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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Natal Attraction

See the perfect human. See it tell a joke. Watch it brush its hair. Now watch it breed. See its child named Titan Invictus. Now it is resisting the “woke mind virus.” Now it is explaining why eugenics isn’t racist. Meet the Collinses, Malcolm and Simone, proud pro-natalists who affect a personal style that can only be described as “sex preppy” and have positioned themselves as the future saviors of mankind due to their brazen contention that having a lot of sex may result in having lots of children, the better to pass on your superior genes. As philosophies go, it’s more Rand than Nietzsche, but if you continue to pump out babes with names like Torsten and Octavian, you’re bound to get an Übermensch in there eventually. When they’re not designing anime sex pillows for each other or singing the praises of embryo selection, the travel-writers-turned-broodmare-spokescreeps peddle a doomsday scenario where low rates of birth in places like South Korea—where Malcolm operated as a venture capitalist—result in the extinction of, well, maybe not the whole human race but certainly the yuppies-who-look-like-haunted-mannequins jet set. “The people who carry forward their culture and viewpoints” goes Simone’s virulent defense of conformity, “are going to be people who love being parents.” Oh, perfect masters. They thrive on disasters.


Bain Dogs

The inevitable showdown between man and machine used to be conceived as futuristic cyborg warfare, but that was before AI, when the human race simply abdicated their role as creators and caregivers and became intent on becoming indolent flesh-blobs while robots took over the scut of teaching, painting, and writing. Now they are turning the animals against us too. John Honchariw, a former engineer for Google and Bain has developed Companion, an all-in-one pet care droid that feeds, trains, and otherwise bonds with your canine lifemate while you fuck off to do whatever it is you do instead of spending time with living things. Companion joins Joipaw, the video game system for dogs, and human-grade dog food in the growing litany of totally extraneous perversions of tech that should not be. Next up for Honchariw: feline-oriented tech! So, the robot just stands still while the cat sleeps and pisses on it?


Sheila Take a Bowser

Weaned on a steady diet of Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat, titillated by digital vixens like Lara Croft, and lured into a life of delinquency by Sonic the Hedgehog’s promise of endless blast processing, it comes as no surprise that the nation’s new criminal class is taking aim at Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom in their insatiable appetite for eight-bit glory. Nintendo hacker Gary Bowser has been released from prison after forty months, but will still be paying a quarter of his income to the software company whose consoles he pirated for the rest of his life. The fate of Bowser, a Canadian citizen extradited and captured in the Dominican Republic, is a ridiculous consequence of corporate deification and misidentification of what counts as criminal—but also, it’s impossible not to notice that he has the same name as Mario’s arch-foe, the fire-breathing King of the Koopas. It’s nominative determinism in action, like being a fast runner named Usain Bolt, a Vatican campaigner against pop music named Cardinal Rapsong, or being elected Mayor McCheese when you have a cheeseburger for a head. You are what you secrete.  



Games are the enemy of beauty, truth, and sleep, so it figures that a game of Monopoly in Brussels, Belgium erupted into a duel as neighbors confronted the rowdy would-be robber barons of Pennsylvania Avenue with samurai swords and the tiny boots and battleships were stopped in their tracks (the injured parties were released from the hospital the next day). Far be it for us to blame capitalism for the outrage of offended ninjas, but this never happens when you play Candy Land. Mousetrap doesn’t arouse the ichor of ecoterrorists. Operation doesn’t make people literally try and vivisect you. Speaking of losers, cretinous MyPillow figureheadcase Mike Lindell has been found liable for the money he promised as the prize for “Prove Mike Wrong” because, according to a private arbitration panel, someone did. Having bandied about supposed proof that the Chinese interfered in the 2020 election, Lindell must now pay $5 million to the sixty-three-year-old computer forensics expert who bothered to put together the evidence that this loud, weird man doesn’t know what he’s even talking about. How does somebody so chronically wrong on such a grand scale, a kind of perpetual dunk tank clown, a comedian who shows up with his own bag of rotten fruit, sleep at night? Oh, right. 



Uptown reptiles seeking the good life in Philadelphia ran afoul of the City of Brotherly Love’s fickle affections this week: a three-foot-long caiman found chilling in FDR Park was euthanized by the city, and an alligator named Big Mack was unceremoniously evicted from a Philly row house after a decade because the couple who owned him separated and the paterfamilias declined to move Big Mack out of his basement vivarium. Hapless professionals were tasked with detaining the beast, but efforts to relocate him to a Michigan sanctuary failed because you can’t bring toothy eight-foot dinosaurs on planes anymore, so local adoption alternatives are being explored. He could be all yours. He could already be yours. He might be in your own basement right now.