🌊 Stop Shaking or Draw 25

The new… vibrating weight loss pill? “The Sopranos” in 25 seconds for Gen Z and the Christmas Czar

It’s a great day to be a Michigan Wolverine. Congratulations to all of you Michigan fans and Roca’s very own head of sports and Michigan alum, Owen Devine. Reality came crashing down for Owen, however, since this morning he had a dentist appointment. We don’t like to take institutional positions at Roca but it should be illegal to go from champagne to grape fluoride that fast.

Separately, we are thrilled to extend our free Roca premium for college students this month! Given the price of college tuition and Chipotle queso these days, we decided to make our original reporting FREE for college students. Just enter your .edu email here — and please share the form with your friends, siblings, kids, ex-interns, etc. who are in college!

In today's edition:

  • The new… vibrating weight loss pill?

  • “The Sopranos” in 25 seconds for Gen Z

  • The Christmas Czar

 🔑 Key Stories

The Vibrating Weight Pill

A vibrating pill can induce weight loss on par with popular drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy, a study in the journal Science Advances found

  • The pill – abbreviated to “VIBES” – contains a motor that vibrates when triggered by stomach acid. That motion activates stomach receptors that induce the release of appetite-suppressing hormones

  • When pigs were given VIBES before mealtime, researchers observed that the pigs ate 40% less food

  • “For somebody who wants to lose weight or control their appetite, it could be taken before each meal,” the study’s lead researcher said

Top Hezbollah Commander Killed

An Israeli drone strike killed the most senior Hezbollah official to have died since October 7

  • Hezbollah is an Iran-backed militia and political party based out of Lebanon. It has close ties to Hamas, which is also supported and funded by Iran

  • Last week, an apparent Israeli strike killed a senior Hamas official in Lebanon. In retaliation, on Saturday, Hezbollah fired rockets at an Israeli base. After, an Israeli official vowed to create a “completely different reality [in Lebanon], or we will get to another war”

  • On Monday, an Israeli strike in Lebanon killed Wissam al-Tawil, the commander of an elite Hezbollah unit that operates near Israel’s border

NASA Moon Mission Launched

US private space company Astrobotic launched a robotic lander on Monday for what could become the first Moon landing ever by a private company 

  • Two companies – Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic and Houston-based Intuitive Machines – are competing to be the first company to land on the Moon. Both are contracted by NASA to deliver payloads there

  • Astrobotic’s lander took off on Monday with an expected journey time to the Moon of 46 days. Hours after launch, though, its lander suffered “a critical loss in propellant.” Its fate is currently unclear

  • Intuitive Machines plans the launch of its own lander in February 

German Emissions

Germany’s carbon emissions fell 21% last year due in large part to an industrial slowdown

  • A new report by think tank Agora Energiewende claimed that German emissions from energy production fell 21% in 2023, which it attributed to a decline in coal usage

  • Yet Agora claimed as much as half of Germany’s total emission decline last year was caused by “short-term” trends, most prominently an industrial slowdown caused by rising fuel prices due to EU sanctions against Russia

  • The president of Germany’s industrial lobby urged government to do more to support manufacturers, warning irreversible harm is occurring

🍿 Popcorn


  • Science rules! A Washington resident shared on X that he found a working iPhone on the roadside after it fell ~16,000 feet from the Alaska Airlines flight that went awry

  • Just End It: Tiger Woods and Nike ended their partnership after 27 years, a brand Tiger had represented since turning pro in 1996. He most recently signed a 10-year, ~$200M extension in 2013

  • Green and groaning: Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green revealed that he almost retired following his indefinite suspension by the NBA last month for hitting a player in the face


  • Pop goes the wedding: A couple unexpectedly held a “pop-up wedding” with 20-30 guests at an Indianapolis coffee shop without permission on New Year’s Eve

  • An aggressive Lauren Policy: Police are investigating an apparent altercation between House Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and her ex-husband at a Colorado restaurant

  • Sopranos… in 25 seconds?! Warner Bros. has begun posting 25-second versions of every “Sopranos” episode on the official @thesopranos TikTok account

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

Would you take a vibrating pill?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

Who is the biggest influence on your life and why?

