Web links related to the Back of the Book program of March 1, 2004

It's Sunday night, 3/14/2004 21:50:26 and this page is done. Something's always happening before a radio program. Tonight my HTML editor went nuts and I lost all of my settings. It took a while to get things back to where they should be, and I'm not 100% certain that things are actually all right. So of course this delayed my getting this Web page done. but there's some stuff here. We'll get through the below topics, and some more, tonight. We also did some of the mail. Don't worry about the verbs below changing tense, different parts of this page are written at different times so tense changes happen.

The Pacifica Foundation, which owns WBAI and four other radio stations, has started to re-make itself. WBAI has already had its first Local Station Board meeting. The next WBAI LSB meeting will be held this Thursday, March 4, 2004, stating at 6:30 PM at 75 Varick Street, 14th Floor (North of Canal Street; trains: 1, A or C to Canal Street) New York, New York Wheelchair-accessible. The public is invited to attend, and you can even record the proceedings if you want.

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 11:10 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.

We'll be wishing a merry birthday to regular WBAI listener Sanda, who will have turned 16 the day before the program. Yes, Sanda was born on February 29, 1940.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane. No it's an asteroid! Uh oh.

An event with a name that would have been thought bizarre a few years ago, the “2004 Planetary Defense Conference” has concluded. Astronomy magazine has coverage of it.

Apparently there was a little bit of a scare in January when some very slight errors made it appear that a newly discovered asteroid was about to plow into the Earth! Luckily life imitated neither art nor some movies from a previous decade, and nothing happened.

The Mistakes we Make

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

This next citation from the book seems to have a bit to do with that “battle of the sexes” thing. I'm a neutral in it so I don't pay much attention to that sort of stuff. It does, however relate to some things that folks thought they knew about the human brain 106 years ago. And since we occasionally cover brain stuff on Back of the Book this fits right in.

The Weight of the Brain — Advocates of the superiority of man over woman usually see, as an argument, the fact that man's brain weighs from one-ninth to one-twelfth more than the average woman's. Neither weight nor multiplicity of convolutions seems to be a safe criterion. The brain of the great chemist Liebig was below average in weight. The brain of the elephant is richer in convolutions than man's.

And 106 years later we still aren't sure how to measure intelligence, or even if there's any such thing as a single entity that could be called intelligence. We do know, however, that weight of the brain has very little to do with it. Of course if the brain is below a certain minimal weight there's a problem, but in the average range there's no correlation between brain size and intelligence, whatever that is.

Men's and women's brains are very slightly differently wired, but those are differences, not one gender's brain being better than another's. And we're also learned over the years that some parts of women's brains are bigger than some parts of men's brains, and vice versa, so that battle of the sexes stuff just doesn't enter into the science anymore. Of course I personally have a lot of trouble which is caused by a tiny fragment of brain lodged in my skull.

Trust not Filtered Water — To filter water does not purify it from anything dissolved in it, but only from particles floating in it. If tea, or brandy and water, are poured through a charcoal filter, they are still brandy and water, or tea. Hence water in which sewage has been dissolved is not purified by filtration; for though the water lose its bad smell and any foreign matter it may suspend, there is no alteration in its composition. The report of the Medical Commission at the instance of the “British Medical Journal” (1895) condemned filtration as affording no protection against choleric, typhoid, and other germs. The inquiry was based on experiments with twenty-four kinds of table filters in general use, and points out that what is usually called “pure water” in this connection should be called “clear water” or “palatable,” as without the precaution of previous boiling it may be, bacteriologically, unwholesome water. Of course these remarks are probably inapplicable to improvements in filtration such as the Pasteur-Chamberland process.

This entry was probably a pretty good revelation in 1898. The germ theory of disease was still in its infancy.

Basically, this entry still holds true all these years later. But these days we do have a lot of chemicals in the water that the activated charcoal can remove. This generally improves the taste. More importantly, some things that are suspended in water are now known to be bad news so filtering water is not so dumb.

And of course we got to some of the mail on this program. We got something from Sanda, who by coincidence turned 16 for this program, but that was hard copy, which we don't post on the Web site. But we also read some E-mails and here they are.

We start with a postponed missive from regular listener and correspondent Neal.

Subject: Greeting from the frozen tundra!!
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2004 02:27:07 -0500
From: Neal
To: rpm@glib.com

Dear R. Paul and pickles,

Greetings from the frozen arctic tundra formerly know as Long Island... It is times like these that I wish I had stayed in Britain.. Never warm... But never this cold.. A nice mild maritime climate... Oh well.. I have two questions for you and your audience..

1.. What is the story with the WBAI elections..?? I was under the impression that the ballots were to be mailed on the fifth... I certainly havn't received anything.. Could you enlighten me please?

2.. As a fairly young person (25 years old), I am constantly told stories of how harsh and cold the winters were in the 50's and 60's and how mild the winters are now (not counting the last couple of days or so)... As far as your vast wealth of knowledge and life experience is concerned.. Is there any truth to this generalization; or are these tales just that.. Tall tales told to a person young enough to have no first hand knowledge of such things...

Last but not least I wanted to comment on the WBAI “situation.” I have remained quiet throughout the whole of the last couple of years of crisis.. But I now feel I MUST SAY SOMETHING... I started listening to BAI when I was only 12-13 years old.. I was enlightened and entertained by the diversity of opinion and programming.. All sorts of music, talk and public affairs programs. WBAI is now failing and doomed to end because it has abandoned these roots and its listernership.. It has become a station only concerned with voiceing one opinion in one tone of voice. Diversity does not entail simply shouting one message at the listeners using a myrid of accents and languages.. Diversity entials true dialogue and varying opinions as well as true entertainment.. WBAI was once true to this ethos.. That has changed.. It is no longer the station which helped form the kind of thinking adult I am today..

