PBS Bans New Religious Shows

While Reader’s Digest is talking of moving further to the right and including more spiritual stories, PBS is looking to firm up its policy to avoid religious shows. They will grandfather in current religious shows but will not allow new ones:

The Public Broadcasting Service agreed yesterday to ban its member stations from airing new religious TV programs, but permitted the handful of stations that already carry “sectarian” shows to continue doing so.

The vote by PBS’s board was a compromise from a proposed ban on all religious programming. Such a ban would have forced a few stations around the country to give up their PBS affiliation if they continued to broadcast local church services and religious lectures.

Until now, PBS stations have been required to present programming that is noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian. But the definition of “nonsectarian” programming was always loosely interpreted, and the rule had never been strictly enforced. PBS began reviewing the definition and application of those rules last year in light of the transition to digital TV and with many stations streaming programs over their Web sites. The definition doesn’t cover journalistic programs about religion or discussion programs that don’t favor a particular religious point of view.

Stations will be allowed to air religious shows on digital channels they operate and web sites as long as they don’t carry PBS shows or identify with PBS.

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Eliminating Money in Japan

quark bar

I often see articles which compare real world changes to science fiction, but generally they are about scientific advances. The Times of London has a different comparison:

To fight deflation, abolish cash. Could Japan make reality of ‘science fiction’?

With recovery elusive, a population doddering into old age and perhaps a decade of deflation in prospect, Japan may start mulling the most radical monetary policy of all — the abolition of cash.

Unorthodox, untried and, said one Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi strategist, “in the realms of economic science fiction”, the recommendation has nevertheless begun floating around Tokyo’s corridors of power and economists have described Japan as particularly suitable as a testing ground.

The search for more outré economic policies continues, despite the recent surge in the Nikkei 225 index.The market may be reflecting soaring Chinese investment, rising consumer confidence and other cheerful data but economists see few long-term beacons of hope for Japan.

Other extreme ideas mooted by the financial authorities include a tax on physical currency or introducing one to operate alongside the yen.

The science fiction example which comes immediately to mind is Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry had the idea of a future where people are perfect and money isn’t needed. In his utopia people would do what they like to do without needing to be paid.

The economic problems with that are obvious, and not even subsequent Star Trek writers went along. While there was concern with creating a new time line to avoid contradicting Star Trek canon, there are actually multiple contradictions already present. There were episodes in which it was stated explicitly that Earth had eliminated money while other episodes showed money in use. One episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine even involved the dilemma of Jake Sisko having to engage in a series of trades to obtain a gift because people from Earth had no money. I’m sure that somehow Quark was paid by Star Fleet patrons as he certainly would not operate a bar just for the pleasure of it.

This science fiction comparison really has nothing to do with the situation in Japan as they are actually looking at ways to make monetary transactions without the use of physical cash.  It is already common there to buy things just by swiping their cell phone, making the elimination of physical cash plausible.

Reader’s Digest Moves Further To Right

Reader’s Digest has always been a fairly conservative magazine but did have enough general interest material to make it worth putting out in the waiting room. I might not be renewing it next year. The publishers, not sure what to do with a magazine in an era when such magazines have little use other than giving people something to steal from my waiting room, have decided to move it in an even more conservative direction.

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