Wry & Dry

Happy New Year! Bumper edition. "To be impeached once..."

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, Readers!

Whilst Readers were vacationing at within-state resorts or buying unneeded goods on Amazon or at Bunnings, Wry & Dry was keeping a record of the bigger issues that have occurred since 18 December 2020. 

But, before the highlights, and writing of nobody in particular, Readers might recall the Bard:

"Nothing in his life became him like the manner of his leaving." [1]

Still speaking of nobody in particular...

Cartoon stacking shelves

[1] Shakespeare, Macbeth act 1, scene 4.  Malcolm, speaking to his father, King Duncan, of the execution of the Thane of Cawdor.

"To be impeached once..."

...may be regarded as a misfortune; to be impeached twice looks like carelessness." [2].

With just one week remaining in his presidency, I-Won-The-Election-Trump found himself creating history by being the first President of the Yoo-Ess-Ay to be impeached twice.  Carelessness, indeed.

Nancy Pelosi, the well-Botoxed Leader of the House and energetically entering her ninth decade on Earth, didn't have trouble hiding her grin as she announced the impeachment vote.  Her cavernous mouth was well covered by a large, but fashionable and florid, mask. 

But the justifiable action looks doomed to fail in the Senate, as many Republicans have carefully weighed the material benefits of sinecure against the opaque benefits of principled leadership.  And come down on the side of self-interest. 

[2] ‘To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness’.  Lady Bracknell, when interviewing Jack Worthing as to his suitability as a suitor for her daughter.  From The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

If at first you don't succeed...

Readers will be familiar with the story of Robert the Bruce [3].  And the inspiration that led him to believe that 'if at first you don't succeed, try, try again'.  

Well, consider the Scottish National Party and its fevered desire for Scotland to be independent of the UK.   It badly lost an independence referendum in 2014.  But like Robert the Bruce's spider, it is going to try again. Last week, the Leader of the SNP announced plans for another vote.

It's all a bit complicated because, unlike 2014 when the referendum was agreed to by the UK government (a legal requirement), Borisconi has refused to allow the proposed referendum to proceed.  His reasoning is that the reality of the case for independence would be caught up in the emotion of Brexit; wait until, say, 2050.

On this matter, Borisconi is right.  There is little doubt that the Scots are currently in no frame of mind to rationally consider independence.  And the relative impoverishment that would cause.

But it is a doomed politician who allows commonsense to stand in the way of political opportunity.  Like Robert the Bruce's spider, the First Minister of Scotland is female [4].  And she's not going to give up. 

[3] The short story is that whilst hiding in a cave, the Scottish king took to watching a spider that was struggling to build a web. Whenever the spider appeared to make progress, it would fall, only to climb back up again and attempt to weave a web once more. Eventually, after trying, and trying, and trying again, the spider managed to build its web.  Bruce took from this that ‘if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, try again’, and went on to defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, despite the Scottish army being outnumbered around 7,000 to 13,000.
[4] With rare exception, only female spiders weave webs.

Repression doesn't take a vacation

Readers should not be surprised that Zhan Zang, a journalist in China, has been sentenced to four years in a local slammer for her posts about the authorities' early struggles to manage the Covid outbreak.

Cartoon re education

Ms Zhan, aged 37, had been tortured by Chinese secret police whilst awaiting sentence.  She is one of 47 known journalists currently in 'detention' for their Covid reporting.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Mon Dieu!

Readers will be shocked to read that, last week, a vegan restaurant near Bordeaux received a Michelin star [5].  Of course, Wry & Dry has nothing against plant munchers. But it's about the decline of the essence of France.

France takes its gastronomy with deadly seriousness: it is at the heart of its culture, as vital to the Frenchman as a long liquid lunch and a mistress.  That gastronomic Frenchman sees vegetables as nothing more than objects that provide colour, otherwise suffocated by boeuf bourguignon or duck à l’orange. 

Cartoon french sheep 

And it gets worse.  The implicit insult to French tradition is that the offending restaurant is in the heart of one of the world's finest wine regions.  What wine could possibly match each of a seven-course vegan menu?  Perhaps only a vapid New Ziland Sauvignon Blanc?

[5]  The Michelin Guide is the quintessential foodies guidebook.  It started when brothers Andre and Edouard founded their eponymous tyre company in the late 19th century and, to encourage driving, produced a small booklet for travellers.  The book advised how to change a tyre, where to stay and, famously, where to eat.  In 1926 the star system for grading restaurants was introduced.  The guide now covers over 16,000 restaurants.
There is not a Michelin Guide for Australian restaurants.

Head, err, south, young man

Readers may have read in late December 2020 that not only is Texas to be the home of the next Tesla factory, but also the new HQ of massive software company Oracle.  Hewlett Packard Enterprise is moving to Houston, CBRE to Dallas and so it goes on.

What's going on?

