Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

March 14, 2022 • 7:30 am

Where we are now: According to the Amundsen’s real-time map, we have crossed the Drake Passaage and are about to head through the Beagle Channel toward Punta Arenas. I don’t know when we will dock there, and have no idea about my fate (or that of any of the passengers).

What with the seas and the winds, it was a very rough night, with things falling off shelves and the magnetically-closed closet doors swinging open. I’ve long ago learned to put my computer on the floor at night lest it fall off the table and break, but last night almost everything not secured was in danger of falling to the cabin floor.

And, from the balcony, here’s the first land I’ve seen in nearly two days. The sea is still a bit choppy, but things aren’t flying all over the ship, and there’s even a bit of sunshine.

Good morning on a Chilean Monday, March 14, 2022, which means not only is it the start of the work week, but it’s National Potato Chip Day. Because this tasty comestible was likely nvented in England, the proper name is “crisps,” not “potato chips.” But “potato chips” is too entrenched in the U.S.

Mo the Runner Duck is cheerful that it’s Monday (h/t: Matthew)

*Is this some good news in the Ukraine/Russia fight? The NYT reports that Russia and Ukraine are having “talks”, though Zelensky (one “y” or two; it’s transliterated) hasn’t scheduled a Zoom call with Putin. As the paper notes, “Both sides have said that the gap in demands has narrowed ahead of this round of talks,” but of course we don’t know what that means. Since I don’t know what it’s like to be a Putin, I can only speculate. But I doubt he’d pull out of Ukraine if they simply promised not to join NATO.

The Russians continue their relentless assault on Ukraine, now shelling the country’s west, where many have hoped to find a war-free refuge. The Russians are shelling civilian areas as well as passenger trains. Estimates of damage to Ukrainian infrastructure are now at $114 billion.

*The Washington Post reports that now Kyiv itself is under fire:

A residential building in Kyiv’s Obolon district was struck by Russian shelling Monday, according to the Ukrainian State Emergency Service, forcing residents to flee as firefighters tried to extinguish the flames and rescue those trapped inside. . .

. . . In the Kurenivka neighborhood, the wreckage of a rocket also landed in a street on Monday, killing one person and injuring six others, according to the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko.

But this is nice:

Emergency workers also helped evacuate pets.

*Some financial experts are beginning to speculate that the financial squeeze on Russia may eventually force it to default on the country’s debts. From the Guardian:

Russian default on its debts after western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine is no longer “improbable”, but would not trigger a global financial crisis, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Sunday.

The Washington-based fund’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, said the sanctions imposed by the United States and other nations were already having a “severe” impact on the Russian economy and would trigger a deep recession there this year. The war in Ukraine will also drive up food and energy prices, leading to hunger in Africa, she added.

Georgieva told CBS’s Face the Nation programme: “In terms of servicing debt obligations, I can say that we no longer think of Russian default as an improbable event. Russia has the money to service its debt, but cannot access it. What I’m more concerned about is that there are consequences that go beyond Ukraine and Russia.”

Last week, the World Bank’s chief economist, Carmen Reinhart, warned that Russia and its ally Belarus were “mightily close” to default.

But since the debt isn’t huge as national debts go, these experts aren’t yet worried that such a default would trigger an international financial crisis.

*Surprisingly, some First Amendment scholars are touting loosening the Amendment to make it easier to prosecute defamation or libel cases that they see as spreading societal harm. As the New York Times reports,

The lawyers and First Amendment scholars who have made it their life’s work to defend the well-established but newly threatened constitutional protections for journalists don’t usually root for the media to lose in court.

But that’s what is happening with a series of recent defamation lawsuits against right-wing outlets that legal experts say could be the most significant libel litigation in recent memory.

The suits, which are being argued in several state and federal courts, accuse Project Veritas, Fox News, The Gateway Pundit, One America News and others of intentionally promoting and profiting from false claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election, and of smearing innocent civil servants and businesses in the process.

If the outlets prevail, these experts say, the results will call into question more than a half-century of precedent that created a clear legal framework for establishing when news organizations can be held liable for publishing something that’s not true.

The controversy turns on whether defamatory reporting with “actual malice” in intent should be construed more strictly than it is now. The balance is, as always, between freedom of speech and the likelihood of harm, but in this case the First-Amendment lawyers have a point.

*While the world’s attention is focused on Ukraine, we should spare a thought for the Middle East, particularly what Masih has tweeted below.

It’s reported by the New York Times, which says this:

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that it had put 81 people to death in what was the kingdom’s largest mass execution in years, despite recent promises to curb its use of the death penalty.

