The cats of war.

God, modern war is weird.

I know I’m about 10 years late with this take — the Arab Spring uprisings are generally considered the first social-media wars — but there’s something about this one that hits different. Between the social media AND the propaganda AND the weeks-long buildup AND the real-time video and punditry and all the rest of it, it’s like watching a very strange movie with a participatory element.

I have not added a blue-and-yellow flag to my various avatars. Here’s my contribution: A week or so before this started, I bought four spots at a dining pop-up for us and another couple. The co-chef is a former student of mine and a talented journalist of Ukrainian lineage, who immigrated here as a boy, in fact. The original theme was Russia (I and the other couple are Russophiles, and have been talking about a trip there for a while) but after the invasion, it was changed to a tribute to Ukraine, a couple of courses changed, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to relief organizations. So now, instead of beef stroganoff for the main course, we’re having chicken Kiev, and if you suspect I am embarrassed to write that sentence, you are correct. We all do our parts. This is mine. And it feels very much of a piece with the strangeness of this war: Admire me, world, for I have posted a meme. Also, what’s your corkage fee?

I found this Twitter thread interesting:

A couple days ago I found a tweet that showed Ukrainian soldiers cuddling cats, allegedly rescued from the streets, wreckage, whatever. Two of the soldiers were women, and both were wearing makeup. Here’s one.

Maybe I don’t understand modern warfare, but I’d think a soldier doesn’t have time to worry about makeup when bombs are falling. Maybe they do. I’m not a veteran; maybe someone could explain.

I also want to talk about “Attica,” which I watched my last night on the road, when I had Showtime on my hotel TV. I checked in around 5 p.m. and by the time I turned out the light, I’d watched three-fourths of the Cosby series and “Attica,” although I was getting woozy toward the end and watched it again last night. Jesus Christ, what a difficult experience, but a searing one. I knew the basic outlines of the story, but not many of the details, and had never seen the photos, which were ghastly. It ain’t a Pixar flick, but if you are interested in racism and justice, it’s essential. Find a way to see it.

OK, then. Here comes Wednesday, and probably more cats-in-wartime photos.

Posted at 8:51 pm in Current events, Movies |

38 responses to “The cats of war.”

  1. Jeff Borden said on March 1, 2022 at 9:09 pm

    Ukrainians–both men and women– are considered some of the most attractive people in Europe. But it’s pretty clear those photos are ultra posed.

    There’s growing speculation Putin may be the conductor on Crazy Train. Man, nukes change everything. Putin would be a punch line if he weren’t capable of ending all life on Earth.

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  2. basset said on March 1, 2022 at 9:47 pm

    We already had a blue & yellow windsock on the front porch to celebrate Mrs. B’s Swedish heritage, but the colors are close enough that it could be mistaken for something Ukrainian… fine with us.

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  3. Icarus said on March 1, 2022 at 9:56 pm

    I was really hoping by now someone would offer Putin a choice: soft coup or bullet through head

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  4. Deborah said on March 1, 2022 at 10:19 pm

    I just watched all of the SOTU on the internet because we no longer have cable. I had hesitated beforehand because I didn’t want to add to my overwhelming anxiety, but lo and behold I thought it was excellent. I’m not watching any of the followups because I just can’t. Tides are turning, I really think so, even in this country. The Republicans who didn’t clap or stand at parts of it looked like assholes. I hope this is the beginning of the end of them.

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  5. Deborah said on March 1, 2022 at 11:36 pm

    The thing that I found most frightening about the Fiona Hill interview that I linked to in the previous comment thread was her speculation that Putin’s puffy face might be a result of him taking serious steroids. I had read an article in Outside magazine written by Stuart Stevens (a former Republican operative who is a committed never Trumper now) a while ago about his experimentation with steroids for personal and journalistic reasons. He said that some wealthy people use steroids to increase their stamina, vitality and overall aging abilities. And that using steroids can mess with your head. I found that scary. Some have said that his puffy face is the result of Botox, poorly administered. Who knows?

