Wry & Dry

Politics laid bare. YOLO? Bye, bye.

Politics laid bare I

Good grief.  Two weeks of the worst of political bollocks.  The Yoo-Ess Presidential Conventions have always been a hybrid of a Nuremberg Rally [1], a Rolling Stones concert [2] and Best In Show [3].  Allow Wry & Dry to cut to the chases.  

To the left of Wry & Dry's fork:

1.  President O'Bama's eloquence (truly amazing) exceeded his presidential outcomes by an exponential factor of X, where X is a large number;

2.  President Willy Clinton's best years are even further behind him; 

3.  Rest assured: Sleepy Joe Biden can read from a teleprompter;

Cartoon Biden

4.  The Democrats best candidate was Jill Biden, Sleepy Joe's wife.  

Wry & Dry's rating: C.  The Democrats want to heal the planet, heal the wounds of racism, heal the American soul, etc.  This is therapy, not policy or politics.

To the right of Wry & Dry's soup spoon:

5.  A Hall of Fame entrant for shamelessness;

6.  The Trump Family resembles the Von Trapp Family: bullying patriarch, dutiful wife and spoiled children who are all told to sing from the same songbook;

7.  A policy success track record as slender as Kim Jong-Un is wide.  Baring a hairy chest, as it were, to China is hardly a success.  And that is work in progress. 

8.  When Wry & Dry heard Melania Trump speak glowingly of her husband, he couldn't believe a word of what she said.  She probably didn't either.

Wry & Dry's rating: C.  The Republicans want four more years of Not-A-Democrat-in-the-White House.  Even if that means having a lunatic there instead.

Oh, Death.  Where is thy sting?   

[1] The Nuremberg Rally was the annual convention of the Nazi Party in Germany, held from 1923 to 1938. They were large Nazi propaganda events.
[2] In their early years of performing, the Rolling Stones would undertake numerous short tours of the United Kingdom and North America, playing in small- and medium-size venues to audiences composed largely of screaming girls.
[3] Alongside The Party and the Death of Stalin, surely the most enduringly funny of all movies. 

Politics laid bare II

Across the globe Readers read the daily updates on CV-19 cases and CV-19 deaths.  In the Gulag of Victoria these two numbers now determine the happiness, or otherwise, of Victorians.  And also determine the action of government in governing the pandemic in exclusion to everything else.

Wry & Dry has three problems with this.  Walk with him as he explains...

Firstly, more useful (and admittedly lagging) and intelligible data lurks below the surface of simplicity.  For example, how many false positives were there in the daily count of CV-19 cases?  Or how many deaths have been ascribed to CV-19 that are plausibly deaths by other morbidities?

Cartoon file it as covid

Secondly, the Gulag has taken the form of virtue-signalling in the guise of vigilante behaviour.  Last Saturday, Wry & Dry stood inside his local cafe, sipping a coffee (mask dangling from one ear) whilst waiting for a take-away breakfast.  A passing person reported the cafe to the police.  The police duly turned up later, apparently sheepishly.  Thankfully, they showed commendable commonsense.  Wait for the lynchings.  Just sayin'.    

Cartoon melbourne masks

Thirdly, managing the outcome of the pandemic is not just about managing the pandemic.  It's about governing the state.  The government has taken a moralistic view of its role and is hiding behind the health bureaucrats and their data in its decision making.  

"Without extending public safety provisions (i.e. extending the State of Emergency for 12 months) there would be zero chance the State's Chief Health Officer would agree to easing restrictions," said the Premier.

Hold the phone, Wuhan Dan.  Are you really saying it's not you and your cabinet making decisions?  Is the State's Chief Health Officer the new Chairman? Really?  

Who is balancing (a) the current and future economic cost and other health costs of The Gulag with (b) health needs of those vulnerable to CV-19? 

No appearance, your worship.    

Technology corner

The amazing success of Tesla in China has obscured an interesting local innovation. Chinese EV maker Nio has introduced a battery-swapping plan that makes the price of an electric car about $10,000 cheaper.

Cartoon car batteries

Chinese Readers will buy their Nio EV without a battery.  And rent one.  Nio EV owners re-charge by simply having a fresh battery pack installed in a matter of minutes.

Battery-head Readers may wish to view how it works: Click here to download the video.

Rather like many toys from China: no batteries included.

FOMO.  FOGO.  YOLO.

Wry & Dry is an analog-manperson stuck in a digital world.  And that goes for the jargon that now infiltrates every aspect of Wry & Dry's life.  Some examples...

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out was born as a reason why society people attend every possible gathering.  FOMO has morphed (not found in Dr Johnson's lexicon [4]) into the reason why the US stock-market keeps defying gravity.