In a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi Ministry of Interior said the people had been executed for “multiple heinous crimes that left a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers dead.” It did not say how they had been executed.

. . . Rights groups condemned the executions, saying they flew in the face of claims by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, that the country was overhauling its justice system and limiting its use of the death penalty.

The comment below is by Ali Adubusi, director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights:

Mr. Adubusi’s rights group said that of the cases it had been able to monitor and document among the 81 people executed, it had found no charges that merited the death penalty under the criteria that Saudi Arabia has made public. Some of the charges were related to participation in human rights demonstrations, the group said.

. . . Rights groups said the number of executions carried out on Saturday far outstripped those put to death in the kingdom’s two most recent mass executions: one in 2019, in which 37 were killed, and the other in 2016, when 47 were executed.

*According to The Forward,  the Sierra Club has canceled several trips to Israel because of pressure from “anti-Zionist” groups (h/t Orli)

The decision came after activists alleged the organization was “greenwashing the conflict” and “providing legitimacy to the Israeli state, which is engaged in apartheid against the Palestinian people,” a volunteer leader with the nonprofit summarized in an email this week.

“Greenwashing,” like “pinkwashing” which refers to LGBTQ rights, is a term used by critics of Israel to refer to the act of obscuring Israel’s treatment of Palestinians by focusing on the country’s liberal environmental values or policies.

News of the Sierra Club’s decision came in a mass email obtained by J. that was sent out by Mary Owens, the chair of the Sierra Club’s National Outings team, to hundreds of volunteers who lead part-recreational, part-educational, conservation-focused trips around the world.

. . . The email from Owens, who said she was not authorized to speak to the press, described the Sierra Club’s decision to cancel its trips — one scheduled for this month, and another for March 2023 — as the result of an advocacy push from one “Jewish American activist” and a host of both progressive and anti-Zionist groups, including the pro-Palestinian Adalah Justice Project, the Indigenous rights group the NDN Collective, the Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Sunrise Movement and the Movement for Black Lives.

Note that the Sierra Club is now engaged in political activity—a boycott of trips to Israel in response to Israel’s “apartheid state” status—that has nothing to do with its mission. What is stupid about all this is that it is Palestine, not Israel, that is the apartheid state, but Israel is the state demonized by “progressives.” Were I a member of the Sierra Club, I’d quit over this; it’s not targeted at anything but the state of Israel itself, and is anti-Semitic.

*According to the New York Post, the stature of Theodor Roosevelt that once stood at the American Museum of Natural History, but was removed because it showed Roosevelt astride his horse, but flanked by a walking Native American on one side and an African (not a slave or African-American) on the other, is now the object of a petition that seeks to melt down the statue. It was headed to the Theodore Roosevelt Museum in Medora, North Dakota, but these petitioning Pecksniffs won’t rest until the statue is destroyed. (h/t: Matthew and Cesar) A quote from the Post:

“New Yorkers cannot simply dump their toxic cultural products in other communities,” according to an online petition by the academics started last month. “The city should reject the transfer of its undesirable waste elsewhere. In this case, the monument’s bronze content could be melted down or recycled for a better purpose or simply disposed of.”

. . . “The Public Design Commission approved the loan of the statue to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library with the understanding that the library will establish an advisory council composed of representatives of the indigenous tribal and black communities, historians, scholars, and artists to guide the reconsideration of the statue,” City Hall spokesman Charles Lutvak said.

The statue was removed at night on January 20. Well that could just be to avoid disrupting traffic rather than as a sneaky and surreptitious act, but the statue was on loan, not destroyed. It’s a sign of the moral hysterics of these Pecksniffs that it won’t do for the statue to be both relocated and “contextualized.” No, it has to be totally destroyed. Welcome to Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Photo by Caitlin Ochs

The second link in this note goes to a letter Greg Mayer wrote to the AMNH defending the presence and content of the statue.

The petition had drawn more than 275 signatures since it was posted on Tumblr last month. It was started by members of Decolonize This Place, a left-wing activist group which pushed for the statue’s removal.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej are communing about Ukraine/Russia, and Malgorzata explains a bit:

The situation is so complicated that it’s difficult not only to know which information to believe but even to understand one’s own feelings about it. Hili is commiserating with Andrzej saying a platitude used in such situations and Andrzej is answering as if the platitude meant something.

