Wednesday: Hili dialogue

March 23, 2022 • 6:30 am

Where we are now: The ship’s real-time map shows hat we’re right next to the Antarctic Peninsula, scheduled to land on Cuverville Island this morning. The weather was too dire for us to visit Neko Harbor yesterday. I’ve been there three times but we never managed to land. But we did visit Brown Station, home of the “snow slide”. Pictures later today, including one of a penguin’s bizarre tongue! The winds are high this morning, and it’s possible that we won’t have a landing, which will make the passengers gripe. But we can’t control the weather, and safety of the passengers is always the first priority here.

The view from my balcony at 6:20 a.m. ship’s time (not Cuverville Island):

And the view OF my balcony: it snowed last night.

And it wasn’t a light snow, either. Here’s what was on the top deck after dinner last night:

Good morning on a humpish day (or, as they say in Mongolian, Бүдүүлэг өдөр (Büdüüleg ödör): it’s Wednesday March 23, 2022. It’s also National Chips and Dip Day. Nothing can beat ridged (“ruffled”) chips with that old Fifties staple, dip made with sour cream and dried Lipton’s Onion Soup (just two ingredients; see recipe here):

Game Day is not complete without it!

If you want to help out with “this day in history”, go to the Wikipedia page for March 23 and give us your favorite notable events, births, and deaths.

Today’s New York Times headline is somewhat heartening (click on screenshot to read):

And the headlines:

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Wednesday that peace negotiations with Russia were moving forward “step by step,” even as his nation’s military fielded a fierce counteroffensive and Russia warned that talks were not progressing.

Mr. Zelensky gave his ritual overnight address updating Ukrainians hours before President Biden was set to travel to Brussels on Wednesday for a meeting with NATO allies. He is poised to announce sanctions on Russian lawmakers and will later travel to Poland, as he seeks a stronger international response to Russia.

“Peace talks”? There is no way Zelensky can come out of this mess better than when he went in, and it’s not for his gallant trying. His country is wrecked, infrastructure destroyed, and a quarter of the population in other countries. What is the best he can hope for? Only for the Russians to withdraw leaving his country a wreck. And that won’t happen, of course: Putin needs concessions, whether they be Ukrainian land or a promise not to join NATO or the EU.

*According to CNN, Russia is tightening the screws on both media and dissent. Yesterday dissident Alexei Navalny, already serving a 2½-year sentence for “violating probation,” had another nine years tacked onto his sentence—and in a maximum-security prison to boot—for “fraud”. (He was accused of “stealing from his Anti-Corruption Foundation.”) Navalny doesn’t look well, but does still have his sense of humor:

After Tuesday’s sentence was announced, Navalny wrote on Twitter: “9 years. Well, as the characters of my favorite TV series ‘The Wire’ used to say: ‘You only do two days. That’s the day you go in and the day you come out.'”

He added: “I even had a T-shirt with this slogan, but the prison authorities confiscated it, considering the print extremist.”

Remember, the Russians poisoned this guy! And the government’s crackdown on speech continues:

Earlier this month, Putin signed a censorship bill into law making it impossible for news organizations to accurately report the news in or from Russia.

The law, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, makes it a crime to disseminate “fake” information about the invasion of Ukraine, with a penalty of up to 15 years in prison for anyone convicted.

*The NYT also reports that dissent about Putin’s leadership is growing, especially among retired military leaders (active ones, of course, say nothing):

The failures in Ukraine have started to create fissures within Russian leadership, according to Andrei Soldatov, an author and expert on Russia’s military and security services. The top Russian intelligence official in charge of overseeing the recruitment of spies and diversionary operations in Ukraine has been put under house arrest along with his deputy, Mr. Soldatov said. Even Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, who vacations with Mr. Putin and has been spoken of as a potential presidential successor, has suffered a loss of standing, according to Mr. Soldatov’s sources.

One can hope, but Putin runs a tight ship, and is willing to kill his opponents.

