What We've Been Up To, lately!

Saturday, November 24, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Obviously, this blog hasn't been buzzing with activity recently. That's mainly because life and work have been incredibly, incredibly busy for both John and me. And it seems harder and harder to get our on-air guests to take us up on our invitations to guest blog. So much to do, so little time to do it! I'm sure you understand. But I hope we can do better in the coming months.

I can already see a new New Year's resolution coming. I will blog on a more regular basis.

Just to get back in practice, I thought I would write not so much of a philosophical blog entry, but an entry about about the recent comings and goings of the Philosophy Talk crew and about some things that are on the horizon. It's been a busy and exciting time for us.

First thing that I should probably mention is that we're having an exciting holiday sale, about which you can find out more below. You can find out more on our webpage starting either later this evening or early tomorrow morning, I'm told.

Visitors to this space will know that the response to our original offering of a paid download service a couple of months ago was, well, interesting. Lots of people took us up on the offer. But an equal number were quite resentful at not being able to get our download service for free. Personally, I wish we could afford to give Philosophy Talk away to everybody completely for free. But I don't see any way to do that just yet. Maybe some Angel out there wants to make it possible. Hint! Hint!

But enough about financial woes. Thinking about that end of this whole Philosophy Talk endeavor just makes me tired, quite frankly. And I feel the same about the endless struggle to convince Program Directors -- the risk averse gatekeepers of the public radio airwaves -- that people do actually want to hear something intellectually challenging on the radio.

The fun part -- the really, really fun part -- is actually doing philosophy and doing it in a way that sometimes connects with real people and their real concerns. For example, we've taken the show on the road twice more in recent days. We took the show to a small junior college, the College of the Sequoias, in Visalia California. There we did a show on Immigration in front of a very engaged and engaging audience of about 100-150. Some folks even made the trek up from Bakersfield, which is a fair distance away, to take part in the program. Folks stayed and asked questions long after the show was over. A fair number of folks even joined our dinner party for a raucous good time afterwards. It was a blast.

What was most impressive is that all this happened in a place where our show isn't even carried on the local public radio station. People knew of it only through the wonders of the internet. Makes you wonder if the days of broadcast radio might not be numbered.

That episode aired a couple of weeks ago, by the way. Check it out here.

More recently, we travelled to Shreveport Louisiana, to Centenary College. John and I were invited to be Attaway Fellows. We spent four days on campus. We did a number of non-radio public appearances for something called the Freshman experience there. And we were wined and dined in very fine southern style. Also, our production crew guest lectured in a couple of media courses. But I think for all of us the highlight of our visit was recording an episode on "Work" in front of an audience of about 400-500 students and faculty of the college -- many of whom came to our non-radio events as well. It was really a blast. We broadcast a second episode live from the college radio station at Centenary -- which carries the show regularly. We were in a studio in Shreveport and our guest, Lanier Anderson, was back in KALW in San Francisco. That was a twist. But it was cool too. Many thanks to the folks at Centenary for a fabulous time. The show on work will be broadcast early next year -- It will be either the first or second episode we broadcast in the new year.

Although we've taken the show on the road about 10 times now, and have a couple of more trips already scheduled for the coming year, we've recently realized that we've never done the show in front of live audience in San Francisco -- though we've done it in Palo Alto and on the Stanford Campus. We're about to rectify that lacuna, though. If you've visited our webpage recently, you know that we're going to do a show with David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet, at Biscuits and Blues, in downtown San Francisco, on Monday December 3. The topic will be "Why Music Matters." David will be an utterly fascinating guest. And after the taping, there will be refreshments followed by a concert by Nanos Operetta, a new musical ensemble, that David will introduce. If you're in the area, come check us out. Ticket's are $100.00, but all proceeds go to benefit the patron radio saint of Philosophy Talk -- KALW, San Francisco's local public radio station. (For those of you outside the Bay Area that phrase "local public radio" is meant to distinguish KALW -- which is small, underfunded, with a weak signal, but highly creative -- from the much larger, wealthier, powerfully signaled, but also kind of stodgy KQED. It's sort of a David vs. Goliath thing around here -- in case you didn't know.)

