Wry & Dry

"I'm shocked. Shocked." Streisand effect. High altitude boxing..

Early entrant for Quote of the Year 1

"I'm shocked.  Shocked.  To find that branch stacking is going on in here." [1]

 -   Chairman Dan Andrews, in response to allegations of impropriety within his government.

Cartoon Andrews contains violence

[1]  With apologies to Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) in Casablanca: I'm shocked.  Shocked. To find that gambling is going on in here. Click here

Early entrant for Quote of the Year 2

"To lose one minister, Mr Andrews, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness; to lose three is immeasurably incompetent." [2]

 -  Anthony Albanese, Federal Opposition Leader, speaking to Chairman Dan.

[2] With apologies to Lady Bracknell: “'To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest. Click here.  

Early entrant for Quote of the Year 3

"We'll always have Beijing." [3]

 - Chairman Dan, to his wife as she consoles him on the loss of three ministers from his government.

[3] With apologies to Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca: "We'll always have Paris. Click here.

Early entrant for Quote of the Year 4

"My name is Maximus Votimus Andrews, commander of the Branch-Stackers of the South, General of the Felix Branches and loyal servant to the true emperor, Xi Jinping. Premier of a state without sun, premier for life. And I will have my vengeance, in this election or the next." [4]

- Chairman Dan, explaining to the media allegations of impropriety within his government.

[4] With apologies to Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) in Gladiator: Click here.

Early entrant for Quote of the Year 5

"Beijing, we have a problem." [5]

 - Chairman Dan, phoning the Beijing Puppet States' Help Line.

[5] With apologies to Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) in Apollo 13: "Houston.  We have a problem". Click here

Streisand Effect

Medically-educated Readers will be aware of the Streisand Effect [6].  It is a social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicising that information.

And so John Bolton, Virus-What-Virus-Trump's former National Security Advisor, will be delighted with potential sales of his new book, The Room Where It Happened.

Y'see, V-W-V-Trump's administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to grant an emergency restraining order to stop its publication, thereby ensuring its best-seller status on Amazon.com ahead of its publication.

Apparently the book is a 'devastating portrayal of Trump’s conduct of foreign policy'. And also of V-W-V-Trump's general knowledge: Bolton writes that the president asked if Finland was part of Russia [it's not] and expressed surprise upon hearing the United Kingdom is a nuclear power [it maintains four submarines each armed with sixteen nuclear missiles, each carry eight independently targeted warheads].

Cartoon France is a nuclear power

Wry & Dry bets that V-W-V-Trump hasn't ordered the book.

[6] Named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress photographs of her home in Malibu, California, inadvertently drew further attention to it in 2003.

High altitude boxing

It's all rather strange.  Some 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers were killed on Tuesday in a border skirmish in the Galwan Valley in the Himalayas.  Some 4.3 kilometres above sea level.  The oddity is that no shots were fired.

The dead apparently plunged to their deaths in a series of fights with clubs and fists on steep, jagged terrain.  Not quite Queensberry Rules [7].

The two countries have always had a dispute over their 3,500 kilometre border (about the distance from Melbourne to Darwin).  India is getting grumpy at the 'salami slicing' tactics of China - that is quietly occupying thin slivers of Indian territory. 

Cartoon border wars

Satellite photos show that on Tuesday the PLA brought heavy construction equipment and soldiers into the Galwan Valley.  This is the Himalayan version of China taking control of those atolls in the South China Sea.

Coincidentally, the UN General assembly on Wednesday elected India, Mexico, Norway and Ireland as the four non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for 2021 and 2022.  So India will have a seat at the same table as China.

Wry & Dry assumes that, in case of a bit of biffo at the Security Council table, Queensberry Rules will be followed.

[7]  Queensberry Rules is a code of generally accepted rules in the sport of boxing. Drafted in London in 1865 and published in 1867, they were named so as the 9th Marquess of Queensberry publicly endorsed the code, although they were written by a Welsh sportsman named John Graham Chambers. 

A Foreign Minister with ticker 

One of the best outcomes of the Turnbull v Dutton leadership-of-the-Liberal Party battle in 2018 (that was won by neither) was that the mannequin Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, tossed the toys out of the cot and resigned from federal parliament. 

Princess Julie's reign as Foreign Minister was effectively an exercise in accumulation of frequent flyer points to travel to centres of diplomacy (London, Paris, New York) that also happened to be centres of fine shopping, dining and wining.  More vital centres to Australia's interests such as Beijing, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Delhi were viewed only from 37,000 feet in seat 1A.

Which brings Wry & Dry to her successor, Marise Payne.  At last Australia has a Foreign Minister who rolls up her sleeves and does the hard work.  And has the ticker to speak forcefully.  Her speech this week calling out China and Russia for spreading misinformation was gutsy. 

Readers might consider her phrase: "instead of being small in our thinking, timid in purpose and risk averse, Australia should make difficult decisions and prioritise its sovereignty and long-term interests."

Her subtext about China is for Australia not to be a country that feeds the crocodile, hoping that the crocodile eats it last.    

