RocaNews - 🌊 Pope vs. Pets


January 6, 2022

"Why do Uber drivers skip the gym?" "Because they don't even.... Lyft." Okay bad dad joke aside, listen to this commuter nightmare: An Uber passenger was stranded overnight on I-95 in Virginia this week. The cost of his 9-hour snowstorm ride? $600. Thankfully, Uber just said it will refund him! 

How do you rebuild a civilizational cornerstone? France is now exploring that question with Notre Dame, and today's Wrap explores the intensifying debate.

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Key Stories


Bring in the.... Robotic Pets?


  • On Wednesday, a Japanese company debuted an AI-powered robotic cat, which it said “frees humankind from the conundrum" of having a pet
  • Also Wednesday, a Spanish law took effect that recognizes pets as “living, sentient beings
  • The law means that people can not mortgage, seize, or abandon pets. Courts must also consider how a divorce may impact a pet, offering joint custody if it is in the pet’s best interest
  • And again on Wednesday, the Pope said that having pets instead of kids "diminishes us, takes away our humanity"

Yesterday's Wrap was on the sentient animals debate. Check it out! 

Drone Warfare Stumps US

  • The US military is struggling to compete with armed low-cost drones on the battlefield
  • A 4-star US general told the Financial Times that drones are causing an “IED moment,” where makeshift devices are outsmarting advanced military tech
  • In Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, militants have used so-called “Costco drones," which cost $1,000, to defeat US air dominance
  • The drones' small size and low flying altitude helps them evade traditional defense. The head of US troops in the Middle East said the US has lost the "complete" upper hand in air dominance for the first time since the 1950s

In 2016, there was a so-called "Day of the Drones," during which ISIS used 70 grenade-equipped $1,000 drones to attack Iraqi troops. The US and other militaries haven't figured out how to prevent similar attacks.

Hedgehogs Created MRSA

  • “Superbug” MRSA (an antibiotic-resistant bacteria) evolved on hedgehogs, new research shows
  • Until now, scientists believed Superbug MRSA, which can cause deadly infections in humans, came from the overuse of antibiotics on dairy cows
  • The study found that the bacteria compete with a fungus to survive on hedgehogs’ skin. The fungus releases an antibiotic compound, which caused the bacteria to become antibiotic resistant 
  • Still, the vast majority of human MRSA infections are a consequence of over-prescribing antibiotics, the study’s co-author said

The researchers found that 60% of UK hedgehogs carry MRSA, however the study's co-author said, “I don’t want people to go around slaughtering hedgehogs.” 

Walmart to Your Fridge

  • Walmart is hiring 3,000+ drivers in an attempt to make its direct-to-fridge grocery delivery dominant 
  • Walmart's InHome service launched in 2019, when it reached just 1M customers. Its goal is to reach 30M in 2022 
  • For $20/month, the service has deliverers put groceries ordered via app directly on the countertop or in the fridge. For $50 more, customers receive a smartlock that allows body-cam wearing deliverers to drop the goods off with no one home  
  • The delivery wars are hot: Walmart is competing with Amazon, Instacart, FreshDirect and others for grocery dominance

Walmart is trying to differentiate itself from the other companies by treating its drivers as full-time employees, not contractors. Amazon has taken flack for the tight regulations it puts on even its contract drivers. 

finger What do you think?

Today's Poll:
Which would you rather have as a pet?


Today's Question:
Who is your favorite all-time pet? What made it so special?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap!

popcorn Popcorn

Culture & Sports 
  • Star tennis player Novak Djokovic was denied entry into Australia to play in the Australian Open due to an "[invalid] medical exemption" for the vaccine
  • Yellowstone's Season 4 finale was the most-watched telecast on cable since The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere in 2017
  • And the Grammy goes to... Omicron? The Grammy Awards are being postponed indefinitely due to the "uncertainty surrounding [Omicron]"
  • Don't Look Up is already Netflix's 3rd-biggest original movie ever. The dark comedy stars Leo, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, and many others 
  • Senvest, one of the top-performing hedge funds in 2021, jumped ahead in January by being long on GameStop before it blew up
  • Zillow projects the top 5 hottest real estate markets in 2022 to be: Tampa, Jacksonville, Raleigh, San Antonio and Charlotte
  • Watch out, Elon! Mercedes-Benz unveiled its new electric concept car, the Vision EQXX, which has a 47-inch TV screen and a 620-mile range

  • Meghan Markle won token damages of... £1 from a large British newspaper group over a privacy lawsuit
  • Airline antics: "Unruly passenger" investigations soared this year marking the highest total since the FAA started keeping track in 1995
  • Inglorious NFTs: Movie director Quentin Tarantino will move forward with his Pulp Fiction NFT sale later this month

Roca Wrap

A Newsletter Exclusive

In April 2019, the Cathedral of Notre Dame went up in flames. The ensuing blaze destroyed most of the roof, the famed spire, and much of the interior of one of the world’s most prominent houses of worship. New plans to rebuild the church have provoked a storm: Is it a groundbreaking modern cathedral or a woke theme-park? 

