Web links related to the Back of the Book program of 5/3/99

So my mother's pretty much recovered from her heart attack and the pneumonia that brought it on, and she's back in the adult home. Some time we're having, isn't it? Yeah, I know it's news to you; I'll talk about it on the next program. As might be expected there's been a lot on my plate and I never got to put up anything about the Littleton, CO shootings. I've written what I can on it all, if I can find more things to link to that aren't disgusting or soppy I'll add those. It's currently Monday 5/10/99 07:48:43, and this may be the final version of this page, although I know that I'm going to have some more news regarding the fight against Pacifica/WBAI Management's attempts to bust the Union at WBAI in the next few days. So check back in by the middle of the week and you'll see some interesting news about WBAI, its Staff and our Union.

Ever wonder why some of this Pacifica stuff takes up so much of my time? Well, as an example: The Nation ran a dumb article in its last issue and I've had to respond to it.

The star system Upsilon Andromedae has been found to contain three planets. This is important because it proves that we do not live in the only multiple planet star system. There are all sorts of theories about these planets, and the others found by scientists over the past few years. Scientists are being sent back to their computer models because the huge planets that are being found are not what was originally expected. But it's very good to see that what everyone had been assuming, that the Solar System that our planet Earth is a part of is is not the only system of this type, has been proven.

Life is extremely unlikely to exist on these planets, and life as we know it has nil chance on them. But this is still encouraging because it shows that other planets exist in other star systems and that planets, and systems, may be common in the universe.

So Upsilon Andromedae is the 20th brightest star in the constellation Andromeda. Not a big deal, as far as naked eye observational astronomy goes. Here are some pictures of Upsilon Andromedae from one of the scientists who found the three planets.

Here's one team's Web page about the discovery. And here's another team's Web page about it.

And here's the actual scientific paper submitted to the Astrophysical Journal about this discovery, which promises to be only the first of very many regarding star systems.

As I mentioned on the program, mid-Spring will occur this Thursday, May 6, 1999, at 6:47 AM EDT. You can look up this bit of sub-seasonal trivia and many others on my chart of the seasons.

During the program I mentioned that Pickles of the North and I took a walk to Marine Park in Brooklyn on a recent Saturday. This is an area where, in the past, I've seen horseshoe crabs scrabbling about. It looks like I was off on my recollection by a few million years because I've found a Web site that says that the horseshoe crab is a mere 365 million years old. Still, they saw the dinosaurs come and go, and they may yet see us do the same. Certainly their genome is more stable than ours is! Of course this doesn't protect them at all from predation by human fishermen.

If you want to see some horseshoe crabs you'll be most likely to find them when it's mating season. So look for them in Atlantic waters when the next full moon shows up, which will be on May 30th. Since this is the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend you might be able to spend a bit of time near a beach and see something you've never seen before. (No, I don't mean things that fall out of bathing suits!) These creatures are quite fascinating when you realize how old they are.

I've found a somewhat flippant site, I'm sure the writer thought he was being cool, that nonetheless has some photographs of horseshoe crabs, in case you've never seen one.

Another site gives more information on horseshoe crabs and says that they're classified as insects! It also has another photograph of one.

Here's another clear view of a horseshoe crab from above.

Here's a Web page for a class on horseshoe crabs that has good photographs of their undersides.

And if all of this hasn't gotten you completely turned off to the subject of horseshoe crabs then here's a page of links that relate to these fascinating invertebrates.

So it's late in the day to be talking about those shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, but they happened the day after my April 19, 1999, program, and circumstances have kept me from getting what I said on the air about it onto this Web page in a timely manner. I will note that the Columbine High School Web site is no longer operational. Probably got too many hits after all that publicity it got.

Of course it's a horrible thing that all of those kids and teachers got killed and wounded by the actions of two boys from well off families, who drove to the scene of their crimes in a BMW, but this incident has given rise to a type of mob hysteria that we've seen more and more over the past few years. As I said on the air, the arrests of those Brooklyn middle school kids was a travesty. They should never have been arrested, and now the cops have even dropped the charges because there was obviously never any threat. But they were suspended from school for some number of days, and I think that even that's too much. These are kids! They're going to rail against school, as probably at least 50% of school kids do at some point. But now we have this mob hysteria feeding the tendency of school bureaucrats and overzealous cops to make trendy arrests and show themselves as doing their jobs so well.

There have been other arrests and suspensions as well, and from what I've seen most are just as stupid as the arrests of the Brooklyn kids.

When I was a kid such behavior was just ignored. I remember writing, “I hate everybody!” on a notebook once. The reaction was “Who cares?” And that was it! And that's what it should be most of the time. But instead we have these idiots prosecuting kids and giving them criminal records for doing nothing.

It does bring up the subject of school bullies and cliques, of course. And I was certainly never one of the “in” crowd, in school as well as in the Pacifica Foundation. Kids railing against bullies and cliques should not be getting arrested simply for what they say, if it's not a direct threat. These arrests and suspensions are all being taken against the kids who are already the outsiders. It has the effect of locking in the biases and cliques that already exist in high schools.

The mainstream media, of course, feed this mob hysteria because it gets ratings. And when the entire goal of your operation is to get ratings, well actual journalism and the questioning that's supposed to go along with journalism, takes a back seat.

They pay so much attention to these events in rural areas, but they say nothing about urban kids getting more slowly killed. Some stories are important to them and some are not. Some kids' and teachers' lives are important to them and others are not. They have ideas of what “should” happen in nice, rural areas and what “should” happen in those nasty, urban areas. What a bias.

One of the branches of the media fed mob hysteria is the one that tries to at least partially blame the computer game, and later video game, DOOM for these two boys' rampage. DOOM does not make one a killer. I've played the games DOOM and DOOM II a lot, and I've handled military weapons in the Viet Nam War. The two are not equivalent. However, one listener found that some Marines did start using a modified version of DOOM for training, which probably says more about the current Marine Corps than about the game DOOM.

There are a lot of issues that we can't talk about on the air at WBAI. But there is an Internet list called “Free Pacifica!” which you can subscribe to, and these issues are discussed there. If you subscribe to it you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.

If you want to subscribe to the “Free Pacifica!” list just click on this link and fill out the form, and you'll be subscribed. Could open your eyes a little bit.

The above list has occasionally produced a high volume of E-mail because of the attention that the issues have drawn. If you would prefer to subscribe to a low volume list that only provides announcements of events related to these issues then subscribe to the FreePac mailing list.

And of course if you want to sign the petition to end the “gag rule” at Pacifica just go here.

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

You can also send me E-mail.

WBAI related links

Union bulletin #12

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 and subsequent Web pages on this site are copyright © 1999, R. Paul Martin