Web links related to the Back of the Book program of February 16, 2004

It's Tuesday morning 2/24/2004 04:02:49 and this page is finally finished. The WBAI LSB meeting happened at the venue below, and I'll talk about it on the next program. We covered the stuff below, plus the Pacifica elections, a few other topics and we read as much of the E-mail as possible. Enjoy the page!.

The Pacifica elections are over! The results are here at the Pacifica Foundation Elections Page. I should note that I was elected to the WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) for a term ending this December.

The venue for the first WBAI LSB meeting has changed! New information below!

The WBAI LSB will be meeting this coming Thursday, February 19, 2004, at 6:30 pm, at Theatre for the New City at 155 1st Ave between 9th and 10th Streets in Manhattan. This location is fully wheelchair accessible. The meeting is open to the public, and everyone is encouraged to attend. And you can record the proceedings if you want.

As of September 15, 2003, the Pacifica Foundation has new bylaws! More about that here.

WBAI now 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.

Our colleagues from Off the Hook now have both a RealAudio streaming web cast operating, and a new MP3 stream both of which were working at 10:02 PM last night. The MP3 feed is now the preferred feed.

The Pacifica Foundation, which owns WBAI, has revamped its Web site and now has something called the Pacifica Lounge where you can post messages about Pacifica, WBAI and other Pacifica radio stations. This may be a good thing, and of course there are other, long term fora in which to participate.

WBAI also has a forum on its Web site now. You have to register to post messages, but anyone may read the messages.

The Mistakes we Make

We read some more from that 1898, book named The Mistakes we Make edited by Nathan Haskell Dole.

PBS is running a dramatized documentary mini-series on the Medici family of Renaissance Europe, and on this Back of the Book program we read a short analysis of one of the works of art which they commissioned. Hey, I can't spend a million bucks an hour on the program.

Venus was not a Well-formed Woman — The so-called Venus di Medici is generally regarded as a “perfect type of perfect womanhood.” Professor Chadwick thinks that she is not worthy of being either a physiological or psychological standard. He points out that the narrow chest indicates weak lungs, that the shoulders are not well braced up, that the cranium and face show no trace of mental vigor, that her limbs show want of muscular training, and that, as a type of what a mother and mistress of a home should be, she is contemptible.

Well! Professor Chadwick certainly has one hell of a strong opinion on this Venus! First of all, the Venus di Medici is better known these days as Botticelli's “The Birth of Venus,” and I'm sure everyone has seen some reproduction of this painting at some time. The painting is considered one of the highlights of Renaissance art.

And who the hell was this Professor Chadwick, anyway? The book's editor Nathan Haskell Dole doesn't say. After doing some research I suspect that Mr. Dole might have been referring to James Read Chadwick, M.D. (1844-1905), a 19th Century gynecologist who worked in Boston, where Mr. Dole was from as well. There's a photograph of Dr. Chadwick on this Web page. Of course this might not be the guy that Dole is citing, but I think it is.

This Professor Chadwick was really a man of the 19th Century, all right. The comment about the skull and face not showing “mental vigor” is the type of comment thrown about by doctors of the Victorian Age when they believed in bullshit pseudo-sciences like phrenology. They thought they could tell a lot about a person based on the bumps on that person's head. As I said, it was bullshit. The rest of the professor's comments are likewise silly to a 21st Century reader. He's taking physical attributes and making value judgements about the person based on them.On top of that they're attributes as rendered by an artist, not attributes the professor himself saw in real life. Art historians had noted long before Professor Chadwick had shown up that Botticelli's “The Birth of Venus” distorts the human form in order to achieve a harmony of line in the painting. No human being ever had a neck that long. The last overall judgement, that this Venus was “contemptible” makes me wonder what a horror this guy was for the women who consulted him as a gynecologist.

But this is part of why the little book is so fascinating. It tells us about its age.

The First Transatlantic Steamer — Some cyclopedias say that the first vessel to cross the Atlantic by steam was the “Rising Sun” in 1818; others say the first steam voyage was made across the Atlantic by the “Savannah.” All are wrong. A tablet has lately been erected in the Great Hall of the Parliament building, Ottawa, commemorating the fact that the first vessel to cross the Atlantic propelled entirely by steam was the “Royal William” built in Canada in 1833 by James Groudie. Some fourteen years previously the “Savannah” crossed from Savannah to London, but the wood that she carried for fuel ran short, and she was compelled to cover the greater part of the distance with the aid of sails. And the claim of the “Rising Sun” has yet to be proved. The “Savannah” was a full-rigged ship of 380 tons, with a pair of paddle wheels so constructed that in a storm they could be unshipped. On her first voyage she was chased a whole day off the coast of Ireland by a revenue cruiser, which took her for a ship on fire. Lombroso says, “Blasco de Garay seems to have propelled a vessel by steam and paddles in the harbor of Barcelona in 1543.”

This is one of those historical landmarks, or maybe sea marks in this case, that will get disputed until history itself ceases to be.

Many still believe the claim of the “Royal William” to be the first ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean entirely by steam power. But there are claimants that our 1898, book never mentions, like the claim that the “Curaçao” achieved an Atlantic crossing under steam in 1826.

As for the rest of editor Dole's comments, Blasco de Garay was a Spanish captain who may or may not have propelled a ship using steam power in 1543. It's just impossible to tell if it's a real claim or not. But I don't dismiss it out of hand. I haven't been able to find out who this Lombroso guy is though.

