All You Need is Love: The Beatles Vanquish Pastor Terry Jones in the Big Apple

New Yorkers go out of their way to avoid Times Square, especially at this time of year. Whatever the season, it's sure to be a mob scene of slow moving tourists, miserable Elmos, and loose screw loudmouths preaching messages of intolerance. In this milieu, Florida pastor Terry Jones is nothing special, and certainly less photogenic than the Naked Cowboy.

Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady trailed the Quran-burning, effigy-hanging, failed Presidential candidate there anyway, to capture his "message to the Muslim community" on the 10th anniversary of September 11.

Bystanders roll their eyes and hustle past, but only one young woman attempts to engage him directly, smiling as if she knows that Jones' is the sort of shell game you can't win.

That is until one man breaks into a spontaneous rendition of All You Need Is Love, the lyrics pulled up on his smartphone. Was this brave performance motivated in part by the presence of a film crew? Who cares, as random pedestrians and staffers from the nearby TKTS booth join in, providing a fine alternative soundtrack to the hate spewing from the bull pulpit. In Ewing and Grady's edit, the Beatles are a force strong enough to drown him out.

- Ayun Halliday would like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.


Crowded House: How the World’s Population Grew to 7 Billion People

This fall, the world's population reached seven billion. A sobering thought. How did we get to this point? Producer Adam Cole and photographer Maggie Starbard of National Public Radio have put the world's accelerating population growth in perspective in a two-and-a-half minute video, above.

In those two and a half minutes, 638 babies will be born worldwide, according to statistics from the United States Census Bureau, and 265 people will die. That's a net gain of 373 people, just while you watch the film. The biggest growth, according to NPR,  is happening in sub-Saharan Africa, where access to family planning is low and infant mortality rates are high.

It may seem counter-intuitive that population growth rates are high where infant survival rates are low, but as Swedish global health expert Hans Rosling put it during a recent TED talk, "Only by child survival can we control population growth." Because population growth and infant mortality rates are both correlated to poverty rates, he argues, eliminating poverty is the key to achieving a sustainable world population. You can learn more in our November 1 feature,  "Hans Rosling Uses IKEA Props to Explain World of 7 Billion People."

The Mechanical Monsters: Seminal Superman Animated Film from 1941

In 1941, director Dave Fleischer and Paramount Pictures animators Steve Muffati and George Germanetti produced Superman: The Mechanical Monsters -- a big-budget animated adaptation of the popular Superman comics of that period, in which a mad scientist unleashes robots to rob banks and loot museums, and Superman, naturally, saves the day. It was one of seventeen films that raised the bar for theatrical shorts and are even considered by some to have given rise to the entire Anime genre.

More than a mere treat of vintage animation, the film captures the era's characteristic ambivalence in reconciling the need for progress with the fear of technology in a culture on the brink of incredible technological innovation. It was the dawn of the techno-paranoia that persisted through the 1970s, famously captured in the TV series Future Shock narrated by Orson Welles, and even through today. Take for example books like Nicholas Carr's The Shallows and Sherry Turkle's Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.

Superman: The Mechanical Monsters is available for download on The Internet Archive, and Toonami Digital Arsenal has the complete series of all seventeen films. Find more vintage animation in Open Culture's collection of Free Movies Online.

Maria Popova is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and DesignObserver, and spends a great deal of time on Twitter.

Jon Stewart & Bill O’Reilly Debate Rapper’s Visit to the White House

The culture wars wage on. Almost twenty years after the great Murphy Brown debate, we're still going at it. But now, instead of debating the pros and cons of single motherhood, the focus has turned to whether Michelle Obama erred in inviting the rapper Common to the White House Poetry Night last week. (See his actual performance here.) Critics point to this 2007 YouTube video, A Letter to the Law, though they don't necessarily listen until the very end. And they also flag his sympathetic words directed toward Joanne Chesimard (aka Assata Shakur), an ex-Black Panther, convicted of killing a New Jersey police officer in 1973. This all built up to the latest Jon Stewart - Bill O'Reilly faceoff, which drilled down to the question: Did the First Lady make a major gaffe? Or is this another case of selective outrage? Part 1 is above; Part II is here...

via @Frauenfelder

William F. Buckley Explains How He Flogged Himself to Get Through Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged sold an estimated 25 million copies between its publication in 1957 and 2007. Early on, the book inspired a young generation of business leaders, and now, decades later, it holds appeal for a new class of conservatives. But it wasn't always that way. Back in the 1950s, William F. Buckley, the enfant terrible of the conservative movement, launched the National Review and published a review by Whittaker Chambers -- the Soviet spy who famously turned against Communism (and Alger Hiss), all while building a remarkable career at TIME Magazine. About Atlas Shrugged, Chambers wrote: ”I find it a remarkably silly book. It is certainly a bumptious one. Its story is preposterous." And, what's more, he adds: "Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal."

Rand never forgave Buckley for the review. Persona non grata, he was. Years later, in 2003, Buckley revisited the whole affair with Charlie Rose and made known his personal feelings for Rand's book. "I had to flog myself to read it..."

Note: You can download Atlas Shrugged as a free audiobook if you sign up for a free 30-Day Trial with Find more information on that program here.

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Related Content:

Mike Wallace Interviews Ayn Rand (1959)

William F. Buckley v. Gore Vidal (1968)

Ayn Rand Talks Atheism with Phil Donahue

Wealthy Donors Paying Universities to Teach Rand

via Roger Ebert

Way of Life: Rare Footage of the Hiroshima Aftermath, 1946

The recent 9.0-magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima nuclear accidents were among the most devastating environmental disasters in recorded history. The immediate consequences are frightening, but their full, long-term impact remains an unsettling mystery.

This, of course, isn't the first time Japan has faced a nuclear emergency. After the World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the U.S. government recorded the raw aftermath of Hiroshima in candid, grim detail (while Hollywood was busy lampooning America's nuclear obsession). Filmed in the spring of 1946 by the Department of Defense, Way of Life documents how the people of Hiroshima adapted to life after the atomic bomb. Though the archival footage lacks sound, its imagery -- moving, heartbreaking, deeply human -- speaks volumes about the delicate duality of despair and resilience.

Maria Popova is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and DesignObserver, and spends a great deal of time on Twitter.

Phoenix Still Rising: Egypt After The Revolution

Much has been said, tweeted and written about the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, glorifying it as one of the most landmark triumphs of freedom in recent history. Yet the Western media has delivered surprisingly little on its aftermath, leaving the lived post-revolution reality of the Egyptian people a near-mystery.

This beautiful short film by British film studio Scattered Images offers a rare glimpse of a phoenix still struggling to rise from the ashes of oppression. With incredible visual eloquence, the film peels away at the now-worn media iconography of the revolution itself, revealing how life after it has actually changed -- or hasn't -- as Egypt remains a nation in transition, with a future yet to be decided.

Politically, there is a vacuum. The revolution demanded a government accountable to the people and ruled by transparent institutions. But now, the only ruler is uncertainty.

Maria Popova is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and DesignObserver, and spends a great deal of time on Twitter.

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