Friday: Hili dialogue

March 11, 2022 • 6:30 am

Where we are now:  According to the Roald Amundsen’s real-time tracker, we have headed around to the East Side of the Antarctic Peninsula, where the Weddell Sea lies.  We are near the spot where Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance was trapped in the ice and destroyed in 1915, a prelude to one of the greatest adventures and feats of derring-do in the history of exploration. Using drones, explorers found the ship on the sea floor a few days ago( (see photos below).

Our current position and a general map of Antarctica.

The blue line marks our route so far. We are headed for Brown Bluff, a touristic landing spot right to the south of the ship in the first graphic. It usually harbors Adelie penguin colonies but there will probably be few at this time of year.

From my cabin I see a island nearby, perhaps one of the several islands off the tip of the Peninsula (see above). This area is supposed to be rife with large icebergs, but we’re not yet in that area:

A map from the BBC showing where the ship’s remains were found (yellow rectangle), about 10,000 feet down. The escape rout of the men to Elephant Island, on the west side of the Peninsula, is shown by the first segment of white dashes, and Shackleton’s small party’s voyage of over 1000 km to seek rescue on South Georgia is the second segment of the white dashes:

Photos of the remarkably well preserved ship (the waters are cold and there are no wood-boring organisms in the area. Captions from NYT:

The ship’s stern still bore its name, “ENDURANCE,” above a five-pointed star, a holdover from before Shackleton bought the ship, when it was named Polaris.Credit…Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust
The ship’s rear deck and wheel. Its relatively pristine appearance was not unexpected, given the cold water and the lack of wood-eating marine organisms in the Weddell Sea that have ravaged shipwrecks elsewhere.Credit…Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

Trapped in the sea ice, the Endurance drifted some distance before it was finally crushed and sank where I’ve placed the arrow. The Peninsula is to the left.

Finally, the dogs watching the crushed ship right before it sank. They shot all those dogs, as well as the ship’s cat Mrs. Chippy. (See my post on that intrepid tabby here.)

So, good morning on Friday, March 11, 2022, and National “Eat Your Noodles” Day. But why the scare quotes? Are we supposed to pretend to eat noodles?

*I see in the news that the Russians have intensified their bombing of Ukraine, and are preparing for the big assault on Kyiv, surrounding the city and firing at nearby towns. From the NYT

  • Missile strikes were reported overnight in places far from the Russians’ main advance: Dnipro, a key city on Dnieper River that the Russians would have to seize to lay claim to the eastern half of the country; Lutsk, in the northwest; and Ivano-Frankivsk in the southwest. The western targets indicated that Russia might be expanding its efforts to slow the flow of weapons and resources to the front lines from across Ukraine’s western border.

  • The primary target for Russia remains the capital, Kyiv. Satellite imagery of a miles-long convoy north of the city suggests that Russia is repositioning its forces for a renewed assault there.

Is there anybody here who thinks that the brave Ukrainians can stave off the much larger Russian force, hapless though the Russians may be? They simply have too many fighters, too many weapons, and a bloodthirsty President who wants that country.

*Imprisoned dissident Alexsai Navalny has called for increased street demonstrations against the war in Russia, and, at the southern border of the U.S., there is an increase in attempted immigration by Russians and Ukrainians seeking asylum. And, unlike the claims of Hispanics, these ones are being granted far more often:

Russians and Ukrainians represent only a small fraction of all the people crossing the southern border. But unlike most migrants from Mexico and Central America, who have often been turned away since the beginning of the pandemic, they are being allowed to make asylum claims at ports of entry. And while a vast majority of asylum cases are ultimately denied, two-thirds of those from Russia and Ukraine have been winning their cases, according to government data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Between June and Feb. 21, with the exception of one week, Russians were among the top-three nationalities assisted by the San Diego Rapid Response Network, which offers food and lodging to migrants after their release from U.S. border custody. The network has also been receiving a small but growing number of Ukrainians, and the volume is expected to increase in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion, assuming access to Mexico remains relatively easy.

“This is about to become a torrent,” said Lou Correa, a Democratic representative from California who recently testified in Congress about what he witnessed at the San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego. “You are going to have destitute Ukrainians and hungry Russians.”

I’m not sure whether the greater success of claims from Russians and Ukrainians reflects some kind of anti-Hispanic bias on the part of our government, or the feeling that claims of political persecution by Russians (mostly dissidents like Navalny) are simply more credible than claims by Hispanics, who often migrate for economic reasons rather than fear of persecution.

