Episode 53

Depp-Heard Fallout, Saudi Oil, Crypto Mining, Class Size, Rescue Rats

Cory begins by announcing his new podcast, Stitch This, before the hosts move on to the case that’s gripping the nation for all the wrong reasons: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s double-edged defamation trial. From there, they move on to Meta’s foray into higher education with simulated classrooms and newly proposed New York legislation to lower K-12 class sizes. The hosts then give us a quick update on the sedition charges levied against the Proud Boys for their role in the Jan 6 attack on the capital and discuss Biden cozying up to Saudi Arabia after vowing to make them a “pariah” state on the campaign trail. Ravi, Cory, and Rikki then tackle the environmental impact of crypto mining and what it bodes for the future of the industry before wrapping up, most importantly, with rescue rats. 


Ravi puts his law degree to use as he explains the specifics of defamation law pertinent to the Depp-Heard trial. Cory and Rikki hit on the sensational cultural aspects of the case, discussing what turned this into a spectacle, not unlike the OJ case nearly 30 years ago.

Rikki explains the concept of a “Metaversity” and voices her reservations. Ravi takes the side of innovation as he lists the positive potential for this technology while Cory errs on the side of caution.

The hosts break down the legislation to lower class sizes in New York before looking at the inconclusive research behind teacher-to-student ratios and whether it’s the best use of education funds to prioritize cutting the numbers.

Ravi gives a brief rundown of the sedition charges levied against the Proud Boys as Cory gives a reminder of the troubling rhetoric surrounding January 6 to this day. 

The hosts discuss Biden’s reversal on Saudi Arabia, from tough talk of making them a “pariah” state to a rumored visit to the kingdom next month.

Rikki underlines the energy costs of crypto mining as she explains the moratorium set to take effect in New York. Ravi argues it will stem economic investment in the state as Rikki critiques the most common metrics for discussing crypto’s energy consumption.

The earthquake rescue and recovery industry is getting some assistance from an unlikely source: big-ass rats. With their minds now open to the possibilities, they consider other uses for the reviled pests made first responders.

Depp/Heard Fallout [2:04]

The First Amendment Is Stronger Than Johnny Depp (The Atlantic, 06/02)
Jury Reaches Verdict in Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Trial: What to Know (The New York Times, 06/01)
A complete timeline of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s tumultuous relationship (Business Insider, 06/01)
The Johnny Depp Amber Heard Verdict is Chilling (The New Yorker, 06/02)
America more interested in Depp-Heard trial than abortion (Axios, 05/17)

Metaversities [14:40]

With Money From Facebook, 10 Colleges Turn Their Campuses into ‘Metaversities’ (EdSurge, 06/01)
The Metaverse Is Bad (The Atlantic, 10/21/2021)
Charts: Metaverse Market Size, Participants (Statista, 05/04)
Understanding Group Behavior in Virtual Reality: A Large-Scale, Longitudinal Study in the Metaverse (SSRN, 05/18)

Class Size [19:00]

The Evidence on Class Size (Stanford, 1999)
Class Size: What Research Says and What it Means for State Policy (Brookings, 05/11/2011)
Bill shrinking class sizes in NYC public schools passes state legislature (New York Post, 06/03)
Teacher characteristics and trends (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021)
Should States Spend Billions To Reduce Class Sizes? (FiveThirtyEight, 12/11/2014)
Class Sizes Set to Shrink in New York City Schools, but at What Cost? (The New York Times, 06/03)

Proud Boys Sedition Charges [26:39]

Proud Boys Charged With Sedition in Capitol Attack (The New York Times, 06/06)
Oath Keepers Leader Charged With Seditious Conspiracy in Jan. 6 Investigation (The New York Times, 01/13)
‘Sedition’: A Complicated History (The New York Times, 01/07/2021)
18 U.S. Code § 2384 – Seditious conspiracy (Legal Information Institute)

Saudi // Oil Diplomacy [29:15]

Biden to Travel to Saudi Arabia, Ending Its ‘Pariah’ Status (The New York Times, 06/02)
Biden Has ‘Only Bad Options’ for Bringing Down Oil Prices (The New York Times, 06/05)
Joe Biden Surrenders to Saudi Arabia (National Review, 06/03)
U.S.-Saudi Arabia Relations (Council on Foreign Relations, 12/07/2018)

Crypto Mining Bill [36:18]

A Bitcoin Boom Fueled by Cheap Power, Empty Plants and Few Rules (The New York Times, 12/06/2021)
How Does Bitcoin Mining Work? (Investopedia, 05/05)
Crypto Energy Bill (New York State, 05/03/2021)
New York just passed a bill cracking down on bitcoin mining — here’s everything that’s in it (CNBC, 06/03)
Bitcoin Uses More Electricity Than Many Countries. How Is That Possible? (The New York Times, 09/03/2021)

Rescue Rats [43:35]

Rescue rats with backpacks trained to sniff out earthquake survivors (The Telegraph, 06/03)