• The Current
  • Posts
  • 🌊 Three Presidents Walk Into a Fundraiser…

🌊 Three Presidents Walk Into a Fundraiser…

Plus: Sam Bankman-Fraud Gets Sentence

Hips don’t lie, but do European studies?

A new European study analyzed 12,000 songs from 1980 to 2020 and found that song lyrics have become simpler, more repetitive, more self-obsessed, and more antisocial.

Okay, Boomers. Although it’s true that Lil Jon may not be Bob Dylan, can we show a little love to artists like Nickelback? “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack wound up with a broken neck” is Emily Dickinson-caliber stuff. Or how about we get philosophical with the Killers and their titillating question, “Are we human? Or are we Dancer?” Food for thought on this holiday weekend.

In today's edition:

🇺🇸 US overhauls race categories

🍼 Punxsutawney Phil first-time dad at 138

🤔 20 Questions

Here’s the link to 20 Questions: https://forms.gle/Mb798wsoga1D15Pt6.

–Max, Max, Jen, and Alex

KEY STORY

SBF Gets 25 Years

A judge sentenced disgraced crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) to 25 years in prison

  • SBF was convicted last year of seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. He faced a maximum of 110 years in jail

  • Prosecutors requested SBF be sentenced to 40-50 years in jail; SBF’s lawyers requested just over six years, citing his health issues. On Thursday, a judge gave SBF 25 years in jail and ordered him to forfeit $11B

  • His sentence is among the most severe for a white-collar crime. Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in jail; Elizabeth Holmes was given 11 years

Dig Deeper

  • During his sentencing hearing on Thursday, SBF apologized for his actions but refused to admit to crimes. He claimed his mistakes were victimless, because FTX – in bankruptcy proceedings – has “enough assets to pay back…all customers in full at current prices”

  • The judge overseeing the case rejected SBF’s claim that nobody lost money because of SBF’s actions, calling that “flawed.” The judge also accused him of lying when he took the stand during the trial, saying he had “never seen a performance quite like” SBF’s

KEY STORY

Israel-Hezbollah Violence Grows

Seventeen people died during fighting between Israel and Hezbollah on Wednesday, the highest daily death toll between the sides since October 7

  • Hezbollah, an Iran-backed, Lebanon-based militia, has traded nearly daily fire with Israel since October 7. Both sides have refrained from total war, although both have threatened it’s a possibility

  • On Wednesday, Israel struck a paramedic center associated with one of Hezbollah’s allies. It later conducted attacks against other Hezbollah sites

  • In response, Hezbollah fired 45 rockets into Israel, killing one. Seventeen people died amid the fighting, marking the highest single-day death toll between both sides since October 7

Dig Deeper

  • The fighting has killed dozens on both sides and caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians from border regions

  • Following Israel’s strikes, an Israeli military official said the country’s goal is to “change the security situation in the north so that the residents can return to [their homes] safely”

SPONSORED

Why Did the Easter Bunny Invest in a VPN?

Because he wanted to keep his egg-cellent secrets scrambled from any snooping bunnies trying to hop onto his network!

  • Whether or not you will be celebrating Easter this weekend, a VPN is a safe bet for all

  • VPNs offer a valuable layer of security and privacy for internet users, especially in an era where online threats and privacy concerns are increasingly prevalent

  • We turn your online activity into an untraceable code with the help of a VPN – so you browse the internet in pure blissful virtual comfort! 

  • Privacy: A VPN encrypts your traffic to effectively eliminate bad actors from tracking your activity online 

  • Security: Creates a secure internet connection by changing your IP address that protects you from external threats 

Dig Deeper

KEY STORY

Dueling Fundraisers

President Biden and Donald Trump are hosting dueling fundraisers that are expected to generate record amounts of cash

  • On Thursday, Biden hosted a star-studded gala at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall featuring a conversation between him, Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton. The event raised $25M+, his campaign said, a record amount for a single US political fundraising event

  • In response, Trump is holding a fundraiser next month hosted by a billionaire hedge fund manager. Attendees will include a list of A-list billionaire donors, including several who had supported Trump’s rival, Ron DeSantis. Several other former Republican presidential rivals, including Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott, will also attend. A ticket to sit at Trump’s table will sell for $814,600; others, $250,000

Dig Deeper

  • Per FEC filings released last week, the Biden campaign has strongly out-fundraised Trump’s campaign: As of the end of February, Biden’s campaign had $71M in cash on hand, versus Trump’s $33.5M. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) also had $26M, while the Republican National Committee (RNC) had $11 million

KEY STORY

US Overhauls Race Questions

The Biden administration announced new rules governing race and ethnicity questions on official forms

  • The new rules add Hispanic and MENA ("Middle Eastern or North African”) as distinct racial categories. Forms currently consider Hispanic an ethnicity and MENA people as white

  • They also stipulated that “for most situations,” forms will ask about specific ethnic information. For example, Asian Americans will be asked to classify themselves as Chinese, Filipino, etc.

