All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace

Fri, Oct 25, 2013 - 5:17am

I was going to call this post ‘Hopeful headlines’, but the more I dug into the topic, the less hopeful things seemed. So the title was borrowed from one of my favorite (albeit none-too-upbeat) documentary filmmakers: Adam Curtis. I have yet to watch this particular series, but plan to, as its topic has a lot of resonance in today’s world – both in the literal (perhaps unintended) sense, as well as in the sense of a societal addiction to and dependence on technology and interconnectedness:

All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace is a series about how humans have been colonised by the machines they have built — “Although we don’t realise it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers.” […]

Part one explores the dream that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world. They would bring about a new kind global capitalism free of all risk and without the boom and bust of the past. […] Part two shows how our modern scientific idea of nature, the self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the real complexity of nature. [… The final] episode looks at why popular culture finds this machine vision so beguiling. The film argues it is because all political dreams of changing the world for the better seem to have failed, meaning the retreat into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our actions because they excuse our failure.” – Thought Maybe -- also hosting all other Adam Curtis films, as well as a wide selection of other interesting documentaries. Highly recommended for browsing.

EDIT: The title was originally from a Richard Brautigan poem of the same name, you can find the full piece here. It seem Mr. Curtis himself borrowed it to begin with. Thanks, WhyMeLord.

The above is just historical perspective and background – I wanted to highlight a few angles of the ongoing eavesdropping/surveillance/data collection ‘controversy’ – then meander over to the subject of misinformation and subterfuge.

Russia is quite likely getting chuckles (if not guffaws) from being able to be part of ‘inspiring’ mass demonstrations in D.C. for a change, rather than being on the receiving end of what they like to call US-funded internal destabilization operations (the US, of course calls it 'democracy-building'):

We've learned that the U.S. intelligence community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA's hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong.

Now it's time for the government to learn from us. On Saturday, the ACLU, EFF, and the rest of the StopWatching.Us coalition are going to D.C. Join us in sending the message: Stop Watching Us.” – Ed Snowden via the ACLU, calling on folks to attend the rally at Union Station in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 26, at 12:00pm local time.

If you (or people you know) are planning on attending this (or any other) demonstrations, there is an interesting Rolling Stone piece detailing the ever-encroaching reach and scope of surveillance society:

Promotional materials for private spy companies show that mass surveillance technology is being sold to police departments as a way to monitor dissent […]While the specifics of which police departments utilize what surveillance technologies is often unclear, there is evidence to suggest that use of mass surveillance against individuals not under direct investigation is common. "The default is mass surveillance, the same as NSA's 'collect it all' mindset," says King. "There's not a single company that if you installed their product, [it] would comply with what anyone without a security clearance would think is appropriate, lawful use."

Another possible step in the right direction, from (Google-funded) Mozilla (hopefully not a Trojan honeypot):

"Users who activate Lightbeam will be able to see a real-time visualisation of every site they visit and every third-party that is active on those sites, including commercial organisations which might potentially be sharing your data.

Mozilla wants users who install the Lightbeam add-on to Firefox, to crowd-source their data, to produce the first “big picture” view of web tracking, revealing which third-parties are most active.

Lightbeam promises a “Wizard of Oz” moment for the web, “where users collectively provide a way to pull back the curtains to see its inner workings,” Mozilla claimed. " -- The Independent

Unfortunately, many of our fellow denizens of Earth are pursuing other priorities – when presented with a chance to be on a closed express train with Michael Hayden (who happens to be giving 'off the record interviews' in the seat in front of him), this guy goes straight for the jugular: posing for a photo with the ex-spookchief -- to be transmitted immediately to his (presumably fawning) followers on Twitter. At least he shared some vague outline of what he overheard...

