November 28, 2018

Horse 2492 - 2019 Election Announced: After May 11 And With Bonus Time Bomb Ticking

Although we do not have a fixed date for the election next year, we know that it must happen on or after the 11th of May 2019.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the 2019/20 Budget will be handed down on the 2nd of April; which means that the absolute shortest time frame allowing for the budget reply speech by the Opposition Leader on the 3rd of April is another 10 plus 23 days according to the ramifications of the Electoral Act 1918, which is the 36th of April; which happens to be a Monday and because an election must happen on a Saturday, then the 11th is the first available one.

I think that this is a remarkable piece of Machiavellian Political Engineering. This uses the machinery of legislation in a way which is so dastardly that I am impressed by its sheer audacity and bloody mindedness.
What Mr Morrison has done by announcing that his government will hand down a budget in the dying days of this parliament, is that he intends to leave unexploded ordnance laying strewn across the political battlefield; with the timers ticking.

If Labor were to win the election as expected, they would either issue a new budget or adopt the Apr 2 one as issued by the Coalition. If we assume they issue a new budget, then all that the coalition just has to block it and maybe not even expressly block it but simply fail to pass it. That task will be made all the more easier by the fact that the current government has only scheduled parliament to sit for 10 days in the first eight months of 2019.
If the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously.
- Section 57, Constitution of Australia 1900

Assuming that the budget passed the House, they the clock would start ticking from Apr 2. There'd be a minimum of five weeks already used up by the election campaign; so that leaves 21 weeks for Labor to come up with their own replacement budget and get it passed through both houses. If Labor's budget bill didn't pass the Senate, then by virtue of the House already passing the Coalition's Apr 2 one, then the  Governor-General would have the Section 57 power to dissolve both houses simultaneously.
That in itself is dependent on the Coalition still having confidence and supply support from both Julia Banks who quit the Liberal Party yesterday (27th) and Dr Kerryn Phelps who stated that she would giver her continued support; though that seems increasingly unlikely.

There are more twists and turns to this story than an Olympic bobsled run and they're all just about as slippery. Christopher Pyne, who in addition to being the Minister of Defence is also the Leader of the House and therefore responsible for of government business in the House, rang MPs on Tuesday (27th) to tell them that the government would refer the new MP for Wentworth Dr Kerryn Phelps to the High Court over Section 44 eligibility issues if parliament decides to refer Peter Dutton to the High Court over his Section 44 eligibility issues.
The problem with this is that it is the parliament who gets to decide this and a minority government by definition is in the minority and so there is no guarantee that if Mr Dutton was referred to the to the High Court, that the government would have the numbers to do the same with Dr Phelps.

If Labor were to win the election as expected and simply accept the Apr 2 budget one as issued by the Coalition, then who knows what kind of landmines would be left in it. It might be theoretically possible for the Coalition, to block their own budget from Opposition, just through spite to trigger a Section 57 election.

Of course all of this completely disappears if current polling is incorrect and the Coalition somehow manages to retain government. If that's true, then that incentivises them to introduce a budget so audacious, that even they would be shocked by it. This also assumes that the Morrison Government actually survives until April 2018 because as previously stated Julia Banks and Dr Kerryn Phelps might not be willing to continue to support the government in confidence and supply. If a no confidence vote was passed on the floor of the House, then who knows what crazy land we'd end up in.
This looks like a government clinging to power in the same way that a tired old vulture clings to a branch to fall asleep, by digging its claws in. This is some serious claw digging.

November 27, 2018

Horse 2491 - The Theoretical 2018 Presidential Election

The current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has the rather annoying quality of being able to suck all of the oxygen out of the room when it comes to the news cycle, and while we're in the midst of the worst run administration in decades it can be tempting to think that democracy is broken. Of course I have serious problems with the way that the United States' government is constituted and I think that it is telling that precisely zero other countries use the model (because it is a bad model) but that is another question.
Setting aside the bluster and nonsense, if you actually look at the data and compare it to the long term trends, then Donald J Trump actually ceases to be all that surprising.

