Squiz Today / 02 February 2022

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 2 February

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Squiz Today Podcast

It’s your hands-free news briefing.

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

20 / 24
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10 / 19
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Squiz Sayings

“We have treated this time as a rest day…”

Said Olympic curlers Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt who were put in isolation after Gill tested positive for COVID on arrival into Beijing on Monday. A subsequent negative test means the pair are set to start competition today and make history as the first Aussies to compete in the sport at the Games. [Madly types ‘how to do curling’ into search…]

Wordle turns letters into dollars


The New York Times has bought viral word game Wordle for a 7-figure sum. Which by our maths is somewhere between US$1,000,000-9,999,999 million… Created by Brooklyn software engineer Josh Wardle, the Wordle website gives players 6 guesses to determine a 5-letter word. It launched in October as a way for Wardle to entertain his word-puzzle-loving partner and family, but it’s quickly attracted 3 million players. “I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been a little overwhelming. After all, I am just one person,” he said yesterday


You mean you’re not as obsessed as many of The Squiz team? Ok… It kinda looks like an online crossword, but has more in common with code-cracking. The aim is to guess the word in as few goes as possible. When players go to the website, they find an empty 6×5 cube and a keyboard that’s perfect to use on your smartphone. You start by typing in any old word (and there’s a whole science to that…), and it will tell you how you went. A green brick indicates that the letter is correct and in the exact location; a yellow brick that the letter appears in the word but in a different place; and a grey brick means the letter doesn’t appear anywhere in the word. And on you go until you get it – or not. The thing that took it from a family affair to blowing right up was when Wardle included the feature to share your result on social media without spoilers – he did that in January and kaboom… And devotees appreciate the “no frills” website sans popups, and that you only get one crack at it a day.


It says it reflects the growing importance of games like crosswords in the company’s quest to increase paid digital subscriptions to 10 million by 2025. So does that mean you’ll have to pay for a Times subscription to play? Wardle says it will still be free. But the Times’s statement was armed with a careful caveat, saying it would “initially” remain free to “new and existing players”. That had some online smelling a rat. The Times put up a paywall on its online news offering in 2011. Its general business strategy has revolved around persuading readers – the overwhelming majority of whom get their content digitally – to buy a sub. That’s a break from the traditional media business model centred on advertising. The movement of that ad money to big tech companies like Facebook and Google has been a factor in most big commercial news outlets growing their digital subscription strategy.

Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Putin says US has ‘ignored’ Russia’s concerns about Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the US of trying to pull it into an armed conflict over Ukraine that Russia doesn’t want. In his first public comments about Ukraine in months, Putin said the US has ignored Russia’s key security concerns about western-backed NATO troops being stationed in Eastern Europe, an area previously controlled by the Soviet Union. Putin appeared alongside Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at a news conference in Moscow in a flurry of diplomacy that’s being seen by commentators as an attempt to defuse the crisis. America’s representatives used a UN Security Council meeting yesterday to reiterate concerns about the 100,000-plus Russian troops currently stationed along Ukraine’s border. The US wants a peaceful resolution to the crisis but warns it’ll act swiftly if Russia invades. Putin told reports that he wants to avoid war with NATO but added, “I’m not yet ready to talk about what kind of solution it will be.” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky, said he wants Putin to pull back from the brink. Johnson said the UK and its allies are ready to launch economic sanctions “the moment the first Russian toe-cap crosses further into Ukrainian territory”.

