🌊 AI Wars Get Chippy

Elite university president backlash, astronauts find tomato in space and 20 Questions!

Today is the 43-year anniversary of Mark David Chapman assassinating John Lennon in New York City. Inspired by the novel The Catcher in the Rye, Chapman shot Lennon outside his apartment building at 10 pm. When police arrived at the scene he was reading The Catcher in the Rye.

By the way, what’s the deal with assassins having three names? Mark David Chapman, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, James Earl Ray… the list goes on. Not to be paranoid, but I’m starting to think we need to keep an eye on Catherine Zeta Jones.

In today's edition:

  • Elite university president backlash

  • Astronauts find tomato in space

  • 20 Questions!

 🔑 Key Stories

AI Chip Battle Raging

US chipmaker AMD unveiled a new chip it claims will challenge Nvidia’s AI dominance

  • Nvidia is the world’s largest chipmaker by market cap. It specializes in “graphics processing units” (GPUs), which are integral to building AI models. Its H100 GPU is the industry standard for AI companies

  • On Wednesday, AMD, a smaller US chipmaker, unveiled a competitor to Nvidia’s H100. AMD claimed its new GPU outperformed the H100, and analysts believe it will be cheaper

  • OpenAI, Microsoft, and Meta announced they will begin using AMD’s new chip beginning next year

Denmark Bans Quran Burning

Denmark passed a bill banning Quran burning

  • This summer, a Swedish protester burned a copy of the Quran, sparking outrage among many Muslims. Similar burnings occurred in Denmark, prompting Denmark to raise its terror threat levels

  • Since the summer, Danish politicians have debated a law that would forbid burning religious texts

  • On Thursday, Denmark’s parliament passed a bill criminalizing the “inappropriate treatment” of religious texts. Violators could face up to two years in jail

  • Supporters called it necessary for national security; critics claimed it would undermine free speech

Au Pair Reforms

The US State Department has proposed raising the minimum wage for foreign nannies

  • An au pair is a helper, usually a nanny, from abroad who lives with a host family. The State Department offers special visas for au pairs to live and work in the US

  • In addition to room and board, hosts are required to pay au pairs $195.75 a week for 45 hours of work, well below the federal minimum wage

  • The State Department recently proposed new rules that will require au pairs be paid local or state minimum wage. Critics argue that will make them unaffordable for many; supporters say it will reduce exploitation 

University Presidents Backlash

The presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), and MIT have faced calls to resign after a contentious House hearing

  • On Tuesday, during testimony before the House, all three presidents  declined to give a straight answer to the question of whether students “calling for the genocide of Jews” violated campus policies

  • Following backlashes, the presidents tried to walk back their statements. Calls for them to resign have since grown. At Penn, thousands of students signed a petition calling for the president to resign; influential Harvard alumni called on theirs to do so as well

Sourced in Vietnam; Roasted in Brooklyn ☕

In 1857, French missionaries introduced the coffee plant to Vietnam

  • Coffee thrived in Vietnam’s warm, tropical climate – yet fresh cream was hard to come by. So Vietnamese farmers developed a unique solution: Coffee mixed with condensed milk, which doesn’t require refrigeration. That gave birth to Vietnamese coffee, a delicious and creamy version of the popular beverage

  • The beverage turned Vietnam into one of the world’s premier coffee producers. Today, Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee producer and the world’s largest producer of Robusta coffee

  • Brooklyn-based Nguyen Coffee Supply provides Americans with an authentic taste of that Vietnamese flavor. Whether you want its iconic beans, cold brew, or brewing tools, Nguyen Coffee is your one-stop-shop for all things Vietnamese coffee

  • For a limited time, Nguyen Coffee Supply is offering 15% off EVERYTHING on their website! 

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • $600M man: Jon Rahm – the current world No. 3 golfer and reigning Masters championsigned a $600M deal to join LIV Golf. The 29-year-old has 11 PGA Tour wins, including the most recent Masters

  • Kodak back…in jail: Florida police arrested rapper Kodak Black for cocaine possession and tampering with physical evidence. President Trump pardoned him in 2020

  • I’m artificial intelligencein’ it: Next year, McDonald’s will partner with Google to introduce generative AI in “thousands” of its stores. Specific AI applications remain unspecified

Wildcard

  • We didn’t prevent the fire: NYC’s largest jail, Rikers Island, briefly opened a new unit for detainees suspected of setting fires but closed it the next day due to insufficient fire prevention equipment

  • To infinity and tomatoes! In March, a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) lost a small tomato from an off-Earth harvest, which finally turned up eight months later

  • New York’s luckiest man: An NYC man won $10M from a scratch-off ticket this week, adding to his previous $10M win from a year ago. Both winning tickets came from the same Brooklyn store

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

How do you like your coffee?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🗣 20 Questions

20 questions logo

“You see, I am Wonder Mike, and I’d like to answer 20 Questions.” - Sugarhill Gang 

In honor of 78-year-old Brenda Lee having the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, we are doing a Christmas music-themed 20 Questions today. For this edition, you will rate the questions on a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being the worst, 10 being the best. 

