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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality


The tech world is already a burrow of shady borrowings, competing patents, and dodgy dot-com schemes, but these iniquities have so far been within the domain of the human. Enter CNET’s AI reporter, which has been found to have plagiarized the work of journalists at competitors Red Ventures and Bankrate—and even its fellow drones at CNET. Factual errors and rephrasing notwithstanding, riveting missives on avoiding overdraft fees and buying gift cards are just the beginning of AI’s scheme to replace the world’s knavish, struggling writer contingent; soon the machine will be wearing blazers to loft parties to secretly tape the parlor wits for its Substack, teaching adjunct classes to the landed gentry for the price of the commute, and manufacturing middlebrow screenplays about their mid-life crises on the side. The age of the flesh-and-blood mediocrity is behind us, the machines have entered the freelance, party-going, Mencken-quoting fray. All hail Robofop, you have the right to remain semi-employed and fancy. 


White Men Can’t Hump

West Virginia, the state John Denver memorably exalted as “almost heaven” and where a judge has ruled that trans kids can be banned from playing sports, six Republicans have proposed what they’re calling the Sexually Oriented Business Regulation Act, which would outlaw any form of sanctioned sex work, while also targeting gay bars, nude model studios, and whatever “sexual encounter centers” means. Is that where you get your passport to Bonerville processed? As usual, the language of the proposed act of unconstitutional censorship outstrips the gnarliest vocabulary of underground erotica in its descriptive prurience. The bill bans the appearance of genitalia in a “discernably turgid state,” defines nudity as “the appearance of a human bare buttock, anus, anal cleft or cleavage, pubic area, male genitals, female genitals or vulva,” seems foggy about the exact placement of the areola, and classifies sex acts as “normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including intercourse, oral copulation or sodomy,” while maintaining that all of these are bad. It seems fairly certain that without pornography, the lawmakers in question wouldn’t know how sex even works, but if it’s dicks they want to police, they might start with the tool in the mirror.


Lament Horizon

Scientists in the Netherlands have defied the skein of unknowing that keeps us safe from the ravages of the universe by simulating a black hole that emits Hawking radiation, or the particles produced by the rupture of spacetimes. Technobabble aside, what this means is that we are about to accidentally open the door to a parallel reality and confront our dark matter selves, who will likely replace us en masse while imprisoning the originals in the Phantom Zone. Also in hole news, Florida firefighters recently recused a local woman from a storm drain for the third time in three months. It’s not a cry for help, it’s a talent for scooching, and if we need a volunteer to bravely step into the black hole and leave behind the worlds of Euclidean geometry and self-preservation, we may have just found our internet.


Jingle Cells

AP News reports that a precocious tot of Cumberland, Rhode Island, unwilling to consign the yuletide trespass of Kris Kringle to the realm of sugar plums, sent partially eaten cookies and nibbled carrot sticks to the Rhode Island Department of Health to obtain DNA proof of Santa Claus. The results were inconclusive pending further substantiated encounters with the jolly elf, but it’s a slippery slope—or lubricated chimney stack—if you happen to be naughty and DNA-testing instead turns up the cellular leavings of Krampus, the sixteenth-century Alpine demon who punishes children with birch rods and carts them off to Hell. Budding forensicists beware: there are horrors in store for the unwary that no Hallmark card can conceive or Advent calendar enumerate.


Critique of Pure Buttinsky

A moral philosopher at Christ’s College, Cambridge has published a paper in defense of “revelatory autonomy” and counsels busybodies and fussbudgets to adhere to “a moral duty . . . not to interfere” in the self-authorship of others as they consider having children, taking jobs, or applying to grad school. This is the most articulate and scholarly invective against meddling in your friends’ beeswax on the books, a lively rejoinder to Nosey Parkers, Paul Prys, and Bertolt Buttinskys, a perfectly nice, peer-reviewed way to discourage your besties from advising you on your life choices based on something they read in Cosmo or Men’s Health. Small decisions are the bricks on the road to self-mastery. Sometimes self-determination begins with getting the cheapest thing on the wine list despite your cohort’s vigorous defense of Moscato; go ahead, swipe right on the dude posing with a vintage poster of Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama even if your friend prefers Bergman; bad taste is its own earthly reward, but backset drivers are on a highway to hell.