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Volume 399

People will go to extraordinary lengths for a decent meal. This week’s coolsh*t is bringing you a fan-fuelled fast food frenzy, multiverse marketing, and a newly squashed pumpkin record. Plus, the next small step towards interplanetary colonisation.

Cheaters Sometimes Prosper.

Getting outsmarted by a machine never feels great. If you’ve ever failed to keep a watchful eye on a toaster-dwelling bagel to then discover it scorched to an inedible crisp due to the high sugar content, you’ll know what I’m talking about. That’s a relatable problem, right? Just me? Anyway, some artists are currently very unhappy – I know, ‘shock’, but the causes behind this discontentment go beyond the usual existential brooding. A man who goes by ‘Sincarnate’ came in first place at the Colorado State Fair’s fine art competition using an AI generated artwork on Monday. And the rest of the contestants have been left saying, “But… that’s not fair.” Yeah, well, life isn’t fair – so at least they’ve learned a valuable lesson.

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Bun That.

Behold: the power of the internet. Social media has many uses, one of which being the ability to mobilise children into a public space to disrupt the order of civil society. MrBeast is one the most popular YouTubers on the planet, known for giving away big bags of money and pulling off some ludicrously elaborate stunts, such as perfectly recreating the set of Squid Game and giving 100 grand to the last person standing (without killing anyone). This week, the Beasty Boy opened his first brick and mortar ‘MrBeast Burger’ restaurant, which resulted in hordes of lunatics descending upon a New Jersey shopping centre in their thousands. Around 10,000, to be imprecise. In fairness to MrBeast, he had desperately pleaded with his legion of rabid fans not to turn up – they just ignored him, as they obviously would. Suppose that’s just one of the pitfalls of having over 100 million subscribers. Poor bloke.

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Life on Mars.

A small device on Mars is generating as much as oxygen as a tree. First thought: impressive. Second thought: how much oxygen does a tree really generate? Well, quite a bit, as it happens. And the significance of this is not that we can now generate a tree’s worth of oxygen on Mars, it is that we could potentially use the same principles to generate an awful lot more. The MOXIE experiment saw this little lunchbox sent to Mars on the back of NASA’s perseverance rover with the hope that it could reliably produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere – a hope that has now been realised, making the possibility of life on Mars a great deal more plausible. Elon Musk will be licking his reptilian lips. Now it doesn’t even matter that there’s a Brazilian mad man currently hacking away at the Earth’s lungs.

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Good Gourd.

We (in the royal sense) have arguably been guilty in the past of including stories that aren’t so much cool as they are just downlight bizarre. This may well be one of those stories. However, I find it possibly more impressive and inspiring than anything else mentioned today. Duane Hansen, a 60-year-old Nebraska man, broke a long-standing record this week by paddling 38 miles down the Missouri river in a hollowed-out, 846-lb pumpkin. Are you not entertained?! But the 11-hour journey came at a cost. To quote the man himself, “my knees still hurt”. Yes, I’d imagine they would. But that’s a small price to pay for eternal glory. Hansen 2024.

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Rick & Mortified.

Is it just me, or have Rick & Morty been absolutely rinsing brand partnerships of late? Refusing to do any actual research, I can think of at least 3 examples off the top of my head, the most memorable of which involving Adidas and an Adult Swim-animated Mohammed Salah. I suppose it must save a lot of the talent budget when the talent happens to be a drawing. Plus they’ll never get tired, show up late, or pull a Jared Leto and get someone to help them go to the toilet. Now, Rick & Morty are getting ‘tricked’ into promoting Wendy’s new French toast sticks – an idea that feels sufficiently true to the show and the characters. Perhaps Adult Swim are just particularly bullish on creative ownership, but their brand partnerships tend to work, primarily because they give the impression that the brand involved have agreed to get well out of the way. Or perhaps I’m doing the Wendy’s marketing team a tremendous disservice, which brings me back to my earlier point: life isn’t fair.

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Grime Does Pay.

Skepta is a legitimate renaissance man. Or ‘uomo universale’, if you want to be pretentious – or Italian. He was one of the pioneers of grime, but it’s probably not so easy conjuring up quite the same aggression to spit bars when you’re a multi-millionaire knocking on the door of 40. So now he’s channelling that creativity into a different medium: painting. After ordering some oil paints and a canvas off Amazon at the start of the pandemic, Skepta is now selling his first painting at Sotheby’s. It depicts a scene from a Nigerian market and has been tagged by Chito, Slawn and Goldie. And if you don’t think it’s good: you’re right. And if you do think it’s good: you’re also right. Because art has no objective value or meaning – as much as that might upset Ayn Rand. But even if you’re not a fan, just think: this was a lockdown 1 hobby, so it was either this or we could have been forced to see one of the icons of British underground music baking fucking banana bread.

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