🌊 Putting the L in GoogLe

Gender-neutral God pronouns? Disney cleans castle, and entering the Bush

Here's a mind-blowing stat from 59 years ago today: The Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show drew a whopping 73M viewers. The 2023 equivalent would be 128M viewers, or 29M more than last year's Super Bowl audience. Only one musical artist today can relate to this kind of TV spotlight — the guy who sings the new Burger King "Whopper Whopper Whopper" jingle.

In today's edition:

  • Gender-neutral God pronouns?

  • Disney cleans castle

  • Entering the Bush

🔑 Key Stories

Very Bard Mistake

Google’s stock plummeted after its newly released chatbot, Bard, made a mistake in a promotional video

  • On Monday, Google announced Bard — an AI chatbot that would add conversational features to Google searches — to counter ChatGPT’s success

  • On Wednesday, Google shared a promotional video of a man asking Bard, “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?” Bard’s response was factually incorrect

  • Google’s stock fell 7%+ following that, wiping out $100B+ of its market value. A Google representative said, “This highlights the importance of rigorous… testing”

Our Parent, Who Art In Heaven

The Church of England announced it will explore the use of gender-neutral terms to refer to God

  • In Christian texts, God is referred to as “Our Father,” “He,” and “His”

  • In 2018, though, the head of the Church of England said, “God is not male or female. God is not definable.” Then this week, a bishop said the church will explore using “more inclusive” terms for God

  • The use of gender-neutral terms will be discussed during a specially convened project this spring. For now, though, “there are absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise [religious texts]”

Dig Deeper

  • Some priests have already replaced gendered pronouns like "He" with simply "God," and changed the opening line of the Lord's Prayer — "Our Father" — with "Our Mother and Father." Nonetheless, most priests still refer to God as a male

Earthquake Death Toll Rises

The death toll from Monday’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria passed 19,000

  • The 2 quakes – magnitude 7.8 and 7.5, respectively – leveled thousands of buildings in southern Turkey and northern Syria. 16,170+ deaths have been reported in Turkey and 3,162+ in Syria

  • Rescue efforts are ongoing, but shortages of trucks and fuel, as well as cold temperatures, have hampered those efforts

  • Criticism has grown against Turkey’s president for an alleged lack of preparedness; he’s called for unity. On Tuesday, his government limited social media access

Dig Deeper

  • Seismologists list several reasons why these earthquakes were so deadly. First, they occurred relatively close to the earth's surface, making the shaking more intense. Second, the rupture that caused them was very long (100+ miles), meaning more people felt the most intense shaking. And they caused dozens of aftershocks

US Gasoline Consumption Falling

A new report by the US Energy Information Admin (EIA) found that US gasoline consumption is declining and will likely continue to do so

  • The US is the world’s largest gasoline-consuming country, accounting for 9% of global use. Gasoline is made by refining crude oil

  • Per the EIA, US gasoline consumption in 2022 was 6% lower than pre-pandemic levels, and it will likely continue to fall until at least 2050

  • Analysts attribute this trend to people driving less because of remote work; cars becoming more fuel-efficient; and electric vehicles hitting the roads

Jackfir is changing men’s skincare

Together with Jackfir

When Jackfir founder Charlie Razook was diagnosed with leukemia, he became acutely aware of toxins in his daily life

  • The treatment he underwent dried out his skin, but he could not find a replacement for his chemical-filled personal care products – so he created his own solution

  • So many brands say they are clean, but how do you know? Jackfir is highly certified by third parties to remove any doubt!

  • Their all-natural, proprietary scent has top notes of wild violet and pine, middle notes of balsam and amber, and base notes of cedarwood and guiacawood

Dig Deeper

  • Jackfir wants to minimize your toxic burden. Why interact with unnecessary chemicals? Their men’s skincare products are some of the cleanest on the market. Clean up your bathroom routine with Jackfir! Always clean, always effective

🍿 Popcorn


  • Roger that, haters: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested that NFL officiating has never been better, amid a deluge of fan complaints this season

  • Cleaning castle: Disney announced that it's cutting 7,000 jobs and reducing its budget by $5.5B. CEO Bog Iger said it will not spin off ESPN

  • State of the snoozin': Tuesday's State of the Union drew an estimated 27.3M viewers, marking a 29% drop from 2022 and the lowest turnout in 30+ years


  • Hoarders, woodpecker edition: Woodpeckers stashed 700lbs of acorns in a California home. The acorns cascaded down on a home exterminator

  • No Big Beaver: Beavers dislodged a webcam that was supposed to monitor their activity at a wildlife center in Scotland and put it on top of their dam

  • Shoot for the moon: Some scientists have proposed a solution to global warming in which we would fire moon dust into space to partially block the sun's rays

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Better vegetable?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

How do you blow off steam?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Roca co-founder Max Frost and writer Alex Norris spent 2.5 weeks in Ethiopia last month. Frost will be writing about it here in the coming newsletters

Driving along a remote road in rural Ethiopia, we pulled over to pee.