Apparently, the international tensions and universal anger over US intel policies are growing, if one is to believe reports:

Brazil and Germany today joined forces to press for the adoption of a U.N. General Resolution that promotes the right of privacy on the internet, marking the first major international effort to restrain the National Security Agency's intrusions into the online communications of foreigners, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the push.” – Foreign Policy

There are some who think otherwise:

I think especially with Germany and France, of course, they are very familiar with U.S. signals intelligence, which is the technical term for eavesdropping…We use a lot of signals intelligence, we share it with our allies. And they spy on us too. France is one of the most aggressive collectors of intelligence. So what you are seeing is a bit of kabuki theater that will probably blow over before too long.” -- Christian Whiton, former senior advisor at the U.S. State Department, talking to CNN

Of course, talking heads trotted out to do damage control spin are dime a dozen – Christian certainly seems to be heavily vested with the status quo (just like another Christian we know…).

It is fascinating to look for the reflections of truth among the lies and the misdirection. Could it be that the ‘outrage’ over spying really IS just theater – but for an altogether different reason? Rather than to ‘appease home audiences’, let alone to truly try to restore rule of law and privacy, the controversy is convenient smokescreen to mask European (as well as LatAm) realignment eastward? The distancing from the US we are seeing around the world must be done as carefully as possible, a cornered, wounded giant can be extremely dangerous. Pretexts and excuses must be found to slowly, gradually gain distance (before breaking into a full evasive sprint). Of course, it is easy to fall prey to paranoid speculation, and always difficult to try to unravel who is spinning which yarn, and why.

Take the following news as another example:

Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief has said the kingdom will make a "major shift" in dealings with the US in protest at perceived American inaction over the Syria war and its overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.

The source said that Prince Bandar bin Sultan had told European diplomats that Washington had failed to act effectively on the Syria crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed a 2011 anti-government revolt.

In an unprecedented move last week, Saudi Arabia rejected its first offer of a seat on the UN security council and denounced the UN for failing to resolve world conflicts. The move appeared largely directed at the US.

"The shift away from the US is a major one," the source said on Tuesday. "Saudi doesn't want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent. -- Guardian

If one ignores the filler material and focuses just on the highlighted segments, it might lead one to believe that Kingdom of SA is positioning itself to go with the flow of a future without the petrodollar, with a world order and hierarchy different than the one currently enshrined in the UNSC, and is seeking new protectors. In case you haven’t caught it, ZH has a piece on the same topic.

Of course, it seems a bit unusual that 'Bandar Bush' would so hastily bare fangs at the hand that has so long ‘fed’ his family's regime. While Saudi Press Agency releases certainly imply that King Abdullah is no longer ‘resting’ (as per JW), it does seem curious to me that it is the head of Saudi intelligence that would be the one to deliver such momentous news.

The recent visit by the Turkish PM to reaffirm an historic and strategic alliance with the House of Saud followed on the heels of royal visits from another King Abdullah (II), from Jordan and a Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (UAE) . I may be reading too much into this, state visits happen all the time, but if one WERE considering a large-scale realignment in terms of the way oil is traded, these would be the kind of meetings one might have.

Lest anyone think I am shirking my duties, and not being skeptical enough (would any of you believe the man in those pictures above is 89 years old?), here’s an interesting little snippet:

A large audience packing a stadium for a football match in Saudi Arabia stampeded to take a close look at King Abdullah before realizing they made a mistake. As they tried to push their way through, they were told the man who is sitting near the main podium in the stadium in Riyadh was a Syrian expatriate who resembles the 90-year-old King. Yet they kept pushing to have a photograph with the man, in his 50s.Emirates 24/7

Getting back to the matter at hand, remember this story from August?

Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

“Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria. […]

As-Safir said Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.”

Imagine, just for the sake of argument, that all of these issues WERE, in fact discussed. I think it likely that they WERE – just not in the context, and with the outcomes reported.

