Back of the Book — February 20, 2021


We talked about the below topics and more on this program. We are now posting a link to the official WBAI archive of the program. Check back for updates to this Web page.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings?

I have also posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee on this Web site. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, it will probably be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 11 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.

We welcomed a new member who replaced a member who resigned from the LSB. We had a debate about the legally required report out about the executive session from last month. I maintained that this was a violation of the rules laid down in the Communications Act. Nothing that was actually confidential was discussed. The report out was required to be posted by January 27. So it was quite late no matter what.

Before the meeting I had put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

Some years ago the WBAI LSB voted to hold its regular meetings on the second Wednesday of every month, subject to change by the LSB, which gives us the following schedule:

All of these meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

WBAI has a program schedule up on its Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out.

Here is WBAI's current Internet stream. We can no longer tell if the stream is working without testing every possible stream. Good luck.

WBAI is archiving the programs! WBAI has permanently switched to yet another new archive Web page! This one is more baffling than the previous one. For some time I was unable to post archive blurbs, then I could, and then I couldn't again. You can take a look at it and see if I've been able to post anything on it lately. There are still some limitations, but I am assured that I can plug in the archive blurbs that were lost in the latest upgrade.

This is a link to the latest version of the official WBAI archive. The archiving software appears to have been at least partially fixed. To get to the archive of this program you can use the usual method: you'll have to click on the drop-down menu, which says Display, and find Back of the Book on that menu. We're pretty early in the list, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Once you find the program name click GO and you'll see only this Back of the Book program. Management has fixed some problems that we'd been having with the archives.

For programs before March 23, 2019, we're all out of luck. The changes that took place once WBAI Management took control of the WBAI archives seems to have wiped out all access to anything before that date in March. You'll have to click on the same drop-down menu as above, which says Display, and find Specify Date, it's the second choice from the top. You are then given a little pop-up calendar and you can choose the date of the program there. Then click GO and you'll see a list of programs that aired on that date. For those previous programs you can get the audio, but nothing else, since I can't post anything to those pages anymore. Yeah, it looks like they'll have some alternating program's name prominently there, but if you have the right date it'll be our program. Good luck.

Since the General Manager has banned Sidney Smith from WBAI he's not alternating with us on the air. There is another program in the alternate week's time slot.

Bring Back Uncle Sidney!

Our friend, fellow WBAI producer and Saddle Pal Uncle Sidney Smith has been banned from WBAI by General Manager Berthold Reimers. The General Manager will not say why. He won't even tell Sidney why he's banned! This is grossly unfair to Sidney and constitutes abuse of Staff. Why did Berthold ban Sidney?

Jazero crater and delta on Mars.
Jazero crater and Its Delta

We talked about the NASA Perseverance rover landing on Mars, along with its piggy backed helicopter Ingenuity. We talked about the prospect of the rover finding fossilized remains of microbes on Mars. We also talked about the history of life on Earth and how long it took before anything developed that had bones.

We talked about the probability that if life did come into being on Mars it probably did not have time to advance beyond the single celled organism stage. We talked about structures on Earth that were left by very early organisms that could be found on Mars if life ever existed there.

We discussed the fact that a river delta, such as can be seen flowing into Jazero Crater, would be an ideal place to look for evidence of life. We also digressed a bit about a nuclear reactor that ran on the west coast of Africa about 1.7 billion years ago. We described how this nuclear reactor, which had been assembled by natural forces, had operated for quite a while and had depleted the Uranium in that area.

Perseverance will drill into the delta, and the bed of the lake that formed in Jazero Crater, a bit to see if it can find any evidence of fossilized life forms. Perseverance will also take some core samples that it drills out of the rock and package them for retrieval by a later probe. That probe will bring the samples t Earth for more extensive examination.

Ingenuity is a helicopter that is currently attached to Perseverance, but which will be deployed to make experiments about flying in the extremely thin atmosphere on Mars. It will be interesting to see if they can get that thing to fly much at all.

Pickles of the North talked about our Boarding Pass for the Perseverance rover, it's a little something anyone can get by filling out a form at the NASA Web site. It also gets your name included with others' names that are on the rover itself and which means that your name is on Mars.