One of the fun experiments that you can run in a mid term year is to see if the president would have retained the presidency. I know that it sounds daft but you literally have a data set with which to run the experiment with, by virtue of having just collected the data. I realise that it isn't exactly perfect but as five-thirty-eight showed before the 2016 election, if you are trying to predict the future by looking at opinion polls which are by nature incomplete, then you will be disappointed when the expected result doesn't come out. However, if you predict the present with a complete set of data, which is what the midterms are, then you will be disappointed in an entirely different way.

We can generally assume that that turnout for a presidential election is higher than for a midterm election. We can however kind of correct for that a bit by making the assumption that the Senate election is a bunch of new people who didn't vote in the House election. Yes, I know that it is wrong but its the best that we're going to get.
All we have to do is take all of the votes for both the House and Senate on a state by state basis and treat them as though they were votes for the President. Since there are already votes for the 50 states plus DC, then you just have to plug the results into the electoral college (taking careful note of those states who don't use a winner takes all basis) and then run the game out. I looked at 51 sets of results and they spat out this:

What we find is that if the midterm election in 2018 had been a Presidential Election and that a midterm is a referendum on the President, then Jo Sample running for the Democrats would have beaten Donald Trump. This fits in with the general narrative that it was expected that any Jo Sample would have beaten Hillary Clinton in 2016 and any Jo Sample that wasn't Hillary Clinton would have beaten Donald Trump in 2016. The fact that you had the two most unpopular candidates running against each other in US electoral history made predicting the election difficult and five-thirty-eight's 'incorrect' prediction was totally justified.
What we find is that over the long run, 2016 is something of an anomyly. From 2000-2012 there are four states which blink either red or blue which swing elections; Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Nevada. Trump carried Wisconsin, Michigan and Pensylvania by the barest of margins in 2016 and those three have reverted back to the long term trend of being nominally blue for the 2018 midterm.

The visceral reaction of contempt for Donald Trump did result in a larger degree of turnout at the midterms by voters of both sides but I don't think that that necessarily does anything for the political weather map except turn the pressure. As with any large pressure cell on a weather map, if the winds are blowing one way as the system passes they will blow the other way when the other side arrives. In the case of Donald Trump, I don't see him as anything other than a very high pressure system that comes and goes. I hope that there's been enough of a foul miasma in the air that come January of 2020, that rank and file Republican voters who vote in the primaries, eject this fug before he gets to the general election in November.

This is why I think that Trump is really not that exciting as a political candidate. If a Jo Sample would have beaten Hillary Clinton in 2016 and the midterms shows that a Jo Sample would have beaten Trump in 2018, then the political needle has in fact swung nowhere in the long run. That's kind of important because I don't see any road to impeaching Trump before 2020; which means to say that if by some hitherto unknown reason Trump manages to win the 2020 primaries, then I suspect that any Jo Sample would beat him in 2020. Any Jo Sample except for Hillary Clinton, that is.
What I really don't understand is why people continued to select Donald Trump and expect to get good government. People like Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and even Jeb Bush, might have had politics that people don't like but they were at least competent to do the job. I bet that any of those people would have beaten Hillary in the election and by exactly the same margin.

I don't really think that there's a lot to worry about when it comes to dismantling his legacy because the 115th Congress has been somewhat quiet and the 116th Congress is almost certainly destined for a gridlock situation. The administration starting from the Oval Office and all other positions downwards has been so incredibly inept, that they haven't really achived anything of note. Once you remove the colour of the personality of the man himself, his administration is lacklustre and in the grand scheme of things, doesn't radically alter the grand narrative.
As for the suggestion that democracy is broken, which has been touted by various political commentators, all that proves is that the method of selecting the executive is badly constituted and I think that any other reasonably well thought out political system would have long removed him by now.

It's also telling that in this scenario, the difference is 32 electoral college votes; which means to say that if the 29 votes of Florida swing in the other direction the map turns into a red result.

November 22, 2018

Horse 2490 - What Is Your Desired Salary? Probably To Be Paid One

I realise that as I have recently entered my fifth decade upon this planet, and any semblance of youth that I might have had has now been replaced with curmudgeony and the assumption of other people that I have accumulated wisdom (believe me, I haven't; I have no idea what's going on most of the time, it's just that I know how to make declarative statements); so this means that people now ask me questions in the hope that I have something good to offer. At best the advice that I can dispense is dubious and at worst it is dangerous; you would be ill advised to drink deeply from my font of knowledge.
Nevertheless, I was sent an email at work this week where I was asked a question and the answer which I gave them will be reposted below.

