Squiz Today / 10 January 2024

Squiz Today – 10 January 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 8.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“What a fine young man!”

Said one internet commenter about France’s newly-appointed PM. At 34yo, he’s the youngest in history and also the first openly gay French PM. And as far as French cuisine goes, he is quite the dish…

Houston, we have a problem…

The Squiz

An American-led mission to make the nation’s first Moon landing in 50 years would have been a monumental moment – if things went as planned… But yesterday, just a few hours into the Peregrine lander’s journey, the team announced its mission is likely doomed. That was a bit of a comedown after the lander – owned by private US company Astrobotic Technology – successfully launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. But 7 hours later, they said it wasn’t likely to make it to the Moon by its 23 February deadline, if at all.

Eek… So what happened?

We’ll try to keep this straightforward… Astrobotic said despite the textbook launch, the Peregrine lander malfunctioned when it failed to point its solar panel towards the sun. That’s needed to power the battery for the journey and descent to the Moon. The team managed to get it turned toward the sun after a couple of hours but said the spacecraft was still suffering a “critical loss of propellant”, and they were turning the mission into a science/data retrieval project. Peregrine was the first commercial Moon launch attempt in the US, but NASA was still all over it. Shortly after Astrobotic’s announcement that all wasn’t well, NASA’s Joel Kearns said the setback was an opportunity “to learn and grow”. “Space is hard. We support our vendors and look forward to learning all we can,” the agency said.

What else is in the space pipeline?

For one, Artemis II – it’s NASA’s flagship program to get astronauts back on the Moon’s surface for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972. The goal was for 4 astronauts to be launched into space by November this year, but it’s also hit a snag, with NASA tipped to announce a months-long delay because more time is needed to make things safe. But enough about the US – let’s not forget Australia’s own Moon lander – named Roo-ver in a public vote run by the Australian Space Agency last year – is tipped to launch in 2026. Up, up, and away…

World News

Squiz the Rest

The end of a refining era

A big Western Australian alumina refinery is shutting down after almost 60 years, which will see at least 750 company employees and 250 contractors lose their jobs. The Alcoa plant south of Perth will stop producing alumina (the main component of aluminium) by September and will keep a small team after that. The refinery made a loss of nearly $200 million last year and has blamed the closure on the age of the plant plus rising production costs. Note: it takes a lot of energy to produce alumni… Premier Roger Cook says it’s a “disappointing” decision, and he expects Alcoa to do “everything it can to support its workforce through this transition”. Alcoa employs nearly 5,000 people in Australia – most in Western Oz. The company’s Mike Reed says the closure won’t impact its other refineries in the state.

Australian News

Mission Possible

We know our Defence Force has been pretty busy helping during and after Australia’s many and varied disasters – and they could be about to get a helping hand. PM Anthony Albanese is considering a separate Reserve Force to deal with these events after an extensive Defence review last year found the Army/Navy/Air Force could be distracted from their core roles of defending Australia. Around half of Australia’s 62,000 troops have been involved in helping out after the floods of the last couple of years, as well as the Black Summer bushfires in 2019/20. Speaking of floods: Queenslanders copped it yesterday, with flash-flooding to the south-west of Brisbane. And overnight, the EU Climate Service announced 2023 as the hottest year on record, at 1.48C above the long-term average. The times they are a-changin’…


Cash for killer catchers

Police are flashing the cash in the hope of catching some alleged murderers before time runs out… The first offer is for those who turn in James Dalamangas – he’s suspected of the stabbing death of George Giannopoulos in a Sydney nightclub in 1999. NSW Police believe Dalamangas fled to Greece, where authorities are more than willing to prosecute him – the problem is nobody knows where he is… Yesterday, NSW Police said there’s a $200,000 reward for information that leads to Dalamangas’s arrest. Closer to home for amateur sleuths is the disappearance of Leslie Ball, a Queenslander who vanished near Townsville in 1993. Ball’s body has never been found, and Queensland Police aren’t on the hunt for a specific suspect. They are offering a $500,000 reward for “information that may lead to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for Leslie’s disappearance”. Homegrown detectives, get on it…

Australian News

Plastic bottles and bottled plastic

Still, sparkling, or nanoplastics? New research from Columbia and Rutgers unis in the US has found that bottled water contains an average of 240,000 pieces of nanoplastics for every litre. A nanoplastic is a particle that’s less than a micron in size, and for those without an advanced science degree, a micron is a millionth of a metre. For reference, human hair is roughly 70 microns in diameter… So these plastics are teeny-tiny, which leads to their next question – whether the bottled microplastics are harmful. The fear is that the nanoplastics are small enough to get into individual cells. Speaking up for bottled water was the International Bottled Water Association (who knew?), which said there was “no scientific consensus on the potential health impacts of nano and microplastic particles”. At any rate, reusable rather than single-use bottles are recommended by people who know about this stuff… 

Environment & Science

Tearaway Tiger

One of sport’s longest commercial marriages has ended with Tiger Woods splitting with Nike after 27 years. Woods signed with the company when he turned pro in the 90s, and his polo shirts adorned with the Nike swoosh became an iconic sporting image. The $750 million Woods made out of the deal helped make him golf’s first billionaire – and gave Nike a foothold in a sport that wasn’t in its DNA. Some of the ads they made together over nearly 3 decades are classics – including some epic window smashing… Nike stood by Woods in 2009 when his career after a cheating scandal shattered his clean-cut image. More recently, Woods was involved in a car accident in 2021 that left him with serious injuries that continue to plague his career. After the 47yo confirmed the split yesterday, Nike responded, saying: “It was a hell of a round, Tiger.” Industry insiders say Nike is backing out of golf as a priority sport. 


Apropos of Nothing

While the show was declared a “near total disaster” by Vanity Fair – this year’s Golden Globes had a big win in the US TV ratings. The telecast had nearly 50% more viewers than last year – proving the only thing better than a good host is a bad one… 

Queen Camilla’s new podcast has just launched – and HRH has revealed her hubby, King Charles, “can do all the voices” when reading Harry Potter to his grandkids. We only get about 2 minutes of Camilla in The Queen’s Reading Room – so don’t hold out for many big reveals.

And rounding out the celebrity news: the coroner in Sinead O’Connor’s death has found that the singer died of natural causes, and said they are officially no longer on the case.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

ABS Data Release – Monthly Consumer Price Index indicator, November; Job Vacancies, November

Margaret Thatcher Day (Falkland Islands)

World Hindi Day

A birthday for singer Rod Stewart (1945) 

Anniversary of:

  • the establishment of the frontrunner to the United Nations, the League of Nations, as the Treaty of Versailles took effect (1920)
  • the deaths of Coco Chanel (1971) and David Bowie (2016)
Squiz the Day

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