vendredi, juillet 20, 2007

An evening with "Forensic Files"

Another night of dateless bliss caused, this time, by the sense that I didn't want to coddle one more lost male soul short of a warm body in his bed and a listening ear-not that I usually give them both, you understand. One or the other, that's my rule-guess which one they usually get?

I've got a whole list-line up and take a number, gentlemen.

Instead I mowed the lawn, ran, and enjoyed the cool evening along with the boaters and dog walkers down by the park. Channel surfing after dinner, I came across the real crime drama "Forensic files." I might have known someone associated with the show once-or perhaps I didn't. Know them.

At any rate, I was impressed by the spare screenwriting, not a word wasted. I was also fascinated by how the interviews with real people-prosecutor, professor, police chief- blended into the story along with the staged recreations.

The writers and producer don't pretend to tell more than the stories, which are compelling enough. My only caveat is that the "truth" behind these stories, the motives, the emotions, are much more profound, and more inscrutable, than what we can know.

The show offers watchers the thrill of watching scientists and technicians arrive at certain conclusions-and solve the crime. But even in doing so, they fail to solve the mystery behind the acts-the ever present "why?"

mercredi, juillet 18, 2007

There was a story on BBC News yesterday about a fishing village down the Tigris River from Baghad. Before the war, it was an ordinary village-now it is more than ordinary. It is a morgue for the bodies that are dumped into the river, and flow down the Tigris-sometimes headless, sometimes undentifiable. Many have been blindfolded-before they were shot or killed in other inhuman ways.

The people of this poor village do what they can to identiy the bodies. They take pictures for the relatives of those missing fathers, or mothers, or kids...they bury the bodies that are unidentifiable.

The people of this village did not ask for this burden-they did not demand this war. Neither did many of us. And a lot of United States citizens who believe we were in Iraq to fight terrorism and birth a democracy now oppose the war.

According to some surveys, as many as 75% of Americans think the war is not going well. As an article in today's NYTimes that recounts the Democrat's decision to pull a bill with a timetable they knew would go down rather than allow Republican alternatives has fascinating data from the latest New York Times/CBS News poll: " 6 in 10 Americans say Congress should allow financing for the war in Iraq, but only on the condition that the United States sets a timetable for the withdrawal of troops. Still, 28 percent say Congress should allow all financing for the war without conditions. Just 8 percent of those polled said Congress should block all money for the war."

Yet Republicans blindly, or cynically, stick by a delusional President-and Democrats can't seem to come up with a plan that moderate Republicans will affirm. No wonder George Bush thinks he can flout the desires of the American majority. Thousands of men and women die in Iraq each month, and still it all seems to come down to a chilly senatorial political calculus.

Lord have mercy on us. More so, on the suffering families of Iraq, who bury the unknown dead-and dream of more peaceful times under a brutal dictator.

lundi, juillet 16, 2007


Glancing out the glass doors to the deck, I expect to view the soft twilight reflecting gently off the green grass, the solar lights in the garden starting to glow against the creeping dusk that has already covered the vegetable garden and trees in its darkness. Unfortunately, my view is obstructed by a lot of junk on our deck.

Ever imaginative, Sian has assembled a chain and rope arrangement that would not be out of place in a medieval torture museum. A sled (as in winter sled), slanted against the stairs, is at the end of the rope. With the help of the hose that I use to water my garden, the sled becomes a water slide.

I mow the lawn, and almost run over the hoe she has used to dig in the infamous mudhole. A soccer ball on the grass closer to the house-a croquet mallet that is being used for a purpose unimagined by its creator-a bike lying directly behind my car.

All of these could be seen (and are sometimes seen) by me as one more mess to pick up-or to remind the children, in my favorite early Christian martyr voice, to get out and pick up. And yet I also soak it in---the privilege of a childhood spent, at least in part, playing games on the grass, picking up fireflies in the dusk, aiming the garden hose at friends on the sled/slide until their parents call them for lunch-these are the kind of memories I hope my children treasure.

dimanche, juillet 15, 2007

"The Lost Queen"

We watched "The Lost Queen"-a documentary about Queen Hatshepsut, the woman who ruled as a Pharaoh. Her mummy has been lost for 3,500 years, and the Discovery Channel did a documentary on how a group of multicultural and telegenic archeologists solved the mystery (hope I'm not spoiling the end of the story for you).

I let Colin and Sian stay up until 11:00-it's just the kind of slightly mad behavior this mom indulges in occasionally. They may be very tired kids tomorrow-but it was educational!

I kept wondering, being a skeptical journalist, about the monetary relationships between the Cairo Museum and the station (I imagine the archeologists were just excited to be part of the show, but I'm not sure of that).

Apparently Discovery paid for a lab in which a lot of the genetic material could be analyzed-so did they get dibs on this incredible story? The Museum seems to be a center for tens, maybe hundreds of mummies, sarcophagi, and other historical material-how wonderful for them to have a lab. Does The Discovery Channel get the next huge story out of Cairo?

By the way, Colin in particular was glued to the screen. I must look at the Discovery Channel website to see what other time periods might be of interest to my thoroughly contemporary kids.