Attorney Michael de Broglio on: South Africa, Law, Politics, Attorneys, Sport, Photography, Technology, Gadgets, Media, Crime, Road Accidents Fund,
Divorce, Maintenance, Personal Injury, Medical Negligence
I obviously knew that ghost writers were used by some people to write books, but I really did not know how prevalent it was. I did not realise, for example, that James Patterson, whose books I don’t read, but who is a well-known author, simply puts his name to a variety of books written by others. It makes you wonder, together with what we often see in big business, how often we are essentially misled or lied to. In that regard, we have the author of the book, ‘The Art of the Deal”, which we always understood to be Donald Trump, now coming out and saying that he always said to his wife, based on his dealings and time with Trump, that the book should have been called, “The Sociopath”. He has apologised for making Donald Trump seem like a good guy in the book, saying that he wrote the book on behalf of Donald Trump, which he regrets, and that the book made Trump a household name. Trump has announced that it is his second favourite book, after the Bible, about which there must be some doubt with some of his incorrect citing of Bible verses, and said that it is one of his “proudest accomplishments”. The publisher of the book said Trump wrote so little of it that “Trump did not write a postcard for us!” Ultimately, the author, Tony Schwartz, said that he “put lipstick on a pig”. It just makes you wonder how many of the books that one reads are not written at all by the authors named on them.
The irony of this is the producer who approached Donald Trump to be on The Apprentice said he did it on the basis of Donald’s “book”. In short a book he didn’t actually write made his name famous, he got a TV show out of it and as a result before we know it he may be the man pressing the buttons that could lead to the next global war!
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 28-Sep-16
Tonight is the first of the Presidential debates of Donald Trump vs Hilary Clinton. Debates have always fascinated me, although I completely understand that for the average person they are one of the most borings things under the sun. It might be that it was probably what led to me becoming a lawyer and although I don’t actually argue anything in court anymore, I do have to decide on tactics, stances and positions to take on a daily basis in a variety of matters. I always enjoy debating and very seldom lost debates, best speaker competitions or any of those types of events that I took part in.
Having said that, I imagine the dilemma facing Hilary Clinton ahead of this debate, where she is debating against somebody who is so regarded by so many people as such a fool that almost no matter what he does will be deemed to have been relatively successful, compared to the low expectations that they have of him. In addition, Hilary finds herself in a very difficult position, because she wants to talk about the facts and most of Donald Trump’s arguments have nothing to do with facts. For example, he has been asked in an interview before that Hilary Clinton says she wants to spend $250 billion upgrading America’s infrastructure and his answer was simply, “I don’t think that is enough, I would double it”. In proper debating you can’t just take whatever the other person says and say you will double it, cut it in half or do whatever – if your facts, or in this case your budget do not actually provide for that.
Trump does not actually worry about the facts, the cost or anything else, he just says whatever he thinks is good at any stage and so, if he is put in a court room, the Judge would very quickly tell him to shut up, or to answer the actual questions, but in a debate all he has to do is cater to the expectations of most of his supporters, insult Hilary Clinton and make a few dramatic or funny wise cracks. As long as he does that he will not be deemed to have lost the debate. In short, she is up against somebody who knows very little and is going to avoid that by simply not really getting into the details of any particular issue and if she shows too much knowledge and to a lot of people she will come across as a “know-it-all” and that also puts people off. I must say, when I was at school one did not invariably debate against the school idiot who had no knowledge of any topic, and in a court case as well one is generally restrained to the actual facts, so I think the cards are very much stacked against Hilary, where everybody knows he is an excellent debater, we all expect her to do well, while she comes up across somebody who has no actual policies other than making everything great and blaming everyone for the alleged “mess” that America is in.
Apple has a policy or an offer, available for the last year only in America, and now moving to the UK and China which I would really to see them bring to South Africa. In terms of the offer, for a nominal extra monthly amount, you get the right, every single year, to exchange your iPhone for the latest iPhone! That guarantees that you will always have the latest phone and it will not cost you much extra.
