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Volume 359

Game, set, match, coolsh*t. This week, we’re making a racket by serving up a tennis ball art exhibition. On top of that, we’ve got computational custodians, bench buds, and a hard-hitting way to combat procrastination.

Have a Ball.

Art exhibitions are great and all, but they rarely provide you with an ample supply of fresh tennis balls. Well, thanks to David Shrigley, that’s all about to change. Get yourself down to the Steven Friedman Gallery near Oxford Circus to participate in Shrigley’s ‘Mayfair Tennis Ball Exchange’ and take a new fuzzy friend home with you. Typically touching the art is thoroughly discouraged, but in this case, you’re actually being encouraged to do so – just on one condition: you put a tennis ball of your own back in its place. I wish all exhibitions worked like that. I’d happily chuck the Mona Lisa in a duffle bag and replace it with a picture I drew of a horse friend when I was 3. The beautiful smell of fresh tennis balls has already dissipated and is being swiftly replaced by the hum of decaying plastic, so get down there ASAP before all the good balls are gone. I heard it’s ace.

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Cleaning Up.

Now with almost 150,000 permanent employees, Google has been responsible for creating a ton of jobs over the last couple decades. However, the board at Alphabet have obviously decided that they need to rein it in a bit, as they’re replacing their cleaning staff with a fleet of experimental robots. There would be something very dystopian about being told: “Sorry Julian, we’re going to have to let you go. It’s not you; you’ve been doing a great job – but just look how cool these cleaning robots are?”. And it would really rub it in when as you’re walking out you hear, “Oh, and could you hand the robot your mop, please? Thanks, I’m off to the golf course”, followed by the noise of a jet-pack taking off (I assume that’s the type of thing that happens at Google). The project, termed ‘Everyday Robots’, will see 100 prototypes set loose on Google offices to perform useful, everyday tasks. So, what do we reckon? An inevitable and innovative next step? Or should poor old Julian get his mop back?

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What a Find.

Users of Depop will be familiar with the rush of buying an item of clothing and flipping it for even a measly profit. Anything over £30 in the black and you can’t help but feel compelled to write the next ‘Art of the Deal’. However, those profits are mere pocket change in the context of this story. In fact, I don’t think it would even qualify as pocket change – more like a tiny crumb leftover from a packet of Quavers you had for lunch. One either very lucky or very smart Massachusetts man has apparently managed to turn $30 into $50million after experts all but confirmed that a drawing he picked up at an estate sale 4 years ago is actually an original by German Renaissance painter, Albrecht Dürer. And unlike an NFT, you can actually touch it. Although you probably shouldn’t – it’s from 1503 so might be a tad delicate. Hopefully the bloke doesn’t get shafted by some poxy authority labelling the work ‘priceless’ and forcing him to donate it to a museum.

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Haven’t you heard? People are lonelier than ever. In fact, you may not have heard, as there might be nobody around to let you know. Particularly during the time of multiple lockdowns and seemingly endless, soul-destroying Zoom quizzes (a time that is still going on in certain parts of the world), a lack of real human interaction started sending people a bit potty. Now that most countries have permitted people to emerge from the confines of their own homes, some are realising that they’ve still got no friends and perhaps it wasn’t just the pandemic holding them back. One such measure to combat this ‘loneliness epidemic’ can now be seen in Krakow, as Alisson Owen Jones’ ‘Discussion Benches’ have been rolled out across the city. The idea is pretty simple: certain benches are marked ‘Happy to Chat’, and if you sit on one, you’ve essentially entered into a binding covenant to have a natter. Well, I say they’re clearly marked, but I didn’t notice a 20-foot Christmas tree in the office yesterday, so some people are definitely going to miss the sign and be left sat there thinking, ‘why won’t this lunatic stop talking to me?’.

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Elon Musk really gets about, doesn’t he? So much so that I wonder if perhaps he’s managed to clone himself/create a few convincing humanoid replicas. Either that or he’s got that magic watch from Harry Potter that allows you to be in more than one place at a time. All of those are genuine theories that can be found on the Qanon sub-Reddit. When he’s not making cars, digging tunnels, launching satellites, insulting divers, or causing the stock market to pivot on its axis based on a tweet, he likes to mess about with space travel. However, for somebody hell-bent on getting off this planet, his latest venture is actually designed to protect it. SpaceX and NASA have just launched a joint project, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which will fire rockets into asteroids plummeting towards our shores in an attempt to send them elsewhere. That sounds incredibly noble, but success in this mission would completely alter humanity’s relationship with the solar system, essentially making it possible to perhaps one day go full-on supervillain and rearrange planets on a whim. Gulp.

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Happy Slaps.

Do you spend too much time on social media? Do you reckon you might spend less time if somebody smacked you in the face every time you got off-track and started mindlessly scrolling? No, I’m not threatening you, but that is actually somebody’s current job description. Maneesh Sethi is an Indian-American entrepreneur who hired an underling to slap him whenever he went on Facebook. This started back in 2012, so you might be wondering how he’s managed to winkle his way into this week’s coolsh*t. Well, that’s because this wasn’t a short-lived affectation, he’s still doing it almost a decade later. Sadly, it hasn’t been the same person for that entire period – Sethi now uses Craigslist to facilitate a constant flow of slappers (that could be misinterpreted). I think he needs someone to slap him every time he goes on Craigslist. What a vicious cycle of sore cheeks that could be. What’s really mad, though, is that he claims it actually works, having quadrupled his productivity (not sure how he managed to quantify that). Either that or it’s him himself that’s really mad. Hope nobody gets any ideas for the looming December 2022 business planning meetings.

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