Thursday: Hili dialogue

December 8, 2022 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Thursday, December 8, 2022, National Brownie Day (the confection, not the organization). The gooier the better!:

It’s also National Lard Day (??), National Christmas Tree Day, and, in Finland, The Day of Finnish Music (it’s the birthday of Jean Sibelius).

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 8 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The other half of the Theranos grifter couple, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in federal prison for fraud at the once-vaunted startup. (His partner in love and crime, Elizabeth Holmes, will start serving an 11-year sentence next year.)

Mr. Balwani’s sentencing comes more than four years after the collapse of Theranos, which promised to revolutionize healthcare but peddled faulty technology to patients and investors, along the way delivering inaccurate health results and squandering hundreds of millions of dollars. Mr. Balwani helped lead the deception as Theranos’s former president and chief operating officer, and along with his longtime romantic partner, he became the focus of one of the highest-profile white-collar cases in recent years.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, Mr. Balwani’s former business partner and ex-girlfriend, was sentenced last month to 11¼ years for four counts of criminal fraud tied to her now defunct blood-testing startup. The result is an unusual white-collar criminal punishment for Mr. Balwani: being sentenced to a longer prison term than his former boss, who was at the center of the fraud at her company.

. . .Government prosecutors had requested a 15-year sentence for Mr. Balwani. A report from a probation officer, who provides an objective recommendation for the judge’s consideration, suggested a nine-year sentence. The probation officer found that Mr. Balwani’s crimes fall into the most serious offense category specified by U.S. sentencing guidelines, which carries the possibility of a life prison term.

“Mr. Balwani came to work day after day and made misrepresentations,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Schenk. “Investors believed they were investing in a different company.”

Mr. Balwani, 57, was convicted of seven counts of wire fraud and conspiracy against investors in Theranos, and five counts of wire fraud and conspiracy against patients who used Theranos blood tests.

Balwani is 57, and with time off for good behavior (not that much for a sentence like this), he’ll be about 70 when he sees freedom again.

*After Trump and his lawyers testified that they had turned over all material marked “classified” to the government, his lawyers discovered that they had fibbed, probably inadvertently. More material has now been turned up—not at Mar-a-Lago but in a Florida storage locker, with the rent paid for by (you guess it) the U.S. taxpayers.

Lawyers for Donald Trump found at least two items marked classified after an outside team hired by Trump searched a storage unit in West Palm Beach, Fla., used by the former president, according to people familiar with the matter.

Those items were immediately turned over to the FBI, according to those people, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The search was one of at least three searches for classified materials conducted by an outside team at Trump properties in recent weeks, after Trump’s legal team was pressed by a federal judge to attest that it had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings, according to people familiar with the matter.

There has been a lengthy and fierce battle between Trump’s attorneys and the Justice Department in a Washington federal court in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. Much of the legal wrangling remains under seal by a federal judge, but people familiar with the matter say the Justice Department has raised concerns about what prosecutors view as a long-standing failure to fully comply with the May subpoena by Trump’s team.

Emails released by the General Services Administration, which assists former presidents during their transition to private life, show that the government agency helped rent the storage unit at a private facility in West Palm Beach on July 21, 2021. The unit was needed to store items that had been held at an office in Northern Virginia used by Trump staffers in the months just after he left office.

. . The ultimate significance of the classified material in the storage unit is not immediately clear, but its presence there indicates Mar-a-Lago was not the only place where Trump kept classified material. It also provides further evidence that Trump and his team did not fully comply with a May grand jury subpoena that sought all documents marked classified still in possession of the post-presidential office.

Other Trump-related properties are also being searched.

*Over at the NYT, conservative columnist Douthat sees Warnock’s senatorial victory in Georgia as a bad sign for Trump. And it is. Trump, of course not ony backed the reprobate Herschel Walker, but CHOSE him.

The natural question evoked by the memory of the last runoffs, though, is whether this will make any long-term difference inside the G.O.P. If Republican voters didn’t tire of Trump after he gave away a winnable election and then inspired a mob to storm the Capitol the very next day, why would merely giving away another runoff be a deal-breaker? If Trump somehow managed to remain the 2024 front-runner after the insanity of 2021’s Jan. 6, why would his loyalists abandon him after the mere political disappointments of 2022’s Nov. 8 and Dec. 6?

One answer is that the truest loyalists won’t; there will be a strong Trump vote in any imaginable Republican primary where he doesn’t drop out early. But for the Republicans who aren’t the deepest loyalists — the ones who didn’t vote for Trump in the early primaries of 2016, the ones giving Ron DeSantis leads here and there in early primary polling — there are two reasons to suspect that this runoff’s aftermath will be different from the last one’s.

