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.

True urban legends

This American Life recently had a show about urban legends that might be true. The second segment, about things foreigners believe about America, was particularly poignant. It talked about the things that foreigners are told happen in America, that they can’t actually believe are true. Partly the problem is the media. My experience is that many people in Europe believe that America is the way they see it in movies and TV shows–at least as far as crime and violence are concerned.

The Year of the Sex Olympics

I just watched The Year of the Sex Olympics . It’s a UK TV drama made in 1968, that was easily 30 years ahead of its time.

(Spoilers follow.)

At last you can buy a newspaper in America

It finally happened. The Guardian began offering the complete newspaper in a digital edition. You can go to their web site to find out more and see an example. It has the complete content of The Guardian and The Observer, browsable with any normal web browser. The interface is really slick—there’s a thumbnail of the page, and you can click on parts which catch your eye to see the appropriate story.


I saw Time and Newsweek on the newsstand in Harvard Square. Let’s face it, we all knew what this week’s cover picture was going to be. But just for once, I’d have liked to have been surprised. I’d have liked them to do something tasteful, something which treats the subject with dignity and sorrow, rather than exploiting it. But no, we got big lurid photographs of planes flying into buildings and exploding in a searing fireball of aviation fuel.