Where we are now: The ship’s real-time map shows that last night we headed north, threading ourselves through the confusing farrago of fjords, inlets and channels, to approach Puerto Natales, where we’ll have a three-hour land excursion today, stay moored tonight awaiting those guests coming back from Torres del Paine National Park, and then head further north tomorrow.
The Chilean fjords await, though I don’t know how much we’ll get to see of them.
I have no photos from early this morning as we’ve been told we’re in an area of bird strikes, and have been asked to keep our curtains drawn and the lights lower when it’s dark. It started out a gloomy day, and by 7:45 there was enough light to take pictures. Patagonia!
I lecture at 8:30 this morning (what an ungodly time to roust passengers out of bed on a lazy day!), and, given the tour later today, posting will be light. But that’s okay: reading seems to be light, too, and I fear once again this site is circling the drain.
Welcome to Sunday, March 27, 2022: Whisky Day (without an “e”). Give me an aged Springbank any day: my favorite whisky-ish tipple. Here’s an expensive bottle:
If you want to help out with “this day in history”, go to the Wikipedia page for March 27 and give us your favorite notable events, births, and deaths.
Here’s today’s headline in the New York Times (click on screenshot to read):
And the paper’s news summary:
President Biden ended three days of diplomacy in Europe on Saturday that brought him within miles of the war in Ukraine, using a speech in Poland to rally American allies for what he said would be a long fight and escalating his personal denunciation of Vladimir V. Putin, saying the Russian leader “cannot remain in power.”
Mr. Biden described the war in sweeping terms, as “a battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force.” He portrayed it as part of a long struggle against authoritarianism, linking it to past uprisings against Soviet domination in Eastern Europe.
I listened to Biden’s speech, and it was okay but not of Churchillian proportions. But his statement about Putin, which I think was made off the cuff, has excited a lot of speculation. Did Biden mean that there should be regime change in Russia? I can’t see any other interpretation, but the administration walked back that construal later:
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Mr. Biden said Saturday, his cadence slowing for emphasis.
On its face, he appeared to be calling for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to be ousted for his brutal invasion of Ukraine. But Mr. Biden’s aides quickly insisted that the remark — delivered in front of a castle that served for centuries as a home for Polish monarchs — was not intended as an appeal for regime change.
*If it wasn’t, what was that remark supposed to mean? It’s either a call for his removal or his death, and either way it’s regime change. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued a masterpiece of Secretarysplaining:
“We do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia – or anywhere else, for that matter,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday from Jerusalem, stressing that Biden’s point was that the Russian president “cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else.”
If that’s what Biden meant, why didn’t he say it. And why is this so important? Is it because Putin might regard the “regime change” interpretation as some sort of declaration of war?
In the meantime, Mariupol seems to be on its last legs, and the NYT reports that people are trying to effect “daring escapes”, since the beleaguered city is surrounded by Russians. Now the Russians have begun extensive shelling of Lviv in western Ukraine, once a haven for those fleeing the Russians. In the face of all this, Zelensky has asked NATO for more planes and tanks, though I haven’t heard him call lately to “close the skies,” which wouldn’t solve Ukraine’s problems but would create bigger ones for Europe.
*The new toll of dead Russian generals is seven in five weeks of combat.
“It is highly unusual,” said a senior Western official, briefing reporters on the topic, who confirmed the names, ranks and “killed in action” status of the seven.
In all, at least 15 senior Russian commanders have been killed in the field, said Markiyan Lubkivsky, a spokesperson for the Ukraine Ministry of Defense.
NATO officials estimated earlier this week that as many as 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in four weeks of war, a very high number. Russia has offered a far lower figure, reporting Friday that only 1,351 of its fighters had died.
The Russian government has not confirmed the deaths of its generals.
*The Washington Post has a convenient illustrated guide to the weapons being used in the Ukraine/Russia war, ranging from cluster munitions to hypersonic missiles. Here are two particularly nasty ways of killing people that have probably been used by the Russian Army in Ukraine.
Here’s a nasty group: the thermobaric weapons:
*The Oscar awards, which are losing t.v. viewers faster than the Miss America contest did, are tonight. For what it’s worth, here are the predictions of the Associated Press:
Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion’s gothic western, comes in with a leading 12 nominations and a good chance of snagging the top award. But all the momentum is with Sian Heder’s deaf family drama “CODA,” which, despite boasting just three nods, is considered the favorite. A win would be a triumph for Apple TV+, which acquired the movie out of the Sundance Film Festival last year and has spent big promoting it to academy members.
But expect the most awards on the night to go to “Dune,” Denis Villeneuve’s sweeping science fiction epic. It’s the odds-on-favorite to clean up in the technical categories.
But in an op-ed in the NYT, Ross Douthat says it’s not just the televised award show that’s on the way out, but the movies themselves. In his column “We aren’t just watching the decline of the Oscars. We’re watching the end of the movies“, Douthat doesn’t claim that movies themselves are getting worse, though he does suggest that, but rather that movies as a genre are disappearing:
No, what looks finished is The Movies — big-screen entertainment as the central American popular art form, the key engine of American celebrity, the main aspirational space of American actors and storytellers, a pop-culture church with its own icons and scriptures and rites of adult initiation.
