Saturday: Hili dialogue

February 26, 2022 • 7:30 am

Good morning on Cat Sabbath: Saturday, February 26, 2022: National Pistachio Day. This is one of the Holy Trinity of Nutmeats, the others being the Cashew and the Macademia. This will likely be the last full Hili Report before I am on the ship, but Matthew will be reporting the interchange between Hili and Andrzej for the next few days.

Here I am this morning making final arrangements for Chile and Antarctica. I have a new short haircut and am holding the folder showing all the paperwork required to get into Chile and board the ship. This is why I’ve been so busy!  Later I’ll show all my gear, and I’ve packed very light.

It’s also Levi Strauss Day(see 1829 below), National Skip the Straw Day (or use paper ones). The site announces that it’s the Jewish holiday of Purim, but that’s just wrong: the day of Purim begins on March 16 and lasts one day. Somebody screwed up!

News of the Day:

*Urged on by their leader and their own resolve, the Ukrainians, are bravely fighting on as Russian troops entered the outskirts of Kiyev. There is street-to-street fighting and the outcome is already known—save for the body count—but the people battle on.

The UN Security Council has vetoed a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion, because of course Russia is on the Security Council, and one vote constitutes a complete veto. China and the UAE abstained, but, surprisingly, so did India, saying that diplomacy wasn’t given a proper chance. India is wrong. Finally, both the U.S. and Britain finally said they’re going to impose sanctions on Putin himself. Once again, that will do very little.

*Reader Kieran sent an interview by RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the Irish National Broadcast stationl) of Yuri Filatov the Russian ambassador to Ireland. As Kieran said, “Interviewer didn’t manage to keep his temper but an interesting interview.” Frankly, when an interviewer is supposed to swallow lies as egregious as this Russian was doling out, I don’t blame him for losing his temper.

Many in the EU are calling for the expulsion of all Russian ambassadors from their country, but for the time being the Ministers of EU countries have not decided to take this step.

And the Russian ambassador didn’t do himself proud. A tweet from Matthew:

*From Ken:

The Ukrainian border guards at the tiny Black Sea outpost of Snake Island went full Gen. McAuliffe. Tragically, it cost them their lives. (This has now been verified.

Ukraine lost contact with its forces on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, a speck of land south of the port of Odessa, on Thursday after Russia conducted strikes from air and sea, Kyiv said.

A Ukrainian official said 13 soldiers had been killed and he circulated an audio clip that he and media outlet Ukrainskaya Pravda said was an exchange between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

“This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims. Otherwise you will be bombed.”

“Russian warship, go fuck yourself,” came the reply.

Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister, said Russia then began strikes.

Here’s the audio recording. What brave men, refusing to surrender.

You can argue that they were foolish; they were doomed if they didn’t surrender and so why not give up? I can’t answer that question for them, but it must involve patriotism, duty, and refusing to concede to a hated enemy.

Read this and be depressed. It’s the right, of course, who admire despots and strongmen (click screenshot):

The online conversations reflect how pro-Russia sentiment has increasingly penetrated Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, right-wing podcasts, messaging apps like Telegram and some conservative media. As Russia attacked Ukraine this week, those views spread, infusing the online discourse over the war with sympathy — and even approval — for the aggressor.

The positive Russia comments are an extension of the culture wars and grievance politics that have animated the right in the United States in the past few years. In some of these circles, Mr. Putin carries a strongman appeal, viewed as someone who gets his way and does not let political correctness stop him.

When I read stuff like this, I remember these lines from Sylvia Plath’s great poem “Daddy“, about her love/(mostly) hate relationship with her dad:

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.
There is no hope for any group who can admire what Putin is doing now.

*And the last depressing news: The Russians have warned Sweden and Finland that if they join NATO they will suffer military and economic consequences.  Can you imagine Russia invading those non-NATO countries? If you can’t, think again.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova warned against other countries attempting to join NATO after Russia started a war with Ukraine Thursday.

“Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging the security of other countries and their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences and face some military and political consequences,” Zakharova said in a viral clip of a press conference.