🌯 Roca Wrap

At 22, his grandmother told him he had ruined Christmas.

Less than a decade later, he was crowned the Christmas Czar.

Christopher Radko grew up in Scarsdale, New York. A bright student, he skipped his senior year of high school and enrolled at Columbia University at just 16 years old. Several years later, he ruined his family’s Christmas.

Christmas was a cherished holiday in the Radko household, where part of the tradition involved Christopher selecting and setting up a grand Christmas tree each year. He would try to get the tallest tree possible, which his family would then decorate from their ornament collection. The collection contained over 2,000 delicate, mouth-blown European glass ornaments the family had accumulated over four generations.

In 1984, Christopher bought a new tree stand, installed a 14-foot tree, and decorated it with their precious ornaments. The next day, though, the family heard a giant crash. One of the legs from the new stand had cracked, toppling the tree and breaking the ornaments.

His livid grandmother screamed at him: “Christopher…You’ve ruined Christmas!’

The following spring, Christopher was visiting a cousin in Poland and shared with her his Christmas tragedy. While talking, they passed a local pharmacy displaying “beautifully blown testers and beakers for making moonshine vodka from potatoes.”

That gave Christopher an idea.

The proprietor told Christopher that he made them once a year to sell at a market. “Can you make me some now?” he asked. The man agreed and gave him 24 designs of ornaments with hand-painted details of snowflakes and comets.

Back in New York, Christopher showed off the ornaments to his co-workers at a talent agency. Captivated by the beauty, they bought the entire batch. Sensing an opportunity, he ordered more and created a catalog.

During lunch hours he would visit high-end florists and retailers near his office to sell them. “They all wanted them,” he said. “And they’d report to me that celebrities were buying them: Katharine Hepburn, Woody Allen, Baryshnikov, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bruce Springsteen.”

The side-hustle grew into a booming business.

“We’re such a celebrity-driven country that getting endorsements was important, and it led to hiring a publicist, who got the ornaments on The Today Show and Oprah.”

“It was fun and boosted my own sense of self-confidence. I felt my ornaments had a purpose; they were objects which created connection for people,” he said.

Christopher’s inventory expanded after people requested designs for weddings, the Fourth of July, Hanukkah, and other holidays. Soon, the White House hired him to design mantel displays and decorate the vice president’s residence.

Christopher – before he was 30 – was dubbed the "Czar of the Christmas Present” by the New York Times and the "Ornament King"​ by the Chicago Tribune. By 1997, Christopher’s sales totaled over $50M.

While he was a design celebrity who owned an apartment on Central Park, he faced health issues that led him to reflect on his life. In 2005, he sold his business to Rauch Industries, retiring to focus on health and family.

16 years later, though, Christopher tried to reenter the Christmas ornament scene. He had sold his name to Rauch, though, which filed a motion to prohibit him from associating his name with his new company. He won the ensuing legal challenge and in 2022, after 15 years, the Christmas King returned.

Radko ornaments are generally valued between $50 and $200, although some designs are retired each year, making them sought-after collectibles and driving their prices up to $6000.

Christopher says the ornaments are about more than money: “Ornaments have always been a tangible container of people’s heart-based memories and emotions,” he said.

While that may be true, making beloved Christmas ornaments is clearly a good way to make a living.

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

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Is it a big deal that the Secretary of Defense did not inform President Biden that he was hospitalized for three days?
Yes: 85%
No: 15%

Yesterday's Question:

Thanks to the thousands of readers who filled out our form to join Roca Reporters — a global network of Roca readers who we contact for local tips or insights on stories we cover. We hope to speak with many more of you this year.

🧠 Intermission

“The Sopranos” in 25 seconds reminds us of those one-line book summaries that used to trend on websites like BuzzFeed. This one for “The Wizard of Oz” will make you think: “Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.”

Wait… wait… so Dorothy was the villain all along?!

–Max and Max

🌎 Roca Reports

“You will hear many sides of this story,” Dagmar told me. “In Sarajevo, you will be told that Sarajevo Serbs, which I am, were not forced to leave Sarajevo. Oh, yes, we were.”

I met Dagmar, a Bosnian Serb Roca reader, later in the trip. Her story provides a Serb perspective on what happened in Sarajevo.

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