RocaNews - 🌊 United We Sweat

July 25, 2022

When Shark Week premiered in 1988, its purpose was to correct shark misconceptions and promote conservation efforts. To give you a sense of how it's evolved over the years, this Shark Week is hosted by the Rock and stars the casts of the Impractical Jokers and Jackass. Yep, it's stronger than ever. 

In today's edition:

  • We all speak baby talk
  • USA-C! United we sweat
  • Frost heads down the Amazon
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 Key Stories

Stocks Surge in July

After months of declines, US stocks have rebounded so far this month

  • The S&P 500, which tracks the largest US companies, is up nearly 5% in July after rising 2.5% last week. After those gains, the S&P 500 is down 17% in 2022
  • The surge comes as companies perform better than investors had feared. An example is Netflix, whose stock rose 17% after it reported losing 1M subscribers last quarter, rather than the 2M it had projected
  • Fears of a major recession still loom as the Fed (US central bank) considers raising interest rates further to fight inflation. High interest rates hurt stock prices
Dig Deeper
  • Will there be a recession or not? On Sunday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that one is "not inevitable." Last month, though, a Financial Times poll found that 70% of top economists expect a recession in the next year. A recession is defined by the economy shrinking for at least 2 consecutive quarters. In this year's first quarter, the US economy shrank by 1.6%

Google Fires Blake Lemoine

Google fired Blake Lemoine, the software engineer who claimed that a chatbot was sentient

  •  Last month, Lemoine published his conversations with LaMDA, an AI chatbot, and claimed that it was emotionally equivalent to a 7-year-old child, self-aware, and fearful of its own death. He said Google should obtain its consent before running tests on it
  • After conducting an internal review of Lemoine’s claims, Google concluded that they were “wholly unfounded.” Google put Lemoine on leave for violating the company’s confidentiality policies
  • Lemoine confirmed his termination on Friday
Dig Deeper
  • Lemoine, who is an ordained Christian priest, stated, "My opinions about LaMDA's personhood and sentience are based on my religious beliefs." He also stated that he has conversed with psychologists and ethicists "at graduate levels." Google says all of Lemoine's claims are unfounded

Musk Snakes Brin?

The WSJ broke the news that Elon Musk had an affair with Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s wife

  • The affair led to a falling out between the billionaires — Musk is the world’s richest person, Brin the 8th richest — who were formerly close friends
  • Musk has said that he often crashed on Brin’s couch, and in 2008, Brin gave Musk $500k to help Tesla stay afloat. The affair took place last December, when Brin and his wife were separated but living together
  • The news comes weeks after it emerged that Musk secretly had 2 kids with an executive at Neuralink, a company he founded. Musk has 9 kids from 3 mothers

Baby Talk is Global

A US study found that humans across the world tend to speak and sing to babies in similar ways

  • The study examined voice recordings from 410 parents across 6 continents, making it one of the largest of its kind. The parents spoke 18 different languages, and ranged from nomads in Africa to residents of western cities
  • The study found that parents of all cultures speak and sing to babies with similar high-pitched, exaggerated sounds. The researchers suggested such “baby talk” is natural to humans, and may advance infants’ cognitive and social development
popcorn Popcorn
  • United we sweat: An estimated 85% of Americans are expected to experience temperatures above 90ºF (32ºC) this week 
  • Vince McGone: Amid a misconduct probe, WWE CEO Vince McMahon is stepping down as top dog of the wrestling league his father founded
  • Furious George (& Co.): A spate of monkey attacks in Japan has caused at least 42 injuries. Police are now using tranquilizer guns against them

  • Check your finger, mate: A chess robot broke a 7-year-old's finger during a match in Moscow. The robot had no prior incidents of this sort
  • Shrinkflation? Forget stagflation, Yelp restaurant review data suggest that food portions are shrinking amid rising costs
  • Pray for the peacocks: Martha Stewart says that a pack of coyotes killed 6 of her pet peacocks at her Connecticut home

finger What do you think?

Today's Poll:
Which once-every-four-years sporting event do you prefer?

Summer Olympics
World Cup


Today's Question:

What is one stereotype about your generation that you don't find to be true?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap!

 Roca Wrap

In June, Roca co-founder Max Frost spent 3 weeks crossing the Amazon by boat. He's documenting it here over the coming weeks. 

Starting today, Frost is posting pictures and videos of the trip on his Instagram. He meant to start last week, but got sidetracked...

After 3 days of traveling through Peru’s Andes Mountains, I was finally nearing the Amazon. 

On day 3, I covered about 220 miles (350 km) during a 12-hour journey. Now, on day 4, my goal was to actually make it to the rainforest. Google Maps told me it would be a 10-hour, 300-mile (500km) trip. 

I woke up in the small mountain city of Chachapoyas, where I booked a seat in a van headed toward Yurimaguas, a river port city in the rainforest where I was planning to catch a boat toward Brazil. During the 2-hour trip, the mountain desert in which I had spent the last 3 days finally gave way to the jungle.

The next leg of the journey took 6 hours, and I rode in 2 different cars through a mix of jungle mountains and poor, dusty towns. Around 5 PM, we reached a city called Tarapoto, where I found a van headed the last stretch to Yurimaguas. We left after an hour of waiting for the car to fill up with passengers. 

