A Trio of Scandals and some Links

At the Pegasus Pulp blog, I chronicle the latest developments in the sockpuppet review scandal in a series of three posts and respond to some of the more hyperbolic sockpuppeting defenses, which liken being against fake sockpuppet reviews to being opposed to free speech, being a witchhunter, an agent of the Spanish Inquisition, a mafia hitman, a Communist and a McCarthyist Communist hunter at the same time. No, I have no idea how this is supposed to work either. Never mind that we’re still talking about book reviews here.

Talking of scandals, Germany has a juicy political scandal, for Bettina Wulff, wife of ousted German president Christian Wulff (remember him?) has now sued several bloggers, popular talkshow host Günther Jauch and Google for spreading malicious rumours about her alleged past. Here is an English language article with plenty of photos of the glamourous Mrs. Wulff and her infamous tattoos. For the record, I find it kind of depressing that the fact that a first lady (or former first lady in this case) has tattoos is controversial in Germany in 2012.

The most interesting bit of this scandal – apart from the fact that anybody who had not heard of those rumours before (and I for one hadn’t) has heard of them now – is the suit against Google, for Bettina Wulff has issues with the autocomplete feature, which suggests rather salient terms when one enters her name. Head over to Google and try for yourself – it really works, even with international Google. Google, by the way, defended itself with stating, “Well, it’s not as if we actively suggest autocomplete phrases. That’s the way our algorithm works and it’s based on actual search queries.” Never mind that Mrs. Wulff has just set of a Google suicide bomb here.

The malicious rumours about Mrs. Wulff’s past allegedly originate within Christian Wulff’s own party, which against begets the question just what it was that Wulff did that pissed off his own party so badly. Especially since he was the golden boy not so long ago. The official media largely ignored the rumours, but then a member of the Lower Saxony state parliament forwarded the rumours to an 88-year-old blogger specializing in climate change denial and conspiracy theories, who considered it his duty to publicize what he considered “the truth”. Why anybody decided to take this guy seriously, even though he’s clearly a nutcase, is beyond me.

There are also suspicions that Mrs. Wulff’s timing regarding her decision to publicly speak out against the malicious rumours about her is a bit too convenient, for Mrs. Wulff has an autobiography to peddle. I might as well link to the book – it’s here. Check the review average.

More scandal: The latest report on the Hillsborough disaster finally states that most of the blame falls on the police and emergency services and that there was a cover-up. The most damning bit: 41 of the 96 Hillsborough victims might have survived, if more efforts had been made to save them. Even more amazingly, The Sun – which published a disgusting condemnation of the dead Liverpool fans before the bodies were even cold and caused one of the most successful boycotts in history – has apologized and published the findings of the report on their front page. Many of the Hillsborough victims were my age (the disaster happened two days before my 16th birthday) and I’m very glad to finally see some sort of justice for them. Too bad it took 23 years.

Finally, I also have a couple of links that are entirely non-scandalous (I hope):

The shortlist for the Deutscher Buchpreis, which is the most important literary award in Germany, has been announced. The German Book Award is infamous for always awarding the same kind of novel, a family saga set against the backdrop of either the Third Reich or Communist East Germany, preferably both. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised that several of this years nominees sound actually pretty good and include a contemporary take on Robinson Crusoe, a gonzo spy novel set in the Sahara, the story of a woman struggling to develop the perfect font (Fontpunk? Letterpunk? Typefacepunk?) and a weird, possibly SF-nal mystery about vanishing children suffering from a mysterious illness and a teacher who’s way too curious for his own good. Of course, the fact that several of the nominated novels actually sound interesting and different will probably guarantee that the award will either go to the novel about the struggle of an anti-Nazi judge in postwar Germany (important real history TM) or the dull sounding tale of middle class midlife crisis (if we can’t find a family saga, a midlife crisis novel will do).

Yesterday, Kulturzeit, an arts program on German TV, ran a feature about Amanda Palmer. The video is still available online here – with a bonus appearance by Neil Gaiman as well.