The cathedral, which opened in 1345 after 182 years of construction, is one of France’s most notable tourist, religious, and cultural sites. Before the burning, it attracted some 13M visitors annually. It inspired the Hunchback of Notre Dame and was the site of Napoleon’s coronation. The cause of the 2019 blaze hasn’t been confirmed, but some evidence suggests it was caused by an accident during renovations.  

Last month, the French commission tasked with overseeing reconstruction approved plans proposed by the diocese of Paris, which manages Notre Dame. The plan would revamp the cathedral’s interior with contemporary touches: Art murals, the replacement of some classical sculptures of saints, and a “discovery trail” that leads visitors through 5 chapels representing 5 continents with Bible verses projected on the walls in local languages.  

The plan has sparked a furious debate within France.  
Its advocates argue that the new cathedral represents the modern multicultural France: The priest overseeing the restorations said it will particularly benefit those “who are not always from a Christian culture.” The director of the Catholic Institute of Paris said it hardly marks a change: “The cathedral has always been open to art from the contemporary period.”

Critics say that the renovations will destroy the cultural integrity of the 850-year-old medieval building. More than 100 public figures signed an open letter against the plan, writing that the proposal “completely distorts the décor and the liturgical space” of the cathedral. “It has a history that we must respect, that today’s people cannot erase with a stroke of the pen," one of the signatories added. 

The debate is the latest culture-war controversy surrounding the cathedral, whose burning many conservatives framed as a metaphor for France’s civilizational decline. They see plans to modernize traditional French icons, such as the cathedral, as examples of French culture abandoning its history to appease multiculturalism. 

Initially the French government suggested an international competition to rebuild the destroyed roof and spire, potentially with a modern design “that bears the mark of our time.” The government scrapped those plans after widespread uproar, however. 

The new plan will only affect the interior of the cathedral, the diocese said, and will not alter historical architecture. The roof, wooden beams, and spire will be rebuilt exactly as before the fire. Nevertheless, critics say the changes resemble a “politically correct Disneyland.” 

Time will tell if the provisional plan stands amidst the criticism. French president Emmanuel Macron wants renovations done by the 5th anniversary of the burning – April 15, 2024 – months before Paris hosts the Summer Olympics, although some experts say the renovation may take decades. This debate may go on just as long. 
If you have thoughts, let us know at and don't forget to share this Wrap with family and friends by using this link here!
Future Wrap ideas or requests? Let us know!

think Games

14 countries participated in the 1896 Olympics, the first of the modern era. Excluding the US, Great Britain, Germany, and France, can you name 3 of them?

Find out the answer at the bottom of Roca Clubhouse.

wave Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Have you quit a job in the last year? 

Yes: 23.4%
No: 76.6%

Yesterday's Question:

If yes to the above, did the pandemic change your perspective/play a role?

Becca from Kansas City: "Absolutely! We had so much more time to have eye-opening experiences about how we want to live our lives. In my case, the job didn't fit my vision anymore."

Anya from Nashville: "I quit my job as an ER nurse in August, partly because I was about to pop with my second baby. But also it was exhausting to be treated like crap not just by the patients but by the corporation that has made BILLIONS of dollars through the pandemic but couldn't give us decent raises."

General Feedback:

Dave from Jerusalem: "WE NEED PICS OF THE NEW CRIB"

Rick from California: "Before the zoos get all vilified.... Don't forget that without them dozens if not hundreds of species would have long since gone extinct."

Roy: "Thank you so much for RocaNews! It's so refreshing to know what is happening without people trying to explain why."

Anthony: "I just wanted to say congratulations on your new office. That's an amazing accomplishment. I really hope Roca continues to grow and reach as many people as possible. Thanks for bringing all of us news that matters! "

20 Questions

Every Friday, we ask the Roca Riders 20 questions and feature a few of our favorite answers. This past week, however, we did not do a 20 Questions.
Games Answer(s):
The other 10 were: Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Chile, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, & Switzerland 

Final Thoughts 

As the first work week of 2022 nears a close, we'll give you this inspirational story:

George Washington wanted to pursue a personal passion after leaving the presidency in 1797, so he opened a whiskey distillery. That distillery went on to become the nation's largest, brewing 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year. If the first president could become a whiskey titan, you can make it to Friday.

Have a great Thursday!

-Max & Max

wave Today's Instagram Wrap is on the Witches of Salem. Their story makes Salem's witch-trials look like a walk in the park.
Thanks for reading! See you again tomorrow!
As always, send thoughts and feedback to
Written by Max Frost and Max Towey | Graphics by Billy Carney

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