The blue line also gives our previous course to Punta Arenas. The Beagle Channel is below, which we traversed previously, and so we’ve now been through the three main routes around the tip of South America: Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel, and the Strait of Magellan.
The view from my balcony: sunrise over the sea:
No need for a daily report from yesterday as we were docked all day until a surprisingly gentle departure at 8:25 pm (we didn’t know we were underway until the scenery started moving by). Here are two shots from yesterday:
The new passengers arriving:
And a panorama of the dock where we sat for two days:
I’ve also discovered (and for some reason didn’t know this), that we’re ending the cruise at Santiago, Chile rather than Punta Arenas, so we’ll sail back along the west coast of Chile, stopping at a few places I haven’t been. This means less time in Antarctica, but after this trip the ship is heading north, ultimately to go up the west coast of North America and do the Northwest Passage before it does its Arctic trips this summer.
But today and tomorrow there’s the dreaded Drake Passage to cross. I can imagine the visitors who come here and, prone to seasickness, get their first introduction to the area with a good bout of rocking and vomiting.
Here’s our itinerary for guests arriving at Santiago. I will be arriving April 3, and my flight home is the next day.
Well, they say TGIF, but there’s no unique significance of Friday when you’re headed back to Antarctica. But welcome to a Polar Friday on March 18, 2022: National Sloppy Joe Day (do they have these ground-beef concoctions in the UK?). Here’s one, along with a recipe:
If you want to help us along, go to the Wikipedia page for March 18 and give us your favorite events, or the notable births and deaths that happened on this day. Also, I need a few items for tomorrow’s Caturday Felid post, as I’ve run out of my backlog on this trip. If you have something of interest to ailurophiles, send it along.
*Today’s NYT headline seems pretty similar to those of the past few days, and is equally depressing. When I stop and think about what’s really happened, it seems simple: one rapacious and murderous man, greedy and eager for land, decided to invade a peaceful country, and now thousands are dead. It’s easy to get lost in the ins and outs of negotiations, weapons, and other details, but I, at least, often forget that this is an act of mass murder perpetuated by one man and his stooges.
Click on the screenshot to read the headlines:
The first two paragraph gives the gist:
A missile strike on the outskirts of Lviv, the western city that has been a haven for people fleeing embattled cities elsewhere in Ukraine, rattled the relative peace there on Friday. In Kyiv, the capital, air raids sounded as city officials reported that a residential area had been shelled. And explosions were heard in the strategically important southern city of Odessa, nestled on the Black Sea.
With the war now in its fourth week, Russia is keeping up its siege campaign, even as American and British intelligence officials say its overall offensive has slowed amid heavy losses, logistical problems and an intense Ukrainian resistance. The humanitarian toll also continues to mount.
The paper also reports the curious fact, which many of us have noticed, that Russia is analogizing Ukraine with Nazi Germany:
Ukraine’s government is “openly neo-Nazi” and “pro-Nazi,” controlled by “little Nazis,” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia says.
American officials led by President Biden are responsible for the “Nazification” of Ukraine, one of Russia’s top lawmakers says, and should be tried before a court. In fact, another lawmaker says, it is time to create a “modern analogy to the Nuremberg Tribunal” as Russia prepares to “denazify” Ukraine.
Given that if any country is acting like Hitler’s Germany, it’s Russia, one wonders what’s going on. The paper also notes that President Zelensky is Jewish, which I didn’t know but makes the comparisin even more ludicrous. The rationale for this “Nazi trope,” according to the NYT, is very thin:
The “Nazi” slur’s sudden emergence shows how Mr. Putin is trying to use stereotypes, distorted reality and his country’s lingering World War II trauma to justify his invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin is casting the war as a continuation of Russia’s fight against evil in what is known in the country as the Great Patriotic War, apparently counting on lingering Russian pride in the victory over Nazi Germany to carry over into support for Mr. Putin’s attack.
That war ended 77 years ago, and if Russians really know their history, they’ll realize that Putin acted very nearly like Hitler in how he invaded Ukraine.
*Am I being petulant to gripe about the headline and the content of this article in The Washington Post? (Click on screenshot to read.)
The first two paragraphs:
A U.S. citizen was killed in Ukraine on Thursday, the State Department confirmed, after Ukrainian police first reported that an American and several others died when Russian troops shelled the city of Chernihiv, roughly 90 miles north of Kyiv.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged the death but did not release further details, and the total number of people killed in the attack was still unclear late Thursday, local authorities said. The artillery fire struck a residential area in the city center, according to the head of the Chernihiv regional police. Meanwhile near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Russian artillery strikes hit a school and cultural center, killing at least 23 people and injuring 26, local officials said.
