20 November 2011

Will oil drown the Arab spring?

A recent article by Michael L. Ross talks about how oil money may yet destroy the democratic gains of the Arab Spring: Oil has not always been a barrier to democracy. Until the early 1970s, oil—producing countries were no less likely to be democratic than any other state. Ironically, this was because until that point, the so-called Seven Sisters, a handful of giant Western oil companies, dominated the global oil industry and collected most of its profits. ... Read more

16 November 2011

Adam Curtis: All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (3/3)

Part 3: The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey Or: The Episode You Shouldn’t Bother Watching I know that quite a few people were disappointed by the first two episodes in Adam Curtis’s series. I rather liked them, but to me the third episode really went off the rails. The Rwanda Watusi vs Bahutu genocide, caused by an imposed myth, is undoubtedly bad. It brought to mind a much longer lasting—yet in many ways similar—deadly myth: that of the Jewish exile to Egypt, their return to the Holy Land, and their racial separateness from the Palestinians. ... Read more

15 November 2011

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (2/3)

Part 2: The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts In which I continue to post my thoughts about a documentary everyone else watched six months ago. I thought during this episode that I could see a central point being made in Adam Curtis’s series. He seemed to be attacking the myth that networks are inherently self regulating and stable. I think he’s off-base painting it as a myth promoted by computer scientists or engineers, however. ... Read more

14 November 2011

Adam Curtis: All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (1/3)

I realize that I am desperately late to this particular party. Everyone has probably already watched the documentary, read the inevitable backlash, and digested the response to the backlash. Nevertheless, here are my notes on the first episode. Part 1: Love and Power Barbara Branden’s comments about Ayn Rand being disappointed by the reception of “Atlas Shrugged” are hilarious, yet sad. She reports that Rand was desperately upset when the people in her inner circle who had how much they liked the book, failed to stand up and say what genius it was when it was being excoriated in the press. ... Read more

8 October 2011

Steve Jobs: dissenting voices

As a followup to my posting about Steve Jobs, some links to other people bucking the hagiographic trend. First of all, David Streitfield of the New York Times points out that Steve Jobs was never one to let tact stand in the way of criticism. Mike Daisey of the New York Times points out that Apple ultimately became the very thing its 1984 commercial railed against. Richard Stallman says it in more bluntly Jobsian terms: ... Read more

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