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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Coup Lies

The Cold War continued to rack up runs in extra innings this week, as The Intercept reports that the United States bought heavy-duty munitions from Pakistan, which it then supplied to Ukraine, in exchange for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Beginning in spring 2022, Pakistan funneled its new wealth into crackdowns on civil society, imprisoning American dissidents, and the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was subsequently jailed. The bombs-for-bailout free-for-all has extended into a new wave of killings, mass detentions, and austerity measures that seem to be pilfered straight out of a Chuck Norris movie; more proof—along with NYC’s newly minted Robocop and surveillance-tech-enabled drone program SNYNET already turning on its operators—that, though it might have taken us forty-some years, we are finally caught up with the 1980s and the bulldozing of Toontown by the DoT is imminent. Most of the time, however, when you’re in the business of stifling free speech, the past is the first thing to go, hence recent Google searches for the famous Chinese “tank man” who opposed tanks amassed in Tiananmen Square were yielding an AI-generated selfie and not the iconic photograph. And those of us who Google images of Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania all day have been vindicated by conspiracy theorists who, as Forbes reports, have noticed the subtle changes in the Jesse “The Body” Ventura-looking meathead-for-the-people’s physical appearance. They allege the use of a body double and/or clones, which is great if it means we can look forward to Fetterman beating out Dr. Mehmet Oz an unlimited number of times.


Brain or Shine

Elon Musk’s latest cockamamie start-up scheme has computers linking up with the human brain in the hopes that people with paralysis will soon be able to move things with their minds. Sure Neuralink is starting with the small stuff, with the implants focused on computer cursors and keyboards, but once things get rolling, we’re basically talking Akira. Neuralink faces stiff competition from rival neurotech developers Blackrock Neurotech, who are Utah-based so you know to take their claims with a pinch of Great Salt. Honestly though, if these companies want to be embraced by the public as they develop the seeds of mankind’s undoing, they ought to pick nicer names. Maybe Elon would seem more relatable if he called his company Brainbow or Sweet Head. 


Easel Come, Easel Go

In the world of smug I-told-you-so obviousness, NFTs are almost completely worthless following the collapse of virtual currencies like Crypto, leaving the market in much-hyped non-fungible tokens styled as JPGs and bearing the likeness of bored apes, loaded lions, and psycho kitties 95 percent saddled with a net value of zero. Look, we’re not happy that you lost all your money investing in tacky Space-Invader-looking collectibles, we just think it’s weird that KAWS comes out of all this looking like a legitimate artist. And a Danish court has ruled that artist Jens Haaning must repay the 500,000 kroner he received from an Aalborg museum after turning in two blank canvases for his commissioned exhibit “Take the Money and Run,” defending his painterly bonafides by shrugging “The work is that I have taken their money.” Truly, everyone is famous for fifteen minutes here in the future, but that is time enough to let it go to your head.


Mink Kink Linked to Clink Stink

Between six- and eight-thousand minks are on the lam in Pennsylvania after being liberated by an unknown actor deploying state-of-the-art hole-cutting technology which the animal fam’s fence never saw coming. Residents are being warned not to approach the adorable, toothy marauders. Elsewhere in human-animal relations, a podcast has renewed interest in the 1990 trial of an animal rights activist who was accused of masturbating a dolphin named Freddie. But it’s not as though we need to look to the animal kingdom when we’re quite capable of embarrassing ourselves on our own; hedge fund manager Crispin Odey is seeking to downplay sexual harassment claims by blaming dentistry drugs for the 2005 incident whereupon he put his hands on the mammary glands of an employee, the twentieth woman to come forward so far. And Batman researcher Marc Tyler Nobleman, who is cool, ran afoul of Georgia’s “don’t say gay” laws after including a reference to the gay son of the Caped Crusader’s long-uncredited co-creator Bill Finger in the talk he has delivered more than a thousand times to schoolchildren. He quit rather than yield to the forces of discrimination. At this point, claiming there’s nothing queer about Batman is the real cultural erasure and if Georgia doesn’t like it, they can fight Joker, Penguin, and Two-Face on their own but don’t come crying to us when your utility belt runs out of shark repellent.


Down to Earth

A French pilot is facing manslaughter charges after decapitating a wingsuit-wearing skydiver with his plane, a tragedy oddly reminiscent of Franz Reichelt’s fatal 1912 jump from the Eiffel Tower while dressed like a bird. In any case, decapitation is a tradition in France; this isn’t negligence, it’s just patriotism. And arguments this week concluded in the case of the owners of an active volcano off the coast of New Zealand after they courted disaster tourists, twenty-two of whom died and over two dozen injured, when the volcano erupted in 2019. Will they be held responsible for allowing cruise ship passengers to wander around the country’s most active volcano? A verdict will be announced on Halloween.