The ministry later posted the same threat on its Twitter. Finland and Sweden have given significant military and humanitarian support to Ukraine since Russia invaded.

And there’s good news tonight! We have another liberal nominee for a Supreme Court Justice. As Biden promised well before he won the Presidency, he’s nominated a woman to the Supreme Court, Federal Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. She also happens to be black. Her record is admirable; before being on the appeals court, she served time as a public defender and a trials court judge before being appointed to the D.C. District Court of Appeals. I’d like to think that background with leaven the court with some empathy. But Much as I like this nomination, I realize that it’s not going to affect the court’s rightward bent. After all, she’s replacing another pragmatic leftist.

And Matthew tells us that “Hank the Tank” a giant black bear who’s been terrorizing Lake Tahoe, Cailifornia by breaking into houses and stealing noms, is now known from DNA evidence (presumably from poop) to actually be three bears, all of whom must be dealt with (hopefully by relocation). Here’s one of them. Look at this chonk! He’s twice as big as a normal black bear at this time of year. It all goes to show you that to humans, all bears look alike.

Photo by Bear League

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 946,109, an increase of 1,896 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,958,604, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on February 26 include:

  • 1606 – The Janszoon voyage of 1605–06 becomes the first European expedition to set foot on Australia, although it is mistaken as a part of New Guinea.

Here’s Janszoon route to Australia:

  • 1616 – Galileo Galilei is formally banned by the Roman Catholic Church from teaching or defending the view that the earth orbits the sun.
  • 1919 – President Woodrow Wilson signs an act of Congress establishing the Grand Canyon National Park.
  • 1929 – President Calvin Coolidge signs an executive order establishing the 96,000 acre Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
  • 1935 – Adolf Hitler orders the Luftwaffe to be re-formed, violating the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • 1993 – World Trade Center bombing: In New York City, a truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center explodes, killing six and injuring over a thousand people.

Here’s the blast damage, which failed to bring down both towers (the intent of the bombing). A vehicle number found in the remains of a rental truck led the FBI to the suspects, four of which were apprehended (and given life sentences, while one escaped:

Here’s the orchestra during that visit playing the Korean folk song “Arirang“.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Daumier’s print, translated as “The day of the bachelor. 7 a.m.”:

Born Löb Strauß and an Ashkenazi Jew, he made a mint, and was worth the equivalent of $149,000,000 US when he died.

Here are the oldest known pair of Levis in the world, dating to 1879. And, they look pretty much like the new ones, though were supposedly made much better than today’s. They are kept in a fireproof safe at the company.

Kellogg was a health nut. Here’s an early ad for his most famous product:

Wallace Fard, who moved to Detroit and taught a new form of Islam to black people, is still a mystery. Where he came from and where he went is unknown. After he disappeared in 1934, Elijah Muhammad succeeded Fard as the head of the Nation of Islam. Even his race is unknown: he could have been white, black, an Arab, or something else. Some information from Wikipedia and a photo:

“Although the prophet lived in Detroit from July 4, 1930 until June 30, 1934, virtually nothing is known about him, save that he ‘came from the East’ and that he ‘called’ the Negroes of North America to enter the Nation of Islam. His very name is uncertain. He was known usually as Mr. Wali Farrad or Mr. W. D. Fard, though he used also the following names: Professor Ford, Mr. Farrad Mohammed, Mr. F. Mohammed Ali. One of the few survivors who heard his first addresses states that he himself said: ‘My name is W. D. Fard and I came from the Holy City of Mecca. More about myself I will not tell you yet, for the time has not yet come. I am your brother. You have not yet seen me in my royal robes.’ Legends soon sprang up about this mysterious personality.”


  • 1916 – Jackie Gleason, American actor and singer (d. 1987)
  • 1928 – Fats Domino, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 2017)
  • 1932 – Johnny Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 2003)

Cash and June Carter singing one of my favorites, “Jackson“, written in 1963 and recorded by Carter and Cash in 1967. “Jackson” wasn’t meant to refer to Jackson, Mississippi, or any place in particular.

