Wry & Dry

Weep and Wait. In the dentist's chair. Gender neutrality.

Notre-Dame de Paris:  Weep.  And wait.  

It took a disaster of cultural, architectural, historical and religious enormity to displace the talking heads of Messrs Morrison and Shorten from the headlines.

Like many Readers, W&D has spent many hours in Notre-Dame de Paris.  And so sheds a tear for the loss of the memorials and art.  And for Parisians, whose hearts have been seared by the flames that scorched the building.

The structure will be restored.  The good news is that in 2011 the late Andrew Tallon, an American professor, created massive digital files using laser scanning to capture every possible millimetre of the cathedral.  A perfect 3-D digital replica is available.

But here's the thing.  The French have many wonderful traits, but co-operation is not one of them.  Territoriality is a matter of Gallic pride.  

As Charles de Gaulle [1] famously said, "How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese".  So Readers might consider the size of the table needed to seat all of those which have an interest, real or desired, in the rebuilding.

Consider at least the French State [2]; the Conseil Municipal de Paris; the Département de Paris; the Centre des Monuments Nationaux; and the Archidiocèse de Paris. And, because they are who they are, W&D imagines that the Vatican, the EU, UNESCO and the French President, M Macron, will also want a seat at the table.  It will be a une grande table

Cartoon notre dame bureaucracy

Negotiations will obviously be difficult, so W&D will suggest to his people that negotiations occur at a place of historical significance equal to that of Notre Dame: Versailles.  Perhaps the newly restored Queens Library will provide inspiration.  Or the Hall of Mirrors, so that M Macron can continually gaze at his own reflection.

The lads and lassies around la grande table will need to decide who is going to pay for the rebuild.  Perhaps a GoFundMe campaign?   

M Macron wishes the rebuild to be completed in five years, before the 2024 Paris Olympics.  Two chances.  Readers will recall that it took 10 years for the Louvre Pyramid and Pyramide Inversée to go from design to completion.

But Readers should expect at least 15 years of work before they can once again marvel at the glory of Notre Dame.  

[1]  Charles de Gaulle, a somewhat self-assured former President of France.

[2]  Under a 1905 law, Notre-Dame de Paris is owned by the French state.  The Catholic Church is the designated beneficiary, having the exclusive right to use it for religious purposes in perpetuity. The archdiocese pays all the salaries and all the running expenses, but does not receive subsidies from the French state, notwithstanding the millions of tax euros that tourists pour into the government's coffers each year.

Meanwhile, in the UK ...

... Mrs May's Brexit battles continues:

Mrs May spire

 Thanks to The Times

And the market is firming as to her successor.  Sadly, Boris Johnson is the bookies favourite.  As the Economist put it this morning, "Boris Johnson is one of the biggest names in British politics.  He is also one of the most divisive.  After a career as an entertaining if not always accurate journalist, Mr Johnson turned to politics."

Mr Johnson's success seems based on self-promotion rather than ability.  His term as Foreign Minister showed all of the diplomatic hallmarks of I-Wanna-Trump.

The latest chances of the field (% implied from betting-market odds) are (courtesy of The Economist):

conservative leadership

Second favourite is Michael Gove, who famously on the morning of the ballot nominations to succeed David Cameron as leader in 2016, withdrew his support for Johnson's leadership bid.  Readers might see that a 'sliding doors' moment'.  And the possible counter-factual [3].

Teresa May won that ballot and became Prime Minister.

[3] Counterfactual thinking is the creation of possible alternatives to life events that have already occurred.  For example, what if the bullet that killed Archduke Ferdinand had missed?

And, in the dentist's chair 

Readers will know that the most accurate predictor of election outcomes is not the polls.  But the bookies.  At the last election, the bookies accurately predicted the final seat count, although not on a seat-by-seat basis.

So, in the interests of putting Liberal supporters out of their misery, the forecast is ... misery.  Probably six years of a continuous Melbourne July day: rain, cloud, cold, depression.  

Cartoon bill shorten youll only do your money

Sportsbet, assuming a price narrower than $1.50 is a win, has the government losing office on the Eastern seaboard.

Four Victorian MPs will probably get the DCM; those in Chisholm, Corangamite, Dunkley and LaTrobe.  Notwithstanding frothing-at-the-mouth from the Greens, Higgins and Kooyong will be comfortably retained.  And that frothing-at-the-mouth Quisling, Julia Banks, will not overturn Flinders.  The dreaded Michael Sukker (Deakin) - who, as the 'numbers man' for Peter Dutton showed that he has neither numeracy skills nor commonsense - is in trouble in Deakin (Hip hip!  Huzzah!)

