Category Archives: Uncategorized

Varsity Blues update – cost of trial

It’s been a while since I last wrote about Varsity Blues, the college admissions scandal. Two defendants, both parents who bribed school officials to get their children admitted to colleges of choice, went to trial rather than plead guilty. Both were convicted last October. Yesterday the first of them, Gamal Abdelaziz, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison along with two years supervised release after prison, a $250,000 fine and 400 hours of community service. The other defendant, John Wilson, will be sentenced next week. He was convicted of tax charges in addition to the college conspiracy charges, so he may get an even longer sentence.

These two men are the first two to choose trial rather than taking a plea deal. It cost them at time of sentencing. The longest sentence given out prior to this was for nine months. That defendant, Douglas Hodge, paid more money and was more directly and actively involved in the bribes on behalf of four children than most other parents. There have been several other defendants convicted in recent months, too. To see the whole list, here’s the authoritative link: Varsity Blues.

The most outrageous case is the one defendant who was pardoned by Donald Trump right before he left office. Robert Zangrillo, a Miami developer, was let off scot-free. The White House claimed that various businessmen and even a USC trustee (a major Trump supporter), advocated for the pardon for Zangrillo, but those businessmen all denied having any input on the pardon or contact with Zangrillo or the White House. The White House statement on the pardon also claimed that Zangrillo’s daughter Amber was earning a 3.9 GPA at USC, but the school confirmed that she was not enrolled there. The lies from that man never end.

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

The Last FlightThe Last Flight by Julie Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Claire Cook is married to the son of a powerful U.S. Senator from a power family (e.g. Kennedy, Bush). But her husband is controlling and abusive, so she decides to escape. She formulates a plan, but the plan is thwarted. Instead she ends up switching plane tickets with Eva, a young woman also in a desperate situation. The stories of the two women are told in interspersed chapters, Claire’s moving forward, Eva’s in flashbacks leading up to the day of the ticket switch.

I really like the premise. It’s a thriller, not a crime novel per se, although there are crimes involved. Tension was kept high. Will Claire’s husband find her? What happened to Eva? The writing was rather uninspired and won’t win any literary prizes, but it featured some locations I’m familiar with, which always adds to my interest. The ending wasn’t great, but it did explain one mystery and contained a surprise, so it wasn’t a disappointment.

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This will be my last post on the subject of Wordle for a while (I hope). I wrote a program that tries to guess the input Wordle word. I’m calling it Worbot. I wrote it so that its attempts are shown in the same format as the actual Wordle. The program doesn’t have access to the Internet, so it can only solve the word that is input. It does a pretty good job of it. The only word Worbot hasn’t solved in six tries (the maximum allowed by actual Wordle) is PROXY, which is also the only word I didn’t get in six tries. And I had to run the word PROXY three times before the program failed. It rarely fails to solve within four guesses. Here are some sample runs. Spoiler warning: one of the words shown is today’s actual Wordle word, but you probably won’t read this today.

My purpose in writing this is to see if I can beat my program over time, i.e., develop a better record. I don’t yet have the routine written to track that for the program. My word list is slightly larger than the one used by Wordle, so some of my words may be invalid, but it could also be that Wordle uses some words not in my list. It may be possible to download the Wordle list, but I’m not concerned enough to go to that trouble.

Wordle spoiler bot

In case you missed it, someone reverse engineered the code for Wordle and figured out what word would come next. He posted the tool for that online and some other tool used it to create a bot that posts the next day’s word as a spoiler to anyone who Tweets about Wordle.  Fortunately, Twitter banned the bot as a violation of the terms of service.

As a side note: I finally got the word on my second guess. Yes, I was lucky.


Okay, with a blog titled OnWords, you knew I’d have to get around to the latest online word craze, Wordle. It’s essentially MasterMind using five-letter words. It’s fun and I’m hooked. You should try it. Here are my stats:

I’ve missed getting the word only once, but that’s one more than I’d like. A week ago the word was PROXY. I had it narrowed down to PROOF and PROXY by the 6th level and I guessed wrong. My wife has gotten the word in two guesses twice. That’s just plain lucky.

