Sunday: Hili dialogue

March 13, 2022 • 6:30 am

Where we are now: Since this is an ex-trip, meeting its demise because of Covid, we’re heading back to the Chilean Port of Punta Arenas, where we’ll land tomorrow morning. Before that, though, we enter the Beagle Channel and head west. The ship’s real-time map gives our location in the Drake Passage. It was rough seas last night, and I expect many passengers will be a bit green this morning.

We have lost three days exploring Antarctica.

Outside, nothing to see but sea.  We did have a treat yesterday: one of our Expedition Team leaders knows someone on the ship that just discovered the remarkably intact remains of Shackleton’s ship Endurance.  Just for us, they gave us an hour-long streaming video presentation, describing how they found the wreck, the drone that found it, and what other science was done on the expedition. They gave us a 1.5-minute video, which I believe has already been published in the press, and then answered questions. The drone that found it is a remarkable invention, devised especially for this trip.  We weren’t allowed to take photos or make recordings, so the photos below come from other sources.

The ship to ship interview (a remarkable feat in itself) was conducted while the research ship SA Agulhas II was steaming back to its home country, South Africa.

Here’s the research ship/icebreaker that found Endurance (you can read the NYT account of the discovery here).

The drone was connected to the ship by over 3000 meters (10,000 feet) of fiber-optic cable, and made about twenty six-hour runs before it found the remains of the Endurance. Here’s the drone and a photo showing they had indeed found the ship, both from the NYT (the blue is the fiber-optic cable):

from the NYT: Crew members retrieved an underwater drone after a search.Credit…Esther Horvath

The expedition leader told us that he and a couple of other explorers were walking on the ice off the ship, looking at penguins, when the discovery was found and he got an urgent call to return to the ship. At first he was distressed, thinking that the drone had been lost (one was on the first expedition a few years ago), but no, they’d found Endurance! That must have been quite a moment.

(From the 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 expedition was funded largely by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust; here’s the team’s logo:

So, good morning on a Sunday afloat: March 13, 2022: Chicken Noodle Soup Day, which, as the whole world knows, is palpably inferior to matzo ball soup made with lots of chicken, rich chicken broth, and ideally containing a pair of matzo balls, like this one:

Here is this morning’s breakfast on the ship. I never eat breakfast in Chicago, but it’s hard to resist it here. But I’m going a bit lighter on my eating. Oatmeal, a roll and a mini-croissant with butter and blueberry jam, a bit of cured raw ham, and fruit. On the side I have my usual coffee: a cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso. Oh, and orange juice beforehand. I will skip lunch today and have a good dinner in the Fredheim.

Go to the March 13 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.

*Things are getting grimmer in Ukraine, but that was predictable given Putin’s apparent scorched-earth mentality. Fighting has reached the outskirts of Kyiv, France and Germany were unable to persuade Putin to hold a cease-fire, and now Putin apparently considers the transfer of weapons from the U.S. to other countries to be an “act of war”:

The American announcement of more arms for Ukraine’s military, including missiles for taking out warplanes and tanks, came just hours after Russia warned that weapons sent to Ukraine would be considered “legitimate targets” for Russian forces. A Foreign Ministry official said the “thoughtless transfer” of antitank and antiaircraft missiles could lead to serious consequences.

And there are unpredictable peccadilloes, like people using the dating app Tinder to get help finding places to stay. It works—sometimes!

*Ukraine now has its own foreign legion, with soldiers from many countries (not mercenaries, as I don’t think they’re getting paid, are fighting with Ukrainian soldiers against the Russians. As the Wall Street Journal reports, there’s a “Ukrainian Legion” with fighters from many places:

Kyiv is welcoming all outside assistance. The forces at its disposal are far smaller than those of Russia and are unable to fight on an equal footing. Russia’s armed forces count 900,000 personnel, compared with Ukraine’s 209,000 active troops, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London think tank. The Ukrainian number doesn’t include recent mobilizations.

Addressing this imbalance, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last month announced the formation of the International Legion of Defense of Ukraine, appealing to veteran soldiers outside the country who have specialized skills and experience in war to join the fight.