Four Queensland MPs will also likely be at Centrelink on Monday 20th May: those in Capricornia, Dickson (Peter Dutton); Flynn and Petrie.

Three New South Welsh people will probably go: those in Gilmore, Reid and Robertson.  But the government should retake Wentworth from the shy Dr Phelps.  The good doctor is not giving herself much of a chance of winning: she has advertised her medical practice as looking for patients.

It's sort of weird, but Victoria will be lost to the government because it (the government) is too far to the right and lost to Queensland because it is too far to the left.  

Gender neutrality

W&D congratulates the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for successfully behaving eponymously.  In the prestigious W&D Barnaby Joyce Award for Making Oneself a Laughing Stock, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's decision to change the name of the festival's best show award from The Barry Award to the numbing Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award approaches Hall of Fame status. 

Cartoon comedy festival

The Barry Award was named after Australia's most famous comedian, Barry Humphries.  The reason for the change was to remove gender from the award, as "one third of the recipients were women."

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is breaking new ground here.  Readers will know that the city of Melbourne is named after Lord Melbourne, in honour of the British Prime Minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. As William Lamb was decidedly male, W&D urges Chairman Dan, Premier of the Peoples' Socialist Democratic Workers' Republic of Victoria, to also change the name of the capital city to one that removed gender bias. 

After all, some 50% of the residents of the city are female.

"Give me ... your poor" [4]

Readers will know that Bernie Sanders, the Left-wing presidential hopeful and last man standing against Hillary's nomination for Democrat candidature against I-Wanna-Trump, has often railed against the “millionaires and billionaires”.

Cartoon bernie sanders venezuela

Hang on.  Sanders and his wife made more than $1 million in both 2016 and 2017.  He is now in the top 1% of American taxpayers.  The 77-year-old released 10 years of tax returns on Monday, following similar moves by rivals who are also seeking the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

I-Wanna-Trump has yet to release his tax returns.  W&D suggests that he is reluctant to do so, not because he is massively loaded with dosh, but the opposite.

[4] "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ... - part of Emma Lazarus' famous sonnet, on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty.

Stalin: back in town

Ten years ago some 49% of Russians viewed Joseph Stalin positively.  This week it was announced that figure today is 70%.

In a country where almost everything domestically done by Tsar Vlad has failed, the rehabilitation of Stalin has been one of his few successful endeavours.  School books and state television are now often giving credit to Stalin for cracking down on corruption, industrialising the country and defeating the Nazis.  The 15 million who were killed in prison and labour camps, purges, etc are, well, overlooked.  

As Stalin himself said, "One person's death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic".  And so it was.

But all is not lost.  Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar before Tsar Vlad, narrowly edged out Stalin in a survey for the most likable Russian leader. 

W&D is surprised that Ivan The Terrible didn't top the poll.

Palmer: the Senate beckons

W&D is sticking his neck out.  The well-upholstered Clive Palmer will be back in federal parliament.  As a Senator for Queensland.

Cartoon stalin clive palmer

He has abandoned his plan to run in a lower house seat (Herbert, in Townsville), clearly on the basis that internal polling shows that with a favourable allocation of preferences from the good folk of Queensland he has a much better chance of winning a Senate seat.

This would have profound consequences for the Senate.  The number of nutters in the Senate would rise to the point of comparison with the worst days of the Roman Senate under Caligula.  Although Senator Fraser Anning, the lunatic so far to the right of the soup spoon he is off the table, is seeking re-election.  And unless Queenslanders are totally nutzo, Mr Anning will be down at Centrelink on Monday 20th May.  Hang on, this is Queensland.

But Pauline Hanson is a six-year Senator, and so gets another three years to provide delightful material for cartoonists.

Reputation Rankings

Readers will know that reputation is everything.  Well, almost everything, as shown by the release this week of the annual Australia's Corporate Reputation Index.  W&D comments:

Firstly, it comes as no surprise that the bottom 10 places are filled with obvious baddies: the Big Four banks, Telstra, AMP and the ATO.

But, secondly, of the top 10 places, only three are Australian. 

Cartoon reputation index foreign companies

What does that say about the leadership of Australian companies.  Probably about time that directors of Australian companies and the Australian Institute of Company Directors got their collective heads out of their collective ... oh, never mind.