The part I am having trouble with is that such an incredibly detailed transcript of such an incredibly momentous meeting could be fortuitously leaked to As-Safir, a Lebanese newspaper with a circulation of 50K. The story is then translated by Al Monitor, and is promptly picked up by the Telegraph. Incidentally, Al Monitor’s contact address is -- I kid you not: K St NW, Washington, D.C. As always, the question is -- who benefits from creating/leaking such a story?

The spin presented by RT has a slightly different focus, and claims that Reuters was the source of the story:

"Bandar offered to intensify energy, military and economic cooperation with Moscow," a senior Syrian opposition figure told Reuters.

"Bandar sought to allay two main Russian fears: that Islamist extremists will replace Assad, and that Syria would become a conduit for Gulf, mainly Qatari, gas at the expense of Russia.
" -- Russia Today -- follow-up story on rejection of Saudi offer here

Again, is this extremely visible, very image-damaging conflict for real? Or is it just another part of the dance necessary to maintain appearances? If two of the largest producers of oil were to try to seek a path towards new alliance and alignment that directly violates the existing 'world order' (such as it is), would they simply state they are sitting down to hammer out the details of the deal? Would we see a summit with lofty platitudes, handshakes and photo ops, when what is being discussed is the dismantling of the petrodollar? I really don't think so.

As always, DYODD. Just never, and I do mean NEVER EVER trust any single source or explanation as the SOLE truth of any matter – and try to take an extra step or two to look behind the motivation and background of the outlet. While it seems the world as we know it will survive yet another week, the web of holograms being spun all about us seems to me to be more intricate, desperate and implausible by the day. From Seal Team 6’s fate, to the ‘other’ Chechen connection – the list goes on. The spin/PR/propaganda machines are providing the input, the surveillance/SigInt/dragnet data collection machines are monitoring the output.

The good news is… well, it’s Friday, isn’t it? Focus on things that are truly and directly important, and have a great weekend.

PS: If instead of being sensible and going out to enjoy nature/family/food/libations, you are interested in more on the topic of misinformation and tinfoil hattery - take a look at these:

KGB defector explains (in mid-1980's) how his former employers plan to destabilize Western societies (one in particular) -- eerie echoes with current day (full hour-plus lecture here)

G. Edward Griffin interviews Bezmenov on his career and perspectives (full hour-plus version here)

Lots more rabbit holes here.

About the Author


Oct 25, 2013 - 2:01pm

7.5 Earthquake off the coast of Fukishima

Just a heads up to those that watch this

Officially off the east coast of Honshu, Japan

Directly East of Fukishima when the map is zoomed in, Same spot on multiple maps, no mention of Fukishima though

Oct 25, 2013 - 2:06pm

More on Fukushima

(UPDATE) NHK News reports (2:29AM, 10/26/2013) that TEPCO ordered workers working at the seawall at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to move away from the seawall.

Tsunami Advisories have been issued for the following coastal regions of Japan:

Oct 25, 2013 - 2:07pm


I like that Merkel's photo, her expression. :-) NSA is spying on her? Poor thing. Well, talking about googling, how about this one: MERKEL’S MURKY PAST: More evidence of her Youth Movement/Stasi past in the DDR "The picture above was taken in 1986. It depicts an outing to the Baltic Island of Rugen by members of the DDR version of The Hitler Youth: the FDJ – or in full, DDR-Jugendverbandes. The top Alpha-male at this gathering was Hans-Jörg Osten. And you’ll never guess who’s perched right next to him. Just as, after the collapse of the USSR, a mere ten years later, little Geli Merkel was perched equally close to the ample buttocks of Chancellor Helmut Kohl….whom she later shafted to take over the CDU leadership. Very few close observers now doubt that Merkel’s father (the only man on record who defected from West to East Germany) was a Stasi social spy and part-time organiser. Nor do they have many doubts any more that the current German Chancellor Angela Merkel was an active Gruppenfüherin in the FDJ. What most Germans don’t know, however, is that Hans-Jörg Osten was her Professor and close confidante at the Academy of Sciences where she was a student. And what they only found out yesterday is that Osten was a paid agent of the Stasi – with documentary evidence from the files to prove it." --- We live in strange times, to say at least. :-)

Oct 25, 2013 - 3:05pm

Re: Japan Earthquake...