I am applying for an internship at a large company and they want to know what my desired salary is. I don't know what my desired salary is, I just want a job. What salary should I ask for?
Does this sound really creepy or not? What do you think is going on?
(this has been edited for privacy reasons)

My reply is below:

Dear Eleanor¹ (not her real name),
What I think is going on here is that this company is conducting a reverse auction. I think that this company is collecting applications from lots of people and then wants to hire the person who bids the lowest starting salary. 
There are various job sites like where you can compare the salary range for various positions and so if you want to know what you should be paid, you might like to look through those and get an idea of what would be normally acceptable. 
I suspect though, that because this has been labeled as an 'internship' that this company would like to pay someone in the position nothing at all, if they can get away with it. If you think that there is a future with them then have a think about it but I would tread carefully. Find out what an employee should expect to be paid in this job. Don't devalue or undermine yourself. 

Thank you,
Andrew Rollason 

PS: If you want to have a gamble because you want to test the character of the company, then put down $500,000/hr see what sort of reaction that gets. If they do actually have a budget for this position and they genuinely want to pay a salary, then I think that you should be entitled to all of it.

To be fair, I haven't had to look for a job in a long time and so I'm sure that I will find it stressful when I will do again but at least I will not face this dilemma. The truth is that I did come across this tactic of asking what your salary expectation was and I stated more than 50% of what the going rate was. They accused me of demanding too much and I accused them of looking for the lowest bidder and that quite frankly I didn't want to work for them. I didn't take the job, or rather I didn't take the job when they then chased after me and disclosed what they were going to pay - because my suspicions were confirmed. I think that it benefited me not to take a job and not have to include it on a résumé, than take it and be immensely unhappy in it. Every job is going to come with its thorns but being adequately compensated monetarily kind of helps to take the sting out of those thorns (a bit).

What I didn't say in this email to Eleanor because I didn't want to include it in official correspondence but do want to have a rant about it², is that I really hate what modern 'internships' have become. Once upon a time, a firm would employ an intern or apprentice or a trainee because they had a need to employ someone and the idea was that the inter would acquire skills and experience and become more useful. Now it seems that internships are an excuse for increasingly unscrupulous employers to extract free labour out of mostly younger and vulnerable people, by dangling the carrot of hope in front of them but there's actually nothing of substance behind it. It also has the added bonus that while someone is on an internship, they are still within a probationary period and so unfair dismissal laws don't apply to them; especially if they are unpaid internships. Once the firm is done with one intern, they can spit them out and move on to the next one.

The kinds of firms that are likely to offer internships as opposed to traineeships where there is a legal requirement for on the job training and assessment or a traditional apprenticeship which comes with the prospect of a trade certificate at the end, is because an internship is not legally defined at law, there aren't any workplace arrangements which surround them either. When the internship is unpaid, then that comes with the double whammy of not being covered by workplace insurance and conditions regulations is addition to there being no pay. Get injured at work if you're an intern? Don't worry, because there's no salary attached, then the allowable minimum compensation is zero. If you were to calculate the claim then an applicable percentage of zero is still zero.

Because internships are more likely to offer zero salary, then this has the bonus effect for employers of filtering out all of the poor people. If you happen to suffer the burden of work because you need to put food on the table and keep the rent collectors at bay, then you are not very likely to want to apply for an unpaid internship. This has been especially useful for legal firms and the big media companies because it means that they get a better economic class of candidate. If you have the ability to live a comfortable life while living at home with your parents in a middle class existence, then that's the sort of future employee that these firms are looking for. Granted that it will cost you in time and money which you will lay on the altar of capitalism in tribute but if there's a hope of a job at the end, then that's worth it, right?
This is a completely expected step in late stage capitalism; having spat out all the poor people, the beast has no problem with eating the children of the middle and upper classes.

It gets even more blatant in the creative fields because design firms will often demand to see a practical application for a job and will set a task as the application process. The unstated purpose is that they've worked out a convenient method of contracting out work for free, and can get hundreds of prototype briefs at once and just use those. There might not be an actual job behind it all either.

