Wry & Dry

Shrewd Queensland. Demographic disaster. Full mailbox.

Shrewd Queensland  

It's rare that Wry & Dry dips his lid to the banana benders.  But the southern Queensland tourism industry is now booming, thanks to an innovative scheme hatched by its government.

Readers will recall that the Queensland premier closed the state's borders, thereby putting its tourism industry on the road to death.  But it soon saw the error of its ways.  A devilishly fiendish scheme was devised. 

Cartoon Qld virus

The Queensland government sent security guards to Melbourne to work in the quarantine hotels.  It arranged for those guards to be infected with Covid-19.  Knowing how extremely contagious Covid-19 was, the cunning plan was to force Wuhan Dan to resume a tight Stage 3 Shutdown.  Which is exactly what he did.

This shutdown would force Melbourne's AFL teams to relocate to Queensland.  Which is exactly what they did.  With at least three AFL games now on each weekend the idling southern Queensland tourist economy is now booming, as sports-starved banana benders spend up big.  And, upcoming, the AFL Grand Final at the Gabba.

Just sayin'.

Fewer Japanese tourists and Chinese students

There are 23 countries the populations of which are expected to fall by 50% by the end of the century.  Good grief.  Japan, Italy, Spain, Portugal and even China will have to face this massive problem. Think of the problems: 

Who is going to pay for the health care of the elderly?  Who is going to pay the pensions? What will become of the businesses that will see their potential number of customers halving?

All of these questions arise from researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation [1].  These boffins have shown that the global fertility rate [2] has nearly halved to 2.4 from 4.7 in 1950 and predicts it to fall below 1.7 by 2100.  Readers will know that 2.1 is the population replacement rate. 

The decline in fertility rates is essentially because more women are being educated and are working, as well as having greater access to contraception, resulting in them choosing to have fewer children.  It has nothing to do with suggestions of a global declining sperm-count, Wry & Dry is pleased to observe.

Cartoon sperm

Chart population

Australia's population is expected to continue to rise because of migration, but peak at 42 million in 2096.  If Australia (or any country) wishes a more rapidly increasing population (an economic booster) it needs to either follow the Costello Principle [3] and/or accept more migrants. 

If the latter, Wry & Dry recommends India as an ideal source. Imagine the boost to Australia's cricket team by 2050.

[1] In a study published in the Lancet, a British-based weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is among the world's oldest and best-known general medical journals. Click here for the demographic article.
[2]  The average number of children to whom a woman gives birth.
[3] Former Treasurer Peter Costello was the first politician to seriously address Australia's 'demographic destiny', as he called it.  He recommended Australia's couples have three children, "One for mum, one for dad and one for the country."  And introduced government subsidies (the baby bonus) to encourage more babies.

Full mailbox 

Wry & Dry's last edition brought a flurry of emails from Readers; more than the usual "Wry & Dry is left-wing" and "Wry & Dry is right-wing" stuff.

The piece on Wuhan Dan, it seems, was too mild.  Two outraged Readers, who run small businesses, emailed to say that they will probably be ruined by this second lock-down.  Other Readers were quite excoriating about Wuhan Dan and that he needs to go now, and not wait until the epidemic is over.

Cartoon Wuhan Dan lies

One further Reader misread Wry & Dry's article, and thought he, Wry & Dry, was complimenting the State Leader of the Opposition.  As Wry & Dry has not read anything by or heard from Mr O'Brien, he is in no position to comment. 

Wry & Dry will stand aloof from these musings.  And merely notes that whether Wuhan Dan goes or stays will depend upon one question.  And that will be the one asked by pollsters. 

Wry & Dry reminds Readers that Wuhan Dan needs a swing of more than 8% to lose the next election.  Whilst 4-5% of that is assured (the last state election was held at the time of Croesus Turnbull's overthrow, which led to serious anti-Liberal contagion at the state level; there will be a 'reversion to mean') the last 3-4% will require Mr O'Brien show more nous than hitherto. 

It's not only Australia's barley growers

Readers may not be aware that it is not only Australian farmers who are suffering at China's capriciousness.  China has halted billions of dollars in agricultural imports from Canada.  What's going on?

