Wry & Dry

Coups, failed. Cars, electric, future of. Clots, fear of.

Coups, failed 

How To Stage A Successful Parliamentary Coup 101 states the three critical success factors: (a) being able to count; (b) having a decent IQ; and (c) understanding the essence of politics.

Earlier this week, the hitherto unknown Brad Battin, a state Liberal MP whose previous employment was as a police officer and bakery owner, embarrassingly fell at the first hurdle, thereby confirming that he would have also fallen at the next two hurdles. [1]   

In arguably the most farcical coup attempt since Guy Fawkes and his merry men attempted to blow up King James I and much of the Protestant aristocracy in 1605 [2], Mr. Batten challenged the hapless state Liberal Leader, Michael O'Brien.  And himself got blown out of the water. 

Cartoon victorian opposition

Mr. Battin's self-belief and ego must be bigger than I-Really-Won-The-Election-Trump.  But at least the latter did touch the skirts of business success.  Mind you, they weren't the only skirts he touched.

[1] Mr. Battin doesn't hold any tertiary degrees, but he does hold a Diploma in Public Safety.  Former Premier Jeff Kennett didn't finish his economics degree.  Prior to that the previous degree-less Premier was Henry Bolte.  But each of Kennett and Bolte had shrewd political minds and very sharp tongues.  Mr. Battin appears to have neither.
[2]  Guy Fawkes was involved in the failed Gunpowder Plot.  The plotters leased an undercroft beneath the House of Lords; Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder that they stockpiled there. The authorities were tipped off and found Fawkes guarding the explosives.  
Cartoon guy
Immediately before his execution, Fawkes fell from the scaffold where he was to be hanged, and broke his neck, thus avoiding the agony of being hanged, drawn and quartered.   

Clots, fear of

Fear is a great motivator. So is inability to understand the principal fallacy of "post hoc ergo prompter hoc". [3]  After 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca anti-covid vaccination had been administered, some 40 recipients developed blood clots.  Therefore, the vaccine caused the blood clots... 

Each year, some 10 million people globally get VTE - or a blood clot.  That is a rate of 0.13%.  The worse cousin of VTE; CVT - a brain clot - has an incidence of 0.005%.  The incidence of a person getting any sort of blood clot after a covid vaccination is 0.00023%.

But such is the fear of covid and anything associated with it, even a vaccine, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have paused their vaccine rollout programmes.

And predictably, two to-the-right-of-the-soup-spoon politicians, Matt Canavan (Nationals) and Craig Kelly (Liberal defector) have called for the rollout in Australia to also be suspended.

cartoon clot

Leaving aside the sheer statistical incompetence of those advocating a rollout pause, those evolutionary throwbacks have ignored that covid itself can cause blood clotting. 

Breaking news: the EU drugs regulator last night re-approved the AZ vaccine.

[3]  After it, therefore because of it.  For example: I wore my lucky boat shoes yesterday.  The boat sank.  I didn't drown.  My boat shoes saved me from drowning.  

Cars, electric, future of 

People get very excited about zero net carbon emissions by 2050 and see the shift to electric vehicles as critical in achieving that target.

cartoon cars in 2050

The reality is if EVs make up 25% of new car sales by 2035, only 13% of vehicles on the road would be electric.  Older, internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be hard to kill. The below is the situation in the US; Australia's chart is probably similar.  Note: what the sensible world calls petrol the Yoo-Ess-Ay calls gasoline.

 Chart US cars


The dream of 100% electric vehicles by 2050 would mean that sales of ICE cars would have to end by about 2035.  And would need to be coupled with power sources from renewables, such as wind, solar or hydro-power.  Much work to do.

More political DCMs

Readers will remember the global happiness at the DCM given to past-his-use-by-date Liberal MP Kevin Andrews by members of his own party.  Well, hold the applause, but there is a chance that Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz (aged 63) is about to suffer the same fate.  Abetz is being challenged for the #1 spot on the Liberals Senate ticket.  

Abetz has achieved little in his political career, other than hold his Senate position.  For 26 years.  Surely time to give a younger person, and one with a future, a go?

