By Walt Hickey
Numlock is off until Jan. 2, 2019! During the week between Christmas and New Year’s we’re doing best of’s. This week: I pulled the most-clicked stories of the year. here are #15 through #8.
The new mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers is Gritty. He is a beautiful and insane muppet who has taken the internet by storm for perfectly articulating the national mood. In the first 30 days of his introduction, Gritty reached 70 million people on TV and garnered 5 billion impressions, the latter of which is worth an estimated $15 million in earned media. He is perfect and literally the best thing to come out of Philadelphia, ever. The designers are now talking about how they made it happen, and it wasn’t just kidnapping a Sesame Street resident and raising it on a solid diet of PCP and batteries: they considered over 100 designs, 15 eye colors, considered giving him wings or fangs. A mascot can make it to 250 to 300 game and community events per year, and Gritty is now in high demand.
With a modest 72 overall rating (okay, maybe I’m not one to talk about modest Madden ratings) Seahawks rookie Shaquem Griffin has formally entered the ranks of Madden, an annual ritual that tells a generation of players raised on the game that they’ve truly made it to the NFL. Griffin’s inclusion in the game is actually a pretty big deal: while the linebacker lost his left hand at the age of 4, his dominance at the combine led to his drafting in the fifth round. In order to encapsulate Griffin in-game, designers pulled out the stops to keep fidelity with reality.
Stop what you are doing immediately: the government has announced it is Fat Bear Week and I think we should hear them out. In preparation for winter, grizzly bears bulk up on food, growing from emaciated Wookiees in spring to the fearsome beasts of summer to well-fed absolute units in fall. Male Grizzlies in Yellowstone have never been documented weighing over 900 pounds, Olympic National Park’s black bears max out at about 600, but in Katmai National Park in Alaska male bears top out at well over 1,000 pounds. And because the National Park Service is a treasure, we have this beautiful transformation on film and get to vote on which bear got the fattest this very week. The Alaskan bears fare better than their lower-48 kin because winters haven’t shortened or become warmer as severely as they have down here. The bear to beat is Otis, two-time winner of the competition, and my god Otis is breathtaking.
Big City Coyotes
Researchers estimate that there are between 30 and 40 coyotes that live in New York City, with a domain ranging from LaGuardia Airport to golf courses in The Bronx to even Central Park. A new project fastened tracking devices to three Bronx coyotes to seek to understand the main question on researchers’ minds, which I suppose is, “What the hell?” Having seen the photos, I can confirm these are indeed coyotes and not, as I originally assumed, simply rats of an enormous size that onlookers mistook as coyotes.
Bloomberg looked at the ten most valuable college degrees, which include STEM staples like actuarial science (average income $108,658), nuclear engineering ($108,591) and applied mathematics ($105,678). It also includes zoology, which has an average income of $111,888 and an unemployment rate of 1.4 percent, and somehow never comes up in these conversations about awesome career fields demanding investment. Did I miss the pitch session about how I could have robust career learning about animals for hundreds of thousands of dollars? I didn’t have to spend dozens of nights chipping away at differential equations to score a good gig, I apparently had this option of researching animals for money?
We’ve Been Bamboozled
Amazon played America’s cities like a fiddle, gathering the largest corporate site location database on earth — information about tax incentives, transit systems, talent pools, local tolerance for construction and the amount cities will pay companies for jobs — by saying they might develop a second headquarters in them. All said and done, Amazon now has information worth hundreds of millions of dollars that was given to them for free from 238 municipalities. That mythical second headquarters will actually be split into two, likely one just across the river from America’s political capital and the other just across the river from America’s financial capital.
Fun fact: in the United States, regardless of the nation of their birth every single generation at every level of government consumes more benefits than they contribute in taxes, with one single exception according to the Fed: first generation immigrants, who contributed more federally than they received in benefits in the year. That includes dependents. First generation immigrants to the U.S. contributed $963 more than they received in federal benefits while a person whose grandparents immigrated ran a net deficit of $4,364.
Spider webs with a combined length of approximately 1,000 meters are coating Lake Vistonida in northern Greece, and I think we should give the hundreds of thousands of spiders who are responsible whatever they want. Prompted by unseasonably warm weather that led to an explosion in spider prey like gnats and mosquitoes, the spiders are actually doing us a favor here. This is the second case of this in Greece in two months, so either we should do something about climate change or we have displeased the Greek legend Arachne and must make recompense lest we face her fearsome wrath.