Wry & Dry

It's Ides Of March Week. Barnaby's back. It's getting dark, too dark to see.

It's Ides of March Week

One of Shakespeare's many great lines was: "Beware the Ides of March", the warning given to Julius Caesar by a laneway soothsayer.  The line is spellbinding, as it immediately creates tension: (a) of what should Caesar be aware? and (b) what the heck are the Ides of March? [1]

Cartoon beware the ides of march

Well, as it turned out, Big Juli knew about the Ides, but didn't listen to the warning.  And was unhappily knifed, not once, but 23 times by a cabal of unfriendly Senators.  This was a rather drastic way to give Big Juli the DCM.

And it caused an unfolding of unforeseen events. [2]

With today being the Ides of March, it is incumbent upon W&D to name this week: Ides of March Week.  A series of events has occurred these past seven days that will have outcomes unforeseeable.

Consider:

  • Brexit: the Mother of Parliaments descends to the mother of all [insert your disaster synonym here].
  • Barnaby: is back, displaying a devastating attack of RDS [3] for all to see.
  • Abbott: might get the DCM with his confession that it was all about vengeance. 
  • 737 MAX: a plane fell out of the sky in Ethiopia, to change the course of aviation history.

As in 44 BC, the Ides of March Week let slip events that will have unforeseeable consequences.   

Only W&D will provide Readers with the crucial insights.

Of course, W&D gives a nod to those Readers who consider this to be a good week.  That is, the last weekend of six months free of Australian football.  Oh, the heresy.

[1]  Ides of March referred to the 15th of March.  The Romans did not number days of a month from the first to the last day. Instead, they counted back from three fixed points of the month: the Nones (5th or 7th, depending on the length of the month), the Ides (13th or 15th), and the Kalends (1st of the following month). The Ides occurred near the midpoint, on the 13th for most months, but on the 15th for March, May, July, and October.  
[2]  Not least of which was with Big Juli in the ground, his best friend Mark Antony moved in on Big Juli's ex-lover: Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.  And married her.  Thus giving material for countless Hollywood movies.   
[3]  Relevance Deprivation Syndrome. 

Brexit: UK parliament - the mother of all chaos [4]  

Readers will know of Negotiation 101: always have a walk-away price or action.  If your enemy knows you do not have a walk-away price or action, then he/she/it has you by the shorts.

Which brings W&D to the complex matter of Brexit.  It has always amazed W&D that the UK government didn't put the 'no-deal' option on the table from the start of Brexit negotiations, two years ago.  And prepared the country for it.  

An earlier Prime Minister might have made the position a lot clearer.

Cartoon another PM might have presented a no deal option

A no-deal Brexit hurts the EU much more than the UK. 

But yesterday, the UK government voted to reject the no-deal option.  Thereby shredding any vestige of final negotiation wins, however small.  The only good things is that the vote can be overturned.

The sheer cussedness of Remainers, plus the bloody-mindedness of Jezza Corbyn, and his troupe of monkeys, has dropped an anvil of anarchy upon this 'Mother of Parliaments'.  Much to the delight of the hitherto title-holder of parliamentary chaos, the Italian parliament. 

[4]  Chaos: in Greek creation mythology, the void state preceding the creation of the universe.

Barnaby's back

Just when Readers thought it were safe ... former Deputy Prime Minister and marital rat Barnaby Joyce suddenly became jealous of all the recent attention given to serial Relevance Deprivation Syndrome sufferers: Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop.

W&D wasn't sure which hallucinogenic drug had trespassed into Mr Joyce's few remaining unaffected brain cells.  But it must have been a doozey.  On Monday he announced that he now wanted (a) to resume leadership of the National Party; and (b) the government to build a coal-fired power station in Queensland.

In proposing (a), he said he was, "elected Deputy Prime Minister by the voters of Australia."  Err, no he wasn't.  He was elected federal member for the seat of New England.

Cartoon barnaby I was elected to this position

In proposing (b), he ignored (i) the uneconomic proposition of a new coal-fired power station; (ii) the absurdity of the federal government trying to coax the somewhat left-wing Queensland government to build one - even with other-peoples'-money; and (iii) the unthought-of, by him, consequence of divisiveness just before an election.

Sigh.  What would the humane thing be to do?

Barnaby's outpouring will lead to events unforeseeable.

Abbott at risk of DCM

W&D had gone to print when news came out last Friday that Tony Abbott now supported many climate-change initiatives, including the Paris Agreement. 

Cartoon Abbott arm wresting a tree

The reason why last year he changed his original mind and opposed it was as an excuse to get fellow neolith Peter Dutton to challenge Croesus Turnbull.  That led to Croesus cracking the sads and quitting parliament immediately, thus allowing Kerryn Phelps, who was born with RDS and, inter alia, the medi-vac proponent, to succeed him.