Before you accuse me of being cynical, I already know that I am suspicious of people's intentions. Accuse all you like. I've already been convicted, found guilty and am nor imprisoned in the world.  Maybe twenty years ago the myth of the dignity of work was on the surface still being respected but those days are clearly over³. When you combine the effects of capital reasserting itself in the economy with the continuing march to automation, with the desire that was always there, to pay people as little as possible, then of course it stands to reason that the veil has been taken off and we're left with naked capitalism.
It's just that if we are supposed to play the game according to these rules, where you have to name your price up front, then my price just happens to include my dignity and a decent salary. I would be very disinclined to want to work at a firm who asks for salary expectations up front because the character of the firm is already on display and if that's the price, I just don't buy it.

¹Conspicuous by its absence is a lack of a salutation line. This is already a bad start because an email is essentially a letter and as such should be treated with formality and dignity; especially if it is in a business capacity.
²Eleanor was given a link to this rant.
³As if they ever started:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776)

November 15, 2018

Horse 2488 - If Brexit Doesn't Mean A 585 Page Document, We Have No Idea What It Means

Because the world has been looking at the left hand side of the Atlantic at the continuing horrorshow of American politics that results when the people elect an unreality TV star as president, the world has largely been ignoring the horrorshow on the right hand side of the Atlantic that has resulted when the people elected for unreality as economic policy.
Unlike phrases such as "this means war" or "beanz meanz heinz" nobody knew what "Brexit means Brexit" meant before the referendum and the principle players who caused the mess, namely David Cameron, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, have all been conspicuous through absence having to clean it up. Say what you like about Teresa May but the truth is that through sheer dumb luck, Britain ended up with an incredibly competent head of government; with the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon and the longsuffering of Paul, being imprisoned in a state of cruel and unusual punishment behind the black door of Number Ten.

The draft agreement between the UK and EU has been finally published and at 585 pages¹ I decided not to print it because it would use more than an entire ream of paper. The short answer to what this monster document contains are as follows.
It decouples the Pound Sterling from the Euro; which is an easier task than had the UK entered the common currency. It undoes a lot of uniform taxation policy and payments towards the maintenance of the common market and it also removes the payments which might have flowed in the other direction. It creates a so-called "hard border" and basically pulls the UK out of both the free movement zone but doesn't have to address the issue of the Schengen Area because both the UK and Ireland always maintained an opt-out. It looks as though there's a single customs territory; which in practical terms means that customs checks are not needed on goods coming from within the EU but given that there are already security checks at both Calais and Folkestone, not much changes.

From what I can gather, the deal looks to be what would have been expected when untangling the mess and I don't really see what else could have been done differently. Nevertheless, there appears to something of a revolt brewing with at least nine cabinet minister, being Liam Fox, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Sajid Javid, Andrea  Leadsom, The Baroness Evans, Chris Grayling and Gavin Williamson the Chief Government Whip, in addition to  David Davis, Boris Johnson and Minister from the 1920's Jacob Rees-Mogg², all expressing their displeasure.

As it stands, under the rules of the Conservative party, a leadership spill can be triggered if 15% of all sitting MPs send a letter of no confidence to the chairperson. From what I can gather, there have been 44 letters which have already been sent; there are 316 Tory MPs in the commons, so that leaves just 4 for Britain to hold its own Festival Of The Thirsty Knife.
This is further complicated by the fact that the Tory party is only help in government because of the support in condfidence and supply by the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland; who might just pull their own levers top bring down the government if they don't like the Brexit deal.

Just to throw another spanner in the works of a machine which at this stage is primarily made entirely from spanners, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had this to say:

Oh dear.

From here, the plan goes to the even bigger sausage machine that is the EU and then back to the House of Commons where there will be a vote. I wouldn't even like to predict how that's going to go because this whole thing has been flying around Whitehall like a hand grenade with the pin taken out that nobody wants to hold for too long.
If the Commons does actually pass this thing, which might not happen because of a Tory revolt or because the DUP decide to switch side, then it goes to the EU who then presumably have their own vote on the floor of the EU parliament. If it falls over either in the House of Commons or the EU parliament then who knows what happens?
Is there a General Election? Is there another redo referendum where Britain can say "Sorry guys, we've got no idea what we're doing"? Does Britain redo the terms of the deal? Or do they just leave with no deal and no idea of what that looks like? I have no idea. I can't find anyone whose written a decent piece on this who has an idea. Dare I say it, the 650 MPs in the House Of Commons also have no idea.