The first is just the compounding effect of multiple defeats. Like a miracle sports team, the ’69 Mets or this year’s Moroccan World Cup soccer squad, Trump earned himself a storehouse of belief with his stunning upset in 2016. That the Republican Party then lost the House in 2018 — well, that was to be expected, since incumbent parties generally struggle in the midterms. That the G.O.P. lost the presidency in 2020 — well, there was a plague, mass protests, rejiggered election rules and a general atmosphere of craziness, and anyway the polls were wrong and Trump almost pulled it out in the Electoral College, the miracle juice still there but just not quite enough.

But to disappoint again in 2022, in a context where many Republicans expected to do extremely well — and more, to have so many of Trump’s preferred candidates flop while other Republicans won easily — well, at a certain point the memory of 2016 fades, and the storehouse of faith and good will is depleted.

. . . The second reason this time might be different is that there will be time for the defeat’s reality and lessons to sink in, for the stink of loserdom to circulate — whereas last time Trump was actually helped in his bid to hold onto influence and power by the way the Georgia results vanished into the smoke of the Capitol riot.

Trump will try to run again for President in 2024, but can he beat Ron DeSantis (if DeSantis is a GOP candidate)? I say yes, and I haven’t been wrong yet. Don’t forget that PCC(E) not only predicted the last election down to the electoral vote count, but also predicted Walker’s defeat. Now I predict that Trump will never be President again.

*LiveScience reports that the fabled Elgin Marbles, sculptures from the Parthenon removed to England by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, might be returned to Greece. You may remember that Christopher Hitchens wrote both a book and a Vanity Fair article urging this return, and I agree with him.  I never thought the British Museum would given them back, but LiveScience says this (h/t Ginger K.):

The British Museum and the Greek government are reportedly in talks about returning the Parthenon Marbles — also called the Elgin Marbles — to Greece, according to media reports.

. . . Greece has been requesting the return of the marbles for decades, and made a formal request for the Parthenon sculptures’ permanent return to Greece in 1983, according to the British Museum. 

. . .The Greek newspaper Ta Nea(opens in new tab) and the BBC reported(opens in new tab) that talks between the British Museum and the Greek officials started in November 2021, but a major problem in returning the Parthenon Marbles is that British law stipulates that artifacts in the British Museum cannot be deaccessioned, a process necessary in order to transfer full ownership. The U.K. government has indicated that it has no plans to change the law and the two sides are exploring alternatives that might be allowed under British law, such as an agreement that would enable the museum and Greece to share the sculptures.

If a deal does come about, a series of exhibitions featuring Greek artifacts that have never left Greece may come to the British Museum, taking up residence in place of the Parthenon Marbles, the BBC noted.

In Greece, the Acropolis Museum is ready to house the Parthenon Marbles, according to the museum. Currently, plaster casts of the marbles, alongside ancient artifacts the Earl of Elgin left behind, are on display for the public, according to National Public Radio(opens in new tab).

Here’s one part of the sculptures:

(From Wikipedia): Metope from the Elgin marbles depicting a Centaur and a Lapith fighting

*The World Cup is in a hiatus until the quarter finals on Friday and Saturday. Here’s the schedule (presumably Qatar time):

Friday December 9

Croatia vs Brazil – Kick-off 3pm
Netherlands vs Argentina – Kick-off 7pm

Morocco vs Portugal – Kick-off 3pm
England vs France – Kick-off 7pm

I’d like to see Brazil vs. Argentina in the final, with Argentina victorious. That’s because I want Messi to go out on top—unlike Ronaldo. When I asked Matthew why Ronaldo was only a substitute in the last World Cup game, he answered, “Because teams play better without him, he’s an egotistical git and is too old to do the necessary work, thereby pulling the team out of shape.”

And CNN suggests that Ronaldo may be Portugal’s “super sub” for the remainder of the World Cup (if Portugal goes through):

Now 37 years old, Ronaldo’s legs seemingly don’t possess quite the same zip they once used to and while he remains one of football’s great goalscoring threats, his increasing lack of mobility means he no longer fits the high-octane pressing style of football many teams like to play in the modern game.

That led to him being quickly benched by new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, who prefers a high-pressing, energetic style, something Ronaldo made known he wasn’t happy with.

When Ten Hag asked Ronaldo to come off the bench earlier this season against Tottenham, the former Real Madrid man threw a strop and walked back down the tunnel, refusing to enter the game.

That led to Ronaldo being dropped from the match day squad for United’s next game. Subsequently the Portuguese star addressed his behavior in an Instagram post, though he stopped short of an apology.

“As I’ve always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches,” he wrote.

Next came the tell-all interview with Piers Morgan, in which Ronaldo called out almost everybody at Manchester United – including the cooks – which ultimately lead to the end of his second stint at the club as both parties decided to part ways.

Rumors have been swirling since his departure from Manchester United that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is close to signing with a club in Saudi Arabia, something he has denied.

