Tuesday: Hili dialogue

March 15, 2022 • 11:05 am

NOTE: I know that some people worry when the Hili dialogue doesn’t appear on time, but this morning we’ve been traipsing around a fjord where there is no Internet. I’m fine but couldn’t send this off before our early morning jaunt described below.  We’re back in the Beagle Channel now and I’ll post this.

Where we are now:  The first news is that we’re going back to port this afternoon, the 15th, and passengers will leave on the day they were supposed to—March 17—after cooling their heels for a day in Punta Arenas (departure is usually right after you dock). Hurtigruten apparently found it more feasible to end the trip on its normal date than to have to rearrange the many already-booked plane flights needed to get the passengers home. But that means two days moored in Punta Arenas. I’m scheduled to give a mini-lecture on “What is the theory of evolution, and is it ‘only a theory'”? tomorrow in an attempt to purvey a bit of education to passengers who would (and should) rather be seeing penguins.

But I also learned that I’ll get a second cruise, which made me happy to hear!. Let’s  hope the next one goes better.

The ship’s real-time streaming map shows that we crossed the Beagle Channel last night (too dark to see glaciers) and are now sitting at the entrance of Garibaldi Fjord, one of the many glacial fjords in Patagonia.  This one is in Alberto de Agostini National Park.

Our plan was to take Zodiacs around the Fjord and approach the glacier (but not too closely, as it calves!). But as I write this, the fjord is clogged with ice and it’s raining, so the expedition planners are reassessing the situation.

UPDATE: We went out despite the frigid rain. I forgot my gloves and got my hands frozen, but all is well after a hot shower. Pictures today or tomorrow.

Contra the Hurtigruten description at the link above, the Garibaldi glacier is growing, not shrinking, at least according to our glacier expert.  But it’s of interest for two reasons:

One of the most important things to see in Garibaldi fjord is the retreating Garibaldi glacier. Regarded as one of Chile’s most beautiful glaciers, this mammoth wall of sapphire and teal-colored ice doesn’t disappoint, as it towers over visitors.

A notable feature of the Garibaldi glacier is its medial moraine. What’s a medial moraine and why is it so notable? A moraine is a formation of unconsolidated rock and debris that’s carried along by a glacier, while a medial moraine is one that forms when two glaciers meet, meaning that the Garibaldi glacier is the coming together of two separate ice flows.

A closeup of our position. We have entered the fjord, but as I write this (about 7:30 am Chilean time), it’s raining and the channel is blocked with small floating ice. This may cancel our planned Zodiac tour around the fjord (JAC it didn’t), and our approach to the glacier itself (not getting too close: these things calve!). T

his is a way of giving some fun to the passengers (many who will want some refund) rather than than sitting docked for over two day in Punta Arenas, where we’d be otherwise. If weather and ice permits, I’ll get in a Zodiac and take some photos. Otherwise, we’re stuck with photos from the deck:

Anyway, good morning from a glacial Patagonia on the cruelest day: Tuesday, March 15, 2022.. It’s National Peanut Lover’s Day, with the position of the apostrophe implying that only one lover of peanuts is to be fêted. Who is it? They should either remove the apostrophe or put it at the end of “Lovers”.

The photo from my balcony this morning: the entrance to the fjord:

*The headline in today’s NYT is somewhat heartening (click on screenshot to read).

Although Kyiv is still under heavy bombardment, the NYT says this (it’s hard to read with the dicey internet here):

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Tuesday stepped up his appeals to Russian soldiers and citizens appalled by the war as evidence grew that Russia’s advance had stalled across multiple fronts.

Further, there are two meetings taking place, one between Ukraine and Russia (not Zelensky and Putin), and this one:

The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia traveled to Kyiv on Tuesday to express solidarity toward Ukraine and present “a broad package of support” from the European Union, in a visit that was kept secret until the last minute as fighting rages around the Ukrainian capital.

The European leaders are set to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal, the office of the Polish prime minister said in a statement, on a day when talks between Kyiv and Moscow are also set to continue.

As for the “stalling” of the Russians, the Washington Post analyzes it:

“The Russians were not ready for unconventional warfare,” said Rob Lee, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and an expert on Russian defense policy. “They were not ready for unconventional tactics. They are not sure how to deal with this insurgency, guerilla-warfare-type situation.”

To be sure, most military analysts and Western officials still predict that Russian forces will eventually encircle Kyiv and push into the capital, possibly aided by airstrikes. While this could prove true, it’s far from clear whether Russia will prevail.