Well, it's show me the money.  Or, rather, don't tax me.  Texas has zero state personal income tax.  California's top rate is 13.3%.  And companies in California pay 8.84% in state company tax, compared to less than 1% in Texas.

Cartoon texas

Early 2021 case of RDS

Wry & Dry is saddened to advise Readers of the first case of RDS (Relevance Deprivation Syndrome) for 2021.  This outbreak is, of course, a major concern.  And Wry & Dry can provide zero assurances that it will not become more widespread.

Former PM Croesus Turnbull, a serial carrier of RDS, returned a positive test in early January.  He was asked to comment on former colleague Liberal MP Craig Kelly's website's republishing online misinformation on Covid.  Croesus fell for the trap set for him by Kelly, responded furiously to media requests for a comment and gave Kelly even more publicity.    

Wry & Dry has written to PM Jimmy Morrison requesting that the government initiate a traffic light warning system regarding RDS.  With those with a red light being forced into media-silence quarantine for 14 consecutive days, locked in hotel room without access to phones, email, fax, etc.  Such might be the only way to prevent Croesus, and others of his ilk, from being re-infected with RDS.

Chinese bulge

It came as no surprise for Wry & Dry to read the report of the Chinese National Health Commission that over 50% of adults in China (500,000,000+) are now overweight.

And how about Emperor Xi?  Well, he is 180cm tall.  And his official record says that he weighs 65kg.  Wry & Dry is never one to dispute facts coming from Beijing.  Rather, he thinks that the mandarins at HQ got the first figure upside down - it should be a 9, not a 6.  And readers can see in the recent photo, below, that a weight of 95kg is about right.

Image result for xi jinping shirtsleeves

So, with a height of 180cm and weight of 95kg, that gives a BMI [6] of 29.3.  Readers will know that a BMI greater than 25 suggests 'overweight', whilst over 30 suggest 'obesity'.

Cartoon 3 m tall

Time for Emperor Xi to call Jenny Craig and hit the gym?  Or perhaps some time in one of the re-education camps in Xinjiang province, where inoffensive Uighurs are incarcerated.  Emperor Xi would certainly shed a few kilos and show the world that such camps are really health retreats.

[6]  Body Mass Index is a convenient rule of thumb used to broadly categorise a person as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.  It is the body mass (weight) divided by the square of the body height.  A more accurate BMI metric is calculated as BMI = (1.3 * mass)/ height ^ 2.5.  

The Old Lady  

News that a cannabis factory was last week found behind the Bank of England [7] excited Wry & Dry.  Was the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street planning a new British currency to rival Bitcoin?

If so, perhaps the new currency should be named after the person who did most to engineer Brexit: Borisconi.  The new currency's name: Cannaboris  [Wry & Dry inhales].  This would also epitomise [exhales] the manner in which he has run the UK since he took office.

The code for [inhales strongly] the Cannaboris would be GBC, with one GBC made up of, man, between 95 and 105 Cannabits, depending on [exhales strongly]...the time, cool, of the sun rising in the north. 

[Answers knock on door.  It's a man in blue-ish uniform.  Ends] 

[7]  Some 826 flourishing cannabis plants, worth some $1m, were found.

Stellantis?  WTF [8]

Readers will be aware that the combined businesses of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot maker PSA made its debut in January on the Paris, Milan and New York Stock exchanges. And the name?  Stellantis.

To Wry & Dry, Stellantis sounds nothing like one of the company's iconic brands, such as Jeep, Dodge, Alpha Romeo or Maserati.  And more like either a dyspepsia soother or a flowering vine from Thailand.   

[8] Why The Face

Coate tales

It seems like an eon ago.  But on 21 December 2020 the Board of Inquiry that heard from 63 witnesses and absorbed 70,000 documents concluded that no-one was responsible for the Victorian government's quarantine fiasco that directly led to 801 deaths.  

Cartoon cause of death

This was a masterpiece. Worthy of Legend Status in the Yes, Minister Hall of Fame.  Decide on a Board of Inquiry (rather than a more forensic and coercive Royal Commission), appoint an amiable former Family Court judge to head the Board, provide terms of reference that limit the scope of the inquiry, ensure that senior public servants followed Omertà [9] and report just before Christmas.

So, 801 people died and no-one was responsible.  Brilliant!  This is text-book stuff of what the public service is all about. 

But 21 December 2021 was an eon ago.  It will be forgotten by November 2022 (the month of the next state election.)

[9] The Mafia code of silence.

Holgate - whiter than white.  Almost.

Last Friday most Readers were pondering Australia Day honours' chances and the 4-day weekend.  And in this distracted environment, the government released a report into former Australia Post boss Christine Holgate’s controversial gold Cartier watch bonuses. 

Readers will recall that Ms Holgate gave bonuses to Australia Post executives worth a total of $20,000.  The bonuses were in the form of gold Cartier watches.  PM Jimmy Morrison was 'appalled' and called for Ms Holgate's corporate head.  An independent report was called for.

