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).

13 September 2008

Movie: Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad)

Most of the movies I have seen featuring Rio de Janeiro are about the favelas, or the slums, the druglords and the gangs that rule the favelas together with the (usually corrupt) cops. Tropa de Elite, is a documentary style, movie about the elite cops - BOPE - who try to make sense of it all.

Blood runs through the movie - but it is not only violence - the movie is an unflinching look at the whole ecosystem: cops are sometimes corrupt becuase they cannot survive on their measely salaries; because taking bullets is not worth it. And gangs and drugs do not exist in isolation: the gang lords are effectively funded by the rich/middle classes who consume the drugs and at the same time hate the favelas and the police. It is a vicious circle.

The style and cinemtorgraphy is amazing - and a thumping sound track keeps up the pace. It is an amazing movie - even if life is cheap and blood flows down the hillside.

09 September 2008

(Nearly) Free Education?

Time has an interesting story about tertiary education in the United States - currently one of the most expensive places to have tertiary education. Basically, a number of universities are replacing student loans with grants, using the household income as the basis to determine eligibility.

This is certainly a noble pursuit - after all, if knowledge is meant to be free; surely financial ability should not impact the dissemination of knowledge. And I do not understand the author's argument, that this ultimately has a ripple effect on other universities who cannot match the generosity of the institutions with large endowments (such as Harvard). Because - does that matter?

Surely, a prospective student will only really look at two factors - the quality of the education offered by the institution and the can the student afford it. In that light, will a student who can get into Harvard (and now afford it) really look at alternatives? Yes, it does raise the prospect that the "good" students will only be going to a select number of universities - but is there any different to the present scenario?