. . .For the Ukrainian forces, this war is one of attrition. They appear to be trying to slow and wear down the Russian military, creating conditions for a stalemate on the outer boundaries of Kyiv. That would buy the Ukrainians time for other pressures on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Off the battlefield, these include tightening international sanctions on Russia and diplomatic efforts for Russian concessions. On the fronts, Putin’s forces face more Western heavy weaponry delivered to Ukraine, and a growing global outrage for killing civilians and bombing residential areas and hospitals — acts that could be potential war crimes.

And this bit of optimism:

In interviews, Ukrainian soldiers also said they capitalized on the Russians’ own flaws, including using predictable strategies, a lack of knowledge of local terrain and even a surprising unpreparedness for a grinding conflict. Reports have surfaced on social media and on battlefields of Russian soldiers running out of food, water and gas for their vehicles. Some have reportedly surrendered after they got lost or due to low morale. Russian military convoys have slowed down or halted due to mechanical failures.

“Ukraine’s main game is a game for time,” said Michael Kofman, director of Russian studies at the Center for Naval Analyses. “To try to do something else is going to waste a lot of military potential they have available. Are they in a position to drive Russians forces out of Ukraine? No. Are they in a position to win the war? Yes.”

I’d like to see nothing more than Putin in his stooges in the dock at the Hague, defending themselves against war crimes, but that seems unlikely, for they’d have to leave Russia to be arrested. Well, at least they would be stuck at home should these charges ever be filed. But I would happily admit that I was wrong when predicting that Russia would win militarily and either take over the government of Ukraine or absorb it. And I’d be elated if, after pushing out Putin, Ukraine would join NATO. But what a loss of lives it would be, all because of one man’s hubris. So far, I think, the Allies have played this well, but couldn’t have done so without the backbone of the Ukrainian people, sick to death of Russia’s bullying. It’s entirely possible that Biden might come out of this one looking strong and Putin weak, but the toll of lives casts a pall over these political speculations. 1

*The NYT also has a thought-provoking op-ed about Kim Jong-un and his recent ramped-up testing of missiles, “Kim Jong-Un is just getting started.”  It’s by Jean Lee, who reported from Pyongyang for 9 years, up to 2017, and knows the country’s politicas as well as anyone.

Now there’s been a burst of ballistic missile tests in the new year: seven in January alone — an unprecedented pace for Pyongyang — and two in the past few weeks, prompting the U.N. Security Council to huddle for emergency meetings and drawing condemnation from some members.

If it seems as if North Korea wants us to sit up and pay attention — Don’t forget, we’re still building missiles and nuclear weapons! — that’s certainly one of its objectives.

. . . The tests are to ensure that Kim Jong-un has fancy new hardware to show off to his people in a landmark year and, in the longer term, to gain more leverage in future nuclear negotiations.

And what does the pudgy Dear Leader want from the world?

. . .It may seem as if Mr. Kim doesn’t want to talk. But my experience tells me otherwise: The tests are intended to compel the United States to engage and ultimately to pay to keep him from using those weapons.

He’s just not in any hurry. Since he’s playing the long game, the United States must do the same if it wants to successfully confront Mr. Kim’s nuclear ambitions. That includes maintaining consistent, measured messaging — acknowledging the urgency around North Korea’s nuclear ambitions without handing Pyongyang ammunition by panicking at every provocation.

*Here’s a fascinating article from the AP about the skyrocketing number of Russians who get to Mexico, where they don’t need visas, and then try to cross to the U.S. by claiming asylum. A much higher proportion of them succeed than do would-be immigrants from Central America:

Russians are virtually guaranteed a shot at asylum if they touch U.S. soil, even though President Joe Biden has kept sweeping, Trump-era asylum restrictions. Border agents can deny migrants a chance to seek asylum on the grounds that it risks spreading COVID-19. But cost, logistics and strained diplomatic relations make it difficult to send people of some nationalities home.

. . . Yuliya Pashkova, a San Diego attorney who represents Russian asylum-seekers, traces the spike in arrivals to the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny last year. Asylum-seekers include Putin opponents, gay people, Muslims and business owners who have been extorted by authorities.

Feel free (including regular Jez) to post the notable events, births, and deaths on the Ides of March.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are enjoying each other’s company during naptime. Note how they’ve made friends. But Hili still doesn’t like Kulka!

Hili: Do not disturb.
A: Disturb doing what?
Hili: We are trying not to think.
Hili: Nie przeszkadzaj.
Ja: W czym?
Hili: Próujemy nie myśleć.