Hili: I know what you feel now.
A: Sometimes I don’t know myself.
In Polish:
Hili: Ja wiem co teraz czujesz.
Ja: Chwilami ja sam nie wiem.
And here’s little Kulka, who isn’t so little any more:

We haven’t had a Leon monologue in a while, as he’s been quiescent during winter. Here the Dark Tabby senses the approach of Spring:

Leon: Gotta stretch the paws after winter.

In Polish: Trzeba rozprostować kości po zimie

I asked Malgorzata if any Ukrainian refugees had made their way to the town of Dobrzyn. Her response.

We still do not have any refugees. In our tiny town the fire brigade and school together prepared 40 places and they are still empty.  At the same time in Warsaw and other big cities people are sleeping on the floor of the railway stations or in huge halls with hundreds of beds close together. I suspect that this crazy situation is the result of the total lack of coordination from the state authorities. Everything is done by private people, small charitable organizations and by local authorities.  And new refugees are coming in thousands every day! Yesterday Russians bombed an Ukrainian place 20 km from Polish border.

From Nicole:

From Stefan. When I was younger I didn’t believe this was a thing, and so looked it up. It turns out there are several papers in medical journals on the issue, and the usual excuse for the accident is like this, “I was vacuuming in my dressing gown when the gown came open and the vacuum cleaner sucked in my penis.”

From Facebook:


The Tweet of God, who now #StandsWithUkraine:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a prisoner who lasted 11 days in the camp.

Tweets from Matthew. This first one seems to be a Russian women who is doing antiwar work outside Russia:

An ill-timed selfie. I wonder if that’s the communications tower in Kyiv:

So often the result of the violence inflicted in Ukraine is to play music:

And that reaction isn’t just in Ukraine. Russian rapper Morgenshtern may well be in deep trouble now.

Interspecies love (a ménage á trois, in fact); from The Dodo, of course:

Another example of mimicry. I’m not sure why they haven’t done the observation to see if individuals really can change color. See another example of mimicry below:

Can you spot the Bargibant’s Seahorse? This is a very tough one, but you can find the reveal here, with the animal circled.

41 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

    1. on the basis that “Zelenskyy is the transliteration on his passport

      Fair grounds for confidence. Until you meet a passport that has two different transliterations on one page. The wife is still dealing with the consequences of that – some documentation with one transliteration, some documents with the other.

  1. On this day:
    1794 – Eli Whitney is granted a patent for the cotton gin.

    1901 – Utah governor Heber Manning Wells vetoes a bill that would have eased restriction on polygamy.

    1903 – Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the first national wildlife refuge in the US, is established by President Theodore Roosevelt.

    1939 – Slovakia declares independence under German pressure. – It’s deja vu all over again in eastern Ukraine…

    1961 – A USAF B-52 bomber crashes near Yuba City, California whilst carrying nuclear weapons.

    1982 – The South African government bombs the headquarters of the African National Congress in London.

    1836 – Isabella Beeton, English author of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (d. 1865) – When she died she was only 29, contrary to the popular image of her as a middle-aged matron.

    1854 – Paul Ehrlich, German physician and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1915)

    1863 – Casey Jones, American engineer (d. 1900)

    1879 – Albert Einstein, German-American physicist, engineer, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1955)

    1933 – Michael Caine, English actor and author – It’s Michael Caine”s birthday. Not a lot of people know that!

    1934 – Eugene Cernan, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (d. 2017) – The last person (so far) to stand on the moon.

    1948 – Billy Crystal, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter

    1997 – Simone Biles, American gymnast

    Bereft of life:
    1883 – Karl Marx, German philosopher and theorist (b. 1818)

    1932 – George Eastman, American inventor and businessman, founded Eastman Kodak (b. 1854)

    1976 – Busby Berkeley, American director and choreographer (b. 1895) – Invented the dance kaleidoscope, or something….!

    2014 – Tony Benn, English politician, Postmaster General of the United Kingdom (b. 1925) – His full name was Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn, but I’ve no idea where he fits into the sprawling Wedgwood family.

    1. 2022 – yesterday William Hurt died. He was 71 just a week or so short of 72. Like me, born in 1950.

  2. Verdi’s Va, pensiero (“fly my thoughts”, also known as the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco makes me misty at the best of times, so I find this opera chorus performing in the street in Ukraine is particularly moving. And here’s a complete performance.

  3. I am not sure why, if these lawsuits are moving forward, we would need any modification to our approach to the First Amendment. That is unless we wish to prohibit speech about election fraud. Or perhaps it’s just false claims. But who decides whether claims are false, if not the courts? The government which would be the home of people targeted by claims of election fraud? Might as well let them be arbiters of false claims about corruption. Once we start picking and choosing to what topics free speech applies, it’s gone.