The SARS_CoV-2 cirus.
The Pandemic Rages On

We talked about the pandemic, of course. We noted that the number of new deaths in america is down from what we'd see for the previous six weeks or so. The past week only saw about two thirds of the death rate for most of this year.

Pickles of the North talked about the efforts of New Zealand and Australia to keep the pandemic from going out of control there, as it has in the United States. They have effectively shut down when they needed to, and apparently they have not had as much anti-mask and otherwise stupid behavior around the pandemic as has been rampant in America.

The purple marsh crab.
The Purple Marsh Crab

We talked about President Biden getting America back into the Paris Climate Accords. We talked about the current weather disaster happening in much of America right now, and particularly in Texas. Texas is experiencing the effects of climate change now, whether the residents of that state want to acknowledge it or not. The Jet Stream has more energy in now it due to global warming and so it is more liable to wander around. A large loop of the Jet Stream has come down along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains and has pulled frigid Arctic air with it. The result is that the people of Texas are experiencing temperatures that are 30° to 40° F. lower than they're used to at this time of year. They're not used to it, and also their electrical grid is not attached to any other electrical grid. So many Texans are losing their electricity.

Some people in Texas have frozen to death in this spate of very cold weather, and some have died because they have tried to keep warm by sitting in their car, in their closed garage and left the car motor running, some have brought their barbecue equipment into the house to warm themselves up. These two actions have resulted in a number of deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.

You can't tell what's going to happen with something as complicated as climate change under way. We talked about the ascendance of a tiny crustacean that is now destroying entire eco-systems. This is the Purple Marsh Crab. It's only one to two inches across. It burrows into the mud and soil of salt marshes and eats cord grass. The Purple Marsh Crab has caused problems in Cape Cod because it has burrowed through the local salt marshes in an effort to eat the cord grass from below the surface of the marsh. The cord grass helps to keep the marsh together. Without enough cord grass the salt marsh starts to widen the channels that water flows though. Also, some other small creatures in the salt marsh rely on the cover of the cord grass. Without it they're easy prey. In Cape Cod the Purple Marsh Crab has become a problem because human over fishing of the area has removed so many of the creatures that prey on the Purple Marsh Crab. They have multiplied and wrecked the slat marshes.

The Purple Marsh Crab had not been a problem in more southerly areas of the Eastern Seaboard because the soil of the slat marches there was harder than that of the salt marshes around Cape Cod. Now, however, the sea level is rising due to climate change. It is estimated that the salt marshes are under water for at least an hour more these days than they were in the '90s. The extra exposure to the water has caused the soils to soften. This has allowed the Purple Marsh Crab to burros like crazy and eat the cord grass, thus endangering the salt march. Salt marshes could disappear at some point from the actions of these tiny crabs.

This is a consequence of climate change that no one had seen coming.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even though the gag rule was lifted in 2002. However, there is the Internet! There are mailing lists which you can subscribe to and Web based message boards devoted to WBAI and Pacifica issues. Many controversial WBAI/Pacifica issues are discussed on these lists.

One open list that no longer exists was the WBAI specific Goodlight Web based message board. It was sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as the bleepin' blue board, owing to the blue background that was used on its Web pages. This one had many people posting anonymously and there was also an ancillary WBAI people board that was just totally out of hand.

In June 2012, I ended up having to salvage the bleepin' blue board, and so I was the moderator on it for its last seven years, until it got too expensive.

Sometimes we used to have live interaction with people posting on the Goodlight Board during the program.

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Saturday Morning With the Radio On used to alternate with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

There used to be a number of mailing lists related to Pacifica and WBAI. Unfortunately, they were all located on Yahoo! Groups. When Yahoo! Groups was totally shut down in December 2020, all of those mailing lists ceased to exist. One year earlier their file sections and archives of E-mails, had been excised leaving only the ability to send E-mails back and forth among the members. Now it's all gone. Older Back of the Book program Web pages tell a little more about those lists.

We like to stay interactive with our listeners. Here are the various options for you to get in touch with us.

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