The American death gets top billing above the deaths of 23 Ukrainians. I wonder why that one American gets such precedence when, in terms of this horror, all lives lost are equally worthy of mourning? Now if it were an American of note, or someone whose death had political implications for the conflict, that would be another thing, but they don’t even identify the person. Maybe I’m an Andy Rooney in statu nascendi, but I get the same feeling when they report a tragedy like a plane crash somewhere in the U.S. or elsewhere and the Chicago media single out the Chicagoans involved: the “Chicago angle.”
*I’ve mentioned this finding.before, but it’s worth reading the NYT’s new “Trilobites” column by Anthony Ham about how Australian magpies learned, after the birds’ painstaking investigation and trial, to remove the tracking devices scientists affixed to them. These birds are not only curious, but great at learning (h/t Barry, my emphasis below)
In 2019 Dominique Potvin, an animal ecologist at University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, set out to study magpie social behavior. She and her team spent around six months perfecting a harness that would carry miniature tracking devices in a way that was unintrusive for magpies. They believed it would be nearly impossible for magpies to remove the harnesses from their own bodies.
Dr. Potvin and her team attached the tracking devices and the birds flew off, showing no signs of obvious distress. Then everything began to unravel.
“The first tracker was off half an hour after we put it on,” she said. “We were literally packing up our gear and watching it happen.”
In a remarkable act of cooperation, the magpie wearing the tracker remained still while the other magpie worked at the harness with its beak. Within 20 minutes, the helping magpie had found the only weak point — a single clasp, barely a millimeter long — and snipped it with its beak. Dr. Potvin and her team later saw different magpies removing harnesses from two other birds outfitted with them.
The scientists took six months to reach this point. Within three days, the magpies had removed all five devices.
*A lot of people rely on U.S. News & World Report‘s annual quality ranking of colleges (they do grad schools, too, as I recall), to the point where that ranking is a major factor for parents’ and high school students’ choice of college . But now a math professor at the #2 -anked school in America, Columbia University, has blasted the way that the magazine calculates those ratings.
Everyone knows that students buff their résumés when applying to college. But a math professor is accusing Columbia University of buffing its own résumé — or worse — to climb the all-important U.S. News & World Report rankings of best universities.
Michael Thaddeus, who specializes in algebraic geometry at Columbia, has challenged the university’s No. 2 ranking this year with a statistical analysis that found that key supporting data was “inaccurate, dubious or highly misleading.”
In a 21-page blistering critique on his website, Dr. Thaddeus is not only challenging the rating but redoubling the debate over whether college rankings — used by millions of prospective college students and their parents — are valuable or even accurate.
. . .This year, Columbia rose to No. 2 from No. 3, surpassed only by Princeton in the No. 1 spot and tied with Harvard and M.I.T.
Dr. Thaddeus notes that Columbia was ranked 18th in 1988, a rise that he suggests is remarkable.
“Why have Columbia’s fortunes improved so dramatically?” he asks in his analysis.
Thaddeus more or less suggests that his own school has cooked the data about issues like class size, spending on teaching, and the credentials of teachers—all factors that go into the ratings. These data are neither independently collected nor checked by the magazine, which relies on schools’ self-reports. And since schools know how important these rankings are, they have strong motivation to, well, make the data look more attractive. And indeed, this has been more or less proven in several cases cited in this interesting article. This article is a must-read if you like detective stories and academics. And I’m glad Thaddeus is tenured!
*The James Webb Space Telescope won’t be ready for prime time until June, but calibrating its polygonal panels to focus the images has given a spectacular photo. As the AP reports,
NASA’s new space telescope has gazed into the distant universe and shown perfect vision: a spiky image of a faraway star photobombed by thousands of ancient galaxies.
The image released Wednesday from the James Webb Space Telescope is a test shot — not an official science observation — to see how its 18 hexagonal mirrors worked together for a single coordinated image taken 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) away from Earth. Officials said it worked better than expected.
Last month, NASA looked at a much closer star with 18 separate images from its mirror segments.
Scientists said they were giddy as they watched the latest test photos arrive. NASA’s test image was aimed at a star 100 times fainter than the human eye can see — 2,000 light-years away. A light-year is nearly 6 trillion miles (9.7 trillion kilometers).
What excited the scientists even more is that the galaxies in the background—and yes, they’re galaxies—are very far, and thus their light began the journey to the scope billions of years ago, perhaps close to the time of the Big Bang. The earliest events in the Universe are what Webb is designed to study. The article adds that the first scientifically useful images will be produced in late June or early July, but so far everything is “nominal”.
