No-Fun France?

Railways back on track (?), year of the gaslight, and another Colombia Roca Roadtrip interview: Trip to the US

With Spotify Wrapped cluttering our social media feeds again, we can confidently say that nature is healing.

We love nothing more than learning that our sophomore year chemistry lab partner binge-listens up-and-coming artists like Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen — so unique! If this intro comes off as salty, it’s probably because our most-played song ended up being an instrumental cover of "Hips Don’t Lie." 😔

In today's edition:

  • Railways back on track?

  • Year of the Gaslight

  • Interview, Pt. 2: Trip to the US

🔑 Key Stories

no fun france

France: "No Fun" Not Reason For Firing

A French court ruled that companies cannot fire employees for being “no fun”

  • A lawsuit accused a Paris-based consulting firm of violating a man’s rights by firing him for refusing to participate in after-work seminars and social events

  • The man claimed the events involved “excessive alcoholism” and “promiscuity,” including mock sexual acts; the firm cited “professional incompetence,” i.e. social issues, as cause for firing

  • The court ruled that the firm violated the man’s freedom of expression by firing him. Currently, US workers can be fired for being “no fun,” lawyers say

Congress to Avert Rail Strike?

Congressional leaders plan to force railroad workers to accept a deal that would avert a strike

  • Workers have been negotiating with railway companies over salary and benefits since 2020. 8 unions have agreed to terms, but 4 have not and are threatening to strike

  • On Monday, President Biden warned that a rail strike could lead to the loss of 765k jobs in 2 weeks. He called on Congress to force the rail workers to accept the deal

  • On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scheduled a House vote to pass a deal that would force the workers to accept terms. The US has a specific law that gives Congress that power over railway workers

Dig Deeper

  • President Biden, who describes himself as pro-union, said decisive Congressional action is necessary to avoid "the economic impact of a shutdown [which] would hurt millions of other working people and families"

UK Watchdog: Streaming Helps Artists

A top UK government body ruled that streaming services are not underpaying artists

  • Streaming accounts for ¾ of the UK’s recorded music revenue. Artists make money per stream

  • Some artists claim services don’t pay them enough: Last year, UK artists made an average $14k per ~12M plays, and 0.4% of artists recorded 60% of streams

  • On Tuesday, a UK government body ruled that streaming services are not making excess profits that should be shared with artists. It claimed that streaming has increased competition, and said the government need not intervene to defend artists

Dig Deeper

  • Speaking of streaming, Spotify released its annual Spotify Wrapped. For the third year in a row, the platform's most-streamed artist was Puerto Rican reggaeton artist Bad Bunny; Joe Rogan was the most-streamed podcaster

China Searching for Protestors

China is searching for people who participated in last weekend’s protests against Covid-19 lockdowns

  • Last weekend, thousands in China protested against lockdowns in several major cities. Protesters held blank sheets of paper, symbolizing censorship, and some criticized China’s government and leader, Xi Jinping

  • China blamed the unusually large protests on “infiltration” by “hostile forces” and deployed extra police to areas where protests occurred. Police are now searching for those who participated

  • The lockdowns are staying in place, but some officials have called for less aggressive policies

Dig Deeper

Senate Passes Same-Sex Marriage

The US Senate voted to codify same-sex and interracial marriage into law

  • The bill will now go to the House, then President Biden, for approval; both will likely pass it, making it law

  • Supreme Court rulings have legalized interracial and same-sex marriages in all US states, but Congress never separately made them law. The Supreme Court could therefore theoretically overturn the past rulings, sending the issues back to the states — as happened with abortion/Roe

  • The Senate passed it in a 61-36 vote, with 12 Republicans voting with all Democrats

Dig Deeper

  • The vote suggests that same-sex marriage, once a divisive issue, now enjoys bipartisan support. A 2022 Gallup poll found that a record-high 71% of Americans support same-sex marriage, up from 27% in 1996

📊 Chart of the Day

Gamer Graphs

A Russian coder invented Tetris in 1984. Nintendo published it for years before its founder re-appropriated it in 1996. The Tetris Company now owns it

  • Call of Duty, a first-person shooter game created in 2003, has now released 21 mainline editions

  • Pokémon is the highest-grossing video game franchise of all time ($90B), followed by Mario ($30.25B) and Call of Duty ($17B)

  • Candy Crush Saga is the most downloaded single video game ever, with ~2.73B all-time downloads

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Goal embargo? The US men's soccer team has advanced to the World Cup Round of 16 after shutting out Iran 1-0. US star Christian Pulisic scored the lone goal

  • Officially gaslit: Merriam-Webster named “gaslighting” its word of the year. Searches for the social media-favorite term spiked 1,740% this year

  • Hey look Ma, he made it: Alibaba founder Jack Ma has been spotted in Tokyo, according to reports, amid China's crackdown on tech companies

Wildcard

  • Breathe in, swallow this: A Buddhist temple in Thailand is empty after its 4 resident monks tested positive for methamphetamine and were sent to a drug rehab center

  • Rudder disbelief: 3 stowaways were found on the rudder of an oil tanker after it completed an 11-day trip from Nigeria to the Spanish Canary Islands

  • Florida man W: A Florida man with a metal detector dug up a $40k engagement ring on the beach. He tracked down the owners after contacting ~100 jewelry stores

  • Let's get mixed: Check out the Bartesian Cocktail Machine, $100 off here *This is a sponsored post

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

How do you feel about people vaping in indoor venues?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

When should a parent tell their kid(s) that Santa isn’t real?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Xavier and Kerlis

Roca co-founder Max Frost just spent 10 days in Colombia, learning about the Venezuelan migrant crisis. He’s writing about the experience here in the coming newsletters.

