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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Dataminr Your Own Business

In good news for cowboys, the Old West has never gone away; the frontier continues to expand beyond the borders of reason, the deer and the antelope go on playing, and the oldest law enforcement agency in the land, the U.S. Marshals Service, has been receiving regular bulletins from Dataminr, the oversight company sittin’ shotgun to Twitter, regarding pro-abortion protests which they have carefully surveilled. The government’s subtle undermining of progressive action by its citizens is not particularly new, it is only trending, since The Intercept has outed the infiltration of the Black Lives Matter movement by a violent offender in Denver on the feds’ payroll who claimed to have been a member of the Peshmerga, to idolize the Punisher, and to drive a hearse. So it’s not like these folks are keeping a low profile. The exploitation of modern data-mining tech at least comes with a healthy slice of old-timeyness, with one attorney challenging the attack on protests by Dataminr cronies observing that “collecting more hay doesn’t help you find the needle.” Public advocates can hardly be blamed for having a bee in their bonnet, consarn it, given a government so crooked they could swallow a nail and shit a screw; after all, our car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that’s the way we likes it.     


Les is More

African emigrants from Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia seeking asylum in the Greek island of Lesbos were attacked by extrajudicial agents of the government wearing ski masks and set adrift in a tiny speedboat on the Aegean Sea until they were sighted by the Coast Guard, according to the New York Times, who neglected to note the resemblance of the story to the myth of Perseus and Andromeda. In this rendition, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has lauded his government’s “tough but fair” immigration policies, is the unruly Kraken; the sacrifice to the sea seems to be those fleeing violence in their home shores only to be met with intolerance and barbarism; and we, the bourgeois reader, must be the brandished head of the Medusa, because every time we look at history-in-progress, it appears to be standing perfectly still and, while the human-rights abuses undertaken on the state’s behalf are not eked out in law, they seem nonetheless set in stone.


The Grades of Wrath

As the writers strike continues to rankle both studio heads and those dying for a resolution to Cobra Kai, the University of Michigan has been accused by the teacher’s union of fabricating grades on behalf of the students of striking graduate workers. Allegedly pressured by the registrar, non-instructional staff may have been asked to waive through English and Romance Languages assignments unread, which is bad news for the state of higher education, but good news for those young scholars who just copy-and-pasted the Wikipedia entry on Spawn for their paper on Dante’s Inferno or who testified that Romanian is just “vampire French.” But cheating need not be consigned to the classroom, as the moribund technology of smart glasses has been revivified by the advent of ChatGPT, which will feed awkward nerds cues as to what to say during first dates in real-time. Singles hoping that the dating pool more resembled The Terminator’s search for Sarah Connor are hardly the only folks gaming the system these days, as a Youtuber is facing twenty years in prison for crashing his plane on purpose and parachuting to safety, all in search of views. The poor fool, didn’t he know that vicarious thrills can be had without imperilment? It’s called Nintendo and, judging by Australian advertisements for the new Zelda title, it is deeply sad.  


Cocked and Locked

MechaFightClub, an NFT block-chain-funded video game in which robotic roosters fight for the pleasure of enterprising internauts in, we kid you not, the Cocktagon, has announced that they have paused development as regulatory chaos seizes the crypto market, because there’s nothing sketchy about training animals to kill one another that can’t be replicated in the virtual realm. Just look at Pokemon. No seriously, look at it (but maybe load up on Dramamine and check yourself for risk of seizure beforehand). Escapism into fantasy environments faced one more hurdle this week, as Disney announced the closure of its $5,000-per-lodger Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, possibly as fallout from the company’s ongoing feud with skulking Florida governor, Grand Moff DeSantis. Jet-setting tourists will likely be crushed at having their hopes of being tailed by stormtroopers to the on-site cantina dashed, but the real world awaits. The ice planet of Hoth? Dude, that was just Norway. The forest moon of Endor? We have redwoods right here on Earth. And the Force, which surrounds and penetrates us? Those are the friends we made along the way.  


Hiccup with People

Hey, remember Hitler? Well, he’s back, in intercom announcement form. The BBC reports that Austrian Federal Railways mysteriously aired thirty minutes of a speech by the Führer to horrified commuters, one of which was a Holocaust survivor. Bad news wasn’t exclusively the purview of the aged this week, as insurers also denied coverage to a four-day-old infant in neonatal intensive care, sternly writing, “You are drinking from a bottle. You are breathing on your own,” to the pre-linguistic fledgling and future subscriber. But the saddest case has to be that of baseball legend Bo Jackson, who has sought medical help after suffering from the hiccups for close to a year. Reached for comment, the athlete says the only silver lining is that at least he no longer has “Take On Me” by A-ha stuck in his head.