Notes From All Over – through June 20

Comment here on the Notes From All Over for the past week. We’ve numbered the comments for your convenience.

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22 comments for “Notes From All Over – through June 20

  1. #36 – Scouting is very much outdated, however learning a lot of those skills are very handy and should be a requisite no matter where you are, or who teaches them.

    #47 – When were we NOT obsessing about Romney?

    #51 – So sad. The same folks who said we should bomb Iran are now supposedly on the side of the people of Iran. If these guys had their way last November, those people protesting on the streets of Tehran would have been killed by American bombs. Seriously, why is American political discourse become so stupid?

  2. Ardis (1) about #2, that’s exactly what I thought. But the Salt Lake Tribune article makes it sound like there is another library in the works. I don’t know the geography very well (don’t know where the new library is), but why did the Tribune run this article if it is the same library?

  3. #36 – Lots of aspects of the Restored Gospel are old-fashioned, too, by today’s standards. I don’t think we’ll be dropping them anytime soon. I say we keep supporting Scouting.

  4. I think KBYU should call PBS’s bluff, and propose to withdraw from the PBS network but continue to purchase PBS programming. Then both sides will be happy – PBS preserves the income stream they receive from KBYU, but no longer suffers the ignominy of having a PBS branded station offer sectarian religious content, and KBYU continues largely as before with slightly different promotional spots.

    Speaking of which, it is hard to imagine how a Washington Post writer could be so ignorant as to suppose that the subsidy is in the direction of stations like KBYU instead of the reverse. KBYU effectively subsidizes PBS, not the other way around.

  5. This comment by COLTAKASHI93 on the above mentioned blog post is worth quoting in full:

    The original blogger’s question incorrectly assumes that PBS is paying the individual broadcasting stations and specifically financially supporting their religious programming, such as mass for shut-ins and religious sermons. That is NOT the fact. For example, KBYU is an educational broadcasting station that primarily functions by sharing programming produced by Brigham Young University with the larger community, many of whom are BYU alumni and/or parents of students. This includes musical and dramatic performances on the campus, lectures on secular topics by visiting speakers, graduation ceremonies, sports events, and educational lectures. The “devotionals” are simply one more university community event that is being shared with the larger regional audience. The broadcasting facilities of KBYU and the salaries of its staff, primarily faculty and students in broadcast journalism school, are paid for by BYU and by the usual “begathons” that solicit community financial support.

    PBS is PAID by KBYU for PBS programming it provides to the station for broadcast. PBS does NOT pay KBYU to show Frontline, American Experience, or McLaughlin Group. PBS does NOT provide any financial subsidy to BYU’s broadcast of religious programs held on campus, just as it does NOT subsidize the broadcast of BYU sports events or concerts or educational lectures.

    No taxpayer is supporting KBYU religious broadcasting. PBS is simply a retailer of TV programming. It is not the owner or operator of local broadcast stations. It is frankly ridiculous for PBS to think it has any right to tell its customers–the non-profit broadcast stations–what they can broadcast on their own stations. It would hardly be more ridiculous if PBS demanded that anyone who watches PBS had to disavow watching religious programs on the same television!

    If PBS is concerned that station IDs show a PBS logo just before a local religious broadcast, the local stations can just show an overlay that says “This program is not a PBS product, and is purely supported by your donations to your local station.”

    Would that the Washington Post writers be similarly well informed.

  6. #36: The guy scoffing at the Orienteering merit badge because of his all-powerful iPhone was hilarious. Can’t wait til Utah County Search and Rescue has to pick him up after getting lost at Bridal Veil Falls. At least he probably learned how to run an ‘out route’ in high school. That’s a skill that’ll come in handy for the rest of his life.

  7. Kent (4) — I dunno, hence the “huh”?

    Maybe the Trib was reprinting old clips as a timeline in an illustrative box or something else that would have been clear in the print edition, but which was picked up by the online edition as a separate story. In any case, it’s the same library (which opens in 10 hours and 36 minutes, if anybody else is counting).

  8. Ardis, I too thought it must be part of a timeline. If so, then whoever transfers the print material to the web and formats it managed to get it messed up pretty good. Perhaps this notariety will get it fixed?

    I must admit, Arids, that if I lived just a few blocks from the library as you do, I too would be counting the minutes till it opens!

    As it is, I continue my forlorn hope that the complete library catalog will somehow be made available on the web. It saves so much time being able to plan your searches before you get there! As it is, I don’t always know what is there in the library that would be useful.

  9. Mark D (6 & 7) re: #16 and #31.
    I think you are assuming that PBS can do what you suggest and that BYU’s money is the only consideration.