Standing there, I took out my phone to snap this picture.

Car on dirt road

The remote Ethiopian road

A shirtless man, who was carrying a machete and accompanied by a naked child, was emerging from the shrub along the road (“the bush”). He saw me and came running, the child stumbling behind him.

The man kept gesturing at his chest as he approached. When he got next to me, he kept pulling on and pointing at my shirt. Our guide came over and translated for him, saying that the man was asking for a shirt.

I grabbed a t-shirt out of my duffle bag and gave it to him, prompting him to smile and shake my hand. He talked briefly to our guide, who then told us the man had invited us to his home.

We had no idea where the man’s home could have been – all we could see was the road and the chest-high dry shrubland that lined it. But the man guided us to a path that broke through the shrub then cut across a clearing. After a few minutes of following that path deeper into the bush and climbing over a couple log fences, we reached another clearing.

Man and boy walking

On the path to the home

At the center of this clearing was a circular log fence, which created a ring that had a hut in the middle and goats running around it. The hut had log walls and a pointed thatch roof. The man led us inside, where his 2 other children – one of whom was born weeks prior – were sitting and his wife was making coffee.

Thatched-roof Hut

The hut

We sat down cross-legged on a dried goat skin, while the man’s wife – who wore only a sea-shell necklace, leather belt, and skirt – put water on a fire to boil.

The woman’s hair was braided in a unique way, and her arms and legs were covered in patterns of scars. She also wore a thick ring necklace.

Woman brewing coffee over fire

The man's wife preparing us coffee

All of these were traditions of the Hamer tribe, to which these people belong. Several hundred thousand Hamer people live in this part of Ethiopia. The scarring was from a beautification practice known as scarification. The necklace signified that the woman was her husband’s first wife – the second and third wives would wear 2 and 3 necklaces, respectively. And all married Hamer women must put their hair into short braids that are identical to one another. When the women go in public, they coat their hair in clay.

Looking around the hut, there was nothing that suggested we were in the 21st century, or for that matter, the 20th, 19th, or 18th centuries.

Everything was made of wood, dirt, or animal products. Above our heads was a wooden ceiling, from which pots made from stone, trees, and clay were hanging. The lady was preparing the coffee with a long wooden stick in a large clay pot over a fire.

When the coffee – made by boiling the shells of coffee beans in murky river water – was ready, it was poured into a wooden bowl and passed around. I was certain the drink would give me food poisoning or worse, but couldn’t say no. After taking one sip, our guide said it was local custom to always take at least 2 sips.

Man and children

The man and his 3 children

And the same went for the coffee: After everyone took 2 sips from the bowl, another bowl was passed around, and we repeated the same ritual. In the tribe, coffee must be served by the 2 bowls.

Toward the end of our visit, the man pulled out the one modern item in the hut: A cell phone. He asked our guide for his number, so that he could call him in case he ever needed anything. Our guide said that the extent to which the man had ever left this area was for a single visit to Jinka, the small city several hours away from which we had come. He made that visit when one of his children was sick and he needed to bring him to the hospital.

After finishing our coffee, the man led us back outside. Near his house, we passed a bag on the ground: It had “USAID” written on it in red, white, and blue letters.

The package was food aid from the US government that had been distributed to the man’s family. The writing on it said it had contained soya; underneath that, in big letters, “A Gift of the American People.”

We took a picture together back on the road, and, via our guide, the man told me to print it and bring it back to him when I return.

The man shook my hand, told us we are forever welcome, then disappeared back into the bush, his naked boy still running behind.

Child with goat

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

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you like cooking?

Yes: 74%

No: 26%

Yesterday's Question:

What's the coolest piece of clothing you own?

Joe from Chicago: “My Kilt! A buddy of mine got married in Scotland and we all got legit ceremonial wedding kilts. Made for some epic pictures!”

Carolyn from Florida: “My Roca t shirt of course”

Gus from Michigan: “My dad’s navy bomber jacket (green with all the patches). He was an aviator in the Gulf War...flew A6s. My street cred skyrocketed after Top Gun 2 was released.”

🧠 Final Thoughts

Picking the stories for today's newsletter was tough. In the (beta) version of our app, we've got 9 – NINE – great stories today. We can't wait to get more of you on there soon.

Have great Thursdays, and see you tomorrow.

Max and Max