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Volume 391

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… some great big telescope took a few pictures. This week’s coolsh*t literally traverses time and space. We’ve also got eternal tattoos, ethical conundrums, and a study of Gen Z’s strange sense of humour. Plus, the return of the podcast.

Quick Scope.

On Monday, Royal Museum Greenwich released their 2022 Astronomy Photographer of the Year shortlist. The entries are genuinely spectacular – so much so that they were originally going to be featured in this week’s coolsh*t. But timing is a cruel mistress. 1 day later, NASA released the first images captured by the James Webb Telescope – images which, by the way, just so happen to be of the whole bloody galaxy – and, unsurprisingly, they’ve absolutely blown these photographer gimps out the water. Or the sky, I should say. If you don’t know what we’re referring to, the James Webb Telescope is the largest and most powerful space-based observatory ever built. It was launched 1 million miles into space last year with the hope that it may help answer some of the many mysteries of our universe. And, as it turns out, it also takes one hell of a snap, since it is able to capture distant galaxies that we had previously never been able to see. It doesn’t half make you feel insignificant – but in a rather comforting way. Seeing the full scale of the universe really puts that pitch you’d been fretting over into perspective.

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Graphic Content.

Warning: you might be utterly repulsed by this. Save My Ink Forever is a company that extracts the tattoos of dead people and preserves them as framed artworks. Blimey. My fear of getting a tattoo was always predicated on the frightening notion that you would have it for the rest of your life – I hadn’t even considered the possibility that your tattoos could actually out-live you. While this may sound incredibly dark, there’s clearly a market for it. Apparently some people (presumably wiccans) find it incredibly comforting to be able to keep a piece of their deceased loved ones forever, particularly a piece that may have held such symbolic importance. I say symbolic importance, but more and more tattoos are basically just doodles. My mate has one of a UFO beaming a polar bear up from a teacup. That doesn’t symbolise anything other than a bad idea. However, each to their own, I suppose. If you want to preserve your dearly departed’s putrefying flesh, fill your boots. Although you could just hold on to a watch or something…

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If a tree fell in the woods and nobody was there to hear it, how much money would it take to get you to eat some dog food? These are the type of ethical conundrums that have been keeping philosophers busy for millennia – right from the days of ancient warrior poets to the current crop of tweed-wearing, pipe-smoking stereotypes. One scenario that is often discussed at the very start of any study of moral philosophy involves a simple dilemma: pull a lever to save 5 people from getting run over by a train to instead kill just 1 person, or do nothing and allow the 5 people to die. The dichotomy in responses will likely come down to one’s intuitive stance on deontology vs. consequentialism, but it’s a fun (albeit a bit morbid) thought experiment      because there is no ‘right’ answer. Absurd Trolley Problems is a website that has taken that well-known scenario and ran with it to create similar dilemmas, but ones that are progressively more complicated and difficult to answer. Kill 5 people or kill your best friend? Kill 5 lobsters or kill 1 cat? Save the 5 people but destroy your life savings? Do we even have a choice at all, or ought we take the determinist view that claims we are a mere collection of atoms held hostage by the next ephemeral notion that comes involuntarily careening into consciousness, as opposed to being the conscious authors of our thoughts and intentions? Take the test and see if you can solve philosophy.

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A Farewell to Arse.

Boris Johnson may have been a terrible Prime Minister, but my God, he’s a photographer’s dream. We don’t tend to get political on here – and we’re not going to here. If you disagree with that initial statement, we believe that it is entirely your right to hold such a pitifully mistaken opinion. While his premiership may not have been a success and ultimately ended up with him being unceremoniously kicked to the curb by his own party – if he ever actually does leave – he will at least leave behind a legacy of sorts, just perhaps not quite in the Churchillian manner that he might have hoped. More like Mr. Blobby if anything. So, to bid adieu to Boris, Vice have made this collection of some of his most memorable photos from over the years, both before and during his stint in No. 10. Whatever your political leanings may happen to be, a grown man getting stuck on a zip wire by the crotch or rugby tackling a child will always be funny. Even if it was just part of a carefully prepared mock bumbling buffoonery to mask greater intentions of taking over the world.

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Gen Z humour is extremely strange. Their willingness to mobilise in the name of some shit joke is truly staggering. It has shades of Jay Cartwright’s shrugging “Funny” as an explanation to any question along the lines of “Why did you do that?”. We unpacked the cultural phenomenon of Binley Mega Chippy a couple weeks ago, then we had a bit of fun with “It’s Morbin’ Time”, but now it’s time to make way for the Gentleminions. Where Morbius failed to profit from its own memeability (not a word, but should be), the new Minions movie has succeeded, having smashed box office records. This is principally due to the extraordinary amount of teenagers and young adults turning up to the cinema in formal attire. Why? Because they are the Gentleminions, of course. And if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, because most of them aren’t sure either. The true travesty of this story, though, is that many cinemas are now refusing entry to anyone wearing a suit. Pathetic bunch of killjoys and grasses. Long live the Gentleminions.

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He's Done it Again.

Having recently committed to steering clear of all things DALL-E for at least a few weeks for fear of becoming an AI bore, I am now going to immediately and entirely renege on that self-imposed covenant. Until now, DALL-E has become well-known principally for the novelty factor of being able to describe any scene from your deepest, darkest thoughts and to see that menagerie of the mind be vividly brought to life. Now, some proper actual artists have started using it for some proper actual art. Italian artist Arturo Tedeschi’s latest work uses DALL-E to interpret descriptive texts inspired by famous films into incredibly detailed visuals. Basically, he’s discovered another one of DALL-E’s seemingly ever-expanding uses: storyboarding for people who can’t draw. There’s another bunch of poor bastards placed on the scrapheap of human obsoletion.

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The Coolsh*t Podcast - Ep. 17.

A very philosophical podcast with some very philosophical people.

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