*Speaking of Cantral America, a draconian new law in Guatemala simultaneously criminalizes abortion, same-sex marriages, and teaching about sexual diversity.

Guatemalan lawmakers have passed a sweeping new bill mandating up to 10 years of jail time for women who obtain abortions, explicitly banning same-sex marriage and preventing schools from teaching about sexual diversity.

The measure, which was approved Tuesday and is expected to be signed into law by Guatemala’s conservative president within weeks, would impose the harshest punishment for abortion of almost any country in Latin America. It bucks the trend toward broadening access to the procedure throughout the region in recent years.

But this isn’t really anything new, except for the ban on teaching about sexual diversity:

Guatemala already mandated prison time for anyone who got an abortion, except in cases where the woman’s life was at risk, and same-sex couples have never been allowed to marry in the country. But for the president, the new bill carries symbolic weight, analysts said.

But the prison time is also increased. I cannot fathom jailing a woman for ten years for getting an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. El Salvador and Honduras have similar laws. Guatemala’s corrupt President, Alejandro Giammattei, has declared that part of his agenda is to make Guatemala the “pro-life” capital of Latin America. But how is banning homosexual marriages in any sense “pro-life.” Do they think that all the gays who can’t marry will marry those of the other sex by default, and then have kids?

*Finally, actor Jussie Smollett is finally gong to jail for his fabricated claim of being attacked by two assailants in Chicago—and a noose put around his neck—for being black and gay. Charges weren’t filed by the Chicago district attorney earlier, to the outrage of many who saw through Smollett’s palpable lies. Now, however, after a real trial before a judge alone, Smollett has been convicted of filing a false police report (felony disorderly conduct). He could have gotten three years in prison, but has been sentenced to five months in jail. He also got two years of probation, a fine of $25,000, and must pay $120,000 to cover the costs of the police investigation.

From the NYT:

At the end of a hearing that lasted about five hours, Judge James B. Linn excoriated Mr. Smollett from the bench, saying that he had concluded that the actor had premeditated the hoax and that despite his and his family’s admirable past work in social justice, he had an arrogant, selfish side and had planned the stunt because he “craved the attention.”

In the searing speech, the judge said that Mr. Smollett’s name had become synonymous with lying, that he had sought to throw a “national pity party” for himself and that Mr. Smollett’s conduct had undermined other victims of hate crimes at a sensitive time, as America was trying to climb out of its painful history of racism.

“You took some scabs off some healing wounds and you ripped them apart,” the judge said. “And for one reason: You wanted to make yourself more famous.”

Despite the overwhelming nature of Smollett’s hoax, so stupidly conducted that there was an unbreakable chain of evidence (and see Dave Chappelle’s mockery of Smollett’s claims), Smollett still says he is the victim:

. . . after Judge Linn read his sentence, the actor defiantly stood up and declared, “I did not do this, and I am not suicidal,” adding that “if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself.” As he was taken into custody to begin his jail sentence, Mr. Smollett raised his right fist. His lawyers immediately said they planned to appeal.

Go to the March 11 Wikipedia page to find notable events, births, or deaths that happened on this day, and then report your favorites in the comments. Reader Jez seems to do this very well.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka is happy that her staff has arrived:

Hili: Somebody has arrived.
Kulka: Perhaps Paulina.
Can you tell Kulka from Hili?
In Polish:
Hili: Ktoś przyjechał.
Kulka: Pewnie Paulina.

From Divy. The artist forgot to mention that Noah didn’t let amphibians, freshwater fish, reptiles, or mammals off on distant oceanic islands, either, though he did on islands that, seem to have once been connected to continents. (That’s some of the most powerful evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution, as laid out in the biogeography chapter of Why Evolution is True.)

God messes with Marco Rubio:

Tweets from Matthew. Where will Igor sell his tank?

Remember this brave woman? She’s still out there. The Russians dare not imprison a survivor of the Leningrad siege, who is in her nineties:

Towards the end of this video, you’ll learn why these Russian tactics aren’t new.

Matthew says this: “You need to enlarge the image. Note the design of the two posters and the summary in the blue band on the poster on the right. . . ”

This is a badly misshapen Drosophila eye, but I don’t know if it’s a mutant or a nongenetic deformity.

A stunning and instantaneous transformation. Squid are fantastic.

Do you know the gruesome story of the tongue-eating louse? Look up the story on the Wikipedia article about Cymothoa exiguaWikipedia says this: “This is the only known case of a parasite assumed to be functionally replacing a host organ.”