The first thing that I think about, when thinking about a company offering such a product, is why would they do that? To me it is obviously a signal that we are getting to the end of the dramatic, “have to have” improvements each year and the company wants to tie people in and keep them away from their competitors. It is a great value feature, but I just don’t see it being replicated in South Africa yet, particularly considering it has taken them one year to expand it from one country to now just three countries. I suppose, amongst other things, you need to be able to considerably ramp up your production before you do that, because once enough clients have taken advantage of that sort of monthly deal and tied themselves into your company on the long term, it guarantees that you will need to produce millions more for the first few weeks of the launch because a lot of your clients become automatically entitled to the latest version.
I don’t know the finer details such as whether you become entitled on the first day or how long you would have to wait, because I am sure most companies will try and give preference to new, cash paying clients, however unfair that is to the people who have taken the deal and I can only imagine the howls of protest if in 2 or 3 years’ time they suddenly start releasing a new iPhone every 18 months and then after that every 24 months, etc which would make such a programme more affordable for Apple, but it is certainly one to watch with interest and see whether or not this policy comes to South Africa. The extra amount in America that you pay, to have the free upgrade every year, is fairly nominal at about R70,00 a month and one struggles to do the maths as to how then it becomes viable for Apple to do this unless the phone that you are handing in still has a high resale value – which seems to be the case with most second-hand Apple products. The bottom line is it has been for a number of years, and still is, a premier product that every other company has tried to imitate, invariably at lower prices.
I love reading about the American lottery prizes. The Mega Millions recently was won when the jackpot totalled $540 million. When you multiply that, at whatever the current Rand rate is, and it fluctuates all the time, but let’s assume R15 to the Dollar, you get R8 100 billion. One does not even know where to begin if you won all that money.
The fact of the matter is though that you only win that amount of money if you agree to take the money in yearly instalments. If you want to take the cash, then you get a reduced amount which in the $540 million example, for 8 July, is $380 million estimated in cash or R5 700 million. I guess it is easier to just say it is R5,7 billion! That will leave you a lot of pocket money, after you have bought your Clifton mansion, a golf estate at Leopard Creek, a fancy house in Sandhurst, a private jet and a boat, etc. Helicopters are relatively cheap, or base models are anyway, starting at about R4 or R5 million, so you could get a few of those as well. Strangely enough, this is not even the largest payout ever. The largest single payout, to one ticket only, was in 2013 in the Powerball Lottery when it paid $590,5 million. Although, you will recall that it was recently in the news when in mid-January the total Jackpot was $1,56 billion which was then won by 3 different winners.
Let’s imagine that the South African Lottery worked a similar way and you won a R100 million that was to be paid over 10 years at R10 million a year, or a cash amount immediately of R60 million. What would your choice be, and why?
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 21-Sep-16
I must say I had some interest on the blog article that I wrote about Webber Wentzel’s offices. I spoke to somebody involved in construction and he was asking me what I thought those offices would cost. I told him R80 million and he almost fell over. My guess was based on the fact that I imagine that offices are cheaper to build than residential houses, and the finishes are not as fancy inside as an upmarket house. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was wrong and that the Webber Wentzel offices, for example, would cost much closer in the region of R500 million. He promised to research it for me and sent me a link to where the tender was awarded for R895 million saying the building would be worth R1,1 billion! I must say figures like that boggle my mind. I struggle to imagine how commercial buildings can cost R30 000 a square metre. I cannot even begin to think where, after paying for the building, there is money left to pay salaries and it just shows you the extraordinary divide between the fees that are considered normal and actually subject to attack all the time for personal injury attorneys and the fees charged by corporate attorneys. As I have mentioned before, in my experience in litigation in a golf estate in Johannesburg, where the attorneys charged R12 million, I have long realised that the fees charged by corporate attorneys are simply on another planet to the rest of us. One can only imagine what the cost of the Norton Rose Fullbright building is or that of the new Werksman’s building.
