🌊 Performance Enhancing Parasites

Busting cartels & taking names, medieval doodling, and an interview: Family heading to America

A fun exercise is to imagine how today's media would've covered major historical events. The 20th century would've been a clickbait candy shop: "They said the ship was unsinkable. You won't believe what happened next"; "Guy who once tweeted problematic song lyric walks on moon"; "10 reasons why the King of Rock & Roll might not be dead."

Anyways, in today's edition:

  • Busting cartels & taking names

  • Medieval doodling

  • Interview: Family heading to America

 🔑 Key Stories

hydrogen engine cover

Rolls-Royce Tests Hydrogen Jet Engine

British engine company Rolls-Royce tested the first-ever hydrogen-powered jet engine

  • Jet engines traditionally use kerosene, a fossil fuel derived from petroleum. Airlines cause an estimated 2.1% of global carbon emissions

  • Hydrogen is a highly flammable element. It is a gas at room temperature but becomes a liquid at -423°F (-253°C). Burning it doesn’t produce harmful emissions

  • Rolls-Royce’s engine successfully used hydrogen to generate thrust, the power that propels airplanes. It’s the first time hydrogen has done so. Still, it may be decades before hydrogen powers airplanes

Dig Deeper

  • Hydrogen-fueled planes would require massive structural changes: Liquid hydrogen takes up 4x the amount of space as kerosene, needs to be kept at extremely low temperatures, and would need to be heated back into a gas to power the engines. Designing the necessary systems will likely take decades

European Police Bust "Mega-Cartel"

  • Police from 6 different countries arrested 43 people across 5 European countries. They also arrested 6 “Drug Lords” in Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates where many criminals are believed to live

  • Police believe the suspects jointly ran or operated a multinational cartel that imported ⅓ of Europe’s illegal cocaine. They also believe the group has ties to mafia kingpins and other organized crime groups

  • Police also seized 30 tons (60,000 pounds) of drugs worth ~€400M (~$414M), as well as luxury cars and stashes of cash

Dig Deeper

World's Largest Volcano Erupts

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano erupted on Sunday for the first time since 1984

  • Mauna Loa is located on the Big Island of the Hawaiian Island chain. It’s the world’s largest active volcano and has been intermittently erupting for the past ~700k years

  • The volcano has erupted 33 times since 1883, but hadn’t erupted for 38 years

  • The eruption began late Sunday night. It’s a type of volcano whose lava flows downhill, rather than exploding into the air. Officials say its lava flows don’t currently threaten any cities or towns

Dig Deeper

  • From its underwater base to its summit, Mauna Loa is ~10.5 miles (17 km) tall. It covers half of the Big Island's landmass. Its name literally translates to "Long Mountain"

Amazon Unveils New Drone

Amazon unveiled a new 30-minute delivery drone

  • Amazon is preparing its “Prime Air” service, which will deliver small packages by drone. The program began nearly 10 years ago, but its launch has been repeatedly delayed. Amazon now plans to unveil drone deliveries in 2 US towns next month

  • Last week, Amazon unveiled a new drone that it claims is smaller and quieter than its current model. It hopes to deploy the drones in 2024, and says it will enable 30-minute deliveries in some cities

  • Items for drone delivery will have to fit in one box and weigh less than 5 pounds

Dig Deeper

  • Amazon isn't the only technology company investing in drones: Google recently teamed up with DoorDash to drone-deliver food to an Australian town, and Walmart plans to have drone-delivery service in 34 places by the end of the year

Study: Infected Wolves More Daring?

Wolves infected with a common parasite are 46x more likely to become pack leaders, a study found

  • Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite that infects ~¼ of the world’s human population, where it usually has no effect. It can only reproduce in cats

  • Researchers believe that Toxoplasma-infected wild animals (such as rodents) are less risk-averse and more adventurous than normal animals, increasing their odds of being eaten by cats — and thus allowing Toxoplasma to reproduce

  • A new study of infected wolves in the US suggests that the parasite makes wolves more daring, increasing their chance of being a pack leader

Dig Deeper

  • The study drew blood samples from 229 wolves at Yellowstone National Park. In addition to a higher chance of becoming pack leader, wolves infected with the parasite were 11x more likely than healthy wolves to leave their family pack and start their own

 📊 Chart of the Day

Bear SZN

The American black bear is North America’s smallest and most widely-distributed bear species

  • Alaska has the most black bears, with an estimated ~100k; California has the second-most (~30k)

  • 9 states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Kansas — are thought to have no permanent black bear population, although sightings are still common in some places

  • Data for Wyoming is incomplete, but it is believed that hundreds or more live there

🍿 Popcorn


  • Dial M for Monkeypox: The World Health Organization announced that it will rename Monkeypox "mpox," citing the racial stigma the term allegedly carries

  • Pass(enger) interference: Ex-NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. was removed from a flight at Miami International Airport after reportedly appearing "unconscious" on the plane

  • Have a holly jolly Flopmas: New Disney film Strange World grossed a measly $18.6M over Thanksgiving weekend. The animated film cost Disney $180M to make


  • Just plane crazy: A plane crashed into a power line tower in Maryland, knocking out power for 117k people. Both passengers were rescued after hours dangling in the air

  • "Mary wuz here": Researchers found a woman’s name and tiny sketches in a 1,300-year-old medieval text, after they scanned it with 3D technology

  • Bit old, innit? The Guinness Book of World Records declared a British cat named Flossie the oldest living feline. Flossie is nearly 27 years old

  • Wine o'clock: Sip luxury wines from around the world with Wander + Ivy during the holidays. *This is a sponsored post

👇🏻 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Which of the below words is misspelled?

