The ship’s panocam is dark, but at 6:50 a.m. from my balcony I see blue sea and sky punctuated only by two small icebergs. But I did see a small fin, most likely from a fin whale, at breakfast.
It is Hump Day (the Norwegians would say “Det er Pukkeldag”), March 9, 2022, and National Crab Day
*We successfully dropped off our baker’s dozen of Ukrainian scientists and staff, who will be overwintering at Vernadsky Research Base. They took several long Zodiac rides from the boat to the base and got there safely while we moored and waited for the boats to return. The group thanked us for our hospitality and now will be looking at a long period of darkness, literal and metaphorical. Good luck to them; they seem to have cheered up on board, at least according to two of the staff I talked to.
*As of two days ago, we had several new cases of covid, at least one among the passengers and one among the staff. They won’t tell us how many (there aren’t many, to be sure), but this is one result:
All passengers were again antigen-tested yesterday (I’ve consistently been negative), and I think they turned up a few more cases. The testing will continue, as will the incessant sanitizing of every surface by the diligent staff. Those found to have Covid are quarantined in their cabin for seven days and aren’t allowed to leave. Food is brought to them. It’s a dire way to spend a cruise, and believe me, I am diligent about wearing masks (required everywhere except ashore or on the outside decks) and about washing my hands.
This ship, by the way, has the hardest working and most amiable staff imaginable, with the vast majority of them Filipino.
*The New York Times and other sources report that a prisoner in Guantánamo Naval Base’s “detention camp“, a Saudi Arabian named Mohammed al-Qahtani, I can’t believe that we still have prisoners in Cuba and have not tried them in U.S. courts, which is their due. To our shame, the U.S. courts have repeatedly upheld the right to detail suspected terrorists at the Base without the right of a trial, and to our further shame, these prisoners have been tortured and kept isolated for twenty years.
al-Qahtani is one of these, and has been released only because he’s become insane, partly because of torture:
The Biden administration on Monday repatriated to Saudi Arabia for mental health care a prisoner who had been tortured so badly by U.S. interrogators that he was ruled ineligible for trial as the suspected would-be 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, in his 40s, is the second to be transferred from the wartime prison under the administration.
A government panel recommended recently that Mr. Qahtani, who had spent 20 years at Guantánamo Bay, be released after a Navy doctor advised that he was too impaired to pose a future threat — particularly if he was sent to inpatient mental care. The doctor last year upheld an independent psychiatrist’s finding that Mr. Qahtani suffered from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, and could not receive adequate care at the U.S. military prison.
Isn’t it time that the Biden Administration either try the prisoners or let them go? Even if an executive order cannot do this, perhaps Congress could, for I can’t believe that we couldn’t get a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate to treat these people fairly. Of course if we have to rely on the U.S. Supreme Court, they might as well bury the prisoners now.
*This is all over the news (about a dozen readers emailed me, and thanks!), and was unexpected as well as appropriate given where I am. Searchers have finally found the wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, crushed by the ice in 1915 during the famous Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Shackleton and his men tried camping on the ice, but eventually the drifting ice destroyed some of their lifebooks, but also took them to to nearby Elephant Island.
Most of the mean waited on that island waited while Shackleton and five other men navigated in one lifeboat over 1300 km of polar sea to South Georgia Island, where there was a whaling station. Three of them then had to cross the island’s mountainous interior without climbing equipment and go to the station, where they summoned help for the 22 other men, who were eventually rescued by a Chilean tugboat after nearly four months of camping on an inhospitable spit of land.
Every man survived (but they shot the beloved ship’s cat, Mrs. Chippy. , Besides that sad bit, it is one of the great adventure stories of all time. Here’s a photo of the men left on Elephant Island:
Here’s Mrs. Chippy on the shoulder of crew member Perce Blackborow. She was murdered along with five sled dogs:
The latest Endurance news, and the denoument of this tale, is that the wreck of the ship was just found in the Weddell see east of the Antarctic peninsula, not far from where we are. As the NYT reports:
The wreck of Endurance has been found in the Antarctic, 106 years after the historic ship was crushed in pack ice and sank during an expedition by the explorer Ernest Shackleton.
A team of adventurers, marine archaeologists and technicians located the wreck at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, east of the Antarctic Peninsula, using undersea drones. Battling sea ice and freezing temperatures, the team had been searching for more than two weeks in a 150-square-mile area around where the ship went down in 1915.
. . .The hunt for the wreck, which cost more than $10 million, provided by a donor who wished to remain anonymous, was conducted from a South African icebreaker that left Cape Town in early February. Aside from a few technical glitches involving the two submersibles, and part of a day spent icebound when operations were suspended, the search proceeded relatively smoothly.
The battery-powered submersibles combed the seafloor twice a day, for about six hours at a time. They used sonar to scan a swath of the smooth seabed, looking for anything that rose above it. Once the wreck was located several days ago, the equipment was swapped for high-resolution cameras and other instruments to make detailed images and scans.
The ship is remarkably well preserved: the cold water staves off organisms that would destroy the wood in a warmer clime. But the wreck is protected by treaty and as a historical monument, and cannot be touched. To see video from the drones, go to the NYT, or the BBC article in this tweet:
— Rebecca Morelle (@BBCMorelle) March 9, 2022
*I am deprived of news on the Ukraine; although I have access to the major newspapers online, I barely have time to read them. I did see that President Zelensky made a dramatic speech to Parliament in Britain:
With Ukraine’s outgunned army holding firm despite Russian bombardments that have displaced millions of civilians, the war in Ukraine has become a grim spectacle of resistance, no one more defiant than the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who vowed on Tuesday never to give in to Russia’s tanks, troops or artillery shells.
