It’s great HDTV to see an artistic masterpiece unroll (literally via a giant illuminated scroll) in front of you… Even if it is Memorex.

Zhang Yimou, China’s most-famous filmmaker, directed the performance and led 13 months of rehearsals by some 14,000 performers. Sir Stevie Spielberg was assisting, but later bailed protesting China’s inaction in Sudan. I think it’s a little hypocritical for us to critique China over human rights given our last seven years, and the Chinese still invited Mr. Spielberg in spite of our Iraqi adventure… I’ll sandbox that for a future post.

I know the Olympic grandeur brings some to tears and this edition is good for a Kleenex box. I haven’t cried, but I share the feeling Chris Farley might have blurted had he seen this: “That was awesome!”

This year’s competition holds the prospect of China winning more medals than the US. It will take a few more years for the Chinese economy to surpass ours, but this may be the year China symbolically nips us at the wire and begins to pull away.

The future of the planet rests on how we handle that.