*And the headline of today’s Washington Post (click on screenshot):

Among other news, U.S. defense officials are exercised because a Russian official refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine:

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that Russia would use its nuclear arsenal only in the case of an existential threat.

“We have a concept of domestic security, and well, it’s public. You can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used,” he said. “So, if it is an existential threat for our country, then it [the nuclear option] can be used in accordance with our concept.”

Well, maybe this counts as “news”, but of course the Russians would say stuff like this (and already have) to keep NATO off balance.  Pay no attention to the little bald man behind the curtain.

*Further, Russian media are disseminating a video, already thoroughly debunked, showing a Russian-speaking woman describing how a 16 year old Russian boy was beaten to death by a group of Ukrainians at a train station near Cologne, Germany. It’s not true, as German police have determined and the woman has apologized for lying, but Russian media continue to use it as propaganda:

Germany, in particular, is on high alert for information warfare by Moscow. It is the main target of Russian disinformation in the European Union, according to a report issued last year by the bloc’s disinformation watchdog.

Ilya Yablokov, an expert on Russian digital media at the University of Sheffield in Britain, said the TikTok video squared with Russian objectives. “This is disinformation aimed at the Russian domestic audience to strengthen the idea that Russians are being unfairly treated abroad,” he said.

*Reader Steve notes a good piece by Matt Taibbi posted on his Substack site, with the piece called “World’s dullest editorial launches a panic.” He’s referring to the New York Times editorial praising free speech without understanding it—an anodyne piece I wrote about the other day. And despite its lame and tepid nature, people lost it over the op-ed. I haven’t paid attention to the pushback, but Taibbi did, and he produced a humorous take.  Further, like my own piece, he compares the NYT op-ed to the similar but widely criticized letter in Harper’s against “cancel culture” from several years ago. Taibbi:

Its premise, tied to the uncontroversial observation that America has become dangerously polarized, is that “the political left and the right are caught in a destructive loop of condemnation and recrimination.” Citing a poll that 84% of Americans (including 84% of black Americans) who said it was either a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem that people are now afraid to voice opinions out of fear of “retaliation or harsh criticism,” the Times said “when speech is stifled or when dissenters are shut out,” that “a society also loses its ability to resolve conflict, and… faces the risk of political violence.”

The Times piece is pretty transparently a marketing ploy, designed to regain a foothold with the slew of demographics lost to the paper in recent years. It’s a campaign that deserves to fail if it somehow doesn’t. The internal Times debate over whether or not to broaden its ideological horizons has for years run along humorously obnoxious lines, like “Should we hire one never-Trump Republican columnist, or none?” Even this latest offering wringing hands about America’s lack of ideological tolerance doesn’t wonder at the paper’s own near-total absence of columnists and reporters positively disposed (or even just indifferent) to Bernie Sanders, or really any political viewpoint outside the two dominant theologies.

. . . The underlying premise of all these formats is the conviction that the ordinary schlub media consumer will make the wrong decision if the correct message isn’t hammered out everywhere for him or her in all caps by mental superiors. This idea isn’t just insulting but usually incorrect, like thinking Lord Haw Haw broadcasts would make English soldiers bayonet each other rather than laugh or fight harder. Even just on the level of commercial self-preservation, one would think media people would eventually realize there’s a limit to how many times you can tell people they’re too dumb to be trusted with controversial ideas, and still keep any audience. But they never do.

How true, how true! I, like many, am sick to death of being patronized by the “MSM”. “Here’s what you need to know” as a subheadline was just the beginning.

*Sarah Haider has a long essay on her Substack site that you can read for free by giving the site your email, but if you read her regularly you should subscribe.I’d recommend it, for she invariably has something interesting to say, and she does in her latest essay, “The News is bad for you. Stop reading it.” Yes, that’s right: Haider makes the case, which she follows herself, that you should completely stop reading, listening to, or watching the news. (In this case I think she’s wrong.) Her reasons are several, including distortion by the media and a big waste of time (if you’re a new junkie). What do you do instead? Haider suggests reading the original documents. With elections, for example, she says this:

Now election time is here again, and you must decide how to vote – but you (wisely) continue to ignore the news.