Ms May has at least tried to present an idea; despite not wanting Brexit before the referendum and being left with a problem that she didn't create. I think that it's the best that can be expected in all honesty. Brexit means Brexit, whatever that means; nobody has an idea.


November 11, 2018

Horse 2487 - The Armistice

100 years ago today, the Allied supreme commander and Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch, the First Sea Lord Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss, MP for Biberach in the Reichstag Matthias Erzberger, a representative from the German Foreign Ministry Count Alfred von Oberndorff, Army Major General Detlof von Winterfeldt and Naval Captain Ernst Vanselow, all met in Ferdinand Foch's personal railway carriage which was in the Forest of Compiègne, and signed off on the Armistice which brough four and a bit years of pointless bloody slaughter to an end.

And for what? In some cases the border didn't move more than a few miles and within a generation it would all be on again. Probably as many as 40 million people were killed as a result of a series of disputes which started out as a bunch of cousins having a diplomatic spat and the the shooting of an archduke by a terrorist. Prior to 1914 nobody knew what an archduke was and afterwards most people still didn't know, except that if you shot one, a war would break out.
Kaiser Bill abdicated on November 9, Austria-Hungary ended on the 11th and snapped into several bits, Italy changed sides so many times that it didn't know what side it was on anymore, France remained being France, Britain remained being Britain, and the United States who joined the war late and mostly for their own amusement, decided to boss everyone around afterwards.

Did we as a world learn anything from the First World War? Not really. The words Generationshass and Erbfeindschaft, roughly describe a condition which was fought constantly between France and Germany; in which the next generation would inherit the anger of the previous. To that end after the 1756  Seven Years' War, there were the the Revolutionary Wars with a war in 1812, the great 1848 war of everyone versus everyone, the Franco–Prussian War in 1870, the First World War in 1914 and the Second World War in 1939. Only then did Europe decide that it was all pointless and the advent of the European Coal and Steel Community which later became the EEC and then EU, has meant that the wars of 1975 and 2005 never happened. World War 1 in context was a time which nothing was learned.
In fact nothing was learned to such a bloody degree that the Treaty of Versailles contained the provision that Germany was to "accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" and this was written into Article 231; when assessed was worth 132 billion marks, which was utterly stupid and helped sow the seeds of the Second World War. The Arimistice was the end to the war but the Allies lost the ensuing peace.

Governments would return little pieces of metal with ribbons attached, in place of the sons and brothers and fathers who were now corpses in ditches across Europe. Sometimes they would attach little pieces of metal with ribbons to the still living sons and brothers and fathers, who were now somewhat damaged; if not physically then mentally. There were some women sent to be nurses and caregivers but they generally weren't turned into the sorts of cuts of meat that would be found in a butcher's window in anything like the same numbers. Mostly the mothers and wives were left with holes in their hearts; for which governments never truly compensated them for.
Some men (always men), congratulated themselves for their heroism in commanding troops in the field; even if they were miles away from front and being lubricated with sherry and port. They invariably won even more bits of metal with ribbons attached, and some of them won the right to put letters after their name. Sometimes the men in the muddy trenches won the right to put letters like GC and VC after their name but usually after they were already dead; which is kind of irrelevant to them.

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh day of the Eleventh month, is a date in history which should have never have happened because the preceding four should also have never have happened. 11-11-1918 is the end of a conflict in which the coin of the realm of the battlefield, which is people's lives, was spent needlessly, for no real net benefit. The Colonel Blimps of the world gladly spent a currency which they themselves would never be liable to pay.
This is a lesson which leaders today who want to go into the world to make war should learn. The coin of the battlefield is a very precious and terrible thing to spend and while we like to dress all of this up in colours of heroism, patriotism and national fervour, it still doesn't change the fact that those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, did so on the altar of men's pride and mostly pointlessly. If the 37 days in 1914 had played out as a game of actual diplomacy instead of total diplomatic failure, then 11-11-18 would have just passed into history as a boring cold autumn day in Europe. The war ended not because of some brilliant military breakthrough or strategy but because everyone agreed to stop. This is the greatest day of the First World War for that reason.