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  6. Dexter Friend said on March 2, 2022 at 12:57 am

    As the lady with the glasses perched up in her hair-do told Joe in the welcoming/exit line, “You knocked it out of the park!” Yes he did. With very little of his sometimes cursed stutter and stammering, President Biden even elicited some bipartisan applause when he announced all Russian aircraft will be banned here. Putin is getting the screws tightened around his big invasion plans, but McFaul said after the address that he fears Putin is screaming at his troops’ failure to have obtained surrender and it is now about to get really ugly with a massive all-out assault towards Kyiv and all those other towns. He already pulled off a Dresden-like attack on Ukraine’s cultural city, a place with 20 universities and zero military strength. Nice guy, bloodthirsty bastard. Putin is losing it, and he has his hand on the nukes. Stay informed.

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  7. David C said on March 2, 2022 at 5:56 am

    I was on a ten day dose pack of prednisone and it really does mess with your mind. I barely slept and my emotions were all messed up. I didn’t feel like fighting anybody but little everyday thinks got amped up to 11. I remember dropping a spoon and I reacted like I dropped and broke something really expensive. Mary was like “we have other spoons, calm down”. So Pootie-poot being on steroids sounds pretty plausible.

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  8. nancy said on March 2, 2022 at 7:09 am

    Not all steroids are mind-altering. Prednisone has anti-inflammatory properties, although I can’t speak to the effects on your mood. I think what Hill was talking about are anabolic steroids, like bodybuilders take. He’s infamously vain — remember all the shirtless photos — and those are the ones that can lead to the infamous ‘roid rage and personality changes. For some reason I thought Putin was 64 (my age), but I read recently that he’s 69. He looks exceptionally young for 69. I wouldn’t be surprised if all those doctors who help dope the Olympic athletes make a stop at Putin’s dacha, too.

    Prednisone infamously gives you “moon face,” though. One of my fave Sopranos scenes is when Adriana’s doctor wants to put her on prednisone for her bowel inflammation, and explains that she’ll gain weight and get a puffy face. She moans, and her mother hisses, “She’s planning a wedding for Christ sake!”

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  9. Deborah said on March 2, 2022 at 8:44 am

    As Maureen Dowd said, Putin is the kind of guy who’s 5’6″ but says he’s 5’7″.

    I’m leaving in a bit to take our Jeep in for service. When it rains it pours.

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  10. Mark P said on March 2, 2022 at 9:02 am

    There are some mighty damned smart Russians, and I suspect some are highly placed in the military. They would know what nuclear war would mean, and I suspect (hope) they would balk if Putin tried to push the button in anything but an existential crisis for Russia, and the West is making sure everyone knows they do not pose an existential threat. Russians are not monsters, even though Putin can do a pretty good impression of one.

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  11. LAMary said on March 2, 2022 at 9:22 am

    I think MTG has steroid face. Her behavior would fit in with that theory.

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  12. David C said on March 2, 2022 at 10:03 am

    Yes, for sure. Prednisone is almost nothing compared to the gym pharmacy stuff. It really messed me up though.

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  13. Jeff Borden said on March 2, 2022 at 10:18 am

    Remember Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov ? He was a Soviet colonel on duty in 1983 at an early warning radar station when an underling reported at least one missile and up to six had been fired by the U.S. toward the USSR. Luckily for the world, Petrov didn’t do his duty and push the big red button because he felt the missile launch report surely must be incorrect. And he was right. World War III was averted.

    Let’s hope there are many Petrovs sprinkled through the Russian military. And let’s hope the oligarchs who keep Putin propped up understand they won’t be able to sail their mega-yachts to one of their dozen homes if Planet Earth is a bombed out cinder.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on March 2, 2022 at 10:23 am

    Prednisone just kept me awake and then of course I got very grouchy. D found it gave him euphoria, along with erasing every little ache and pain. His reaction showed me how attractive it could be. I keep reading that those who’ve known Putin for years see changes in him. Personally, I think it’s the soul-rot, eating him from the inside.