And to top it all off, the top company is from across the Tasman - for the third successive year.  Sigh.

Reputation index2

Snippets from all over 

1.  Down at the car wash 1

Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer that builds the aircraft that recently crashed (737-Max), between 2016 and 2018 gave political donations of over US$4.6m to over 100 members of Congress, I-Wanna-Trump and state politicians.  

W&D comments: There goes any chance of any serious action against Boeing.  "In the race of life, always back the nag called Self-Interest."[5].  Readers may wish to view here.   

Readers will know that Virgin Australia has 30 737-Max on order, with the first to be delivered before the end of 2019.  W&D will be reluctantly dusting off the QF frequent flyer card. 

[5]  Gough Whitlam, former Australian Prime Minister.

2.  Down at the car wash 2

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, a youthful 73 and a 'blue-blood', has become the first Republican to challenge Mr Trump in 2020. 

W&D comments:  He's got two chances.   And at last count there were 18 Democrat candidates.  Only six more to fill all of the barriers.  

3.  Rule Britannia

The UK is the most attractive country as an investment destination over the coming year, despite “continued uncertainty stemming from its intention to leave the European Union”.  The UK knocked the Yoo-Ess-Ay off its perch, which it had held since 2014, according to the data conducted by accountancy firm EY.

Then came Germany, China; France; Canada; India; Australia; Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.  

W&D comments:  Delightful that Australia ranks ahead of the UAE.  Sigh.   

4.  China steady

China's GDP growth rate for the March quarter was steady at an annual rate of 6.4%.   

W&D comments:  The government had forecast 6.4%.  Could this really be true?

5.  Germany slows 

Germany has cut its 2019 GDP forecast for the second time in three months, predicting growth of 0.5% in the latest sign that Europe’s largest economy is grinding to a halt.  

W&D comments: ... and the EU is worried about Brexit.   

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to ... I-Wanna-Trump, who tweeted two pieces of advice whilst watch the Notre Dame fire, "Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out.  Must act quickly!"

The French authorities were apparently most grateful for his suggestions.  

Firstly, they hadn't thought of flying water tankers.  So they phoned around and checked to see if any were available.  Sadly, none were.  

Secondly, they hadn't thought to "act quickly".  What a wonderful suggestion.  And they followed his advice. 

I-Wanna-Trump will expect to be awarded the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur (the Legion of Honour, France's highest order of merit) for his contribution.

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver ... 

... emailed W&D to say that he was still in India, campaigning in the Indian elections.   

Publication dates

Readers, please note that arrangement for the upcoming public holidays and W&D holiday arrangements are:

Thu-18-Apr - published (today)

Fri-26-Apr - not published (day after ANZAC Day)

Fri-3-May - published

Fri-10-May - published

Fri-17-May - published

Fri-24-May - W&D on vacation

Fri-31-May - W&D on vacation

Fri-7-Jun  - W&D on vacation

Fri-14-Jun - published

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...


Last words ...

Until the election, W&D will present apposite quotes on politicians and elections.

If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner." 

 -  H. L. Mencken, American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic and scholar of American English.     

First Samuel client events calendar

Events for 2019

Eat Street

Invitations sent on Tuesday 2nd April

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 ...

A 41-year-old man from New Brunswick in Canada wanted to steal copper wire.  The nearest supply of coils of copper wire was at the local electricity sub-station.  He broke into the substation and ...

(CTV News)

Readers can guess the outcome.

Guess the outcome

A young man was driving his BMW at high speed along a freeway when he glanced at his mobile phone to read the text his girlfriend had sent him. 

Q.  What happens next?

a.  She texted that their relationship was over.  He pulled over to cry;

b.  She texted that her cat, which he hated, died.  He pulled over to laugh;

c.  She texted that she was sorry for the fight.  He turned around to drive back to her place; or

d.  She texted a video of herself.  He kept watching.

A.  Close.  But no cigar.  The answer is d.  Watch the video here - taken from the rear of the garbage truck in front of him to see what happened. 

The Swiss government ...

... began storing emergency reserves of coffee between World War One and World War Two in preparation for potential shortages.  It continued in subsequent decades to combat shortages sparked by war.  

The government has finally decided that its policy of neutrality works.  And therefore it has no need for the 15,300 tonnes of coffee in storage.


The government actually said that coffee is "not essential for life" so doesn't need to be included in the emergency reserves.

And ...

No matter what child of Abraham you are, may Christ's death keep you mindful of a greater world than you can see.