    Given that PBS was (I think — anyone know for sure) a government created entity, they likely have legal restrictions on the funds they get from the government. I do not know, but it is conceivable that the restrictions say the funds must be used at PBS stations, under the logic that THE PROGRAMMING ITSELF is support to the station.

    To me the idea is kind of backwards, and I think PBS shouldn’t be looking at other programming that stations carrying its programs produce, but I suppose I could make some arguments for why PBS is doing what it is doing, and how it benefits the system. If nothing else, if non-PBS stations could simply pay a fee to carry PBS programs, there is a danger that those stations would cherry-pick the best of the PBS programs, and leave the system as a whole unsupported.

  10. I’ll note that Dallin H. Oaks was president of BYU from 1971 to 1980 and was chairman of the board of directors of PBS from 1979 to 1984.

  11. Comments are closed on the post about Elder Callister’s talk, so I’m intruding on this open-mike thread to record this.

    Let’s talk about awesome. Elder Callister takes issue with this word

    You might take issue with it, too, had you been in my ward’s Sacrament Meeting yesterday, where an adult — not a youth speaker, an adult — read a Father’s Day “letter” signed by “Dad, the Almighty God” and then went on to speak of His “awesome ninja parenting skilz.” Although “awesome” is probably the least offensive part of this disrespectful discussion of deity, a conscious effort to curb that obiquitous bit of slang in what should be a worshipful setting would have gone a long way toward preventing the rest of it.

  12. “To use a word favored by the youth of today, it is an “awesome” responsibility to speak to you.”

    Pres. Thomas S. Monson, Priesthood Session, April 1991.

  13. Kent, All PBS stations pay a large amount of money to carry PBS programming. A station like KBYU conservatively pays about five or six million dollars a year to PBS for programming. PBS does not fund its member television stations. Rather it distributes non-commercial (“public”) television programming, forwarding the money it receives from member television stations to the various producers of non-commercial television programming, many of which are other member television stations.

    PBS is non-profit corporation founded in 1969 that has 168 member “stations”, all of whom are non-commercial. Those stations are each independently owned and operated, much the same way KSL is distinct from NBC. PBS is not a creature of the federal government. There is nothing legally “public” about PBS in any way. The PBS board of directors sets its own policies and is not subject to any specific statutory restrictions.

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a creature of the federal government it is true, to the tune of about 400 million dollars a year. It happens to be statutorily prohibited from owning stations and producing its own programming. The CPB spends that funding primarily in two forms – grants to producers of non-commercial television and radio programming and direct community service grants to public radio and television stations. There are no federal rules that say that any of the grantees have to have their programming distributed by PBS.

    KBYU-TV receives about 1.5 million dollars in federal community service grants (administered by the CPB) every year. However, CPB policy is not at issue here. CPB is not a network, does not have member stations, and is only bound to promote the production and distribution of innovative non-commercial television programming. KBYU does that, mostly on the distribution side.

    In short PBS can adopt just about any policy it wants, as long as it is non-commercial. There is no federal law, rule, or regulation stopping it from distributing sectarian programming, let alone allowing its member stations to carry it. Can you imagine if NBC said to KSL, “sorry we are not going to let you carry General Conference any more, not if you want to be an NBC station”?

  14. PBS has every right to refuse to allow KBYU to be a PBS member station of course. However, as the de facto monopoly distributor of non-commercial television programming they could face an anti-trust suit from KBYU if they refused to let KBYU (and other similar stations) purchase programming through their distribution network.

    Failing that, KBYU could purchase programming directly from the producers. CPB production grants do not come with terms that say you can’t obtain funding for your programming from stations that carry sectarian programming. Few if any producers of such programming are going to turn down reasonable offers from any non-commercial broadcaster. Logistics may be a problem, however, especially for time sensitive programming such as news.

  15. Re: #36–Boy Scouts and the Church. Concerning the acquisition of “outmoded” skills: The current issue of Backpacker magazine has a story about a database compiled by a search and rescue specialist about all of the cases of lost campers and hikers in the US, which runs into the thousands every year, even in this age of GPS-empowered cell phones. (If your cell phone does not have coverage in the place where you are lost, you won’t be able to tell someone where you are.) Unless a person plans to never venture into the forest or desert or on the water, learning the basic survival skills, including first aid, that should be learned by every Scout, is of value to anyone who plans on enjoying nature occasionally with his family.

    Then there is the fact that you can hardly avoid driving through wild areas at night, in storms, and in winter. Most of us are a simple car breakdown away from a life-or-death experience in the outdoors, especially sliding off a road in a snowstorm.