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Today's Question:

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

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Giovanna and Iris

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. 

Necoclí, Colombia, is the final town on the South American migrant route. Migrants wait here until they assemble enough cash to pay for a boat to the Darién Gap – the gang-controlled, roadless jungle that separates Panama from Colombia.

We stopped into a shantytown – a collection of tents – on the coast. While there, we met a family of 11 that was selling water bottles and snacks to save enough for the trip. Once ready, they would travel to the Darién Gap, and from there, to New York City. 

Below is taken from an interview with the family’s father, Giovanni, and mother, Iris. Tomorrow, we’ll include an interview with their kids. 


Giovanni: We are here working to get the tickets to cross into Darién and get to Panama. Our final destination, in the name of God, is the United States. Our plan there is to work and be part of the American community.

I am here with my wife, and I am accompanied by 7 children from my wife, 6 of which are mine, and a daughter from my wife who is raised by me; my daughter's husband; and my grandson, his child. In total we are 7 children and 4 adults.

[Are you worried about the trip?]

Giovanni: Well, we are worried more than anything about the economic situation, because money is what we need and it seems incredible, but money is what makes it easy for you to do anything.

Iris: When I left Venezuela 4 years ago, we went to Cúcuta, Colombia, because of the need for food and the lack of employment. At that time, everything had become too expensive and everything was running out. So that's why we decided to move the first time. 

Giovanni emigrated first and it was about 3 months later that I arrived in Cúcuta and we settled there. I think you saw that Cúcuta has practically been left with no one, because all the Venezuelans have already emigrated to the United States. Once they opened up the Darién, everyone crossed to the United States, regardless of whether or not they will die, just for their American dream; just for a better life.

Giovanni: And why? For the children.

Iris: For family. 

Giovanni: People continue experiencing need in the same place. It could be Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, or Peru – they prefer to take risks because even being in those countries and having a job, they spend practically everything they earn. Rent, food, gas, and electricity expenses – you know what I mean? 

They never manage to save or have a base to form a future. Everything they earn, they spend, everything. So they see the United States as an option because the economy there is a little more stable, much better. And that is the reason that most of us Venezuelans go to the United States.

[Why did your family finally decide to come to the United States?]

Giovanni: Look at what is happening in Colombia – the inflation is rising, little by little. Everything is expensive, fares, health. The basic income is no longer enough to support at least one home, especially if they are families of 3 or 4. We are a family of 11. We think that by going to the United States, we can at least have a much better state of life.

The United States should have implemented some kind of strategy to select people who could enter. I imagine that many single people, many single men, entered the United States. The US should take into account families, relatives, and make a decision on each one – based on the person’s needs, rather than having that open flow of people into the United States.

Iris: We're not going to generalize that all Venezuelans are bad…but now some Venezuelans have done bad things, and because of them, the opportunity is closed to the people who really want to be there and want to work.

Giovanni: Among Venezuelans, there are many honest people – like me, my wife, and the family that surrounds me, who need and want to work honestly. We have a profession – I am an auto mechanic – I have my degrees and I am here working honestly. He's selling candies and all that stuff. But what am I looking for? A much better and more prosperous standard of living for my children and my wife.

[How did you tell your kids that you were leaving Venezuela?]

Iris: At first, the kids asked, ‘Mom, why did we get out of there? Mom, where are my friends?’ But suddenly they realized it’s the United States, and now they want to study English, they want to know English. That is already a dream for her. So now it’s, ‘Mom, when are we leaving? Let's go, let's go everyone!’

[Which city are you headed to?]

Iris: New York.

Giovanni: New York, because we have a son there.

Iris: But the important thing is to reach “Tierra América’ [American land]

Giovanni: Yes, to get to the American land and look for a job – because there are many ways to get a job there; because you don't have to go out and beg on the street; because you, honestly, you can grab a broom and go from door to door, even sweeping, and I know that they will help you because they will see the intention that you want to work. There are ways of having a future.

Iris: For me, if I see trash, I pick up trash. And I will find a job, because people will see that I am working. I know that someone is going to recommend me for a job, because I am doing something useful for society.

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Is it now acceptable to play Christmas music?Yes: 85.3%No: 14.7%

Yesterday's Question:

What was the highlight of your Thanksgiving weekend?

Jordan from Nebraska: "Favorite thing that happened during thanksgiving was getting to see my 60 year old aunt blackout at the dinner table. Made for great conversation."

Carlos from Charlotte: "I ACTUALLY HAD FAMILY COME AND ACT AS A FAMILY. Growing up family was everything until my teenage years. Everyone just stopped talking to each other. So having family come over and enjoy each one’s companies was nice."

Danielle from Michigan: "Watching UM cream OSU. That made my weekend. Go Blue!"

🧠 Final Thoughts

Today, we've got Iran and the US facing off in a win-or-go-home World Cup match. No offense to the good folks of Tehran, but we will be pulling loudly for the Red, White, and Blue at Roca HQ.

Let's go USA!

Max and Max