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    • The Joy of Reading & The Discovery Of New Author (Nero Wolfe Edition)
      I’ve been a big reader since I was perhaps 7 years old. In grade one I actually had remedial English: I’d been taught both whole word and phonics and it had screwed me up. Once I learned to actually read, I fell in love with it, trudging to the library, taking out the maximum and luxuriating in other worlds and other lives. I always find the strivers, attemp […]
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Your favorite PBS memories.

Billions and Billions of brain cells stimulated

I grew up on PBS.  Back in the olden days, there were four channels: ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS.  I know, I know, I don’t know how we survived either.  And the networks just barged in with special bulletins and Congressional hearings whenever they felt like it.  You were pretty much forced to be a well informed public citizen against your will.  It was outrageous.  But the networks were like, where else are you going to go?  So, you know, we ate our Apollo rocket launches and Watergate Hearings and we liked it.

The first community sponsored PBS station in the country originated in my hometown of Pittsburgh at WQED in 1954, which was before my time.  When I was in college, I did a couple of pledge drives at WQED and got to visit Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood close up.  Ahhh, those were the days.  My family were PBS junkies.  Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of good stuff on PBS.  Here are a few of my favorites:

The Electric Company

ZOOM!

Cosmos

Connections with James Burke

Masterpiece Theater with Alistair Cook

Nova

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Nature

Life on Earth with David Attenborough

Live from Lincoln Center

The McNeil-Lehrer Hour

The French Chef

Yan Can Cook

The Frugal Gourmet

It’s kind of incredible that PBS is even controversial.  There was so much good content on when I was a kid. It’s not just Sesame Street.  It was free and interesting and had high production values.  What exactly is the problem??

Add your own memories of PBS in the comments.

Money Changes Everything- Brainstorming Session I

Hi guys, today is going to be a light posting day for me. The BFF’s birthday is coming up and I will be in Manhattan all day doing Broadway with him and “Brook”, the adolescent creature person. But in the meantime, I have a little proposition for you.

If youre like me, you watched the unravelling of the Big Orange Satan with great dismay. TPM jumped the rational shark recently. And Keith Olbermann turned into his own worst enemy. It’s my theory that money is at the root of these evils. All three of these operations are driven by advertising dollars. (Well, not DailyKos anymore, apparently)

Now, I’m not saying that money is bad or that we shouldn’t desire wealth especially if we’ve worked hard to earn it. No, what I’m saying is that when there is an incentive to make money, the behaviors and activities that generate money will tend to influence one’s preferences and tastes. I think that is what we are seeing here. For sure it is what drives MSNBC. Jack Welch was a formidable salesman and created the Rank and Yank performance review. In The Smartest Guys in the Room about the Enron scandal, you’ll see what happens to the corporate culture where this kind of attitude thrives. The business environment is nasty, brutish and short if you don’t rake in the bucks and super rewarding if you do. It’s an all or nothing thing. I always suspected that Keith Olbermann’s liberal passion was ephemeral. The minute ad revenue sags, he’s on his way out and when Obamamania hit, Welch must have seen a twofer- get rid of Hillary the Monster and pump up the bucks with Keith going nuts for Barry.

As long as there is money in the system, my friends, our free speech and ability to get our message out will be subject to market forces. Those who own the biggest microphones will be able to shout dissenters down and put our voices on mute.

When I first started this blog, I said I was looking for collaborators and one reader asked me in a private email what exactly I had in mind? I’m not sure yet. Let’s face it, if you want to create a safe place for political voices to go on the internet and you want it to be big enough to make an impact (and believe me, I’m not at all into quitting my full time job to do this for a living), money is a necessity. But money is a trap that keeps us tethered to our audience too tightly.

So, what is the best business model for Progressive Blogosphere 2.0? I think the closest model to what I think we might want to go with is a National Public Radio or Public Broadcasting System model. There would be one umbrella organization where a variety of political blogs could co-exist and the system would be funded by pledged contributions. I realize that even NPR and PBS has been tainted in recent years but it took longer for the rot to reach them and it ddn’t happen until their boards of directors were infiltrated by ideological Republicans. So, if we had such an umbrella organization, how would we set up our board of directors? And as for money, well, I do this blogging thing for free but I could imagine wanting to get a little filthy lucre when the private school tuition bills start to roll in. But how would one structure renumeration in order to minimize market forces so that even potentially unpopular voices have a chance to be heard?

That is the task I put before you today. Answer the following questions:

  1. Is there a need for an umbrella group for Progressive Blogosphere 2.0?
  2. How should it be structured?
  3. How do we compensate bloggers for their work without succombing to the stifling forces of the free market?

Have at it.  I am off to brave the madness of the NJ Transit- NYC subway system.