Al Jazeera Live
Qatar is hardly a hero in the world, but I do enjoy Aljazeera news - especially during world crises.
The Email That Sent Me Back in Time
Yesterday morning I received an email which took me back in time. It was an invite to a reunion of people who had previously been part of the Orlando Magic hype squads. The current iteration is "321 Hype", but back when I did it in the mid 2000s it was the "Blue Crew."
I got the job because, at the time, I was working at an improv comedy theater and we had gotten notice of an audition for new high energy people to be part of the crew. And, as someone who had been a lifelong Orlando Magic fan, I thought it sounded pretty cool. Unfortunately, I couldn't go to the audition because I had a date scheduled during the audition.
But, day of, she called and canceled our date. And, at first, I was feeling pretty dejected. I had really liked her and she gave me a total puff piece of an excuse for canceling. I read the tea leaves and knew we were done. I was laying in my bed at home feeling sorry for myself when I was able to snap myself out of it and I decided to go to the audition - what would the harm be? Being rejected from an audition would hurt less than the date rejection. At the worst, I figured maybe it would be a fun story one day. Either way, it beat sitting at home feeling sorry for myself.
As you might have guessed, I ended up getting hired. I ended up working for the Magic for three seasons. I would wear a straw cowboy hat that had the Orlando Magic patch on it, and then run around the arena. Shoot t-shirt canons into the crowd, etc. It was a good time. Sure, there was running around, but as the big guy I usually ended up with the more stationary roles - like wearing a backpack with an extending hoop and backboard so people in the crowd could throw a plush basketball and try to make baskets, etc. Or, holding one end of the giant slingshots, etc. And when you boil it all down, I got paid to watch basketball - hard to beat that.
My time working with them came the season after I sprained my ankle while I ran the court. As I like to tell it, "I tripped on a painted line." Thankfully the team took good care of me and I recovered fine. They revamped their in-stadium entertainment and I ended up falling off. At the time, it worked out, because I was about to move from a life of gig income to my first programming job.
Fun memories. I'm glad this email popped up and brought it all back to me.
I'm really struggling this morning. My empathy is cranked to 11. A video online of a father saying goodbye to his daughter as he sends her and his wife to a safe zone before he stays behind to fight put me into tears and I haven't really recovered.
This doesn't affect me directly. I could turn it off and block it all out, but I can't. I'm powerless watching this go down on the other side of the world.
Transcript of Ukraine's President Appeal to Russia
Today, I initiated a call with the president of the Russian Federation. The result? Silence. Although the silence should be in Donbas. That is why I come today with an appeal to all citizens of Russia. Not as President. I am appealing to the people of Russia as a citizen of Ukraine.
We share more than 2000km of border. Around it, today, is your army: almost 200,000 soldiers; thousands of military units. Your leadership has approved their movement towards us. Towards the territory of another country. This step can become the start of a huge war on the European continent. The whole world is talking about what can happen any day now. A reason can appear at any moment. Any provocation. Any spark. A spark that has the potential of burning everything down.
You are told that this flame will bring freedom to the people of Ukraine. But the people of Ukraine are already free. They remember their past, and are building their own future. They are building it, not destroying it, as you are told every day on TV. Ukraine in your news and Ukraine in reality are two completely different countries. The most important difference is that ours is real.
You are being told that we are Nazis. But how can a nation be called Nazist after sacrificing more than 8 million lives to eradicate Nazism? How can I be a Nazi, when my grandfather survived the whole war as part of the Soviet infantry, and died a colonel in an independent Ukraine? You are told that we hate Russian culture. But how can a culture be hated? Any culture? Neighbours are always enriching each other culturally. Yet, that does not make them one entity, and does not separate people into "us" and "them". We are different, but that is not a reason to be enemies. We want to build our own history. Peacefully, calmly, and truthfully.
You are told that I am ordering to attack Donbas. To shoot. To bomb without question. Although there are questions: To shoot who? To bomb what?
Donetsk? Where I have been dozens of times? I have seen their faces and eyes.
Artema? Where I've walked with friends before?
Donbass Arena? Where I have rooted with the locals for our boys during the Euros?
Shcherbakova Park? Where we drank together after our team lost?
Lugansk? The home of my best friend's mom? The place where his father is buried?
Note that I am now speaking in Russian, yet no one in Russia understands what these names, streets, and events mean. This is all foreign to you. Unknown. This is our land. This is our history. What are you going to fight for? And against whom?
Many of you have visited Ukraine before. Many of you have relatives in Ukraine. Some of you studied in our universities. Befriended Ukrainians. You know our character, you know our people, you know our principles. You know what we cherish the most. Look inside you, listen to the voice of reason, of common sense. Hear our voices. The people of Ukraine want peace. Ukrainian authorities want peace. We want it, and we make it. We do everything in our power.
We are not alone. It's true, Ukraine is supported by many countries. Why? Because we are not talking about "peace at any cost." We are talking about peace, and about principles, justice. About everyone's right to define their own future, of safety, and everyone's right to live without threat. All of this is important to us. All of this is important for peace. I know this is also important for you. We know for sure that we don't want war. Not cold, not hot, not hybrid.
But, if we are threatened, if someone is trying to take away our country, our freedom, our lives. The lives of our children. We are going to defend ourselves. Not attack -- defend. By attacking us, you are going to see our faces. Not backs -- our faces.
War is a big distress, and it has a big price, in all meanings of this word. People lose their money, reputation, quality of life, freedom, and most important, people lose their loved ones. Lose themselves. A lot of things are always lacking in war. But what is in abundance is pain, dirt, blood, and death. Thousands, tens of thousands of deaths.
You are told that Ukraine is a threat to Russia. This was not true before, not now, and won't be in the future. You want security guarantees from NATO. We also want guarantees of our security. The security of Ukraine - from you. From Russia, and from other guarantors of the Budapest memorandum. Today, we are not part of random security alliances. The security of Ukraine is tied to the security of our neighbours. That is why we are now talking about the security of all Europe. But our main goal is peace in Ukraine, and the safety of our citizens. Of Ukrainians. We are determined to let everyone know about this, including you. War is going to deprive everyone of guarantees. No one will have guarantees of security.
Who is going to suffer from this most? The people.
Who doesn't want this more than anyone? The people.
Who can prevent all this from happening? The people.
If these people are among you -- I am sure they are. Public figures, journalists, musicians, actors, athletes, scientists, doctors, bloggers, stand-ups. Tiktokers, and more. Ordinary people. Ordinary, simple people. Men, women, old, young, fathers, and most importantly -- mothers. Just as much as the people in Ukraine, no matter how much they try to convince you of the opposite.
I know that my announcement will not be aired on Russian television. But the citizens of Russia have to see it. They need to know the truth. And the truth is, that this needs to stop, before it's too late. And if the authorities of Russia don't want to talk to us, for the sake of peace, maybe they will talk to you.
Do the people of Russia want war? I would like to be able to answer this, but the answer depends only on you: the citizens of the Russian Federation. Thank you.
WaPo article from 2014 discussing Economic Sanctions about Russia and Ukraine
David Petraeus on What Iraq Tells Us About Ukraine
A byproduct of me watching the news around the Ukraine invasion, I found myself wondering about who handles the IT needs of the highest level of world politics. Like, who handles coordinating and managing the video calls for the G7 conference? How do they handle the tech needs at the UN?
I cannot love Dave Grohl anymore
I needed to laugh. Thank you Dave.
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