Scott Morrison JobKeeper covid-19
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Ratio ga-ga

If you don’t spend half your life navigating the glorious hellscape of Twitter, you may not be across the concept of being “ratioed”.

The term is used when the replies to your post noticeably outnumber the likes or retweets, because on Twitter people who agree with a post will generally just hit “like”, and people who disagree will explain why in all caps. Thus the ratio of comments to likes works as a great indicator that what you just said is incredibly unpopular and/or stupid.

It’s something which is particularly embarrassing if you’re a public figure like, say, the prime minister of Australia — but fortunately getting ratioed simply doesn’t happen to Scott Morrison. In fact, it would appear that whenever the comments start to get overwhelming, hundreds of patriotic Australians jump onto Twitter to ensure that the likes keep steady pace.

In fact, an unkind observer might think it almost looks as though bots are hastily deployed by someone on the PMO’s comms team whenever a tweet meets with a negative response.

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This pattern came to light thanks to Daniel Bleakley of Access Disrupt, who pointed out in a thread how a Morrison tweet about keeping “COVID safe” garnered a lot of comments which were matched one-for-one by likes over time in a way that seemed oddly inorganic and click-farmish.

The thread briefly saw #scottsbots become the number one nationally trending hashtag earlier this week, before people got a bit distracted by something or other happening in the US.

Even so, it’s worth noting that it’s not happening consistently on all of Scott’s tweets, which mainly have dozens of likes rather than hundreds — which seems like surprisingly low engagement for the leader of a country. Maybe he needs to drop more dank memes.

In any case, at least it shows that if Twitterbots are prepared to have a go, they’ll get a go.

Cars: crashed

There was a collective wail of sorrow among South Australia’s petrolhead community when the news came down that the annual Adelaide 500 Supercars race would not return in 2021… or ever again.

For the last two decades the race had been the somewhat down-market replacement for the Grand Prix which Adelaide proudly hosted until Melbourne crept over the border in the dead of night and stole it, and the race was an important element of the city’s signature “let’s do all our major events in the same fortnight” policy.

But support for the race was withdrawn by the SA Tourism Commission in late October, with Premier Steven Marshall explaining that due to COVID-19 it would be “unviable in 2021 and quite frankly unviable going forward”.

Weirdly, though, no one can find this COVID-19 advice which supposedly led to the cancellation of the event.

Indeed, chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier helpfully told reporters: “We weren’t approached about the Supercar race at all … There are always ways of working around and making things safer but in this instance, we were not approached so we haven’t had any opportunity to feed into that process.”

And given that the government is seemingly still determined to still hold some sort of Adelaide Festival, Fringe and WOMADelaide next year, there’s no obvious reason why a car race would be more of a risk than being confronted by a gaggle of intrusive jugglers determined to busk at you when you’re trying to eat a $17 burger in the east parklands.

Sustain unsustainable

When you think of the great victims of global warming, chances are you don’t automatically think of bitchin’ axes and the companies that make them. Yet Fender, the venerable guitar makers beloved by rock gods and tiresome tone geeks the world over, has announced that extreme weather is screwing up their sweet six-strings.

Honestly, it’s almost as though this climate change thing isn’t even worth doing anymore.

The company is having to phase out the use of “swamp ash” (green ash trees which are submerged in river water for a few weeks a year) in their standard Telecasters and Stratocasters because the wood is becoming near-impossible to source.

The scarcity is the result of increased levels of flooding of the lower Mississippi River which is drowning the young seedlings early in the season and making the areas where the trees remain increasingly impossible for loggers to access.

And if that wasn’t enough, the trees are also facing the imminent arrival of the emerald ash borer, an invasive species which has been merrily wiping out ash groves in the northern US and Canada since making its way over from Asia. It’s been heading relentlessly south toward Mississippi in recent years and, presumably, is really more into EDM.

Fender is trying to find a replacement wood for its guitars — and if you’ve ever endured listening to audio nerds argue over digital versus analogue, rest assured that it will have nothing on guitar nerds bickering about whether you can get the same attack with a red maple body or whether it just sounds more warm, you know?

And that’s a wrap!

And with that, we’re calling time on The Week That Was. Thank you so much for reading this rambling thing over the last cursed year, and here’s hoping 2021 is more catastrophe-light for all of us.

Keep up with Andrew P Street at his Patreon.