RocaNews - 🌊 Zelensky Smells a Rat

July 19, 2022

Piranhas and panthers and crocs, oh my. Working at Roca is apparently so much fun that co-founder Max Frost thought he'd prefer to spend the last few weeks swimming with piranhas and traversing territory that few Americans brave each year. Maybe we need to introduce nap pods? Enjoy Pt. 2 today!

In today's edition:

  • Uvalde police report
  • Vertical nap pods
  • Crossing the Amazon, Pt. 2
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 Key Stories

Wild Bison Reintroduced to UK

European bison have been reintroduced into the wild in the UK for the first time in thousands of years

  • The European bison, Europe’s largest land animal, existed elsewhere in Europe before going extinct in the wild in the mid-1900s. Since then, reintroduction projects have successfully restored wild bison populations throughout Europe
  • The 3 bison released in the southeastern UK are intended to serve as “ecosystem engineers,” restoring natural habitats by spreading seeds, felling trees, and opening natural paths through the woods
  • Researchers confined the bison to a 12-acre (5 hectare) plot of woods, which is expected to expand
Dig Deeper
  • According to the UK Natural History Museum, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. An estimated 41% of UK species have declined since 1970, and 26% of its mammals are at risk of extinction. ~133 species have gone extinct in the UK since the 1500s

Uvalde Report Released

A 77-page report identified “systemic failures” in law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde shooting

  • It took officers 77 minutes to kill the shooter once the attack began. 19 children and 2 teachers died
  • 376 officers — local, state, and federal — were at the scene, yet the report said that no one led a response. There were communication failures and some officers did not know there was an active shooter. It concluded that responders failed “to prioritize saving the lives of innocents”
  • The report also found that the school left its doors unlocked — a violation of safety protocols

Reports of Treason in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Zelensky fired 2 top government officials due to their connections to “treasonous” officials

  • On Sunday, Zelensky announced that the head of Ukraine’s defense agency and its prosecutor general were fired after a probe revealed that 200+ people within their departments may have spied for Russia
  • Zelensky stated that 651 officials will be charged with treason for allegedly aiding Russia. The allegations center around the loss of Kherson, a southern Ukrainian city captured in early March
  • While the fired officials weren’t implicated in treason, Zelensky said they didn’t do enough to stop it
Dig Deeper
  • Meanwhile, Russia has begun a new offensive in the south aimed at seizing Mykolaiv, a strategically important city west of Kherson. Russia's broader goal is to seize the major port city of Odessa, thereby cutting Ukraine's access to the Black Sea

Elephants Hold Clue for Cancer?

A UK study identified elephant genes that prevent the spread of cancer cells, offering clues for doctors

  • Cancer cells are formed from cell mutations that cause uncontrollable growth. Cancer is the 2nd-leading cause of death in the US
  • While elephants' large size should make them more likely to develop cancerous tumors, few do. The researchers found that this is because elephants have 40 versions of a gene that regulates cell growth and division. Humans only have 2
  • The gene pushes mutated cells to repair or destroy themselves, preventing the growth of tumors

"Inflation Dam" Ready to Burst from Cash Tidal Wave?

Together with Masterworks

At the height of the pandemic, US corporations issued record amounts of debt to shore-up their balance sheets

  • But that debt now has to go somewhere – and an $8T floodgate is wide open
  • Inflation is already at 9.1% – its highest rate in 41 years – and this cash dump may drive prices even higher
  • Blue-chip art is seen as a non-correlated asset class. During the last inflationary period, it grew more than 33.2%
Dig Deeper
  • That's why art-investment platform Masterworks is offering Roca readers a chance to skip their waitlist. Just click here to join!
popcorn Popcorn
  • Grand Theft Jewelry: Millions of dollars worth of diamonds and jewels were stolen from an armored car in California last week
  • Aye, 'tis hot: Scotland may set a new record for its hottest-ever temperature. Temperatures may hit 95 F (35 C)
  • Game of roles: Peter Dinklage, the dwarf actor from Game of Thrones, will star in the Hunger Games prequel

  • Up, up, and asleep: Some Japanese offices have installed vertical nap pods. They say employees are sleeping in the bathroom, and this is a "healthier" option
  • City that always stinks: NYC odor complaints from Big Apple residents are at record-highs after surging 54% since last year 
  • Furious George? A monkey is terrorizing a Japanese town. It's been spotted dragging a toddler and breaking through windows 

finger What do you think?

Today's Poll:
Do you feel nostalgic about paying for things in cash?

Today's Question:
Does listening to an audiobook count the same as reading a book? Explain.

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap!

 Roca Wrap

We sent Roca co-founder Max Frost on a mission to cross the Amazon without flying. He's documenting the trip here over the coming newsletters. 

Getting from New York City to Peru took about 15 hours: An hour to Toronto and a 4-hour layover there; a 5-hour flight to Bogota, Colombia, and an hour layover there; and finally a 3-hour flight to Lima, Peru.