Abbott is being challenged in his seat by a centrist climate-change believer.  His interest is, of course, in keeping his parliamentary salary.  And, in defending his emolument, he will have mood-swings like W&D's rooftop weather vane in a Melbourne storm. 

Abbott's capriciousness will lead to events unforeseeable.  But excitedly, the possibility of Abbott in the queue at Centrelink. 

737 MAX

It is always sad to read of people losing their lives in a plane crash.  There is a certain innocence about it all, as almost all aircraft accidents these days are caused by pilot error.  But the second recent crash of the new Boeing 737 MAX has raised some eyebrows.

And so it should.

It now seems that Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer, has allowed the plane to fly without a number of airworthiness issues being resolved.  The tabloid media will inform Readers of these.  Suffice to say that the 737 MAX was hastily designed to beat the competitor: Airbus.  In December 2010, Airbus announced the A320neo family, with improved fuel and operating efficiencies.  Two months later, Boeing's CEO said, "We're going to do a new airplane."  And it did.  Trying to play catch up.

The Airbus 320neo series has had 687 planes delivered, with another 6,501 on order.

The Boeing 737 MAX series has had 350 planes delivered, with 5,011 ordered.

After almost every country with an airport banned the 737 MAX, yesterday, Boeing finally grounded those 350 aircraft.  Too late.

Boeing announced Monday it had been working on a software fix for the 737 Max over "the past several months and in the aftermath" of Lion Air Flight 610 that crashed in October off Indonesia, killing 189 passengers.  The process was still underway before the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash over the weekend, which killed 157 people.

Unforeseeable events will arise if (a) passengers just will not fly the 737 MAX, no matter what Boeing might say about its air-worthiness; and/ or (b) airlines cancel their orders for the plane.  The cost to Boeing in compensation just of the planes being grounded could reach $5 billion.  Cancelled orders will cost it plenty.  The 737 MAX accounts for about 32% of Boeing's revenue.

It's all happening on Planet Democrat 

W&D has run out of fingers on which to count the number of Democrats who have announced their candidacy for the presidency of the Yoo Ess Ay.  And he's now running out of toes.

The 15th Democrat candidate has been announced: Beto O'Rourke.  Mr O'Rourke, a somewhat charismatic and fluent Spanish speaking Texan, came to prominence when he almost defeated Republican Ted Cruz in last year's mid-term elections.  Cruz lost to I-Wanna-Trump in the Republican primaries.

Readers will see this as W&D sees it: get the publicity this time, losing doesn't matter.  It's the election after next that he is aiming for.

It's all happening in Swaziland [5]

Readers will know that King Mswati III's wife died last week.  Actually, that's not quite correct.  She did die, but she was #12 of 15 wives that the monarch had.  Her cause of death is not yet known.  But speculation is rising.

She was aged 16 when she met the king at a birthday party of one of the king's children.  She was still 16 when he married her.

Wife #11 committed suicide last year.  When 18 she was singled out by the king from thousands of bare-breasted girls at the annual 'Reed Dance'. 

There are 13 wives left.

Problems is that at least 25% of the population of Eswatini is HIV positive.  W&D is joining the dots.

[5]  Actually now called Eswatini. It's a tiny land-locked impoverished monarchy in southern Africa, between South Africa and Mozambique, of some 1.4 million people.  

House prices: why 

Readers will know that housing prices have been falling for the past 12 months, having rapidly risen in the preceding 4 years.  But why the extraordinary rise in the first place.

Well, W&D has heard two claims. 

The first is that it's all about those nasty foreigners pushing up prices, as they seek to escape their faltering home country.  See the chart:

housing prices

The second is that it's all about interest rates. A duo of RBA analysts have shown that the significant driver behind housing prices is the level of interest rates.  Their A Model of the Australian Housing Market is very clear in its conclusions.

Essentially, it was the RBA's very low-interest rate policy that drove the escalation in house prices.

W&D suggests that one wouldn't need to be a rocket surgeon to realise that it was probably a combination of the two.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Down at the car wash

The White House proposed a $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget, that called for increasing defence spending and including $8.6 billion for a border wall. Under the blueprint, the budget doesn't balance in 10 years, assuming economic growth at an average of 3% for the decade. 

W&D comments:  Congress will reject the budget.  Expect another 'fiscal cliff'.

2.  Greece: best in show

Greece has entered a period of economic growth that puts it "among the best performers in the eurozone", says the International Monetary Fund.  Its economy grew at 2% in 2018.   

W&D comments:  The Greek economy is still 24% smaller than before the 2009 crisis.  Its unemployment rate is 18.5%.      

3.  Australian banks feel NZ pinch 

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is standing by its decision to raise the minimum capital level requirements for its banks.  This adversely affects Australian banking subsidiaries.    

W&D comments: CBA gets about 6% of its profit from New Zealand; NAB about 14%; Westpac 12% and ANZ about 25%.  Raising the capital requirements will adversely affect profit.  Ouch.