World News

Interest rates stay put, home prices and inflation do not…

As analysts expected, the Reserve Bank has left interest rates at 0.1%, but has upgraded its inflation forecast. Last year, our central bank said it didn’t expect rates would go up until 2024 given the massive shock of the pandemic and the need to encourage spending and investment to get Australia’s economic wheels degunked. But resilience seems to be our fiscal middle name, and last week’s higher-than-expected inflation update prompted forecasters to predict a rate hike this year. The RBA says it’s keeping an eye out but wants to see the wages growth that usually accompanies inflation. Yesterday, PM Scott Morrison acknowledged that cost of living concerns will be a top-order election issue. And these themes aren’t lost on homebuyers either with the latest CoreLogic data revealing Melbourne’s median home price surpassed $1 million in January, joining Sydney and Canberra. Overall, the analysts say the long-term outlook is that growth is “softening”, so that’s something for those looking for a step onto the property ladder… 

Business & Finance

Spotlight on bad workplace behaviour

Staff at global miner Rio Tinto are being subjected to alarming rates of sexual assault and harassment, racism and bullying in the workplace, according to a report by the former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick. She was commissioned by the company to survey more than 10,000 of Rio’s 45,000 workers from remote mine sites to corporate HQ. She found that poor workplace behaviour was common, and a “culture of silence” stopped people from reporting it. Boss Jakob Stausholm said he felt “shame and enormous regret” and committed to systemic change. The culture at Network 10 was also in the spotlight yesterday after federal political reporter Tegan George accused her employer of unlawful conduct via a Federal Court claim. The network’s political editor/part-time host of The Project Peter Van Onselen was named, along with other senior employees of the network. It could be heading to court so the company wouldn’t comment.

Australian News

Anne Frank’s betrayal case not cracked

Remember the recent story about a team of historians and criminologists cracking the riddle behind who gave up Jewish girl Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis in WW2? The investigation and subsequent book is full of errors… To recap: they accused Jewish community leader Arnold van den Bergh of betraying the Franks in order to protect his own family in Amsterdam. The case-cracking claims aired on ​​60 Minutes in the US and went global, but in the fortnight that’s followed, the case has crumbled. Members of the investigative team told Dutch media that they never claimed to have uncovered the complete truth and estimated that their theory had a “probability percentage” of at least 85%. The author has now been asked to respond to the criticism. “We offer our serious apologies to anyone who might feel offended by the book,” the book’s publisher said while delaying further print runs.

World News

Moist in Queensland

That word will make you almost as uncomfortable as those living in the parts of Queensland that reached 38C yesterday. The southeast of the state is experiencing a “severe heatwave”, the weather bureau says. And forecaster Pieter Claassen said the temps aren’t the worst of it with humidity levels reaching “particularly oppressive” levels. We’re talking a dripping 90%, which is basically like walking through moisture. Soz but the muggy conditions are set to continue for the next couple of days. Just on humidity, a new US study has highlighted the importance of measuring humidity – not just temperatures – in determining the impacts of climate change. After factoring in humidity, researchers found climate change since 1980 is nearly twice as yuck as previously calculated – something the muggy-allergic will shout ‘do you think?’ Makes you sweat just thinking about it…


Apropos of Nothing

Popstar/business genius Rihanna is preggers/expecting her first child with boyfriend/muso A$AP Rocky – revealed via a too-well-placed-paparazzi for it not to be stage-managed. Those of a certain age know that actress/mega-influencer Gwenyth Paltrow pioneered that move… 

American uni student Jack Sweeney has created a bot to track and publish to Twitter where Elon Musk’s jet is going. “I just knew it would reveal what business is going on and where he is going and stuff,” he said. The world’s richest man says it’s a security risk and wants it taken down – but not enough to pay Sweeney the US$50,000 he’s demanding… 

What a world, eh. It’s enough to want to go remote and move in with some polar bears

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Philip Lowe, addresses the National Press Club – Sydney

War veteran Ben Roberts Smith defamation trial against The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age resumes after a 6-month break – Sydney

ABS Release – Sexual Assault – Perpetrators, February 2022

World Read Aloud Day

World Wetlands Day

Crêpe Day

Groundhog Day in the US and Canada

Anniversary of:
• New Amsterdam (later known as New York) becoming incorporated as a city (1653)
• the Australian Premiers’ Conference deciding to locate Australia’s capital (Canberra) to the coldest place they could find between Sydney and Melbourne (1899). Ok, we might have added the ‘cold’ bit…

Squiz the Day

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