In order to inform yourself of the issues and the candidates, you go to their websites directly, reading the value propositions and policy proposals. You may dig deeper too, some issues you care about more than others. So, you research how the candidates have previously acted or voted on those issues, and whether they have made any promises for the future. If you really want to get a feel for the personalities of the candidate – you watch a campaign speech or two, and perhaps, the debates.

Is this alternative-universe-you less meaningfully informed? Have they missed anything truly important to your day-to-day life?

Or have they saved themselves – their time, their energy, their sanity – from a costly but fruitless pursuit?

I disagree.  First, how do you find which documents are relevant to making up your own minds without knowing that those documents exist? And that involves reading the news. Further, sometimes the documents, like Supreme Court decisions, require guidance, and there are reliable guides in the media. But most of all, I like the news because the world is interesting, and how do you learn about that without knowing the news?

Haider even recommends ignoring all news about Ukraine and Russia, but this news is part of the human drama—like a novel, but for real. It shows the depths of human depravity and the heights of human kindness. What primary documents can you consult to find that out? Ignoring the news seems to me equivalent to ignoring literature of any sort; you miss the experience of hearing different points of view and adjudicating, with guidance, clashes of opinion. Yes, I abhor listening to MSNBC for hours on end, which I’ve done as background noise on the ship while writing these posts, and Sarah’s right about that. But ignore the news completely? I don’t think so.

*Over at his new Substack site, “Original Jurisdictions,” lawyer and writer David Lat takes the Dean of Yale Law School (Heather Gerken) to task for failing to respond when the entitled Yale Law students created pandemonium at a free speech event (see here). It’s a good letter. An excerpt:

Progressives are free to think that their opponents are Bad People. They can exclude them from social gatherings. They can make Bad People feel unwelcome in affinity groups (already happening at YLS, with members of certain affinity groups being forced to choose between affinity-group and FedSoc membership). They can make fun of Bad People with satirical fliers.3

But it’s your job, as the Dean of Yale Law School, to tell Progressives that in an academic community based on free expression, there are limits to how much they can act on the view that their opponents are Bad People.4 Progressives can’t shut down duly organized events because they disagree with the speakers. They can’t weaponize anti-discrimination policies to punish the protected speech of their opponents. They can’t make up and spread lies about professors with unpopular views (or the students who dare to associate with those professors). It’s your job, as the Dean of Yale Law School, to remind Progressives of all this—even if they complain, call you “complicit,” or say you’re a Bad Person too.

*And we’ll end like the NBC News does: “there’s GOOD news tonight!” The good news is that, according to Florentine’s Grill, 70 refugee Ukrainian cats, all chipped and vaccinated, were transported to Poland to find forever homes. Although only 5 cats per person are allowed into Poland, they found enough volunteers to take them across the border. Two photos:

The rescue was spearheaded by a Ukrainian rescue organization called UAnimals.

And I’m starting to realize, given all the cat news out of Ukraine, and all the photos of refugees with their moggies, that Ukraine must rank up there with Japan and France as one of the great ailurophilic countries of the world.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has learned, probably because of the attack on Ukraine, that life is unpredictable and people need to be prepared for all eventualities!

Hili: We have to be prepared.
A: What for?
Hili: Just in case.
In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba się przygotować.
Ja: Na co?
Hili: Na wszelki wypadek.

And here’s Karolina, the visitor from Kyiv, playing with Szaron:

From Nicole:

From Facebook. I think it’s true that appliances don’t last as long as they used to. Am I right? If so, why?