Duck socks for sale! Go here to get your own for only $7.88:

From Gregory:

The symbol is real and the content (even if fabricated) is true—so long as we’re talking about Canada geese or their domesticated version. However, a real humane society would know how to spell “squirrels”!

Tweets from Matthew:

An old lady flees Ukraine with just her cat and her robe. This is sad and adorable at the same time. I wish her well in Warsaw.

A video retweeted by Matthew. The words on the first woman’s car are simply that: “Two words.” Presumably they imply “stop war”: and they get her detained. Then another woman gets detailed for apparently supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian police are bonkers!

More hyped up Russian cops, detaining a woman with a blank sign!

Google translation of the tweet below: “A huge projectile is taken out of the window of a residential building in Chernihiv.”

Matthew’s comment: “I guess they defused it but with Ukrainians you never know.” I wouldn’t put it past them to use it against the Russians, either . . .

Remember the photo in the second tweet below? The fate of the injured pregnant woman (grim) is recounted by The New York Times.

Russian propaganda is not only detestable, but as easy to see through as a sheet of Saran Wrap. And it’s sad to hear that, after having seen this picture many times, we now know that both the woman and her baby have died. From the NYT:

The A.P. said that after the Russian strike on March 9, the woman was taken to another hospital. Realizing that she was losing her baby, the news organization said, she pleaded with medics: “Kill me now!”

Neither the woman nor her baby could be saved. The hospital workers did not get her name, The A.P. reported, before her husband and father retrieved her body.

And a similar tweet:

One more on Ukraine:

Oy! I thought everyone knew how to make pasta.

The perfect athleticism of this kitten!

42 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I assume you don’t get any intelligent design believers at your lectures on a trip like this. More likely, people wanting to further educate themselves on evolution.

  2. If Russia doesn’t know how to deal with an insurgency after Afghanistan and Chechnya, that really says something about the leadership of the Russian Army. And not knowing the terrain? Wow. It really does seem like they thought this was going to be a literal walk-over, and clearly had no contingencies in place for dealing with serious resistance. Another strike against Russian leadership.

    1. I think it’s more a matter no Russian general wanting to be the one to tell Putin his war will cost lots of money and resources, a long time, many lives, etc., etc. so nobody told him that. They all probably told him how wonderfully easy it would be, he approves battle and logistics plans based on that assumption, and this happens.

      The same problem happens here too. Remember when Bush II forced Gen. Eric Shinsheki to retire for publicly saying that occupying Iraq after the war would take a couple hundred thousand troops? You dispute Rumsfeld’s ridiculous numbers? Then out you go. Have US public estimates of force, money, and time required for conflicts, since probably the 1970s, ever matched what it actually took?

      When you have leadership that punishes bad news, then bad news tends to get diluted the further up the chain of command it travels. Even when that dilution leads to a high chance of disaster (see also Challenger o-rings, for another example).

      1. “Are they in a position to drive Russians forces out of Ukraine? No. Are they in a position to win the war? Yes.”
        As the great general Zhukov said: “strategies and tactics win battles, but logistics win wars” I think the Ukranians (and Biden) have this great strategy to go for the Russian logistics (and economy). The Jugular.
        It is somehow ironic that a country where NATO cannot intervene, is protecting NATO and the West, nay, the world. We are deeply indebted to those heroic Ukranians.

      2. I think it’s more a matter no Russian general wanting to be the one to tell Putin his war will cost lots of money and resources, a long time, many lives, etc., etc. so nobody told him that. They all probably told him how wonderfully easy it would be, he approves battle and logistics plans based on that assumption, and this happens.

        I don’t think that’s quite right. I think nobody was prepared to tell Putin how woefully bad the operational readiness of the armed forces was. If you’ve siphoned off 50% of your units diesel to sell to Russian farmers, you’re not going to tell your superiors that, are you.

        Given the size of the Russian economy even before the sanctions and the size of the Russian military, they must have been starved of funds. Training would not have been done, equipment would not have been serviced, not even basic things such as moving vehicles around to prevent tyre degradation. This should all be obvious to anybody with half a brain but, probably in Russia, reporting bad news up the chain of command could be career limiting.

    2. Russia left Afghanistan more than 30 years ago. There’s probably nobody left in their armed services who remembers the lessons of Afghanistan and maybe there weren’t any useful lessons. After all they lost. As I understand it , they dealt with the problems in Chechnya simply by levelling the place. They could try the same tactics in Ukraine, but they probably don’t have enough ordnance to do that – well, conventional ordnance.

      Anyway, the insurgency hasn’t started yet. Russia is still fighting a regular war against Ukraine and it’s painfully obvious they weren’t prepared for even that.