I was up at 0210 when it hit and I felt it all the way down in Tachikawa southwest of Tokyo. Nothing much but I am on an 11th floor room right now and felt a steady swaying for about 2-3 minutes. Heading back out to the states tomorrow afternoon so I will see if anything comes of it. I can tell on TV they are calling for maybe a 30cm height so not sure how much that will effect the areas on the coast and Fukishima. USGS sight has no warnings issued on it...

Oct 25, 2013 - 3:37pm

CFTC just updated the COT.

CFTC just updated the COT. For October 1st. Lol, what crooks. They just keep playing their games. Probably it will stay that way and they'll continue to delay it for 3 weeks, lol.

delacroix ag1969
Oct 25, 2013 - 3:47pm

nothing new under the sun

The father of modern psychiatry French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel (1745–1828), after working with mental patients for many years, concluded in 1807: “The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.” Long before him Hippocrates (460-370 BC), the father of modern medicine has said: “All diseases begin in the gut!” The more we learn with our modern scientific tools, the more we realise just how right they were!

Oct 25, 2013 - 5:02pm

Thanks, all

I just stumbled on this at ZH -- I've always liked Mark Fiore: @SteveW -- I think you are right in that the 'Snowden Affair' is being opportunistically utilized. And it was a long shot. But seeing as the 'participants' in the kerfuffle all knew (or guessed/discovered on their own) to some extent that it was happenning, and calculated that it would eventually become public (heck, a lot of it HAS been public for 5+ years -- I saw PRISM slides back in 2008/09) -- thus could prepare. It is exactly due to the fact that much of this was known much earlier that I am still leaving the door open to the possibility that Ed might have had (witting or unwitting) assistance, either before/during, but surely AFTER the fact. The only question is who? BTW, the Merkel photo is an older one, from a Hanover trade show in March, 2013 I think.

Oct 25, 2013 - 8:20pm

Poetic justice?

ZH blurb on site outage here, RT reporting on the same here, claiming DDOS here.

Yes, wise to keep things in perspective -- but nevertheless. It's not a bad thing to tear down such posters.

Oct 26, 2013 - 9:06am

I'm not surprised at all...."This practice will continue..."

It's simply preposterous at this point for the Fed to recognize the problem and only now offer up a "solution" to something that has been going on for a very long time. The "honor system" mentioned is completely laughable!

And it would require a fully naive public (those that read and understand or even care) to think that this solution will cure or stop the blatant front-running of news that goes on. Time will tell but there is no way imho that the pre-announcement machinations in the market will stop just before the actual public news is released.

Pink Floyd: Welcome To The Machine


Oct. 25, 2013, 4:40 p.m. EDT

Fed to tighten security of FOMC statement

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The Federal Reserve on Friday moved to tighten its lockup procedures, responding to criticism of how the central bank releases its market-moving interest-rate statements to the public.

The new procedures will require media outlets including MarketWatch as well as Bloomberg News, Reuters and others to report from the central bank, where it will cut off access to the Internet until the 2 p.m. Eastern release time.

Previously, the Fed gave the option of filing reports from the central bank or the U.S. Treasury, and relied on an honor system to ensure media outlets didn’t disseminate the information early.

The Fed lets a limited number of accredited media outlets receive statements ahead of the embargo. This practice will continue under the new setup.

The Fed move comes after the research firm Nanex pointed out that at the September Federal Open Market Committee, where the central bank surprised the market by announcing that it wouldn't taper its bond-buying program, there were trades made right at the time of the announcement. (DPH: Beforehand would be more truthful)

The firm pointed out that would require the news to be preloaded onto servers in New York or Chicago — or for there to be insider trading.