The invention of the first steam engine of any kind is credited to Heron, a Greek mathematician from Alexandria. He lived from about 10 CE to about the year 75 CE. What he invented was a little steam engine called an aeolipile (Greek for “wind ball.”) which used steam to turn a rotating ball with two bent tubes sticking out of it. The steam shot out of the tubes and the jet action turned the ball. It was just a toy in those heady days of the Roman Empire.

Sometimes there's interesting science to be found in mundane places. Even candies can provide empirical evidence for some things. In this case it's a lesson in how certain shapes pack better than others. It's been found that flattened spheroids, in this case M&M candies, can pack randomly better than any arrangement of spheres. Esoteric? Maybe. But this is exactly the kind of science that ends up affecting our everyday lives, as this probably will in the near future.

We got through some of the mail on the program. We had a longish letter on paper that we read, and we also had some E-mail that we got to. As usual, we present the E-mail here.

Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 22:49:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Andrew
To: rpm@glib.com

Dear RPM,

I was curious as to what a typical Back of the Book Sunday is like for you. Can you give an hourly acount from earlier Sunday, thru the time you leave the house, to the time you walk back in your door. Are there any rituals you have to prepare for the show?


Basically, it's a mad rush! Pickles of the North and I are going to write up individual accounts of a typical Back of the Book Sunday for the next program.

Subject: expectations
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 17:52:12 -0800
From: ______________
To: rpm@glib.com

Can all the people in South America and Asia be relocated here if multinational corporations keep booming job markets abroad?

Um, no, I don't think that's going to happen.

Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 14:53:03 -0800
To: rpm@glib.com

R, U hav2 get Feb 04 Readr's Digst & chek Tucker (butthead) Carlson's coloumn. Proof that WE (& Europe) R right about "shrub" --ZIG-MAN

Subject: Re:Fundraising marathon
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 09:45:20 EST
From: Seth
To: rpm@glib.com

Good show last weekend!

You mentioned that Uncle Sidney would be pitching: I left a message on his voice-mail, volunteering to do the phones if he wanted.

I recall that you said that you won't be pitching--but, if that changes, let me know and I'll be happy to do the phones for you too.


Back of the Book wasn't scheduled to pitch in that marathon, but Carrier Wave did. And Seth once again contributed to WBAI, for which we thank him.

Subject: Are you a candidate?
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 22:19:36 -0500
From: Elizabeth
To: "R. Paul Martin" rpm@glib.com


Did I hear you say that you're a candidate? I don't see you listed in that little booklet. I'm about to do my ballot, so please clarify -- as soon as possible.



Yes, I was a candidate for the first WBAI Local Station Board (LSB). And I was elected! But I was a candidate for one of the Staff seats. The Pacifica Foundation bylaws set up each LSB to be composed of 18 Listener Members and 6 Staff Members. I'll certainly be talking about developments in that area in the future.

Subject: shobey
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2004 05:10:25 EST
From: Ariadne
To: rpm@glib.com

Dear R. Paul,
I was going to look up Shobey in the New York State sex offender registry but they want too much info on viewers. However, it sounds like he's in there, based on those New York Times articles. New Jersey has a very accessible Department of Corrections site that I have used. Maybe you want to look at the New York one for Mr. Shobey. I think perhaps there is too much sympathy for the "oppressed" and not enough common sense going on at the station. Ariadne

What Ariadne is referring to is that for a week or two in January the guys down at the entrance of 120 Wall St. were showing producers a Daily News article about a guy who used to come to WBAI and sign in every Saturday morning. The guy had gone on a murder and rape spree. He had previously been incarcerated for the gunpoint rape of an 11 year old girl. The issue of WBAI's now former 100% open door policy was talked about by producers and listeners on a couple of Internet venues, including the bleepin' blue board.

We've also, in the past fortnight, had three people come in to the station and steal one of the mixers. As I said, it's a former 100% open door policy.

Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2004 09:08:03 -0800
To: rpm@glib.com

R.P, A BAD joke 4 air? Why doesn't Michael Jackson often win when playing Blackjack? He won't hit on anything over 13! (Like Fernando?) --ZIG-MAN

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even now that the gag rule has been lifted. 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.

Probably the most popular list that's sprung up is the “NewPacifica” mailing list. This one is very lively and currently includes over 400 subscribers coast to coast.

Being lively, of course, it sometimes also gets a bit nasty. All sorts of things are happening on this list and official announcements are frequently posted there.

You can look at the NewPacifica list here, and you can join the list from that Web page too. If you subscribe to the “NewPacifica” mailing list you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list.

There is the option to receive a “digest” version of the list, which means that a bunch of messages are bundled into one E-mail and sent to you at regular intervals, this cuts down on the number of E-mails you get from the list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.

This list also has a Web based interface where you can read messages and from which you can post your own messages.

There is also the more WBAI specific “Goodlight” Web based message board. It is sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as “the bleepin' blue board,” owing to the blue background used on its Web pages. This one has many people posting anonymously and there's also an ancillary “WBAI people” board that's just totally out of hand.

When the computer in Master Control is working we sometimes have live interaction with people posting on the “Goodlight Board” during the program.

And then there is the historic “Free Pacifica!” list, which has been used to help organize resistance to Pacifica Management hijackers since the mid-90s. It's become a low volume mailing list because it's been eclipsed by some of the newer, more technologically advanced, lists. Just click on this link and follow the instructions, and you'll be subscribed. This is a mailing list only, it doesn't have a digest option nor does it have a web interface.

My voice mail number at WBAI is 212-209-2996. Leave a message.

You can also send me E-mail.

WBAI related links

Free Pacifica Web site

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

Back to the Back of the Book page

Back to my home page.

The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2004, R. Paul Martin.