Well I have gone one enough.. Good luck to both of you.. Hopefully the two of you and Uncle Sidney as well listeners like myself can drag WABI out of the leftoid abyss it has sunk into... Keep up the good work..

Hopefully, Neal (the ex exiled New Yorker)

Regarding the Winters, why when I was a kid I had to walk 8½ miles through a blizzard to and from school every day, and it was uphill both ways! But, seriously, the 1990s, was the hottest decade on record. We are getting milder Winters more often than we used to.

The elections got done, and I think that Neal unfortunately didn't get a ballot. The rocket scientists who ran the election sent all of the ballots third class bulk mail from California with a deadline of one month to get the ballots returned. Many people couldn't get the ballots back in time and many appear not to have gotten ballots at all!

As for WBAI needing to stop the hate programming, the racial stereotyping and the generally boring stuff, I agree. Maybe the changes that will be brought about by the elections will alleviate those problems. Or maybe we'll continue to make a mess of things. I hope it's the former.

Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 14:28:39 -0800
To: rpm@glib.com

R, If possible, read 17 Feb issue of Advocate. RE: gay marriage & Britney Spears. Your opinion? Double standard? Topic 4 a show? Thanks! ZIG-MAN

Of course it's a double standard. I've spoken about it a bit on the air, but I don't think I'm going to devote an entire radio program to it. maybe WBAI ought to devote a radio program or two to this topic, but we'll just have to see.

Subject: Imbolc
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 02:50:17 EST
From: Ariadne
To: rpm@glib.com

Yo, RPaul,
There is a lot of good stuff on Groundhog Day (Brigid) at the website for A Druid Missal-Any.

Subject: 'ere now, no broken square for that there dormouse!
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 16:33:09 -0500
From: Bill in Manhattan
To: rpm@glib.com

Abu Klea in 1885 was an engagement fought in the Sudan in the failed attempt to rescue Gordon at Khartoum. Probably a good sign you aren't a big Kipling fan. Ever memorable for being one of the few times a British square of infantry gave way and the Islamic fundementalist forces of the Mahdi got inside. Mounted infantry -- this all started with thirsty camels -- the dromedaries were parked on the inside of the square, and for years after it was all over, arguments continued about who was to blame. Even today it would be ill-advised to walk into a pub in Scoltand and order "a pint of broken square," for this is a challenge to a fight. But the Scots and the Irish are uncivilized barbarians, no bleepin' blue board to keep everything between friends. I confess to a great liking for A. E. W. Mason's classic novel "The Four Feathers," with its warning against judging the courage of other people who don't want to go off to war. Better yet, the 1939 film has Ralph Richardson going blind from sunstroke. It was of course the modern bin Laden with his nostalgia for the world of the Mahdi who decided to join in the discussion and take on what Gilbert and Sullivan would call our own modern major generals. It is enough to make a dormouse weep even when sober. Best wishes, Bill in Manhattan.

Bill's talking about some questions I had while reading from The Mistakes we Make on a previous program, about how camels couldn't go all that long without water, although the amount of time they can go without water is longer than what humans could do under the same circumstances.

Subject: Jack Paar remembered
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 2004 12:17:31 -0500
From: Bill
To: rpm@glib.com

Dear RP here is more about the Paar Show:
Do you remember Jose Melis had an accent so thick he couldn't say Jack! He called him Hock.

His regulars also included Jack Douglas and Reiko.

He once had on a young actress just starting out whose name was Anne Bancroft.. She said her real name was Anne Marie Italiano and she brought him a gagoots, which was an Italian squash that looked like a cucumber.

He had on actor Walter Slezak (father of Erica, Viki on One Life to Live), and when asked if he had any children his classic answer in his Hungarian accent was two viss plumbing, vun vissout.

These are just a few of the things I remember staying up late to watch Jack Paar.

Regards to POTN.

Jamaica, NY

Subject: love the show
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2004 03:52:55 EST
From: Valhalla...
To: rpm@glib.com

you need to be on more i love the show every sun would be better

Subject: the elections
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 23:49:41 -0500
From: Neal
To: rpm@glib.com

Ok R. Paul.. as you and pickles already know, I did not receive my ballot in the mail.. I called and emailed like you advised.... but to avail.. I am really starting to doubt the validity of these elections.... How many people are in the same boat as myself?? I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that these elections turned out to be a soviet style affair.. After all this is WBAI.. BUt I suppose I have finally given up on that station.. I thought that these elections might have been an oppertunity for the listeners to take back the station from the leftist ideologues...... well I was wrong.. If this is the future of WBAI.. closed minded and ruled by an elitist oligarchy.. well then maybe it is better to let it die... after all the real WBAI died long ago..

I can see why Neal is more pessimistic here. I think some aspects of the Pacifica elections were run badly. But I hope he doesn't get too bound to his pessimism. It's possible that WBAI could be better in the future. I hiope so, anyway.

Subject: truffles4rich
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 14:59:19 -0800
From: ______________
To: rpm@glib.com

Only by recieving 8x 1950 $ may we savor the fruits of our labor. The wrest of humanity gathers truffles for the rich.

Subject: New WBAI board
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 10:51:38 EST
From: Seth
To: rpm@glib.com


I see that a meeting of the new WBAI board has been announced--which I suppose means that there's a list of election winners.

Have you seen the list of winners? What do you think?

--Seth J. W.

One of the things that happens when you're a bit behind in reading the mail is that events really catch up to and go past the stuff people talk about in the mail. This is such a case.

The elections are over, the results have been posted, and I'm one of the people on the WBAI LSB. There's a lot more to come on this topic.

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

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