Cartoon johnson

FOGO.  Wry & Dry's local council has decided to collect household waste (other than recyclables) fortnightly instead of weekly.  Another bin has been born: FOGO:  Food Only, Green Only.  The rest of the non-food non-green waste now lies rotting alongside the overflowing fortnightly bin, a veritable feast for rats and possums.  The reason for the waste build-up?  Wry & Dry cannot use the council tip, as it is closed because of the Gulag.  Go figure.

YOLO: You Only Live Once.  Whilst the acronym YOLO has been around for some time, it has now become a financial product.  This is a product used by a social media website (Reddit) to encourage what it honestly calls speculative investment.  The number of subscribers has doubled since January to 1.4m.

Readers will recall that it was Sir Isaac Newton who said that he could “calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies but not the madness of people”. 

Nor of local councils.  Or of state governments.

[4]  Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755.  Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson's was the pre-eminent dictionary of the English language.  Johnson had a sense of humour, one entry being: "Oats: a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people".

Bye, bye Michael?

Some Readers will be aware of some fuss in the Victorian branch of the non-governing-in-Victoria Liberal Party.  Apparently some would-be-king-makers have been 'stacking branches' and trying to get people of a particular persona elected.  Nasty stuff, apparently.  No, not really.  The Liberals are amateurs at this sort of stuff.

But there are demands for heads to roll, especially a federal minister, Michael Sukkar.  Mr Sukkar has risen in government without trace.  He is now an Assistant Treasurer.  Allow Wry & Dry give Readers the whisper.  Mr Sukkar should not resign for branch stacking.  Or other nasty sand-pit misdeeds.

He should resign because he is not competent.  As shown by, inter alia, the fact that he was the 'numbers man' for wannabee Liberal Leader and Croesus Turnbull challenger, Peter Dutton.  A man who cannot count is Assistant Treasurer.  Sigh.

Bye, bye oil

Older Readers will remember Exxon as once being the world's largest company.  Exxon is a direct descendant of John D Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company. [5] 

How the mighty have fallen.  Exxon Mobil joins Pfizer and Raytheon Technologies in getting the DCM from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  In comes Salesforce.com, Amgen and Honeywell International.  

The actions were prompted when Apple, currently 12% of the 30-stock index, announced a stock split that reduced the weight of computer and software companies in the price-weighted average.

Tesla remains in the Dow waiting room.

[5] Rockefeller's net worth, on an inflation adjusted basis, peaked at about $400 billion.  Other moguls of that era: Andrew Carnegie (steel), Henry Ford (cars), John Astor (merchant), Cornelius Vanderbilt (railroads & shipping), etc all had wealth greater than today's #1: Jeff Bezos' (Amazon) $200 billion (see below).  

Meanwhile, back in 1960...

...Republican presidential contender, Richard Nixon refused to countenance challenging the election of John Kennedy, notwithstanding clear evidence of voter fraud in at least Illinois and Texas [6].  Nixon said that "presidential succession should never be questioned."  Kennedy pulled off the political crime of the century.

Wry & Dry now turns Readers to 2020, where Virus-What-Virus-Trump is threatening to challenge an adverse (to him) outcome.  Perhaps someone might remind him of Nixon's principled stance.  Not that any Republican will be listening. 

[6]  In Texas, for example, Fannin County had only 4,895 registered voters, yet 6,138 votes were cast in that county, three-quarters for Kennedy.  Texas was home to Vice-President candidate (and later President) Lyndon B Johnson.  

Virgin outcome

Wry & Dry's major memory of Ansett Airlines falling over (inconveniently whilst he was on vacation) was the hundreds of thousands of Frequent Flyer points that evaporated.  Not even the skilled hands of Messrs Korda and Mentha could bring them back.

The latest failure of Australia's #2 airline (this time: Virgin) has produced an almost similar result.  The Velocity points still exist, apparently, doubtless in a vault somewhere. But the vault is almost empty for unsecured creditors, who will likely lose about 90% of what they are owed, and empty for equity investors (including Singapore Airlines and Etihad) which will lose 100%.  

There must be a lesson in this. 

Unclear on the concept

Readers will be aware that the British Museum has removed a bust of its founding father from its pedestal.  And labelled him a “slave owner” in possibly an attempt to confront its links to colonialism. [7]

Sir Hans Sloane’s likeness has instead been placed in a secure cabinet alongside artifacts that explain his work in the “exploitative context of the British Empire”.  Sloane married well: he funded his collection partly using profits made from his wife’s family’s sugar plantation.

Cartoon BM

Readers will also be aware that one of the finest parts of the British Museum is the Elgin Marbles' exhibition. These are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures that were part of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. These were looted by the 7th Earl of Elgin, who sold them to the British government, which gave them to the museum. 

Of course, it is inappropriate to favourably consider works that were 'exploitative of the British Empire'.  But okay to exploit someone else's, in this case, the Ottoman Empire (which occupied Greece at the time of Elgin's looting). 

