Georgia Gives Herschel the Heisman
Fifty One, Time Person of the Year, and Trump's Schadenfraud.
It took two elections, a ton of cash, a bottomless pit of scandals, and some sub-zero candidate quality, but Raphael Warnock retained his Senate seat after Georgia finally gave Herschel Walker the Heisman. The running back whose ethics and intellect are running on empty is now running back to private life. The state's most famous number 34 got 86'd giving 46 a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, a result cheered by Walker's son and exes, but one that leaves me wishing it was 420. After all, while Walker, as a college football hero, played his way to 52 touchdowns, he was also responsible for a similar number of combined kids, abortions, and abuse allegations, majored in lying 101, had no understanding of the issues, and was more qualified for a 5150 than coming within a 51-49 result of joining the Senate. But that's how close he came, and we came, to having Herschel Walker as an American Senator. Yes, I'm as relieved as anyone that the man who could always find the open hole, both on the field and off, did not sweep to victory, and I realize why 51 is a big deal in the Senate, but considering how obscenely unqualified, unethical, and un-smart Walker is, that it came so close makes this a bittersweet win. Still, as stressful as the the bulldog days of our multi-month election season have been, at least America's bend but don't break defense against political tragedy held once again.
2. Freedom Fighter
"Aides who once saw him as a lightweight now praise his toughness. Slights that might once have upset him now elicit no more than a shrug. Some of his allies miss the old Zelensky, the practical joker with the boyish smile. But they realize he needs to be different now, much harder and deaf to distractions, or else his country might not survive." Volodymyr Zelensky is Time's Person of the Year. He's a constant example of leadership and a reminder that democracy is something worth fighting for.
+ Meanwhile, he's back to work. "Ukraine’s drone strikes on two air bases deep inside Russia mark a new chapter in this war, but their significance—whether they escalate the conflict or alter the war’s course in some other way—is unclear." What Ukraine’s Drone Strike Deep in Russian Territory Means.
"A jury found two corporate entities at the Trump Organization guilty on all 17 counts, including charges of conspiracy and falsifying business records." In what one assumes (or at least hopes) is not the last of the legal defeats, the Trump Organization was convicted in executive tax dodge scheme. This ends a three year investigation by top prosecutors targeting NY's biggest criminal, and in the end it will amount to, at most, a $1.6 million fine. I'm not sure whether this is a cautionary tale or an argument that tax fraud is worth the risk.
4. Needles and the Damage Done
"Lying flat on my back in a hospital bed, covered in sap and bleeding out of my forehead, I don’t feel very Christmasy. I feel concussed. Even still, I can’t help but think about Christmas, the holiday that has been my daily reality for two years. I’ve worked spring, summer, fall, and winter for Santa Claus — or, rather, for a man who looks exactly like Santa Claus, and possibly thinks he is Santa Claus, and is, fittingly, one of the top sellers of Christmas trees in New York City." By way of Epic Magazine and Curbed, Greg Walsh shares the weird, entertaining Secrets of the Christmas Tree Trade, that include turf wars, protection money, and Scientology. "After what seems like a long time, a nurse approaches my bed and examines the wound above my right eye. She picks a pine needle out of my hair and asks, 'What on earth were you doing?' I tell her I was selling Christmas trees and things got out of hand."
5. Extra, Extra
Germanic of Time: "Twenty-five people have been arrested in raids across Germany on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. The group of far-right and ex-military figures are said to have prepared for a "Day X" to storm the Reichstag parliament building and seize power. A man named as Heinrich XIII, from an old aristocratic family, is alleged to have been central to their plans." Germany arrests 25 accused of plotting coup. (Wait, you can be arrested for planning a coup?)
+ Morality Tale: "As long as America’s leaders fail to recognize that the movement in Iran is about more than a revolt against a restrictive dress code, Tehran knows it can manipulate the U.S. into not responding with due seriousness." Roya Hakakian in The Atlantic: The Real Reason Iran Says It’s Canceling the Morality Police.
+ AI Before E Except After C: "The essay, in particular the undergraduate essay, has been the center of humanistic pedagogy for generations. It is the way we teach children how to research, think, and write. That entire tradition is about to be disrupted from the ground up." AI is going to transform academia (and will eventually become smart, pithy, and hilarious enough to put me out of business). Stephen Marche in The Atlantic: The College Essay Is Dead.
+ Scammer Time: "Cybercriminals using hacking forums to buy software exploits and stolen login details keep falling for cons and are getting ripped off thousands of dollars at a time." Wired: Scammers Are Scamming Other Scammers Out of Millions of Dollars. (Wait, I thought that headline was for an article about the VCs who invested in FTX?)
+ Bot Row: Amid outcry, San Francisco pauses on 'killer police robots.' (It's cute that humans still have a say about such things.)
+ Hand, Jive: Watch the moment relatives of a fallen January 6 police officer snubbed Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy and refused to shake their hands. It's the little things...
+ The Bronx Embalmer: While the rest of the country was focused on Georgia, folks in the Bay Area were focused on the Bronx. And, sadly, Aaron Judge as decided to stay there instead of coming home to play for the Giants. What, our $360 million wasn't as good as the Yankees' $360 million?
6. Bottom of the News
There are a couple lessons from Google's year in search. First, scandals like slapping someone across the face at the Oscars really get you searching. And second, you tried to cheat at Wordle. A lot.
+ Jonathan, the world's oldest tortoise, marks his 190th with fanfare and salad cake.
+ When you take booze and caffeine and drugs out of the equation, you're left with sugar. Hence, the great Utah cookie wars.