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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Knights of the Profit Motive 

As the people of the United States fire up their grills and chill their Natty Light seltzers in preparation for shot girl summer, the pandy—as it’s become known in the trivializing consommé of American slang—continues its heedless slaughter in other nations. After a week of repeatedly breaking the global record for daily new Covid-19 infections, the official death toll in India, considered a drastic undercount by most sources, surpassed two hundred thousand. Its hospitals are so crowded that people are dying without receiving any medical care. In Delhi, crematoriums are so overloaded that makeshift funeral pyres have been erected in parts of the city. Meanwhile, Bill Gates, currently only the fourth richest man in the world, continues to appear on news programs to share his heartfelt conviction that under no circumstances should the vaccine formulas be shared with nations like India: even if tens of thousands die, it’s a necessary sacrifice in defense of the intellectual property rights regime. Instead, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would like for you, person with statistically scant assets, to donate money to their fundraising campaign on behalf of Covax, the international effort to distribute those blessedly patented vaccines to poorer nations. Gates, of course, has not been the only knight fighting valiantly to protect the bottom line: the fine folks of Pfizer, in negotiating with Latin American countries, have not only sought liability protection against any and all civil claims, even those resulting from their own malign neglect—they’ve also requested that governments put up sovereign assets like embassy buildings, military bases, and bank reserves as collateral against possible legal action.


The Megafire Next Time

The corporate right to profit—that most sacred of rights held dear by all Americans—may diminish our ability to battle what will presumably be another unprecedented wildfire season in the Western states. The world’s largest firefighting plane, The Global SuperTanker, which has the ability to dump nearly twenty thousand gallons of water and fire retardant on a blaze, has been grounded indefinitely by the private equity firm that owns it because it didn’t produce enough profit during the 58,950 wildfires that torched 15,816 square miles last year. Instead, the firm’s managing director mused, the plane might be turned over to more profitable endeavors: like flying around those patented vaccines.


Bonfire of the Cum Rags

The Global SuperTanker was certainly not on hand to extinguish the mysterious blaze that engulfed the sixty-one thousand square-foot manse of Pornhub CEO and cofounder Feras Antoon only three days after it landed on the market. It was just two years ago that Antoon razed more than two hundred trees in Montreal’s Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough to begin erecting his eight-bedroom, twelve-bath pleasure palace, so let us pour one out for him, he who will never have another chance to post up in his private theater to viddy a pirated skin flick uploaded to the streaming service that made him millions and was, until recently, rife with child pornography.


Sex, Lies, and Explosives

On the subject of combustible coitus, a woman in Germany called the bomb squad earlier this week when she discovered what she believed to be a live grenade during her morning jog through the forest outside the city of Passau. But, upon further investigation, it was merely a sex toy in the shape of a grenade. The presence of condoms and lubricant informed the squad’s theory, but “an internet search confirmed the suspicion,” police said, “there are actually toys in the shape of grenades.


The Soft Skin

The tempest of venereal innovation churns on. Earlier this month, the Swedish robotics firm Lux Botics announced they are now offering sex robot clones of deceased partners to “aid with the grieving process.” These delightful silicon cadavers come with speech control, facial recognition, and “artificial intelligence capabilities.” Unfortunately, the founder reports, while they can make sex robot clones of your dead spouse talk, they cannot yet make robots that walk on their own. But Lux Botics is working on it, worry not! In the future, they’ll have sex robot clones with a “large number of body parts that can move in a realistic manner.”


Let Us Pray

Elsewhere, the German artist Diemut Strebe—known for producing Sugababe, a genetic replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s ear using DNA collected from the great-great-grandson of Van Gogth’s brother—has unveiled his latest work: The Prayer. Strebe describes the work as an exploration of “the possibilities of an approximation to celestial and numinous entities,” but what it actually is is a disembodied mouth and nose that reads AI-generated prayers, endlessly. At long last, we have outsourced devotion to the cloud.