From Off the Mark, by Mark Parisi

Retweeted by Ziya Tong:

From Carolyn Porco. I haven’t heard this theory, but so it goes. I wouldn’t mourn the loss of Putin, for his successor wouldn’t dare continue down the trail that Vladimir broke:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who’s now in America. That’ll do, pigs; that’ll do:

This could serve as the definition of “irony”:

Yes, do zoom in here, but you might be able to discern the zebras in this photo alone:

Guinea worm disease, formally call dracunculiasis, is caused by water containing nematode larvae, and although it’s not nearly as fatal as another disease that was eliminated (smallpox), it’s debilitating. (The mortality rate is about 1%.) The cure is not drugs, but clean (filtered) drinking water. Since humans appear to be a necessary host, once it’s gone it’s gone—after the last worms and larvae die out in the wild

Well, here’s a bird I never heard of:

Thorogood found a rare Rafflesia flower!

68 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I love the zebra pic – there’s more in that genre – camels also on the desert. Something fascinating about it…

  2. On this day:
    1801 – Tsar Paul I of Russia is struck with a sword, then strangled, and finally trampled to death inside his bedroom at St. Michael’s Castle. – Tsar Vladimir I should take note – well, I can dream…?

    1857 – Elisha Otis’s first elevator is installed at 488 Broadway New York City

    1888 – In England, The Football League, the world’s oldest professional association football league, meets for the first time.

    1919 – In Milan, Italy, Benito Mussolini founds his Fascist political movement.

    1933 – The Reichstag passes the Enabling Act of 1933, making Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany.

    1956 – Pakistan becomes the first Islamic republic in the world. This date is now celebrated as Republic Day in Pakistan.

    2010 – The Affordable Care Act becomes law in the United States.

    2020 – Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the United Kingdom into its first national lockdown in response to COVID-19.

    2021 – A container ship runs aground and obstructs the Suez Canal for six days. – Time flies…!

    Births:
    1749 – Pierre-Simon Laplace, French mathematician and astronomer (d. 1827)

    1838 – Marie Adam-Doerrer, Swiss women’s rights activist and unionist (d. 1908)

    1842 – Susan Jane Cunningham, American mathematician (d. 1921)

    1904 – Joan Crawford, American film actress (d. 1977)

    1912 – Wernher von Braun, German-American physicist and engineer (d. 1977)

    1924 – Bette Nesmith Graham, American inventor, invented Liquid Paper (d. 1980) – and mother of Monkee Michael Nesmith

    1929 – Roger Bannister, English runner, neurologist and academic (d. 2018)

    1935 – Barry Cryer, English comedian, actor and screenwriter (d.2022)

    1944 – Ric Ocasek, American singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer (d. 2019)

    1952 – Kim Stanley Robinson, American author

    Those who got a call from the horizontal phone booth:
    1964 – Peter Lorre, American actor (b. 1904)

    1992 – Friedrich Hayek, Austrian-German economist, philosopher, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1899)

    2011 – Elizabeth Taylor, American-British actress, socialite and humanitarian (b. 1932)

    2021 – George Segal, American actor (b. 1934)

      1. A recently arrived emigre from the antisemitism of eastern europe, Noether, though a woman and age 50, was in consideration along with the “young men” that veblen and flexner were discussing for the original math faculty at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the early 1930’s according to Steve Batterson in his book “Pursuit of Genius” on the founding of the IAS.

    1. Also born on this day:

      Jerzy Dudek (1973): Liverpool goalkeeper who made the crucial save to win the Champions’ League in 2005 (Istanbul). I hope Shevchenko, whose penalty was saved, is all right.

      Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998).

      Among those who died on this day is Johann Jakob Wetstein (1693-1754). He was a Swiss New Testament scholar and boat rocker.

    2. 1857 – Elisha Otis’s first elevator is installed at 488 Broadway New York City

      The oilfield services division of the company (lots of cable, on drums, winding engines ; a fairly natural fit) goes by the nick-backronym of “Our Tool Is Stuck”.
      There is a legend (“urban myth” grade) that on the first public demo of Otis’ system, the “elevator” got repeatedly stuck. But since Otis’ real invention was an automatic breaking system in the event of a cable break, that may have been people really not getting the point.

