Wry & Dry

A bouncing egg. Another bitcoin theft. Profit? What profit.

In the dentist's chair I

So, the election has come to this.  The headline of the week was of an egg bouncing, undisturbed, off the thickly covered bonce of PM Morrison.

Cartoon chickens

W&D sank deeper into PESD (Pre-Election Stress Disorder).   

In the dentist's chair II 

W&D pontificated: "My enemy's enemy is my friend."  Well, until the election is over.

Even W&D's left-of-the-fishfork friends (he does have some) joined in to laugh at the vision of sworn foes coming together in common cause.  Readers who have read the memoirs of each of former PM Kevin Rudd and former PM Julie Gillard know they loathe each other.  And the Ruddster detests wannabee PM Bill Shorten for turning his coat.   And yet all three were smiling together for the Labor Party's campaign-launch-lurv-in.

Cartoon labor party love in

The Labor lurv-in continued next day with similarly sworn foes former PM Bob Hawke and former PM Paul Keating smiling together like a pair of primary school-yard buddies.   

"It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times." [1]

[1] Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities, opening lines.  Along with “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (Jane Austen);  “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" (Leo Tolstoy); and ”Call me Ishmael” (Herman Melville), Dickens' opening ranks with the greatest in classical literature. 

If bitcoin is so safe...

One of the significant attractions of bitcoin, the initial crypto-currency, was that its storage was hyper-safe.

Err, maybe not.

Readers may have read that hackers this week stole US$40m of bitcoin from Binance, one of the largest crypto-currency exchanges in the world.   

Readers will also recall Mt. Gox (US$460m lost); Bitfinex ($72m) and Coincheck ($500m).  With others, it's about US$1.7 billion in crypto-currency that has been stolen.

Blockchain, the 'ledger technology' upon which crypto-currencies are based, is very safe and secure.  But when investors hand over the 'keys' to their bitcoin to an exchange or 'wallet' for storage, then it's up to that organisation's cyber security to keep the investment safe.  And if that security is breached and the bitcoin stolen then it is untraceable.

That same fundamental security of the blockchain that investors advantage of, the hacker now does, too.  Readers can’t get their stolen bitcoin back.

Cartoon bitcoin crystal ball

W&D sees robbing bitcoin as easier than robbing a bank.  W&D could do it from the comfort of his own Chesterfield.  No guns, no threats to tellers, no getaway vehicles.  Just a computer is needed.  Although, an exponential uplift in W&D's IT capability would be needed.  But if successful, the loot would be untraceable.

Getting back to Blockchain, W&D asks: how does one use Blockchain to make Pauline Hanson untraceable?


...a calamity looms.  Two recent pronouncements confirm that wannabee UK PM Jezza Corbyn is an evolutionary throwback to the UK's 1960's twin socialist dreams: global socialist poverty and British socialist poverty.

Yesterday, he announced his support for Venezuelan socialist dictator Maduro.  Readers will know of the amazing poverty and corruption in this socialist outpost that just happens to have the world's largest oil reserves.  Jezza doesn't see the poverty and corruption and feels only the socialist vibe.

Earlier this week he announced that on election, his government would nationalise the UK's 15 water companies at their "book values" [2], which are about 30% of their market values. 

Cartoon Corbyn water

This would be like nationalising CBA at $31.56 per share, when its market price is $75.12.  Shareholders in the UK water companies (which include many Australian big superannuation funds) would be blown out of the water, so to speak.

[2] Book value is net worth of a company, i.e. its total assets minus its total liabilities.  Market value represents what the market today considers is the value to day of the future profitability of the company.    

The RBA was not stupid

Clearly the Chief teller of the RBA has read W&D's advice.   And left interest rates unchanged.  But some 50% of market economists got the call' wrong'.

In a week of ovum prominence, it was egg-on-face for those calling for lower interest rates.   

More facial ovumness

The RBA is rightly a bastion of rectitude.  But not of spelling.  The new $50 note has a spelling error in the very fine print (of a speech by Edith Cowan): 'responsibilty'.  Egg on face?  You betcha!

Critically, W&D is alert to other possible banknote errors.  Such as the placement of an additional zero after, say, the note denomination, turning $50 into $500.

Now that would be a vote winner.  

