Sunday, November 29, 2015


“Finished, it's finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished. Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there's a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap. I can't be punished any more. I'll go now to my kitchen, ten feet by ten feet by ten feet, and wait for him to whistle me. Nice dimensions, nice proportions, I'll lean on the table, and look at the wall, and wait for him to whistle me.”
― Samuel Beckett, "Endgame"

Friday, November 27, 2015


from Wikipedia
Founded by Hartford N. Gunn Jr., PBS began operations on October 5, 1970, taking over many of the functions of its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET), which later merged with Newark, New Jersey station WNDT to form WNET. In 1973 it merged with Educational Television Stations.

Unlike the five major commercial broadcast television networks in the United States, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW – which compensate their affiliate stations to carry their programs – PBS is not a network but a program distributor that provides television content and related services to its member stations. Each station is charged with the responsibility of programming local content (often news, interview, cultural and public affairs programs) for their individual market or state that supplements content provided by PBS and other public television distributors.

In a television network structure, affiliates give up portions of their local advertising airtime in exchange for carrying network programming, and the network pays its affiliates a share of the revenue it earns from advertising (although this structure has been reversed in recent years, with the network compensated by the stations). By contrast, PBS member stations pay fees for the shows acquired and distributed by the national organization. Under this relationship, PBS member stations have greater latitude in local scheduling than their commercial broadcasting counterparts. Scheduling of PBS-distributed series may vary greatly depending on the market. This can be a source of tension as stations seek to preserve their localism, and PBS strives to market a consistent national lineup. However, PBS has a policy of "common carriage," which requires most stations to clear the national prime time programs on a common programming schedule to market them nationally more effectively. Management at former Los Angeles member KCET cited unresolvable financial and programming disputes among its major reasons for leaving PBS after over 40 years in January 2011.

Although PBS has a set schedule of programming (particularly in regard to its prime time schedule, while many members carry a feed of night-time programming from the PBS Satellite Service), member stations reserve the right to schedule PBS-distributed programming in other time slots or not clear it all if they choose to do so; few of the service's members carry all its programming. Most PBS stations timeshift some distributed programs. Once PBS accepts a program offered for distribution, PBS, rather than the originating member station, retains exclusive rebroadcasting rights during an agreed period. Suppliers retain the right to sell the program in non-broadcast media such as DVDs, books, and sometimes PBS licensed merchandise (but sometimes grant such ancillary rights as well to PBS).


As of March 2015, PBS maintains current memberships with 354 television stations encompassing 50 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. possessions;[4][26] as such, it is the only television broadcaster in the United States – commercial or non-commercial – which has station partners licensed in every U.S. state (by comparison, none of the five major commercial broadcast networks has affiliates in certain states where PBS has members, most notably New Jersey). The service has an estimated national reach of 93.74% of all households in the United States (or 292,926,047 Americans with at least one television set).

PBS stations are commonly operated by non-profit organizations, state agencies, local authorities (such as municipal boards of education), or universities in their city of license; this is similar (albeit more centralized in states where a licensee owns multiple stations rebroadcasting the main PBS member) to the early model of commercial broadcasting in the U.S., in which network-affiliated stations were initially owned by companies that owned few to no other television stations elsewhere in the country. In some U.S. states, a group of PBS stations throughout the entire state may be organized into a single regional "subnetwork" (such as Alabama Public Television and the Arkansas Educational Television Network); in this model, PBS programming and other content is distributed by the originating station in the subnetwork to other full-power stations that serve as satellites as well as any low-power translators in other areas of the state. Some states may be served by such a regional network and simultaneously have PBS member stations in a certain city (such as the case with secondary member KBDI-TV in Denver, which is not related to Colorado member network Rocky Mountain PBS and its flagship station and primary Denver PBS member, KRMA-TV) that operate autonomously from the regional member network.


Since 53% to 60% of public television's revenues come from private membership donations and grants, most stations solicit individual donations by methods including fundraising, pledge drives or telethons, which disrupt regularly scheduled programming. This annoys some viewers, since regularly scheduled programming is often replaced with specials aimed at a wider audience (such as music specials aimed at the baby boomer generation, and financial, health and motivational programs) to solicit new members and donations; during fundraising events, these programs are often interrupted within the broadcast by long-form segments (of six to eight minutes in length) extolling viewers to donate to their PBS member. Underwriting spots are aired at the end of each program, which differ from traditional commercials in several ways. Each spot must be approved to meet several guidelines. The main guidelines state that underwriting spots cannot be qualitative in any way, nor can they have any call to action.


PBS provides an alternate path for WEA alerts to wireless carriers. The alerts are transmitted through the PBS satellite network on the AMC-21 satellite to PBS stations who broadcast the messages over their transmitters for reception by wireless carriers at their cell sites.

The network is funded by a grant through National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fruit Salad?

FORBIDDEN fruit a flavor has
That lawful orchards mocks;
How luscious lies the pea within
The pod that Duty locks!
- Emily Dickinson, "Life (LXXXVII)"

Friday, November 20, 2015


What is staying alive? To possess
A great hall inside of a cell.
What is it to know? The same root
Underneath the branches.

