be a sexy housewife.'  Cleo magazine was almost required reading for many young Australian women interested in fashion, beauty, sex and relationship advice, and celebrity stories.  It closed in 2016 after 44 years in print.
[4]  Still going strong, since 1933, it is Australia's highest selling magazine.  Buttrose left Cleo in 1975 to become editor of AWW, where she worked for 3 years.

Still banking Westpac...

It is rare that W&D dips his lid to a bank.  [Drum roll]. 

Readers will recall in W&D's [Westpac Whacked] edition he lambasted Westpac's Chairman for failing to understand how a bonus works.  This was after Westpac's AGM, when the shareholders voted down Westpac's somewhat generous senior executive remuneration policy. 

Well, the Monday after that edition, W&D received a phone call from Lindsay Maxsted, the said Chairman of Westpac, courteously inviting W&D to lunch, so that he, Mr Maxsted, could "explain to you how a bonus scheme works". 

Never one to miss a lunch at someone else's expense, especially that of the shareholders of Westpac, W&D accepted without hesitation.

The lunch was on Tuesday, at one of those modest but excellent Italian restaurants for which Melbourne is famous.  And, whilst W&D and Mr Maxsted didn't see eye-to-eye on the matter of bank incentive compensation, W&D certainly appreciated the conversation and time that Mr Maxsted provided.  And came away with a greater understanding of the other issues that confront Australian banks.

Cartoon westpac paying waiters

As Readers might expect, W&D's people are standing by to take calls from the Chairmen of ANZ, CBA and NAB's people.

"We want our island back!"

The Indian Ocean country/ island of Mauritius wants its islands back.  Or more accurately, its atolls, some 2,000 kilometres away.  Readers will know that the UK has sovereignty over the Chagos Islands, arising from stuff that happened before Mauritius gained independence from the UK in 1965.  The UK then allowed the US to build it's largest overseas airbase on Diego Garcia, one of the larger atolls.  

But the International Court of Justice in the Hague has said this week that the islands were "not lawfully separated from the former colony of Mauritius".

Only the atoll of Diego Garcia is inhabited, and only by about 3,000 military personnel.

Two issues arise, each of which will be clear to Readers.

Firstly, there is no way that the UK will accede to the court's request.  The decision is not binding.  And, in any case, I-Wanna-Wall-Trump would go nutzo if the US lost is key military base in the Indian Ocean.  Readers will know that Diego Garcia was the base from which US B52 bombers were launched in the Gulf War of 1990-91.

Secondly, the court said that there was a basic human right of all people to self-determination.  Emperor Xi Jinping, did you hear that?  How about those folk in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang Province?  Will you give them the opportunity to vote for self-determination?  Err, maybe not.   

More importantly,  W&D considers that this basic human right of all people to self-determination should be applied by the Australian government to Queenslanders.  Give them the right to secede.  So we can get rid of its nutzo politicians.  

Mediterranean diet

Readers will know that the essence of a long life is the classic Mediterranean diet.  That is, fish, olive oil and nuts.  W&D would add red wine as an essential fourth element.

Cartoon mediterranean diet

So it was with interest that W&D read that Spain and Italy are the world's two healthiest countries, according to the Bloomberg Healthiest Countries' Index.  This Index, based on WHO, World Bank and UN data, was released this week with much fanfare about the Mediterranean diet.

Hold the phone, of the top 10 countries on the list, only three are on the Mediterranean.

Healthy nations


What to do when your private jet is deemed unsafe?  Borrow someone else's, of course.  Oops, no.  That would be embarrassing.  Especially for the head of a nuclear-capable country.  So, what about the train?  Which is exactly what North Korean emperor Kim Jong Un did. 

Kim's private jet, a 40-year-old, Soviet made Ilyushin Il-62 plane [2] no longer has the required airworthiness rating to fly internationally.  But his train was good to go.  So it went, from Pyongyang to almost Hanoi, some 4,000 kilometres.   The reason why the train couldn't make it all the way to Hanoi (stopping at Dong Dang, on China-Vietnam border) was that the Vietnamese section of the track is metre gauge rather than standard gauge (1,435mm).   Emperor Kim Jong Un took an Uber for the last 136 kilometres.   