Not clear on the concept

As the trade-war between Yoo-Ess-Ay and China reaches another deadline, I-Wanna-Tariff Trump announced, when speaking of the tariffs imposed on Chinese imports, that "We've taken well over $100 billion from China in a year."

Err, not quite.  Tariffs are paid by the buyers of the goods.  I-Wanna-Tariff Trump has taken the $100 billion from American consumers, not from the Chinese. 

Profit?  Profit?  You expect a profit.  Don't be silly.

Readers will hear a lot later today and over the weekend about the IPO (Initial Public Offering, or 'float') of the shares of Uber, the ride-sharing company.  

The brokers are excited.  The media is in a frenzy.  Investors are gurgling.  W&D is yawning.

Why buy stock in a company that probably will never make a profit?  It lost US$3.7 billion in the 12 months to March.  And has said that it will may never make a profit.

This is madness.

But, wait!  There's more.

Shares of vegan burger maker Beyond Meat rose almost 160% on its IPO last week and last night was up 225% on its listing price.  Nothing wrong with that, W&D hears Readers say.  Err, hold the phone: Beyond Meat has warned that it may never make a profit.

Readers may recall reading of the Dutch 'tulip bubble' of the mid 17th century [3].  A picture is better than one thousand words... 


[3]  This was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble... 

Cartoon tulips and veganburgers

From the balcony, so to speak

W&D's reporter-on-the-spot said it was like being in St Peter's Square and listening to the man in the hat on the balcony.

Last week some 16,200 investors lobbed into Omaha, Nebraska to hear that 88-year-old guru of gurus, Warren Buffett, pontificate on investing matters.  Notwithstanding its success (a 10-year annualised return of almost 11% pa.), Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, doesn't pay a dividend.  And it throws off so much cash that it has US$114 billion in the kitty, ready to invest.

A nice problem.

As W&D predicted...

...Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan has got his way.

Readers will remember at the recent nationwide local election in Turkey that the Sultan's party lost in four of the five largest cities.  One of those cities was Constantinople Istanbul.

Well, the Sultan doesn't like to humiliated.  He said that the margin of votes by which his party lost Istanbul was too small for the opposition party's win to be valid.  So he asked for a re-count.  But even after a two-week recount of votes, the Sultan's party still came second.

The humiliation continued.  Which is not good for a Sultan.  So he has arranged for the election body to order a re-run of the Istanbul election, on 23 June. 

Cartoon turkey election

There has been an international outcry at the Sultan's decision to spit the dummy.  But international outcries are easily absorbed by the Sultan's voluminous robes.


W&D suspects that if it wasn't clear already who wears the denims in the Prince Henry-Meghan Markle Californian bungalow, the name of their son and heir gives it away.

W&D remembers reading Archie comics when he was, well, somewhat younger. 

Given the royal family's penchant for symbolic and dynastic nomenclature, W&D cannot help but think that boy #2 will be named Jughead.  And if a girl, perhaps Betty or Veronica. [4]

And not even Archibald.  [Readers may wish to scroll down to a W&D Special: Absurd Royal Baby Headlines.]

W&D's mother is turning over in her grave.

[4]  Some Readers may not know that these are characters from the Archie comics.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Down at the car wash 1

The US unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, the lowest since December 1969.

W&D comments:  That was so long ago that readers will remember as the month in which the B-747 jumbo jet made its first passenger flight.  The carrier was PanAm, which went bust in 1991.     

2.  Down at the car wash 2

Apple, a US maker and distributor of mobile phones, is buying a company every three weeks, on average.  Apparently it is looking for 'talent and intellectual property.' 

W&D comments:  Apple has about US$225 billion in cash to invest.  W&D guess it can do what it likes.

3.  A true European

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister (treasurer) in the Greek fiscal crisis, has abandoned his Hellenic homeland.  And now lives in Germany, and in the upcoming European elections will stand for the German political party Democracy in Europe. 

W&D comments:  This is globalism at its best.  Varoufakis wrought havoc when in charge of the till in Athens.  And now he wants to do the same for the whole of Europe.  And the EU is worried about Brexit.

4.  Australia 

The RBA downgraded its GDP growth forecast for 2019 to 2.75% from 3%.  

W&D comments:  Not helpful to an incoming government.

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to ... Andy Lark, former CBA and Foxtel chief marketing officer, who said, "Rugby Australia has dealt swiftly, but fairly with Wallabies star Israel Folau and major sponsors Qantas, Asics and Land Rover should be happy."

