Archive - Jul 2007
Tonight I watched the last episode of the "City of Men" series that has been airing over the last few years on the Sundance Channel. From Wikipedia:
City of Men...was a Brazilian television programme from KÃ¡tia Lund and Fernando Meirelles, the directors of the film City of God....It is often cited as a 'spin-off' of the film; in fact, Douglas Silva who plays Acerola in City of Men also plays Lil' Dice (as a boy) in City of God. City of Men is less violent and more light-hearted affair. However, the two do share some common aspects: the directors, some of the actors, and the setting of the Brazilian favela (slum) with its background of gangsters and poverty. The programme tells the stories of Luis ClaudÃo and Wallace, better known by their nicknames Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha), respectively, who are two best friends who live in a notorious Rio slum, in a community of drug-dealers, hustlers, and teenagers struggling to fulfill their dreams.
It's an interesting peak into life in Rio's slums and the tensions between rich and poor, black and white, honesty and crime. Though I thought it kinda jumped the shark in the series' last two episodes, it was certainly an enjoyable 4 seasons that I'd recommend folks check out. I was also pleased to see that there is a feature-length film in the works for this year.
From an article titled "Administration foiled by own Iraq goals" in the LA Times:
The Bush administration's decision to set benchmarks for measuring the progress of the Iraq mission is now seen by some U.S. officials as a costly blunder that has only aided the White House's critics in Congress and its foes in Iraq.
Administration officials saw them as realistic goals that would prod the Iraqi government toward reconciliation, while helping sustain political support for the effort at home. The yardsticks include steps vital to Iraq's stability: passage of a law to divide oil revenue among the key communities, reforms to allow more members of Saddam Hussein's party back into the government, and elections to divide power in the provinces.
Yet now, with the major goals still out of reach, the administration is playing down their importance. With an interim report on the U.S. effort due out today, administration officials instead are emphasizing other goals” some of which are less ambitious but have been attained.
Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, recently told reporters that while the benchmarks remain important, "We have to look on a wider scale than the benchmarks themselves."
In private, many officials were more scathing in their critique, saying that defining the goals in such a way galvanized resistance in Iraq and gave war critics a way to argue that the U.S. mission was falling short.
I think this is a fine illustration of one of the big problems. These guys see this as a game. Therefore, they think that defining goals was a mistake because it has aided war critics in arguing that the effort is falling short. The problem isn't how short the effort is falling. It's that people know how it is failing.
I was first introduced to the board game Risk by playing it with friends at Bible camp when I was a kid. Last summer when we stayed at the Timberidge Lodge, it was one of the board games in the house. We set it up and started playing...but didn't manage to get very far in the game. Somehow the boys got it in their heads that Risk is the coolest game ever. Last Saturday, while we were at Target, Elliot bought the board game with his own money. Finn, Elliot, and I started a game Sunday afternoon. Finn didn't last long because he got off to a bad start (he doesn't like to lose games) and really would have rather just played with the army pieces. "Risk is SO boring!", he said. Lisa filled in for him. We had to pause the game on Sunday afternoon. We didn't have time to play any on Monday, but we finished the game tonight. In this photo, the victor exults over one of the vanquished:
Last Tuesday, the last full day of our camping trip, we took a hike through the woods out to the beach in Cheybogan State park, played at a public park near the marina, had dinner at The Boathouse Restaurant (which Lisa really liked, photos from their website above), and went to see Ratatouille.
Here are some photos from the shore:
We spent last Monday on Mackinac Island with the Lakrouts. As I mentioned before, it is populated with lots of bikes and horse poop. We didn't bother to go in the Grand Hotel because it's $12 per person just to go in ($345 per night for the smallest room). We spent most of our time at Fort Mackinac which provides a steady diet of interesting presentations in addition to the typical self-guided tour.
Here are some photos: