Sunday: Hili dialogue

March 6, 2022 • 6:30 am

Where we are. (Follow the journey of the Roald Amundsen at this link, clicking on “current position” at lower left. Our ship is circled in red.)

We overnighted in the peaceful waters of Deception Island, a donut-shaped volcanic caldera in the South Shetland Islands. It exploded and caved in about 10,000 years ago, but is still active, with the caldera erupting underwater from time to time.

There are few penguins here to be seen (there’s a large colony of chinstraps at a place we won’t visit), but there’s a lovely hike up to the high spot of the caldera for great views and one can see seabirds. This National Geographic article gives an overview of Deception’s wildlife.

You can see that there’s a very narrow entrance to the caldera. It’s called Neptune’s Bellows and is about 500 m across, but the navigable part—not over rocks—is only about 200 meters wide. This requires the ship’s crew to steer very carefully.

Lower left:

We’re now not far from Antarctica proper: the Antarctic peninsula, which tourists visit because it is a.) accessible and b.) one of the few parts of the continent that allows tourists.  The South Shetlands are that group of islands in the left center of the screen.

Good morning on a chilly Antarctic Sunday: March 6, 2022, and National Oreo Day, an estimable cookie which, as far as I know, has no British “biscuit” equivalent. Best with a glass of cold milk.

A view from the ship’s real-time streaming panoramic camera shows the sun rising from inside the caldera. I suspect that the light is coming from Neptune’s Bellows to the east:

If you’d like to help out with this post, go to the March 6 Wikipedia page, and pick out an event, a birth, or a death that you’d like to comment on, and say a few words in the comments.

In the meantime, here’s my official expedition photo: we were all shot wearing the the same type of sweater, and they made me take off my glasses. The biographies are shown on a screen in the science center, and change every couple of minutes, while the translations are in English, French, and German.

I see from a glance at the New York Times that Putin has “excalated his threats,” saying that any country imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be considered an enemy combatant. That won’t happen. President Zelensky is pleading for the U.S. to send him fighter jets, but I don’t think that will happen, either.

And the siege of Kyiv continues, as the Russians seem to be surrounding the capital. The advance on Kyiv has involved missiles fired at homes south of the city,

Well over a million Ukrainians have fled the country, but I for one have accepted that the Russians are going to win this one.

An evacuation of the city of Mariupol, scuttled previously because of fighting, is scheduled to resume today, with the Red Cross helping lead people out of the city.

Moldova, to the west of Ukraine, has applied for EU membership (it’s not a member of NATO), which will further enrage Putin.

As to whether economic and political sanctions will force them to withdraw, leading to the restoration of a democratic Ukraine, I’m also pessimistic. What worries me is that Putin’s victory will hearten him for more conquests, as well as the Chinese to take over Tawian. In both cases there is little we can do save imposing sanctions, and not many people think that will force invaders to their knees.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s sitting on the kitchen windowsill, where she eats, which is an obvious demand:

A: What would you like?
Hili: You should know.
In Polish:
Ja: Co byś chciała?
Hili: To ty powinieneś wiedzieć.

I have several non-travel-related things to post about, but time is pressing and we have a long hike up the caldera. As always, I do my best.

From David:

Two that I found:

Ukraine-oriented twets from Matthew. Of the first one he said, “This is exactly what our crappy little country is doing”. Note that the tweeter is historian and popular writer William Dalrymple.

All Brits should be angry that their government is making it so hard for Ukrainian refugees. Here are two of three relevant tweets:

Sound up. These people are fighting mad!

The fighting cats of Ukraine. But crikey, what if one of them played with a grenade and pulled the pin?

Sound up. How very strange!

More stalwart Ukrainians. In the first tweet they’re following armed Russian soldiers and yelling defiant slogans while waving small Ukrainian flags. The second tweet is self explanatory.

There is no end to the cleverness of the resisters. Go here to read some of those wily reviews.

No comments needed:

And a bird pecks a Ukrainian soldier. But why? And what species of bird is that?

65 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

    1. It is indeed a great tit and they’re common throughout Eurasia (and are quite closely related to the American chickadees which are also tits). As for why it’s pecking the soldiers face, I can’t speak for Ukraine, but here in the UK they are commonly occurring garden birds on feeders and are also quite easily tamed. I’ve seen them flying from the top of trees to outstretched human palms to receive birdseed before. I’m guessing this one is similarly used to receiving seedy treats from people.