By the time we pulled into Yurimaguas, it was 8 PM and I had been traveling for 13 hours. I had no hotel booked and no idea of when the boats would be leaving. A motorcycle taxi approached me at the bus station; I asked him for a ride to the port. We zipped over there – only for the boat ticket office worker to tell me that there was no boat until 8 PM the next night. I didn’t believe it and decided to try again early the next morning. My taxi driver offered to take me to a hotel, where I paid $7 for a dingy, AC-less room.

I headed outside and took a seat at a plastic stool at a table on the street, where women were grilling fish wrapped in banana leaves. I ordered one and it came with a mashed, unsweet banana, rice, and liquidy salsa. To drink, I had a cup of milky juice they were serving out of a plastic jug. Everything was delicious, and the fish – caught in the river that day – was probably the best fish I had ever had.

Motorbikes were zipping past, horns beeping. I was dripping in sweat from the humidity. I hadn’t seen a tourist since leaving Lima, the capital, 4 days prior. I hadn’t spoken English in 2 days. I hadn’t had cell service or wifi. I felt utterly absorbed. 

I did a double take: 2 tall white guys had taken seats next to me and were speaking in accented English to a Peruvian man. At first I was totally disappointed – the immersive experience had popped. But then I got talking to them: 2 Germans who had just arrived in Yurimaguas after 3 days of bus rides from Ecuador, where they had spent the last 6 weeks. The Peruvian man they were with had just taken them to buy tickets for a boat headed downriver at 8 AM the next morning. 

That man took me to a corner store where I bought tickets for the same ride, a 36-hour trip that would take me halfway to Brazil. I was told to be at the port the next morning at 6 AM. 

When I got there, it was dark and raining. There were a few shanty-looking, aluminum-roof huts selling goods, breakfast, coffee. A row of tractor trailers had parked in reverse, their open containers facing the river. The rain had turned the entire plot of land from dirt to mud.

On the other side of the trucks were a row of large, beat-up boats docked on the riverbank, accessible via narrow planks of wood that were covered with mulch to make them less slippery. Dozens of men were ferrying between the trailers and boats, loading them with cargo – cattle, boxes of clothes, watermelons, chicken coops, motorbikes. 2 days downriver was Iquitos, a city of 400,000 people with no road connections. Almost everything in it had to come through this port.  

My boat was the smallest of the line, 1-story tall, and maybe 15-feet wide by 150-feet long. The driver had a room in the front. An open area with a line of hammocks stretching across it ran the length of the boat. 2 metal bars ran along each side of the boat, and people had hooked each end of their hammocks up to one of those. This was where I’d spend the next 2 days; it smelled like livestock, gas, and chicken poop.

In the rear were 2 bathrooms, a shower, and a small kitchen. A staircase ran to the roof above, where dozens of crates of chickens had been stored. Underneath the main level of the boat was a cargo bay. The floor was covered in mud. Tarps covered the open-air windows to protect the interior from rain. 

Even though it was 6:15 AM, Peruvian music was blasting on the speaker when I boarded. I found an open area among the hammocks and strung up mine, which I had brought from home. I locked my bag and set it under a bench, then went outside to watch the scene. 

Over the next 3 hours, our ship and those next to it were manually packed with cargo. The port workers, all men, lugged the goods and animals on their backs and heads, running across the slippery, narrow wooden planks. They had no body fat; pure muscle. Some were covered in chicken poop and feathers. They didn’t stop or talk. I’ve probably never seen such difficult manual labor. 

Just before leaving, the 2 Germans from the previous night boarded and hung their hammocks up next to mine. Then around 9 AM – the cargo hold finally packed – we set off. The journey down the Amazon had finally begun. 

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

 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Pt. 2: Which word looks more misspelled?
Phlegm: 75.2%
Asthma: 24.8%

Yesterday's Question:

Just 20 Questions! 
New Treasure Hunt begins tomorrow. Stay tuned and good luck.
Last Week's Treasure Hunt
Last week’s Treasure Hunt Location was the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Clue Explanations: 

Clue 1: Will you still love me when I'm forever young and beautiful?

Explanation: The Lana Del Rey song Young and Beautiful features the voice of Daisy Buchanan – a character based F. Scott Fitzgerald's lover Ginerva King. King, as well as her mother and grandmother, were all named after the Da Vinci portrait Ginevra de' Benci, which housed in the National Gallery. It is the only Da Vinci on public view in the Americas. Forever young and beautiful suggests something long-lasting, like a painting.

Clue 2: What good can come from tax evasion?

Explanation: Andrew Mellon was in the middle of a lawsuit for tax evasion when he approached Franklin D. Roosevelt with the idea for the gallery.

Clue 3: What is mobile and giant

Explanation: Alexander Calder's Untitled, 1976 is one of the largest mobiles ever created. It is located in the National Gallery.

Bonus: Russian Blackjack

Explanation: Mellon purchased the first 21 paintings in the core collection from the Soviets, who were trying to finance industrialization.

Clue 4: Who wouldn't go for a free mellon?

Explanation: Admission to the National Gallery is free, and Andrew Mellon was the benefactor.


And big congratulations to last week's winners Reese from Maryland, Dave from Maryland, and Ciara from Atlanta, who took home $250, $100, and $100 respectively.

 Final Thoughts

We hope everyone is bearing the unbearable heat. We're working on some news and exciting ways to keep improving this newsletter. Stay tuned for details on that, and thank you for reading Roca!

- Max and Max

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