In a dramatic video address to Britain’s Parliament, clad in his now-famous military fatigue T-shirt, Mr. Zelensky echoed Winston Churchill’s famous words of no surrender to the same chamber at the dawn of World War II as Britain faced a looming onslaught from Nazi Germany.
“We will fight till the end, at sea, in the air,” Mr. Zelensky said with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag draped behind him. “We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”
The speech, the first ever by a foreign leader to the House of Commons, was the climax of Mr. Zelensky’s darkest-hour messaging to fellow Ukrainians and the world in what has become a typical 20-hour day for him in Kyiv, the besieged capital.
If he survives this war, the ex-comedian will be remembered as a man who truly rose to the occasion.
In the ultimate U.S. sanction, McDonald’s has said it will close for the nonce all of its restaurants in Russia. The same goes for Starbucks, and Pepsi will stop selling soft drinks. We can surely force Russia to its knees by taking away their bugers, lattes, and Pepsis. But these are symbolic acts, of course; the sanctions are all we can do, and I fear that in the face of Putin’s lunacy, they won’t do squat to stop Russia from annexing Ukraine.
Top U.S. intelligence officials said on Tuesday that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had been surprised and unsettled by the problems that have hampered his military in Ukraine, issues that will make it more difficult for Russian forces to control the country.
But Mr. Putin is determined to succeed in Ukraine, and will try to double down and use ever more brutal tactics, the officials said during an appearance before the House Intelligence Committee.
. . . Some allied intelligence services believe that Mr. Putin’s early military problems could cause him to readjust his plans to take control of the whole country, and stop his advance after he captures Kyiv, particularly if military officers highlight how many additional forces it will require to secure Ukraine.
Well, we’ll see. I see many readers are still optimistic, thinking that Ukraine will win, but I think the chances of that will be close to zero.
*By the way, if you need to replace your old iPhone, now’s the time. The iPhone SE (along with a new iPad) just went on sale, and it’s just (!) $429. If they’d had that one when I replaced mine two months ago, I would have gotten it, as I have a fancy phone with features I just don’t need. It’s good for taking photos from the ship, though.
Go to the March 9 Wikipedia page to find notable events, births, or deaths that happened on this day, and then report your favorites in the comments.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is on the veranda and can’t decide whether to go inside our stay out:
A: Make a decision.Hili: I like being indecisive.
Ja: Zdecyduj się wreszcie.Hili: Lubię być niezdecydowana.
A meme from Divy:
The popular Twitter website “God”, with over six million followers, is now #GodStandsWithUkraine. And the deity is mad as hall and isn’t going to take it any more.
Fuck you @KremlinRussia_E.
Retweet if you agree.
— #GodStandsWithUkraine (@TheTweetOfGod) February 26, 2022
Vlad’s flacks beefed about that tweet:
Come on, Vladimir. Don't you have worse things to do? pic.twitter.com/IQbUFV13kx
— #GodStandsWithUkraine (@TheTweetOfGod) February 27, 2022
From Ginger K.:
So they’re “essential workers” during the worst of the pandemic, but “low-skilled workers” when they ask for a raise? Am I getting that right?
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) February 11, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
9 March 1939 | A French Jewish girl, Suzanne Driay, was born in Paris.
She arrived at #Auschwitz on 2 June 1944 in a transport of 1,000 Jews deported from Drancy. She was among the 627 people killed in a gas chamber immediately after selection. pic.twitter.com/dUOJQd3hCf
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 9, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. This first one is unbelievable, ranking with QAnon as a loony conspricacy theory. Jewified? Really? If you want more lunacy, read the other four tweets in the thread.
"Why has Ukraine become Jewified, and why has Israel put up with it? It's because Wall Street wanted to plant a quasi-Israel in this problematic European region" – Beihang University Professor Zhang Wenmu offers his take on Ukraine.
— Tuvia Gering 陶文亚 (@GeringTuvia) March 7, 2022
This therapist puts Freud to shame. (He was a quack anyway.)
I’m switching therapists: ‘Olha Koba, a psychologist in Kyiv, said that “anger and hate in this situation is a normal reaction and important to validate. But it is important to channel it into something useful, she said, such as making incendiary bombs out of empty bottles’
— Ella Al-Shamahi (@Ella_AlShamahi) March 8, 2022
A two part video. These people are fricking brave!
Part 2 of 2.
– 4th Russian enters then leaves
– Extensive yelling
– Man moves against one of the soldiers
– Woman advances
– Soldiers retreat
– Man closes, then reopens gate
– Walks into street
– Yells at Russians some more
– Walks back in.
These people are amazing. pic.twitter.com/g1bfJiL8Fq
— J. Paul Kirby (@JPaulKirby) March 8, 2022
Life goes on in Ukraine. Two soldiers got married, and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is played in Odessa, about to fall to Russia. I’ve never seen anything like the wry humor of these people.
While Odessa prepares for a bloody battle, a band plays Don’t Worry be Happy.
— Jelle Simons (@jelle_simons) March 8, 2022
Stunning video:sound up!
Turn this aaalllllll the way up and listen the a volcano roar! https://t.co/sjNfxCsZKz
— Dr. Mapperwocky 💥⛰⚒ (@cirquelar) March 8, 2022
A century of progress in Drosophila work; I couldn’t be happier!
Drosophila in science.
Left, TH Morgan, The Physical Basis of Inheritance. Lippincott
Right, H Li et al, Fly Cell Atlas: A single-nucleus transcriptomic atlas of the adult fruit flyhttps://t.co/IoQkMjz6Rz pic.twitter.com/Dc8JKCzHW5
— Denis Jabaudon (@denisjabaudon) March 4, 2022