Canada discombobulated Emperor Xi by arresting Ms Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei [4], in Vancouver, on request from the USA.  That arrest was in December 2018 and followed standard international procedures and was because Ms Meng was alleged to have broken sanctions against Iran. 

Beijing, we have a problem: Ms Meng is the eldest daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei.  

Cartoon Ms Meng

China did exactly what the world expected it to do: arrest in retaliation a couple of Canadians in China.  And ban imports of Canadian canola.  Of course, China said the incidents were not linked (although the arrest of the two Canadians occurred soon after that of Ms Meng).  And has been saying so for the past 18 months. Until recently, that is. 

Beijing has now made it clear their fates are linked.  A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, told reporters that if Canada halted Meng’s extradition process, it “could open up space for resolution to the situation of the two Canadians.”  Ah, a 'prisoner swap'.

"Non!" said Canada's PM, Justin Trudeau, arguably his first sign of testicular fortitude.  Wry & Dry will keep Readers updated.

Note that Ms Meng is under house arrest and lives in a six bedroom mansion and is able to move freely in Vancouver.  In China, the arrested Canadian citizens are kept in solitary confinement.

[4]   Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd is a Chinese multinational technology company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong. It provides telecommunications equipment and sells consumer electronics like smartphones.  Huawei is facing claims of undue state support, links to the People's Liberation Army, and cybersecurity concerns that Huawei's infrastructure equipment may enable surveillance by the Chinese government.  With the development of 5G wireless networks, this caused the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand to prevent the use of products by Huawei or fellow Chinese telecommunications company ZTE.   Huawei is effectively owned by the Chinese government.

The ghosts of 1975

Readers will know that, whilst being an Anglophile, Wry & Dry is a sensible republican.  And so reacted with bemusement at the "nothing to see here" outcome of the Wry & Dry-foreshadowed release by the National Archives of the 1975 correspondence between Sir John Kerr, Australia's Governor-General, and Buckingham Palace.

The correspondence related to the time that Kerr sacked Australia's then PM, Gough Whitlam.

Cartoon John Kerr

No conspiracy was found, as alleged by the historian who fought for five years to get the correspondence released.  Just egg on her face.  And confirmation that Kerr was a vain, lonely gentleman who wanted to make his mark on history.  Which he did.

The reality is that the historian chased the wrong car.  Sensible people know that there was conspiracy: between Kerr, Malcolm Fraser and the CIA.

Readers would have noted that the Australian Republican Movement did itself no favours in response, by hysterically attacking the Queen and Buckingham Palace.

The republican cause stands on its own merits.  The aim is to convince voters of those merits.  Insulting the crown is not going to swing swing voters.

Sigh. 

Maxwell not so smart

British socialite and alleged child abuser, Ghislaine Maxwell had plenty of warning that the noose was tightening.  But she just stayed in plain sight for months on a 63 hectare estate in New Hampshire, until arrested.

And this week bail was not granted, in spite of Ms Maxwell's lawyers saying that her detention at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, put her at "serious risk" of contracting corona-virus.

Wry & Dry suggests that catching the corona-virus will be the least of her worries.    

Slow news

A blog post by NASA in 2016 has finally gone viral, as it were.  The blog points out that there are in fact 13 zodiac constellations.  The 13th is called Ophiuchus (the "serpent-bearer").

The information is not new.  The Babylonians, who lived over 3,000 years ago, created the zodiac chart.  They decided to split it into 12, to correspond to the 12 months in their calendar in spite of the fact they recognised 13 constellations.  So they left out Ophiuchus.

Cartoon new star sign

And this on top of the now widely accepted fact that, as the constellations have changed position relative to Earth over those 3,000 years, the dates for each star sign are no longer as they were. 

Wry & Dry urges astrologers not to worry.  Your horoscope will remain as meaningful now as it ever was.

To mask or not to mask?

Borisconi has told Brits they need to wear face masks in shops, to the fury of liberals.  Why the fuss?

Well it's because of Brexit.  The Brits voted to leave Europe and Borisconi won an election on the Brexit platform.  Brexit was all about not following Europe's suffocating rules and regulations.  Most of Europe has now masked-up: Readers will be aware that it is now mandatory to wear masks in shops in Germany, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Greece, and soon in France. 

