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monday memo 139: bad movies, deep dives & x

Welcome to the Monday Memo — your pop culture snapshot from Manifesto.

Hey friends, Mondays can be tough. Here are 7 things to make July 31st, 2023, a bit better. Getting out our telescopes to look for the aliens the U.S. government just confirmed exist...


1. Artist of the Week: Jordan Kay

Jordan Kay is an award-winning professional freelance artist, illustrator & designer based in the Pacific Northwest. As a multi-disciplinary creative, she makes work that ranges from sophisticated illustrations to playful abstract designs that are fun, lively, and full of personality. We personally love her portrait of Megan Rapione for the Women's World Cup!


2. What we're listening to: How Did This Get Made? - Apple Podcasts

Each week, Paul Sheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas talk through a film (with their funniest friends) that is so bad it's good. Get your popcorn and pop in your earbuds.


3. What we're watching: The Deepest Breath - Netflix

A free diver trains to break a world record with the help of an expert safety diver. This film follows the paths they took to meet at the pinnacle of the freediving world, documenting the rewards and risks of chasing a dream through ocean depths. Dive into this incredible, new documentary. Just try not to hold your breath.


4. Trend & Advertising Highlight: X Ugh. Twitter (can we call it that anymore?) isback in our trend section yet again. Elon Musk announced last week that he was killing the bluebird and brand name and replacing it with an X. Back in 1999, Musk was ousted from Paypal when he tried to rebrand the company to He has since used X in both his brands and his personal life: He runs the company SpaceX, has created corporate bodies called X Holdings and a start-up called xAI, and named one of his children X Æ A-12. If X is Musk's personal white whale, his interest in the letter also aligns with broader trends in branding. In a statement, Musk said, "The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth – like birds tweeting – but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video. In the months to come, we will add comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world. The Twitter name does not make sense in that context, so we must bid adieu to the bird.” Here is our take: Musk is far too volatile for the platform to retain advertisers and this complete shift from the known brand identity is too big of a risk for him to take right now. Also, when rebranding your company, maybe don't pick the exact colors of your competitors (the previously covered, Threads).


5. Cognitive Bias of the Week: Why are we so invested in sports teams?

During the Women's World Cup, or any other major supporting event, do you often feel an unusually high sense of patriotism? Researchers have theorized these feelings as indicative of the relationship between supporting a team and its connection to our social and psychological health. The teams become a “valued, core component of the social identity” of ourselves, essentially as extensions of our personhood. When they lose, we lose. When they win, we do too. Experimental data supports this phenomenon. One study found that when people watched their team win, they had both improved mood and self-confidence in specific mental and social skills, as compared with people who watched their team lose. So before your judge, remember that we see ourselves in these teams. GO USA!


In the south of Paris’ city center, the 14th arrondissement is conducting a neighborhood-wide experiment on deliberate living by consciously choosing to be good neighbors.

6. Good News of the Week:

  • Lawmaker proposes 'bill of rights' for unhoused people in Michigan (FOX 17)

  • People are using Google Maps to cut down tailpipe pollution (The Verge)

  • Two Stanford students created glasses that provide real-time subtitles in real life (GGG)

  • Paris district declared the ‘Republic of Good-Neighbors’ working to revive conviviality and cut loneliness (GNN)


This week's bonus is the newest (and arguably strangest) internet trend. An NPC is a non-playable character, any character in a video game that you cannot play as, but might interact with during a game. One of the most popular NPC creators on TikTok is PinyDoll, a woman with over 750K followers, who makes thousands of dollars per stream.


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