Those who went to the Big Litter Box in the Sky on February 26 include:

Eldridge, known as “Little Jazz,” is one of the great underappreciated jazz trumpeters. Here’s my favorite song of his, which I put up every time he has an anniversary. It’s “Rocking Chair” performed with Gene Krupa’s Orchestra in 1941:

  • 2017 – Joseph Wapner, American judge and TV personality (b. 1919)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is scared. Malgorzata explains: “Hili is terrified of our crazy times. Poor Hili, with her scant knowledge of history she doesn’t know that times were never sane.”

Hili: It’s terrifying.
A: What’s terrifying?
Hili: A huge part of it all.
In Polish:
Hili: Przerażające.
Ja: Co jest przerażające?
Hili: Znaczna część wszystkiego.
And a photo of Kulka:

From Divy:

More fun with snow from Peter: Snow bunny!

From Merilee:

God has had enough:

From Barry, who adds his comment on this elaborate Rube Goldberg machine, “Wow, the time it must take to set this up—and to test that it will work!”

A tweet found by Simon. Rechavi makes academic memes from regular videos. But believe me, I’ve felt like this:

From Ginger K.:

Tweets from Matthew: A Martian “flower: with an explanation:

I’m not sure why expelling Jews counts as “de-nazification,” but the rabbi’s comments are passionate and sad. (I’m referring to the last tweet, which I can’t separate from the others). And think of that 14 hour wait at the border!

Matthew also sent this:

All the children are safe. . . .

Bye all! Talk to you from Antarctica, or perhaps Santiago if I have a break.

58 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. I saw last night a picture of what was purported to be a Ukrainian woman confronting a Russia soldier. She supposedly asked him why he can come to Ukraine, and asked him to put the sunflower seeds she offered in his pockets, so that the flowers would sprout from his dead body. I can believe that.

    I have no trouble imaging Russia invading Finland (it’s happened before) or Sweden. But with regard to the contrived anti-Nazi stance of Putin’s Russia, I am reminded that Stalin damned all his opponents, including Social Democrats, as fascists, and also of Ingnazio Silone’s observation that, “The Fascism of tomorrow will never say ‘I am Fascism.’ It will say: ‘I am anti-Fascism.'”

    1. Last night I saw a report on France24 — in English — of a Ukrainian man who asked a Russian soldier directing military vehicles if it was alright to take his picture, and the Russian replied, “Sure. No problem.” Just to remember, Finland used to be Russia, Tsarist Russia, until in 1917 when the communists gave Finland its right to self-determination and independence from Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her hubby Nicholas II, who were no more. Alexandra, we remember, although her word was law, as in “off with his head”, she herself was not a Bolshevik and not even Russian, but rather was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the UK and a bunch of Germans. Yes, Russia invaded Finland in 1939-1940 after the Fins had allied themselves with Hitler and refused to consider a border adjustment that would provide security for Russia’s St. Petersburg. Up until very recently Finland flew warplanes bearing swastikas!.

      1. Actually, the Winter War came before the Finns alliance with Germany. It was in fact the reason the Finns allied with the Germans when the Germans attached the Soviet Union.

      2. Yes to what DrB wrote, and if you read your Israeli Times piece, you find that that swastika had a historical context that pre-dated Nazi Germany. Also, only a very few Finnish Jews were deported, and the deportation of those few caused an uproar in Finland, which steadily detached itself from the alliance with Hitler as fast is it could as Germany weakened in the last year of so of the war. I have read that when asked, Churchill found no fault with Finland’s actions during the war.

    1. You know what? I don’t care what wording you’d use, nor do I appreciate you telling me what I should have said. It’s time that we just accept a nominee for their judicial qualifications, and in this case I don’t worry about whether her “qualifications” beyond that, except that she’s a liberal and was a public defender though I applaud the selection. And if you noticed, I said that Biden promised a black woman nominee during his campaign. Doy ou feel compelled to tell me what I already said.

      Linguist, your tut-tutting and imperious style is getting on my nerves. You don’t even appear to have read the post.

      1. Ketanji Brown Jackson has the qualifications to be an outstanding Supreme Court justice. (Whether such qualifications translate into a justice’s actually becoming great is notoriously hard to predict.)

