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Volume 328

Times are changing, so this week's coolsh*t is here to help you keep up. We’re bringing you the salon of tomorrow, swaying streetlamps, and the latest in Adidas’ mission to save the planet, one mushroom at a time.

Cut it Out.

With barbers and salons closed until only very recently, I, like millions of others, have been forced to sit idly by as my hair went on a journey to previously unchartered territories. It’s been emotional, but alas, all good things must come to an end. And now it appears that the company who cater to one of our great collective loves as a nation – buying sh*t off the internet – is here to provide an answer. You probably saw the Amazon till-less supermarket that popped up a couple months ago, and now they’ve ventured into the world of beauty. Or lack thereof, if you go to my sleepy barber. This week, Amazon announced the opening of the first Amazon Salon in Spitalfields, where they will be testing out all sorts of new AR tech, including an option for customers to virtually ‘try on’ new hairstyles before pulling the trigger. Just another step on the road to world domination. Although none of this is anywhere near as weird as being able to go to the Co-op and buy a scotch egg and a funeral under one roof.

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Living Light.

The world of tech usually feels pretty fast, so Amsterdam-based studio VOUW are slowing it down a little with their new streetlight design. In an attempt to mirror movement found in nature, the ‘Bloomlight’ sways like a tall blade of grass in the wind and is designed to appear as if it is ‘breathing’ like an organic creature. Using LiDAR scanners, it detects movement and will lean down to greet passers-by with a gentle light. So I assume these were designed primarily with pedestrians in mind – I don’t think we’re likely to see them down the side of the M25 any time soon. Mingus Vogel, co-founder of the project, says the lights have a profound impact on peoples’ mental states, describing it as “a very calming and inspiring experience’. Yeah, maybe – but only if you’re already expecting it. Not so much if it’s 3 in the morning and you’re walking home, pissed, eating a kebab and the streetlight starts creeping over your shoulder. I reckon that woman singing in the background might freak you out a bit too.

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Getting On.

I’m not sure if this is cool or not. On the one hand, it’s pretty interesting and makes for quite a compelling video. On the other, it might just be a reminder of our impending and inevitable destruction of the planet. But on the other other hand, that 4D sure does look slick. Google’s new ‘timelapse’ feature has compiled 24 million satellite photos to show the Earth changing in front of your very eyes. It documents almost four decades of planetary change, starting from the good ol’ days of 1984 when George Michael was carelessly whispering his way to the top of the charts, a pound of bacon cost £1.10 and nobody even knew what a European Super League was. It’s been interpreted fairly negatively overall, but, to be fair, I feel like Dubai actually looks way better now. They went from barren desert to luxury influencer safe haven in under 40 years. They’ve even got a Saltbae restaurant now. I’ll take a Turkish butcher flamboyantly sprinkling salt on a ribeye over a healthy planet any day. That’s called progress, people.

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Morel High Ground.

Alright, perhaps we are doing a number on the planet – but fear not, because Adidas have a solution. That’s great! What is it? Safe nuclear power? Electric cars? Carbon capture technology? No, it’s way better than any of that – they want us to all walk around with mushrooms on our feet. Hmm, not quite what we were expecting, but we move. Adidas have rendered the iconic Stan Smith silhouette in Mylo – a new innovative material which looks and feels just like leather but is actually made of mushrooms. And it gets better, as it’s made of mycelium, which comes from the nasty underground roots of the mushroom, so you can use that bit to make some trainers and save the top for a beautiful casserole. Win/win.

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Don't Blink.

The speed of progress can be terrifying. One day, you’re rubbing two sticks together to create a fire, and the next, you’re sitting in an Amazon salon trying on a virtual perm. It can often feel as if life is passing in the blink of an eye – but in this game, it actually is. ‘Before Your Eyes’ is an online game that uses your webcam to advance the story as you blink. Providing a poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of life, no matter how much you happen to be enjoying a particular sequence, you can’t stay for long. Unless you tape your eyes open like some sort of CIA Cold War psychological experiment from the 1950s – although I don’t think they recommend that. Each time you blink, you’ll be transported forwards in time – possibly seconds, but possibly years – on what becomes a journey centred around the acceptance of life, but also of death. Blimey, so it’s not exactly Fortnite then. Get the tissues at the ready. Partly for the emotional bits, but mainly for the strain of trying not to blink for a couple hours.

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Unless you live in a cocoon of ignorance, you’ll be aware of the clash of caterpillars that has been bubbling away this past week. M&S threatened legal action unless Aldi discontinued their ‘Cuthbert the Caterpillar’ cake because they claimed it infringed on the IP of their own ‘Colin the Caterpillar’. No clue where they got that idea from – seems fine to me. But what’s really bizarre is going after Aldi, who are notorious for this, when almost every supermarket has a version – including Waitrose’s Cecil, Tesco’s Curly, Asda’s Clyde, and Sainsbury’s Wiggles (who obviously missed the alliterative memo). Plus Aldi actually stopped selling the cake back in February, so something’s definitely fishy here. Not the cakes, that would be a problem. Aldi then suggested the two join forces and raise money for Macmillan, but M&S essentially replied, “piss off get ur own cake u bastards” (paraphrased). So, overall, it’s all a bit confusing. There are rumours that it’s a coordinated PR dupe, but if it is, then you’ve got to feel that M&S scored a bit of an own goal with the whole refusing to give money to a cancer charity bit. Something tells me this war isn’t over. Watch this space.

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