🌊 There Will Be Bard
How much bettors have on Super Bowl LVII, Most-pirated movie of 2022 is... and the Mursi Tribe
Oh boy, looks like Cocaine Shark could be coming soon to a theater near you. New Zealand police found 3.5 tons of cocaine floating in the Pacific Ocean. The authorities say the haul was likely headed to Australia — yep, always blame the neighbors — and that it's now destroyed. Remember the motto, sharks, drugs aren't friends... or food.
In today's edition:
How much bettors have on Super Bowl LVII
Most-pirated movie of 2022 is...
🔑 Key Stories
BP Cuts Green Energy Target
BP announced it will abandon one of its most ambitious green energy goals
BP — the world’s 8th-largest oil and gas company by market cap — has set some of the industry’s most ambitious green energy goals, including a 2020 pledge to cut its oil and gas production 40% by 2030
Now, BP says it’ll cut oil/gas production by 25%, not 40%. It will still spend $7B-$9B annually — half its total expenses — to transition toward green energy
The news comes after BP’s best year ever: In 2022, the war in Ukraine fueled high energy prices that more than doubled the company’s prior year profits
“The conversation 3 or 4 years ago was somewhat singular around cleaner energy, lower-carbon energy,” BP's CEO said. “Today there is much more conversation about energy security, energy affordability ... [we] need to invest in today’s energy system"
Plane Safety Updates
FedEx and Southwest planes came within 100 ft of colliding at an Austin, TX airport this past weekend
An air traffic controller cleared the FedEx plane to land on the same runway from which the same controller had simultaneously cleared the Southwest plane for take-off. The FedEx plane aborted its landing at an altitude of only 75 feet
The federal government is looking into the incident
In other airline news, Southwest Airlines halved a key flying-time requirement for new pilots, and the FAA recommended United Airlines be fined $1.1M for failing to conduct a safety check on 100k+ flights
A former federal control tower operator said the near-collision was exacerbated by low clouds and fog, which likely meant air traffic controllers couldn't see either plane and were relying solely on pilot reports and radar
Google unveiled a chatbot, “Bard,” to compete with ChatGPT
ChatGPT, an AI tool created by OpenAI and backed by Microsoft, can provide intelligent, human-esque answers in response to prompts humans give it. On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled an updated Bing search engine that is partially powered by ChatGPT
Google’s CEO said the company has been investing in AI for years, and that Bard will be extremely capable
A scaled back version of LaMDA — an AI program that has faced allegations of being sentient — will power Bard. It’ll be released in the coming weeks
Per CNBC, Bard operates much like ChatGPT, including the ability to answer open-ended questions in unique and creative ways. It also has the ability to answer questions pertaining to current or recent events, which ChatGPT can't do yet
Big Money on the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is generating both record gambling numbers and ad revenue
Analysts expect 50M Americans to bet a collective $16B on this year’s game, double last year’s amount. This Super Bowl will be the first to be held in a state where sports betting is legal
Meanwhile Fox, which has the rights to the 2023 game, sold out all of its ad inventory. Most 30-second ads went for $6-$7M; some sold for a record $7M+. The Super Bowl regularly gets 100M+ viewers
Anheuser-Busch bought 3 minutes of ads, the most of any companies; 0 crypto companies bought ads, versus 4 last year
Super Bowl LVII is scheduled for this Sunday at 6:30 PM EST. Strong viewership numbers through the playoffs' first 3 rounds suggest this could be the biggest game in a decade
Can Geometry Help You Become President?
Together with Brilliant.org
Abraham Lincoln sharpened his rhetorical skills by doing – of all things – geometry
You may think math and science aren’t relevant or interesting, or that you don’t have the time, like Honest Abe did, to sit around studying
But mathematical and scientific principles underpin our lives, from political debate to how showers work
And Brilliant.org has made thousands of bite-sized math and science lessons for all stages of learners – from foundational and advanced math to data science, algorithms, neural networks and more – with new lessons added every month!