[2]  The Ilyushin Il-62 was the world's largest jet airliner when first flown in 1963.  Its design resembled the Vickers VC10, and it was the safest of that generation of aircraft (which included the Boeing 707 and DC-8).   The Il-62 entered Aeroflot civilian service on 15 September 1967 with an inaugural passenger flight from Moscow to Montreal, and remained the standard long-range airliner for the Soviet Union (and later, Russia) for several decades.  It is now only flown as a passenger aircraft by one airline: Air Koryo (North Korea).  And Air Koryo has just one: which flies weekly from Pyongyang to Vladivostok.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Down at the car wash

The US economy grew at 2.6% in the December quarter, well above expectations.

W&D comments:  And that makes 2.9% for 2018.  I-Wanna-Wall-Trump wanted 3%.  Close, but no cigar.  

2.  They, some of the people of ...

... the UK have put the boot into Jezza Corbyn's Labour Party.  The newly formed The Independent Group (TIG), made up of last week's defectors from the Labour Party (8) and the Conservatives (2) have an 18% support amongst they-the-people-of-the-UK (poll by YouGov).  Labour's support is 23% and the Tories 36%.   

W&D comments:  A week is a long time in ... oh, never mind.      

3.  A folding phone.  But wait!  There's another one!

Huawei, the world's second largest phone maker (after Samsung), has, one week after Samsung, introduced its own folding phone.

W&D comments:  This is getting ridiculous.  

4.  Brexit detail

It has now been revealed that, assuming a successful Brexit, that the UK financial services sector will still have market access to Europe, but will have to closely follow EU standards.  

W&D comments:  This is good news.  The plea for Brexit was all about freedom of movement of people (i.e. illegal immigration) and pesky consumer protection bureaucracy.  And not about financial regulations, most of which are sensible.

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to ... US consumer watchdog group Public Interest Research Group, which announced with glee that many brands of beer and wine contain trace amounts of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.  The amount of glyphosate was between 21 and 51 parts per billion.

Readers will know that, assuming the greatest value reported, 51 ppb, is correct, a 60kg adult would have to consume 1,100 litres of wine per day, every day for life to reach the US Environmental Protection Agency's glyphosate maximum exposure limit for humans.  

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver ...

... left a text message for W&D.  He was on a plane to India.

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...


Last words ...

"Mr Trump skirted the Vietnam draft by falsely claiming he received deferment because of a bone spur."

 - Michael Cohen, the longtime lawyer and fixer for Donald Trump, speaking yesterday before a Congressional oversight committee.

Further, Trump told Cohen that he did not go to Vietnam because he was 'not stupid'.  W&D's jury is still out on that question.

First Samuel client events calendar

Events for 2019

Eat Street

Invitations not yet sent

21st May 2019 - The Sofitel Hotel

NGV Viewing and Cocktail Night

Invitations not yet sent

25th June 2019 - NGV 

Contact Jess at responses@firstsamuel.com.au to RSVP

Some lightly salted absurdities from all over ...

At the extreme left-hand end of the Bell Curve

This is why you never park in front of a fire hydrant.

Fire hydrant


And the driver got a parking ticket.

Guess what happened next?

At a dinner buffet restaurant in Huntsville, Alabama, the crab legs platter was quickly emptied.  And a long queue formed to wait for the refill.  After 20 minutes, the freshly filled platter arrived.  What did the diners do?

a.  Patiently wait in line; 

b.  The men in the queue offered their places to children;

c.  Places at the head of the queue were offered to elderly diners; or

d.  Fights broke out, with diners grabbing serving tongs and using them as swords; others smashed plates over interlopers heads and punches were thrown by two women.  The platter of crab legs ended up on the floor.     

Close.  But no cigar.  d. is correct.  Musta been some crab legs.