*As a reader pointed out yesterday, linking to this AL.com Business article, Doritos now have five fewer chips per bag than they did recently. It’s inflation (or, rather, product shrinkage), of course, but at least Frito-Lay had the guts to admit it:
Food and Wine reports how Doritos is just the latest snack that has fallen victim to “shrinkflation,” an ever-pervasive phenomenon in which beloved foodstuffs are getting cut down to size due to inflation.
WTRF-TV continues to report how the snack’s parent company, Frito-Lay, confirmed this week how shrinkflation is forcing Doritos to shed five chips per bag so, in the words of one representative, they “can give [people] the same price…[so they] can keep enjoying [Doritos] chips.”
News 12 Bronx explains how analysts estimate Frito-Lay will potentially save more than $50 million by cutting down on the number of Doritos chips they put into each bag.
I remember when all the ice cream companies colluded to reduce the size of the big containers from half a gallon to 1.75 quarts. I don’t even know if you can buy ice cream in half gallons any more.
Duck news!: All observers at Botany Pond agree that Honey has returned, and several think that her companion is Dorothy. But there is also a badly-behaved and aggressive drake that we may name “Putin.” And finally there’s Cyndi, the jumping duck who is sweet and eats neatly out of one’s hand, her messier mate Charlie is by her side. These are the only ducks we are feeding, and would want no more than three broods this year. (One can’t prevent more being produced, of course, but ducks don’t tend to hang around when they don’t get fed.)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is looking a bit grotty. Malgorzata says that Hili had just come back from the orchard and her fur was full of dirt.
Szaron: Your fur needs some care.Hili: Lately, I have too many things on my mind to lick myself.
Szaron: Twoje futro wymaga pielęgnacji.Hili: Ostatnio nie mam głowy do wylizywania się.
And little Kulka is up in the trees. She’s a climber, just like Hili:
From Doc Bill. I’m not sure nine-year-old kids should be toting guns; they just make themselves targets. Perhaps this photo was staged.
From Lorenzo the Cat:
From Beth. Many cat owners are familiar with the “litter box exit sprint”:
A tweet from God, who’s really pissed off at Putin:
I clearly have no idea what I'm doing.
— #GodStandsWithUkraine (@TheTweetOfGod) March 14, 2022
From SImon, two days after the anniversary. If you’re an Antarctica buff, you’ll know the story of Captain Oates and his famous statement. The rest of Scott’s polar party died on March 29 or 30.
"I am just going outside and may be some time" #OnThisDay #OTD in 1912 Captain Lawrence Oates walked to his death on the Ross Ice Shelf, believing he was slowing the others down; photo by Herbert Ponting pic.twitter.com/UD6OI7ur89
— The Antarctic Report (@AntarcticReport) March 16, 2022
I got emailed this as a “Twitter highlight”, though I don’t subscribe to such a thing. But this one’s good:
That moment the barista pronounces your name correctly for the first time and yells out "RUSSIAAAA!" infront of 30 people in DC…never more have I wanted to say "but I'm a Sunni Muslim from Mosul" in my life.
— Rasha Al Aqeedi (@RashaAlAqeedi) March 15, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
18 March 1927 | A Jewish girl, Lea Dragica Deutsch, was born in Zagreb.
In May 1943 she was deported to #Auschwitz. 25 of the 75 people in her train car did not survive the 6-day transport. Lea was among them. Her mother and brother were murdered in the camp. pic.twitter.com/Bcgi4pC3bb
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 18, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. Children Without Internet #1:
— Children without internet!😊 (@ChildrenLife2) March 15, 2022
Children Without Internet #2. It’s a good thing I have no kids, because if I did I would severely limit their nonacademic Internet time in the interest of having them get out in the world. But that would only make them pariahs among their peers:
— Children without internet!😊 (@ChildrenLife2) March 14, 2022
Can this be real?
electricity went out and i had a small meltdown at work today pic.twitter.com/C38ie6PNqo
— Pragun Dua 🍟 (@pragdua) March 15, 2022
And let’s keep it this way. However, they do have vehicles in Antarctica, and have had real automobiles there, too. See below:
Stolen on Facebook pic.twitter.com/gGTKAlMMoD
— Thony Christie (@rmathematicus) March 16, 2022
Shackleton brought the first commercial car to Antarctica on the Nimrod Expedition (1907-1909). He thought it might be useful on hard ice, but of course didn’t anticipate the climate, and the car was a miserable failure: It didn’t even have a closed cab!