Squiz Today / 15 December 2020

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 15 December


“A wine collector’s ultimate dream.”

Said Tamara Grischy from wine auction house Langton’s of a rare complete set of Penfolds Grange that sold on Sunday for a record price of… $431,000. With Chrissy coming up, it’s 64 bottles for that hard-to-buy-for person…


In a sign that we’re getting through the suspended animation that has been COVID-19, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern yesterday said a trans-Tasman travel bubble is on the cards for the first quarter of next year. Victoria’s second wave saw early plans shelved, but it’s back on...

All Australian states (except for WA…) are currently receiving Kiwis without the requirement to quarantine for 2 weeks after Queensland opened its border last week. Providing the virus stays under control, Ardern’s announcement would see Kiwis able to return home without quarantining, and Aussies able to visit and return quarantine-free too. "I think New Zealanders desperately need a break," she said. And so do Aussies, of course. To that end, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the arrangement is "absolutely" possible and would benefit both countries if the $16 billion tourism market was restarted.

Across Australia, there's been one locally-acquired case of coronavirus so far in December. That and the eradication of the virus from Victoria means there's cause to be cautiously optimistic. And we're better equiped to deal with future outbreaks. A report from a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the outbreak released yesterday said the state’s manual data processes for its virus testing and tracing systems were easily overwhelmed as new cases grew rapidly. Today, its systems are fully digitised with the report saying the state’s now prepared to handle future cases.



Cool your jets, turbo. Many nations are struggling to contain the virus, particularly as the northern hemisphere sinks into winter. Just in time for Christmas, Germany is going into a hard lockdown on Wednesday as non-essential businesses close until 10 January. It's recording more than 20,000 new cases a day, and officials say there will soon be an intensive care bed shortage. South Korea is seeing a third wave of cases with President Moon Jae-in declaring an emergency there. It’s now facing its first lockdown. And London is one of several areas of England that will see harsher restrictions this week after a new, fast-spreading strain of the virus was detected. But in the US, vaccinations have started with a critical care nurse in New York the first to receive the jab. Globally, more than 72.4 million people have been infected with COVID, and 1.6 million people have died. There are 47.4 million people who have recovered from the virus.


A saturated weekend turned into a wet and wild Monday between Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and Port Macquarie in NSW’s Mid North Coast as extreme weather wreaked havoc yesterday. Heavy rain and flooding, strong winds and king tides had the weather bureau likening conditions to a category 1 cyclone. At Byron Bay in Far North NSW, trees and retaining walls topped with 8-metre waves pounding the coast causing more worrying erosion. The good news for battered souls: conditions are set to ease today/early tomorrow as the weather system moves south and will hit Victoria with heavy rain later this week. If you’re in NSW and hoping for a sunny run-up to Christmas - forget it. The weather system is forecast to chuck a U-turn on Friday, hitting the state with yet more rain. So much for summer, eh?


The publication of an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal urging incoming First Lady Dr Jill Biden to drop the title didn’t find a lot of support yesterday. Writer/academic Joseph Epstein appealed to her directly in the piece: “Madame First Lady - Mrs Biden - Jill - kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr’ before your name?” And it went downhill from there… Dr Biden - who has a doctorate of education - responded that she wanted to “build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.” Epstein’s defenders say his point was simply about PhDs using ‘Dr’. And the WSJs editorial editor Paul Gigot said “If you disagree with Mr Epstein, fair enough… But these pages aren’t going to stop publishing provocative essays,” he said. Which seems like an interesting hill to die on as the Biden administration prepares to take office in a month… Just on that, the Electoral College vote is underway - and there are no surprises so far. You can watch it unfold here.


Spy novel master John le Carré died on Saturday from pneumonia at 89yo, it was confirmed yesterday. The British author - real name David Cornwell - worked for spy agencies MI5 and MI6 during the 50s and 60s, and his work “explored the gap between the West’s high-flown rhetoric of freedom and the gritty reality of defending it.” His first novel Call For The Dead introduced George Smiley, the now-famous literary character. But it wasn't until le Carré’s third novel - The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - that he found commercial success. In his later life, he continued to write prolifically and spoke out against big pharma, the war on terror, and Brexit. His literary agent Jonny Geller called le Carré an “undisputed giant in English literature” who “fearlessly spoke truth to power”. Some pics of his life are here.


When singers talk about a ‘crossover’, it’s usually to act. Not Aussie Cody Simpson… To date, he’s known as a recording artist, and “as a leading man on Broadway, publishing a work of poetry,”. Ok, maybe he's not celebrated for his poetry… But he’s also a good friend of Justin Bieber and an ex of Miley Cyrus. But before all that he was a promising swimmer, and yesterday said he’s back in the pool and has qualified to compete in the 100m butterfly at the Olympic trials in June 2021. “I'm here to tell you can do absolutely ANYTHING if you are willing to work for it,” Simpson said. As Nine’s Sydney news presenter Georgie Gardner said after checking out his form last night, he’s “a talented guy”…


A decision expected in actor Craig McLachlan’s trial over assault claims - Melbourne

ABS Data Release - Gender Indicators; Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia; Overseas Travel Statistics, November

International Tea Day

Anniversary of:
• Gone with the Wind’s premiere (1939)
• the Soviet Union's Venera 7 becoming the first spacecraft to land on another planet (Venus) (1970)
• the deaths of musician and composer Glenn Miller (1944), animator and producer Walt Disney (1966) and actress Joan Fontaine (2013)

And it’s 10 days until Christmas…

The Squiz Archive

Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.