        For the foreseeable future, of course, given the Court’s current composition, she’ll be relegated to writing and joining dissenting opinions in the controversial cases that count,

    2. For the last two appointments, being a Conservative right wing Christian was a prerequisite (although not explicitly stated). At least the qualification “being black” doesn’t bias the candidate pool towards idiots.

      From what Jerry say, she sounds like a well qualified nominee. I hope she gets in.

      1. “I hope she gets in.”

        She’ll squeak in by at least 50 votes. Moscow Mitch got rid of the filibuster for SCOTUS justices (that’s how he got Trump’s 3 picks squeaked in). It also shows that the filibuster rules can be changed on a whim; another proof that discredits Manchin and Sinema’s position that the filibuster is somehow sacred and immutable.

        Also, for a Republican prez, the real pre-requisite is being chosen by the Federalist Society; as of now, ALL of the conservative justices came from the Federalist Society. A monolithic travesty for the court (and America).

  2. Johnny Cash got into trouble for murdering his wife and step daughter. They were the only passengers in the plane he was piloting when he drugged them and parachuted out. The plane crashed, killing them both. Columbo, of course, figured it all out.

  3. On the SCOTUS nominee and words :

    McWhorter has made a case for “Black” instead of “black” and, because of that, it makes plain sense to me.

    As a consequence though, sight of one important fact might be lost : the individual is an “American”, “born in the U.S.A.” – a notion which McWhorter has also pointed out in his book Losing the Race.

    … BTW this ^^^ is only to develop the discussion, I’m not criticizing anyone’s word choices which, to my reading, make clear sense (viz. “black” v. “Black”).

  4. If I were Judge Jackson, I might just turn down that nomination. Why would anyone wish to be on that court? There is not enough money in the world.

    I understand Putin may be looking for land down in Florida. He is looking to move closer to his people.

  5. ‘ “Jackson” wasn’t meant to refer to Jackson, Mississippi, or any place in particular’ – before they start singing, Johnny says he was planning to take June to visit Carl Perkins which suggests that, at least on this occasion, he was referencing Jackson, Tennessee where Perkins lived (and eventually died)?

  6. Reader Kieran sent an interview by RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the Irish National Broadcast station) of Yuri Filatov the Russian ambassador to Ireland. As Kieran said, “Interviewer didn’t manage to keep his temper but an interesting interview.”

    I’d gladly hold the interviewer’s jacket and have his back if he & Filatov were to settle this in the alley behind the pub — figuratively speaking, natch.

  7. You can argue that they [the Ukrainian forces on Snake Island] were foolish; they were doomed if they didn’t surrender and so why not give up? I can’t answer that question for them, but it must involve patriotism, duty, and refusing to concede to a hated enemy.

    The Ukrainian Battle of Wake Island.

      1. Not sure I’d call having the survivors who surrendered murdered by the Japanese forces on the beaches, and losing control of the island for 4 1/2 years, “winning the battle,” Randy.

        It was, in a sense, a victory for morale, in that the US public took pride in how valiantly the doomed US forces fought before succumbing, and was promoted to raise money for war bonds in the early stages of the Pacific war.

    1. There are reports that the soldiers from Zmiinyi Island are in fact alive and held captive somewhere in Russia.
      This info comes from Russia so the possibility is high that it’s a fake.
      Here is a link to a local news source in Odessa:
      This is a Russian-language site, but it’s certainly not a Russia-friendly source, and the possibility of disinformation is mentioned explicitly in the article.

    2. They hated the enemy, the sub-human invaders? Russians don’t hold a Western outlook [paraphrasing congresswoman Marcy Kaptur on CNN this morning]? Moscovites are not true Europeans? Wake Island was actually strategically important, the defenders had a chance, and the Japanese at the time did not follow the rules of war with non-combatants and captives. The worse the Ukrainians on Snake Island would have suffered, had they been rational and surrendered, was deprival of their weapons and a chilly boat ride back home to Odessa. RIP

      1. The worse the Ukrainians on Snake Island would have suffered, had they been rational and surrendered, was deprival of their weapons and a chilly boat ride back home to Odessa.

