Web links related to the Back of the Book program of April 21, 2008

It's Sunday afternoon, May 4, 2008 15:10 and I've completed updating this Web page. It's mid-Spring, and we're going to cover our thoughts about organized superstition and more tonight. We got through a lot of the mail on this program and have only a little bit left before we're caught up.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of many of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do.

UPDATE as of Tuesday, April 8, 2008: The 2007, WBAI elections are over at last. The surviving Elections Supervisor has counted the ballots. To see a copy of the official E-mail announcing the certification of the election results click here.

WBAI Listener Election Results
Omowale ClayJustice & Unity (sic) Campaign
James RossIndependent
Tibby BrooksJustice & Unity (sic) Campaign
Bernardo PalomboIndependent
Lisa DavisJustice & Unity (sic) Campaign
Sara FloundersJustice & Unity (sic) Campaign
Jennifer JagerIndependent
Robert M. GoldIndependent
Don MathiesonIndependent
WBAI Staff Election Results
 R. Paul Martin*
 Vajra Kilgour*
 Max Schmid*

* Note: Staff are not allowed to run as part of a slate. Max Schmid and I are independents anyway.

There's a regular LSB meeting and a Delegates' Assembly scheduled for April 23rd, at 7:00 PM, at District Council 1707, at 75 Varick St., just north of Canal St., on the 14th floor. Take the A, C, E, or 1 trains to Canal St. Bring a photo I.D. to get into the building. This location is wheelchair-accessible, and public comment is welcome. This should be the first meeting of the Fourth WBAI LSB. If it is then we'll be electing the officers of the LSB for the rest of 2008, at this meeting.

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.

WBAI has an official Web stream of what's on the air at any time! You can go here and pick which type of stream you want! If this stream isn't working let me know. It was working all right at 10:27 PM last night.

WBAI is archiving the programs! Just go here and you'll be able to listen to the program any time for the next couple of months. When you first go to the Web page you'll only see the WBAI programs for the past 7 days. If you want to see older programs you can click on one of the “See ALL Shows” buttons.

Back of the Book is now one of the programs that you can download, as well as listen to on line.

I'm glad to announce that with a new person doing the archives there have been some positive changes. In the table on that Web page Back of the Book and Carrier Wave are both in the Show column. The “Date and Category” column shows the date of the program. After the program I go in and write the details of the program and say which program it is. Of course I'd recommend that you just listen to both programs in this time slot!

The Mistakes we Make

For the first time in about 3½ years we read from the book named The Mistakes we Make edited by Nathan Haskell Dole. And, yes, the title of the book has a purposeful mistake in it.

This book was a sort of novelty book originally published in 1898, and it purported to reveal to its readers all sorts of common mistakes, usually based on assumption and rumor, that people were making at the end of the 19th Century.

In the 21st Century some of these factoids show us how different things were then but some show how we still cling to some of the same misconceptions.

As in the past, quotations from the book are set off by a green background.

The Roof of the World. — The name Pamir is Russian and means “On [top of] the world.” But the highest land is now believed to be the Chang plateau, lying north of and running nearly parallel to the head-waters of the Western Brahmapootra, or Sango. This might well be called “The Roof of the World.”

Well, they're spelling the name of the Bhramaputra River differently now, but this entry is pretty much still correct. The Pamir mountain range is located to the west of the Himalaya Range in modern day Tajikistan. I can't find any 21st Century references to the Chang Plateau, but from the book's description they're talking about the Tibetan Plateau and the eastern end of the Himalaya Range of mountains, which are now established as the highest land on Earth and are referred to as “The Roof of the World” by most people who aren't trying to sell tourist vacations to Tajikistan.

One of the Himalaya mountains is Mt. Everest, which is quite a ways west of the area described in the book. No one had climbed Mt. Everest yet when this book was published. Mt. Everest was originally known as Peak 15, until 1865, when it was named after Sir George Everest, the then recent British Surveyor-General of India. Sir Everest's work was part of The Great Trigonometric Survey of India begun in the early 19th Century. Everest's successor in that job oversaw the first scientific measurement of Peak 15's location and height, which changes a little bit every year as the India Plate continues to crash into the Asia Plate.

Mount Everest is on the border of Nepal and Tibet.

Mt. Everest is called Sagarmatha which means “Goddess of the Sky” in Nepalese.

The mountain is called Chomolungma which means “Mother Goddess of the Universe” in Tibetan.

And on the day before our radio program the government of Nepal sent troops to Mount Everest with orders to shoot protesters who might be there to protest China's occupation of Tibet.