For all the Scrooges out there who hate Christmas music and even prefer Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” on the radio to “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” we ask you to use your 1’s sparingly. Let’s make it fun…

Here is the form! Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Have you been to McDonald’s in the past month?

Yes: 35%
No: 65%

Yesterday's Question:

What is your favorite word?

Mike from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania: "Onomatopoeia. Seriously. Slowly savor repeating that word. Doesn't get better than that."

Steve from Wellington, Florida: "For the last 6 years it’s been, ‘Daddy’”

Riley from Austin, Texas: "Definitely... it's so sexy! Something adverbs just does it for me.”

Brigid from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: “Avuncular, meaning ‘like an uncle,’ is my favorite adjective. Not only is it fun to have such a specific word, but I've used it to describe the manner of a lot of older male bosses and friends' dads (in good ways).”

Karyn from Williamsburg, Virginia: “Cleave. To rip apart AND to bind together?  Thats crazy fun.”

Ryan from San Diego: “My favorite word is smorgasbord, because it's just so damn fun to say.”

Last Week's 20 Qs Responses:

  1. How was your Spotify Wrapped this week?

    “Telling that I processed my relationships this year”

    “Chaotic - top five songs: 1 & 2 were by Lauren Daigle. 3rd was Santeria by Sublime. 4 & 5 were by Lauren Daigle. Not sure what this says about me. Lol.”

    “A little baffling (Provo??? Seriously?!?)”

  2. Who do you think was your most listened-to artist of 2023?

    “Taylor Swift”

    “AJR”

    “Switchfoot”

  3. Are you proud of that answer?

    “Heck yeah”

    “Meh”

  4. What's your favorite genre of music?

    “Rock”

    “Country”

    “Rap”

  5. What age range do you fall in? (curious if anyone over 50 says rap...)

    We had many over 50 say rap!

  6. Is Thanksgiving the best meal of the year?

    “Usually”

    “Never”

  7. How was your Thanksgiving this year?

    “Well my brother's girlfriend of 3 weeks got invited but my boyfriend of 10 months did not.”

    “I completely forgot it was happening”

    “Good, but we smoked the turkey this year and it tasted too much like bbq”

  8. You're at a gas station and your sweet tooth is active. What candy are you getting?

    “Snickers”

    “Milky Way”

  9. Same scenario but savory time. What snack is calling your name?

    “Pretzels”

    “Chex Mix”

  10. Any fun plans this weekend?

    “Decorating for Christmas”
    “A job interview for a 4th job (rent is crazy)”

    “Probably breaking up with my boyfriend so no”

  11. Do you live within a 30 minute drive to your hometown?

    Split answers!

  12. Are you a germaphobe?

    Split answers, again!

  13. Did the pandemic change your hygiene habits?

    Majority said yes

  14. Give us your top 3 condiments.

    “Mustard, ketchup, relish”

    “A-1 Steak Sauce, Franks Red hot, and my pop's wing sauce”

    “Mayonnaise, mayonnaise, mayonnaise (but not that awful sweet stuff – real french mayonnaise is the real deal!)”

  15. What about the best side at a BBQ restaurant?

    “Fries”

    “Cole slaw”

    “Mac and cheese”

  16. Worst purchase you made in the last year?

    “Frozen cheese sticks”

    “Anytime i spent over $30 on food”

    “Anything I can't remember”

  17. How much money to drink a bottle of Frank's Red Hot?

    Range from $0 to $1M

  18. How much money to sleep on the floor for a week?

    Range from $0 to $5M

  19. Best part about December?

    “Christmas lights”

    “Family”

    “Snow”

  20. Who's someone you feel closer with after Thanksgiving week?

    “My wife”

    “My family”

    “No one”

🧠 Intermission

Thank you for all the feedback on our Finland series so far! We are already planning our next Roca Reports series. Reply to this email to let us know where we should head to next!

–Max and Max

🌎 Roca Reports

Last week our Roca Reports series moved to Finland to answer the pivotal question: Is it truly the world’s happiest country? The series continues today.

Roca Reports is part of our premium newsletter with on-the-ground investigations of stories no one else is covering. If you’re not a member, you can start your 14-day free trial here!

When the Russians left us at a gas station in Suomussalmi, Finland, they warned me (Roca co-founder Max Frost): “You will never make it to Helsinki.”

But we thought this was the perfect place to hitch from: A gas station just off the highway and next to a bus stop. We only had to get 80 miles to our destination, where there was a hotel for the night. 

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