Typewriter of the moment: Bill Moyers

June 6, 2014

From Moyers's Facebook feed:  Happy 80th Birthday, Bill Moyers! Here he is at 16 years old as a cub reporter at the Marshall News Messenger newspaper in Marshall, Texas, the town (pop. 25,000) where he grew up

From Moyers’s Facebook feed: Happy 80th Birthday, Bill Moyers! Here he is at 16 years old as a cub reporter at the Marshall News Messenger newspaper in Marshall, Texas, the town (pop. 25,000) where he grew up

A newsroom Royal. A lot of good writers started out on those.

Moyers went astray after a while, and got a divinity degree and ordination in Dallas, at Southwest Theological Seminary — but Lyndon Johnson had been watching him before at the University of Texas and University of North Texas, and snatched him up as a press aide.

You probably know Moyers from Public Television.  Yesterday was his 80th birthday — he was born June 5, 1934, in Hugo, Oklahoma.


PBS resources for teachers . . . (history, especially)

October 10, 2012

Too often I fear the conservative War on Public Broadcasting is really just an extension of their War on Education and War on Science.

PBS and NPR have the facts, and tell ’em, straight.  Poll after poll, year after year, PBS comes up as the “most trusted” news source in America, with NPR right up there.

Why would conservatives want to go after such a fine, accurate and useful institution?  They know the history, and they tell that, too.

Comes an e-mail today:

Invite your students to explore the challenges and triumphs of the U.S. Presidents with a collection of digital resources from PBS LearningMedia! Choose from thousands of free classroom-ready tools including videos, lesson plans, interactive games, and primary source documents. For anytime/anywhere access to social studies content and more – sign up today – it’s free!

Digital Resources

Tap into the excitement and energy of election season with PBS LearningMedia! Use these targeted resources to punctuate your lesson plan, instigate dialogue in the classroom, and expand your students’ awareness of the U.S. presidents and the institution of the Presidency. Register today on PBS LearningMedia for instant- access to thousands of additional classroom-ready, contextualized resources.

President for a Day
Grades 3-8 | Interactive with Support Materials

This activity puts your students in the Oval Office and invites them to make decisions about meeting Cabinet members, making speeches to the public, and how to handle a foreign crisis.

Documenting the President
Grades 3-9, 11-13+ + | Video

A photographer can preserve a moment, and be a silent participant. Give your class a brief history of the power held and captured by presidential photographers from Lincoln to Kennedy and beyond.

Documenting Key Presidential Decisions
Grades 6-13+ | Interactive

Challenge your students to examine primary source documents and match them to key presidential decisions. Documents include a letter from the secretary of war (1945), remarks at Brandenberg Gate (1987), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and annotated notes and letters from various moments in history.

FDR: New Deal Program
Grades 9-12 | Video + Support Materials

Give your students a view of the enormous hurdles faced by President Roosevelt during the Great Depression. See how the New Deal transformed the relationship between government and economy.

Abraham Lincoln, Attorney at Law
Grades 1-12 | Video + Support Materials

Invite your class to consider how an early career as a “prairie” lawyer prepared Lincoln for his presidential role as he developed his confidence, sense of fairness, and social skills.

LBJ and the Great Society
Grades 9-12

Using newsreel footage, archival photos, and interviews, offer our students the opportunity to explore the rich legacy of President Johnson’s “Great Society.”

They’ve got professional development courses for teachers:

Professional Development

Explore these timely professional development resources in PBS LearningMedia:

Effective Media-Rich Lessons
Grades 13+ | Video + Discussion Questions
Join Katelin Corbett and Evan Feldman, two physics teachers in New York City, as they discuss the benefits of using digital media in the classroom, model best practices, and share guidelines for effective use of media in the physics classroom.

Build a Bridge Between Disciplines
Grades 6-8, 13+ | Interactive
Build a bridge between two disciplines by identifying a connecting concept, or idea that has value in both disciplines. Complete the structure by adding instructional activities that build students’ understanding of the concept, within and across disciplines.

Close Reading of Text: MLK “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Grades 13+ | Video + Support Materials
Join David Coleman, a contributing author to the Common Core State Standards, as he models a close reading of Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.

This Week’s Featured Courses:

NEW Bridging World History: A Special Collection from the Annenberg Foundation (SOST502)
Grades 9-12 | Syllabus | Sign Up | Course Catalog

NEW America’s History in the Making: A Special Collection from the Annenberg Foundation (SOST507)
Grades 6-12 | Syllabus | Sign Up | Course Catalog

Fall Term II Begins October 24 – enroll today!
Visit pbsteacherline.org or call 800-572-6386 for more information.

And here’s what’s new:

New & Noteworthy

Common Core Support
Let PBS LearningMedia enhance your efforts to better-understand the CCSSI with professional development video clips, and classroom resources tied to the Standards. Register for full access – anytime, anywhere.