38 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:

    1708 – Queen Anne withholds Royal Assent from the Scottish Militia Bill, the last time a British monarch vetoes legislation.

    1845 – Flagstaff War: Unhappy with translational differences regarding the Treaty of Waitangi, chiefs Hone Heke, Kawiti and Māori tribe members chop down the British flagpole for a fourth time and drive settlers out of Kororareka, New Zealand.

    1861 – American Civil War: The Constitution of the Confederate States of America is adopted.

    1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev is elected to the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, making Gorbachev the USSR’s de facto, and last, head of state. – Vlad may have other ideas about that…

    1990 – Lithuania declares independence from the Soviet Union – and about that, too…!

    2020 – The World Health Organization (WHO) declares COVID-19 virus a pandemic.


    1931 – Rupert Murdoch, Australian-American businessman and media magnate – Boo, hiss!

    Bit the dust on March 11:

    1955 – Alexander Fleming, Scottish biologist, pharmacologist, and botanist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1881)

    2018 – Ken Dodd, English comedian and singer (b. 1927) – Notoriously tight with money, as my dad discovered when they worked together around the time that I was born (and something the taxman found out later, too…)

  2. I am afraid to look up the tongue-eating louse, but I know I will. That squid clip is fantastic. It looks like a magic trick.

    1. Carl Zimmer has a book on parasites called Parasite Rex with many many fascinating examples like this isopod-tongue.

  3. The discovery of Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance hasn’t only provided excitement for historians of polar exploration:

    While the world gaped at the extraordinary preservation of Shackleton’s Endurance ship, one group of people were agog at something else in the crystal clear underwater footage.

    These were polar biologists, and they were wrapped up in the different animals they could see.

    There were the expected invertebrates – filter-feeders such as sea anemones and sea lilies – but some surprises, too.

    The star, undoubtedly, was the squat lobster seen climbing over the wreck.

      1. I mean – I didn’t even know there was ANYTHING to be found, at this point – so that it was a freakin’ SHIP is one of the biggest ignorance-of-the-obvious bombs to go off in my head in a long time!

        What are the chances that PCC(E) would be in the vicinity when the news broke? It’s a sign, I tell ya….

  4. the actor defiantly stood up and declared, “I did not do this, and I am not suicidal,” adding that “if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself.”

    Put him on suicide watch. He plans to harm himself in prison or maybe conspire with another inmate to have them do it.

    1. I would certainly expect that he will be kept alone with a video camera on at all times on this bad actor.

  5. Guatemala is so much like Texas, surprising they are not greeted at the boarder with a band. Oh, that’s right, they are not white.

    1. Yes they are. They are Hispanic, considered to be white on the U.S. census unless they also tick another race.
      You will need to come up with another reason why Texas does not want an uncontrolled influx of unskilled poor people. White Canadians can’t just walk into Texas with their families in tow and start job-hunting, either, even if conservative.
      But some Guatemalans who do get into the U.S. are heading for Canada where they really can just walk in and make asylum claims, as long as they cross our border illegally but openly.

      1. “White Canadians can’t just walk into Texas with their families in tow and start job-hunting, either, even if conservative.”

        They can and they do. In 2019, DHS reported Canadian visa overstays consisted of 0.75% of ~10 million departures, or about 75,000 Canadians. In the same year, Mexican visa overstays consisted of 1.37% of 3.1 million departures, or about 42,000 Mexicans. Our Canadian visa overstay problem is almost twice as big as our Mexican visa overstay problem, and yet you hear practically nothing from Conservatives about visa overstays at all.

        some Guatemalans who do get into the U.S. are heading for Canada where they really can just walk in and make asylum claims

        AFAIK, this is wrong. Canada and the US have a ‘Safe Third Country Agreement’ where an asylee entering either cannot pass through to claim asylum in the other. Trump tried to extend this policy to essentially all other countries (so, for example, someone from Guatemala could not claim asylum in the US if they walked through Mexico to get here), but that was struck down. However the US-Canada one is, AFAIK, still in effect.

        You can google “Safe Third Country Agreement,” and the official Canadian Government page explaining it will be the second link to pop up (at least in my browser it is).

        1. 1) Re the Safe Third Country Agreement.

          Your information is correct as far as it goes. But there is a loophole that makes it wrong in practice:

          If you climb over the barrier at the dead-end road 2 km west of the official post at LaColle, notwithstanding the STCA you are allowed to make an asylum claim at that post and may then remain in Canada, at liberty, until your claim is heard in 2 – 5 years. You only break Canadian law if you try to disappear into the woods instead of reporting for Customs inspection after you hop the fence. But there is no reason to evade the system by sneaking in. Registered as an asylum claimant you get a work permit and access to social services. You aren’t charged with entering Canada illegally because technically you didn’t.