Lima straddles a desert along the Pacific Ocean. On the edge of the city are the Andes Mountains, which create a natural wall that makes the city the second-driest capital in the world (after Cairo, Egypt). Greater Lima’s 11M people make it one of South America’s most populous cities. 

My first impression of Lima was the smoke: It was a crisp, beautiful day – blue skies and 60ºF (16ºC) – but the air was dusty and tasted like smoke. I later learned that Lima is one of South America’s most polluted cities, both from having so many vehicles and the desert dust.

I would have loved to explore the city but didn’t have much time. When planning the trip, I underestimated Peru: It looks small on a map, but is nearly the size of Alaska. The terrain – primarily mountains and rainforest – and a poor road system make travel slow. I arrived around 10 AM and planned to take a bus into the mountains that afternoon. 

I visited 2 neighborhoods in the city. One – Miraflores – was situated along dramatic cliffs overlooking the Pacific. Clean, lively, and wealthy, I was told it’s where many of the city’s richest live. 

From there I called an Uber to the historic center. I asked my driver if Peru was safe. “No,” he said. “Well, Peru is safe. But Lima isn’t. Where you were before is fine; where you’re going now is fine. But don’t go beyond that. And don’t show your cell phone.”
The historic center – a dense grid of Spanish colonial architecture packed with shops and restaurants – was packed with people, including many protesting a pension reform. I had my first Peruvian meal there: Shellfish with rice, and ceviche – raw fish marinated in lime. All delicious.

I wandered out of that area and into a more middle-class one, where open-air markets were packed with vendors hawking school and home supplies, avocados, and a range of fruits. It was hot and dusty; in the distance I could see that the neighborhood turned into shanties that scaled a mountain overlooking the city. I decided against going further and called an Uber to the bus terminal. 

I had booked a bus online that was scheduled to depart at 4:30 PM, and my Uber dropped me off at a shopping mall at 4. I tried to check in to my bus at 4:20 – only to be told I was at the wrong bus station. A “taxi driver” – his car had no taxi markings – offered to take me to the right station for $4. I had read not to ride with the “informal taxis” but had no time left so I did. I sprinted into the correct station at 4:35 – only to be told my bus was delayed. 

A Peruvian family had seen me running in and asked where I was going. It turned out they were going to the same place – a city 16 hours to the north called Cajamarca – and told me they’d let me know when the bus was departing. 

30 minutes later I boarded with them. It was 5:30 PM and we were scheduled to arrive at 9:30 AM. I passed out immediately. 

3 hours later, the daughter of the family shook me awake and told me in Spanish that we had stopped for dinner. Disoriented and half asleep I stumbled out of the bus; she helped me order at a counter – overcooked steak – and invited me to eat with her family.

Her name was Yessi and she was a 31-yo master’s student in Lima who had formerly worked as a journalist. She spoke English and had recently spent 6 months in the US. She and her parents were headed to northern Peru for a family reunion. 

“Are you here alone?” they asked. I said that I was. “Do you have a place to stay?” Not yet, I said. “We have a lot of space in Cajamarca. How about you stay with us? We’ll take you around and show you the city.” 

How could I say no to that?

If you have thoughts, let us know at!
Future Wrap ideas or requests? Let us know!

 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do people have a responsibility to have non-odorous breath?
Yes: 86.3%
No: 13.7%

Yesterday's Question:

What is your all-time favorite board game? Sore loser stories welcome...

Alex from Madison: "I’ve worked in the board game industry for approximately 12 years and, because of that, I have favorites in categories. For me, I’ll always play Dominion and Pandemic (a bit on the nose these days but the game mechanics are awesome). I’m also a huge fan of Azul."

Erica from Florida: "A lot of games came to mind that I enjoy- trivial pursuit, cranium, taboo... but in the end I decided on Parcheesi. It is the ultimate game of treachery and deceit (at least in my family) and it forces you to decide the age old question- "Is it better to screw someone over, or move ahead"

Billy from Buffalo: "Battle Ship. Easy to play - transport, variable enough not boring"
Today's Clue (Day 1 of 4):

Will you still love me when I'm forever young and beautiful?
We're back this week with Roca's classic Treasure Hunt. The correct answer to this week's Hunt will be a landmark in the United States. Thursday's newsletter will contain a bonus clue, which is automatically unlocked by referring 2 people to this newsletter. In total there will be 5 clues about 1 landmark.

This week, first place takes home $250; second and third place take home $100 each. 

You get one guess, which you submit by replying to a newsletter with a Google street view screenshot.


 Final Thoughts

We were thrilled to see all your feedback yesterday – both a massive amount of responses to the board game question, as well as excitement to read about the Amazon journey. Thank you all for sending that in – it makes us love what we do even more!  

- Max and Max

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