Saturday, October 07, 2006

Maths, Fluffy Subjects and the War on Terror

During work hours I deal with Civil Engineering students and academics; shear tests, torsion and suction caissons. In my lunch hours and after work I study History in Fantasy, Fantasy in History and Magic and Marvel in Early Narrative; consensus reality, subversive literature and radical ideology. In the dark hours of the night I keep an eye on the political opponents of the Bush Administration; comedians, cable TV commentators and Islamic scholars.

In the last two days I have been able to hear almost 20 of our 60 students give 15 minute talks on their final year thesis' and I have been literally floored by the presentations. Needless to say I was only able to utilise basic understanding of the concepts covered to understand the content, but some of the students were so utterly gifted at explaining engineering background, method and results that even the Arts student kinda got it. The time, talent and theorising that I have been able to witness in the last two days is still making me feel like I walked with giants when I lunched with the students on Friday.

My Honours is, well, let’s put it this way – in my English tute I made a less than flattering comment about the translation of Sir Launfal that we were studying and the tute fell so silent that there was ACTUALLY the sound of a cricket. The translation was our tutor’s, and while I flushed to the roots of my hair when I realised I had missed this important piece of information, I did not feel obliged to apologise nor retract my comment. In other words, it is brilliant! I am no longer an awestruck undergraduate and I can stand by my opinions even in the kind face of one of the foremost scholars in the field, who has always been a supportive tutor and mentor. Intellectual backbone ahoy!

Watching America watching the Bush Administration is another intellectual exercise altogether. I barely read the Australian newspapers now, especially since most of the best articles end up having a by-line from a northern hemisphere reporter and newspaper. It is Norm Jensen at onegoodmove and zeFrank at The Show that provide me with my multimedia survey of US politics and I can’t tear my eyes from them and the news they report because I want to KNOW when the most powerful democratic hegemony in the world really starts to subvert it’s own political system.

I have collated three different strands of the last months in US politics below.

First of all I have Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s Countdown, and his special comments on the Bush Administration. Like his hero Edward R Murrow (whom I have written about here), Olbermann is prepared to say what others are afraid to.

Secondly, for the purposes of illumination of one of Olbermann’s Special Comments, I have included the footage of Clinton’s Fox interview.

Each video is about ten minutes long, and I have the transcripts of the Special Comments and Clinton’s interview if you were interested in reading instead of watching the commentary, but I recommend watching the footage to get the feel of the delivery.

And finally I have some footage of one of my newly discovered commentators, Reza Aslan. These are all YouTube videos.

And so, without further ado – a little slice of the world of those left at home in the War on Terror …

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

August 30 2006: On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said administration critics suffered from "moral or intellectual confusion.” “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann responds.

Special Comment August 30 2006

Special comment on Bush's speech

September 5 2006: In this special comment on President Bush’s speech, “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann says Bush will regret following in the footsteps of Donald Rumsfeld in comparing war critics to Nazis.

Special Comment September 5 2006

Olbermann: This hole in the ground

September 11 2006: "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann offers a special comment about 9/11 five years after the terrorist attack.

Special Comment September 11 2006

Bush owes us an apology

September 18 2006: "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann offers a special comment on President Bush's Rose Garden news conference on Friday.

Special Comment September 18 2006

Olbermann: Clinton spoke the truth

September 25 2006: "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann comments on Bill Clinton's interview with Fox News, and calls for an end to President Bush's "free pass."

Special Comment September 25 2006

Clinton's Fox interview

September 24 2006

Special comment on lying

October 5 2006: Keith Olbermann addresses the difference between enemies and critics in a special comment.

Special Comment October 5 2006

Reza Aslan on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

April 21 2005

Reza Aslan on The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert

April 17 2006

Reza Aslan on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

August 21 2006

And finally and blissfully, the entire episode of Real Time with Bill Maher on September 22 2006 with Reza and Bradley Whitford, who portrays Josh Lyman on The West Wing – my favourite member of the virtual Bartlett Administration.

Bill, Brad and Reza September 22 2006