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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Babes in Oyland

Life begins, language and memory dawn as the skull grows hard, and the digestion adapts to solids; the future is full of promise. But since disappointment, emotional scar tissue, and debt await you anyway, why not get the ball rolling and become traumatized by social media before you’ve learned to walk? The New York Times reports that screen names, social media profiles, and bulging spam folders are increasingly attached to newborns by their parents long before they have the cogency to operate them. One motivator is the mad rush to claim online IDs, lest you wind up like the father of Charlie Condoleon, who was infuriated to discover that Instagram handles were slim pickings for his toddler. “Someone’s got Charlie Condo,” he raged to the Times, “and it’s like some random dude!” The internet is, of course, random dude central, so nothing says childcare like making sure information traceable to your offspring is widely available in the digital realm from before they have even had an idea. Another child received their first email at three hours old. Welcome to the world; now prepare to consume and become dependent on what passes for reaffirmation now that love has been replaced by likes. The age you inherit is truly a matter of timing. Next time you’re in the birth canal, take the express lane.



Determined to go global with decisions and investments so poor that Jared Leto has already played him on television, WeWork’s tragically credulous cofounder Adam Neumann may be taking his new residential real estate startup, Flow, to Saudi Arabia after being met with an understandable lack of interest from investors domestically. Neumann has wasted no time seeing eye to eye with the Saudi royals, seemingly undeterred by the oil-rich nation’s monarchs’ involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and poor human rights records overall, calling the royal highness a “founder” and the country “a startup” because everything is just trendy tech-bro jargon to this guy. Amoral entrepreneurs in bed with foreign powers used to be the stuff supervillains were made of, but tools like Neumann are doomed to fail and born to hench, not so much an Oddjob as a Conjob.


The Boys in the Brand

Daylight, the LGTBQ+ banking startup catering to the queer community, began promisingly with rainbow credit cards and free Grindr, but has rapidly escalated into a David Koresh-style cult of personality, with CEO Rob Curtis demanding absolute fealty from his employees even as he planned to expand into surrogacy (“The bank that made me pregnant!” he raved), enormously exaggerated Daylight’s finances, and regaled coworkers with tales of his youth recreationally imbibing GHB. Now facing meltdown and accusations of toxic behavior and predatory practices, Daylight’s real legacy may be in proving that the straight world does not have a monopoly on hellish workplaces or vainglorious overlords.


The Science of Creep

Rafael Luque, one of the world’s most prolific scientists—so much so that he has published one paper for every thirty-seven hours this year—has been suspended without pay from the University of Córdoba in Spain after it was revealed that his more than seven-hundred studies, mostly on the subject of green chemistry, increasingly relied on artificial intelligence for “polish” that may amount to plagiarism. Luque also received funding from foreign institutions in Russia and Saudi Arabia looking to grow their research bonafides. The papers themselves are filled with torturous attempts to disguise the AI, unnecessary citations, and made-up scientific concepts that sound like the exposition from an episode of Star Trek. Luque denies the allegations and defends maybe cutting corners, since his industry relies on a “publish or perish” mentality that has seen him pump out formulae regarding “vegetative electron microscopy” like a Micro Machines guy does words.


The Bourne Mistaken Identity

This week’s news cycle was punctured by cases of mistaken identity so unfortunate, they seem to have leaked from cinematic convenience not seen since Jeffrey Lebowski had his rug ruined. In Boston, a DOJ training exercise led to FBI cadets bursting into a hotel room and detaining the innocent tourists they mistook for actors; on the other side of the law, an Ohio man was arrested after he called a dumpster company and left a long voice message instructing them to murder his son because he thought he had the number of a hitman. Sadly, doomscroll regulars like Elon Musk, who removed the w in his company HQ’s logo on Thursday so it reads “Titter,” have proven to be exactly who we thought they were.