Anyway, we like the idea of doing live shows so much, that we're thinking of making them a more regular part of what we do. First, we'll keep accepting invitations to take the show on the road. We're going up to Portland again in February, around Valentines Day, for example, at the invitation of Powell's City of books, our sponsor. We're going to do another show at the Residence by Hyatt on Philanthropy down in Palo Alto. And we're probably going to head out to the East Coast to do a show at the University of Delaware. We're trying to work that last one out even as I type. We really like doing these trips, but they are time consuming and expensive. If you think you might want to have us on your college campus, let us know, and we'll see if we can work something out.

But last but not least, our latest brilliant idea is to put the show on in front of live audiences in San Francisco, our home market, on a recurring basis. The idea would be to find a venue that we could use, maybe once every quarter. We'd schedule and record two shows back to back -- maybe an early evening show and a late evening show -- with two separate guests and two separate topics. We'd probably charge a modest admission -- to help pay for the venue, which probably wouldn't come free -- and the additional production costs that come with a pre-recorded show (lots of editing). Between doing the show live in San Francisco twice/quarter and our traveling road shows, we think we could manage to produce about a dozen shows a year in front of live audiences. I personally think that would be really fun. Though I love the call-in shows, there's something special about being to play off of a live audience. I think it really brings out the best in my buddy and partner John. And I like it too.

The hope would be for our live shows in the city to become something of an institution and possibly a hot item. Perhaps you could drop in and see us sometime when you're in the city. Dinner and an episode of Philosophy Talk. Doesn't that sound like fun? Anyway, we're just beginnig to explore the possibilities. Perhaps by the summer or fall we'll be up and running.

We're also thinking of putting information on our webpage about what it takes to bring Philosophy Talk to your town or College Campus. So far, we haven't sought out these invitations at all. They've just sort come to us. But we've had such a good time doing them and have gotten some really great shows out of them that we're eager to do it some more -- at least within limits. They take a lot out of the whole crew, so we have to choose our spots wisely.

As Ian Shoales says, "I gotta go." But I do promise to be a mor regular blogger. Can't make promises on John's behalf though.

Comments (4)


Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, November 26, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

It's great to hear that you?re busy and that the

It's great to hear that you?re busy and that the show's format is progressing to broader horizons. Actually I only discovered the show two weeks ago after searching for some online philosophy discussion, after seeing the list of archives my eyes lit up, I'd hit the jackpot alright. I've listened to a least a dozen shows in that time and simply cannot get enough, you guys have a great chemistry together and a light and humorous enough attitude that nicely balances the show's complex subject matters. I find the show's format a fantastic way to map and facilitate new understandings that I might not otherwise get from conventional reading so for me your show has become a priceless resource.
Well anyway I just had to chime in to show my appreciation from this side of the pond and I?ll endeavour to help in whatever small way I can.
Cheers,
Alexander, England

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

I am sitting here in Los Angeles admiring how live

I am sitting here in Los Angeles admiring how lively philosophical discourse happens in San Francisco, but guess what, I bought the entire archive of Philosophy Talk the minute I got the email announcement. That really made my holiday, and I just love you guys, keep up the great great work and don't ever EVER let philosophy talk get off the air.