Err, no.  Like Andrews, Abetz will hang on for dear life.  Why?  There is nothing else for him to do outside parliament.    

"Events dear boy. Events." [4]

Good leaders successfully manage (unexpected) events, both in reality and in public perception.  After all, we-the-people want a leader who is going to give confidence when things go wrong.  Not just manage things that are right. 

After much pondering, Wry & Dry, encouraged by quantities of 2007 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Belle Époque rapidly diminishing in his Waterford flute, has decided that PM Jimmy Morrison should give himself the DCM.

The major achievement that the world sees is the government's amazingly successful covid response. However, Wry & Dry assesses this as being Frydenberg's (Treasurer) and Hunt's (Health Minister) triumph; Jimmy only managed the message. 

Wry & Dry saw Jimmy's bushfire response as forgivable and then viewed his response to the Christine Holgate issue as contemptible.  But a review of his response to allegations of rape by Brittany Higgins showed he failed his own 'pub test'.

That response was totally out of touch with the community, reflected badly on his fellow MPs (of all parties and of all sexes), and laid bare his want of leadership skills.  And political nous.

Wry & Dry hastens to add that his response to the historical rape allegations against Christian Porter was correct.  But that is a no-brainer.

His response to Ms Higgins' allegations was the Sergeant Schultz response [5], rather than a skerrick of concern for the woman.  And he compounded this by revelations of a conversation with his wife (Mrs Jimmy framed it in context of "what if it were your daughter?"). He was playing gender-awareness catch-up. 

Clearly, Jimmy is not a misogynist and Wry & Dry is sure that he is a thoroughly decent person.  But, as former PM John Howard found out (too late), the electorate is evolving significantly more quickly than imagined.  Political mastery over the opposition in economic success and security or relying on the opposition's incompetence is no longer a guarantee of electoral success.   

There is old saw: "If you see the torpedo, it's too late."  Jimmy can't even see from where the torpedo is coming. 

But certainly not from our French-built submarines, which may be finished about the same time as Mandarin becomes mandatory in Victorian schools. 

[4] To requote former UK PM Harold MacMillan, when asked what most worried him.
[5]  "I know nothing."

Unclear on the concept

Readers will know of at least two principles of our legal system, namely (a) innocent until proven guilty; and (b) the right to defend allegations.  Readers will also be aware of the (female) CEO of legal firm MinterEllison getting the DCM for suggesting otherwise in an email to staff.

cartoon trending

One young lawyer at MinterEllison was heard to ask, "Why would I stay at Minters when that's how they treat women?"  Err, hang on, the decision had nothing to do with the sex of the CEO.  It was what she wrote.  

Wry & Dry suggests a career change for the young lawyer. Perhaps to a government owned media company.  

Spend, spend, spend

If Readers thought that last week's US$1,900,000,000,000 covid-relief-plus-anything-else-that-we-can-put-in-the-legislation act of US Congress was the end of the cash splash by Sleepy Joe Biden, just hold the phone.

(By the way, that $1.9 trillion spendathon is not funded, i.e. no tax increases).

Sleepy Joe is now planning a massive spend of "$2 to $4 trillion" to go to infrastructure, climate change and social welfare initiatives.  Yee ha!

To pay for these, Democrats are planning:

  • raising the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $400,000 p.a;
  • expanding the scope of death duties (err, perhaps death duties on the living?);
  • raising capital gains tax rate for individuals earning at least $1m p.a;
  • raising corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%; and
  • cutting back tax preferences for so-called pass-through businesses (a form of tax splitting).

Wry & Dry sees the chances of this all happening as somewhere between zero and zero. 

Sharp tongue of the week

The email quilled by MinterEllison's CEO, Annette Kimmett, that led to her getting the DCM was "totally off the planet and incomprehensible."  

 - Mark Leibler, legal industry doyen and senior partner of blue chip firm Arnold Bloch Leibler. 