The international units are a component of the country’s regular armed forces and report to its general staff. Foreigners serve under Ukrainian officers. A spokesman for the group confirmed that some foreign units were already fighting on the front line.

. . .The group is seeking veterans with combat experience, and a number of Americans and British citizens who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have already registered, the spokesman said.

Ukrainian diplomatic missions abroad have been funneling recruits via Poland, and volunteers have been arriving there from Belarus, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and dozens of other countries, according to an official at the Ukrainian Embassy in Warsaw.

*The unconstitutional Texas anti-abortion law, aimed at preventing abortions when there’s a fetal heartbeat (and makes no exception for rape or incest), has been given the imprimatur by the Texas Supreme Court. This is all because enforcement of the law has been delegated to private citizens, who can sue anybody abetting an illegal abortion in civil courts. And that is the reason the Supreme Court upheld it:

By empowering everyday people and expressly banning enforcement by state officials, the law, known as S.B. 8, was designed to escape judicial review in federal court. Advocates of abortion rights had asked the Supreme Court to block it even before it took effect last September. The justices repeatedly declined, and said that because state officials were not responsible for enforcing the law it could not be challenged in federal court based on the constitutional protections established by Roe.

But the Supreme Court left open the smallest of windows, saying in December that opponents of the law could file suit against Texas medical licensing officials, who might discipline abortion providers who violate the law.

Yet Roe v. Wade, already with one foot on ice and the other on a banana peel, allows abortion up to about 6 months of pregnancy, four times longer than the Texas bill. Could some lawyer explain to me why a federal ruling that allows abortions can be superceded by a state law, merely because the means of enforcement is different. If this stands (and I’m not expecting Roe v. Wade to survive more than a few years), there are any number of laws that could be passed using private citizens instead of the state to enforce them.

*I haven’t been following the news closely, and am wondering what the status is of Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill. It seems to be dead, or at least that’s implied in a NYT article on Democrats looking for a slogan to improve their image. A slogan!

Democrats, Ms. Pelosi told Mr. Biden and a group of his aides, need a more succinct and consistent message. The speaker, who has long been fond of pithy, made-for-bumper-sticker mantras, offered a suggestion she had heard from members: Democrats deliver.

What Ms. Pelosi did not fully detail that February evening was that some of her party’s most politically imperiled lawmakers were revolting against Mr. Biden’s preferred slogan, “Build back better,” believing it had come to be a toxic phrase that only reminded voters of the party’s failure to pass its sweeping social policy bill. And what the president and his advisers did not tell the speaker was that they had already surveyed “Democrats deliver” with voters — and the response to it was at the bottom of those for the potential slogans they tested, according to people familiar with the research.

. . . Democrats are pleading with him to come up with a sharper message. With inflation hitting another 40-year high and gas prices spiking because of the boycott on Russian oil, they remain angst-ridden about their prospects in the fall, in large part because the president’s approval ratings remain in the 40s, and even lower in some pivotal states, even after a recent bump.

And when Ukraine is lost to the Russians, it will hurt the Democrats even more, I fear, for even though Biden’s done an admirable job there, it will be the loss of a democracy and of an ally on Biden’s watch. He will look weak.

The NYT has a good quiz on The Godfather (part one) since it’s the movie’s 50th anniversary. It’s self-scoring, and I didn’t do all that well (you need a pencil to keep track). It is not an easy quiz! And be careful: the first question is a trick: the rats are metaphorical ones. I suppose the paper doesn’t give a score because that would be meritocratic.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka is trying to make friends with Hili, but it’s not going well:

Kulka: Let’s try to talk.
Hili: Not from this position, first you have to retreat.
In Polish:
Kulka: Spróbujmy porozmawiać.
Hili: Nie z takich pozycji, najpierw musisz się wycofać.

From Lorenzo the Cat‘s Facebook page:

From reader Gregory:

From Jesus of the Day. Do you think this photo is real?

A tweet from God:

From Ricky Gervais. This is the ineffably sad but also beautiful last scene of the last episode of his show “After Life”, emphasizing the ephemerality but beauty of life. I won’t explain it; just watch the series (three seasons). Sheer filmmaking genius.


