M’aidez! M’aidez!!

As a kid, I thought pilots in trouble screamed this from their cockpit to mark May Day, the start of summer in Europe on May 1, halfway between the spring solstice of March 21 and the summer solstice of June 21. That’s absurd, you say. But no more so than Vladimir Putin using next Monday to celebrate his..uh..victory over Ukraine.

May 9th is Victory Day in Russia, marking the date in 1945 when the Nazis surrendered to Soviet troops in Berlin. Red Square is awash in strutting troops, guided missiles and tanks galore. This May, though, not so much. They’re all needed at the front. But reality plays no role here: Putin may use the parade to announce the start of the real war against Ukraine.

No matter, because the Cold War just keeps bubbling along. On Monday, the CIA told Russians how they can secretly volunteer information via an encrypted link to the agency’s website. As the Washington Post said: “The hope is to attract intelligence — and potentially gain more access to official Russian secrets — from disaffected people who have been trying to contact the CIA since the war began, officials said.”


1. Reality is just one form of perception. Look at this. And then, this. But this, oh my.

2. Manhattan fixer-upper for $22 million. Speaking of perception, this abandoned mansion on the Upper West Side needs a lot of work, which contractor Anna Karp is happy to show you, floor by floor.

3. Dissing disinformation. President Obama spoke last week to the graduating students at Stanford, saying “one of the biggest reasons for democracies weakening is the profound change that’s taking place in how we communicate and consume information.”

Then three minutes to the end of his remarks at the 2022 White House Correspondents Dinner, Trevor Noah addressed the same issue. “I stood here tonight and I made fun of the President of the United States and I’m going to be fine. Do you really understand what a blessing that is?”

4. How’s your saltiness sensor? Soon, even your sense of taste could be replaced by a robot. Cambridge researchers have created a robot that can test the taste of meals and flavour to suit.

5. Dinner with Her Majesty. In 1996, the American novelist Paul Theroux was invited to dine with Queen Elizabeth. Here’s his recounting of that odd event.

6. Oliver Burkeman is my new best friend. I discovered him online, of course, and he writes about the things that really count, like how to become slightly happier and get a bit more done, or happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking. You can stay in touch via his free blog.

7. Two very short flicks. The first is Goldman vs. Silverman. While they were making Uncut Gems, the Safdie brothers shot this gonzo movie on the streets of Manhattan, starring Adam Sandler and Benny Safdie as competing buskers.

The second, Why Your Attention Sucks, tells you why.

8. How to be a first sentence. Think about this the next time you crack open a book, though no one under 90 ‘cracks’ them open these days. But we all have a few opening sentences of great books rolling around in our heads. The question is, would we remember them if the book was mediocre? Likely not.

9. Optimism isn’t just one feeling. It’s a bunch, and choosing the right form of it may save you in these perilous times.

10. Rita Hayworth is stayin’ alive. She appeared in 61 films over 37 years and died in 1987. But here she is, dancing the night away, still.


It’s one thing to dream of the South Pacific. It’s another to go.

It’s still another to let Lindblad Expeditions take you.
This is why Jean and I are gathering friends like you, 50 in all, to join us as we sail from Fiji to Tahiti from February 23 to March 10, 2024.
You might think that’s a long way off. However, Lindblad’s expeditions are like opera stars; they book up a couple of years in advance.
We’ll be aboard the 102-guest National Geographic Orion, a beautiful expedition ship that’s a conduit to exhilaration rather than a temple of excess.
We’ve been on two of Lindblad’s luxury adventure cruises before, to Antarctica and the Spanish-Portuguese coast. On board and on shore, we were in the hands of the most experienced experts and crew on the seven seas. One evening during “Recap” with cocktails and appetizers in hand, we saw “The Monster of the Day” that our expedition divers filmed from the ocean floor. And if you think kayaking in Antarctica is riskier than on Georgian Bay, well, it’s safer in Antarctica because the Lindblad people are so on top of it.
All to say, we’ve come to expect the best in comfort, dining, adventure and safety from Lindblad. Our view is confirmed by Condé Nast Traveler who last year declared them to be the #1 Small Ship Cruise Line in the world.
As for where we’ll explore, the South Pacific is not just one of the most storied and exotic places on earth, it’s down the road from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and all of Asia. So you can make this trip part of an even bigger foray into a purposeful global journey.
We hope you can join us.
For more information on this and other RamsayTravels adventures, click here. And, please also forward to your like-spirited friends.

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1 thought on “M’aidez! M’aidez!!”

  1. Judith Green

    Bob, today’s blog was great.
    “How to be Incipit” about an author’s search for the perfect first sentence for their book reminded me of an event I saw online recently. 2020 Prix Goncourt-winner Hervé Le Tellier and nine of the almost 40 translators of his work were filmed at the culmination of a week-long translation residency with the author. Each translator spoke in turn of how they had wrestled with trying to render Le Tellier’s first sentence…”Tuer quelqu’un, ça compte pour rien.” “You realize when you’re a writer that you don’t think of your translators,” says the 2020 Prix Goncourt-winning author.

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