Taken

We enjoyed this movie in which Liam Neeson kicks ass.

We were skeptical about liking Taken. In fact, I was worried that Amber would get very sentimental about any harm coming to the kidnapped daughter. Sometimes being a parent makes us emotionally unstable, hahaha!

What we got was some nice action and a fun movie overall. I rate it 7/10.

The Dark Side

Jane Mayer’s book on the torture regime of the Bush administration is a must-read for anyone interested in politics, civil liberties, war on terror.

I guess you could figure out that I was reading The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by my recent blogging on torture.

This is a must-read book by Jane Mayer. It follows the torture story meticulously and focuses on how the policy developed. It is clear from the book that there were some major villains in the Bush administration who pushed for torture and got their way most of the time. John Yoo, David Addington and others shut the actual officials who were supposed to make national security policy (at the subcabinet level) out. However, the cabinet principals don’t come out looking good. They were either indifferent or supportive of the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques”, properly known as torture.

While there are several people mentioned in the book who tried to stop torture by the US government, there were also lots and lots of bad guys, lawyers who wrote or approved torture memos, military, civilian and CIA personnel who approved, condoned, supervised or actually tortured suspected or actual terrorists and intelligence, military and law enforcement who consumed the results of torture investigations. There are times when I feel like the Obama administration should release the names and deeds of all those people, anyone who was in any way involved with the torture policy. I know it’s not going to happen and isn’t really fair either.

What should be done is to release all the information about US actions and policy with regards to torture. For example, the thousands of pages of the CIA Inspector General’s May 2004 report.

Slumdog Millionaire

It seems everyone loved Slumdog Millionaire except me.

It seems everyone loved Slumdog Millionaire except me.

The movie started out well and when the main characters are children, it was a good movie. Seeing Mumbai and the slums there was captivating in a way. However, this was no City of God.

Then everyone grows up and the plot becomes Bollywood-predictable. I lost interest in the movie then, though the friends we were watching it with were engrossed.

Also, Anil Kapoor didn’t do a good job playing the host of Who’ll become a millionaire. May be they should have tried Amitabh Bachan who hosted it on Indian TV.

I rate the movie 6/10.

Bahamas Cruise

We went to the Bahamas on a Disney cruise in late March. It was a lot of fun, especially for the Kid.

In late March, we went on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas.

We drove to Port Canaveral, FL and boarded the ship from there.

Another ship
In the port
Disney Cruise Ship
Bird
 

As soon as we were on the ship, Michelle saw the pools on the top deck. There was one for kids, another for families and one for adults (almost empty). She spent a lot of time in the children and families pools.

In addition to good food and other activities, there was a show every evening. Here are some photographs of the Disney shows.

Disney show 1
Disney show 2
Disney show 3
Snow white, Mickey and Minnie
Toy Story musical
 

The evenings and nights were when the ship was on the move.

ship
sunset
sports on top deck
 

Our second day was spent in Nassau, Bahamas. We walked around a bit and took a van tour of the city.

Ship in Nassau
Gun
Fort Fincastle
View from fort
ship from fort
Shopping at fort
Atlantis resort
Fountain at Atlantis
Paradise Island
Top of Atlantis hotel
Inside Atlantis resort
Backyard of Atlantis resort
Horse carriage
Entrance to Nassau from ship
Paradise Island
Night view
 

The next day we stopped in Castaway Cay, a private Disney island in the Bahamas. It was beautiful. It was a bit windy that day with high waves (though not in the beach area) and so all boat excursions were canceled. But it was still a lot of fun to hang out on the beach and have a barbeque for lunch.

Flying Dutchman 1
Flying Dutchman 2
Walking path
Disney Wonder and Flying Dutchman
Play area on the beach
Flying Dutchman 3
Disney Wonder
View of Castaway Cay
Beach
Lagoon
 

As soon as we were back, Michelle started saying that she wants to go on a cruise again.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

It’s a movie based on F.Scott Fitzgerald’s story of the same title of a man who ages backward. I liked it.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a movie about a man who ages backwards. It is based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It’s a good movie which I had fun watching. I rate it 8/10.

The Audacity of Hope

I read Obama’s book about his political program during the election and inauguration.

I don’t usually read books by politicians, especially about current politics. However, being an Obama supporter and volunteer, I thought I should read his book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

I had already read Dreams From My Father and loved Obama’s writing style. The Audacity of Hope is also written well. Of course, I liked Dreams From My Father better, but that’s because of its subject of autobiography and identity.

The Audacity of Hope was written when Barack Obama was a US Senator and I started reading it a bit before the election. I finished it around inauguration time. As to why I didn’t read it earlier? I got it early in 2008 but then most of my spare time was consumed by the election campaign. I started the book only when I went to Pakistan for a couple of weeks in October.

In this book, Obama explains his views and his political program. Having followed his career since his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, I was familiar with a lot of his views. But two things still stood out. One is how Obama is actually fairly moderate. The other is Obama’s tendency to give an honest airing to conservative views and even agreeing partly before arguing for his liberal viewpoint on any issue. This quality, the so-called post-partisanship, was evident throughout the book.