    1. Sure. That is exactly the way Russian govt. works. Give us total free speech so we can run propaganda and lies and BS on TV 24 hours a day so the Russian people get to see bull shit television until it is running out of their ears. Come to think of it, that would also be Fox. Damn that freedom is great.

      1. But you know it is not disinformation friendly to the state that is going to be cracked down upon as false claims. When the government changes and it gores the liberal anti-racism critical-theory ox your tune will change, too.

        Law courts are the best we have at determining the specific truth about whether a defendant violated an unambiguously drafted law. They are not good at determining the truth of a more general claim about the universe. Does Roundup cause cancer? We don’t really need to prove it to award damages to people with cancer because the makers of Roundup have deep pockets. All we really need to prove is who makes Roundup. Science might eventually determine the truth about Roundup but the plaintiffs want their damages award now. And they aren’t going to give it back if the cancer claim is someday debunked as pseudoscience. The courts would be similarly maladroit about determining the truth of a claim about election fraud or critical theory.

        Your visceral glee at the prospect of shutting down Fox News is not a good argument for your case.

        1. I think we are talking about different aspects of free speech. I could care less about roundup and what is causing cancer. If science can’t find the answer then the lawyers get rich with it. Or do you think the lawyers care. I’m saying that our “glee” for the first amendment allows places like Fox to become the bible for republicans and assists in the creation of Trump the president. We can say oh well, that is just the bad affect of free speech and we just have to live with it. Bring on the next Trump. Or maybe we could admit the public is just too stupid for all this free speech.

          1. I could accept that the public is too stupid for free speech were it not for the fact that whoever gets to regulate the speech would be just as biased and open to ideological fads.

            1. Yep.

              Randall et al. need to play the ‘you cut the cake, I select the piece’ speech game. Randall (player 1) decides what power the government has to censor. I (player 2) decide what speech to use it on. And player 1, fair warning, I really don’t like you or your ideas.

              Strong censorship powers only looks good superficially, for folks who either don’t think through what happens if they don’t get to be player 1 AND player 2, or who naively think player 2 will always be someone who believes the same things they do.

              1. What is rather baffling about some of the US left is that, despite the very recent and blatant example of Trump and his appointments to overseer roles such as the Supreme Court, and despite the even more blatant example of Putin (who was, originally, elected to the Presidential role), they still seem oblivious to what could go wrong if you give the state or de-facto monopolies too much power to control speech and shut down “misinformation”.

                You’re right with your cake-cutting game. Or, put another way, Rawl’s “veil of ignorance”, where you should decide the rules by which speech is regulated without knowing before-hand whether you’d be among those getting to decide what gets censored, or whether you’d be in the unpopular minority getting censored.

          2. If science can’t find the answer then the lawyers get rich with it.

            The lawyers will get rich anyway, negotiating the NDAs to go with the out-of-court settlements before a case finally goes to a conclusion. You need the science to come to an answer outside the R&D departments of the manufacturers, and any competent manufacturer’s lawyers are going to work hard to prevent that.

        2. I think courts are capable fora (or at least the best we have) for determining if a falsehood was propagated with “actual malice” — viz., with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard for its truth.

          In all instances involving matters of public interest, regardless of the source or of the source’s political persuasion, colorable doubts should be resolved in favor of the speaker or writer, so as to give free speech sufficient breathing space — the question of whose ox is getting the goring be damned.

    2. I think the courts (and juries) should be the arbiter of false claims. To avoid the filing of numerous frivolous lawsuits, there should be high bar for getting a case adjudicated but that’s the way to fight the proliferation of fake news, IMHO.

  4. What reason is there to disintegrate _any_ artifact? “Waste”? Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, right?

    … perhaps there will materialize a “Museum of Racism”.

    1. … perhaps there will materialize a “Museum of Racism”.

      Is the lot next to the Creation Museum vacant?

  5. … Rights groups condemned the executions, saying they flew in the face of claims by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, that the country was overhauling its justice system and limiting its use of the death penalty.

    Wait, MbS lied about a thing? Who’da thunk it? He’s heretofore been such an unfailing fount of veracity.

  6. “Greenwashing,” like “pinkwashing” which refers to LGBTQ rights, is a term used by critics of Israel to refer to the act of obscuring Israel’s treatment of Palestinians by focusing on the country’s liberal environmental values or policies.