    3. 1801 – Tsar Paul I of Russia is struck with a sword, then strangled, and finally trampled to death inside his bedroom at St. Michael’s Castle. – Tsar Vladimir I should take note

      Probably won’t though. After all, Rah-Rah-Rasputin also ignored this precedent in his power grab, and it ended well for him.
      When Russia talks about not using nukes unless faced with an existential threat, I hear “… including to Vladimir Vladimirovich” in there.

    4. That Suez canal blockage was a year ago? Time flies, indeed. I would have thought it happened around last October or November.

  3. From time to time pictures are published of Rafflesia flowering in the glasshouses of botanic gardens but it must be a wonderful experience to find it flowering in the wild.

  4. In Yorkshire:

    A huge marble memorial featuring a solar-powered jukebox has been built in a city cemetery without permission.

    The monument honouring William Collins, who died in Spain in 2020, is thought to have been erected about a week ago at Sheffield’s Shiregreen Cemetery.

    It is adorned with four Irish flags, boasts CCTV and is flanked by two life-sized statues of the 49-year-old.

    Sheffield City Council said it was considering its next steps in light of its rules around memorials.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-60838880

  5. Although this BBC article primarily focuses on Florida governor DeSantis, the comments from Seb Coe struck me as more newsworthy:

    On Monday World Athletics president Lord Coe issued a warning over the future of women’s sport if sporting organisations get regulations for transgender athletes wrong.

    “I think that the integrity of women’s sport if we don’t get this right, and actually the future of women’s sport, is very fragile,” Coe said.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/swimming/60842863

    1. If sex is non-binary, why do we still have men’s and women’s sports? If there are 64 genders, then there should be 64 teams.

  6. I wouldn’t mourn the loss of Putin, for his successor wouldn’t dare continue down the trail that Vladimir broke

    I completely agree. It should be obvious to everybody whose sources are not limited to Russian State media that the invasion was a catastrophic mistake. The only reason that they are pressing on is because Putin fears that withdrawal will destroy him (obviously IMO). Any successor can mitigate that just by blaming him.

    In fact, if he is deposed and replaced, I predict that the first thing that will happen is that Russia gets out of Ukraine. Then stories about the crimes of Putin will start surfacing, especially stories about crimes he has committed against the Russian people. These will be intended to destroy any remaining support he has.

    An anniversary:

    2020 – Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the United Kingdom into its first national lockdown in response to COVID-19.

    It was at least two weeks too late, but better late than never.

    Also

    2021 – A container ship [the Ever Given] runs aground and obstructs the Suez Canal for six days.

    And here is a link to an article in Ars Technical about homeopathy Reporting bias makes homeopathy trials look like homeopathy works

    You think?

  7. “That’ll do, pigs; that’ll do” – there’s a lesson for the Russian bear there (no disrespect to the valiant Ukrainians intended).

    1. Yes, my immediate reaction too. Isn’t Russia described traditionally as a bear? The Russian bear?
      This would be outstanding propaganda for Ukraine indeed. And it probably is what is happening: the underpiglets chasing the bear out.

  8. They [students] can make fun of Bad People with satirical fliers.

    Apparently not at Stanford Law School, according to the link in Mr. Lat’s column, where a graduating 3L student had a hold put on his diploma after complaints from the school’s chapter of the Federalist Society about a parody pamphlet mocking the FedSoc that the graduating student had published via email.

    So much for the Federalist Society’s support for free speech.

  9. Wouldn’t one expect a Supreme Court Justice to know what a “woman” is?

    Right-wing evasion on issues such as the age of the Earth is “I’m not a scientist”, while left-wing evasion is “I’m not a biologist”.

    1. It’s a gotcha question no matter what side of the aisle you’re on. Her evasion was more than justified. Even if some issue before SCOTUS revolved around the definition, a distinct possibility, it would have to be considered in context.

      1. An affirmative action question that hinges on whether an XY-trans is a woman under the definition for preferential hiring or promotion or achieving cosmetic diversity targets. Can’t wait.

        Edit: it’s doubtful such a case would come to a Court. The defendants would be terrified to litigate. They would just capitulate and throw their XX rising stars under the bus.