  1. I for one have accepted that the Russians are going to win this one.

    That depends on what you mean by “win”.

    Russia may win the conventional war but at the cost of the isolation of their own country, destroying their economy and showing the World that their armed forces are really a bit crap. Furthermore, if they occupy Ukraine they are likely to find themselves with an insurgency campaign on their hands somewhat similar to what they experienced in Afghanistan and as soon as they leave, their puppet government is going to be overthrown.

    To me, it looks pretty much like Russia has already lost and it’s just a question of how many people they take with them as they go down.

    I’ve got an “On this day”

    1665 – The first joint Secretary of the Royal Society, Henry Oldenburg, publishes the first issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the world’s longest-running scientific journal.

    1. The Russians are making sufficiently slow progress that I’m unconvinced they will capture all of Ukraine. It seems that most of the Russian army has low morale and doesn’t really want to fight (why would they?), whereas the Ukrainians are defending their homeland and are doing so staunchly. With the West supplying the Ukrainians with anti-tank and anti-air weaponry, Russian losses are mounting.

      I suggest that Putin might call a halt, announce the annexation of some captured territory in the South and South-East (around the Crimea and Donetsk), and declare that that’s all he was after all along — producing a cease-fire and a protracted stand-off.

      1. Ukraine is the fourth largest country in Europe by land area. Most of the cities under attack or taken are pretty close to the borders of Russian controlled countries. I think you are right that they won’t be able to take the whole country.

        I think it’s possible Putin will settle for a land bridge to the Crimea and then call it a victory, but even if he does, all my previous points still apply. He would have secured a strategic asset but at an eye watering cost.

    2. I agree. I have read (sorry, no link available) that Russia would need at least 500,000 occupation troops to keep 40 millions Ukrainans reasonably under control. Of course, these troops would also have to be supplied. Russia has neither the money nor the logistics to sustain an occupation over a longer period of time.

      1. Maybe more: 500k was the peak number in Prague 68, for a country of 14M people, with an existing communist apparatus. Ukraine is 3x that, and surely harder to control.

        I don’t see how the Russians can hope to pull it off. Surely their most optimistic planners must have thought that 68 (or Hungary 56) was roughly the model here. Which leads me to think that either they weren’t planning to hold it (just drive in drive out?) or weren’t planning at all (maybe few other than Putin thought it was anything more than a border exercise to extract concessions?).

        1. Putin was almost 16, and already dreaming of becoming a heroic KGB officer, in August of ’68, when the Red Army secured Prague in one day and dictated a regime change. Young Vladimir Vladimirovich was undoubtedly thrilled by this demonstration of Soviet ( = Russian) mastery, and perhaps formed a dream of achieving something equally wonderful himself someday. Today, he must be bitterly disappointed that reality is not working out as it does in his dream.

            1. Yes, Putin was stationed in the late GDR during the fall of the Berlin Wall, that is why he speaks German so well.

        2. I found the article.

          Putin’s Ukrainian war will be a ‘total failure’ comparable to the collapse of Nazi Germany, report ‘by FSB analyst’ claims – adding that Russia has ‘no options for victory, only defeat’

          ‘Even with minimum resistance from the Ukrainians we’d need over 500,000 people, not including supply and logistics workers,’ the author claims.

  2. “Where we are. / caldera / [photo]”

    That is just damn exhilarating – and that’s just me looking at it on a tiny screen.


    Also exhilarating – in its own way 🙂

  3. On this day in 1716: Birth of Pehr Kalm, the Swedish-Finnish botanist/explorer. One of my heroes. Kalmia, the genus containing K. latifolia (Mountain Laurel, or Calico-bush to many fellow Appalachians), named in his honor.

  4. The first war in recorded history took place in Mesopotamia in c. 2700 BCE between Sumer and Elam. I’m sure there were earlier wars, but writing had not been invented. For five thousand years humans have been consistently good at killing each other.

    1. I would amend that to say, “For five thousand years human males have been consistently good at killing each other, and killing women and children.”

  5. “The biographies are shown on a screen in the science center, and change every couple of minutes” – the number of WEIT subscribers mentioned in the bio is rather out of date!