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Baker's SecretThe Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emmanuelle (Emma) is the baker with the secret. She is baking bread for the the Nazis under orders from the Kommandant, but finding a way to sneak some food to her fellow French villagers. She’s the lead character, but a cynic, a religious skeptic, and a pessimist. The plot has the advantage of moving forward chronologically and is thus easy to follow. This is unfashionable these days, it seems. It took me a long time to get into the story, though, mainly because most of the characters aren’t very likeable. Perhaps that’s inevitable in a story of occupied France. Everyone must compromise themselves or their morals to survive or help their relatives survive. There was also a large dollop of implausibility. But the last 20% or so of the book moved rapidly and had me fully engaged.

There was one stylistic choice that left me bewildered, although it didn’t particularly hurt the story. The author never refers to Germany, Germans, or German the language. The same is true for France and French. It is always “the occupying army” or “our language.” There were plenty of French and German words and names, so it was no secret what these unnamed people and languages were. I don’t get the point. The writing was serviceable, if not elegant, and the plot worthwhile.

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Bewilderment by Richard Powers

BewildermentBewilderment by Richard Powers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is hard to classify. The author’s skill as a wordsmith is indisputable but the plot is an odd mishmash. It’s not quite science fiction, not quite political commentary, and, I suppose, mostly character development, although all those elements appear only sporadically. The main characters are Robin and his father, an astrobiologist who is researching life on other planets. Robin, however, is the main focus. He’s an implausible mix of idiot savant, nerd, ADHD, and spoiled but charming brat. He’s obsessed with environmental issues and animals, especially endangered species. Robin ends up as a subject in an experiment involving controlling thoughts and moods through biofeedback. Meanwhile, in the background an anti-science far right president and his cronies are killing scientific research funding at all levels threatening both Robin’s treatment and his father’s research program.

Stylistically the book is unconventional, as well. It follows the new fashion I first encountered in News of the World of not using quotation marks, substituting italics to indicate the child’s dialogue. The change of speakers also doesn’t cause a new paragraph. There may be a point to this, but I don’t know what it is. The larger style difference, though, is that every two or three pages Robin and his father are on some imagined exoplanet which is described in luscious detail. The scientific content on both terrestrial and extraterrestrial biology was quite high. The book was educational; the research deserves praise. Presumably these are stories the father tells to Robin, or they both conjure together, but they are not presented quite that way. The breadth of imagination is staggering and interesting in a way, but contributes nothing to the plot. I found them quite distracting after a while. There was a twist at the end which took place entirely on the final page but it seemed a bit cheesy to me. I can squeeze out four stars for the wordsmithing and the imagination, but the plot left me cold.

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Justice is served

It’s easy these days to become depressed about the state of our criminal justice system when you see no action taken against a former president who incited an insurrection or acquittal of a vigilante teen who gunned down protesters he disagreed with. But we’ve seen a lot of justice meted out in recent months and it’s worth a look to restore some perspective.

Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter, both officers who killed unarmed men, were convicted. Chauvin received a stiff sentence and Potter may, too, although her case is much less serious. The three men who killed Ahmaud Arbery were just sentenced to life in prison. The victims were all  men of color, the killers all white.

The FBI has made over 700 arrests of rioters in the Capitol insurrection of Jan. 6. Convictions and sentencings are coming down almost every day now, although most have been fairly light sentences so far.

In the white collar arena, Elizabeth Holmes was just convicted of wire fraud in connection with Theranos. Over forty defendants have pled guilty in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal and several more have agreed to do so. Some very wealthy individuals like Felicity Huffman have already served prison sentences. Dozens more await trial.

Jeffrey Epstein took care of his own death sentence and Ghislaine Maxwell just got convicted in connection with their child sex trafficking activities. Harvey Weinstein was convicted and sentenced to 23 years. Andrew Cuomo is not being prosecuted, but he is out as governor of New York.

While this is not a perfect record, it is heartening to see that even the rich and powerful and the police are being held accountable in larger numbers than ever before.

What makes comics funny?

I’ve always enjoyed reading the funny papers. Only now, they are read almost entirely online, not on paper, so I’ll call them comics. I mostly read ones that are intended to be funny and avoid the soapy ones like Mary Worth or the adventure type like Prince Valiant or political ones. I just like a good chuckle. All comics are hit and miss; it’s hard to come up with good material every day. So I decided to do a little analysis of some of the strips I follow to see if I could determine a common theme or technique that made some days funnier, or at least better liked, than others. The site I used for this is although I also read on other sites.