I have enjoyed watching a critically acclaimed American drama series recently called The 100. I am not sure if any of you have seen it, but it has just finished its third season. I have not finished watching the third season yet, but I have watched the first and second seasons and I thought it was a very well put together programme. It is set in the future with the survivors of a nuclear Armageddon on earth living in international space stations in orbit around earth. As the resources of the space station dwindle they send 100 juvenile prisoners back to earth which they believe is uninhabited to see if they can live there and from that point things get particularly interesting.
It has a 90% rating from Rotten Tomatoes which is always a good start and that is from the critics, although average audience score is lower. I think it is very well scripted and the character development is superb. The characters are often faced with very interesting moral dilemmas, such as whether to save their friends or to effectively murder a whole lot of innocent people and it is probably more true to life in terms of the decisions that the people do take. Some of the reviews suggested it is very similar to Lost which was one of my favourite TV programmes, but I would not say that. To me, it is actually more like Game of Thrones, but set in the future. Let me know if you have seen it and on which channel, because I have been watching it via Netflix, and what you think of it if you have watched a few episodes. The series is shot in Vancouver in Canada and most of the main lead actresses are strangely enough from Australia. It is actually fascinating how many Australians turn up in Los Angeles and make it in Hollywood.
We are certainly living in an age now where on the one hand we can be grateful that there are no real wars or world wars such as our grandparents and perhaps our great grandparents experienced, but where terrorism is now on the increase. The truth is, relative to any other period in human history we are the lucky ones. We live in a time which is safer than any other, but we would like to make it safer still. As democracy has flourished around the world and as human rights have exploded and people have demanded more open societies that are no longer dictatorships or police states, terrorists have taken advantage of that. The simple fact of the matter is that terrorists operate best and are most successful in open societies. In other words, a society where a policeman cannot just stop you while you march down the street and demand, for no good reason, to search you, what you are carrying and whatever is in your car.
We value our individual freedoms but it is certainly those freedoms that are now leading to the rise of the terrorist attacks which we have seen around the world. The more free your country is, the more likely one is to be attacked. It is sad that these radical terrorists use our open societies to try and force on us their brutal philosophies. Doctrines where women have no rights, must wear veils, can be raped as young as 12 or 13 and primitive justice systems which involve chopping off hands, public executions and when you are not slitting people’s throats on the beach, burn them in public squares. We must bear in mind, as horrible as all these attacks are and as much as the whole world has to focus on getting rid of these terrorists, the real risks are still the same.
By that same I mean people who smoke are still going to die in much bigger numbers every day from cancer and heart disease, than from terrorism, and if you want to talk South Africa approximately 40 people die a day on our roads and about 45 people are murdered in violent crime. One always has to think of that when you hear of the latest shooting or the latest explosions somewhere around the world. Long before you should worry about flying on a plane you should worry that a full aeroplane load of people are killed on South Africa’s roads every week and more than that are murdered in violent crime. One must be very careful before we focus on the sensational – the mass shooting, the rogue alligator, etc, before we focus on those things that can and should be reduced more effectively in South Africa. Policing and better road safety could go a long way towards reducing those causes of death in South Africa and which are far more likely than being attacked in Kruger Park by a crocodile or having the misfortune to be the victim of a terror attack.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 15-Sep-16
I always tell my staff that their currency should be compliments from clients. At the end of the day, and I have written about this before, if you strive for customer excellence, money will follow eventually, however long it takes. You cannot advertise, give poor service and expect to do well and there is no advertising than is better than word of mouth.
That is why, one’s favourite currency, and of course it is nice to get one’s salary at the end of the month as well because it comes in handy for paying the bills, is the thank you’s and the compliments that you get. I was particularly happy with a recent survey we did of clients, which across 358 clients returned a result that 99.2% of our clients are impressed with the service of de Broglio Attorneys.