Ronaldo hasn’t been left out of Portugal’s starting lineup in a major tournament since 2008, 14 years ago.

*“The Funeral Baked Meats Do Coldly Furnish Forth the Marriage Tables” Department. Apparently some of Christine McVie’s possessions have already been auctioned off, and only a week after her death. The sale includes other Fleetwod Mac items, but appears to have been arranged well before McVie’s death. I have no idea why they’re going on sale; the band members can’t be impoverished!

The world lost Fleetwood Mac’s Christie McVie last week at the age of 79 and coincidentally an auction of her belongs was just a few days later, this weekend.

According to the auction house, McVie’s maxi dress, which she wore on the back cover of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest album, Rumours, sold for $56,250 — five times its original estimate of $10,000.

(From the auction site): The dress features a green, yellow, red, and cream leaf pattern throughout, a scoop neck, butterfly sleeves, zig-zag stitching to the waistline, and two attached white thread belt loops, as well as a slightly ruffled bottom hem. No size or label present. During the album shoot, photographed by Herbert W. Worthington, McVie styled the maxi dress with a black floral headscarf, a chunky belt, and silver chain necklace.

The back cover:

Her piano accordion, which she used to perform “Tusk” live onstage, sold for just over $11,500.

Here’s Christine with her squeezebox on “Tusk”:

Items from John McVie and Mick Fleetwood were sold, as well. John’s custom fretless bass guitar, which he used to record the classic song “The Chain” and played live onstage from 1976 to 1980, sold for $100,000.

“The Chain”, 1977:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej is reading a book he doesn’t like (I don’t know which one):

Hili: This book gets you into a nasty mood.
A: Why do you think so?
Hili: From time to time you are angrily throwing it down.
In Polish:
Hili: Ta książka wpędza cię w paskudny nastrój.
Ja: Dlaczego tak sądzisz?
Hili: Co jakiś czas odkładasz ją z wyraźną złością.
. . . and a picture of Baby Kulka from Paulina:


From Tammy:

From Stash Krod, more weird medieval art:

From Thomas from GoComics:

God has begun making His usual insightful tweets (roars?) on Mastodon:

From Malcolm—and you can get this cat snake for $30:

Masih lets Iranian women speak for themselves about the hijab and the Iranian regime. I never imagined that the hijab might actually be the fuse that exploded Iran’s theocracy!

From Malcolm; I used to see sights like this on my windowsill when I was tending squirrels rather than ducks (I think that, given the renovations of Botany Pond, I should go back to squirrels:

One of my windowsill squirrel photos from 2013:

From Luana. Could Whitmer be President one day?

From the Auschwitz Memorial, an eight-year-old gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. These fish evolved to glide out of the water to escape predators—only to find a new set of predators!

But did people keep going to see the movie?

Axolotols make sounds—cute ones! Sound up to hear:

34 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. “People with a period” is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. For starters, it utterly fails to be inclusive–which is it’s presumed purpose. It not only *excludes* a huge chunk of biological women–girls, grandmothers, and preggos, among them–it also excludes ALL trans women.

      1. In fairness, only people that actually menstruate will save the money she’s talking about, so it’s actually accurate in that sense.

      1. Mark, do you think Gov. Whitmer seriously intended to close the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline under the Straits? Or did she know the issue would be transferred to the Federal Court that interprets the treaty between Canada and the United States, where the matter now rests, but will surely not allow the U.S. to close it? And so her state court suit was merely for domestic political purposes in Michigan.

        Closing this pipeline for no good reason would be a deeply deeply unfriendly act. It is “our” pipeline, carrying product from Western Canada to Southern Ontario through a more practical route than an all-Canadian one, hence the treaty under which you let us build it. (It also serves refineries in Ohio and Indiana.) It doesn’t carry diluted bitumen from those awful old tar sands in Alberta.

        We have got used to protestors trying to throttle our economy. It helps to have some idea about which ones are serious, which ones have actual power, and which ones are both. The last group are the ones we care about.

  1. National Lard Day (??)

    The cornerstone of any nutritious southern breakfast. Just watch the short-order cook in My Cousin Vinny:

  2. I’d like to see Brazil vs. Argentina in the final, with Argentina victorious.

    Not going to happen I’m afraid. I think they will both win their quarter finals and then they will meet in the semi final.

    Having seen both teams play, my money would be on Brazil winning that match. Argentina really haven’t been that great so far but, in their last match, Brazil had a period of almost magical play.

  3. … Trump’s legal team was pressed by a federal judge to attest that it had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings …

    That attestation was ordered by Chief Judge Beryl Howell, the district judge overseeing the federal grand jury investigation in the District of Columbia — not by Aileen Cannon, the federal judge in the satellite courthouse in Ft. Pierce, FL, who, after last week’s ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, no longer has a case to preside over.