I chose four relatively popular strips that are humor oriented and recorded how many likes each got from readers over a three month period (July through September 2021). The four strips are Pickles, Frank and Ernest, The Argyle Sweater, and Brewster Rockit. Here’s a chart of the raw data:

The peaks show the days which got the most likes and the valleys the fewest. I examined the five highest peaks and the five lowest for each strip here’s what I found:

Pickles: The most popular strip, Pickles, dating to 1990, features an older couple, Earl and Opal, and sometimes other characters. It’s mostly good-natured. One noticeable difference between the most- and least-liked strips was that both main characters appeared in all the most-liked, but Opal did not appear in any of the least-liked. The best-liked in general were more upbeat and less cynical. The least liked ones had Earl pranking his grandson by telling him false “facts.”

The Argyle Sweater: A relatively new strip, resembling The Far Side, has no regular characters, but often features anthropomorphic animals, furniture, etc. It has a sharper edge than the other three strips. The five most liked contained three with clever wordplay and two with no words at all. Only two had humans in them. They all had that delayed humor quality where you have to think about it (or take a second look) before you suddenly get the joke. My favorite was one where the guard at an art museum is telling Vincent Van Gogh he can’t come in unless he’s wearing a mask. At first that seems kind of funny that the famous artist can’t enter an art museum, but then you notice Van Gogh is wearing a mask but it’s dangling from just one ear since, of course, he’s cut off the other one. Three of the five had to do with art. The least popular ones tended to be grosser or more tasteless than most. Two had bad puns.

Frank and Ernest: Most of the strips feature the two named characters, two goody guys. Puns and other wordplay are common in this strip. Of the five most liked, most had good wordplay. Only one featured both characters and one featured neither of them. Of the least liked, some had Frank and/or Ernest, and some didn’t. The main difference was simply the strip had no good wordplay or punch line. For most I just didn’t “get it.”

Brewster Rockit: Brewster is the captain of a spaceship and, being an idiot, is the butt of many jokes. There are many peripheral characters. By far the most popular strip during this stretch was on the Fourth of July with a patriotic theme (the only one of these four who chose to reference the holiday). Four of the five most liked also had a pro-mask, pro-vaccination theme although one was subtle. A crewman objected to a mandate requiring him to wear “one” on his face and refused – then went out into space without a helmet. The mandate wasn’t to wear a mask. The strip isn’t political in general but it does have some educational and public service type strips, mostly about space science, which some may consider political. The low-scoring ones didn’t have anything in common I could tell. Two involved anthropomorphic insects, which I happen to think were clever strips. One was a cicada emerging and wanting to check his Blockbuster stock and the other a mayfly checking his retirement account a few hours after starting it. Perhaps some readers don’t know that cicadas hibernate for 17 years and mayflies live only a day.

After all the analysis, the best I can come up with is that the funniest strips generally got the most likes, patriotism plays well, and some readers develop a fondness for particular characters and are disappointed if they don’t appear. Ones that had that surprise factor – the delayed “oh, now I get it” – seemed to score best. Overall, the least liked ones were simply not as good as usual. I thought perhaps weekend days would score differently than weekdays, but that seemed to have had no effect. Older, longer-established strips got more likes than the newer ones.

Why was Holmes found not guilty on four counts?

Elizabeth Holmes was acquitted on all the counts involving patients. In each case the patients got bad results from Theranos. They suffered some harm, although the exact amount is in question. Perhaps there was some anxiety and certainly there was additional expenses to get retested at another place. The problem with the government’s case is that they did not prove causation.

There was insufficient proof that the patients relied on specific statements made by Holmes. They mostly chose to use Theranos because their doctors recommended it or because of general media coverage of this new company with cheaper tests. The tests were cheaper, so that part is true. Even if some of the patients did hear and rely on some of the company’s own false promotion, which I don’t recall being in evidence, there was no proof that Holmes herself made the specific statements that were relied on.

Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of wire fraud

The jury in the Elizabeth Holmes Theranos trial found her guilty on four of the eleven counts. They acquitted her of the four counts involving paying patients. There are three more counts in the indictment on which they could not reach agreement. It is to be expected that the judge will declare a mistrial on those three counts.