Brexit Brits want Britain to be mask-less.  So as not to be European.

Keep calm. Carry on. Catch covid.

Equal rights

Last week, Ms Ivanka Trump, daughter of Virus-What-Virus-Trump, gave a speech in which she urged America's 30,000,000 unemployed to "find something new, learn other skills."

Wry & Dry is curious: why is it that those who have a large inheritance mistake that inheritance for a licence to lecture those less fortunate?

The venerable Financial Times noted that Ms Trump was admitted to University of Pennsylvania because her father made a $1.4m gift.  And Readers may not have noticed a recent report [5] showed that 43% of white student admissions to Harvard are either athletic scholars, children of former students, children of large donors or children of staff.  The percentage for non-whites is 16%.   

Wry & Dry feels sure that two of UPenn's most successful alumni were neither athletic scholars, children of former students, children of large donors or children of staff: Warren Buffett and Elon Musk.   

[5] Legacy and Athletic Preferences at Harvard, NBER September 2019.

Concorde II?

Readers may have read that American company Boom Supersonic has built a supersonic prototype in only six years, significantly faster than the development of the Concorde [6].   The prototype would have 55-seats onboard, reach cruising speeds of Mach 2.2, use alternative fuels and take to the skies in 2021. 

The airliner will be called Overture.  Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have first dibs on the initial 30 aircraft produced, expected by 2027. 

Good luck with that.

[6] Personal note: Wry & Dry flew in the Concorde: LHR/JFK.  All went well, until the tail rudder fell off some 55,000 feet over the Atlantic.  The driver said, with a minimum of fuss, "Ladies and gentlemen, you have nothing to be worried about..." Which was all okay, until we came into land at JFK, and saw the runway lined with fire trucks, ambulances and police cars.  The plane landed safely, which wasn't too bad as the plane had lost thrust in two engines, as well as the tail rudder.  As a pilot friend remarked on hearing the story, "Concorde had the gliding characteristics of a brick."

Wouldn't happen in China

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Khabarovsk to demand Tsar Putin's resignation.  Where?

Khabarovsk is in the far, far east of Roosha. It's 8,000 kilometres from Moscow.  And is so far east it is almost due north of Adelaide.  So, what's going on?

Well, it seems that Sergei Furgal, the local governor, defeated Tsar Vlad's candidate in the 2018 election.  Tsar Vlad wants revenge and so a series of trumped up murder charges have been laid against Mr Furgal.  Mr Furgal has been arrested.  The locals are furious.   

Let Wry & Dry assure Readers that Tsar Putin isn't going to take this protesting lying down.  Firstly, Khabarovsk is 15 kilometres from China and is Roosha's largest city (500,000) in its far east [7].  Whilst not as strategically important as Vladivostok (which houses Roosha's depleted Pacific Fleet of, essentially, one ageing cruiser, five ageing destroyers, ten nuclear and eight conventional submarines), it is the headquarters of Russia's Far East Military district. 

Secondly, he doesn't like people disagreeing with him.

This will end in tears for the good folk of Khabarovsk.

[7]  It is also the closest major city to Birobidzhan, which is the capital of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (i.e. province).  This is the only region in the world where Yiddish is the official language.  

Snippets from all over 

1.  Cold War gets colder by the week

a. Tuesday:  The US government formally declared that most of China's disputed territorial claims in the South China Seas are illegal, abandoning the previous neutral position and aligning with south east Asian nations. 

b. Wednesday:  "No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies," President Trump told a news conference after signing the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which penalises banks linked to Chinese interference in Hong Kong.

c. Thursday:  The United Kingdom has reversed course on Huawei, moving to ban the Chinese equipment maker's gear from any part of its national 5G network and ordering it all stripped by 2027.

Wry & Dry comments:  a. concurs with the International Court for Arbitration 2016 ruling; b. confirms that the US now sees Hong Kong as subsumed to China; and c. leaves only Canada of the 'Five Eyes' countries yet to ban Huawei. All too little, too late.

2.  Singapore slung

Singapore's economy shrunk by 13% in the June quarter.

Wry & Dry comments:  Nasty stuff, but expected given the structure of its economy.  Expect it to bounce back just as quickly.