What the @#!$!  So the aim is to keep Qantas happy?  It's not about either the integrity of the game or the religious beliefs of the player?

Qantas, which has escalated virtue signalling to a high art (as long as it doesn't affect its profit), see no irony in having a partnership with a gulf airline, the owners of which don't even wait for offenders to go to hell before damning them.  

Cartoon Folau qantas

By the way, W&D would have thought that someone would have pointed out that as 'hell' is a solely Christian or Muslim concept, then only Christians or Muslims in any of the categories to "be damned in hell" should feel offended. 

Just sayin'.

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver ... 

... again phoned W&D from India.  He didn't say much other than he hadn't heard from Anjali and that he was now in Varanasi.  Readers will know that Varanasi, on the Ganges, is the holiest of of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism.  W&D is beginning to get worried about Deepak.  Has he discovered deep Hinduism.  Or is he just involved in electioneering in Prime Minister Modi's home electorate? 

W&D will keep Readers updated as news comes to hand.   

Publication dates

W&D is about to go on vacation.  And it just wouldn't work quilling this weekly missive from Spain.  So after next week W&D will be in abeyance for three weeks.

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.

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything." 

 -  Joseph Stalin, autocratic and tyrannical leader of the Soviet Union, 1922-53.

See above for earlier comments about the Sultan.     

First Samuel client events calendar

Events for 2019

Eat Street

Tickets will be sent next week   

21st May 2019 - The Sofitel   

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 ...

What is wrong with the following news report:

"Officers with the Pella Police Department found 13 counterfeit bills, valued at more than $200..." 


The 13 counterfeit bills were actually worth...

Guess the outcome

The Arihant, India's new and first nuclear-missile submarine, costing US$2.9 billion, has just been out of action for 10 months. 

Q.  What is the reason: 

a.  It was hit by a jet-ski;

b.  Someone put petrol in the tank marked 'diesel only'.

c.  Mice got into the electrical wiring and chewed though a critical cord; or

d.  Some body forgot to close the hatch.  

A.  Close.  But no cigar.  The answer is d. Water flooded the sub’s propulsion compartment after someone failed to secure one of the vessel’s external hatches.


Below is the 'before' photo, on launch day:

Indian sub


W&D special: Absurd royal baby headlines (actual)

"Northwestern grad Meghan Markle has given birth to a baby boy who is 7th in line for the British throne" [Chicago Tribune

"Smart, ambitious, and slightly stubborn — Baby Sussex is a Taurus just like his great-grandmother the queen and royal cousins Charlotte and Louis" [Daily Mail

"Royal baby: 'Harry was a little jealous of his brother'" [BBC] 

"Duchess Meghan's son will be popular — for his name. Brits and Americans LOVE royal names." [USA Today

"Does the baby have red hair? Here's what we know about the royal family's newest member." [Associated Press

"Baby Sussex 'will be happy, funny, and keep his parents up all night,' says Diana psychic" [Mirror

"Meghan and Harry's bank holiday baby shares a birthday with..." [CNN] 

"Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to choose UNUSUAL name for baby that UNIFIES the U.S. and U.K." [Express

"Meghan Markle's former Suits husband issues cutest Royal Baby congratulations" [HuffPost

"Liberty Vittert: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's baby is a BOY — here's why I knew they would welcome a son" [Fox News] 

"Royal baby could give royal boost to U.K., even U.S., economy" [Fox Business] 

"Prince Harry's 'pulled tight mouth' and 'high cheeks' reveal he is 'overwhelmed' with happiness and stress after birth of first child, according to body language expert" [The Sun

"Meghan Markle just gave birth to a baby boy. Prince Harry is reportedly asking for paternity leave — here's what a royal's job is really like, according to experts" [Business Insider]

"What a Royal Baby is and isn't allowed to eat" [Delish

"Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's firstborn child may inherit these cherished family items" [E!

"New dad Prince Harry announced his son's birth wearing a very 'dad' sweater" [Esquire

"Why Meghan Markle skipped the traditional postpartum photo shoot" [InStyle

"Press-shy Prince Harry is now a VERY chatty new dad" [Observer

"The Royal Baby is here! This page has become irrelevant." [The New York Times

"Who's going to tell the Royal Baby that our planet is unequivocally dying?" [Vice