  • The new rules excluded a proposal that would have allowed black people to identify as descendants of slaves

Dig Deeper

  • Some praised the changes as a positive step toward accurately recording America’s diversity and crafting better policies around those classifications; others criticized it for adding new racial groups and exacerbating divisions between Americans

  • Among other things, critics argued that MENA isn’t a racial category, because it would include people from such ethnically diverse countries as Israel, Iraq, and Morocco

  • US agencies have five years to comply with the new rules

RUNDOWN
Some Quick Stories for the Office

🎥 Director Christopher Nolan and his wife, producer Emma Thomas, will receive a knighthood and damehood for their contributions to film

🇩🇪 Amid a flurry of speculation, a German official denied that the country intends to ban wiener dogs

🎤 TikTok launched a $2.1M advertising campaign urging senators to vote against a bill that would force its parent company to sell it

🇦🇫 On state television, the Taliban’s supreme leader said the country will reinstate stoning women to death for adultery. He said the rights that Western democracies demand go against his interpretation of Sharia law

🇷🇺 Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have extended the mandate of a panel monitoring sanctions against North Korea

🇮🇱 The International Court of Justice called on Israel to allow the unimpeded flow of aid into Gaza

🌎 Did you know some credit cards can actually help you get out of debt faster? Yes, it sounds crazy. But it’s true. The secret: Find a card with a “0% intro APR" period for balance transfers. Then, transfer your debt balance and pay it down as much as possible during the intro period. No interest means you could pay off the debt faster. Check out the full list of cards you can use to do this here*

COMMUNITY

Today's Poll:

How do you prefer your eggs?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

POPCORN
Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🦔 Pops-utawney Phil: Punxsutawney Phil, the famous weather-predicting groundhog, has become a father, with his mate Phyllis giving birth to two baby groundhogs on Wednesday

🏠 Get off my lawn: A woman is suing after a Hawaiian construction company mistakenly built a $500,000 house on her property. She was stunned to see the house on a lot she bought for women’s retreats

🏥 Different definitions of “fun”…: A 24-year-old Indian man reportedly died after his friend inserted a vehicle blow-dryer’s nozzle into his rectum and inflated it for fun

🍷 Ron DeWasted: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill eliminating the state’s wine container capacity limit, previously set at one gallon

🏈 Swift turnaround: The Kansas City Chiefs have reportedly agreed to terms with 23-year-old European rugby sensation Louis Rees-Zammit, who ran a 4.43 40-yard dash this year

🤓 Spider-Lamb, Spider-Lamb..: A Mississippi woman known for rescuing animals took in a five-legged lamb called “Spider-Lamb”

ROCA WRAP
Karaoke’s Unsung Hero

This man accidentally set the stage for karaoke’s boom.

Shigeichi Negishi was born in Tokyo in 1923. Both a great student and talented artist from a young age, Negishi studied economics at Hosei University, one of Japan’s top institutions, only to be drafted into the army when World War II erupted. While serving, he ended up a prisoner of war in Singapore and wasn’t released until two years after the war ended.

Negishi learned English as a POW and upon returning to Japan in 1947, used his language skills to source and sell cameras, paving the way for him to found his own consumer electronics company in 1956. He lived a typical, middle-class life for a Japanese businessman – until one offhand remark.

One day, when Negishi was in his 40s, an employee heard Negishi singing to himself and mocked him for having a bad voice. Negishi thought that if he could sing to a backing track, it would improve his voice.

To create a machine that would do that, he and other engineers on his staff wired a microphone input system to a car stereo. To test it, Negishi played an eight-track instrumental rendering of a Japanese song and sang over it.

When Negishi heard his voice coming through the speakers alongside the music, “I knew right away I’d discovered something new,” he later said. He showed the machine to his family that night – and thus began the world’s first karaoke session.

