Web links related to the Back of the Book program of May 19, 2008

It's Sunday morning, May 25, 2008, 06:14, and I've updated this page even more with stuff about what we did on and after the program. I've added a link to an entire page about that UFO landing strip outside of WBAI. Oh, it's been one hell of a fortnight, and we have to pitch!

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

We posted the election results from the WBAI elections on the Web page for the April 21, program.

There's a regular LSB meeting scheduled for May 21st, 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.

At the April 23, 2008, WBAI LSB meeting we really crammed two meetings and three meetings worth of elections into one night.

I've already posted a Web page about this meeting. And I've also posted the results of the elections for LSB officers, PNB Directors and PNB committee seats on that page.

As you can see, I got elected to be the Treasurer of the LSB. Good grief.

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 not working at 10:01 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!

Amid all of the pitching we did manage to get to a science article.

This one was about the search for more information about dark matter, that mysterious stuff that makes up almost a quarter of the mass of the universe, while all of the ordinary matter makes up only about 4% of the mass of the universe.

Scientists have been trying to figure out what this dark matter is for decades. They know that it's there because although it doesn't interact much with ordinary matter, or with electromagnetic energy, dark matter does have mass and therefore gravity, and because there's so much more of it in the universe than ordinary matter it has dominated the structure of the universe.

A group of Italian and Chinese scientists who form the DAMA Project have been claiming for years that they've been detecting an annual rhythm that is caused by the Earth moving through dark matter in our galaxy. They say that they're seeing these rhythms in the reactions of some very pure sodium iodide that they keep in tanks bunkered about a mile under Italy's Gran Sasso mountain. They carefully monitor these tanks for very rare events where something reacts with the sodium iodide and it scintillates, or puts out a sudden burst of light.

The primary candidate for what composes dark matter is called a WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particle). WIMPs would have mass, possibly a pretty large one for each individual particle, but otherwise they don't interact with ordinary matter much at all. WIMPs are even more ghostly than neutrinos!

In any case, the DAMA Project has again published a paper claiming that with a tank of even purer sodium iodide than they've used before, and a lot more of it, they are still detecting that faint signal caused by the Earth passing through the huge mass of dark matter that should surround our Solar System.

DAMA is one of those acronyms that geeks so love. This one is a contraction for “DArk MAtter.”

The scientists in the DAMA Project have been claiming for years that they've been detecting this yearly variation due to the Earth plowing into a stream of dark matter WIMPs at one point in its orbit around the Sun and then going along with the stream of WIMPs at the opposite point in its orbit. It's sort of like the difference between wading upstream in a creek and wading downstream. One way you're going to have a lot more water splashing into you.

In the sciences it's very important to have reproducible results. If other scientists can't duplicate your work then it starts looking like you've made some mistakes in your experiments and therefore are not detecting what you think you're detecting. A prime example of this is the claim made by Pons and Fleischmann in 1989, that they'd produced “cold fusion” in a table top apparatus. Despite the assertions made by some supporters of Pons and Fleischmann's “cold fusion” claims no one's about to open up a power plant using this process any time soon.

Other dark matter scientists have been unable to duplicate the DAMA Project's experimental results. This has led to some hard feelings between the DAMA Project scientists and the rest of the scientists who are trying to get a handle on this dark matter stuff. The DAMA Project is continuing, and publishing papers, and relations between them and other scientists in the field appear to be growing more tense.

So the research on dark matter goes on and I think that all of these experiments are producing results that will be useful in learning more about the universe.

Some scientists have established that the universe is actually twice as bright as it seems to be. What's been making it seem so dim all these years? Dust.

So we plan to talk about this a little bit tonight. And, hey, if dust is so universal in the universe (!) then why should I care about dust around the house? Dust rules!

We're pitching tonight!

We hope that you'll pledge to WBAI while Back of the Book is on.

You can pledge to WBAI via Back of the Book by calling 1-212-209-2950 while we're on the air. It's $25 for a regular one year subscription to WBAI, and if you want a premium, such as one of our own Uncle Sidney's WBAI T-shirts, it'll only cost a little bit more. And there are other premiums that are being offered that you can get for a larger donation during this 'thon. Of course if you can't afford any of that you can call in a pledge for any amount of $10 or more. We'll need all the help we can get on this program tonight.