  6. On this day (in the US):

    1836 – Texas Revolution: Battle of the Alamo: After a thirteen-day siege by an army of 3,000 Mexican troops, the 187 Texas volunteers, including frontiersman Davy Crockett and colonel Jim Bowie, defending the Alamo are killed and the fort is captured.

    1857 – The Supreme Court of the United States rules 7–2 in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case that the Constitution does not confer citizenship on black people.

    1. The Supreme Court in 1857 was at least as stupid as today’s supreme court. It was racist then and racist now. But then our society problems were somewhat the same. Imagine more than 150 years to learn and still we can’t get there.

      Robert Gates had an interesting article in the WP today explaining that we still have a cold war military and are not near ready for the post war. He is correct of course but will it make any difference – no. The U.S. can barely help itself and should not be looked upon as the leader of the free world. If you still think we are you have been sleeping too much.

        1. I’ll let Mr. Schenk speak for himself if he wishes, and I don’t think he means that any decisions were as explicitly racist as Dred Scott, but …
          (1) the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which effectively prevented many Southern states from gerrymandering electoral districts (usually in a way that diluted the Black vote); and
          (2) the consistent refusal to hear Federal challenges to state gerrymandering, typically on the utterly specious ground that “it’s too close to an election” – it’s always close to a Congressional election since they occur every two years;
          and, leaving voting aside,
          (3) the consistent refusal to hold police accountable for their actions by application of a “qualified immunity” standard that makes it very difficult to get a conviction, when police actions are frequently racially biased in the sense of police officers treating Black suspects more harshly than whites.

          1. It is stretching the word “racist” to regard any of those as “racist” (I do realise that stretching the word way beyond its origins is pretty much the norm these days).

            1. Maybe I need an education then. Should I call them Jim Crow. Should I go with what the republicans call it – voter safety. I think you have to call it what it is. Now maybe you would never call a black person a racist either. For the black person. on the court what should we call him?

          2. Thank you all. Well said. Maybe Coel has been somewhere else the past few years. When you have to explain yourself for calling this court racist, someone is out of touch. They are also not real crazy about women – does that need explanation.

            1. I just don’t agree with expansive definitions of “racist”.

              Gerrymandering is about getting elected, it’s aimed at downrating the votes of anyone who votes for the other party. It may have “disparate impact”, but the intent is about how people vote, not what race they are.

              And I don’t agree with the “disparate impact” definition of “racist” anyhow. It’s “disparate impact” that ends up with the claim that “maths exams are racist” (because different groups end up with different averages) and wants to do away with objective standards. To be actually “racist” the intent has to be about race.

              And, being a democrat (small “d”), I think it’s good that elected politicians make the laws, rather than unelected judges. So, even if one dislikes a law and wants it overturned, that’s different from thinking that unelected judges should overturn it.

              A ruling that a law doesn’t violate the constitution should be a separate issue from whether one likes the law or thinks that it is a good one. With modern shenanigans over the Supreme Court that principle has long been ditched, leading to a hugely politicised court and appointment process, but one that the voters can’t readily control.

              So, overall, no, I don’t agree that a court refusing to overturn gerrymandering by legislators amounts to being “racist”, it’s just too expansive a use of the term.

              Having said that, I think that gerrymandering is harmful and should be disallowed. (Note that there is nothing inconsistent about the previous two sentences.)

              1. So throwing the civil rights act of 64 and 65 out is not racists. Whether the court does it or the congress can’t prevent it – it is racist. I guess you would also say rural is not republican and urban is not democrat. republican is not the party for racist, not the party for evangelical Christians. Twice the rate of blacks killed by police as whites. None of these things has anything to do with racism. You understand that the republican party is all about specific social issues and no longer has any platform?? Do you know what Make America Great again means?

            2. And, re Derek’s 3rd indictment since Coel didn’t mention it, there can be good reasons of public safety why a violent society would want to give some degree of qualified immunity to the police, if for no other reason than that young people might not otherwise want to become police officers. If this results in racial disparity in people roughed up by the cops, what of it? (We’ve already established that the police don’t kill more Black suspects when controlled for number of police contacts.). Arguing that the Supreme Court is racist for not letting racial disparities in broken noses trump legitimate desires to support police in a thankless job sounds too much like critical race theory….or like special pleading at least.

