Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Blogaround

I'm not sure how much of the Olympics I'm going to sit through (although it'll probably be more than PSoTD), particularly if they keep emphasizing women's volleyball with those inappropriate uniform bottoms, but I have to say that the opening ceremonies were quite impressive and strikingly beautiful, to the point where they made me feel positively provincial. And really, if you think about it, harping on "harmony" in such a disharmonious time for the Chinese government is no different than repeating the mantra of "freedom" while the American government takes away more freedoms all the time. I know that our government's definition of "freedom" actually translates into "unfettered capitalism and the illusion of consumer choice" -- I wonder what "harmony" actually translates into for most of the billion-plus Chinese people? Ah well, lots to get to, I haven't done a blogaround since before Comic-Con:

• Lots of bloggers have of course been discussing the Edwards affair, Elizabeth's response and so forth. Although I think John's poor judgment is something to take into consideration when considering his ability to be an effective leader, and my heart positively breaks for Elizabeth, I'm afraid I can't quite get behind her plea 100%. When you choose to become a public figure, you also make other choices, such as the knowledge that you will have less personal privacy, and you adjust accordingly or reconsider a career in front of the cameras. I think we're going to start to see this discussed a lot more now that we're in such a Warholian age, where everyone who presents themselves for public scrutiny online has to acknowledge they're giving up a measure of autonomy and agency. (I'd been waiting for Melissa's reaction, and she finally weighs in here.)

• Speaking of political celebrities (and yes, as everyone else has pointed out, McCain's been one far longer than Obama), I think Adam Felber has the best take I've read so far on playing the race card. And goodness, Barry's willing to give McCain's campaign the benefit of the doubt as regards the dog whistles in that ad, but says it's besides the point anyway.

• I haven’t yet watched the episode of No Reservations where Tony Bourdain meets up with Ted Nugent, but I thought his post about separating politics from the point of his show, which is travel and discovery (particularly about food). I thought this particularly interesting in light of being warned away from the Nuge segments, although I must say I don't necessarily think Tony has that much of a problem with the Nuge considering one of his idols is the late crazy gun-toting bastard genius Hunter S. Thompson.

• My other favorite foodie about whom I sometimes have weird dreams, Alton Brown, gets a nice profile in Chemical & Engineering News (via Bruce Watson at Slashfood).

• When I'm not watching the Olympics or food shows, I'm catching Olbermann on DVR-delay (after his Hillary-bashing and considering I have zero interest in the political horse-race statistics over which he and his company of players often salivate, I don't often watch the show live) and, even though I can fast-forward through the ads, I was always uneasy with the little I saw of the T. Boone Pickens time-purchase. I knew he couldn't be all that altruistic with all his "I used to be a staunch Republican but now I want to save the world" stuff. Kevin Drum takes a closer look at the "Pickens plan" and concludes that this so-called savior is anything but altruistic, as most of us figured.

• Meg Frost goes cuter than usual with Cute Overload's illustrated Alice in Wonderland passage.

• One of the things that's bugged me about Obama's speech in Germany (remember that? it was ages ago, wasn't it?) was his constant conflating of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Just because they're both despicable groups doesn't mean they're synonymous. The former harbored the latter during the 9/11 attacks, but now most of the Al Qaeda creeps are thought to be holed up in Pakistan, our supposed ally whom we're so afraid to confront (due in no small part to their actual, rather than theoretical, nuclear weapons) that we don't say boo when the people there try to impeach their local dictator because we can't even accomplish that here. But I digress. At HuffPo, Mark Levine has a good primer about the differences between the two groups of Muslim extremists.

• Meanwhile, the other celebrity running for president is not the maverick the media claims him to be and, says Lance Mannion, never was because that word they use, he does not think it means what they think it means. Oh, and Billmon's back!, with a post about McCain that can't overstate the obvious enough.

• I always think it's exciting when efforts are made to preserve ancient texts (via Jessica at Bookslut). It'll be interesting to see how they translate the texts; guest poster Sam at Feministe has a couple good posts about thathere and here. This is the kind of stuff I've been trying to explain to people for years; you cannot take a document like the Bible literally because it's just been through so many translations and had omissions and additions and whatnot. It's not the product of one time or place or people or belief, it's cumulative and evolving. So it's ridiculous to treat it as, well, gospel. Also of note from Sam, one of those essays that make me say, somewhat sarcastically, there but for the grace of Hashem go I...

• Cool, Jessica's teaching a course at my old alma mater in one of my old majors. I would have seriously maimed to have taken this course back in the '70s.

• I'm probably the last blogger to publicly congratulate MadKane, although at least I've emailed her. I adore Mad, and there's nobody I know who's more deserving of this honor! Next time I see her I'm going to ask to touch The Newhart Letter.

• As previously mentioned, Comic-Con is long over by now, but I still wanted to acknowledge Rachel Edidin's open letter to the obnoxious hugger-guy, Bully's fabulous photos, Melissa Silverstein lamenting the position of women at the con without a single mention of Friends of Lulu which has been advocating for women in comics for over 15 years now, and Val's very nice plug of Robin's new project (among other news announced at SDCC).

• Speaking of plugs and comic book pros, I'm once again grateful to Marv Wolfman. *mwa*, Marv! And my favorite sparring partner Trina Robbins is back with another blog post!

• Courtney at Feministing doesn't get the whole teen idol phenomenon. Oh honey, I'm here for you any time you want an earful about my David Cassidy years; I used to study this mindset even when I was deep in it. And Echidne reports on a study claiming to have figured out this whole music thing biologically speaking. Funny, if music is akin to a mating call of sorts, how come so many people sing in showers where they can't be heard by potential mates? And it's only male warbling that counts? I know tons of successful female musicians wouldn't mind smacking this guy upside the head with their various axes and other instruments. Can we start with Annie Lennox and work from there? (Naturally, the idiot seeks to prove his point by noting how many more men than women make their living from music, which is kind of like saying American superhero comic art is a male-only mating thing because there aren't as many women doing it!) Oh, and happy Vinyl Record Day!

• Having seen Mamma Mia, Lis decides to review lots of current tropes about female characters, including Gail Simone's Women in Refrigerators bit and, of course, the Bechdel "Mo Movie Measure." Barry adds another one of which I'd previously been unaware, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl!

• Melissa and lots of others are talking about the fake lightening of BeyoncĂ© Knowles skin tone. I'd very much like to see Cheryl Lynn devote a blog to this sort of thing, it's disgustingly prevalent. But what does one expect if existing while black is still considered suspect?

• I was too late to watch any of the solar eclipse, or the Perseid showers, but hey, I'm not too late to catch a city of domed houses.

• Do not come between Ken Levine and his Free Cell game. Just don't.

• You know, it's not like the government doesn't do a lot of good things, like deal well with earthquakes. It's that there are too many damned obstructionists stopping it from doing more good, so they can turn to the American people and say "see, government doesn't do any good!"

• Then again, it should come as no surprise when some governments decide to punish the poor, again, even when it's in the name of so-called health.

• Lastly, my heart goes out to bullied girls everywhere, but I may still be too close to some memories to read what sounds like an excellent book.

And so, to bed! This should fill out my content section for a bit. :)