  10. Two pigs fought off a black bear in Connecticut that hopped over their enclosure and began attacking.

    Well, as The Stranger at the bowling alley bar told The Dude:

  11. The WaPo and others had reported that Romantschenko, 96, was killed when a Russian missile struck his apartment building in Kharkiv. Of course it’s possible that not only his building was struck by a missile but he might have also been struck by a bullet. What is being perpetrated against the Ukrainians is heinous.

  12. I have taken a permanent leave of absence from watching local news in the Chicago area. I haven’t watched it for decades except for an occasional five minutes at 10:00 P.M. The format hasn’t changed in at least half a century. Half the show is taken up by the murder of the day (on a good day there is more than one murder to report) or other heinous crime except when there is an impending snowstorm, which is made to appear as if Chicago has never experienced snow before and that the predicted two inches foreshadows doom. On a normal day there is ten minutes of weather followed by ten minutes of sports. All in all, I recommend local news if your goal in life is to have your mind numbed.

  13. My parent’s refrigerator, from the year they were married, 1954, a GE, is STILL WORKING. My brother has it in his garage. You often see the same model in TV shows … it was the one in the Draper kitchen in the first season of Mad Men.

  14. Presume those white Crested Owls are juveniles. What could the selective advantage be? Making them easier for the parents to find for feeding?

  15. Jerry, is there some point on this voyage at which the ship is declared to be covid-free and lectures can proceed with an in-person audience and lecturers at the front of the room may lecture sans mask if audience agrees? Or do you just continue to test for the full time and give virtual lectures? You may have told us before, but i do not recall the answer. I know that it would be nice if you could interact at a higher bandwidth with your audiences. Though without numbers of amplifications known, i do not see how every pcr test given can come out negative for 500 passengers plus crew.

    1. Yes, and it’s now. We were told that we have only one case of covid. That means that although they wouldn’t let us into the Falklands (we weren’t scheduled to go this trip), they’ve dispensed with a lot of the temperature monitoring (we used have our temperature and passenger tag monitored before every meal, though we still must wash our hands). AND they’ve opened up the lecture hall to 60 people max. I haven’t lectured before a live audience yet since they did that today, but I suspect things will be more open now, though I guess we’ll still have to wear masks in public except while dining.

  16. “Putin runs a tight ship”

    Perhaps, but his giant $700M yacht, Scheherazade, in Italy is in jeopardy. Investigators have obtained its crew list and shown them all to be members of the Russian government organization in charge of maintaining all things Putin. Everyone is calling for it to be confiscated.

  17. I think many kinds of items last longer now than in the past. Not sure about refrigerators but cars are a good example, TVs are another. My father was a TV repairman for most of his life. Not sure the position even exists now. Of course, now we throw such devices in the trash when they fail. Still, they tend to go on working for many years. Old TVs used to only last a few years before some tube had to be replaced.

    1. Besides refrigerators that use to last much longer you can include washing machines. Remember the old ads for Maytag. The repair man was always standing around bored because he had no work. That was kind of true, however by the 90s it was not. My grandmother had an old refrig. that was from the 50s. It had a little tiny compartment inside that held one tray of ice cubes. My brother was still using that thing in a shop last i knew. I think the compressors in those old refrigerators were the key and in the washing machines the bearings.

    2. I agree about cars lasting longer, but modern refrigerators are crap. Our 2015 Samsung fridge has had numerous service calls and still doesn’t work well (never buy a Samsung fridge!), while the 39-year-old Sears fridge in the garage (not an ideal location) is still running fine. Oh, and the 37-year old GE microwave continues to perform its daily tasks – glad I didn’t waste money on an extended warranty for it.

    3. I’m jumping in here for no good reason :

      A company in Athol , Massachusetts made vises a very long time ago. Made them so well, I think they saturated the market and went out of business :

      https://vise.dayid.org/wiki/Athol_Vise

      People prize these vises even today as functionally useful tools (I surmise) – i.e. it isn’t just antique collectors and refurbishers.

      1. I’m only guessing but the longevity of their vise is probably not the reason they went out of business. It’s just the story told by the company and its fans.