  3. On this day:
    44 BC – The assassination of Julius Caesar takes place.

    1917 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicates the Russian throne, ending the 304-year Romanov dynasty. – I’m still hoping for 1917 to play out again, with Russian soldiers “voting with their feet” and throwing out the tyrant when they get home.

    1927 – The first Women’s Boat Race between the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge takes place on The Isis in Oxford.

    1939 – Germany occupies Czechoslovakia.

    1939 – Carpatho-Ukraine declares itself an independent republic, but is annexed by Hungary the next day.

    1943 – World War II: Third Battle of Kharkov: The Germans retake the city of Kharkov from the Soviet armies in bitter street fighting. – The Russians are fighting in the streets there again… So much for Fukuyama’s “The End of History”.

    1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to the Selma crisis, tells U.S. Congress “We shall overcome” while advocating the Voting Rights Act.

    2011 – Beginning of the Syrian Civil War.

    2019 – Fifty-one people are killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings.

    2019 – Beginning of the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests. – Sadly, democracy there is dead now.

    Births:
    1767 – Andrew Jackson, American general, judge, and politician, 7th President of the United States (d. 1845)

    1854 – Emil von Behring, German physiologist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1917)

    1912 – Lightnin’ Hopkins, American blues singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1982)

    1933 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, American lawyer and judge (d. 2020)

    1941 – Mike Love, American singer-songwriter and musician

    1943 – David Cronenberg, Canadian actor, director, and screenwriter

    1943 – Sly Stone, American singer-songwriter, musician, and producer

    1947 – Ry Cooder, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer

    Petitioners (or not) at the Pearly Gates
    1937 – H. P. Lovecraft, American short story writer, editor, and novelist (b. 1890)

    1959 – Lester Young, American saxophonist and clarinet player (b. 1909)

    1998 – Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician and author (b. 1903) – “Don’t call me Mister!”

    2003 – Thora Hird, English actress (b. 1911)

    2014 – Scott Asheton, American drummer (b. 1949) – Remarkably, Iggy is still with us, though.

    1. Like “the Selfish Gene,” Fukuyama’s “The End of History” is easily misinterpreted when its title is taken literally. Fukuyama did not predict that events would stop happening. He even wrote that the victory of capitalist liberal democracy, the most just and viable political order ever conceived, could create a kind of boredom that would lead to violence and war:

      “The decline of community life suggests that in the future, we risk becoming secure and self-absorbed last men, devoid of…striving for higher goals in our pursuit of private comforts. But the opposite danger exists as well, namely, that we will return to being first men engaged in bloody and pointless prestige battles, only this time with modern weapons…Those who remain dissatisfied will always have the potential to restart history, because the virtues and ambitions called forth by war are unlikely to find expression in liberal democracies…”

      “If men cannot struggle on behalf of a just cause because that just cause was victorious in an earlier gen­eration, then they will struggle against the just cause. They will struggle for the sake of struggle. They will struggle, in other words, out of a certain boredom: for they cannot imagine living in a world without struggle. And if the greater part of the world in which they live is characterized by peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy, then they will struggle against that peace and pros­perity, and against democracy.”

      1. That was close to prophetic. I’m certainly going to read that book.
        Are there 2 Fukuyamas?

      2. He was wrong all round. 1990 was a full circle return to the status quo ante of the post war period of piece in Europe. The wars are exactly the same types of wars that were fought pre 1945, by the great empires themselves and the seperatist/irredentist nationalist wars during the dissolution of several of them (the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empire), and even in the same regions and on the same fault lines and with the same alliances, like Germany allying with Croats against Serbs. It began the minute the Soviet Union dissolved, indeed its dissolving into nation states was already part of it, and not in a time of affluence, but in a time of severe economic breakdown for the countries involved. Armenians against Azeris, brutal imperial retaking of Chechyna by Yeltsin (that war was just as bad as the Ukraine one but somehow nobody in the West cared, as Yeltsin was our bastard), war and separatism in the Balkans all through the 90s, nationalist revivals in Poland, Hungary and Ukraine. The struggles of affluence are wokeism and saving the climate, Ukraine/Russia and the West and Russia are the archaic types of conflicts we’ve always had.