3.  CBD retail vacancies at 20-year high

Retail vacancy rates in Australia's CBDs have exceeded 10%, well above the average of about 5%.

Wry & Dry comments:  And this data excludes 'temporary' store closures.  This will worsen. 

4.  UK government costs fall

UK government borrowing costs sank to record lows last week. The latest rise in bond prices pushed yields on short-term debt even further below zero. Five-year UK government bond yields fell to minus 0.09%, while two-year yields slipped to minus 0.13%.

Wry & Dry comments:  Investors are looking for rates to go even 'more minus', so they can sell before the bond matures.

5.  Covid hits coffee

Global coffee consumption is set to fall this year for the first time since 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts.

Wry & Dry comments:  Wry & Dry is trying to make up for it.

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

“Wow."

 -  Elon Musk, CEO and largest shareholder in Tesla, on news that the price of shares in the company were up 400% on their low-point of late March.

Somewhere, someone is ringing a bell.

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...grunted as Wry & Dry hopped into the jalopy.

“Your eyes look like road-maps, have you been on Damshi, your mother-in-law’s, special tea again?” Wry & Dry asked.

“I’ve a new job: overnight security guard,” Deepak sighed wearily.

“Didn’t know you were a security guard?” quipped Wry & Dry.

“I’m not… exactly. Damshi applied on my behalf to an ad in the paper, apparently all the other security guards have been compromised so the criteria is now rather broad. As an authorised traffic controller, it would seem I can also control people… it’s a parallel occupation apparently.”

“Has this anything to do with Panzer-gate: you putting petrol in Anjali’s new diesel-fulled Audi last week?” Wry & Dry asked with suspicion.

“Damshi said I have no choice. It’s either I take the job or Anjali finds out what I did to her panzer. I called the insurance company and apparently you are not covered if you misfuel. So Damshi has lent me the money to have some bloke flush out the whole fuel system. It’s costing a fortune,” he wailed.

“So, what exactly did you tell Anjali, out of curiosity?” Wry & Dry asked.

“I told her the car had a splutter and as she was so busy with the children that I would come to her rescue, and handle the whole thing myself,” Deepak said, coming to life momentarily before slipping back into misery.

Wry & Dry raised an eyebrow; “So not only do you brutalise your wife’s panzer you now are extracting status as a hero to boot. Quite impressive Deepak. But I don’t get why on earth Damshi would get you a job as an overnight guard in a hotel of all things! Not exactly the job of choice presently.”

“This is Damshi The Crocodile remember, and yes it’s of “those” hotels if you are wondering.”

“I thought they were all closed over Covid lockdown. The 15-minute-rotation of guests does not give management adequate time to clean up as it were.” Wry & Dry chuckled.

“Not that type! It’s a quarantine hotel!”

“A quarantine hotel! Why couldn’t you do some extra shifts Ubering?” Wry & Dry spluttered, feeling instantly clammy and it was not just from his bastardisation of a proper noun.

“Don’t you recall Damshi is getting married?”

“The Wedding is still on?” asked Wry & Dry wondering where his invitation was, before a light globe moment occurred.

“Don’t tell me her beloved is in quarantine awaiting his nuptials?”

“Yep, and Damshi wants her pound of flesh for keeping my honour intact over the foolish mis-fuelling incident. She’ll keep quiet and never tell Anjali the truth.”

“It’s not literally a pound of flesh though?” Wry & Dry asked thoughtfully.

“Well, I doubt it, the old geezer may have been a bull in his day, but time does weary as they say. Nevertheless, read the tea-leaves, he likes his oats for breakfast!”

“Oh, now I get it…. Damshi is serving breakfast to room 871 in the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel Washington,” chuckled Wry & Dry as he recalled the infamous story of the New York Post sex columnist Ashley Dupre, who also served breakfast of a kind to the New York Governor Alex Spitzer.

“Well certainly Damshi is getting it. Not sure about the Renaissance Hotel reference though?” asked Deepak. 

“A story for another day, but remember the early bird gets the worm, Deepak,” Wry & Dry laughed as the car pulled over and Wry & Dry got out and strolled happily down the street.

 

 -  From the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry.

 

Cheers

Anthony