        1. Sure – and for sure, a vise or anvil should last til we hit peak entropy, but I think if it can be manufactured, it can be manufactured poorly.

          1. Cheap vises are notorious for breaking and even before they break there are several ways they become unusable.
            The old-school service station my father used to patronize for car maintenance had a beauty. If the place was ever bombed, that vise and the heavy steel work table it was bolted to would still be sticking proudly up out of the rubble.

  18. It is more than concerning that Russia even brings up the criteria for using nukes as being “in the case of an existential threat”. Since in the disturbed mind of their current leader, an “existential threat” is the possibility that he will be deposed.

  19. “Haider makes the case, which she follows herself, that you should completely stop reading, listening to, or watching the news.”

    Thoreau made the same case over 150 years ago:

    “I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter—we never need read of another.”

    I agree with Haider and Thoreau. Not attending to the news will make you happier and healthier; read the comics instead. This is a hard regimen to follow, especially if you’re married and your spouse doesn’t share your outlook. My wife and I compromise: we record NBC Nightly News and then watch Lester Holt’s “headlines” (which are pretty much the same every night and delivered in the same tone of urgency), after which we either delete the recording or fast-forward to a rare item we want to see. If I were living alone, I’d never watch the news. If something important happened, I have no doubt I’d hear about it.

  20. Did we really get to comment #29, here, without someone making a “cat herder” joke?

    Although only 5 cats per person are allowed into Poland, they found enough volunteers to take them across the border.

    Job Vacancy – Polish border region – CAT HERDER required.
    No training provided, or even possible. Apply etc (make up details).

    1. On the subject of cats and ailurophilic countries: we’ve visited a few cat cafes around Europe, including one in Minsk, Belarus. My sample size is too small, but it does appear that some Slavs love cats. More research is required….

      (BTW, I’d love to go back to Belarus, but I think I’ll wait until they achieve regime-change.)

  21. On appliances lasting longer—that may not be true all over the world. An independent electronics repairman I used to know had a huge collection of vacuum tubes, most of which came from….Russia! This was because the USSR continued to use tubes (“valves” in Brit-speak) in electronics for many years after tubes had been entirely replaced by transistors in the civilized world.

    In our grandparents’ time, Western admirers of the “Soviet experiment” used to claim it represented the future—which turned out to be uncannily like the past, even technologically. Which brings up the case of Vladimir Vladimirovich, representative of the New Soviet Man, who has revived the outlook of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Too bad his imperial army’s equipment is not limited to arquebus and horse cavalry.

    1. As I think everyone here knows, vacuum tubes (12AX7, for example) are – AFAIK – the gold standard for electric / “rock” guitar tone.

        1. I agree with everything you said except “easily”.

          I haven’t really scrutinized the enormous list of videos on this (easy to find), but my experience suggests … well, its complicated. But the tube amp designers (can’t recall their names) are doing well, and not in a niche way.

          But way better than like 20-30 years ago.

          Beyond the scope! Sorry just wanted to add that about tubes. I might look into it later (like everything else)…

          1. I’m sure they are doing well. Back in the day, 12AX7 and such were as common as dirt. Now they can charge an arm and a leg for them.

            I’m sure there are enough people who swear they can hear the difference between the digital simulation and the real thing but I suspect they are under the influence of some sort of bias. One of the cool things with these amp simulations is that one can switch between hundreds of them in an instant, something not practical with real tubes.

            1. Right – the amps themselves are probably very expensive, the tubes yeah – but compared to Hendrix’s day, probably ridiculous.

              ‘Bout the sound :

              yes, I agree 100% its all about sound, to listener and musician, but the player is using the sound as a cue as to how to play, and feeling out the instrument in the process. It is very much an extension of their literal voice – Its very dynamic. Imagine, (I, you,… Pavarotti (RIP) ) has a vocal cord replacement – same deal – the precise details will change how you (I, Pavarotti) vocalize.

              The listener is …mostly… “taking it in”, less so responding to it the same way.