Magnetic Mountains. — Readers of the “Arabian Nights” will remember the magnetic black mountain that drew all the nails out of the ships and caused them to fall to pieces. A Vienna newspaper says the island of Bornholm in the Baltic is a huge magnet that has sufficient power to deflect the needle and turn the vessel out of its course. The magnetic influence is felt at a distance of fifteen kilometers (nine miles and a half).

This one is odd, and I think that the Viennese newspaper just printed nonsense.

There is no record of the Baltic island of Bornholm turning compasses at a range of almost 10 miles. That would be a strong magnetic anomaly.

There are some interesting Paleomagnetic details about Bornholm, which was formed by a lava flow about 1.7 billion years ago. But a magnetic field of the strength noted in this book would be quite well known. So I think this was a mistake made in the book!

During the program I went on about the magnetic field of the Earth and how it's in the process of reversing, which it does periodically. I talked about the South Atlantic Anomaly as a part of this process.

A Star that is not a Star.

“Till clombe2 above the eastern bar
The horned moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.”

The “star” mentioned in this quotation, from the third part of Coleridge's “Ancient Mariner,” is not a star, but a lofty lunar peak from which the light of the sun is reflected, and which may be seen sometimes on clear evenings, when the moon is in the first quarter, in the shadowed disc at some distance from the bright crescent.


Of course a star isn't really visible on part of the Moon, or is it?

In the 20th Century actual research was done on observed phenomena like this. Coleridge wrote “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in 1798, and revised it in 1817. He was a romantic and I don't know what he knew of astronomy.

However, a tall mountain may not have been what Samuel Taylor Coleridge was looking at. There are planets and stars that are occluded by the Moon. These don't just go away when the Moon covers them up, from our perspective. Planets have a very small angular diameter when compared to the Moon. Stars are especially tiny, they're point sources of light, as viewed from the Earth, and the light from stars is actually spread out by the Earth's atmosphere. A planet or star can in fact appear to be shining within the disk of the Moon just as it's being occluded. It takes some seconds before a star or planet will become completely invisible, and that's when this phenomenon can sometimes be observed.

Enough with Jozef Ratzinger already! I talked about his visit on the last program. And yesterday he celebrated his Fuhrer's birthday at Yankee Stadium with a Mass that lasted forever. Wow, it really brought back how boring Mass was.

And a Merry Underpass to everyone who's celebrating that.

Ritually burned bread on a Brooklyn sidewalkAnd here's a photograph I took of some burned bread in Brooklyn. A certain ritual requires that all bread in a house be burned before sundown when Pesach starts. And I'm glad to see the bread being burned out on a strip of dirt or on top of the cast iron storm drains. The reason I'm glad to see it done there is that it means people aren't burning their bread in their apartments.

The last couple of days before this holiday every year I always get a little bit nervous. Entire apartment buildings have burned down from people going through this ritual inside their apartments. Looks like we lucked out this year again.

Ah, organized superstition! We'll have more to say about it tonight.

Pickles here. Some other things R. Paul and I discussed were the movement of the world's jet streams toward the poles, causing more extreme weather; did ladies in space cause the Soyuz to go off course in its re-entry? - not! And how priests from different sects settle their differences by smacking each other around in Jerusalem.

Here's a link to a disturbing report on children being sent to Islamic religious schools for instruction and instead being enslaved.

We talked a tiny bit about the Pacifica National Board (PNB) meeting held on April 11-13, 2008. If you have a hankering to listen to the entire thrilling thing you can go here and listen.

And part of what happened was that the PNB refused to seat the newly elected Directors from WBAI, claiming that inadequate notice was given for the meeting.

This was a bizarre, and very political position, for the PNB to take. The PNB itself was holding its March meeting in April. The bylaws stipulate that the meeting is to be held in March. And that meeting was not itself properly noticed at all, again in violation of the Pacifica bylaws.

I January the PNB had passed a motion which allowed a mere LSB meeting to choose “provisional” Directors, even though this is only supposed to be done at a Delegates' Assembly. And there was no notice of that in January.

Obviously the PNB was playing partisan games at this March meeting in April. And their games are not good for the future of Pacifica.

Here's the document I said on the air that I'd I'd post. It's the PNB's motion as presented at the January 14, 2008, LSB meeting where they illegally allowed Directors to be elected.

On this program I talked about my attempts to deal with some of my computer problems by getting a cheap digital multimeter (DMM) to see if there's a power supply problem. Well, I did find one DMM that looked good enough, but none of the Sears stores had it in stock. I saw it on their Web Site but I hesitated. And when I went to buy one they were out.

And so the saga of my computer woes continues. One day I'll have some actual, functioning computer again - maybe.

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.

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Carrier Wave alternates with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

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

You can also send me E-mail.

WBAI related links

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2008, R. Paul Martin.