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  15. Mark P said on March 2, 2022 at 11:02 am

    My father had pulmonary fibrosis. When he had trouble breathing or was coughing too much, prednisone was the only thing that helped. Unfortunately, it erodes the bones. By the time he died, he was hunched over from bone loss in his spine. It’s a miracle drug, only it’s not.

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  16. Deborah said on March 2, 2022 at 11:33 am

    Here’s the article from 2003 in Outside Magazine by Stuart Stevens about anabolic steroids and what they can do to you

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  17. Icarus said on March 2, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    And what did Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov get for his trouble? According to his Wikipedia page, he got reprimanded for not documenting it enough (he must have had my Office Nemesis’s grandpa as a manager). Naturally, the Kremlin/USSR spun it as no one person could launch the missiles. At least they didn’t make him play Russian Roulette.

    We were talking about the Wright Brothers on the previous thread. A quick search reveals there were just patent issues and arguments about whether they really invented the airplane or modern-day aviation. Nothing too scandalous.

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  18. Bitter Scribe said on March 2, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    “Attica” is amazing. I still don’t know how that got that horrible footage. I had been completely unaware of the savagery of the attack that took back the prison. I had also forgotten that all the hostages were killed by their so-called rescuers.

    I think Volodymyr Zelenskiy is the first true, undisputed hero of the twenty-first century.

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  19. Jeff Borden said on March 2, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    This morning I heard national security expert Malcolm Nance discussing the woeful performance of the Russian military in the invasion of Ukraine and his clear-eyed assessment of just what Putin has gotten himself into with this act of war. . .a very large nation of 44 million that will never allow itself to be ruled from afar after tossing out his last pro-Putin stooge. He also alluded to the poor quality of young Russian soldiers.

    So, there’s this. . .

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  20. Dorothy said on March 2, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    Bitter – not all of the hostages were killed. Nine hostages and 29 inmates were killed when they re-took the prison. Another hostage died a day or two after the uprising began. When the prisoners overtook the prison, 42 officers and civilians were taken hostage.

    My sister Chris takes steroids for a health condition occasionally and truly ‘balloon face’ describes perfectly what people look like. Literally they look like their heads are balloons. A woman who was in my Pittsburgh Wednesday night quilters group also looked like this when she was on a course of steroids. The appearance when they were OFF the steroids is remarkable and very obvious. I don’t think Putin looks like either my sister or my quilting friend. But I do believe the man is not in his right mind.

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  21. Julie Robinson said on March 2, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    Jeff B, Heather Cox Richardson also mentioned self-sabotage among Russian troops in last night’s letter. Beyond that, she said they are leaving soldiers’ bodies where they are rather than the humiliation of body bags showing up back in Russia. It truly shows that Putin and those in charge of the military care nothing about their own citizens. They are cannon fodder and nothing more.

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  22. LAMary said on March 2, 2022 at 5:17 pm

    Hey, I’m 69. No serious wrinkles, just the 11 on the forehead, and no grey hair. I can’t remember something I looked up an hour ago but 69 is the new 64.

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  23. LAMary said on March 2, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    And I just heard some commentator on NPR say that Putin grew up fighting on the tough streets of Leningrad in the 50s and 60s. He must have started very young.

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  24. Deborah said on March 2, 2022 at 9:55 pm

    Holy Cow, I just read that Kyiv is about the size of Chicago. Hard to fathom a city of that size under siege.

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  25. Dexter Friend said on March 3, 2022 at 3:20 am

    I was on Prednisone twice for gout, years ago. It’s a miracle drug. I was already all puffy from the booze so I did not notice.
    I am still grinding my teeth in rage over MTG’s oafish behavior at the SOTU, screaming at Joe as he spoke , and she was accompanied in this ridiculous charade by Lauren Boebert, and I wished the fucking Sergeant at Arms would have escorted both those assholes out a side door into the street. It was even worse than the South Carolinian who yelled “LIAR!” at Obama during his first SOTU speech; Joe just let it ride, but Barack was taken back for a second. This on the heels of MTG’s crazed speech in front of those fucking white supremacists.
    I just finished the long miniseries “Inventing Anna” on Netflix. This is one of the most entertaining series to date. The acting is superb, and the NYC cinematography is beautiful. It’s not really aimed at women, strictly; I enjoyed the hell out of it. A one word review: outlandish.