Tweets from Matthew. This first design, to appear on a Ukrainian postage stamp, is a corker, showing one of those Ukrainian who refused to surrender giving the finger to the Russians:

Ukrainian kitty painting:

This is a great thread because Britain has so many weird place names:

A few more:

Interspecies friendship: human and (I think) a gosling:

41 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. That which was probably intended as a joke, but these days you cannot tell, thanks to the ‘woke’.

    Namely a call to build a rocket that’s not shaped for aerodynamic efficiency but that of a certain part of the female anatomy…

    1. Not for no reason did Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., entitle his 1972 short story about the US NASA program “The Big Space Fuck” (the first time, to my knowledge, that that particular four-letter word ever appeared in the title of a mainstream piece of writing).

  2. 1925 – Roy Haynes, American drummer and composer

    Roy playing and talking with Jon Batiste in 2017 :

    … my favorite recording of his is also one of my favorite recordings :

    Question and Answer
    trio with Pat Metheney and Dave Holland :

    The musicianship shines on this – a three-part conversation. Great tunes too.

    … say, that is fun! There’s a load more interesting stuff there too…

    1. … that link is to the first track, Solar (M. Davis). The whole recording is on YouTube as a decent copy though, if one looks. Pat Metheney’s channel has it.

  3. Oh no…

    My comment had three urls in it – is it in a quarantine or just deleted?

    🙁 …

    … hooray! It came through!

    Thank Ceiling Cat!

  4. The Texas anti-abortion law will engender a delightful snitch culture, which will add to the already fine ambiance of Texas.

    Meanwhile in Missouri, legislation has been introduced prohibiting abortion for ectopic pregnancies.

    Actually, I’m kind of glad about that. Most anti-abortionists are fond of saying that there should be an exception to save the life of the mother. Of course, that was a lie. That was meant to present themselves as “pro-life” and reasonable, but they never actually believed that.

    At least now they are being honest. What they actually believe is that any woman whose body malfunctions reproductively deserves to die, and the more painful the death, the better.


    1. Actually the Missouri bill prohibits unlicensed individuals from providing or administering abortifacients. This bill intends to target sex traffickers. Ectopic pregnancies are included in this provision. Duly licensed medical professionals can still provide treatment to women who have an ectopic pregnancy. As usual, most news reporters don’t bother to read the entire text of the proposed legislation….or deliberately misrepresent it. Both sides are guilty of this….and ultimately it does nothing to help their cause.

      1. “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” (Churchill, attributed not fact-checked.)

  5. 1881 – Alexander II of Russia is assassinated.

    Seems auspicious…

    Also, always good for a laugh.

    1781 – William Herschel discovers Uranus.

    Edited to add:

    This is a great thread because Britain has so many weird place names

    Just to clarify, the pictured sign for Fucking is not in the UK.

  6. On this day:
    1781 – William Herschel discovers Uranus.

    1862 – The Act Prohibiting the Return of Slaves is passed by the United States Congress, effectively annulling the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and setting the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation.

    1881 – Alexander II of Russia is assassinated.

    1930 – The news of the discovery of Pluto is announced by Lowell Observatory. – The discoveries of Uranus and (ex-planet) Pluto share a birthday!

    1940 – The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union officially ends after the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty.

    1943 – The Holocaust: German forces liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Kraków.

    1996 – The Dunblane massacre leads to the death of sixteen primary school children and one teacher in Dunblane, Scotland. – Gun control legislation swiftly followed.

    2020 – President Donald Trump declares the COVID-19 pandemic to be a national emergency in the United States.

    2020 – Breonna Taylor is killed by police officers who were forcibly entering her home in Louisville, Kentucky; her death sparked extensive protests against police brutality.

    1886 – Home Run Baker, American baseball player and manager (d. 1963)

    1911 – L. Ron Hubbard, American author (d. 1986)

    Nailed to the perch:
    1938 – Clarence Darrow, American lawyer and author (b. 1857)

    1995 – Odette Hallowes, French nurse and spy (b. 1912)

    1998 – Judge Dread, English singer-songwriter (b. 1945) – he lived two villages away from where I grew up. One April Fools Day, the residents of Snodland woke up to find all of the signage with the place’s name on changed to read “Dreadland”.

