SA Premier Steven Marshall and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (Image: AAP/Sam Wundke)

As the crow flies

In a piece of very welcome news for people who enjoy travelling to and/or fleeing from Adelaide, the border between New South Wales and South Australia was abruptly lifted at midnight. And it pretty much came out of nowhere. One minute SA Premier Steven Marshall was umming and ahhing about monitoring Sydney’s coronavirus clusters and whether there was adequate contact tracing, and the next it was like “Hey, everyone, all good. No quarantine, baby. Let’s rub it in Victoria’s face!” I’m paraphrasing, to be clear.

And while it helps reduce the awkwardness for the prime minister when he calls for Queensland or Western Australia to lift their border restrictions and some brave soul goes “Um, but SA and Tasmania are doing the exact same thing, Mr Morrison…?” the timing is interesting. Although it coincides with the school holidays — and if you’re primed for some hasty interstate family holiday action, go you! 

But Morrison’s been pretty lucky with COVID-related restrictions so far — like that one limiting crowds at events which conveniently began after an NRL game he was keen to attend (and which also happened to kick in after a Hillsong conference in Sydney).

And it’s probably coincidental that it coincides with Morrison popping over to Adelaide to help heal the factional wounds of Marshall’s remarkably accident-prone government at the state party’s weekend AGM.

Look, this reality won’t augment itself

Details about the new Oculus Quest virtual reality headset have been released by its corporate owners and oh, what an exciting piece of tech it is, according to a piece in The Conversation!

Oculus Quest 2 has a better screen and more processing power to handle the sheer amount of body monitoring the head- and handsets do (tracking about 90 times a second, one expert cited in the article said), and it’s cheaper! It’s going to have lots of cool virtual apps for distance collaboration, perfect for these pandemicky times, and all you’ll need is a compulsory Facebook login.

And if that seems an odd non-negotiable requirement, it’s because Facebook is the aforementioned corporate owners — it bought the company in 2014 and it seemed like maybe it was looking at expanding into next-gen gaming.

Now we have a much better idea of its business model – monetising your data and the data of everyone with whom you interact — and suddenly its interest in VR seems more a way to gain commercially useful information about you and your surroundings.

In its defence, it responded to questions from in 2019 about data capturing from headsets: “The only information we keep on our servers today consists of performance metrics that don’t contain any recognisable detail about your environment … We don’t collect and store images or 3D maps of your environment on our servers today.” And hoo boy, those “todays” are doing a lot of heavy lifting there.

Anyway, Oculus Quest 2 is great news for gamers looking for an immersive player experience just as much as it’s great news for anyone who wants Facebook to access all their identifiable biometric data as well.

It’s a win-win! Sort of.

Tony watch!

This week Tony Abbott begins his much-discussed gig as Boris Johnson’s very special trade adviser for the UK, helping the post-Brexit nation forge helpful alliances with important trading partners like [checks notes] the European Union and Australia.

And sure, there have been many comments about the baffling and divisive decision, how it’s a horrific conflict of interest given Abbott’s experience in Australian trade deals and less-than-stellar history as a canny negotiator.

But what’s not been acknowledged is how he’s united people in common cause. Like, for example, the peak trade unions of New Zealand, the UK and Australia who are petitioning for him to be booted due to well-placed fears of further erosions to international workers’ rights and environmental protections. 

The ACTU called out the secretive nature of the deal, asking whose side Abbott was on and noting: “Australian workers remember all too well that even when he was prime minister, Abbott’s deals did not favour Australians.”

To be fair, it’s likely the UK is looking for a deal which doesn’t favour Australians. Uppity bunch of convicts getting ideas above their station.