          The Canadian Government does not publicize this option for obvious reasons but it is a dodge known all over the world that drives our Right nuts. Plattsburgh taxi drivers love it. The Left loves it, too, so much that Amnesty International sued our government unsuccessfully to overturn the Safe Third Country Agreement, arguing that no sane person of colour would make an asylum claim in the oppressive gulag that is the U.S. (Many Canadians and even some Americans sincerely believe this.) Foreigners outside North America can’t fly directly to Canada because we won’t issue tourist visas to people from countries with a track record of making asylum claims on arrival. Without the visa they can’t board the plane in Nigeria. Migrants traveling overland through the USA we can’t do anything about until they climb the fence and announce themselves to the RCMP. Roxham and other unofficial crossings were shut down when the border was closed during Covid. With the border opened, the asylum claimants would be admitted and, if not vaccinated, quarantined at our expense before being sent on their way.
          40,000 migrants crossed at Roxham Rd in 26 months ending June 2019, says Wiki. Most during that period had flown to New York from Nigeria on U.S. tourist visas.

          The reason why the Safe Third Country Agreement does not apply to people who make unofficial crossings is that otherwise the United States would have to take back non-citizens who are caught in Canada after being assumed to have snuck in unwitnessed from the U.S. Then you would have to figure out what to do with them. Naturally you would prefer that they be our problem if apprehended on Canadian soil, just as foreign visitors to Canada who stray into the U.S. are not returned to Canada but instead deported to their home country. So the Agreement applies only at official border crossings where it is obvious where the refused claimant came from legally and can be turned back to your Border Patrol. Foreign air arrivals with U.S. visas would not be breaking American law, but undocumented aliens transiting the U.S. from Central America would be subject to arrest and deportation. Hence the attractiveness of the unauthorized crossing — no risk of being returned to the U.S. Even when we eventually do deny the asylum claims and deport them, they go back to their country of citizenship.

          2) Visa overstays are not the same thing as being allowed to enter the United States without a work permit on a “Come on in!” basis. (Canadian citizens don’t need a visa to visit the U.S., so I’m not sure who these Canadians would be.) There is nothing to stop you from enforcing your immigration laws, though. By all means deport all those visa-free Canadians coming down to work illegally and not paying Social Security and tax withholdings and needing uncompensated care if they get sick. Not being sarcastic. Borders should mean something.

      2. “Yes they are. They are Hispanic, considered to be white on the U.S. census unless they also tick another race.”

        No, they’re not. People use their eyes, not a piece of paper to discern race.

    1. Yep. I think their faces, particularly the eyes but the shape of their faces too, are a dead give away. The only way to get them confused is when you can’t see their faces.

  6. According to The Daily Telegraph, two Russian state TV channels have broadcast guests criticising the war:

    Russian state television has broadcast calls for Vladimir Putin to stop his war in Ukraine during a programme in which pundits openly likened the invasion to “Afghanistan, but even worse”. Usually one of the Kremlin’s most loyal chief propagandists, Vladimir Solovyov had to interrupt guests on his prime-time talk show to stop their criticisms of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Speaking during a broadcast on Russia 1, state pundit Karen Shakhnazarov, a filmmaker, said the conflict in Ukraine risks isolating Russia. “I have a hard time imagining taking cities like Kyiv, I can’t imagine how that would look”, he told host Mr Solovyov. He went on to call for the conflict to be brought to an end. “If this picture starts to transform into an absolute humanitarian disaster, even our close allies like China and India will be forced to distance themselves from us. […] Ending this operation will stabilise things within the country”.


    On Zevezda, the Russian ministry of defence’s TV channel, a serving army officer was explaining to a talk show audience how the country’s soldiers were dying in Ukraine. “Our guys over there, from Donetsk and Luhansk, [are] dying and our country …”, he said. “No, no, no”, interrupted the host who got up from his desk gesticulating and marched across the studio shouting “stop!”

    The Torygraph is behind a paywall, but you might be able to read the rest from this screenshot:

    1. All things they don’t like are bucketed together, without regard for sense. Woke Ukraine is this year’s muslim atheist.