“Starting with the Oct. 30 FOMC statement, our media release security procedures will be enhanced to include additional control. We can consulted with news organizations and we believe these additional measures will protect against premature release while still allowing news organizations an opportunity to accurately report the FOMC’s actions at the release time,” a Fed spokesman said in a statement.

The Fed’s lockup rules had always concentrated on making sure news didn’t get out before the end of the embargo, and the central bank hasn't taken any disciplinary action against any media outlet.

As a practical matter, by switching the Internet off until the embargo time, it should be impossible to preload any of the news onto a server outside of Washington.

Whether the new system will be any fairer to retail customers remains to be seen. Firms will still be getting near-instantaneous so-called algorithmic feeds from some news outlets to execute trades by machine.

I Run Bartertown
Oct 26, 2013 - 11:28am


Great stuff!

Thanks especially for the Bezmenov video. I find it very useful to look at 'old' plots like what his videos describe, and the Frankfurt School writings. At some point you have to conclude that they either had predictive powers that put Nostradamus to shame, or that these people/groups discussed are exactly who has taken the reins of our government and society.

Oct 26, 2013 - 3:26pm

Depressed again!

But...what if I have a valid reason for my depression? Why does EVERYBODY seem to be saying that depression is a disease, or symptom, or something? What should I eat to cure my depression, if it is based upon an inability to change depressing circumstances? Cocaine? Like banksters do? Lithium, like so many aquaintances? Stupidium, like ALL politicians?

VALID depression does not rule out enjoyment of happy moments, or laughter, or loving.

Why is the only depression ever mentioned considered "clinical"? What the hell does that mean? Just take a pill, or eat something, then start laughing?

Listening to MSM descriptions of depression and it's cures is truly depressing!

Oct 26, 2013 - 4:16pm

From the beginning

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

Richard Brautigan,1967

Poet-in-Residence at California Institute of Technology

Extra Points: What are the "spinning flowers"?

WhyMeLord Bollocks
Oct 26, 2013 - 5:35pm

Full Series

All 3 episodes available (wo subtitles) here: LINK

Oct 27, 2013 - 9:47pm


Via your thread here you've brought my attention to that 'thought maybe' website -

What a wealth of great documentaries. I've not heard of that place before.


Oct 27, 2013 - 10:14pm


There is no valid depression. There is no valid reason for depression. Depression is not natural.

If you feel depressed it means there's something unnatural that has taken over the natural state.

The first place to look is diet.

The body has evolved over millions of years. It's perfect. It needs a balance of the right quantities of what comes from the earth.

Health of the mind comes first from the health of the body. If the body isn't in balance, if it's not getting what it needs, then the mind is in trouble.

Mind is self-reflection. All depression is rooted in an imbalance of the body.

The pharma companies will quickly come to the rescue to sell you something to fix that, which will make them rich but will only make depression worse by creating more of an imbalance.

Get the diet right first. Seriously.

Oct 27, 2013 - 11:23pm

@WhyMeLord & Bollocks

Spinning blossoms -- tape reels? Second guess is gears. Great find, was this the source of the title of Curtis' film? Bollocks- have you tried clicking the words highlighted in red? There are a few other Easter eggs hidden throughout the post (and all previous ones). Sorry if this is already obvious, but I was not sure you noticed the linked articles. Yes, that site (Thought Maybe) is indeed a treasure trove. As is the TFMR forum linked at the end.

WhyMeLord J Y
Oct 28, 2013 - 11:15am

RE: Source of Title

Yes, that poem was the source of the title. I was very surprised that the poem and author were only briefly mentioned in the second episode and no other attribution was given during the credits or anywhere else in the documentary.

And yes, the spinning blossoms are the tape reels...

Brautigan was a great writer, "The Pill versus the Spring Hill Mine Disaster" and "Trout Fishing in America" are must reads, IMHO.


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