Negishi dubbed his invention the "Sparko Box” and partnered with a friend at the Japan Broadcasting Corporation to spread it across Japan. They managed to sell 8,000 units, but reactions were mixed, largely because amateur singers were hesitant to sing in public. Wearied by the demanding door-to-door sales process, Negishi ceased operations in 1975 without patenting the invention.

That left room for another businessman to seize the opportunity, which Daisuke Inoue did.

Taking advantage of improved disc, video, and sound technologies, Inoue created his own karaoke device. That coincided with Japan's "Bubble Economy," when a boom fueled a surge in travel and leisure spending, leading to the rise of private karaoke rooms and accelerating its spread.

But Inoue, like Negishi, did not patent his invention, and electronics manufacturers soon began producing and marketing their own versions. By the 1980s, “karaoke” boxes – a combination of the Japanese words "kara," meaning "empty," and "ōkesutora," meaning "orchestra” – had swept Japan.

Today Japan is home to 8,000+ dedicated karaoke box venues and 130,000+ bars with karaoke machines – a market worth a combined $2.6B in 2022, according to estimates from the All-Japan Karaoke Industrialist Association. The global market for karaoke machines, meanwhile, was valued at $5.48B in 2022.

Negishi, though, having never patented his machine, missed out on that wealth. After dissolving the Sparko Box, he continued making other consumer electronics and focusing on his hobbies, including basket-making, sculpting, and karaoke singing. Earlier this month, his daughter announced that Negishi had died from natural causes in January at age 100.

His daughter said Negishi did not regret his missed wealth, but rather “felt a lot of pride in seeing his idea evolve into a culture of having fun through song.”

“To him, spending a hundred years surrounded by his family was reward enough,” she said.

While himself an unsung hero, Negishi's legacy is helping people find their voice.

COMMUNITY
20 Questions

As is Roca tradition, every Friday we ask our readers 20 questions or polls and include the answers the following Friday. Let us know your thoughts!

20 questions logo

Ladies and gentlemen, the Weeknd. Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover, something else, or nothing, we wish you all the joy and relaxation in the world. Kickstart the weekend with today's grab-bag edition of 20 Questions. We love reading your answers and are particularly excited for this one.... I mean who is more famous: Martha Stewart or Jack Black?

Here’s the link! Have a great weekend.

Last Week’s 20 Questions:


Last week we ran a roadtrip snacks edition of 20 Questions. Below we bolded the winner of each snack battle.

  1. Doritos

    Nacho

    Cool Ranch

  2. Pistachios or cashews?

    Pistachios

    Cashews

  3. Chocolate milk or Arnold Palmer?

    Chocolate milk

    Arnold Palmer

  4. Big League Chew or Hubba Bubba gum?

    Big League Chew

    Hubba Bubba

  5. Slim Jim or Funyuns?

    Slim Jim

    Funyuns

  6. Carrots or absolutely no vegetables on a road trip?

    Carrots

    NO VEGETABLES

  7. Classic Pringles or classic Lay's?

    Pringles

    Lay's

  8. Chick-fil-A original sandwich or McDouble?

    Chick-fil-A original

    McDouble

  9. Arby's fries or Wendy's fries?

    Arby's

    Wendy's

  10. Icee or Slurpee? (Which term do you use...)

    Icee

    Slurpee

  11. Clif bar or RX bar?

    Clif bar

    RX bar

  12. Sunflower seeds or Altoids?

    Sunflower seeds

    Altoids

  13. Snickers bar or Reese's?

    Snickers

    Reese's

  14. Jolly Rancher or Tootsie pop?

    Jolly Rancher

    Tootsie pop

  15. Sour gummy worms or Twizzlers?

    Sour gummy worms

    Twizzlers

  16. BEST CONVENIENCE STORE?

    Wawa

    Sheetz

    Buc-ee's

    QuikTrip

    Other

  17. Red Bull or Starbucks venti coffee?

    Red Bull

    Starbucks

  18. M&Ms or Skittles?

    M&Ms

    Skittles

  19. Whataburger, In N Out, or Culver's?

    Whataburger

    In N Out

    Culver's

  20. Dramamine or Pepto Bismol?

    Dramamine

    Pepto Bismol

EDITOR’S NOTE
Final Thoughts

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! And happy Elite Eight weekend to those who celebrate that, too. We hope some of your brackets are still in good shape.

We’ll be back next week with our revised premium content. Until then, enjoy the weekend!

— Max, Max, Alex and Jen