The guilty counts were on investor-related charges. The deadlocked counts were, too. The government has the option of retrying Holmes on those counts if a mistrial is declared, but in my experience, that is unlikely to happen. The counts on which she was guilty involved almost $150,000,000. That is high enough to hit the max for sentencing purposes so there is little to gain. However, those charges could be bargaining chips to use with the defense. For example, the government could offer to not retry those if there is no appeal. The defense is unlikely to accept that bargain, but may be receptive to an offer on sentencing, considering the fact she has rolled the dice and gone to trial,

She is not being remanded to custody.  I’m guessing she’s going to go for the appeal the whole way and hope to avoid prison altogether. In that case, we’re looking at another year before she sees any prison time unless she violates some condition of release. The strategy could work against her. She is already risking a longer sentence by her choice to testify and claim she did nothing wrong. The acceptance of responsibility is a key factor in sentencing length. Right now white collar criminals often get home detention due to Covid, but a year from now, that may not be the case. She might be better off taking a deal now if the government will agree to home detention for a time instead of prison. She has a husband and baby at home. In my opinion, she belongs in the slammer.

A&W’s Third Pound burger

I recently heard  a disturbing true story that is all too believable. It’s an old story you may have heard, so forgive me if it’s a repeat for you.

In the 1980’s A&W attempted to compete with McDonald’s new Quarter Pounder by coming out with a One-Third Pounder at the same price. It didn’t sell. When consultants were hired and put the question to a focus group the answer was clear: most of the panel thought 1/3 was smaller than 1/4 because 3 is smaller than 4. They thought they were getting less for their money when of course they were getting more with the Third Pounder.

This is not just about marketing or food. It shows how stupid people are and explains a lot of politics today, If people don’t know which is bigger, 1/3 or 1/4, why would we expect them to be able to distinguish lies from truth? It’s a sad commentary on humanity. It makes me wonder whether it’s even worth the effort to try to educate most people.  The idea that everyone should be able to go to college is ludicrous. We should be directing more people to skilled trades.

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Crosby

Blacktop WastelandBlacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I did not give this book a fair chance. I quit after about 30 pages. The dialogue was nearly all Ebonics and the characters, with whom we were supposed to sympathize, were mostly low-life. Sure they were trying to make a legitimate go of it, but the main character was, in plain terms, a getaway driver who collects debts by breaking bones with a wrench. That’s not a set of characters I can get behind.

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Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch

Embassy WifeEmbassy Wife by Katie Crouch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The author seems unfamiliar with the concepts of logic, plot, and consistency but is a master (mistress?) of description. She vividly brings to life some wacky characters and a fascinating country she obviously deeply loves: Namibia. She provides similes and metaphors up the wazoo, most of them quite amusing, which is appropriate for an instructor of creative writing. The book skirts the line between a comedy and a soap opera as it relates the story of two “embassy wives” trailing their husbands to southern Africa. The ending was confusing and downright ridiculous, but by that point, I’d had days of entertainment from the book and really didn’t mind. I’d long since ceased to expect sharp plot development or believability. What I enjoyed the most was experiencing the unique mix of modernity and age-old African lifestyle that the author knows first hand from having lived there. It didn’t give me a desire to travel there, but I thank the author for providing a taste of that exotic cultural blend.

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Our Biggest Experiment by Alice Bell

Our Biggest Experiment: An Epic History of the Climate CrisisOur Biggest Experiment: An Epic History of the Climate Crisis by Alice Bell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s nothing particularly wrong with this book, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. The author delivers what the title promises – a history of the climate crisis. I like science and I’m very interested in the climate crisis and what we can do to prevent it getting worse or deal with what can’t be changed. But I’m not a fan of history. The book sets forth when, why, and how the climate crisis began and when and how it came to be recognized for the crisis it is. Scientists and amateurs alike are named and credited. That much I expected and was willing to plow through, but I expected it to be brought right up to the current day and to discuss what is being done to deal with it. Unfortunately, near the very end the author comes out and says that as a historian she shouldn’t be writing about anything within the last ten years because there’s no perspective, so she stops there. What!? She does end with a chapter of her own views and speculations, but it tends to be more along the lines of assigning blame and discussing policies and politics, not cures or hopeful avenues being explored. In other words, it’s all history, not science.