    My initial thought: “why would a Sierra Club tour be saying anything at all about Israeli government policies? Aren’t they just taking people on tours?”
    Second thought: “oh that’s right. To fanatics, silence or not making active efforts to oppose something = supporting it. Saying nothing = ‘focusing on the country’s liberal policies’.”

  7. British columnist Nick Cohen, writing at the Persuasion site, discusses how both the far left and far right have converged to become Putin’s sycophants, although for very different reasons. He notes that the “left has degenerated into thrashing factions, and parts of it subscribe to the doctrine that any enemy of the West is better than the West having no enemies at all.” For the far left, anyone that opposes “western imperialism “can’t be all bad. For the far right, Cohen asserts “Christian conservatives in the West are able to see Russia as an ally in the struggle against secularism, feminism, LGBT rights and all human rights.” Never mind that Russia has exceedingly high abortion and divorce rates.

    Cohen concludes:

    “Of the two, the right-wing Putinists are the most dangerous for a reason anyone who considers themselves liberal or socialist should learn: The right, and in our age the far right, is much better at winning. Their indulgence of Putin is terrifying and will become a global menace again if Donald Trump retakes the U.S. presidency. Left-wing pro-Putinism does less damage because the extreme left is in retreat after its flourishing in the 2010s, and rarely comes close to power.”

    Cohen’s column is important because he draws attention to a facet of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has not been discussed enough: it can stoke extremism in lands thousands of miles away from the actual fighting.

    1. I think in some ways Cohen is full of it. The republican party of Trump is for Russia and Putin because Trump is full of Putin. He has been for many years because that is where the money comes from. Has nothing to do with any doctrine or reason other than money. If Trump was getting rich off the Chinese the republicans would love them too. The religious right left their morals in the ditch long ago, if they ever had any.

  8. … according to the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko.

    If Zelenskyy ever gets his Zoom call with Putin, maybe he should suggest that they resolve the ongoing war through the ancient and venerable tradition of single combat. Let Vladimir Putin — who’s always touting himself to his Russian subjects as such a macho tough guy — climb into the boxing ring with one of the Klitschko brothers.

    I gotta admit that my own biases are such that when the Klitschkos arrived on the heavyweight boxing scene in the ’90s, I viewed them as kinda cyborg-like. But over time, although I didn’t always root for them, my respect for them grew. For guys their size — 6’6” and 6’7″ — they didn’t just rely on big punches as one might expect (although both could hit with knockout power). Despite their unorthodox styles, those cats could box — throw jabs and combinations, stick-and-move, out-point opponents. Plus, how many other prizefighters hold PhDs and speak multiple languages?

    Also, when their fighting days were done, instead of staying in the west on the Eurotrash celebrity circuit — going on talk shows and dating starlets — they returned to the homeland to do it some good: one as mayor of Kyiv, the other in the Ukraine military. And they remain there still, putting themselves in harm’s way, fighting the good fight for their nation’s freedom against Russian aggression

    Mucho respeto, and much love, to the Klitschko brothers.

    1. Free for the crew, but I’m no longer crew. It’s bloody expensive for the passengers, so I do all my laundry in the sink, as I always have on this ship. It works fine as I have just a few garments that dry quickly (I packed light).

  9. Jerry, your link to Wikipedia regarding the invention of the potato crisp (chip) give a link to the inventor, which gives this:

    William Kitchiner M.D. (1775–1827) was an English optician, amateur musician and cook.[1] A celebrity chef, he was a household name during the 19th century, and his 1817 cookbook, The Cook’s Oracle, was a bestseller in the United Kingdom and the United States.[2] The origin of the crisp (also known as potato chip) is attributed to Kitchiner, with The Cook’s Oracle including the earliest known recipe.[3][4]

    He was born and died in London, and his nationality was British.

  10. So often the result of the violence inflicted in Ukraine is to play music …

    If music be the food of resistance, play on.

  11. I wonder if that’s the communications tower in Kyiv

    It was the Eiffel Tower. The video uses visual effects to imagine what an air strike on Paris might look like. A bit later on we see a shot with the Sacré Coeur in the distance, also a shot of the Seine.

    1. Yes I thought so – Jerry has been a few times!

      It shows how easy it is to fake & fool people, so this sort of spoof is actively harmful unless you want to cast doubt on video evidence of real atrocities.

      I was in Kiev but in 1981 so my memories are hazy.

  12. Though I would enjoy seeing Fox news taken to court, I would be apprehensive about loosening the the First Amendment to make it easier to prosecute defamation or libel cases. The UK’s easily-abused libel laws have been used to protect the high and mighty and crack down on investigative journalists.

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