    2. Well played Jez. Good game! A few more suggestions:

      First, an interesting conjunction:

      John Snow, physician, who found and isolated the source of the cholera outbreak in Soho in 1854: born 1813;
      Joseph Bazalgette, who built the sewerage system to drain London of cholera and much else: died 1891

      Births:
      William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne, Prime Minister, the young Queen Victoria’s key adviser, 1779
      Claus von Stauffenberg, attempted assassin of Hitler, 1905
      Richard Ellman, biographer of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, 1918
      Jimmy Swaggart, 1935

      Deaths:
      Lili Boulanger, composer and teacher, 1918
      Aristotle Onassis, shipping magnate, 1975
      Rene Clair, filmmaker, 1981
      Rebecca West, novelist, 1983

      1. Thanks, Steve – I admit that I very nearly included some of those, but was worried about too long a contribution below the line.

        I have to express my admiration for our host’s ability (in normal circumstances) to provide the lists – and so much more – every single day without fail!

  4. The Kremlin has reportedly circulated a memorandum urging Russian media outlets to include clips from the show of Fox News host, and weenus di tutti weeni, Tucker Carlson, in their pro-Ukraine-War propaganda. (Readers may recall that, when Fox News and Carlson were sued for slander in 2020, they defended the case by asserting that no reasonable viewer could take what Carlson says seriously.)

    I should think that the clips used by the Russian propaganda outlets include some of those contained below:

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1499827691356311563

  5. Training at the company commander level and higher is very poor in the Russian military system. They still make stupid mistakes with movement and use some very old equipment. Some of the tanks are T-72s which is pretty old. They drive tanks across the ground with no soldiers marching along behind the tanks. No support. Really poor tactics. They get lost in the urban areas and just give up.

  6. Might be an idea on the next voyage to keep the bar closed until (say) six days out with no positive COVID tests.

  7. A disturbing thing is the disinformation that Ukraine (working with the Biden Admin., apparently) was developing chemical weapons. This is now very much being picked up by Faux News, and gaining traction through that trail of slime. We live in two countries and two realities, but that is not news.

    1. Hell, Russian state media is imploring their outlets to feature Tucker Carlson as often as possible. Tucker has become a proud neo-fascist at this point, praising Putin and denouncing Biden and Ukraine, and millions of Americans tune-in every night to lap it up…

      1. I posted a comment about this in this thread, too, but I think it may be stuck in moderation limbo, probably because it hit the triple-link limit.

        1. I just hope the Democrats running for office in 2022 can weaponize the reckless, anti-democratic insanity of the GOP. It should be very easy to do, but, you know, Democrats…

          1. What we all should know by now is that Fox is nothing but a camp of useful idiots for Putin. That is exactly what Trump has been for years.

  8. The theory of evolution is akin to the theory of gravity. When I drop something on Earth, it might fall up instead of down, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Don’t bet against evolution.

    A theory is an explanation. It’s not a guess. Philosophers and scientists use the word “theory” differently than does the layperson. Too bad, because it creates a lot of confusion and provides the unscrupulous with opportunities to take advantage of that confusion. To a scientist, the theory of evolution is a fact.

  9. Although I can’t vouch for its validity, the economic reasons behind Russia’s invasion are described in this video and certainly seem to make sense.

  10. On the pasta: I confess I also break them into half. It is not about knowing how to make them. It is about knowing how to eat them and I do not know that. And for me it does not worth the struggle, it tastes the same when broken.

    (But I do not leave broken pieces in the package. I just break the amount I need and cook both end.)

    1. I’m with you on this…it’s just so much easier to eat when it’s short. And anyone who wants to try to tell me how I’m supposed to eat food that I’ve made for me can go fork themselves.

      1. Why not avoid snapping by just buying a smaller type of pasta? The Italians have devised so more than a hundred varieties of pasta.

  11. ¡ 5:38am Alaska time is 8:38am Central / this morning !

    ” NOME — The 1,000 – mile Iditarod Trail Sled D*g Race has a new champion.

    Brent Sass and his 11-d*g team pulled into Nome early Tuesday in temperatures around zero to a cheering crowd. Sass kicked his tattered overboots across the snow to help propel his team under the famed Burled Arch finish line at 5:38 a.m. to win the 50th running of the Iditarod.

    Sass immediately walked down his line of d*gs, petting each one. He got a big hug from his teary dad. He gave his d*gs snacks. ”

    I have been to Nome / July y1997. And sat My Self down upon its Bering Strait – shoreline.
    A fully USA – site … … Nome … … that soooo does not ‘ feel ‘ like Middle – America.

    https://www.alaskapublic.org/2022/03/15/the-iditarod-has-a-new-champion-brent-sass-arrives-first-to-nome/?fbclid=IwAR2OqWEkhcIvygb40Slg-kGSdjUJkPwSBbGQ37Glx8qzt_kCNCbB3JNYK4k

    Blue

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