4.  Ya, ve tink tings are not so goot.

Germany has again cut its GDP forecast for 2019, to just 0.8%, from 1.8%.

W&D comments: But don't mention the war.

5.  Iran on the Mediterranean

Iran is preparing to take control of Syria’s main commercial port, advancing its plans to secure a trade route from Tehran to the Mediterranean and establishing a significant foothold on Israel’s doorstep.

W&D comments: Now, let's get this right.  Russia now controls Syria's naval base (Tartus) and now Iran its main port.  Good grief.  It's too late for "I told you so."

6.  In Australia: it's getting dark.  Too dark to see.

NAB's Business Confidence Index has fallen to its lowest since 2015.

NAB business confidence 

This has been followed by a fall in the NAB Business Conditions Index.

Cartoon business confidence energy policy

W&D comments: Perhaps the upcoming election has got some folk nervous? 

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to ... Julian Burnside, endorsed Greens candidate for the federal seat of Kooyong.  He said on Saturday, "Same-sex clubs are a relic of the past.  I joined the Savage Club 40 years ago...  I've argued for change from within, but it's too slow coming, so I am resigning my membership until it welcomes all people."

Cartoon Julian Burnside mermaids

W&D had a dream ...

Err, no, he didn't.  Argue for change, that is.  He was silent when a member moved for the club to allow women as members.  And W&D has spoken to a number of friends who are members of the club and none recall him ever challenging the same-sex rule. 

By the way, W&D cannot understand the fuss about men-only clubs.  None of the women-only clubs have rated a mention in the media.  He hastens to add that he is not a member of a same-sex club.  Although he has yet to see a female play for the Mt Eliza Cricket Club 6th XI.  But talent, of either sex, is always welcome.

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

... was back from India.

"I've been in Kashmir," he apologised.  "But now I'm back and trying to manage the disaster in my home life."

"Disaster?" W&D needed to be reminded.

"Well, I have a four-week old baby who will not sleep more than an hour.  My mother-in-law blames me for that, she says Anjali slept through from birth.  "It's your DNA she screams."  Then there's Anjali's six layabout cousins.  They won't help and I have to pay for their food.  And then there is the Bitcoin investment.  I'm in a mess."

"Well," W&D said soothingly.  "You remember the movie, The Martian, where the astronaut is left on Mars. 

"Yes, of course," replied Deepak.  "He was rescued.  But I cannot see your point."

"The point is to remember his attitude.  I can recite the lines, because they are so true:  "At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you … and you’re going to say, this is it.  This is how I end.  Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work.  That’s all it is.  You just begin.  You do the math.  You solve one problem … and you solve the next one … and then the next.  And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home".  All you need to do is to solve one problem at a time." 

"Okay, so where do I begin?"

"I'll let you work that out,"  W&D observed unhelpfully, as he unbuckled his seat belt.  "But things couldn't get any worse."

"Yes they can," he said, gravely.  "The Indian air force pilot that the Pakistanis shot down two weeks ago was my brother." 

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

"The Brexit process should have gone smoothly, unfortunately, it didn't.  Mrs May didn't listen to my advice."

 - I-Wanna-Trump, speaking to Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, who was visiting the White House to mark St Patrick's Day. 

I-Wanna-Trump's advice to Mrs May was probably to erect a scaffold in Trafalgar Square and hang all Remainers.

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

Chrystal Walraven, aged 28, from Texas, decided to go on a vacation.  So she left her five children to look after themselves.  The children's ages ranged from 12 years to 15 months.  [Readers can do some maths at this point].

School officials altered police.  The children are now in care.

Chrystal told police that she asked neighbours and the father of at least one of the children to look after the five.  Her husband, who is the father of at least one of the other children, had moved to Arkansas a few months ago.

She has been charged with two counts of child abandonment.

(APNews.com)

She could get 20 years in jail.  But, what's the point?

Guess what happened next?

Kalesha Marie Peterson, 37 of Missouri, was watching a movie with her boyfriend.  They had had a few beers.  And thought it a good idea to re-enact the exciting movie scene.  What happens next?

a.  The boyfriend didn't appreciate her saying "Love means never having to say you're sorry" and left; 

b.  She didn't like her boyfriend saying "Frankly, m'dear, I don't give a damn" and left;

c.  She loved him saying "Here's looking at you, kid"; or

d.  She always wanted to say, "Go ahead, make my day" with a pistol in her hand.      

Close.  But no cigar.  d. is correct.  She shot him.  In the head.      

(KFIAM640)

A Taurus .38 calibre revolver held by the woman "discharged," striking her boyfriend in the head, police stated.  She was charged with second-degree murder.

The film was not Love Story, Gone With the Wind or Casablanca.  

Ask a profoundly stupid question ...

Cheers

Anthony