The report said, “There is no indication of dishonesty, fraud, corruption or intentional misuse of Australia Post funds by any individual involved in the matters relating to the purchase and ‘gifting’ of Cartier watches.”

But in a contradictory statement that let Jimmy Morrison off the hook, the report went on to say that “the purchase of the Cartier watches was inconsistent with the obligation imposed by the PGPA act on the board relating to the proper use and management of public resources”. 


Summer thoughts

1.  'Good works'

When scanning the lists of winners of Australia Day gongs to see if his name appeared (it didn't), Wry and Dry noticed many recipients received the Order of Australia for 'services to the xxxxx industry'.  That is, people getting the award for just doing his or her job, albeit very well. 

Surely, Wry & Dry asks Readers, the award should be for contributions to society, for 'good works'.  For example, a long serving television journalist Kerry O'Brien was recently made an Officer of the Order of Australia.  Wry & Dry searched the Google machine for, but could not find any 'good works' undertaken by O'Brien.  Doubtless his service to journalism has been extensive, but it would seem that he has done little, if anything for others. 

Clearly a sufferer of RDS, O'Brien took the opportunity of being awarded the Order of Australia to decline it. Thereby giving himself more publicity than being offered the award in the first place.

But in so doing, he exposed his non achievement of 'good works'.        

2.  Invasion

Wry & Dry opines that the use of the term 'Invasion Day' by some Australians to give publicity to a cause to change the date of Australia Day is bad tactics.  In saying that he, for now, gives no views on the merits of the change-the-date case.  But makes two observations about the use of language.

Firstly, if the aim is to bring unity to Australians then the use of such an inflammatory term is going to have the opposite effect.  Significant numbers of Australians who might be sympathetic to the cause simply bristle at the use of such loaded and patently inaccurate language and its implications.  

Secondly, the use of the term gives the appearance of victimhood for the Aboriginal community.  That is not a denial of the enormous suffering undergone by Aborigines.  But victimhood cannot be something the Aboriginal community wish or desire - it is a mindset that life is beyond their control, fuelled by pessimism and anger. 

Wry & Dry would rather change-the-date advocates use a 'victor' approach - that is the Aboriginal community overcoming and or desiring to overcome the past.

When change-the-date advocates drop the term Invasion Day and begin using, for example, Change the Date as the campaign slogan they might get a better hearing.  And a greater chance of success.

Trickle down doesn't work

Readers may think that the 'trickle down' theory relates to how much wine trickles back into a decanter after pouring. In fact it is an economic theory, that says cutting taxes on rich people will encourage them to work and invest more, ultimately creating jobs and benefiting everyone.

Err... Wrong way.  Go back.  Just before Christmas, two British scholars released a study concluding that trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

Ye, gods!  Heresy?  No.  Cutting taxes on rich people increases inequality while not having “any significant effect on economic growth and unemployment.”  Keen Readers may wish to read the study, click here. 

So, the tax cuts of I'm-cutting-taxes-of-wealthy-people-like-me-to-help-the-poor-Trump will not help the poor, but push the income inequality in the Yoo Ess Ay even higher.  

Snippets from all over 

1.  Tesla struggles without regulatory credits

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is struggling to generate consistent profit margins from selling its cars, relying on sales of regulatory credits to lift its profits.

Wry & Dry comments:  In the December quarter Tesla generated $401m from sales of credits, accounting for the bulk of of its $575m in operating profits.      

2.  Shell goes electric

Oil major Shell is buying the Ubitricity, the UK's biggest network of electric car charging points as part of its plan to become a net zero-emissions energy business by 2050.

Wry & Dry comments:  Ubitricity was founded in Berlin in 2008 and its technology allows lampposts to be turned into charging points. This is seen as an efficient way to expand charging on inner-city roads using the existing electricity supply, thus doing away with the need to lay new cables. 

3.  China grows

The Chinese economy grew by 2.3% in 2020. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Likely the only major economy to grow in 2020.  And economists forecast an 8.4% growth in 2021, the fastest rate in a decade.

4.  Swiss parsimony

UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank, is to charge clients with deposit balances of more than 250,000 Swiss francs an interest rate fee of 0.75% from July

Wry & Dry comments:  Yet another way for banks to make money. 

5.  Germany shrinks

The German economy shrank by 5% in 2020.

Wry & Dry comments:  France and Italy, the eurozone's second and third-biggest economies, are each forecast to have shrunk by 9% in 2020.

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Last words ...

“Facts are sometimes contentious..." 

 -  Michael McCormack, Leader of the National Party and Acting Prime Minister (at the time), declining to criticise somewhat-to-right-of-the-soup-spoon-Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who had said that making children wear masks was akin to child abuse. 

Smoothly and seamlessly taking over from where his predecessor, Barnaby Joyce, left off. 

A lightly salted absurdity ...

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