The Election Collection
The PBS LearningMedia Election 2012 Collection is an aggregation of curated and contextualized election-related resources for K-12 classrooms with a primary focus on middle and high school. Jump into the collection by clicking here – or search under the keyword, Election.

PBS Teacher Innovator Awards
PBS LearningMedia and The Henry Ford are proud to bring you the third annual Teacher Innovator Awards in recognition of innovative PreK-12 classroom educators, media specialists, technology coordinators, and homeschool educators who use digital media to enhance student learning. To enter, tell us how you have innovated with digital media to enhance student learning. Submissions are now being accepted – click here to enter!


Sen. Marco Rubio’s call for a mediocre America

July 19, 2012

As good ideas go, it’s difficult to top the idea of public broadcasting, and particularly Lyndon Johnson‘s creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the subsequent formation of NPR and PBS, and the proliferation of public broadcasting stations across the U.S.

For a small pittance of money from public coffers, the nation gets the massive advantage of working news networks dedicated to informing the public accurately, and great cultural preservation, including education of the very young.

Big Bird, wikipedia image from PBS

Florida’s U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants to kill the Big Bird that lays the golden eggs for our kids. Big Bird doesn’t make rude comments in response.

For-profit broadcasting has been absolutely unable to equal quality programs on television like “Sesame Street,” or “Masterpiece Theatre,” or “American Masters,” or “American Experience.  For-profit radio has nothing to equal “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Prairie Home Companion,” or even “Car Talk.”

You know some politician is playing to the yahoos and anti-civilization types when he takes a swipe at schools, libraries, or public  broadcasting.

So, we know Marco Rubio‘s questioning of funding for CPB is a swing for the foul territory, an appeal for ignorance, to ignorance and ignorants.  ABC News, a rival of both NPR and PBS, reported the story with all its ironic drippings:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., expressed worry this morning about broadcasting outlets that use taxpayer money to stay on the air.

But Rubio made his comments on NPR, a broadcasting outlet that uses taxpayer money to stay on the air.

“I do have concerns about spending money on public broadcasting,” Rubio told Diane Rehm during an hourlong Q&A on NPR.

NPR has been a source of criticism from congressional Republicans who view it as a liberal refuge that espouses its views courtesy of public funding. Although only 2 percent of NPR’s funding comes from government grants, the loss of federal funding would undermine the ability of NPR stations to pay for NPR programming, NPR says.

Rubio argued that private donations should support such an enterprise as NPR, and that plenty of outlets are available to house that ideology and format. He admitted, though, that he enjoys Rehm’s show and that NPR’s funding is low on the list of costs that should be cut.

A caller pointed out the irony of Rubio’s position, saying, “He’s spending an entire hour on the show today.”

Rubio countered that a half-century ago, a station like NPR might have been necessary, but “today there is no shortage of options” for news and opinion.

“I have 300 stations on my satellite radio,” Rubio boasted.

300 stations on his satellite — which most Americans cannot afford — and not a single station equal to the worst of NPR’s network.

Shame on Marco Rubio.  Tighten your seatbelts, America, it’s going to be a bumpy election, with lots of appeals to ignorance and praise for doing less than the best.

Do you know where the word “yahoo” comes from?  Rubio is one of the epitomes.

Now, here’s the trouble:  Is he making this appeal in hopes of winning votes, in hopes of getting Mitt Romney’s attention for the vice president’s slot on the ticket?  Or is he really just that anti-quality, anti-American?  Bet he doesn’t like baseball or apple pie, either — we won’t even mention Mom.

Crank history assault on Alabama Public Television

July 10, 2012

Highly disturbing news from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Alabama Public Television Apparently Heading Far Right

Posted in Extremist Propaganda

by Mark Potok on June 18, 2012

Lord help us. Alabama Public Television (APT), a voice of reason in a state that often seems to have very little, is apparently succumbing to the crazies.

Last week, the two top executives of the network were summarily fired by the Alabama Educational Television Commission, APT’s governing body, after they resisted an effort by a new commissioner to air DVDs produced by a far-right theocrat who has been roundly condemned by historians. In the days that followed, three members of a foundation set up to raise money for APT also resigned.

The videos were produced by David Barton, an evangelical propagandist who claims falsely that America was founded as a Christian nation and has also become Glenn Beck’s unofficial — and completely untrained — “historian.” The DVDs were suggested by commissioner Rodney Herring, an Opelika-based chiropractor who was appointed to the panel last year and elected its secretary in January.

Immediately after meeting in executive session June 12, commissioners ordered APT Executive Director Allan Pizzato and his deputy, Pauline Howland, to clear out their desks and leave APT’s Birmingham headquarters. Pizzato had been APT executive director for 12 years; Howland was his deputy director and the network’s chief financial officer.