    1. They renamed the village to “Fugging” …

      Makes one wonder whether the village fathers included anyone from Rinehart & Sons, the publishing house for Norman Mailer’s first book, the war novel The Naked and the Dead, which insisted that Mailer remove the thousands of instances of the word “fuck” (or its derivatives) from the novel and replace them with euphemisms. Mailer, as a sort of “fuck you” to the publisher, went through the manuscript and simply changed every “fuck” to “fug.”

      This is the incident that caused actress Tallulah Bankhead, upon being introduced to the then-25-year-old Mailer, to remark “Oh, you’re the young man who doesn’t know how to spell ‘fuck.'”

      The incident also provided the name for the 1960s rock band The Fugs, perhaps best known for their song “CIA Man,” which makes use of the unexpurgated word in its chorus.

  7. You know what – today ought to be called

    International Day of No Jokes about Urine or The Gastrointestinal Tract.

  8. Interspecies friendship: so adorable!

    Is it too much to hope for more intraspecies friendship… to wit Putin and Ukraine

  9. I’ve seen that Ukraine is offering foreign fighters citizenship. Although the Russian armed forces are much larger than the Ukrainian, Putin must keep forces along his borders (especially with NATO), as well as retaining some for internal security. Ukraine, on the other hand, must maintain forces only on the Belorussian border, and can concentrate on the Russian invasion.

    Mr. Biden has made a rookie error in insisting that the US will do nothing that would involve us directly in the war. Even if that is his intention, he has essentially told Putin that Putin can do whatever he wants, and the US won’t intervene. Want to send arms to Ukraine? That would be an act of war, says Mr. Putin, who now knows how far Biden and his caregivers will go. What’s worse is that, given his veto of fighters to Ukraine, he has broadcast his timorousness.

    1. It is crucial that the 30-member NATO nations speak with a consistent voice on the issue of the war in Ukraine — that they will respond with military force, pursuant to their obligations under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, should Putin invade a NATO country, but that, short of this, no NATO nation will engage in a shooting war with Russia.

      Do you really want to risk some misunderstanding, or even ambiguity, about this, what with nuclear warheads hanging in the balance (and with Vladimir Putin apparently entering his Howard-Hughes-circa-1966-isloating-himself-on-the-top-two-floors-of-the-Desert-Inn phase)?

      This is no time for such brinkmanship.

    2. “broadcast his timorousness”—and you, your shallowness of thought.

      I’m happy to provide detail, if this is regarded as over the line.

  10. Just in case any WEIT readers are interested:

    From the sea butterfly to the naval shipworm to the barge-footer, a strange cast of characters is vying for the public’s affection as part of a mollusc of the year competition.

    Researchers in Germany are asking people around the world to vote for their favourite creature out of a list of five nominees. The winner will have its genome sequenced, with scientists extracting DNA to work out more about how it evolved. This is a significant prize for a group of animals that remains largely unexplored from the genetic point of view, with only a few dozen genomes fully sequenced.

    Voting is open until 15 March. More details are in The Guardian‘s article here and there is a link at the bottom to where you can register your vote:

  11. Ukraine now has its own foreign legion, with soldiers from many countries (not mercenaries, as I don’t think they’re getting paid, are fighting with Ukrainian soldiers against the Russians.

    Shades of the International Brigade, including the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, created to fight on the side of the Loyalists during the Spanish Civil War.

  12. Having long heard how Endurance was crushed in the ice, the pix surprised me with images that show it looking pretty well intact. I guess I haven’t seen the crushed aspects yet?

  13. History would have been different had Alexander II not been assassinated, too, possibly even extending to what’s going on in Ukraine today, since AlexII had a new, liberalized constitution in his pocket that he intended to sign the next day. Instead, Alexander III tore it up.

  14. I loved After Life! That final scene was a tear-jerker. The first time I watched it, I kind of caught that the seasons turned from summer to autumn, but this time I was able to rewatch it slowly to see it happen. Also, toward the end when Lenny took the photo of Tony — and then did a double-take when he saw the photo — It made me wonder what Lenny saw in that photo. I never noticed that before.

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