By Walt Hickey
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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.
Message Seen at 10:36 p.m.
American consumers check their phone an average of 52 times each day according to Deloitte, which presumably commissioned the study because the person they were dating never texted back. The study furthermore found 39 percent of Americans think they use their smartphones excessively, which means that 61 percent of Americans aren’t particularly self-aware.
Jason Blum, the producer of horror hits like Get Out, Paranormal Activity and Insidious, signed an eight picture deal with Amazon Studios. Blum is responsible for reinvigorating the horror genre and sending fans to cinemas in droves to bank on high-return, theatrical scares with minimal budgets. Naturally, none of his films for Amazon will have a theatrical run, per the agreement. Amazon itself is no stranger to spine-tingling, unexpected scares: I live in Queens and am trying to renew a lease just down the street from their newly announced New York headquarters.
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A new Pew Research Center poll of Japanese citizens found widespread pessimism: 76 percent believe that children today will be worse off compared to their parents and 55 percent think the current economic situation in Japan is bad. Automation is both a necessity and a source of anxiety: 89 percent believe robots and computers will do much of the work currently done by humans.
New research links social knitting with entrepreneurship: data on 403,168 individual knitters between 2007 and 2014 found that people who joined social knitting groups — or “stitch n’ bitch” groups — were 25 percent more likely than identical solo knitters to make the jump into being an entrepreneur. Only 1.5 percent of the studied Ravelry.com users went on to sell their own patterns, but the rate jumps once a user becomes involved in a community. The moral? Making the jump from hobbyist to business-person often just requires a little positive encouragement from peers.
Once a mecca for scholars from around the world, U.S. enrollment of international students has declined for the second consecutive year. This year the drop was even worse than last year. In the 2016-17 academic year, the number of new international students fell by 3.3 percent. In the 2017-18 year, that drop was 6.6 percent. Foreign students pumped $42 billion into colleges and universities last year. Gosh, I wonder what’s caused bright and talented foreigners to avoid investing time and money in the United States in the past two years — what an enigma. Maybe we can ask the U.K., Canada and Australia since they’re seeing a recent surge of brainy international students.
In a rare act of successful financial management, the MTA will purchase Grand Central Terminal for $35 million from a holding company. New York’s subway authority had signed a 280-year lease that gave them a window to purchase the station, a window that closes in 11 months. The landmark handles about 750,000 travelers each day, and will remain an icon under the new management, at least until some governor sells it to a technology conglomerate in exchange for a handful of jobs.
Correction: The original version of this newsletter misstated that knitters using revelry.com were more likely to become entrepreneurs. The correct website is ravelry.com.
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