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Volume 382

Your next summer holiday could be out of this world. This week’s coolsh*t features an interplanetary gap year, Marvel mischief, and the gift of sight. Plus, if you want us in your earholes as well as your eyeballs, you can listen to the latest episode of the coolsh*t podcast.

Get (well)away.

Summer’s approaching, which means summer holidays. So, what’ll it be? Beach? City break? Party island? Outer space? Eagle-eyed observers may have noticed that we included a slightly unusual option in that list. While a holiday in space may sound a bit Star Trek, it may not be so far off, with the world’s first space hotel apparently set to be operational by 2025. Thinking about it, ‘world’s first space hotel’ is probably a bit of an oxymoron. The Orbital Assembly Corp. has claimed that it hopes to run a space “business park” home to both offices and tourists. Considering we’re talking about a space hotel, that may be the driest possible press release they could have come up with. “Business Park” says Argos and Curry’s more than interplanetary adventure. I wonder if this’ll basically just be the new version of a cruise in about 10 years.

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Lactose Intolerance.

In the words of Harvey Dent: “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. That adage seems somewhat appropriate in the case of Oatly, a formerly iconoclastic challenger brand disrupting an antiquated industry, who are now seen by many as a corporate, greenwashing façade of the values they used to (and still claim to) truly embody. Last year, they sued Glebe Farm, claiming that the (much smaller) Cambridge-based business’s ‘PureOaty’ drink infringed on Oatly’s brand and trademark. It is a bit similar, to be fair. But a judge ruled that two different drinks made of oats referring to oats in their respective names is probably fair dos – that isn’t exactly what the judge said, but it was to that effect. To celebrate their victory, Glebe Farm have released this billboard campaign, complete with a plea to buy their product so they can pay off their lawyers after being milked dry by the suit. Stick it to the man. Oatly responded, saying, “Nice job on the billboards! We’re flattered by the shout out. We can’t wait to open our UK factory in Peterborough next year where we’ll also be buying oats from British farmers, and creating around 200 new jobs.” I can taste the salt from here. They’re really putting the L in Oatly.

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On a Roll.

Children can often get a bad rap. Just because they don’t know many words, can’t do their times-tables and occasionally soil themselves, people assume that they aren’t all that bright. However, many people are at their most creative in childhood before the crushing weight of the world and the Sisyphean struggle that we call existence gets on top of us. There’s some of that coolsh*t feel-good Friday spirit for you. Lego, to highlight the importance of children expressing their creativity through play, left a bunch of children in what they dubbed ‘the most boring room ever’. The kids were left with nothing but some bog roll to create ‘A world of play’. And considering how that brief could have been horribly misinterpreted by their unformed, feeble minds, the results were quite something. Although this’ll probably make some tight parents downgrade their kid’s birthday present from Lego to loo roll.

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How Predictable.

It’s hard to tell what goes into the formula of a hit song. Often it just comes down to some sort of indescribable special sauce. A kind of X Factor. Somebody ought to make a TV show about that. The point, though, is that some songs have an extraordinary way of capturing the collective public consciousness and tapping into the societal zeitgeist – and these needn’t necessarily always be the ‘best’ songs from an artistic perspective. So, potluck, basically. But maybe not. Soundcloud have just acquired ‘Musiio’, an AI software that is apparently capable of predicting hit songs by “listening” to tracks and anticipating trends. Terrific, there goes another bunch of now obsolete employees off to join the back of the unemployment queue. Are we just sucking the soul out of any sort of creative pursuit? Maybe, but shut up before we replace you too.

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Crack the Code.

Having avoided most things superhero for the best part of a decade for reasons unknown even to me, I’ve recently relented beneath the unbearable weight of the Marvel marketing machine. And, in fairness, you can see why they appear to be the only films shown in cinemas these days. The latest instalment of Marvel’s ever-expanding TV universe, Moon Knight, is in many ways more psychological thriller than it is a typical good guy Vs. bad guy, Manichean superhero flick. It was revealed this week by a producer of the show that there were a bunch of interactive QR codes hidden in scenes, just to make the show that little bit more meta. Each code, if scanned, would take viewers to a Marvel website hosting a weekly free webcomic featuring the titular character, including first appearance of Moon Knight in 1972. Decent, but the fact that a producer had to come out and explain this little jape implies to me that not a single soul clocked the QR code Easter eggs and decided to scan them. This is like when serial killers hand themselves in in order to get the credit.

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Sight For Sore Eyes.

If this coolsh*t seems a bit AI-heavy, that’s because it is. But glasses that help the blind ‘see’ can only be a good thing, so it seems a shame to leave this story out. Plus I’ve already written the other 5, and I don’t get paid extra for re-writes. ‘Everyone is entitled to live in a world without boundaries,’ says Karthik Kannan, co-founder of Envision, a company that designs smart glasses for the visually impaired. Considering our previous exposure to smart glasses has largely been through the likes of Snap and Meta allowing bespectacled influencers to document their time at Coachella, this seems like a much-improved use of the technology. The glasses use AI to extract different kinds of information from the wearer’s surroundings, then speak it back to users in over 60 different languages. That must get confusing, I’d probably prefer if it just spoke to me in 1 language – but we can work out the kinks.

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The Coolsh*t Podcast - Ep. 11.

OJ Simpson, Jussie Smollett, and Will Smith – just to name a few of the people in this week’s coolsh*t podcast.

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