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:
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.
This grandma is 96, she survived German occupation and Hitler, but was forced to leave her home in Kharkiv as the Russians were bombing her hometown. She left home wearing just her robe and with her cat Alice. She is now in Warsaw. #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/eKM8FDfqUo
— Belarus Free Theatre (@BFreeTheatre) March 14, 2022
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!
Putin’s Russia. The sign says “two words”. Then watch the next interviewee. https://t.co/3OIYnI6EBR
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) March 14, 2022
More hyped up Russian cops, detaining a woman with a blank sign!
In Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, a brilliant, beautiful and brave protest.
This woman holds up a *completely blank* sign, and is still taken away by police.
— Ben Phillips (@benphillips76) March 12, 2022
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 . . .
Из окна жилого дома в Чернигове достают огромный снаряд. pic.twitter.com/S8gDS08TZd
— Аслан (@antiputler_news) March 13, 2022
Remember the photo in the second tweet below? The fate of the injured pregnant woman (grim) is recounted by The New York Times.
Not, it’s a different woman, not Marianna who got harassed for being an Instagram influencer before the war
This one is seen on this photo – her pelvis was crushed by the shelling and she asked to save her baby even if it kills her. They both died… pic.twitter.com/VYtjPOgWyr
— Michael Elgort 🤍❤️🤍🇺🇦✡️ (@just_whatever) March 14, 2022
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:
Reposting: Russia has claimed the whole horrific scene at the Mariupol maternity hospital was a "fake," but this isn't Marianna Podgurskaya, the woman the Russian embassy in London accused of being an actor.
The medics didn't even have time to get this woman's name. https://t.co/wvaqi08zBd
— max seddon (@maxseddon) March 14, 2022
One more on Ukraine:
Ukrainian blogger Anton Ptushkin, very popular in Russia, has published a video that has 3mil views in just 24 hours.
"An entire generation of Russians may never leave Russia again. A whole generation of Russians will grow up with the stigma of war."https://t.co/rffXaW16t1
— Jonny Tickle (@jonnytickle) March 13, 2022
Oy! I thought everyone knew how to make pasta.
— italians mad at food (@ItalianComments) March 14, 2022
The perfect athleticism of this kitten!
عايزينها دي في المنتخب 🐈 pic.twitter.com/mBjt44GipK
— Error 404 (@Error4019082820) March 13, 2022