        2. Just off the top of my head, they allowed Alabama (and thus opened it up for other states) to introduce a racial gerrymandered map. They’re also ok with gutting the Voting Rights act of 1965. In fact, in many states, minorities had more voting rights in 1965 then they do today. I could also argue that when they do away with Roe v. Wade, it will have much worse consequences for minorities…unintended racism, perhaps?

          1. As long as gerrymandering is legal, using census racial information is part and parcel of doing it. Blacks often live in all-Black neighbourhoods and 90% of Black voters vote for the Democratic Party. If you were a state legislature with partisan authority to draw constituency boundaries, how could you not use this golden information about intense voter concentration? If you were Dem, you would use the info to maximize Black electoral efficiency. If you were GOP you could tell Black community leaders with a straight face: it’s not about you, it’s about that party that all of you vote for.

            To see that this use of racial information is not itself racist, imagine if the Dem:GOP split for Black voters was the same as for non-Black. Then there would be no yield from gerrymandering, and the incentive to use neighbourhood racial census data would disappear. All politicians like to present themselves to a voter of any skin colour whose vote for his opponent is not a foregone conclusion.

            True, racial information isn’t strictly necessary to gerrymander effectively. If Bedford-Stuyvesant votes 95% Dem in every single election, that’s useful even if you don’t know anything about the people who live there. But using racial information isn’t racist. It’s just knowing more about who votes for you, and who doesn’t, in order to rig the constituency boundaries in your favour.

            (Sure it would be far better if constituency boundaries were drawn by a non-partisan commission that all parties had input into but none could dominate. But since the current system favours whichever party has a stranglehold on the state legislature, it will never be reformed.)

    2. Equally important regarding the Dred Scott decision is that the Taney Court ruled that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional. This meant that Congress had no authority to ban slavery in the territories. Many in the North feared that the decision implied that slavery could not be banned in the states as well, thus opening the entire country to slavery. The implementation of the Court’s rulings in the case were never fully implemented because of the Civil War of which the case was a major contributor to its outbreak.

  7. Jerry, the latest news is that something is in the works for (where Kulka the cat is) to give their Soviet-era planes to Ukraine, and (another country) will backfill with F-16s.

    I don’t know how difficult this could be, but maybe a special force could be granted honorary dual citizenship to allow traversing air space etc.

    1. I heard that, too – several neighbouring countries have MiGs that the Ukrainian pilots are already familiar with. The logistics of making it happen are extremely challenging, but Blinken did apparently make promises:

      We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to supply those planes. I can’t speak to a timeline but I can just say we’re looking at it very, very actively. -visa-mastercard-pull-out-of-russia-live

      1. It’s a relief that I don’t have to be cryptic anymore, as the word is already out there. The West has to be prepared to go do everything in their power to help Ukraine, even going toe-to-toe, as Putin said yesterday that the sanctions against Russia are the equivalent of a declaration of war and that Ukraine’s statehood is now in jeopardy.

        Just days before the attack on Ukraine began, Putin said on Russian TV that Ukraine does not have the right to exist, and that the Ukrainian culture, language and identity are fictional. A week before the invasion, Putin had his yacht removed from the German shipyard where it was undergoing repairs which had to be curtailed. I’m convinced that he and Xi discussed the invasion during the Olympics, so they all had the heads up. Late last year Xi warned his people to stock up on necessities. They knew how this thing was going to go down. Putin will most likely be charged with war crimes.

  8. It is interesting how long we and the rest of the world has been dragging their feet on changing over from fossil fuels. This Russia thing has now bitten us on the ass. Particularly in Germany and some other parts of Europe reliance on Russia dirty fuel is a big crutch. The U.S. is far behind where it should be as well, maybe not so dependent on Russia oil but still dependent on the product. We still have people in Congress who do not give a damn and are more interested in their coal mine in West Virginia than money to clean up the mess. When you send crackers to Congress you get really thirsty. Nearly 1800 previous congressmen were slave owners.

    1. I think it’s interesting that the Biden Administration thinks it has the authority to shut down an American industry. I don’t see any basis for that in the Constitution or in the “mandate” Biden gotten for not being Trump. Assuming global warming is a serious issue for the moment, destroying our ability to generate power and run our economy is premature given the problems with alternative power currently. It is clear, though, that Biden and his care-givers consider that more important that keeping the economy out of recession or sticking it to Putin. There are only two choices here: Either the Biden Administration is incompetent or it is malicious.