If you listen to the radio program via the Internet stream would you please consider pledging even though the call will cost you a little bit more? We'd really appreciate it.

And we hope that everyone who listens pledges.

Update: Well, we didn't do so well on this program. We only got a tally of $750, which is the lowest tally we've had since, I think, the late '80s. A complication may have been that the WBAI audio stream appears to have been down for the program. We want to thank everyone who pledged.

This past week the California Supreme Court by a 4-3 decision struck down two state laws that forbade same gender marriage. Well, that's good! Unfortunately we didn't get to do more than mention this item because of all the pitching we were doing.

the fountain
The Fountain

A long time listener, correspondent and subscriber wrote in and asked us to post a photograph of the fountain we've been talking about that's in the little park at the ass end of Wall St. just outside WBAI's headquarters.

So we're accommodating that listener; click here for a larger photograph and read all about that little park and what's in it, including that fountain, or is it really a fountain?

Wall St. subway station air sampler
The sniffer

On the previous program I talked about my digital camera failing just when I was trying to take a photograph of the air sampling device in the West Side IRT station at William & Wall Sts.

Well, I splurged and got a new camera. It's another discounted one. We did this before my computer died and I had to replace it. Oh, this has been a seriously costly fortnight!

This time, however, we were able to get a photograph of the air sampling device in the subway station as we were heading in to WBAI to do the radio program.

We don't know what it's sampling the air for. One speculation was that it's there to screen for radioactive isotopes in the air, looking out for a “dirty bomb” that someone might be planting. Another idea is that it's looking for some of the toxic stuff left over from the 9/11 attacks. A little late for that now, of course, but the air sampling device is something that's been put there by the government.

If anyone knows what this thing is actually sniffing the air for, please let us know.

positioning the rainbow flag
Uncle Sidney and the new Rainbow flag

We don't usually post about stuff we do after a program, but this time we'll make a small exception.

Regular listener, correspondent and contributor Seth gave our own Uncle Sidney Smith a new rainbow flag. In the past there have been rainbow flags hung up at the station but various homophobes have been allowed to come along and tear them down and frequently steal them. So now we have a new one, and Uncle Sidney will be hanging it up in Reception soon.

Here we have a snapshot of Uncle Sidney gauging the size of the new rainbow flag and seeing how it'll fit in its traditional position in Reception.

Pickles of the North and I helped him with it and generally posed for photographs which I now hear are on Uncle Sidney's blog. We're hoping that this time there will be sufficient measures taken to prevent the flag's being torn down or stolen by homophobic creeps.

R. Paul's dead computer
My Late Computer

I've gotten a new computer.

Why now? Well, the old computer completely collapsed a little over a week ago. I was lucky to get some of the data off it. Unfortunately, I didn't get all of the data off it. So a bunch of stuff is now totally inaccessible. The new computer uses a different type of hard drive for storage and I can't even swap in the old drives to get stuff off them.

Eventually, I'm hoping that that second hard drive will be mountable somewhere and I'll be able to get everything off it. And I really did end up doing the best I could have done with the system. It was starting to go through its final death rattle as I got the last of the data off the boot drive.

Actually, I'm not sure that the drive that I was booting the system up from even works at all anymore. It was clicking like mad as its final act. But that drive got backed up well enough, I guess.

One thing I hadn't counted on was that the compression software I'd used to get the most recent stuff off some of the old partitions would be unuseable until I could reinstall it on my new computer.

This is the first time I've ever migrated from one computer to another without having the previous computer around to at least port over installation files. And when you buy software from a Web site, the only place where I used to be able to get things like WinRAR, you need to be able to keep the old installation files around. I have an old copy of WinRAR which I long ago bought and I have a registration key to unlock it. I don't think that the newest version is going to work for me. I might have to try it out though.

Anyway, the old tales of computer woes are over. Now I'll be telling new tales of woe regarding the new computer, it's operating system and the stuff that won't run on it anymore, including a truly ancient computer game that I've been used to playing at least every single day for the past 18 years or so.

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.