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The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories: Fifth Annual Collection by Ed Gorman

The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories: Fifth Annual CollectionThe World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories: Fifth Annual Collection by Ed Gorman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found this book disappointing. I read the first five or six stories and not one of them caught my interest. They weren’t mysteries. They were crime stories, I’ll grant that, but if you’re looking for detectives (police or amateurs) sleuthing and putting together clues and solving the crimes, you won’t find that here. At least not in the first several stories. They all consisted of someone committing a crime and either getting away with it or getting his comeuppance.

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Roe v. Wade revisited

This week the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on a case that could result in the landmark ruling Roe v. Wade being overturned. I hope it is not overturned. Let me explain why.

First let me make clear that I don’t like abortion. I don’t think anyone does. I don’t think those who believe it is immoral, tantamount to baby-killing, are unreasonable people or fanatics. I used to believe that, too. It wasn’t until I fully understood how insignificant man is in the universe and how we are, like all other living creatures, just following the instincts preprogrammed into us by natural selection to protect our young that drives that view. Our fetuses, like our adult selves, are just bags of molecules.

But you don’t have to approve of abortion to want Roe to remain the law. You can be pro-life. This is because Roe actually creates lives and brings babies into the world that wouldn’t have been born otherwise. How? you ask. Two of my grandchildren were born through the use of surrogates. The surrogates who bore them were not right-to-lifers. In other words, they weren’t willing to die if there was a medical problem with the pregnancy; they demanded the right to save their own lives by having an abortion. Since this is Texas I’m talking about, that would not have been possible had it not been for Roe. Because of Roe, the contracts giving them that right were valid and enforceable. Fortunately, so far as I know, abortion never became necessary and never was considered. No babies, or fetuses, if you prefer, had to die for my grandchildren to be born, but Roe was absolutely necessary. People who can’t give birth themselves should have the joy of parenthood, the joy of their own child with Grandma’s dimples or Grandpa’s oversized feet, of Dad’s innate musical talent, not someone else’s child. The law should remain as it is.

Thanksgiving – Bah, humbug!

Don’t take that title too seriously. I am thankful for all the good things in my life. I have a wonderful family (certain not-so-immediate members excluded), good health other than a bit of arthritis, financial security, and live in a great neighborhood with many cultural advantages and superb weather. My kids and grandkids all seem to have a bright future. I have nothing against gathering with family and friends and celebrating. My humbug refers only to the meal.

The main problem is too many people and too many dishes. First you seat eight or ten people. I’ve been at some where the number is as high as fifteen. Then the dishes: turkey white meat, turkey dark meat, stuffing A, stuffing B, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, jellied cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, green salad, rolls, butter, peas, roast vegetables, fruit salad, wine, water, sparkling cider. Inevitably somebody starts passing things the wrong direction. Some things just get waylaid and don’t make it all the way around. It takes ten minutes (if you’re lucky) to get all the food passed around. Then there’s grace to be said and then a prayer or minute of remembrance – another three to five minutes gone. Some celebrations I’ve been at require each of the dozen or so people to recite what they’re thankful for. So fifteen minutes after the food has landed on your plate, you’re entitled to begin eating it. By then it’s cold. Cold mashed potatoes and coagulated gravy. Yum.

Then there’s the food itself. There’s almost nothing I like until the pies come out. I can’t stand stuffing or the cranberry relish or sauce with the whole berries. Cold turkey white meat makes good sandwiches because you can slather something with flavor on the bread like mayonnaise or peanut butter (both in my case) but the meat itself is tasteless and unappealing, especially when sitting cold on a plate. The dark meat has a detectable flavor, but it’s not particularly good. I dislike sweet potato. If someone brings Brussels sprouts, those won’t hit my plate. The salads are okay and the peas and roast vegetables would be, too, if hot, but not cold. I usually eat a buttered roll, a few bites of the salads and pick at some turkey until it’s time for dessert and that’s it. I’m still hungry at the end of the meal proper. I don’t understand all the jokes about people being stuffed and sleepy with tryptophan. But I make up for it with the pies. I’m shameless about grabbing a big piece of pumpkin and a big mince or berry or apple wedge, whatever’s there. At least two pieces. And lots of whipped cream on the pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving.