      1. Is it (past) high time for the Biden administration to also designate Marc Fogel, arrested under similar circumstances, as “wrongfully detained”? Or should all such inquires be “referred to the State Department” as the White House spokeswoman recommended (in response to a reporter’s question)?

      1. It will be interesting to see if Griner develops a more positive view of the US now that she has gone through her recent experiences.
        Also, If Mr. Bout goes back to his old occupation, and lots of people die as a result, the cost/benefit equation might need to be reassessed.

        1. She sounds like a real peach. Wasn’t there a short story about a kid who was kidnapped but was such a holy terror that his kidnappers had to beg his father to take him off their hands?

          I was going to ask if y’all thought you got a good deal in the exchange, so thanks for asking it better. But perhaps Mr. “Merchant of Death” Bout won’t kill any of our peeps after the stern talking-to he got in the slammer, so it’s all good.

  4. “No, they have pet snails that ride on their arms like falcons.”

    No wonder the falcon cannot hear the falconer.

  5. Has anyone else wondered what the results would have been if all the Trumpers who died of Covid had been around to vote in this election?

    1. I’ve wondered that and have done minimal research. It’s true that Republicans died at a much higher rate than Democrats after the vaccine was released. And in Ohio and Florida for example, Rep. death rates were 153% higher than Dems. But at the same time, Republicans won both states pretty easily in 2020. By 2022, a lot more unvaccinated (i.e. Republicans) have died, so maybe it made a difference in the midterms. I’m sure someone out there is looking into it. Common sense tells me it made a difference, but who knows if the difference was substantial enough to cost election victories for Republicans.

    2. That’s a really good question, Marilyn.

      If you look at the racial demographics of the deaths from Covid, the results would have been even more in Biden’s favour had there been no Covid. Black people died at 2-3 x the rate of whites, and Hispanics at 3-5 x. (Native Americans over 6, but numbers were small.) With one exception, in all states that report health statistics by race and who had important numbers of Black residents (e.g., not Iowa), this racial disparity was so strong that the absolute numbers of Black deaths was greater than the absolute numbers of white deaths. (The exception was Florida, where the white people are so old that their age-related risk swamped the race-related risk and so more whites died there than Blacks.) These figures were compiled and released by CDC from state health departments well into the pandemic but I didn’t recheck them for this blurb to see if the winnowing of Democratic voters persisted into Nov. 2022. I alluded to them here sometime in 2021 I think.

      So in every state but Florida (and a few states with very few Black residents), the Democrats lost more likely voters to Covid than the Republicans did. Even in red states, the deaths were disproportionately among the blue voting base, at least in those states that report health stats by race.

      It’s true that over-all deaths were higher in at least some red states and I’m not arguing that red-state policies were good or bad for those states, or better or worse than blue ones. But remember that all states are shades of purple: there are still lots and lots of Democratic voters in even the so-called deep-red states that go 60:40. And they died in droves.

      Part of the sense that Trumpers died of Covid comes from media that loved to report stories of MAGA-hat wearing anti-vaxxers choking out demands for ivermectin just before they were intubated, but Black people dying quietly in county hospitals were ignored. It’s possible that Republican governors knew that their voters weren’t dying of Covid in large numbers–it was really the other guy’s voters–and that’s why they were less ready to lock down their states.

      Finally, remember that Covid deaths reached just over a million, in a country of 300 million. Maybe a quarter to a third of those people would have been expected to vote had they survived–many of the Hispanic deaths weren’t even legally in the country. Their contribution to the margin of victory would have been very small even if you could predict accurately how they would have voted.

      1. I agree, Leslie. Further, the racial disparity (which was widely obsessed on here in NYC) that was caused, apparently, by “white supremacy” never seemed to take into account differing average obesity rates, nor vaccine and mask compliance which skew the numbers entirely.
        These, and a few other confounds apply to a large amount of the alleged “white supremacy” in the medical area we never stop hearing about.
        I’m sure it exists, somewhere, though I’ve never actually met a white supremacist myself. Ever.

  6. Too bad about that “people with periods” nonsense. I like Gretchen Whitmer. Plus, she’s got about the purest form of the Michigan version of the Great Lakes accent you’re ever gonna come across.

  7. Great job USC Marching Band in the Fleetwood Mac video. Gave me the chills. I played it loud. It sounds better that way.

  8. Took me a while for the penny to drop with the “For Lease Navidad” sign (too used to the lispy Iberian Spanish pronunciation of “Feliz”…).

  9. I seldom make brownies, but wanted to try a new recipe and all I had was a box of brownie mix and amber beer. The directions call for a cake mix of your choice and either a 12 oz can of pop or a 12 oz bottle of beer that compliments the cake. So, I dumped the brownie mix in a bowl, added a bottle of amber beer, poured into a 9×13 cake pan and baked per directions on the mix box. BEST brownies ever! Took them to an event and they were gone lickety splictety.

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