    That of course is not saying that the Boy Scouts are as effective as they ought to be in teaching those wilderness skills, or in inculcating the ethic of walking lightly on the land (I know a number of Scouts whose idea of great time in the outdoors involves riding a snowmobile or 4-wheeler at maximum speed.). The Scouts ought to teach, first of all, that the forests and deserts are NOT extensions of Disneyland, and that YOU CAN DIE THERE. One would think that, in a state where a major part of the economy is outdoor recreation, including in the dead of winter, learning how to enjoy yourself without killing yourself or others (including avoiding wildfires) ought to be a basic part of one’s education.

    Back when the majority of boys grew up on farms, dealing with horses and other animals, a lot of this stuff was part of daily life. Especially now, in the 21st Century, when so many boys spend hours every week staring at TV and computer screens, experiences that anchor them back in reality–hunger, thirst, fatigue, and even a little pain–have an important role in their moral upbringing.

    I say this as a Scout who never progressed past Star rank, and whose camping and hiking experiences almost uniformly ended up in some benign disaster through the incompetence of my adult leaders, who had an inflated concept of their own wilderness competence. The cure for poor wilderness skills is better teaching and leadership, not giving up on the project.

    Qualifying for merit badges and various awards is all too often a pencil whipping exercise, without real research or study or skill acquisition. Making sure skills are taught rigorously needs to start at the top. Just because Scouting, like the Church itself, is a volunteer organization does not excuse either from a basic need for quality management.

    On the other hand, I have had experiences with Scouting activities led by volunteers in units outside the Church, and the basic organizational skills that Mormons take for granted are all too often lacking in many of those efforts.

  16. I don’t think there is any considerable constituency for abandoning Scouting type activities, but rather for abandoning the formal association with the Boy Scouts of America (and comparable organizations in a few other countries), due to some of the financial / fund raising issues involved.

    There is a certain economy of scale to the BSA, however, and I don’t see the Church doing its own thing unless the leadership intended to dilute the program to the point where there were few if any merit badges, for example.

  17. Mark D. (15) wrote:

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a creature of the federal government it is true, to the tune of about 400 million dollars a year. It happens to be statutorily prohibited from owning stations and producing its own programming. The CPB spends that funding primarily in two forms – grants to producers of non-commercial television and radio programming and direct community service grants to public radio and television stations. There are no federal rules that say that any of the grantees have to have their programming distributed by PBS.

    Hmmm. I admit that I’m not a lawyer nor an expert on these issues (what’s your background on this, btw?). But I don’t see how the fact that funds went from the Federal Government to the CPB absolves any of the subsequent recipients from the prohibition against the Federal Government funding religion.

    And I don’t think that the fact that KBYU pays money for the programming necessarily means that the programming is not support for the station. The CPB funds are a subsidy for the system, for programming and for support of the stations, from what you said. If you subsidize the programming, aren’t you also subsidizing those that use that programming? After all, without the subsidy, the stations would have to pay more, wouldn’t they?

  18. Kent, Broadcasting federally subsidized programming on the same channel as other religious content does not amount to a federal subsidy, let alone “establishment” of religion. If it did, someone would have sued the CPB (and won) a long time ago.

    The CPB isn’t threatening to withhold grants from KBYU or refuse to let KBYU carry programming from recipients of its grants. The government provides all sorts of grants to branches of various faith based organizations to carry out various non-religious purposes – mostly social welfare related activities, notably adoption. That doesn’t constitute a federal establishment of religion either.

    But that is all completely beside the point. PBS and the CPB are distinct entities. PBS is just a group of stations that have formed a quasi-monopoly distribution network. PBS isn’t threatening to kick KBYU out because of some federal policy dictat. The PBS board of directors (which is elected by the member stations) simply doesn’t want the PBS brand to be associated with stations that carry religious programming. At some point, that desire is almost certain to be fulfilled, and KBYU and the half a dozen other related stations will either capitulate, leave, or be kicked out of the PBS network.

    If you want some sources, start with 47 USC 396, the federal code that governs the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Then look at one of the CPB’s recent annual reports available on the CPB website, as well as the abundance of other information available there. Then read the annual report and audited financial statements of KUED, which are also available online. The PBS website contains considerable information about the structure and policies of PBS as well. Then there are a number of well researched recent news articles on the subject – the above mentioned article, however, is not one of them.

    My interest is as an outsider, by the way – I have no direct knowledge of the internal workings of KBYU, KUED, or PBS besides what I have obtained from public sources plus knowledge of the general legal rules that govern non-profit organizations and federal grant operations.

  19. Re: #1, “New York Times looks at Blanding Dr. suicide” etc.

    I now live in the area where these events took place. Also, in the past, I’ve worked on archaeological sites in the area. These events and the press coverage have given the small towns here a tossing.

    If anybody’s interested, I’ve put up my reflections on the artifact trafficking, FBI “Cerberus” sting, so on here:

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