This end has been a long time coming — foreshadowed in the spread of television, the invention of the VCR, the rise of cable TV and Hollywood’s constant “It’s the pictures that got small” mythologization of its own disappearing past.
. . . this combination of forces pushed Hollywood in two directions. On the one hand, toward a reliance on superhero movies and other “presold” properties, largely pitched to teenage tastes and sensibilities, to sustain the theatrical side of the business. (The landscape of the past year, in which the new “Spider-Man” and “Batman” movies between them have made over a billion dollars domestically while Oscar hopefuls have made a pittance, is just an exaggerated version of the pre-Covid dominance of effects-driven sequels and reboots over original storytelling.) On the other hand, toward a churn of content generation to feed home entertainment and streaming platforms, in which there’s little to distinguish the typical movie — in terms of casting, direction or promotion — from the TV serials with which it competes for space across a range of personal devices.
Under these pressures, much of what the movies did in American culture, even 20 years ago, is essentially unimaginable today. The internet has replaced the multiplex as a zone of adult initiation. There’s no way for a few hit movies to supply a cultural lingua franca, given the sheer range of entertainment options and the repetitive and derivative nature of the movies that draw the largest audiences.
It’s a rather confusing piece, and sometimes contradicts itself (the movies are getting worse; no, the movies are as good as ever), but I agree with Douthat on one thing: watching the movies in a proper theater (and by that I don’t mean the Crackerjack boxes that pass for “theaters” in multiplexes) is an experience completely different from watching one on a television set or—Ceiling Cat forbid—on a phone. The whole way of making movies is affected by how they’re seen; there’s no substitute for the giant screen that immerses you in the story.
An offer: if you manage to guess the Big Six—awards for best picture, best director, best actor best actress, and best supporting actor and supporting actress, I’ll send an autographed book (of mine) of your choice (except Speciation), to either your or a recipient of your choice, autographed and with your choice of messages and a special cat drawn in by me. Or just put your guesses down below for fun. Here’s a list of all the nominees. Sadly I haven’t seen a single one of the nominated films.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is stymied, but reassured by Andrzej.
Hili: We do not know the future.A: It may be better that way.
Hili: Nie znamy przyszłości.Ja: Może to lepiej.
BFFs Szaron and Kulka on the outside windowsill:
From Barry, who swears that the book on the left is real:
From Divy, who does have a favorite spatula. But that’s the only criteria in this list that I don’t fulfill:
From Merilee: Cat as bagpipe. Sound up!
From Titania. Remember, this is defended by the America Cheetah Liberties Union:
This brave trans-species athlete just smashed Usain Bolt’s world record in the 100m.
So thrilled to see that the cheetah won. 👏🥳 pic.twitter.com/K9Mrrkj0bG
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) March 18, 2022
From reader Barry. This guy seems insidious, but remember, he’s just doing what Allah tells him, and he gives you two good options.
ATTENTION: Famous Muslim scholar says in 40-50 years Muslims may be strong enough to fight and enslave the Non-Muslims, as they should. pic.twitter.com/8VHF84TdIR
— Ridvan Aydemir | Apostate Prophet 🇺🇦 (@ApostateProphet) March 23, 2022
After Life benches, like the one Ricky Gervais sat on with his grieving friend who helped him to live, are springing up everywhere in the UK. Again: watch all three seasons!
Thanks for all the @theCALMzone #AfterLife bench photos. There are now more in Sheffield, Reading, Hemel Hempstead, Isle of Wight and Leeds. We've made them easier to find using @what3words (see the map). Post-codes for each bench also listed. #hopeiseverything #afterlifes3 pic.twitter.com/DO0lSRZqrg
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) March 24, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First, an Honorary Cat®:
— Ricowells (@Ricowellss) March 23, 2022
A puggle gets released (one of my bucket-list items is seeing one of these in the wild):
— Tahneal Hawke (@tahneal_hawke) February 1, 2018
Live and learn, biology department:
The pectinate claw on toe 3 of a nightjar, made for keeping the feathers clean, especially around the wide-mouthed gape that the beak does to captures insects from the air at night! #trackingisoriginalwisdom #cybertracker #birdtracksandsigns #wildlifetracking #tracksandsigns pic.twitter.com/sOurRutrGQ
— Kersey Lawrence, Ph.D. Tracking (@MfaziNkonzo) March 15, 2022
Note the special bristles around the nightjar’s gaping mouth, which may help guide prey into the mouth when it’s hunting. Those things need to be groomed!
“You can’t go home again”—genetics version:
— Kevin Mitchell (@WiringTheBrain) March 14, 2022
The cloned cat looks pretty much like its predecessor, but the staff reports that their personalities are completely different. The “scientific” explanation makes some sense, but a substantial amount of variation in behavior, at least in people, is due to differences in genes. (p.s. You can adopt a lot of cats for $25,000.)
ViaGen told The Sun that it guarantees that they’ll look identical but the animals will develop their own personality because that’s based on external factors.
Those factors include how many animals are in the house, what the animal is being fed, how the cat is raised, among dozens of other nature-versus-nurture impacts.
Anderson said Belle’s personality “is completely different” from Chai.
“They have some baseline personalities that are a little similar. Like they’re very bold, sassy, cats, but that could be the breed. But Belle is a totally new cat.”