The last US-bound Venezuelan migrants we spoke to were Xavier, 21, and Kerlis, 24.

The couple were traveling with Kerlis' 4-year-old son and 8 other members of Kerlis' family, including her parents and 6 siblings. They were living in a shantytown on the beach, selling water and snacks to save enough money for the journey to the United States. That journey would take them by foot through gang-controlled jungles in Panama, the entirety of Central America, and illegally over the border into Texas.

They had left Venezuela 4 years prior and had been living as refugees in Colombia. We asked them about their story and why they were finally headed to the United States.

***

[What are you thinking about the trip to the United States?]

Xavier: Well, honestly, anxious. We’re looking forward to the United States, but we’re scared too. The process of getting there, the lack of many things we need like food, money, security. But we’re going, despite not knowing what may happen.

Kerlis: The truth is, more than anything else, it's fear. At least I, as a mother, feel very afraid for my son. Because you don't know what you're going to find on the way there. One hears many stories, but who knows what one may experience.

So I'm afraid. I sometimes think that I don't know if the child has the resistance, the strength. I don't know. And that sometimes makes me doubt the trip. But I also think that obviously I am going to have a better life for the child there in the United States. So that keeps me going – the force of knowing that when we are there, the child will have a better future, and he will not continue to face as much hardship as us.

Xavier: Yes, so we put out fear aside and focus on the desire to keep going.

[What do you think of the United States? How do you think it is there, and how do you think it will be for you?]

Xavier: Well, we don't really know. Each person has their own luck. But we understand that they're going to receive us well.

Kerlis: Because we really want to work.

Xavier: Yes, we’re going to work. That’s what we want.

Kerlis: Work is the key. It is how one becomes known. If you go with that energy of wanting to work, of wanting to get ahead, why would they receive you badly? There is no reason for them to receive you badly if you want to work, if you walk politely, decently. If you behave well. So I imagine that they will receive us well because we are going to do that. We are going to contribute well.

Xavier: We are going to serve the United States.

[Are you excited to learn English?]

Xavier: Very, very, very.

Kerlis: Yes, yes, very. I love English. I've always wanted to learn it.

Xavier: Yes, but we haven’t had the opportunities, because many of us have been born without them. Many lost opportunities.

[To Xavier: How does it feel to be traveling with your girlfriend’s family? To Kerlis: How does it feel to be doing this with your family?]

Xavier: The truth is I feel super good that I am with such a beautiful, hard-working, fighting, warrior family. I feel empowered to take this family to the United States and give it a better life.

Kerlis: I was thinking of going alone, but I thought my mom wanted to go too and I figured it was better than going with a stranger, so I'd better go with my mom. So I feel good about going with my family. What could be better than going with my family?

Besides that, my mom is a good warrior, my mom is a hard worker. So I feel good wherever I am, with my family, with my son, my partner. Obviously, I feel super good. And with God's favor, everything will go well, and we will all arrive and do what we want to do – work and have a better life.

[What do you think your lives would be like if you stayed in Colombia?]

Xavier: Sad. Sad. Why? Because we hope to have a better life. We don't want to always stay in the same cycle, unable to improve, unable to climb up. We don’t want to be stuck the same.

Kerlis: There is a big difference between Colombia and the United States. It is not the same to be here or there. Everything – everything – education, health, lifestyle, everything is different. People are not the same, even people, I dare say they are more honest there.

It's like we're practically going to erase the whole slate and we're going to introduce a new one, to be better people, you know? Obviously we're not bad people, but over there everything would improve, even as people we would be different. We would be better, if you understand me, is what I think of the United States.

[Was your son born in Colombia?]

Kerlis: Yes, in Cúcuta [on the border with Venezuela].

The truth is that when I entered Cúcuta, it was very dangerous, very dangerous. But as for the child's care, in the hospital, I can't complain. My delivery, that is, all the attention to the child, everything very well.

But the truth is, as the child grew, I left Cúcuta. I began my journey to leave Colombia when the child was 8 months old due to insecurity, because I lived in a neighborhood where people were being killed all the time. So I was scared and decided to start backpacking, walking, and then I left Colombia.

[When you say it's insecure, what do you mean?]

Kerlis: There are many things. I saw many incredible things, things that one could not even say, because they are serious things. There is a lot of crime, many bad things. Murders, robberies, extortion. In the neighborhood where I lived, there were some people to work for, and if they didn't work for them then they would kill you. It was very complicated.

Xavier: There are things that cannot be said. Only bad experiences.

If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Which of the below words is misspelled?Entrepreneur: 23.9%Accommodate: 34.6%Liason: 41.5%Correct answer is "liason" (should be "liaison")

Yesterday's Question:

Which social media company do you trust the least? Why?

Brandon from Chicago: "Facebook. Hard to trust the Zuk when it looks like he needs a heat lamp to keep warm."

Caroline from DC: "I don’t trust Instagram because anytime I talk about something out loud I see an ad for it on instagram. That’s sketchy."

Brett from Nevada: "TikTok…. I don’t think I have to explain this one …"

🧠 Final Thoughts

Tomorrow we will end our Colombia Roca Roadtrip. We hope you all have enjoyed the stories that have come out of it. Your feedback has been inspiring for us!

Have a great Wednesday, and see you tomorrow!

Max and Max