[7] It is possible that the British Museum has bowed to those who fail to understand history.  Sloane almost certainly owned slaves.  He was a doctor, naturalist, collector and philanthropist. He is credited with creating drinking chocolate. He bequeathed his amazing collection of books, manuscripts, drawings, coins etc to what became the British Museum.  More generally, Readers will be familiar with Sloane Square, Sloane Street and, critically, Sloane Rangers. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  Shrewd

Scottish government data shows that in FY-20 each Scot received £1,633 more public spending than the UK average and paid £308 less tax.

Wry & Dry comments:  Which shows how canny the Scots are.  It would be smarter not to be independent from the UK.  

2.  Who wants to be a billionaire?

The net worth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos eclipsed $200 billion on Wednesday as shares of the e-commerce giant climbed to a new record.  Elon Musk, the Tesla-man, saw his net worth reach $101 billion.  

Wry & Dry comments: These numbers are now so big as to be meaningless.

3.  Ant becomes an elephant

Ant Group (one third owned by Jack Ma's Alibaba Group) has filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai, in what is likely to be one of the biggest debuts in years, potentially topping even Saudi Aramco’s $29 billion initial share sale in 2019.

Wry & Dry comments: Wall Street banks including Citigroup, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are poised to share at least $300m in fees.  Nice work.  If you can get it.   

4.  Guns 'N Tents

Iconic small arms manufacturer Smith & Wesson will separate into a firearms business and an outdoor products business called American Outdoor.  Following the spin-off, American Outdoor will be a separate publicly-traded company independent from Smith & Wesson.

Wry & Dry comments:   Arguably, Smith & Wesson's most famous product is its .44 Magnum, famous in Dirty Harry movies.   

5.  Japanese Zero

Japan's core inflation rate landed at 0.0% in July, to miss the +0.1% mark anticipated by economists

Wry & Dry comments:  Expect no easing of massive monetary stimulus and ultra-low interest rates to support government fiscal spending.

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

Mike Pence got in a few good shots at Joe Biden, but his delivery and expression reminded me of the “before” scene in a laxative commercial.

 -  Bret Stephens, writing for the New York Times, on Vice President Michael Pence's convention speech.

Perhaps more a parody of himself. 

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

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

“And how is your mother-in-law and her husband-to-be, the Feather-Duster?” Wry & Dry asked.

“There is news, it would seem my mother-in-law is involved in some kind of scheme. A Ponzi scheme sales platform. And it’s not Tupperware either!” cried Deepak.

“That’s a relief those, plastic parties are quite a bore. But what is she selling? Not husbands?” Wry & Dry chuckled.

“Yes, you got it in one. My mother-in-law lures husbands, then trades them, sort of like a poker game. Looks for the highest bidder, then the husband is on-sold, that sort of thing.”

“You can’t sell husbands?” Wry & Dry said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

“That is what I have always thought, but apparently you can. I thought all her other husbands had died. Some did but others seem to have disappeared, or now I discover, were re-housed. I saw some documentation I shouldn’t have, but…”

“You looked anyway,” said Wry & Dry in an accusing tone.

“Ah huh” Deepak said with feigned guilt.

“What has this got to do with the Feather-Duster? I thought it was true lurv this time.”

“It’s true lurv for now. But it’s like this, Damshi marries the Feather-Duster and then after a few years she floats him, sees what interest there is on the market and then arranges for the highest bidder to woo him, while she loses her appetite for, vindaloo as it were. Jobs done.”

“Even though there is a pre-nuptial?” said Wry & Dry with surprise.

“Sure, that’s factored in. And at least all parties know exactly what they are negotiating. And what’s more, there are trailing commissions, 10% of all house-keeping, gifts etc etc of the new wife. In the event that the Feather-Duster is again traded to another partner, the whole scheme continues. My mother-in-law receives a payout figure as her trailing commissions would cease from the first sale event, and then she receives a percentage cut of the new deal moving forward, and so on and so forth…”

“Until the Feather-Duster dies, exhausted in bed with his 8th and very young wife,” sighed Wry & Dry.

“Yes, that’s right. Of course, there is a rate of depreciation factored in.”

“This is brilliant, evil, but brilliant. I worry about you Deepak.”

“I worry about me too, Mr. Wry & Dry!” Deepak wailed as he pulled curb side.

“I guess it could be worse,” said Wry & Dry thoughtfully.

“Not sure how? I could be sold by Davali,” said Deepak mournfully.

“No, I think the market is rather flat at present, I think you’ll be safe for at least this Christmas. Your goose is not quite cooked,” said Wry & Dry matter-of-factly.

Deepak sighed. “Women are such a highly evolved species. Just when you thought it was safe to leave the cave!” he wailed.

“Yes, that is what I think too Deepak, it’s tough being a man,” said Wry & Dry chuckling as he hopped out of the jalopy.

   - From the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry.

 

Cheers

Anthony