Today, in the least depressing news imaginable that still, somehow, references Jeffrey Epstein, private planes, and a bizarre meeting of international jet-setters: Virtual pilots have apparently been taking the opportunities afforded to them by the just-released Microsoft Flight Simulator to check out Epstein’s private Virgin Islands abode for themselves. This expression of our shared cultural obsession with the late financier and convicted sex offender has so far been reported by everybody from Vice to Newsweek, but was originally popularized by Twitter user BoldyBuilding2, who reported seeing a number of pilots hanging out on or around Epstein’s island.
Released just a few days ago, the new Microsoft Flight Simulator is the venerable flight franchise’s first installment in 14 years, and benefits from the heavy uptick in photographic mapping that’s been done by companies like Google since 2006, as well as serious improvements in A.I., which allow for procedural generation of lots of structures via those same photographs. (Not that you can recreate all your favorite landmarks; Buckingham Palace, for instance, has been rendered as a nondescript office block.) Obviously, this nigh-unprecedented access to our planet’s lush bounty of wonders has resulted in everybody flying their planes to Area 51—which just looks like a bunch of crappy military barracks, alas—and Isla De Epstein.
Of course, there’s nothing there (aside from other people getting together to aeronautically socialize), but it’s still a beautiful example of humanity’s capacity for bending pretty much any technological marvel toward its own appreciation for memes.