Lest We Forget.

November 04, 2018

Horse 2486 - Watch Me Make Wrong Election Predictions Again!

In my grand history of picking elections, I am going to make yet another prediction which I fully expect will be wrong but because it is based on data, will be accurately wrong.
As Nate Silver's website FiveThirtyEight¹ proved in 2016, all of the best statistical data in the world is no match for the utter bewildermouse that is the general public. I don't have access to anything like the statistical dumpster fire of data that he does and so I used far more crude tools.

In Australia and Britain,  electoral swing analysis works by adding one party's increase in share of the vote to another party's decrease in share of the vote and then by dividing the total by two. In Australia it gets a little bit more complex because we have multi party elections but generally speaking where you have two party politics, the system is simple enough to calculate.
After looking through the polls, you then look at the margin of votes in all seats and line them up. Having done that, you simply point your marker at the seat that corresponds to that swing value and then count the number of seats.
There are of course several major assumptions which are of course wrong. Firstly, it assumed that the swing across the country is uniform. Secondly, it assumes that all seats behave according to that same uniform swing. Thirdly, it assumes that all demographics will act according to predicable models. These assumptions are wrong but we'll proceed anyway.

I have been throwing results into a very big spreadsheet and compared poll results² to the actual results of the 2016 election. Wikipedia is lovely and has recorded every single congressional district and so there are results for all 435 voting members. From here, generated a standardised predicted swing for the country; which at the moment has closed at 6.02%.

A 6.02% swing would produce a House as follows:
229 - Democrats
206 - Republicans
This would mean that the House would again be Democrat controlled.

If you look at the Senate, in the available seats that are on offer, a 6.02% swing would produce a result as follows:
48 - Democrats
2 - Indpendents
50 - Republicans
This would mean that the Senate would remain Republican controlled.

As for the very big question about the impeachment of the 45th President, the House could set the terms of impeachment because all it requires is a simple majority of those present but the Senate requires a two-thirds super majority. There is no way in any possible scenario, even if the Democrats won all 435 House seats and all of the available seats in the Senate that they would get close because 42 Republicans are not up for reelection this time around.

Based on the above results and extrapolating the results for the electoral college, we get the following results:

Plugging all of the available data into 270 to Win³ (even accounting for winner-takes-all states and split votes), then the hypothetical 2018 Presidential Election would mean that a Democrat would get 279 votes to Republican Donald Trump's 259 and assuming that he somehow won the Republican primary.
These are my predictions for the 2018 US mid-term elections and for a presidential election which doesn't even exist. Watch as on Tuesday in America, I am proved wrong by the real world not conforming to predicted data, yet again.


November 03, 2018

Horse 2485 - Is 888 Short of $$$?

In clear violation of Betteridge's law of headlines which states that "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'NO'", the answer to this question is a solid 'maybe?'. When you have a money raising exercise it is either because you are in fact short of a shilling or hard up for space in your house. Personally I think that it is the former and that 888's woes are totemic of a far larger problem.

I think that the V8 Supercars is in real trouble when it comes to its long term future. Not only has Australia suffered the loss of its automotive manufacturing industry but the great Australian public have responded by dropping Ford and Holden like a plate of cold vomit. Firstly Mercedes Benz severed their ties with Erebus Motorsports, Volvo had a public bust up with Garry Rogers Motorsport, Nissan have withdrawn their factory support from Kelly Racing and in 2019 will run their left over Altimas as orphans like the Ford teams have been doing with the Falcon, Penske are scrambling to build the Mustang, and now 888 Motorsport who owns the intellectual property which underpins the racing version of the ZB Commodore are having a fire sale.

Based on Whincup’s 2013 Supercars title-winning VF Commodore, the car was built with minor modifications including a paddle shift-version of the Albins transaxle.

