Posts Tagged ‘pbs’

Before I had children, I didn’t quite “get” Mister Rogers. I thought the slow, gentle way he talked was odd.

But then I saw how John at the age of three reacted to him, and the penny dropped. I hadn’t been able to figure out Mister Rogers because he wasn’t talking to me! He was talking to three-year-olds.

Mister Rogers did know how to talk to grown-ups when needed.

Recently, during the national discussion about possible funding cuts for the arts and Public Broadcasting, someone posted on Facebook a 1969 video of Mister Rogers testifying before US Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode Island. At the time, Sen. Pastore was chairman of US Senate Subcommittee on Communications.

It’s a great, great speech. It’s even recognized as such on the American Rhetoric website. The testimony won PBS $20 million in funding from the originally skeptical Sen. Pastore.

But what strikes me most strongly is that its power comes from the speaker’s clearly communicated belief in the essential goodness of his listener. It is communicated through Mister Rogers’s tone of voice and body language.

Faith in the listener is what came across to three-year-old John, too. “You are special. I like you just the way you are.”

See what you think.

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My husband passed along word of a TV special on an ecologist interested in the Siberian tiger who joins forces with a remarkable Korean filmmaker.

From the Public Broadcasting website: “Hunted almost to extinction, the last wild Siberian tigers can only be found in the forests of the far eastern Russian frontier—but not easily.

“Ecologist Chris Morgan embarks on a challenge that will fulfill a lifelong dream — to find and film a Siberian tiger living wild and free in these forests. To help him, Morgan turns to Korean filmmaker Sooyong Park, the first individual ever to film Siberian tigers in the wild.

“Park spent more than five years watching and waiting for a glimpse of the elusive creatures, confined sometimes for months in tiny underground pits or 15-foot hides in trees. His technique was unconventional, but produced more than a thousand hours of wild tiger footage that told the story of a three-generation tiger dynasty.

“During their time together, Park teaches Morgan the secrets of tracking tigers—where to look and what to look for in these vast, seemingly uninhabited frozen forests. Eventually, Morgan’s mentor and guide leaves him to his own private quest, and it is up to Morgan to follow the tracks and markings of these giant cats, searching out spots where tigers are prone to hunt, setting up cameras he hopes will also capture a precious image of a wild Siberian tiger.

It must take courage to do pursue these creatures. The local bears are so afraid of Siberian tigers that they hibernate in nests up in trees.


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We watched a lovely thing on PBS recently, an opera about the Christmas armistice in World War I. You have probably heard of it. The combatants decided to take Christmas off. A movie was made about it, taking a few liberties with the story. Then the Minnesota Opera Company commissioned  composer Kevin Puts to write an opera based on the movie.

From the composer’s website: “Silent Night is an opera in two acts by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, based on the 2005 film Joyeux Noël, directed by Christian Carion and produced by Nord-Ouest Production. Commissioned by Minnesota Opera with co-producer Opera Company of Philadelphia, it opened on November 12, 2011 at the Ordway Theater, St. Paul Minnesota … The opera is sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin.

The interplay of the five languages was charming, especially when the German officer translated English into French and French into English so the three main officers could understand one another.

Read Allan Kozinn’s comments about this Pulitzer Prize winner at the NY Times ArtsBeat blog, here.

I will say that, delightful as it is to see the soldiers put down their arms and show each other pictures of loved ones back home, it makes the misery and futility of war doubly painful as the men are ordered back to battle and the camera pans over the lifeless bodies and the very young faces.

Peace is something to think about at Christmas. Ordinary people just want to live in peace.

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John sent me this heavenly video from a Public Broadcasting show called “The Human Spark.” Do watch it. It isn’t long.

It highlights research with both chimps and toddlers, showing what is apparently an innate impulse to help others. Interestingly, whereas the chimp will pass you something you are reaching for and stop at that, a toddler will go above and beyond — and seem to enjoy it.

All of which suggests to me that if you want to be around people who are truly human, hang out with the ones who like to help others.

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To paraphrase a character in the Brian Friel play “Translations,” if you impose a language on people, one day you may find that their speech “no longer fits the contours of the land.” Language is critical to identity. People can always learn the language of the power group later, once they have learned how to learn.

That is the rationale behind a new effort in Haiti.

“When Michel DeGraff was a young boy in Haiti, his older brother brought home a notice from school reminding students and parents of certain classroom rules. At the top of the list was ‘no weapons.’ And right below it, DeGraff still remembers: ‘No Creole.’ Students were supposed to use French, and French only. …

“DeGraff is now an associate professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he is using his influence to try to destroy the barrier that essentially fences off most of Haiti’s children from a real education.” Read the Boston Globe report here.

The dominance of a few languages was one of the concerns behind creating Esperanto as a bridge. With a bridge language, Esperantists hoped, less common languages would not die. It hasn’t turned out that way.

“There are more than 7,000 languages in the world, and if statistics hold, two weeks from now, there will be one less. That’s the rate at which languages disappear. And each time a language disappears, a part of history — a subtle way of thinking — vanishes too.

“A new documentary called The Linguists, [which aired August 4] on PBS, follows ethnographers David Harrison and Greg Anderson as they race to document endangered languages in some of the most remote corners of the world.

“From the plains of Siberia to the mountains of Bolivia to the tribal lands of India, Harrison and Anderson have hopscotched the globe, but they sat down for a moment with NPR’s Scott Simon to discuss their race to capture the world’s endangered languages.

“Harrison, a linguistics professor at Swarthmore College, specializes in sounds and words; Anderson, who directs Oregon’s Living Tongues Institute, is the verb expert. Together, they speak 25 languages.” Read more here.

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