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Volume 381

This may be the last ever coolsh*t written by human hands, because soon we shall all be replaced by robots. We’ve got AI artistry, fantastic plastic, and the potential return of a couple of erstwhile idols. All that, plus the latest episode of the coolsh*t podcast.

We're Fired.

How do I word this without sounding like a Luddite? Here goes: this machine will be the end of us, and we absolutely must destroy it. Nailed it. Those in the creative industries probably liked to think that they were immune from the technological revolution that has put many librarians, checkout staff and parking inspectors out of a job. But lo and behold, a robot is perfectly capable of doing a creative’s job, too. And the robot will probably never turn up for work hungover. Artificial intelligence research group OpenAI has created a new version of DALL-E, its text-to-image generation program. DALL-E 2 produces pictures depicting descriptions written by users, and the results are spectacular. The aptly titled “Teddy bears mixing sparkling chemicals as mad scientists, steampunk” is a personal favourite. Hang it in The Louvre.

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Horticulture Clash.

Some brand partnerships just leave us all feeling a little bit ‘meh’. In the interest of politeness, we shan’t name names, but it isn’t difficult to see when a collaboration just comes across a trifle forced. This isn’t one of those cases. And you wouldn’t necessarily expect the WWF and IKEA to be a match made in heaven. Although they both rate plants, I suppose. What IKEA is perhaps most famous for, though, ahead of its affordable homeware and flatpack furniture, is their iconic Swedish meatballs. IKEA and the WWF have partnered to release ‘Seedballs’, which, rather than being made from delicious beef are comprised of comparatively less delicious soil, clay and wildflower seeds. Those who cop a coveted Seedball can then water them and watch on in awe as they grow into wild plants such as corncockles, chamomile and poppies. Isn’t gardening just magical?

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Snap's Back?

Much like the jockey atop Enjoy D’allen at the first hurdle of this year’s Grand National, Snapchat has fallen off. Having been squeezed from all angles by other, more popular social networking apps, Snapchat just simply isn’t the go-to haunt of the youth anymore. Indeed, the stereotype now is that it’s mainly used by children and drug dealers, which is not a good mix. Whatever the appeal was in the past obviously just doesn’t carry the same weight anymore, so, naturally, Snap are being forced to innovate. And, in fairness, the newest addition to their platform looks like an excellent idea. “Dress Up” is a feature that will allow users to engage with new AR shopping experiences by ‘trying on’ virtual versions of the clothes and shoes that they might want to buy. I have no doubt that we have all at least once ordered something off the internet and been appalled by how much worse it looks in real life than it did on the model, so perhaps this could be the solution. Anything to spare that miserable, defeated journey back to the post office.

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Plastic Fans.

This opinion may not be terribly in vogue at the minute, but I’m going to say it anyway. Plastic is fantastic. And that rhymes, so it must be true. Paper straws suck (or, rather, don’t suck), paper bags break and leave you a mere weeping husk of shame in Aldi’s car park, and wooden forks really take away from the taste of your Poke bowl. These are very serious problems. Plus I’m sure paper straws saved a turtle, but they didn’t save 2 turtles – probably. The plastic bag is a valuable ally to have in almost any scenario, so the fact that they are being phased out is a tragedy, albeit a necessary one – if you believe all that. Saying that, the problem with plastic doesn’t pertain to its utility, but to its unsustainability. Well, cover your cavernous cakehole you socially-conscious little character, because a group of scientists have discovered a method that can break down plastic in mere days as opposed to centuries, creating fresh material to be used for new products. Mic drop. Everyone wins. The environmentalists will be forced to focus their attention on another element of how we are utterly destroying our planet, and I can enjoy a milkshake in peace without feeling like I’m drinking through a ticking time bomb destined for tubular disintegration.

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Having spent some time in the sports retail game, I am acutely aware of how dreary and depressing the traditional shopping experience is. And I was getting paid to be there, so imagine how miserable it is for the general public. And I say ‘imagine’ intentionally, as it’s quite likely that a fair few of you will have to do exactly that, having probably not stepped foot in a physical store for the best part of half a decade. However, with large parts of the world all but restored to their pre-Covid state, people are willing to leave their homes again, so now it’s up to the brands to entice them into their stores. Several brands, particularly those in the fashion industry, have started to make a proper effort. The most recent example are Jacquemus, who took over the iconic Corner Shop space at Selfridges this week with their “Le Bleu” pop up experience. And just look at it: ain’t it lovely? It’s like a dreamy swimming baths, but without the fear of all the verruca-laden feet that have perambulated upon the tiles. Is this the return of retail?

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The End of Days.

Getting up in the morning isn’t easy. And yes, I know Wim Hof says you ought to get up and have a cold shower to trigger a spike of adrenaline, but we’re not all absolute maniacs. However, before you even get to the point where you pretend to think about having a cold shower, you probably have to silence some sort of alarm clock. Now, don’t get me wrong, the iPhone alarms are universally unpleasant on the ears. Alarming, some might even say. Yet, somehow, we’ve became perfectly capable of snoozing them for a matter of hours, at regular 8-minute intervals. The problem, no doubt, is that they do nothing to remind you of your own mortality and the very real possibility of our impending annihilation as a species. Look no further than The Doomsday Alarm Clock, which is a new app that wakes you up every day with a sobering warning of the looming apocalypse. Bit depressing perhaps, but the Stoics said we should think about death every day, and they were a pretty smart bunch.

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The Coolsh*t Podcast - Ep. 10.

We’ve got a couple “heavy-hitters” on the podcast this week, chatting plastic, Met Gala, and sticking to the f***ing brief.

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