It was originally fitted with a standard Supercars engine, before an upgrade saw a 5.6-litre V8 engine making more than 700 horsepower go into the car.
- 16th Oct 2018

The story of this chassis is weird. The car was originally built as a standard VF racing chassis with the normal 5L V8. It was then recruited to be the official test mule for the twin turbo 3.6L V6 LFX but that project appears to have stalled. 888 Motorsport have decided to sell the car with a 5.6L V8 which comes from I don't know where; thus making sure that whatever IP that they had tied up in the car is ungettable.
This is a brilliant move on the part of 888 Motorsport. As the car is not built on a standard chassis, it isn't GT3 compliant. Also because the engine isn't a derivative of something that was on the road, it wouldn't be JAF or GT300 compliant either. This means that this Sandman is more than likely not eligible to be raced in any category anywhere in the world; which would suit 888 to a T. They wouldn't be shown up because someone entered it in the Bathurst 12 Hours or the Spa 24 Hours but it might be eligible to run as an invitational car in Garage 56 at the Le Mans 24 Hours because the ACO can do whatever it jolly well likes.
The real question for me that came from this was why 888 want to sell this off. If it was simply to clear the warehouse then this would look perfectly normal but other events have conspired.

888 Motorsport made all kinds of bell ringing announcements that Jamie Whincup has bought 15% of the team. This is always a bad sign. This story played out when Allan Moffat was unceremoniously dumped by Ford even after he'd delivered what still remains the most famous 1-2 victory at Bathurst,  and it played out again in 1987 when Peter Brock started Advantage Motorsport and he very publicly had a dust up with Holden. It even happened when the Holden Racing Team were in trouble, which led to both Kelly Racing and Walkinshaw Racing as ongoing concerns.
The cover being used is that Team Principal Roland Dane is making succession plans but if that were the case, then surely it would make more sense to find someone who builds cars and actually knows how to run a team, rather than a driver. In the two cases above, Allan Moffat already had extensive experience in running and building a race car before he joined Ford and afterwards he ran a reasonably successful operation which ran Mazda RX-7s and later, Ford Sierras, but Peter Brock's own team was nowhere near as well run and he reverted to becoming an employee at the earliest available opportunity. I don't know what kind of management experience that Jamie Whincup has but I suspect that it is approaching zero.
For Jamie Whincup to buy 15% of 888 Motorsport when in theory they are the only team with factory backing, looks more suspicious than a cat covered in cream, leaving a dairy.

Various pundits in the media have tried to guess what's going on here but I put it that the Australian media is somewhat myopic and that the answer comes from farther afield. 888 Motorsport in Australia started out as the Australian subsidiary of 888 Motorsport in the UK. The team ran what effectively amounted to being the works Vauxhall team from 1996 until 2009 when General Motors was generally in trouble and scaled back all unnecessary operations. 888 were left floundering and continued to run the Vectras and then Insignias¹ before they eventually found backing from MG and ran their works team. When MG left at the end of 2017, 888 hasn't run a car in the British Touring Car Championship since and I suspect that they still have some residual debts.
What I think has happened is that 888 in the UK has avoided administration and lent on 888 in Australia for some cash to resolve their debt issues and the way that they were able to get that cash was by selling 15% of the proprietorship to Jamie Whincup. Of course this means that they're able to make an announcement about management which is absolutely true but if you pull back the curtain, you can see who is pulling the strings. Again this is pure speculation and wild mass guessing but it's the best guess that I can come up with. When given a series of data points, this is a good line of best fit.

More generally this speaks of underlying issues with the Supercars. What this demonstrates is that Holden's backing of 888 Motorsport is more flimsy than what I previously thought. Ford don't officially have a factory team, Nissan have pulled out and both Mercedes Benz and Volvo are gone. Walkinshaw Racing is currently treading a very fine line which is subject to General Motors' approval to run the Camaro and this process looks fraught. The truth is that the Supercars regulations were written while Australia had a manufacturing industry and were written with four door saloons in mind. The age of both of those things has rapidly passed and now nobody new wants to join in the category because it acts a lot like a closed shop.

The fact that this car is for sale doesn't on the face of it look suspicious. One data point isn't enough to make a conclusion but when you have sufficient data points you can begin to build a picture in the same way that Georges Seurat² did with "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" in 1884.

¹A real irony now is that the ZB Commodore is nothing more than a rebadged Vauxhall Insignia B.
²How many other motorsport writers would include a reference to French post-Impressionist painting, I ask you?