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Volume 357

Is this world real? Are we? This week’s coolsh*t features some space and time ontological oxymorons. We’re bringing you virtual Versace, global keepy-up competitions, and a dinner that's literally out of this world.

Popping Off.

For a ‘sport’ to go from TikTok trend to a full-blown world cup in under 2 years is quite impressive. The inaugural Balloon World Cup took place in Barcelona last week, and it was exhilarating. The cup was born thanks to an unlikely duo: a Spanish Twitch streamer and FC Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, whose interest was piqued by the viral video so much that he tweeted to his 20.1 million followers last year that if he received 50,000 likes, he would organise the competition. The tweet was liked by over 70,000 people, and Pique stuck to his word. He’s married to Shakira, so clearly that’s a household that really values truth, whether of hips or of promises about balloon keepy-up competitions. 32 participants gathered from all over the world – from Mongolia to Russia to the U.K. – but ultimately there could be only one winner: Peru’s Francisco de la Cruz. Think this is just silly? Well, the competition was watched by over 6 million people on Twitch. And most sports are a bit silly, anyway – at least at first. Football’s basically just a simulated war game with less blood involved. Unless a prime Roy Keane is playing and he hasn’t had his Weetabix.

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It's Like a Sauna in Here.

Fun fact: Finland, with a population of just 5.3 million, has over 2 million saunas. That means that each person only has to share a weird, hot, wooden box with about 1 and a half other sweating, naked, Finns. That really is decadence. Evidently Japan doesn’t benefit from that same luxury, as they’re ramming dozens of sauna seekers onto a disused bus. That sounds like a nightmare, but it’s not quite as bad as it first appears. The bus has been thoroughly converted into a fully-functioning, wood-burning sauna, complete with a working ‘STOP’ button that activates sprinkles of water on the heated sauna stone, steaming the bus and the passengers. And if that still sounds awful, then maybe you need to get over yourself, yeah? Besides, it can’t be so different to a musty London bus during the height of summer.

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Astro Tacos.

The outside temperature at the International Space Station gets as low as -156 Celsius, so it’s safe to say it’s a little chilly in space. However, this week there was a little chilli in space, as the astronauts aboard the ISS harvested their peppers for the first ever fajita fiesta held in space. That was a long walk for a shit pun, but this has been the taco the town in the space travel community this week. Sorry, I’m done now. The chilli peppers were the first that have been produced from NASA’s Plant Habitat-04 project, which is working towards the goal of making other worldly food production a reality. Following four months of growing, some peppers were eaten, and the rest were sent back to earth for analysis. Truth be told, I didn’t realise that this was what NASA had been working on all this time. Now I can see why we haven’t made it back to the moon since the 60s.

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I’m not going to over explain this one, as I don’t think I’m qualified (or willing) to do so. Long story short: people are buying virtual clothes that don’t actually exist other than on a screen. That might not sound terribly ground-breaking given the recent advent of NFTs and the fact that people have genuinely spent thousands on digital racehorses, but just bear with me a second. While a lot of NFTs are obviously a bit silly and gimmicky, digital fashion (and particularly digital fashion designers) takes itself entirely seriously. It is essentially seen as the natural progression from the ‘Skins’ that players are able to buy on video games, e.g. Fortnite, which is a multi-billion dollar industry in itself – so is it so far-fetched that this might catch on? Or have things gone properly mad now? This stinks of Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Theory, which has been propagated by Wetherspoons philosophers since 2003. It states that if it is possible that we could create a simulation that is indistinguishable from reality, then, statistically, the odds that we are not currently living in one such simulation are miniscule. So, is this the next step in our current simulation creating its own simulation? Or have those people chatting about it just had too many 3 for £5 jaegerbombs? Or both? The possibilities are literally endless in the simulation.

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Bunch of Melts.

Stop-motion animation seems like a hellishly labour-intensive and time-consuming way of making a video. There’s a reason Wallace & Gromit came out over 30 years ago now. The world has moved on. We’ve got a metaverse now, you know. However, there are some filmmakers out there still flying the stop-motion flag – presumably by moving it in tiny increments. But even that’s not enough for these bunch of masochists at Nomint, who decided to make their lives 1000x more difficult and stressful by creating the WWF’s latest video using stop motion polar bear ice sculptures. 500 of the little bastards, to be precise. The film is a reminder that “we can’t negotiate with the melting point of ice.”. Ironically, it’s pretty chilling stuff. The goal is to encourage all those various world leaders at this week’s Cop26 conference to take substantive action – now. I’m sure they’ll listen – they’re a pretty clued-up bunch. They wouldn’t do anything silly, like, say, flying privately from London to Glasgow for a climate conference, of all things. Or rocking up with a ten-vehicle-strong motorcade. Neither of which are even slightly funny. Not a bit…

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Bounty Hunters.

I said it last week and I’ll say it again today: it’s November now, so it’s basically Christmas. And I don’t want to hear any lip about starting the countdown too early. After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year. Unless you’re a Bounty, in which case it’s a miserable reminder of just how undesirable you really are. You may feel some sympathy for the humble Bounty there, but don’t. If you open up a box of Celebrations this Christmas and somebody reaches for that waxy disaster of a confection first, keep an eye on that person, because they’re a nutter. Or a coconutter, perhaps. But this Bounty-based discrimination is a very real thing, with a recent survey finding that a majority of Brits (52% – which is a slim majority, but was enough to take us out the EU, so isn’t to be sniffed at) declaring it their least favourite chocolate. Mars have taken action, launching the Bounty Return Scheme to spare the unwanted ‘treats’ from being thrown away. The scheme allows you to take your boycotted Bounties to a local Coop and swap them for Maltesers Teasers, starting on January 17th. I guess that New Year diet can wait till February.

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