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Volume 413

Fungibles, tangibles, edibles, invisibles, and urinals – all in this week’s coolsh*t. We’re bringing you Kierkegaardian coffee pots, cloaking cloaks, and a very handy actor. Plus there’s a chance to win a million quid. Probably should have led with that…​​​​​​​

What a Beast.

You’re likely already familiar with MrBeast, and if you’re not, you will be when he becomes President in about 15 years or so. No, you’re right – that’s crazy. How could a larger-than-life figure from the world of entertainment ever scale the political apparatus to suddenly perch atop the highest seat in the land? Preposterous. I’m also not sure why the description of that ascent got quite so needlessly grandiloquent. Anyway, MrBeast recently became the most-subscribed-to YouTuber on the planet, and he got there predominantly by masterminding extreme challenges with extraordinarily high production value that usually result in somebody being given a sh*t load of cash. For his latest challenge, MrBeast has partnered with Fortnite to offer five fortunate freckly little fellows the chance to win $1million each by ‘surviving’ on a custom-built island in the game. Not a bad payday for a teenager in their pyjamas. It’s becoming increasingly impossible to not feel some resentment towards the people who used to say you wouldn’t get anywhere in life sitting on your arse playing video games all day.

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Urinate With Excellence.

Not for the first time, Duolingo have successfully tapped into the irrefutable fact that mistranslations are a bit funny and have harnessed that truism for some smart marketing. They previously offered free cover-ups for recipients of mistranslated tattoos, and now they’ve opened an exhibition featuring some of the best ‘wonky English’ found across Japan. The free museum is located in Harajuku, Tokyo and features 16 English mistranslations that have given mundane phrases surprising meanings, often capturing a profundity in, say, running out of coffee, that nobody speaking a language correctly would be able to articulate. Although I am slightly surprised that whole ‘crap your hands’ bit at the end of the video managed to get sign off…

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John Cena's Jacket.

Eagle-eyed readers may notice that this is the second time in about 3 weeks that we’ve talked about a purported ‘cloak of invisibility’. The difference between this one and that previous one, though, is that the last one was a bit shit, whereas this one works – kind of. The other one came out of the US, but echoing TikTok’s usurping of Vine, China’s made a better version. A group of students at the University of Wuhan have created the InvisDefense coat, which is being described as the best thing to come out of Wuhan in years. Designed using an algorithm, the coat is able to escape detection from visible light cameras. By night, when security cameras usually identify humans through infrared thermal imaging, the coat’s embedded thermal devices emit different temperatures, presenting an unusual heat pattern that allows the coat to fly under the radar and circumvent AI human detection technology. In the ongoing competition between humanity and artificial intelligence, we’re undoubtedly getting trounced, but this may have at least scored a consolation goal for the human race. Now get back to the halfway line.

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Give Him a Hand.

It was revealed this week that Tim Burton’s ‘Wednesday’ has overtaken ‘Dahmer’ to become Netflix’s second most-watched English language series. Given the controversy surrounding the popularity of Dahmer, this has been predominantly greeted as good news, as despite being mildly macabre, Wednesday falls slightly short of, you know, murdering and eating a load of blokes. But the real show-stealing performance came from ‘Thing’, the disembodied hand that accompanies the eponymous anti-heroine on her adventures. And audiences have been surprised to discover that the level of CGI trickery required to bring Thing to life fell vastly short of what they had expected. It turns out it’s just some bloke’s actual hand. A magician with quite literally no acting experience, to be precise. No experience, but remarkably dexterous digits.

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Real F*cking Things.

Speaking of Thing, here are some things. That doesn’t sound like much, but these things have sprung out of NFTs, which are very clearly not things, so the thinginess of these particular things is actually somewhat noteworthy. RTFKT Studios, the Web 3 company known for its digital avatars and Metaverse collectibles – Stop it! Who said snake oil salesman? – have announced their latest collection, featuring products that will exist in the physical world rather than merely in the ether of the imagination. The company – who were recently acquired by Nike, by the way – have partnered with their parent brand to release Cryptokicks iRL, a line of futuristic footwear that brings its signature sneaker NFTs to life. Now, do the trainers look good? That really isn’t for me to say. But this is, if nothing else, a first. As the lines between the physical and digital worlds blur, expect to see more crossover drops like this. So if you do happen to be one of the luddites doggedly refusing to download TikTok, I’m afraid to say that you’re probably also going to need a digital wallet on the blockchain before too long. At least you will if you want shoes.

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Morel High Ground.

In the interest of candour I feel compelled to make you aware that this story was selected partly on its own merit, but also because I recently listened to a podcast about fungi and haven’t yet managed to corner anyone long enough to talk about it at sufficient length. Did you know that mushrooms are genetically more closely related to humans than they are to plants? And that they breathe oxygen? And that they allow trees to talk with one another? Ah, I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to get all of that off my chestnut. I do however appreciate we haven’t left much room to talk about the actual story. Heron Preston has debuted a new one-off piece using Mycowork’s innovative mycelium material Reishi™, aptly titled A Fruit Bowl by Heron Preston for MycoWorks. If you don’t yet know about mycelium, it’s a durable yet flexible material that replicates the texture of animal leather, but without all the death and cruelty. Saying that, after finding out that mushrooms are basically people, I’m now not so certain they aren’t screaming as you cook them, consume them, or turn them into fake fruit. No wonder they taste so “meaty”…

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