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Posts Tagged ‘John Reith

All Reith Now!…

Bertrand Russell delivering the first Reith Lecture

The Reith Lectures were inaugurated by the BBC in 1948 to honor the contributions of its first Director General, John Reith (more formally known by the end of his career as “John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith”).

Lord Reith had operated on the principle that broadcasting should be a public service that enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. In that spirit the BBC invites a leading figure to deliver a series of radio lectures each year– the aim being “to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest.”

And so, over the last 63 years, British listeners have been treated to Arnold Toynbee on “The World and the West,” Robert Oppenheimer on “Science and Common Understanding,” John Searle on “Minds, Brains, and Science,” John Keegan on “War in Our World,” Marina Warner on “Managing Monsters”… and dozens more extraordinary minds explaining and provoking.

As of a few weeks ago the BBC has made the entire audio library of Reith Lectures available online, from Bertrand Russell’s kick-off through 2010’s Martin Rees on “Scientific Horizons.”


[TotH to @brainpicker for the link]

As we listen and learn, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that “SOS” (. . . _ _ _ . . .) became the global standard radio distress signal.  While it was officially replaced in 1999 by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System, SOS is still recognized as a visual distress signal.

SOS has traditionally be “translated” (expanded) to mean “save our ship,” “save our souls,” “send out succor,” or other such pleas.  But while these may be helpful mnemonics, SOS is not an abbreviation or acronym.  Rather, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the letters were chosen simply because they are easily transmitted in Morse code.

click image above, or here

Let’s go to the tape…

From Iri5, on Flickr, “Ghost in the Machine“…

In this series I showcase a number of portraits of musicians made out of recycled cassette tape with original cassette. Also included are portraits made from old film and reels. The idea comes from a philosopher’s (Ryle) description of how your spirit lives in your body. I imagine we are all, like cassettes, thoughts wrapped up in awkward packaging. : )

As we refrain from hitting rewind, we might might wish a happy birthday to John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith, KT, GCVO, GBE, CB, TD, PC, the first Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation; he was born on this date in 1889.

Reith oversaw the establishment of the BBC, building it to avoid the extremities of the systems he saw growing in the United States to his West and in the Soviet union to his East.  The principles he encouraged, which have come to be know as “Reithianism” include an equal consideration of all viewpoints, probity, universality and a commitment to public service.

It was a measure of his seriousness (and of his proper upbringing) that he required all radio news readers broadcasting from the dinner hour on to wear black tie though they could not, of course, be seen– to dress otherwise would be disrespectful both to the other performers on the air (also in evening dress) and to the audiences into whose homes the voices were going.

The Director General (source)

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