Web links related to the Back of the Book program of May 24, 2004

It's Sunday evening 6/6/2004 18:06:52 and this page is done. We pitched on this program, as per last minute sort-of instructions. We talked about the upcoming transit of Venus and we got to a little bit of the mail. But the pitching really took up much of this program. Note the change in location for the next LSB meeting below.

The WBAI LSB will meet next on Thursday, June 10, 2004, at 6:30 PM (Note location change!) at the Maplewood Memorial Library at 51 Baker Street in Maplewood, New Jersey.

The Maplewood Memorial Library is one block from the Maplewood Train Station on New Jersey Transit's Morris & Essex Line. Take a Midtown Direct train from Penn Station New York which leaves at either:

5:20 PM, 5:47 PM, or 5:51 PM.

Please note that not all Midtown Direct trains go to Maplewood. Make sure that you confirm that the train you are taking goes to Maplewood before you board. Also, buy your ticket in Penn Station to avoid the $5 surcharge you will have to pay if you buy your ticket on the train.

Maplewood Memorial Library is about 100 yards from the Maplewood Train Station on the “park side” of the station. Walk to the underpass near the front of the train (if traveling from New York).

For driving directions go to the Maplewood Library Web site at www.maplewoodlibrary.org.

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. 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're pitching tonight!

Yes, we were previously told, in writing, that we were not pitching, but a not totally clear message received just before I left for the LSB meeting last Thursday evening seems to indicate that we are scheduled to pitch tonight.

Of course this means that many listeners who might have contributed aren't going to be prepared for this begging session. Also, some folks record the program and since they haven't been told ahead of time that we're pitching they're not going to know about it until they listen to the recorded program later in the week. The fact that the WBAI signal is degraded between 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM isn't going to help either.

So tonight I am especially going to be asking those of you who listen to the program over the Internet to call in pledges. A lot of the regular listeners are just not going to hear the program because of the signal problems. Oh well, this is community radio in New York City.

UPDATE: As expected, we didn't do well this time around. The final tally for Back of the Book was $885. If we hadn't been misled about whether or not we were going to be pitching I know we would have raised over a grand, as usual. Thanks to each and every one of you who pledged to Back of the Book during this marathon. The official goal stated by WBAI Management for this marathon was $1.1 million in raised 18 days. When the marathon was halted after 25 days of pitching and the final tally was $850,000.

At the USPS we don't have to function

So the Post Office gave my Priority Mail package to someone else! What a mess.

My TEAC cassette machine is also in a lurch. I got a call from the repair people in California about how there's nothing wrong with it! How can that be? Looks like I may have to eat this defective product. Maybe I should play something recorded from that machine on the air. It'll convince anyone listening that there's something wrong with this machine. Too bad we can't get the TEAC repair people to listen.

The Transit of Venus is coming! On June 8, the first transit of Venus in 122 years will occur. The event will last for 6 hours but only about the last two hours will be visible from the WBAI listening area. The weather forecast for New York City is “mostly sunny” for Tuesday. Of course if there's a bit of cloudiness it could make seeing the transit of Venus difficult or impossible. So there are going to be plenty of opportunities for viewing this even on the Web. And if you're in some area that isn't going to see the transit at all then your only choice is going to be to watch it via remote cameras.

The transit of Venus is one of those astronomical events that was never recorded in ancient times, probably because no one was ever looking at the Sun during one. The event only lasts for around six hours when it happens. It was only after the invention of the telescope and its adaptation to astronomy by Galileo Galilei in 1609, that observing a transit of Venus became a goal. in a paper of 1629, Johannes Kepler predicted that transits of Venus would occur in 1631, and 1639. No one was able to observe the 1631, event but two people did see the 1639 transit and they recorded the fact.

This year's transit of Venus will be recorded more than any previous one. It will also mark the first time that a transit of Venus has been recorded as a moving image. Although still photography had been around for decades when the last transit of Venus occurred on December 6, 1882, motion picture cameras hadn't been invented yet. Something else I found interesting was that of the more than 10,000 still photographs taken of the 1882, transit only 11 are still in existence. Let's hope that the recordings of the June 8, 2004, transit of Venus fare better than that in terms of saved archives!

If you plan to observe the transit of Venus on your own you must make sure that you do so safely. You'll have to make sure that you either use a projection method, such as simply making a pinhole in a piece of cardboard and letting the image of the Sun focus on a piece of paper, or else you'll need to get some sort of device that cuts out 99+% of the light of the Sun. If you're going to use a telescope of pair of binoculars to observe the transit you must be especially careful because the focused sunlight coming through a telescope or binoculars can permanently blind you in a fraction of a second. In other words, if you screw this up you can be blinded before you know that anything's happening. So be careful.

We got to some of the mail on this program despite the sudden pitching shift. We read some snail mail on the program and we also got to a single E-mail, which we reproduce below.

Subject: Jury Duty
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 2004 22:00:51 EDT
From: Sharon, the Wicked Witch of the East [Side]
To: rpm@glib.com

Well, now, this is weird -- they called me for April 22 (Manhattan). Have you ever wondered why they don't just bring in people who express an interest in being jurors? Apparently an all-volunteer military can be relied upon to defend the country, but determining guilt or innocence is best left to untrained, unwilling draftees who couldn't come up with a good excuse. I guess that illustrates the differing importance we place on war and justice.

I was quite interested in Pickles's description of the Daughters of the Eastern Star funeral service, because my father had a Masonic funeral (which he requested). Several members of his lodge came to the funeral home -- no robes -- and the Master read the brief, simple words while they placed Dad's apron on him and put an evergreen branch in his hand to symbolize eternal life. I'm not religious but I found it very moving.

And speaking of religion...

You spent twelve years at Catholic school so maybe you can tell me -- why is the day they commemorate the death of Christ called “Good” Friday? Wouldn't Horrible Friday be more appropriate? Just asking.

Happy springtime,
Sharon, the Wicked Witch of the East [Side]

Yeah, I've had my jury duty exercise for the next couple of years. Getting volunteers for jury duty would result in people with an interest in cases getting on juries and that would really foul things up. It would become like the lobbying process in legislatures. So it really is better to grab people in a fairly random, and large scale, manner.

As for “Good” Friday, it's an artifact of the English language. Other languages call it “Holy” Friday or something similar. Perhaps somebody in England didn't like Jesus H. Christ and called it “Good” Friday because they were glad that he was tortured and killed on that day, according to the myth. Of course I don't know that Jesus H. Christ ever existed in the first place, so I don't care about these things anymore. When I was a kid, of course, I liked getting the Easter Vacation from school and getting candy on Easter Sunday. Oh well, it's all just an expropriation of feast days from some older, pre-Abrahamic superstitions anyway. Here's the usual bs from the Catholic church about it.

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.