This Disconnected Reality: Putin, Oscar and the Last Great Race on Earth

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I’ve had three things on my mind today, and each deserves a separate post.

The more I think about them, the more I realize they’re quite interconnected, at least in my own mind. See if you see what I’m seeing.

Return of the Cold War: Russia invades Ukraine

Putin is a bully, and the world needs to stop allowing him to prance around bare-chested with a fishing pole in his hands while millions of Slavic people suffer the whims of the ultra rich, those corrupt and bankrupt souls of the post Communist era. Ukraine is more important than most people think. Obama is showing off just how weak our foreign policy is these days, and as someone so eloquently wrote today, Putin is playing chess, while Obama is playing checkers. America cannot possibly intervene, at least militarily, in all of the world’s conflicts, but it can stay consistent in its messaging and follow-through on its threats. For those of you who say let Putin have Crimea, you might as well just toss in the rest of Ukraine too. It’s a toe-hold on one of the world’s most important regions. For those of you who ask why we should care, I say it’s much harder to catch a strongman who is killing people slowly through neglect or starvation when he already owns everything in sight. It’s much easier to stop a strongman when he is aggressively peeing on the fences around his own home than when he’s killed the neighbors and claimed their lands for himself.

The Oscars: Watching a show about shows I’ve not seen

I don’t think I’ve been to a non-animated movie in a theater in more than two years. If I did see a non-animated movie since then, it was definitely not memorable. With the advent of Apple TV and Netflix, I tend to wait around for movies to roll through their theater phase and into rental phase, though I often wait until they’re just included on Netflix, for which I pay just $9.99 a month. Why not theaters? It costs us $75 to take the whole family to a movie in the theater these days, which just busts our entertainment budget. So why do we watch the Oscars as if we care about anything that occurs during the three-hour salute to mind-numbing wealth and irresponsibility? The only thing I can think of is the Royal pageantry of the old world. If the king or queen was on parade, we’d line the route to draw as close as possible to that rarified air. We don’t have royals, but we have celebrities. Today we decided to watch at least two of the films up for best movie. We watched “Captain Phillips” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” and after watching both, I think more highly of both Matthew McConaughey and Tom Hanks than I ever have. This is the art of acting.  And even though I haven’t seen it, I have a feeling that “Wolf of Walls Street” will win for best film if for no other reason than we are a nation of narcissists.

Iditarod: The greatest athletes in the world are not human

I’ve wrestled with my love of sports lately (pun intended). But I’ve not come to any conclusion as to whether I should rid my life of this love affair or not. For now, I will remain a fan of the greatest race this world has ever known. Not for the humans who race across the wilderness in high-tech survival clothing but for the greatest athletes out there, the Alaskan huskies that are bred and born to run. I’m fascinated by two sports not for the prowess of the people who race but for the relationship to the animals who carry them. They are horse racing and dog racing. In these two sports we prove the relationship between the alpha species of the planet and the species we may have domesticated but never truly tamed. And the relationship is symbiotic rather than dominant. Yes, the dogs pull the musher on his sled, but who does this really benefit? The dogs want to win, and in order to do so, they need a man or woman with them. The sled is a means to an end for those beautiful huskies. It allows them to carry their human with them in an easier manner. The horse does not need a man or woman on his back to win the race, or maybe it does, but it certainly benefits from a human sitting back there and keeping an eye on who is behind them and who is closing in.  We may be narcissistic, but we’ve led the world in human rights and animal rights advocacy.

Perhaps I should have kept these posts separate, but I’ve written them here now, so I’ll just post them together. You can see if you make the connection between the three that I did. And If you’re interested in following my Storify coverage of the Iditarod all the way from Chicago, you have only to click here.

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