About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

07 October 2006

"Sundowners" on Lion's Head

At the last SASSU-UCT meeting, we decided to go up Lion's Head as a sort of last committee thing. Despite three people baling at the last moment, it was a great last team event; although, to be honest; sports at UCT tends to run itself, so SASSU does not really do much (or claim to do much, like SRC). I say "sundowners", because although the intention was there, none of us brought anything other than water; but it was a great hike up Lion's Head; and a wonderful view of the rising full moon; and a setting sun.

Clouds come in (quite fast), and envelope Signal Hill. By the time it was dark, virtually all of Cape Town was enveloped in the cloud and mist.

Some of the SASSU-UCT collective (Gary, Cheryl, Tarryn, Jacob)

Fraser strikes a pose

The hike down was quite interesting, under the moonlight and without torches. What made it even more interesting was the fact, that for the most part we were above the clouds, thus able to see the stars. Sadly, my camera and my photographic skills are quite lacking to give a really good perspective. A pic of the path down anyway ...

05 October 2006

Movie: Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage (The Final Days)

Another movie from the EU Film Festival; and this was Germany's entry for the Best Foreign Film award at the Oscars this year. The plot is about Sophie Scholl and other members of "The White Rose", a anti-Nazi German, mainly student movement, in operation near the end of the WW2. What was interesting about many members of the The White Rose, was that most of them had actually spent time at the front lines; or were intimately connected to the front lines. The movie recounts the last days of The White Rose; from the arrest of Sophie Scholl (and her brother Hans), her interrogation, the show trial and finally the execution.

What is really amazing is the dialogue, and the arguments - not only by Sophie Scholl, on why Hitler's war strategy was wrong, and the war needed to end; but also the Nazi arguments; on why their course of action was correct - and would ultimately succeed. It is an intellectual debate that makes the movie worthwhile. But it is also the stark difference in arguments between the interrogator - whose arguments are philosophical and largely logical; and the judge (and chief prosecutor rolled into one) at the show trial - whose arguments are basically propaganda and righteous beliefs; that make it so interesting.

In many ways; the arguments are like present day Iraq situation; the Israeli-Palestinians conflict or indeed the Iranian Nuclear Enrichment tug of war ... both sides in the disputes have perfectly logical arguments; but these are all drowned by the rhetoric and the passionate preaching, often by both sides. It seems that, history truly repeats itself, often.

03 October 2006

UCT Student Leadership Awards

Before I rant, congratulations to Chad for being awarded, for the second year running, the Student Leadership award for Postgraduate Students.

And now to my rant, I was nominated for the leader in sport, but just before the ceremony yesterday, I realised that it was not listed on the presentation schedule. I learnt from the MC, that it was not going to be awarded, because there was no suitable candidates meeting the high standards. I would have left it at that, except, one of the deputy vice chancellors, Prof. Nhlapo, came over during the reception and I was obliged to fill my curiosity, and ask him why it was not awarded.

His response was, that there was only one nomination, and therefore the award was not awarded because there was no competition. It is a position, I sort of understand; but baffles me none the less ... for two reasons. Firstly, why announce that there was no suitable candidates for the award ... because it implies that there were nominees and none of the nominees met the standard. Secondly, it implies, and Prof Nhlapo did concur when I raised it, that even if there a brilliant leaders who are nominated, they will never get the award if they have no competition ... it just seems so absurd.

In either case, my main motivation for the awards was not really the money (which would have been good, considering the crappy exchange rate) - but to prevent what has happened in the past, where the winner has been the SRC sports rep, who did not play for any sport teams and did not really belong to any sport clubs. In fact, most of the winners last night were from the SRC ... an amazing fact, considering the debacles of the SRC this year ...

Movie: Antonio Guerriero di Dio (Antonio, Warrior of God)

It's the European Film Festival again; although it seems to be a lot smaller affair. This is Italy's contribution to the festival, a biopic on Saint Antonio.

The movie begins with a shipwreck, with two survivors - Fibonacci (the mathematician) and a monk; and a supposed treasure. For the most part, the story focuses on the Monk, Antonio - who, as the film progresses is shown to be greatly admired by the general populace; because of his humility, and his affinity to the poor. For the large part, Fibonacci does not feature in the movie; except in the almost incidental contribution of the Arabic number system to the West; which is taken advantage of by a prominent money lender, who employs him. Antonio's major fight in the movie is against greedy money lenders, who feed of the poor and the unfortunate, but Fibonacci and Antonio are not shown together again.

It is a story about a Saint, and so it was like many religious movies, a bit preachy. The story, while simple, was not well told, in my opinion ... and Antonio's illness was never really explained. What was great about the movie though, was its cinematography - it's a stunning film, taking full advantage of some beautiful churches and medieval architecture.

A different comment: It is amazing to note how many scientific advances have been made on the back of persecution (or towards to cause of persecution) of other humans.