              What the hell was this post about? Oh sorry – Samsung refrigerators!

    2. In our grandparents’ time, Western admirers of the “Soviet experiment” used to claim it represented the future …

      I would’ve thought that those delusions were dashed by the time Nixon and Khrushchev had their so-called “Kitchen Debate” at the American Exhibition in Moscow in 1959.

    3. When I traveled to the USSR as an exchange student in 1988, our arrival was met by a TV news crew. The TV crew had an enormous film camera, like something CB DeMille might use. One of the arriving students had a little Sony video camera, and the contrast was interesting to all of us.

  22. As a purely military matter, were I Zelensky, I wouldn’t concede anything to the Russians at this point. Fight until they leave and call their bluff on every threat, because they have failed to deliver on most of them.He has to consider what’s best for the civilian population of his country, of course, which might change that calculus and make some sort of quick resolution more worthwhile. But I would not assume that a military loss is inevitable.

    I am not at all surprised about dissent from retired military. They are probably thinking about how this leaves Russia even more unprepared for the next conflict…which could be more important, or existential. He’s suffering significant wounds to his overall military preparedness for Ukraine, and I’m sure a lot of the generals there are thinking about how screwed that leaves Russia after the war, even if they win.

    1. Not to downplay the civilians dying every day, honest. Many civilians have already left the cities being bombarded and many of those who have stayed, and those who made Molotov cocktails, must be willing to help the army fight on. Putin’s frustration at being unable to defeat the Ukrainians in the field has turned him to demolish cities from where Zelenskyy can’t hit back at him. But even in nearly leveled Mariupol, the civilian death toll may not be as high as we fear, if people are sheltering in basements and subways stations and there is no firestorm or gas attack. Thousands not hundreds of thousands? Zelenskyy’s calculus may still be viable. Besides, if he surrenders now, the civilians know they will be raped.

      1. If his people are behind the idea of fighting on, then yes absolutely fight on. My point was that if this is not the case – if the Ukrainian people would rather stop and take a deal even if he and his military would prefer to fight on, then as a democratic leader he should consider how to best put their wishes ahead of his own judgment (while not giving away the store).

        1. No one can predict what sort of horrors the Ukrainians might be subject to once they surrender to the Russians.
          Sure, they could perhaps vote to surrender. But they might not get to do a lot of voting about what happens then.
          There is also a point where many of those resisting can never submit. Russian occupiers could take their time sorting through social media posts and contact lists, to identify those in need of special attention.

    2. There’s a tough fight ahead, but things aren’t going well for the Russians and reports that they have supplies of ammo , fuel and food for a few days at the frontline have been described as “credible”. And the Ukrainians are even pushing back in places: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-60847188

      Meanwhile, a LOT of the peace negotiations are taken up by Russian demands about the lifting of sanctions, which are really starting to hurt. And Putin’s international envoy, Anatoly Chubais, has stepped down from his role reputedly over the war – he is in Turkey with his wife so safe (for now).

  23. The exchange about vacuum tubes after comment #22 led me to look up some of the internet gab
    from stereo hobbyists, among whom there remains a tube cult. In an item on tube amplifiers, I found a
    review of one (with 12AX7 input) which specifies Russian output tubes, and ends on an oddly fatalistic note as follows:

    “No DAC. No digital inputs. No Bluetooth. No remote control. No subwoofer output.
    Get over it.”

    1. The name Sovtek … I think its Sovtek.

      I forgot the power section tubes… maybe 6L6.

      But I see Mesa Boogie makes them too – a California company, I think. And they are excellent.

  24. I promised not to post on the Tuesday Hili again.

    So I’ll do it here, because I think there’s some Heinlein fans :

    Leonard Nimoy reads Robert A. Heinlein’s The Green Hills of Earth and Gentlemen, Be Seated
    The full 7-hour audiobook : https://youtu.be/Q-1eF0_mKuI

    .. It is also on a certain music service from out of Cupertino. Haven’t read – or listened – to it yet.

Leave a Reply