Chart of the week

There has been much comment about which demographic is most at risk from covid.  The following chart is the first comprehensive study, based on 466,000 people in the Yoo-Ess-Ay, of the demographics and comorbidities of people who had had a positive covid test.  The source is the Economist magazine.

The simple observation is that if a person does not have chronic liver or kidney disease, a serious heart condition, Type-2 diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease then the percentage of those who live over the age of 70 is about 96% for women and 94% for men.

Readers will notice that the role of comorbidities (i.e. other illnesses) is significant.  This suggests that covid attacks the body broadly, and is most exacerbated by comorbidities that cause inflammation or that affect the circulatory system, such as kidney, liver or heart problems. In contrast, respiratory conditions like asthma matter less—though severe ones, such as lung cancer or pulmonary fibrosis, are big risk factors too. 

cartoon comorbidities

Wry & Dry hastens to add that the data is not predictive for individuals.  Other possible risk factors such as ethnicity, location, level of health cover, etc. have not been analysed.

Chart covid demographics

Wry & Dry is given to asking now that this data is available, why lockdown a whole nation or state for an 'outbreak' of covid?  Intense care of all those aged 70+ with comorbidities might be significantly more efficacious. 

Just askin'. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  Unemployment down 

Australia's February unemployment rate fell sharply to 5.8% from January's 6.3%.

Wry & Dry comments:  Hats off to Josh.       

2.  Population down

Australia's population in the September quarter fell for the first time since data collection began in 1981.  

Wry & Dry comments: Bring back the baby boom!

3.  Art madness

Last week at Christie’s in New York “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” by Beeple sold for $60.25 million at auction, which cost the buyer $69 million when Christie’s buyer’s premium is included.  The excitement was that the art concerned was crypto-art, it exists only in a digital form.   This non-physical art was developed as a non-fungible token (NFT), a blockchain-supported digital certificate of authentication. 

Wry & Dry comments: Got that?  Wry & Dry smells a fish.   

4.  UK updates inflation basket

The latest update to the UK's inflation basket shows the impact of the pandemic and home working: hand sanitiser, casual clothing, dumbbells, smartwatches, and wi-fi lightbulbs are in and staff restaurant sandwiches are out.

Wry & Dry comments: Wry & Dry wonders what the weight of dumbells is in the new basket...  (groan).

5.  Uber workers

In February, the UK's Supreme Court held that Uber drivers must be treated as workers, rather than self-employed.  Yesterday, Uber UK reclassified its drivers as 'workers' (a category between self-employed and employed), meaning holiday pay, the minimum wage and pension (i.e. superannuation) scheme enrolment. 

Wry & Dry comments: In Australia, the Fair Work Ombudsman (in 2019) has decided that Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees..

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Last words ...

“I'm a grenade with the pin pulled.” 

 - Bob Katter, 75 year-old maverick and independent MP from Queensland [1] (where else), as part of his pitch to get PM Jimmy Morrison to chip in lots of dosh into his (Katter's) favourite causes - in exchange for his casting vote in the House. 

Strange.  Wry & Dry thought that if a grenade's pin was pulled there was a delay of 10 seconds before kaa-boom.  The known world looks forward to Bob exploding and the pieces being scattered across his electorate.  Just kiddin'.

[1]  Katter has been the federal member for Kennedy since 1993, succeeding Rob Hulls (Labor) on Liberal preferences.  Hulls went on to become Attorney General in the Victorian state parliament.

A lightly salted absurdity ...

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia has banned the use of Garamond font in briefs.  Apparently, it is more difficult to read.  The court also requires the typeface be at least 14-point and must have serifs.

 - Foxnews.com

 - This is serious.  Wry & Dry is surprised that the ABC isn't up in arms.  The typeface was created in the 1500s by French engraver Claude Garamond – and versions of it have been widely used ever since, including in the widely accessible Harry Potter series.  Book Riot, a pro-reading website, even ranked it "the best font for books" in late December.  


PS A reminder that the opinions in Wry & Dry do not necessarily represent those of First Samuel, its employees or directors.

PPS  Wry & Dry will not be published on Friday 2 April and Friday 9 April.  Easter/ Passover vacation.