        What’s the basis for your belief in this regard (which contradicts the report cited by the preceding commenter, SotCodeLaureate, that some of the Snake Island soldiers are being held prisoner in Russia)?

        What was the pressing need for a Russian warship to conquer Snake Island, a speck of land in the Black Sea guarded by 13 Ukrainian border agents? What threat did it pose to the Russian Federation, such that those agents had to surrender or be killed?

  8. I applaud the RTE interviewer for his willingness to challenge the nonsense coming from Filatov, the Russian Ambassador to Ireland. The exchange is an intriguing lesson on the dark side of emotional intelligence and the ambassador’s ability to show no emotional reaction, respond in calm, measured tones, all while gaslighting the interviewer (and of course, the audience). We’ve seen this with so many other authoritarians, including Trump and his enablers. Trump, however, plays the eternally aggrieved and emotional “victim” while his enablers then calmly spin to make Trump’s most outrageous statements and actions into virtues. I can definitely see why Trumplicans admire (or envy) Putin so much.

    1. Odd, I thought they hated losers. Maybe they just can’t see that far ahead. Come to think of it, Trump is a loser already.

  9. 1916 – Jackie Gleason, American actor and singer (d. 1987)

    “The Great One” was an accomplished composer of romantic instrumentals (even though he could not read music), but I don’t recall him doing any singing — other than during the lead-in to his recurring “Joe the Bartender” routines.

    1. While Gleason wasn’t known for his singing, he did do some. In 1959, he starred in the Broadway musical “Take Me Along,” and won a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. He also introduced the song “Call Me Irresponsible” in the movie “Papa’s Delicate Condition;” it won that year’s Oscar for Best Song.

      1. I found the scene of JG performing “Call Me Irresponsible” in Papa’s Delicate Condition on YouTube. Jackie doesn’t so much “sing” the tune as recite it over the music — à la Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady (except that Jackie pulls it off playing drunk!).

        I always dug Gleason’s do-it-his-own-way persona. I also thought he was a damn fine actor. Two of my favorite roles of his were as the crooked fight promoter to Anthony Quinn’s aging boxer in the Rod Serling-penned Requiem For a Heavyweight and as “Minnesota Fats” in The Hustler. (“Minnesota Fats” was a purely fictional creation by the novelist — and my old creative-writing prof — Walter Tevis. A second-rate pool shark, real name: Rudolf Wanderone, later adopted the moniker to capitalize on the picture’s popularity.)

        I’ve heard that during the filming of The Toy, during breaks between scene setups, Jackie and his co-star, Richard Pryor, would go off and sit on a bench, just the two of ’em, and shoot the shit, sometimes for hours on end. I’d give anything to have overheard those conversations — a pair of street guys, from different generations and vastly different backgrounds, but kindred spirits.

        Aw, listen to me; now I’m just rambling. 🙂

        1. Jackie Gleason also hit it off with Laurence Olivier when they filmed the 1983 TV film “Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson.” Another case of two radically different people getting on like a house on fire.

  10. Regarding the killing of Ukrainian border guards on the Snake Isle: You can also hear the voice of a woman. We should honor her as well.

    Male guard:”Should I tell him to go fuck himself?”
    Female guard: “Just in case.”
    Male guard: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”

    These people knew very well that they would pay for their resistance with the highest price, their lives. I do not know if I would have been able to make such a sacrifice.

  11. Cash and June Carter singing one of my favorites, “Jackson“, written in 1963 and recorded by Carter and Cash in 1967.

    Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood had a hit on the pop charts with their cover of “Jackson” the same year, a follow-up of sorts to her monster “Boots” hit the year before.

  12. Perhaps pro-Putin sentiment is on the wane and, thankfully, drifting away from Trump’s position. My guess is that Trump won’t change his opinion but Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has evidently. I suspect that it was ok in their minds to be pro-Putin when it was all just talk about Russia wanting its borders to be secure but it is harder to maintain that position once the invasion started.

  13. What an American icon Levi’s 501 were. I wore them from earliest memory into my fifties and sixties. I quit them when they started being made in PRC.

