08/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

You Now Have No Excuse To Know Nothing About China

In addition to hot summer books, the latest Quinnipac poll and what's new with the Montauk Monster, you now have one other topic to not be ignorant about: China. The Olympics about to begin (8.08.08!) and this ain't no Torino, baby: It's Beijing, and there are issues at stake far bigger than Michael Phelps', well, we're just assuming here.

There's the fact that China's a rising superpower. Then there's its concomitant energy consumption (OMG STOP STEALING ALL OUR OIL!) and its co-concomitant pollution (welcome, athletes, to our smog-filled city!). Then there's the whole human rights thing (welcome, Falun Gong and Steven Spielberg to our smog-filled city!) and, more recently, the Great Olympic Media Internet Blackout (Hu Jintao, tear down this firewall! Oh, good, thanks. HuffPo readers, rejoice! Or not.) There's the very real issue of security (and its top-down authoritarian playmate, hyper-security), and then, inevitably, there's the backlash. Who says there's no news going on in China? Steve Capus, your guys are going to be busy.

So! There's a lot out there to read up on, and I've included a few samples at the bottom of this post (you might want to start with National Geographic's "China's Journey" by Peter Hessler, who won an Ellie for reporting for his piece, "China's Instant Cities," and who was the subject of my favorite speech that night by his EIC Chris Johns, who said "I can't say enough good things about Peter Hessler," so he didn't say any).

Otherwise, there is PLENTY to watch on NBC (and — from "Great Wall Myths and Facts" with Matt Lauer to "Lessons in Chinese Etiquette" with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford. Our pick is "Welcome To Beijing" with Kevin Tibbles, because he is a hardy Canadian, and also because it gives me an excuse make a joke about "The Trouble With Tibbles":

I know, this is blatant Tibble-mongering. But it gives me an excuse to put a Star Trek tag on this thing, which just totally goosed my traffic. It's true! Remember that whole Grup thing? As if that was just because Adam Sternbergh knew what he was talking about. He's Canadian too. So, for that matter, is Captain James T. Kirk. But otherwise, I'm totally neutral about who wins these Olympics.

China's Game Face [B&C]
The China Issue [GOOD Magazine]
The China Beat: Blogging How The East Is Read
[China Beat]
Our Man In Shanghai [The Atlantic]
Our Women In China [China Beat]
China's Journey [National Geographic]