Lynn Viehl of Paperback Writer has some ideas and inspiration for writing short stories. I like her idea of using a random line from a non-fiction book as a prompt and might try it sometime.

At the blog of Ksenia Anske, SF writer and indie superstar Hugh Howey wonders whether plot and character and story may matter more to readers than good writing.

On a related note, The King of Elfland’s Second Cousin wonders why thrillers outsell science fiction, since both genres are closely related. Found via Charles Tan. His point is certainly interesting, though I find that I cannot read techno-thrillers in the Tom Clancy mode, because they’re basically tech specs interspersed with occasional plot and cardboard characters. And I get enough of tech specs in my translation business.

Marvel Comics has Cyclops, now possessed by the Phoenix force, which has apparently become bored with possessing Jean Grey all the time, kill Professor Xavier (spoiler whiteout) in the latest X-Men versus Avengers crossover. I guess my lack of excitement about this shows how long I’ve been out of comics. Besides, it’s hardly the first time this has happened.

The Delmenhorster Kreisblatt remembers the Delmenhorst drive-in cinema, which was the only drive-in in our region and pretty damn spectacular, when I was a kid. I remember driving past the cinema with my parents when I was a child and catching glimpses of the films playing on the big screen and wondering what they were about. Apparently, it was mostly softporn. Still, I always wanted to go there and see a movie some day, but I never got around to it, because the drive-in closed in 1992, 21 years after it first opened, a victim of changing habits and its own enormous energy hunger.

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9 Responses to A Trio of Scandals and some Links

  1. Estara says:

    That Kulturzeit link was fun, but I was goggle-eyed when they described Gaiman as famous cartoonist (It must have been because of Sandman) before they mentioned him as a writer. Still, Vienna is probably one of the few places he can walk around fairly unrecognised.

    • Cora says:

      I gasped at the “cartoonist” bit, too. I guess whoever did the report googled Neil Gaiman, found out that he used to write Sandman and assumed he had to be a cartoonist. Makes me wish that they’d sent Dennis Scheck to interview Amanda Palmer. At least he would have known who Neil Gaiman is. Or even better, have Dennis Scheck interview both of them.

      • Estara says:

        We can dream, heh.

        • Cora says:

          Actually I do wonder how any cultural journalist worth his or her salt can have both Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer sitting there and interview only one or the other, when you can interview both and have twice the programming material.

          • Estara says:

            Agreed. But he’s just GENRE, after all, not alternative artsy-fartsy, so who cares :P /sarcasm

            Maybe if it had been Herge or Moebius he would have had a change of heart? Maybe if it had been J.K. Rowling? Even the cultural journalists must have taken note of the Harry Potter phenomenon.

            • Cora says:

              The culture journalists have taken note of graphic novels, because in the past two weeks I’ve seen an interview with Art Spiegelmann and a feature about what sounds like the worst most depressing graphic novel about a Jewish boxer during the Holocaust on cultural programs like this one. It’s still mainly gloom and doom stuff, though. Neil Gaiman would be much too cheery.

              And literary fantasy and SF might as well not exist as far as these programs are concerned. I’ve seen interviews with Terry Pratchett (about his euthanasia activism, not his books) and Frank Schätzing, that’s more or less it. Dennis Scheck, a critic who has a monthly book program, is an SFF fan and sometimes plugs genre writers such as Patrick Rothfuss or Susanna Clarke.

              Yeah, I’m an avid watcher of cultural TV programs. At least I’m getting something for my license fees, since I don#t care for Tatort or Traumschiff or Rosamunde Pilcher adaptions.

  2. Estara says:

    When I watch any TV, I usually watch the culture programmes or the 3rd programmes. The rest is just of no interest to me any-more. My moving media is on DVD these days, or on the internet.

    • Cora says:

      I rarely bother with anything except the cultural and news programmes anymore either. Sometimes I will record a good British or American show dubbed into German for my Mom, who cannot operate her recorder and who doesn’t like watching programmes in English. But for me it’s mostly the original version now.

  3. Pingback: The German Book Award or Let’s all Praise Middle Class Mediocrity | Cora Buhlert

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