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Volume 385

Are you too lazy to hoover? Then this week’s coolsh*t is for you. We’ve got ‘andy androids, priceless pints, and un-burnable books. All that, plus the future of shopping. And to our legion of rabid, adoring fans: fear not, the podcast returns next week after the long weekend.

Let Them Drink Beer.

As I’m sure you’re well aware, it’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee today. Cue the music. The main upshot of this for most people is that we get an extra bank holiday – “most people” is to exclude those nutters dressed in Union Jack suits who queue up outside Buckingham Palace whenever a royal baby is born. However, the deal was considerably sweetened by Greene King, who were giving out free pints of IPA this week. But there’s a catch: you can only claim your pint by using the passcode “1952”. This is because the original plan was to sell them for 6p since this was the price of a pint when the Queen took the throne in 1952, but it transpired that licensing laws made that very illegal, so they had to just give them away instead. Big W for licensing laws. What an excellent way to celebrate the continued survival of an antiquated, outdated, ludicrous, privilege-entrenching quirk of British society. This completely makes up for any tax money that ended up in Prince Andrew’s pocket.

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Being too lazy to clean and too skint to get a cleaner, I often find myself living in squalor. As such, having some sort of live-in, soulless robot capable of fulfilling such household chores would come in incredibly handy. That Utopian vision of the future may not be so far off, thanks to Dyson. You know, them lot what make hoovers. One of the few companies who could reasonably interpret “they suck” as a positive review. They have recently set up robotic tech offices in London, Hullavington, and Singapore and are looking to recruit 700 additional engineers to work on robots that will help humans carry out daily tasks, which, based on the video they’ve released, would include picking up teddy bears, arranging dishes, and vacuuming sofas. We’re about to become a very, very lazy species – and I can’t wait.

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Ripped Off.

Balenciaga shocked the fashion world last week by releasing a pair of ‘destroyed’ trainers. The ‘beat up converse’ were met with gasps and many a perfectly-painted fingernail clutching at a set of pearls – and that was just Machine Gun Kelly’s reaction. Most people who are not au fait with all things high fashion have probably come to expect this kind of malarkey. What they did not expect, however, was for these borderline unwearable shoes to be priced at $1850. That’s an awful lot of money to look like an outdoorsman. Well, we’ve seen a clap back this week from, of all people, the Dutch Salvation Army. Titled the ‘Truly Destroyed’ campaign, the SA (not that one) have attempted to draw attention to how far that money could go for people who need it, by releasing some shoes worn by real people on the street, priced at €1450. While there is nothing axiomatically wrong with Balenciaga flogging some grim shoes for an exorbitant sum (free market, baby), this is a clever way of jumping on a much talked about cultural moment and reappropriating it for seemingly magnanimous purposes. Although it does slightly undermine the motive behind compassion if you’re only doing it to get into heaven.

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What a Fiasco.

Well, this has come out of nowhere. Lupe Fiasco, who incidentally made the first song I ever had on a mobile phone, is teaching a rap course at MIT. And yes, that’s the MIT you’re thinking of – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of America’s most prestigious universities, home to many of the country’s best minds making progress in fields such as science, technology and robotics. And now those dorks can learn to spit a fire 16 bars. It’s hard to imagine some bespectacled young scientist going from Unified Engineering: Thermodynamics and Propulsion in the morning to Rap, With Dr Fiasco in the afternoon, but here we are. I’m sure the arriving class of new undergraduates who have had their heads buried in textbooks their entire lives will be ecstatic to be taught by one of the hottest stars of 2007.

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Faster Fashion.

With much of the world moving more and more online, Amazon are actually going in t’other direction, popping up in corners of the real, physical world where we wouldn’t have imagined them possibly appearing just a few years ago. They’ve already got those weird supermarkets where you just grab your stuff and walk out – although, if you’re feeling brave enough, that can describe any supermarket. Now, they’re venturing into the IRL fashion world, having just opened their first brick-and-mortar location in LA. They’re probably far more advanced than brick and mortar; let’s assume it’s vibranium and pea protein. As you’d expect, the Amazon stores will offer all sort of gadgets and gizmos that you don’t usually find in traditional retail stores. There will be QR codes aplenty smattered about the gaff and a nifty feature they’re calling the “Amazon Style Algorithm” that will deposit suggested pieces into changing rooms for shoppers to try on without having to go through all the trouble of leaving the changing room. You can also scan items to search for other colours and sizes, thus saving the bother of speaking to a surly teenager on minimum wage after their smoke break. Will this be enough to coax shoppers back into the real world?

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Speaking as a bibliophile – I said biblio – unless you are in need of warmth for survival and you happen to be in a library, burning books is never a good idea. Indeed, it’s generally an activity only undertaken by the despotic and the tyrannical. Not because of the bits of paper and ink themselves, but what they contain and represent – the freedom to express one’s ideas without the threat of censorship. As such, Penguin Random House have released an “un-burnable” version of The Handsmaid’s Tale – a book that has been banned in many countries. And, to prove just how un-burnable it is, they enlisted Margaret Atwood to shoot a flamethrower at it. Don’t try this at home. The campaign is said to be in response to right wing censorship, with several recent examples being cited, but it would be a mistake to be so tribal as to dismiss the silencing of free speech as an issue that can be neatly bifurcated into camps of left and right. There are nutters on either side who will gleefully silence others from using certain words (the right wing “Don’t Say Gay” bill springs to mind) or shut down free and fair debate (the neo-left’s penchant for de-platforming springs to mind). That went on a tangent. The overarching point: idiots are everywhere. Oh, and you shouldn’t burn books.

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