      1. I know of no evidence that the Biden Admin. thinks for a minute it could shut down the fossil fuel industry. The policies they are trying to develop are more along the lines of making easier the expansion of alternative energy.

        1. What Biden should be doing is ramping up our production of oil and gas. This is all Russia has and can be used to finish off Putin. We are the largest producers and could export lots more to Europe to replace Russian oil. We could deal with Iran and help open them up as well. Biden could be doing a lot of things if he only would. Expanding alternatives is aways good but we are too late in this game to screw with Russia.

          1. What you just said contradicts diametrically with what you said in your original comment at #13.

            1. Not really, you just misunderstand me. We are far behind on the global warmings and getting away from fossil fuels. But then suddenly we have Ukraine so here we are. You have to rethink what you are doing. Putin is now the problem so you do what you must. I do not see that as contradictions. If Russia and the Putin thing goes away we still need to get away from the fossil fuels.

              1. The reason we are so far behind on global warming is that nobody wants to get rid of fossil fuels. They only want other people to get rid of fossil fuels. When Ukraine dries up and blows away in a couple of weeks we will still need fossil fuels and uranium. They just won’t be coming from Russia or Ukraine anymore. Europe is having a near-death experience over energy. Russian and Ukrainian gas was a painless way to phase out nuclear while pretending that the slack was being taken up by windmills. And off-shoring smoky manufacturing to China lets them book the emissions for making stuff for us. It’s a shell game.

                Windmills everywhere. Grid-scale batteries. Pumped storage. Hydrogen electrolysis. Small nuclear reactors. Carbon capture. It’s all subsidy-harvesting.

                When you say, “We need to . . .”, what you really mean is, “You need to . . .” And that never works, except with force.

        1. Please be more civil in your comments on this site. It’s okay to take issue with someone’s views; it’s another to tell them they need to stop watching Hannity and do some reading as a snarky remark. You can say the same thing without that snark.

          Remember, we try not to insult other readers here, no matter how much we disagree with them. Thank you.

  9. Looking at the live images from the ship’s panoramic camera, you are clearly not moored to land – mooring likely being prohibited by Antarctic Treaty guidelines. So do you know how the captain does station keeping? Is he allowed to hard anchor to the bottom which could impact artifacts or the nature of the bay? Does he have a set of low power thrusters that run continuously to hold a gps setting? Or something else?

      1. Thank you Christian. I had not come across that Rolls Royce specs piece. Sure looks like thruster station keeping like with large deep water oil rigs should be a known technology with the infrastructure that is being built in. Also from that article, the Amundsen has about a 15-20 ft draft which seems pretty much to me especially with Ravn Rock in the midst of Neptune’s Bellows being only 8 ft below the surface if I have read correctly.

  10. I would rather be on the trip with PCC than thinking about this Ukraine mess with Russia but that’s the way it goes. The hero of Ukraine, their leader, has accused us of responsibility for the death of his people because we do not begin a no-fly zone over Ukraine. I chock that up to his not really knowing what he is talking about and where that would lead. I did take a look at what air force Ukraine has and it is not nearly up to Russia, with mostly older model Soviet jets and not nearly enough of them. How well his pilots are trained is likely another problem. Giving him more modern American planes is not practical. Who will maintain them? How would their pilots suddenly be able to fly them in combat – it just is not going to work. The support required to maintain our jet fighters is beyond anything most people do not know. You think just anyone can load the weapons on our planes, no. It takes specially trained people to do that. Hell, I was a crew chief many years ago and I had no idea how to load the bombs and rockets. I was also surrounded with hundreds of other specialist on hydraulics, electricians, engines, avionics, radar and fuel systems, egress. People in desperate times sometimes come up with crazy ideas.

    1. The plan is to give them MiG 29s, which neighbouring countries such as Poland have and which the Ukrainian pilots are already familiar with.

      1. I just read an article that said the U.S. state department was discussing sending F-16s to Ukraine. I hope talking is all it was. I would like to know how they make that work?

        1. Further discussion on CNN said they were talking about sending Poland soviet planes, like mig 29s to Ukraine and the U.S. would send F-16s to Poland. Problem now is, there may be no runways in Ukraine to fly on.

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