Guest's picture

Guest

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

Hi Scott, I really enjoyed 'Did You Know?' and ha

Hi Scott,
I really enjoyed 'Did You Know?' and had no trouble with the global-alarmism. I'm concerned that you feel the need to downplay the global-alarmism and to make the presentation attractive. As an educator and administrator, I feel that far too often we sacrifice reality for a dose of whatever feels good, whatever makes everyone happy, or whatever looks visually appealing. Your initial project was on target. Why water it down...and for whom...and to what end? Hopefully you?re not ashamed of the good work you did, or that you?re feeling politically compelled to ?make others happy? as we educators so often do.
"Karl and I are working with XPLANE to update the Did You Know? video because it seems to resonate with folks. We?re going to update some of the facts, reframe some of the slides, turn down some of the global alarmism, and turn up the visual attractiveness several notches."
What will be served by turning down some of the global alarmism? What will be served by making it visually appealing?
Look at the excerpt below from a recent CNN article:
?I'm not alone in the view that free-trade-at-all-costs has harmed American workers. Princeton University economist and former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman Alan S. Blinder has joined Nobel laureates Paul Samuelson and Joseph Stiglitz and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as skeptics of the benefits the faith-based economists in this administration love to tout.
Blinder is now stating loudly that a new industrial revolution will put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk of being shipped out of the country in the next decade or two. Blinder has said, "Economists who insist that 'offshore outsourcing' is just a routine extension of international trade are overlooking how major a transformation it will likely bring -- and how significant the consequences could be. The governments and societies of the developed world must start preparing, and fast."
Scott, while this information itself may turn out to be totally inaccurate (who knows?), I don't think educators need to be sugar coating the impact of globalism. Not trying to sound rude here, but simply saying that we need to face the music rather than burying our heads in the sand. The potential of loosing 40 million jobs in a decade or two is nothing that needs to be ?turned down? or made ?visually appealing.?
Outsourcing is already happening rather quickly. It?s even happening within the field of education as students can now be tutored from abroad. This is nothing new:
I could continue giving example after example, but will stop here. Believe in what you say, ?We need action on multiple fronts: schools, universities, policymakers, business people, local communities. But we can?t start moving without having some important conversations. So with that in mind??
So with that in mind, important conversations can NOT happen unless educators begin dealing with reality ? not appealing words and pretty pictures.
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Guest's picture

Guest

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

Hi Scott, I really enjoyed 'Did You Know?' and ha

Hi Scott,
I really enjoyed 'Did You Know?' and had no trouble with the global-alarmism. I'm concerned that you feel the need to downplay the global-alarmism and to make the presentation attractive. As an educator and administrator, I feel that far too often we sacrifice reality for a dose of whatever feels good, whatever makes everyone happy, or whatever looks visually appealing. Your initial project was on target. Why water it down...and for whom...and to what end? Hopefully you?re not ashamed of the good work you did, or that you?re feeling politically compelled to ?make others happy? as we educators so often do.
"Karl and I are working with XPLANE to update the Did You Know? video because it seems to resonate with folks. We?re going to update some of the facts, reframe some of the slides, turn down some of the global alarmism, and turn up the visual attractiveness several notches."
What will be served by turning down some of the global alarmism? What will be served by making it visually appealing?
Look at the excerpt below from a recent CNN article:
?I'm not alone in the view that free-trade-at-all-costs has harmed American workers. Princeton University economist and former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman Alan S. Blinder has joined Nobel laureates Paul Samuelson and Joseph Stiglitz and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as skeptics of the benefits the faith-based economists in this administration love to tout.
Blinder is now stating loudly that a new industrial revolution will put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk of being shipped out of the country in the next decade or two. Blinder has said, "Economists who insist that 'offshore outsourcing' is just a routine extension of international trade are overlooking how major a transformation it will likely bring -- and how significant the consequences could be. The governments and societies of the developed world must start preparing, and fast."
Scott, while this information itself may turn out to be totally inaccurate (who knows?), I don't think educators need to be sugar coating the impact of globalism. Not trying to sound rude here, but simply saying that we need to face the music rather than burying our heads in the sand. The potential of loosing 40 million jobs in a decade or two is nothing that needs to be ?turned down? or made ?visually appealing.?
Outsourcing is already happening rather quickly. It?s even happening within the field of education as students can now be tutored from abroad. This is nothing new:
I could continue giving example after example, but will stop here. Believe in what you say, ?We need action on multiple fronts: schools, universities, policymakers, business people, local communities. But we can?t start moving without having some important conversations. So with that in mind??
So with that in mind, important conversations can NOT happen unless educators begin dealing with reality ? not appealing words and pretty pictures.
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