What is it to believe? Being a carer
Until relief takes over.
And to forgive? On fours through thorns
To keep company to an old enemy.

What is it to sing? To receive breath
From the genius of creation.
What's work but humming a song
From wood and wheat.

What are state affairs? A craft
That's still only crawling?
And armaments? Thrust a knife
In a baby's fist.

Being a nation? What can it be? A gift
In the swell of the heart.
And to love a country? Keeping house
In a cloud of witnesses.

What's the world to the all powerful?
A circle spinning.
And to the children of the earth?
A cradle rocking.
- Waldo Williams, "What is it to be human?"

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Seeking New Dreams

"I'll see you in the same old dream tonight"
- Alfred Hitchcock (Lonelyhearts), "Rear Window"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Suffering Fools

Here they met a quite different Aleksandr Petrovich, who declared from the very start that, where hitherto he had demanded their mere wit, now he would demand their highest intelligence - not the intelligence which can make fun of a fool and hold him up to ridicule, but that which can suffer any insult, can suffer a fool - and feel no irritation. Now he started to demand of them what others demand from children. It was this he called intelligence of the highest order. To be able, in the face of every possible disappointment, to preserve the sublime calm in which man should remain in perpetuity - that is what he called intelligence.
- Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol, "Dead Souls: A Poem"

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Out of Sight...

It is this immanent gap that eludes Althusser's theory of the Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs). According to Althusser, what distinguishes the State from other social apparatuses is that
...everything that operates in it and in its name, whether the political apparatus or the ideological apparatuses, is silently buttressed by the existence and presence of public, armed physical force. That it is not fully visible or actively employed, that it very often intervenes only intermittently, or remains hidden and invisible - all this is simply one further form of its existence and action... one had to make a show of one's force so as not to have to make use of it; suffices to deploy one's (military) force to achieve, by intimidation, results that would normally have been achieved by sending it into action. We may go further, and say that one can also not make a show of one's force so as not to have to make use of it. When threats of brite force, or the force of law, subject the actors in a given situation to obvious pressure, there is no longer any need to make a show of this force; there may be more to be gained from hiding it. The army tanks that were stationed under the trees of Rambouillet Forest in May 1968 are an example. They played, by virtue of their absence, a decisive role in quelling the 1968 riots in Paris.
The first thing to note here is the radical change of terrain that occurs when we pass from the first to the second level of avoiding the use of direct force. First one makes a show of force so as not to have to use it; then, one does not make a show of force so as not to have to use it. We are effectively dealing here with a kind of negation of negation: first we "negate" the direct use of force by replacing it with a mere show - say, in a tense situation in which the authorities expect violent demonstrations, they decide to parade columns of tanks through the working-class quarters of the city, expecting that this will dissuade the protestors; then this "negation" is itself "negated", ie, there is no show of force, but the authorities expect this to have an even more powerful deterrent effect than an open display of force - since the protestors know there is a police (or military) force ready to confront them, its very absence makes it all the more ominous and omnipotent. The first negation operates at the level of the imaginary: the real of the brutal use of force is substituted by a fascinating spectacle designed to deter protestors. The second negation operates at the level of the symbolic: it is only within the symbolic order of differentiality that "the presence-absence (a presence rendered effective by its very absence)" functions, ie, that absence can count as a positive feature even more powerful than presence. And it is this properly symbolic dimension that Althusser ignores, as it is clear from a footnote attached to the quoted passage, in which Althusser draws attention to how Perry Anderson likened "the presence-absence... of the state's armed forces to the monetary gold reserves of the Central bank's:
general circulation in all its forms (which are practically infinite) takes place independently of the presence of the gold stocks on the market. Yet, such circulation would be impossible if these reserves did not exist... they "impinge" on the market" simply because they make this market (this market and no other) possible, in exactly the same way as the invisible (should I say "repressed"? - that is indeed the right term as far as most people are concerned, since they "do not care to know" that these reserves exist and play a determinant role) presence of the police or armed forces impinges on a situation.
From this second example, we can clearly see what Althusser misses: the "little piece of the real" (the armed force, gold reserves) that can remain in the background since it can perform its function without being used, that people believe there is an armed force hidden in the background (or gold reserves in an inaccessible bank vault). The real in the background that serves as the ultimate guarantee and support of the public power is thus a spectral entity- not only does it not need to exist in reality, if it did appear and directly intervene in reality, then it would risk losing its power, since as Lacan made clear, omnipotence (toute-puissance) necessarily reverts into "all-in-potency" (tout en puissance): a father who is perceived as "omnipotent" can only sustain this position if his power remains forever a "potential," a threat which is never actualized. The full use of force, painful as it might be, makes it part of reality and as such by definition limited. This- and not only the shame of what they had done - was the reason the Chinese authorities turned their crackdown at Tiananmen Square, in which (at least) hundreds died, into a non-event: it was a direct exercise of brute force, but it took place at night, invisibly, like a nightmarish-spectral event of rumor; peace and order were immediately restored, all traces of the conflict erased, the appearance of life carrying on as normal resumed. If a regime gets involved in open warfare against its own population, it risks losing not only the minimum of its legitimacy but the very source of its power.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Absolute Recoil"