For those who have not been exposed to liberal arts and to those frightened away by the word ‘liberal,’ let the mariner assure the reader that liberal arts means the study of humanity and is neither liberal nor conservative. It is open-minded – which may be frightening to any close-minded person conservative or liberal.
Many TV viewers are moving on to the new marketing format available through HULU, NETFLIX, HBO, SPORT networks and even social networks. The channels rich in liberal arts are not the reason for this move; rather it is less costly and provides more personal control over channel selection although not much. To be honest, most viewers consider liberal arts channels the ones they don’t want to pay for.
Still, there is a growing need for some percentage of the American population to understand that mental sophistication and insightful judgment are critical both to our enjoyment and to our future. Liberal arts sources grow scant and even unavailable as college after college drops liberal art majors and humanities requirements from its curriculum. It is a dangerous time for dismissing sophisticated thinking about humans and what may be important digressions from the powers of artificial intelligence.
For an accounting of Liberal Arts in past posts, use the search box to recover posts containing the term liberal arts.
In this post, the mariner will point out a number of broadcast and cable TV channels that give generous time to thoughtful programming across the spectrum of insight, education and art. Cultural events are available as specials, for example, “The Kennedy Center Honors” is primarily entertainment but the program’s tone acknowledges cultural style and cultural significance – artificial intelligence unnecessary. News specials appear regularly on all the broadcast channels: ‘Special Reports’ programming typically focuses on important events more deeply and insightfully; Frontline on PBS always is on the frontline…; calendar specials – recent broadcasts were informative about Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King; another was about the mindset of the founding fathers. There is a bit of burden on the reader to peruse broadcast listings and promotions to identify thoughtful presentations about any subject. Even CNN and MSNBC broadcast good ones once in awhile.
Of notable contribution to liberal arts is PBS. Viewed in collaboration with PBS on line, a veritable library of liberal arts topics is available from Pushkin to Pythagoras to Emerson. Add NPR on the radio and all programming is treated as serious, personal and event oriented. Did you say goodbye to Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion? President Obama did with an on-the-air telephone call.
BBCHD and BBCAHD contribute a good amount of broadcast time to humanities programming. On Saturdays there is a series of programs that are enjoyable yet targeted around topics one would think have little of consequence. Try Studio-1 and Brilliant Ideas.
CSPAN1 and 2 are rich in humanity programs. The library of videos on line has tens of thousands of programs. Not all are based on book reviews with authors; they include interviews with world leaders, US politicians, government actions and human interest in all the humanities. One never knows when a particular author interview may spark enough interest to buy or borrow the book at the library. Mariner can attest to dozens of interviews that led to further research.
Discounting Fox channels because they reinforce close-mindedness with their already close-minded audience, there is little left to represent humanity’s political ideology. Two liberal channels, LINK and FSTV, present material close to the positions of Bernie Sanders but their material frequently is out of date and may not match current reality. Still, liberal figures whose ideas represent mainstream socialism appear in their broadcasting; examples are Chomsky and Ralph Nader plus activists and personalities participating in current activity. Mariner watches occasionally to keep his ship’s keel in line. (If all the reader does is watch news on TV, one will be led quickly away from reality. Humanities is not a strength of news media.)
Then there is the champion of free information on any subject one can imagine. Unlike TV, which feeds the viewer a pre-researched topic, the viewer can know everything plus more if the viewer does all the research about a topic of personally determined interest. Mariner has said in the past that Wikipedia is a playground for liberal arts.
The point is this: Every element of our species that we hold dear is vulnerable to displacement by the digital takeover of “big data.” Computers already have learning algorithms that teach them to form their own functional solutions to computer-determined needs; give computers access to all there is to know about you, your environment, your motivations and the patterns of human behavior, and the computers will live your life for you and do the work that once needed you. Humans will be displaced to the point that economic rules will collapse and humans will have no way to produce income. Only the enrichment of liberal arts in the minds of leaders will have any chance to divert pure digital solutions from displacing humanity. Chicken Little, Amos and the Guru all agree on this outcome. Further, you can find television programs and books already describing this future. Even Stephen Hawking feels computers will dislodge the human species as humans give up human functionality. Care to consult a digital psychologist for counseling? That function already exists.
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There are two ‘third party’ options for the 2016 election: The Libertarian Party and the Green Party. The libertarian party promotes a harmful, draconian view of government that would destroy today’s culture; it allows only military, printing money and international relations as Federal functions. There is no room for anything else. All other matters are left to the fifty states. The other party, the green party, has Jill Stein running for President. The Green Party is left-center but notably more progressive. The political platform can be read at http://www.gp.org/four_pillars_10_kv . If the two major candidates don’t fit the bill for you, check out the Green Party manifesto. The mariner personally does not recommend Donald.
The latest Atlantic Magazine has a good lead article, “How American Politics Went Insane.” Check out the September issue or read it on line at
Even more insightful is to watch “The Greeks” on PBS TONIGHT (Tuesday, July 05, 2016). Everyone will recognize the similarity of American history to Greece’s path to democracy.