Pizzato would not comment on the reasons for the firing, other than to say commissioners were seeking to go in “a new direction.” But Howland, in an interview with Current.org, a news service of the American University’s School of Communication, said that Pizzato and his staff had “grave concerns” about airing the videos, which strongly advocate a religious interpretation of the past that historians say is simply wrong. She said she was “baffled” by the firings but recalled Pizatto asking his staff for advice on how to respond to Herring’s proposal.

Commission Chairman Ferris Stephens disputed Current’s report in an interview with The Associated Press, but gave no specifics. Herring, for his part, claimed that disagreement over the Barton DVDs played an “at best minimal” role in the firings, which he described as part of an overall restructuring effort. “We believe it to be a positive change,” wrote another commissioner, conservative talk radio host J. Holland, in response to AP’s queries about the firings. “Simple as that.”

As simple as that? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t believe it.

Stephens told the AP that Barton’s videos had been discussed in the last meeting before the one that produced the firings last week. He said there was another item related to Barton’s organization, WallBuilders, on the agenda for last week’s meeting, but that the commission didn’t get to that item before adjourning. Herring, for his part, denied knowing that Pizzato and Howland had any opinion at all about the DVDs, although Howland told Current that Pizzato had made it clear that he thought the films were “inappropriate” for APT.

Why is it that Pizzato and Howland were fired just as the matter seemed to be coming to a head? Why won’t Stephens and the other commissioners cough up the real reason for the firings, if it wasn’t what seems obvious? When the AP story ran last week, Herring was quoted saying the station may indeed broadcast some of the Barton videos. In fact, he said the commission had consulted attorneys about that possibility. That’s a funny thing to do if you’re just deciding whether to show a film on public television, not making controversial personnel decisions.

The sad truth is, this kind of extremism is getting to be par for the course in Alabama. We passed the immigrant-bashing H.B. 56 and, when legal problems with it came up, our legislators responded by actually making the draconian bill even worse. Last month, the same legislature, after the John Birch Society warned hysterically about a United Nations global sustainability plan, actually passed a law saying that property here cannot be confiscated as part of Agenda 21 — even though that entirely voluntary plan does not and could not require that. One of our current congressmen even claimed a few years back that he knew of 17 “socialists” in the U.S. Congress — although, like Joe McCarthy, he declined to name them.

Why does Rodney Herring want to show Barton’s videos? He isn’t saying. But what Barton has to say should make Alabamians’ hair stand on end.

Barton doesn’t only not believe in global warming — he thinks reducing carbon dioxide emissions would actually devastate the planet. Barton fought to have the names of Martin Luther King Jr. and labor activist Cesar Chavez removed from public school textbooks. He says God set the borders of nations, so immigration reform is unnecessary. He argues that homosexuality should be regulated because gay people “die decades earlier than heterosexuals” and more than half of all gays have had more than 500 sex partners — both falsehoods.

It isn’t only liberals who dislike Barton. Derek Davis, director of the J.M. Dawson Institute on Church-State Studies at Baylor University, says “a lot of what he presents is a distortion of the truth.” J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, says his writings are “laced with exaggerations, half-truths and misstatements of fact.” Mark Lilla, a scholar who has taught at University of Chicago and Columbia University, says Barton’s work is “schlock history written by [a] religious propagandist” and uses “selective quotations out of context.”

But none of this apparently came up when the commissioners, in their great wisdom, decided to fire Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland. Instead, it looks like Barton’s backers succeeded, by a reported 5-2 vote, in silencing their own eminently sensible executives, and then refusing to come clean with the public about their action.

Once again, Alabama will be the poorer. Lord help us.

Supporters of Alabama Public Television set up a website to provide information on the fight to save APT.

David Barton is, of course, the voodoo history promoter from Texas, former vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party who led the party into a variety of anti-education policies.  Barton’s organization to spread his bogus history claims is Wallbuilders.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ellie.


Elbow! One day like this . . .

February 25, 2010

Digital television brings us an additional channel with KERA, our local PBS station.   The second channel carries programming from PBS World.

Great stuff, lots of repeats of the science shows, convenient rebroadcasts of The Newshour.  And promos with interesting music.  One promo features a twisting camera with odd angles on two people doing twists on a trampoline.  It looks like they are bungee jumping at first.  It’s got good music that qualifies as earworm stuff, ending with the vocal line, “It’s looking like a beautiful day.”

Finally took the time to track it down.  Elbow is the band, “One Day Like This” is the song.  Live version with the BBC Concert Orchestra and a choir called Chantage, below.  Obviously I’m not the only one who likes the performance.

How did we ever do this stuff before the internet?

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