The iPhone 7 has now been launched at the traditional Apple launch party, this time coincidentally on September 7. The 7 Plus, which is the model that I am interested in has a new dual camera that takes Raw footage, which allows professional photographers to edit photos and change colours more easily and the camera alone is a good reason to upgrade. That is the excuse I gave last year anyway, and it remains my excuse for this year! Another good reason to upgrade is that the new version has 1 to 2 hours extra battery life, a far better chip and more capabilities in terms of graphics, games, etc. The images will look slightly superior, they will run faster, but apart from that, it is not a dramatic upgrade despite the fact that the earphone slot is removed, and everyone is now forced to move into the wireless world. They do at least supply you with wireless headphones, called Air Pods.
There is obviously a limit to how much fancier phones can get every year, and I would like to see much more dramatic improvements in battery life, but the improvements with the cameras each year, and the photographs they can take always provide a great excuse to upgrade, because truthfully these days most people use their phones to take their photos and a more expensive, high resolution camera is obviously going to guarantee that you will take better photos – so parents with young kids will find all the motivation they need in that regard! From what I have read most of the experts say if you are on Version 6 of the iPhone you probably don’t need to spend the money to upgrade, but for people on previous versions it will be a proper opportunity to upgrade to the latest technology!
One of my wife’s favourite expressions is that the path to hell is paved with good intentions! I must say that it is one of those expressions where experience just teaches you, again and again, that it is so true. It is so often the case in your office that you make an exception for, because the person says there is only one month to go in their case and begs you to set aside your usual rule that you do not take on a case with less than 6 months to go, where you end up with some raving lunatic who forever complains about you and your firm.
It is a distant relative or friend who begs you to take on a legal case, in a field that you don’t practice in and never have, that is the first one to complain later about the way you have handled it, about your lack of expertise, etc. It is always, for some sad reason, the favours that you are asked to do in exceptional circumstances that always turn out to be the problem. That is completely different of course to things that you do naturally for people of your own goodwill and in your own time, but it is uncanny how often it is those things you are asked to do that led you to discover that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The other meaning of the phrase of course is that some people undertake to take steps, to do charitable things and then never do them – and that is largely for big talkers, but to me my experience has been that those good intentions so often have unforseen bad consequences.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 07-Sep-16
I have written before about my frustration with the battery life of most of today’s smart phones – the things that you can do with the phones all seem to exceed battery capabilities in terms of the advances of technology in both. No sooner do the batteries get better, then the latest tricks that you are doing with your phone get more advanced. I think Pokemon Go has probably seen to portable chargers selling in huge numbers. The problem with many of them is that they are quite bulky, and some of the bulkiest ones can recharge your phone up to 10 times, but that involves lugging around a brick!
I have recently tried, after reading about it on a PC advice website, the Zendure second generation portable charger, which is one of the lighter models, but still recharges a phone at least twice. I must say I think it is something very handy to have in your luggage, and I guess with the ladies it is far easier to have a device like that in your handbag. They are well worth the money as an emergency back-up for your phone.
DW 11-13 is a restaurant in the Dunkeld shopping centre. It is one that regularly features on the list of top restaurants in South Africa, and that in itself is quite rare, because most of the list is dominated by restaurants in Cape Town. In short that makes it one of the op, if not the best, restaurant in Johannesburg.
I recently finally got around to eating there, because on previous occasions when I had called they were full, and I was not disappointed. In fact it was better than I expected and I had a wonderful lunch with some friends. There are times when you are eating and when you just know that the meal has not been prepared by a team of grillers in the back, but by somebody who actually has a flair, not only for the presentation of the food, but for the taste and where you have an explosion of different tastes in your mouth. You just know that the person behind the scenes is a truly talented chef, in this case it is Marthinus Ferreira. I had the pork belly, which was superb, but I am told that their Wellington chicken is also magnificent and then I spoiled myself with a peanut butter ice cream which went with some delicious wafer-type of thing – I cannot really describe it properly - I am not a food critic. but if you want a fine dining experience in Johannesburg where your meal is prepared by a person who really knows how to cook, this is a must go to restaurant!
Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!