Collectibles over which to drool 

Wry & Dry often doesn't see value where others do.  Take classic cars, for example.  Wry & Dry has some friends who drool at the very image of, say a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS.  Sigh.

But Wry & Dry is nothing if not ecumenical.  And so provides the following for those Readers who, err, drool.

Those drooling Readers will know that Hagerty Market Index tracks prices and volumes of classic cars in the Yoo-Ess-Ay.  The index is down 11.8% from a year ago and down 26% from its all time high in August 2015.

Long-term debt

Readers may not be aware that the UK government borrowed £20m (more than £2.4 billion in today's value, and about 5% of the UK's GDP at the time) in 1835 to fund the compensation bill for Brits who lost financially when slavery was abolished. 

The compensation arose from the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 and to pay 46,000 slave owners for the loss of their 'property', that is their possession of some 800,000 women, men and children in the Caribbean.   

Cartoon slave dosh

The loan, bearing an interest rate of 4% p.a, was finally paid off in 2015.

The slave-owners did what most receivers of government munificence would do (see more, below).  They spent it.  Inflation in the UK leapt to 10% in 1936, after being negative in 1935.  Real and nominal growth also leapt.

Keynes would have been happy.

Unclear on the concept

Victorian Greens Senate candidate Lidia Thorpe says Australians should openly discuss renaming Victoria because of its links to Australia's colonial past.

Wry & Dry has been poring over the history books in his library, searching for links between Queen Victoria and the state of Victoria.  The only possible link with the state named for her was that her first Prime Minister was William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. The Port Phillip District of New South Wales was renamed Melbourne in 1837 after the UK PM. 

But Wry & Dry suspects that the Queen knew nothing of Australia, much less Victoria.  And that Ms Thorpe knows even less.

Dead crypto-currency manager a fraudster

Readers will remember back in 2018 when Gerald Cotten, the founder of Canada's largest crypto-currency exchange, died in India.  He took to his grave the passwords to 'digital wallets' worth untold amounts. 

How much were the 'untold amounts'?

a.  $1 billion;

b.  $500 million;

c.  $100 million; or

d.  $0.

Close.  But no cigar.  The correct answer is d.  It now seems certain that the digital wallets were empty.  Gerald Cotten ran QuadrigaCX as a Ponzi scheme.  Cotten skillfully blended old fashioned fraud with new age technology.  Sensibly, Cotten's widow voluntarily surrendered most of her husband's estate's, of $40m.  But $120m is still missing, probably lost in personal account trading. 

Cartoon bitcoin

But wait!  There's more.  Indonesian police have captured one of the Yoo-Ess-Ay's most wanted fugitives for a $1 billion Bitcoin Ponzi scheme.  Russ Medlin was actually arrested for paedophilia, rather than for being the CEO of a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme known as Bitcoin Network.  Older readers will recall that this is similar to Al Capone, 1930s gangster, being arrested for tax evasion rather than murder.  [6]

[6] Capone famously said, "You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone."      

Men more responsible than women?  Really?

Readers will be aware that CV-19 caused many folk to dip into their superannuation investments.  Doubtless the money was well spent; food, debt repayments, etc.  Well, maybe not.  This week illion AlphaBeta released data that shows not only was not all of the money well spent, but that there were noticeable differences between the sexes.

Wry & Dry observes that this is another example of women being smarter than men.  Look at the bottom-most data series:

Chart gambling spend

Women spent 6% of their emergency superannuation fund withdrawals on gambling; men 12%.

Cartoon gambling


Snippets from all over 

1.  Australia's unemployment rate leaps

Australia's unemployment rate in May jumped to 7.1%, the worst in 19 years. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Surprising nobody.

2.  New Ziland's economy goes backwards

New Ziland's GDP fell 1.6% in the March quarter, the largest decline since 1991. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Not even Teflon Jacinda will prevent the June quarter being a disaster.

3.  US oil production plummets

US crude production hit its lowest point in more than two years last week, while stockpiles rose to a record high, showing the oil sector remains in the grip of a historic glut. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Production dropped to 10.5 million barrels per day, compared to 13 million b/d in March.

4.  EU chases rotten Apple

EU regulators have opened fresh investigations into Apple, saying restrictions imposed by the iPhone maker may have breached competition rules. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Yawn

5.  Charge!

The number of publicly accessible charging points for electric vehicles jumped 60% in 2019 to reach 862,118, according to the International Energy Agency's annual Global EV Outlook.

Wry & Dry comments:  There are 583 charging stations in Australia (see www.plugshare.com).

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...


Last words ...

“Some people say he's a racist.  I haven't personally met him. 

 -  Lorraine Jones, UK community activist and Chair of Lambeth Independent Police Advisory Group, when asked on UK television what she thought of Winston Churchill.

It's been a bad week for activists.  A protester at University of Oxford for the removal of Cecil Rhodes statue was asked on Tuesday why he was against Cecil Rhodes said, "To be honest I don't even know who he is."

Lucky to get a touch, really.  Might have possibly said, "I don't even know who he was."

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...has gone missing.  Again.