Most Utilitarian energy this week was spent Black and White and Startlingly Offensive All Over our roundtable on race. Extra thanks to Steven Grant for his guest contribution.

Also of roundtable-related interest, Supergirl artist Jamal Igle stopped by in comments (he’s got a couple of comments, so scroll down.)

Almost buried in all the roundtable activity, I had a brief post explaining why Jeet Heer is wrong, wrong, wrong about what should be done with the Comics Journal.

And finally this week’s mix, featuring disco and Amerie and Thai pop is available for download.

Off HU

Bert Stabler has posted an email conversation between the two of us about Slavoj Zizek, self-identity, and the gender of god. If abstruse, confusingly formatted philosophical discourse is your cup of tea, this just might be your divine non-tea aporia/emporia. Here’s a bit from Bert:

You’e right, it’s definitely all about love– love cannot be easily dissociated from sin. It’s almost the only reason to keep a transcendent God– so that there’s some magic wall that keeps His fecundity and violence from being similar to our own. That magic wall became the death of Christ– it’s almost as if what died on the cross was not only the certainty of a transcendent dimension, but also the banal self-identiity of the tangible world. Take that, equivocal/univocal/paradoxical academic philosophers!

My review of John Ronson’s book Men Who Stare At Goats (now a major motion picture, as they say) is online at Splice Today.

But is evil less evil just because it’s ridiculous? One of the most diabolical scenes in the book doesn’t occur in a torture chamber or in a warzone, but in a friendly interview with Christopher Cerf, a longtime writer of Sesame Street songs like “Put Down the Ducky.” Some of Cerf’s jingles seem to have been used in interrogations, and he and music supervisor Danny Epstein joke and riff on the idiocy of the military (“Put Down the Ducky” could be used to interrogate members of the Ba’ath Party, they suggest) and the possibility of collecting royalties from the government. As Ronson notes, though, “The conversation seemed to be shifting uneasily between satire and a genuine desire to make some money.” Cerf and Epstein, in short, think the government is ridiculous and the war on terror a joke, but their humor has no moral edge. They don’t care that their songs, intended for children, are being used to torture human beings; on the contrary, they’d like to turn a profit on that torture. Their laughter is what James Baldwin called “the laughter of those who consider themselves at a safe remove from all the wretched, for whom the pain of the living is not real.”

I have an interview with 33 1/3 series editor David Barker over at Madeloud.

My mixed review of Sokai Stilhed’s latest album is up on Madeloud as well.

A review of Amerie’s new album is at Metropulse.

And a brief review of Stephen Asma’s book On Monsters is at the Chicago Reader.

Other Links

Nina Stone’s review of Gotham Sirens, complete with sticky mess is pretty fabulous.

It was nice to see Robert Stanley Martin giving Lilli Carre some props. She should be more appreciated.

I kind of doubt I’d actually like this Captain America comic all that much, but Sean Collins’ enthusiastic review of it is entertaining.

Similarly I’m still not that big a fan of J.H. Williams, but Jog’s heartfelt appreciation of him is hard to deny as a labor of love.

Rich Watson begs for DC to take simple steps to make JLA suck less.

And finally, I’m sure no one cares and that it just shows my own poor fashion sense, but I think Rihanna looks great, damn it.