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  26. Jeff Gill said on March 3, 2022 at 6:48 am

    They’re just trolling to get Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon doing a skit on SNL about them. Which will be worth watching, but still.

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  27. David C said on March 3, 2022 at 7:24 am

    I ordered something on Etsy a couple of days ago and today I got an email from the seller apologizing for any delays because his country was at war. So I look at the seller’s site again and saw “From Ukraine”. If I had seen that I’m not sure I would have ordered from him. I guess I’m glad I didn’t see it.

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  28. Jeff Borden said on March 3, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    Russians with the means are fleeing the country on rumors Putin will declare martial law tomorrow. Russians are not allowed to take more than the equivalent of $10K, which apparently is designed to keep them from staying away too long.

    Meanwhile, the Duma is considering a law that would send anyone protesting the invasion to the front lines.

    Putin is crazy. Scary crazy.

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  29. David C said on March 3, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    The FSB is planning public executions in Ukraine. Those mofos are sick and desperate.

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  30. Jeff Borden said on March 3, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    A wealthy Russian who lives outside Mother Russia has put a $1 million dollar bounty on Putin’s head –dead or alive– for war crimes against Ukraine. But the little weasel is super paranoid and surrounded by security personnel at all times. Supposedly that’s why he’s sitting so far away from others at those absurd oversized tables. No way to poison him from those distances.

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  31. alex said on March 3, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    I read earlier that a lot of the Russian soldiers are teen-aged boys who are ambivalent about the whole thing once they arrive in Ukraine to find that the mission was misrepresented to them such that they would be hailed as liberators. Here’s hoping that enough mutineers peel off to make the entire effort fail.

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  32. ROGirl said on March 3, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    The other day I was talking with someone at work about this and said there could end up being a coup in Russia against Putin. He laughed it off, but where is this whole thing going to end?

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  33. Jeff Borden said on March 3, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    A nuclear power plant in Ukraine–the largest in Europe– is on fire.

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  34. jcburns said on March 3, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    The plant itself may not be on fire, but the Russian troops are shooting at firefighters. Watching and trying to understand the violence from thousands of miles away is…exhausting. (And maybe pointless.)

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  35. Dexter Friend said on March 3, 2022 at 11:11 pm

    Maybe the young troops are like Muhammad Ali, the way Ali felt about Vietnamese people, “No Viet Cong Ever Called Me Ni&&3r”. Maybe they think they are on the wrong side of this horrible invasion.

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  36. alex said on March 4, 2022 at 7:38 am

    Tucker Carlson tore that one out of Muhammad Ali’s playbook and turned it upside down. He has been telling his audience that Vladimir Putin never argued for defunding our police, putting curricula in our schools to guilt-trip white children into hating themselves, or threatening to confiscate our weapons, yada yada, so he has nothing against Putin and neither should the American public, who should be hating on Biden and Democrats instead. And as agitprop goes, this isn’t even the most inapt or absurd stuff being put out there right now.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if even China decides that its ties to Putin aren’t worth the trouble it could cause with its international relations and drops Putin like a hot potato.

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  37. Jeff Borden said on March 4, 2022 at 9:58 am

    Stories in the NYT today paint a gruesome picture of Russia’s economic future in the wake of the Ukraine invasion. . .one that will reverberate for decades after this ugly, stupid war is over. And then there’s the military prospect of cowing a nation with the land mass of Texas and a ferociously brave and patriotic population. Scant comfort to Ukrainians, I guess, but this will be a textbook Pyrrhic victory for Putin and his thugs.

    Do you think this war and the global reaction to it will finally kill off this foolish obsessions with “America First?” Can’t even the most blinded red hat moron see how interconnected the world is and how ridiculous it is to believe one nation can stand alone? Will it dawn on conservatives that the slavish devotion to fossil fuels funds some of the worst dictators and dangerous madmen in the world?

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  38. susan said on March 4, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    Jeff Borden @37. In answer to all the questions in your last paragraph: No.

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