Their app is easy to use, and will give you something fun and interesting to learn every day
Some of Roca’s favorite Brilliant.org courses include: Casino probabilities, astrophysics, special relativity, and the computer science of search engines
If you are tired of doom scrolling social media and want to take a few minutes each day to learn about the world, Brilliant.org is for you. Roca readers get 20% off an annual subscription
"Staff on mute, plz": Zoom is laying off 15% of its workforce as it "transitions to life post-pandemic." Zoom shares have fallen more than 80% from their 2020 peak
Just buy it: The Michael Jackson estate is reportedly close to selling half of MJ's musical catalog for $800M-$900M
Dazed & country-fried: Hit Paramount show Yellowstone is reportedly in talks with Matthew McConaughey to star in a new franchise series
Not done yet! An 82-year-old woman was found alive and breathing in a New York funeral home just hours after being pronounced dead
No Way Legal: Spider-Man: No Way Home was the most pirated movie of 2022, per new research. DC and Marvel movies accounted for most illegal streams
Shoulder day, every day: Japanese school children have complaints about their backpacks' weight. The average one weighs roughly 9 lbs
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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
With a week left in our trip, we found ourselves in the Omo Valley – a place where the modern world hardly reaches.
The valley surrounds the Omo River, which runs from northern Ethiopia to Kenya. Mountainous and traditionally without roads, the valley’s 8 tribes – sometimes separated by no more than a mountain or a river – developed totally distinct customs and languages.
The tribes were long untouched by the outside world, although in recent decades, the government has been trying to force them to modernize and tourists now regularly visit. The valley is still like a different world.
To reach it, we set off from our hotel at 6 AM, driving along a dirt path through the mountains. As the rain picked up the path turned to mud and we spun off the road into a ditch.
Sunrise from a ditch
Once we got out of that we continued a few more miles until a man in a toga-esque outfit holding an AK-47 waved us down. A woman with a sheet over her then approached the car, staring at me through the window.
I couldn’t help but stare back: She had a deformed lower lip that drooped to her chin, exposing all her teeth. A woman with a similar deformity approached from the other side. They all said something in a language I didn’t recognize then waved us through.
Mursi woman who has undergone lip plating
These were the Mursi people, an Omo tribe famous for their lip plates: Traditionally, when a Mursi girl reaches puberty, a woman in the tribe uses a burning knife or stick to cut a hole in the girl’s lip. A clay disc is then inserted into the hole, stretching the lip.
The discs aren’t worn as frequently as they once were. Some women insert the disc only when serving dinner to their husbands; others save them for special occasions. Even when they don’t have the plates in, though, the lips dangle in a way that’s unmissable.
The practice was once mandatory but no longer is, and many women now opt out of it. Some people told us the tradition is on its way out.
A Mursi woman wearing a lip plate
The Mursi people are also known for scarification, the act of scarring their bodies for beauty. Men and women both do this, using knives and razors to slice designs into their skin. Those heal in large scars that the tribe considers beautiful.
A few men had what looked like ram horns etched into each of their biceps; most women had dozens of notches etched into their arms.
Scarification visible on a Mursi woman's arm
There are around 4,000 Mursi people, scattered throughout small villages near Ethiopia’s border with South Sudan. They live in huts made of sticks covered with grass, farm and raise cattle, and fetch their water from a nearby river.
Mursi huts in the village
As we’d learn in the coming days, nearby tribes don’t like the Mursi. They call them aggressive and accuse them of stealing their cattle, which can be a declaration of war in these parts. The way those tribes spoke of the Mursi – "the Mursi are aggressive,” “the Mursi are thieves” – shed light on how tribal rivalries can spiral into violence.
They weren’t friendly to us, although that may be no fault of their own: Tourists often show up to take their pictures like animals in a zoo. In turn, they demand money and aggressively try to sell their lip plates. Visiting them did not feel like we had stumbled upon a remote, undiscovered culture.
That would come later in the day.
A Mursi girl
If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!
🌊 Roca Clubhouse
Better ballpark snack?
Hot Dog 🌭: 70%Pretzel 🥨 : 30%
Do you believe in second chances?
Jacquelyn from California: “Yes. The first-time, shame on you. The second time, shame on me.”
Nancy from Ohio: “Depends on the transgression. Some things are so bad, you must cut ties. Otherwise, Three strikes and you're OUT!”
Brian from Idaho: “Without second chances where would any of us be? Of course, I believe in second chances!"
🧠 Final Thoughts
Another day, another news. Thanks all for reading.
We've got properly working heat in our office for the first time in weeks, so the vibe is wonderful here. Hoping it's as good wherever you are reading this from!
Max and Max