  14. Safe travels Jerry. This should be a good change of pace after your two-hiatus from serious travel. I hope that your talks are well received.

  15. Have a wonderful and safe trip! I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures!
    I would love to hear one of the talks if that is possible.

  16. There used to be a long, rather tedious controversy about whether History is influenced more by the character of dominant individuals or by impersonal historical/social factors. Maybe the vector sum of the two forces varies from one culture to another. One can’t help noticing that the infantile character of the 45th US president had little effect on world history, while the character of Vladimir Putin in Russia is having large consequences. So, the culture in which the slightest whims of Tsar Ivan the Terrible determined the direction of history moves along to genetic and then to psychological members of the Terrible family: some who marry in, like Empress Catherine Terrible; some who seize power, like Lenin Terrible; and some who are appointed, like Stalin Terrible and now Vladimir Vladimirovich.

  17. Not to take away from the engineering mastery shown with that amazing Rube Goldberg machine, but this sort of thing happens every time I try to get something off a high shelf at our house!

  18. The German government has FINALLY given up its hesitation and now wants to decouple Russia from SWIFT after all. They are also delivering 1000 anti-tank weapons and 500 surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine.

    One additional remark: In 2002 German Defence Minister Peter Struck coined the phrase: “German security is being defended in the Hindu Kush”.
    In 2022 we will have to change to the follwing sentence: “European security is being defended in the Ukraine.”,_2002-2005

  19. “I’m not sure why expelling Jews counts as “de-nazification,” but the rabbi’s comments are passionate and sad” – it’s a sarcastic reference to Putin’s claim that the military invasion is to “deNazify” Ukraine, despite the fact that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish, as are many other senior Ukrainian officials.

  20. Safe travels Jerry. I hope you have a great time. Look after your voice and yourself. Hope you see plenty of penguins. All the best.

  21. Have fun in the greatest of all Great Outdoors! The penguins are waiting. 🐧

    This might be a stupid question, but oh well. Re. your impressive stack of paperwork. Would you say, out of all the places you’ve traveled to, that Antarctica is the most challenging destination? (I’m just talking about the paperwork/bureaucracy aspect, not outfitting yourself for the extreme weather.)

  22. The rightwing love of Putin is a reminder that a substantial portion of Americans don’t really care about democracy and freedom. After the enormity of Watergate was revealed 25% of Americans still supported Nixon. The same portion of the country would support Trump even if he committed mass murder on live TV.

    For these people a strongman like Putin is the salve to their own insecurity and resentment. Russia is their model country—a reactionary, authoritarian, nationalist, bigoted, Christian, kleptocratic state where minorities are kept firmly under heel. American Trump-Putin lovers want free speech and voting rights only for themselves. They would happily dispense with real democracy in favor of a sham designed to keep a strongman in power.

    These people would be so much happier in Russia and it’s a pity they don’t go there. Perhaps Putin would be open to a population exchange: We’ll send them our nativist authoritarians in exchange for their dissidents and liberals. Trump should consider the offer; he’d be very happy as a Russian oligarch and could avoid jailtime in New York.

    1. I agree. They’ve gotten used to freedom and democracy. To them it is like air. They can’t imagine it being taken away. They also can’t imagine what life will eventually be like under the strong man. Perhaps they think things will be great if Trump wins in 2024. It will be for them but then the strong man starts exerting control and warping the country’s institutions. Eventually, the citizens start to experience life under a strong man and will start wailing, “What’s happened to my country?” This is one reason why cries about losing our democracy land on deaf ears. Most people think only in terms of their party winning the next election and having a guy in charge that thinks like they do.

  23. No official population exchange has been organized, Revelator60, but Russian dissidents and liberals have been leaving on their own for a long time—especially a spurt of young people emigrating in the
    early 1990s. I sometimes wonder whether Russia keeps slipping back into autocracy at least partly because the natural anti-authoritarians among them just get the hell out. [Pyotr Kropotkin, a perfect
    example, published all his books during his 41 years of exile. He went back in his old age in 1917, but
    7 months after the Tsar’s abdication, he was disappointed to watch a new autocracy seize power.]

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