What3Words Literary Game/Contest

For those of you who enjoy tinkering with the location site (W3W) as I do and enjoys solving puzzles, I have a challenge for you. I’m also providing you a chance to win $100.  This is just for fun. There are no strings, no ads, and I’m not promoting anything, although I hope What3Words gets adopted more widely in the United States.

Here’s the challenge: find a series of consecutive words in a work of literature such that every overlapping triplet in the sequence has a valid W3W location associated with that triplet. Post your finds in the comments. If anyone has found a valid sequence that’s longer than mine by New Year’s Day, 2022, the longest such sequence wins the $100. Here’s the longest I’ve found so far:

“…wrong, “that people should never marry until they loved each other better than brothers…”
(from The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper, chapter 28). 14 words

You can try your hand at this just for fun, and I hope you do, but if you are after the prize, here are some rules:

  1. The sequence must be from a piece of recognized literature such as a novel, poem, essay, etc. published before 1960 and verifiable from a public source such as, Google Books, etc. You must cite the source.
  2. The triplets that overlap, e.g. wrong.that.people, that.people.should, etc. in my example, must all be valid locations, Other combinations from the sequence (e.g. people.never.loved) do not need to be valid. There are 12 valid overlapping triplets in my example.
  3. No duplicate or repeated triplets are allowed. I don’t want “never,never,never,never,…”
  4. No hyphenated words allowed unless they form one valid word without the hyphen, and then that’s a single word, not two. E.g. patch-work is the one word patchwork. Contractions that form single words don’t count. E.g. Shed (as in tool shed) is valid but not she’d.
  5. If I find a longer sequence than the one above, I’ll post it in the comments. You still have to beat that.
  6. Payment will be direct through PayPal. If you don’t have a PayPal account, find someone you trust who does to receive it for you. Alternatively, if you’re local (Silicon Valley more or less), I’ll treat us both to lunch, along with a plus one for you if desired, up to a total of $100. Your choice.
  7. In case of tie for longest, the first one to post in the comments wins, but a tie with me doesn’t count.


Holmes trial – a risky defense strategy

The defense team has cross-examined several investors in Theranos. They’ve taken opposite tacks for two of them. At least they’re opposite in one way, although similar in another. The similar part is blame the victim. What I’m more interested in is what they are blaming the victim for.

For some investors the cross-examination has been mostly about the investor’s lack of due diligence. The defense brings out all the things the investor could have done and didn’t before investing, like checking with medical experts, etc. They’re basically setting up the argument that the loss wasn’t due to Holmes but was due to the investors’ failures to take these obvious steps. With a recent witness, Brian Grossman, the prosecutor cleverly brought out a good deal of investigation and due diligence Grossman had done. For example, he had tried to contact people at Walgreen’s and United Health who reportedly had partnered with Theranos. He said that Sunny Balwani had cut him off, telling him that would undermine the reputation or good relationship Theranos had with those companies. He did find some red flags but invested anyway. The defense confronted him with that fact. Grossman’s reply was great: yes, I had to rely solely on the representations by Elizabeth and Sunny. Still the defense may have made some short-term points with the jury by making him and all investors look like greedy rich people who knew the risks.

Where this becomes dangerous for the defense is in final arguments. This leaves an opening for the government to point out that the defense blames the investors whether they try to investigate or don’t. In short, the argument goes, the defense is saying it’s impossible to defraud an investor, no matter what the lies. If the investor is stupid enough to invest in our company, they deserve to lose. It can’t be crime to cheat rich people, in other words. That clearly can’t be the law or common sense. The prosecution can point out that many of these investors were funds with the money of some ordinary people, or were companies whose shares are held in mutual funds invested by pension funds, 401k’s and IRA’s. In other words, the investment victims aren’t all greedy rich people, but ordinary workers.

This idea is important and has been expanded by the prosecution’s next witness: a woman who had no health insurance and used the Theranos test machine at a drug store for her blood test, only to be told, inaccurately, that she was positive for HIV. She’s a victim and definitely not rich. Every juror can sympathize with her.