    2. Maybe the same place as here, except for the anti-woke part.:

      Québec Green Party leader faces backlash after calling Russia’s demands [denuclearization, “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine] ‘reasonable’.
      “I therefore call on the Canadian, American and NATO governments to stop sending arms to Ukraine and to support serious negotiations with Russia now to allow for an immediate deescalation and to save lives,” [Alex Tyrrell] wrote on Twitter Friday [4 March] afternoon.

      He was condemned by the Federal Green Party which has no acknowledged connection to the Québec party, but which itself has been riven by a schism over how anti-Semitic it should be. It has two MPs in the Canadian House of Commons and only an interim party leader.

      The Québec Greens have no seats in the “National” (provincial) Assembly, polling less than 2% in the last election. Mr. Tyrrell has made something of a career running (unsuccessfully) in by-elections for provincial seats that become vacant, sometimes polling as high as 4%. Earlier this week, a young woman named Annabelle Bouvette, running for les Vertes in an upcoming by-election in Marie-Victorin riding, quit the race over Tyrrell’s remarks. True to form, he has taken her place as the party’s candidate. She wanted to talk about climate; he wants to talk about how he’s going to prevent nuclear war with Russia.

      I might have thought that only in Canada could this guy be news but I see the story was picked up by some American news outlets.

      1. Sorry, the direct quotation from the CTV story that started with *** ends at the end of the highlighted link. Everything from “He was condemned . . .”, onward is from me.

  7. Biden is giving the oil industry the Covid treatment. He considers them essential now, but once the crisis is past he’ll want all their jobs.

    1. What’s wrong with that? Reducing and eventually eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels would be the correct lesson to learn from this crisis which is just the most recent of many over the last 50 years.

      1. The rightwing is blatantly trying to use the war-in-Ukraine-triggered boycott of Russian oil and gas as an excuse to rollback US environmental protections and to give unrestricted free rein to domestic petroleum production. Heaven forfend we should leave a habitable planet for our progeny.

        Hell, Donald Trump (who has said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine would’ve never happened on his watch, but won’t say why) was asked how he expects the war on Ukraine to play out.

        His answer? WINDMILLS!!1!

        Were Joe Biden to give such a ridiculous, nonresponsive answer to such a question, those nice young men in their clean white coats would be coming to take him away, ha-haaa.

        1. > His answer? WINDMILLS!!1!

          But isn’t that the answer? Or does Trump riffing on them suddenly make them objects non grata? (No, I didn’t read/watch/listen to the Tweet. He gives me hives, makes me think I have scabies.)

          1. He riffs on how bad they are. Bitching about windmills is one of Trump’s standard bits — like Tony Bennett singing about leaving his circulatory system organ in San Francisco or Don Rickles calling someone a hockey puck.

            It’s SOP for Trump to reach for a non-sequitur set piece when he hasn’t the foggiest on how to answer the question asked.

        2. Russia accounts for about 10% of global oil production so if we all simply reduce our consumption by about 10% then the demand would meet the new supply and prices would return to “normal”. Such a sacrifice doesn’t seem to be out of proportion to the current situation given the wastefulness of our society and it’s exactly the kind of solution one would expect from the party of personal responsibility. Instead we get more selfishness, tantrums, and grandiose stories of what might have been.

  8. About hispanic immigration: it’s not only economic reasons, they are also escaping violence. Some countries like mine (Mexico) have more deaths by violence than some war torn countries.

    1. So fix it.
      International conventions on political asylum don’t obligate host countries to take in people just because their governments can’t enforce their own laws. There has to be persecution by the government because of who you are for an asylum claim to succeed.

      Can’t speak for Americans but if you have skills useful to the Canadian economy and can find an employer in Canada willing to hire you, or if you can credibly propose to start a business here, you are more than welcome to apply to immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident with path to citizenship. We are hoping to accept 400,000 this year and 300,000 a year thereafter. (We got behind during Covid.). There is also provision for temporary foreign workers in sectors where employers have difficulty hiring Canadian workers. These are not all crappy jobs. Sometimes the local welfare incentives discourage rooted Canadians from working at all.

  9. “Where will Igor sell his tank?”

    It is not a “tank”. It is a mobile air-defense station. The missiles are not there however and I’d bet those are not the only things missing.

  10. The BBC is reporting that a third Russian major general has been killed in the fifteen days of fighting in Ukraine – that’s the same number of major generals that Russia has lost in all the years of fighting in Syria.

  11. “They simply have too many fighters, too many weapons, and a bloodthirsty President who wants that country.”

    But do they have enough fuel, food and ammunition, and more particularly the means to get them to the front? This appears to be where Russia is bogging down.

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