aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, November 26, 2005
The Moyers Tomlinson debate
LAMB: At the hearing that we covered recently, you were challenged to debate Bill Moyers. And you said yes.
TOMLINSON: I would be happy to debate Bill Moyers. [...]
LAMB: Will it be in a public forum?
LAMB: Coverable by this network and others?
TOMLINSON: I assume so.
LAMB: And do you think it will be soon?
TOMLINSON: I think it will probably be in the fall, in September.
I forgot too. Reading this interview with Moyers in Broadcasting and Cable reminded me:
Did you get any direct pressure from Tomlinson or CPB to change the content of your show?
The people at PBS told me they were getting excruciating pressure because of our reporting, including threats to de-fund public television unless “Moyers is dealt with.” They never identified the source of that pressure.
We know now it was Tomlinson. [Tomlinson] even told some people [we have confirmed it with two people who were present] that “Moyers is a coward because he doesn’t want to talk to people who disagree with him.”
Hello? See the above list of all the conservatives who appeared on the show.
What happened to the debate idea between you two?
I asked him repeatedly. He refused. He didn’t even respond. But when all this started to unfold early last year, I asked three times to meet with the CPB board and try to find out what was going on.
I thought we could reason together and maybe agree on how to cooperate to protect Public Broadcasting’s independence. I mean, I not only read the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, I helped to create it. CPB’s job was to be a firewall between guys like them and the producers, journalists, and content of public broadcasting.
I thought at the time that I was dealing with people who cared about this institution. I didn’t realize they had gone over to the dark side.
UPDATE: NYTimes editorial, Public Broadcasting’s Enemy Within - “As chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson proved to be a disastrous zealot...”
This has got to be the year that Google officially becomes the company Sillicon Valley loves to hate and Microsoft settles into its kinder gentler giant role.
Larry Lessig on patent progress at Microsoft:
There’s been lots of interesting commentary about Microsoft’s recent decision to submit its Office Document Formats to ECMA for “open standardization.” That’s good news, depending, of course, on the details.
But this is even better news: Microsoft has also promised that “it will not seek to enforce any of its patent claims necessary to conform to the technical specifications for the Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas.”
This shows some hope to the complex of issues around patents affecting software in the land of Microsoft. Even opponents of software and business method patents will advise companies to secure them - given others can as well. But behavior like this goes a long way to neutralizing the negative effect of such patents. No license. No agreement. Just an unequivocal promise - at least with respect to those who don’t sue Microsoft.
Meanwhile, following all the evil Google press could keep a blogger mighty busy. Wired has helpfully compiled a fun roundup of who’s worried and why. From the intro:
It seems no one is safe: Google is doing Wi-Fi; Google is searching inside books; Google has a plan for ecommerce.
Of course, Google has always wanted to be more than a search engine. Even in the early days, its ultimate goal was extravagant: to organize the world’s information. High-minded as that sounds, Google’s ever-expanding agenda has put it on a collision course with nearly every company in the information technology industry: Amazon.com, Comcast, eBay, Yahoo!, even Microsoft.
In less than a decade, Google has gone from guerrilla startup to 800-pound gorilla.
And today the Times highlights a slew of anti-Google articles for your Google-bashing pleasure.
Me, I liked Microsoft when they were the definition of evil and I still think Google’s better than Pfizer or Wal-Mart or GM or BP or Exxon or GE or AXA or Citigroup. Heck, I even enjoy the thought of a Google nation.
My next car?
The styling is fresh and modern, with more than a passing resemblance to the new and more expensive Lexus IS sport sedan. It is more fun to drive than the Camry, nearly as nice inside as the Accord and loaded with features at a highly competitive price.
Then on Wednesday:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released safety ratings for 14 vehicles. Hyundai’s Sonata and Tucson joined the Mercedes-Benz ML Class, Subaru B9 Tribeca, and Honda Odyssey as the only vehicles getting 5 stars in all of the crash tests.
And America’s best warranty. I’m sold.
In the Mercer/Baptist split over the Triangle Symposium, I think the Baptists should reconsider. It looks to me like they’re bound to be the losers.
I’ve spent the morning with Guidestar, looking at Mercer University’s tax return. Out of a fund balance of $241,840,697 last year, a total of $17,697,816 came from direct public support. There’s no line item for Baptist contribution (duh!) but The Macon Telegraph reports that “the Georgia Baptist Convention currently gives Mercer about $3.5 million a year to fund scholarships.” The AJC says the 7,000 student campus “receives about $2.4 million a year from the Georgia Baptist Convention.”
That looks like a drop in the bucket to me. (And the reporters’ discrepancies suggest they haven’t done a much better job than me at tracking down the Baptist contribution. We don’t know and probably won’t know precisely what it is, but in relative terms it ain’t that big!)
Meanwhile, protests that there is no “national movement or trend” aside, this sure reads like one:
If Southern Baptists and their Baptist-run colleges are a family, that family appears to be splintering all over.
Tuesday, the same day that the Georgia Baptist Convention moved to part ways with Mercer University, Kentucky Baptists voted to loosen their ties with, and gradually reduce their funding to, Georgetown College.
And the next day, the Tennessee Baptist Convention voted to cut off funding for Belmont University in Nashville.
In the past 20 years, several other historically Baptist universities - such as Stetson in Florida, Wake Forest in North Carolina, Furman in South Carolina, Baylor in Texas - have either cut ties to their Baptist state conventions or become more autonomous.
Those splits, observers say, have been driven by the same issues that drive most family disputes: money, faith, politics, power and sometimes sex. And they have changed the face of academia in the Southeast.
William Brackney, director of Baylor’s Baptist Studies Program, says, “One of the largest denominational empires in higher education has been disintegrating rapidly in the last decade and a half.”
The chicken/egg question here is who’s leaving whom? Or, more importantly, who loses what in the breakup?
Some Baptist schools, such as Stetson, Furman and Wake Forest, gained complete independence and receive no support from their state conventions.
Baylor’s Brackney said, “There certainly doesn’t appear to be any scarring for the schools, all of them seem to have prospered. They’ve redefined themselves and gone on, and the Baptist movement has written them off.” [...]
For those schools that cut ties altogether, said Stetson’s Reddish, “Obviously, you lose some financial support, and you feel it, but you can also recoup it through increased alumni giving.”
Stetson lost about $1 million a year, he said, revenue that was gradually replaced.
“There may have been a slight downturn in enrollment,” he said, “but not much.”
More significant, some say, is the change in a school’s self-image. [...]
“History suggests that those colleges that have loosened their ties have a more difficult time maintaining their Christian identity,” said Duke’s Freeman. “They tend to grow more and more secularized. Some say that’s a good thing; some say it’s a bad thing.”
As an advocate of gay inclusion in religious life - even as I don’t identify as a capital “C” Christian - I see this as a bad thing. I’d like to see Baptist moderation and these schools are a moderating influence.
Evidently, the Baptist Conventions see that too. So they’re severing ties, and with that, losing the disproportionate influence their 1% contribution buys them.
RELATED: It may get worse before it gets better:
In December, Mercer trustees are expected to name Bill Underwood, the current interim president at Baylor University, as the school’s new president.
The 2006 edition of the Princeton Review’s “The Best 361 Colleges” ranked Baylor third among 20 schools listed as “Colleges with a Low Acceptance of Gays.”