Web links related to the Back of the Book program of June 12, 2000

It's Sunday 6/18/2000 22:40:33, and I think this is the final, updated version of this Web page. By the next program I plan to be migrated into my new computer. Let's hope that makes things go a little faster with the preparation of these pages.

I got through some of the backlog of mail, and I've put the E-mails up here. I need to devote an entire program to getting through the mail sometime soon.

Stay tuned to this page for more about the Pacifica National Board's hijinks over this past weekend. What a bunch. All this and more, as it develops, on the Pacifica Theft Menu.

The WBAI Web cast of was working at 7:24 PM, so it should be all right for Back of the Book tonight.

Paul Williams of UFO Desk is arranging for this feed. And we thank Porus dot com for providing it.

The Summer Solstice will occur on Tuesday June 20th, 2000, at 21:48, which is 9:48 PM, EDT.

Map of the B31 bus route

Last year I went on about horseshoe crabs, and on about them, and on some more. Well, it's that time of year again!

The New York City Parks Department is going to have a nature tour titled “Horseshoe Crab Romance” on Saturday, June 17th, at 8:30 PM at Marine Park in Brooklyn. Pickles of the North and I are planning to go there, although I'll be coming from a GLIB meeting earlier in the day.

There will be a number of uniformed Park Rangers leading this nature tour, so it should be safe enough. Also, given the time of year, the sun will not set in Brooklyn until 8:29 PM, so the event will begin in twilight, not darkness.

Details about the horseshoe crab event are here. Just scroll down the page for the June 17th, event in Brooklyn. You'll need some information on the B31 bus. Unfortunately, the MTA doesn't seem to be posting the single route bus maps anymore, so if you're game here's the bus map for all of Brooklyn. Be advised though, it's a 540 KB file!

Luckily, I've found an older, but smaller map specifically for the B31 bus route. It should be displayed at the left.

Gerritsen Beach is the last stop, and it's at the top of this map. You can take the BMT “D” or “Q” trains to the Kings Highway stop and catch the bus there. You can also take the IRT #2 train to Flatbush Ave., catch the B44 Nostrand Ave. bus there and switch to the B31 at Ave. R.

Update! Pickles of the North and I went to this event. I'll talk about it on a future program.

Of course this is Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Trans Pride Month! The rally will be next Sunday, June 18th, and you can find all the details here. And the march, which I will definitely be at, will be two weeks from now on Sunday, June 25th, and you can read all about it here. And, yes, I call it a march, not a damned “parade” because I remember when it was opposed by elected officials, cops, wanna be politicians and lots of other creeps. It only came off in those days because we dared to stand up to those creeps. So it was a march then and I still consider it a march.

It's run by Heritage of Pride; I should go on about my connection to the name of their group at some point.

So those two bozos Bill “I Did Not Have Sex With That Woman” Clinton and Vladimir “I Did Not Impale Those Chechens” Putin sat down and decided that they'd “destroy” 34 tons of Plutonium. Thirty four tons of Plutonium!! Easily said, done with great difficulty.

Plutonium is a mostly human made element that is pretty nasty stuff. As a highly radioactive element Plutonium can only be destroyed by bombarding it with neutrons in either a nuclear reactor or as part of an atomic bomb! There's been controversy for years over the cavalier attitude some have towards the ability of anyone to “destroy” Plutonium.

This is not something you can just declare over and it's over. Plutonium stays deadly radioactive for tens of thousands of years. And you can't concentrate it and bury it because that would set it off. Plutonium is also chemically deadly. It bursts into flame upon contact with oxygen. It it were buried it would take up a lot of space underground and it would have to be guarded against people trying to steal it to make bombs out of it, from people stumbling over it and from the elements making it leak into the water table for at least half a million years or more! Does this sound practical?

There's now a cell phone worm going around. I am not a fan of cell phones. I'm one of those who finds them annoying. They're annoying when people don't watch where they're going down the street, they're annoying in diners and restaurants and they're especially annoying in movie theaters! However, I bet that a century from now people will look at those of us who carp about obnoxious cell phone use as quaint. It will be like people who complained about the noise from horseless carriages a century ago. Society changes, not always for the best.

On the air I read a piece about the Chinese police arresting a guy named Huang Qi on charges of “suspicion of subversion.” This because he put information about the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre on his Web site. His wife, Zeng Li, was also initially detained, but the cops let her go after three days. When she asked about her husband they told her that they were keeping him on that wonderful charge of “suspicion of subverting state power,” for which he faces a ten year prison term. Apparently they also took away Ms. Li's computer.

Mr. Qi had been running a site that tried to help folks find missing people, but last year he started posting information about human rights and corruption in Communist China, aka the People's Republic of China. The commies in charge are apparently still a bit sensitive about their mass murder of people who were demonstrating for freedoms we in America take for granted. Some philandering buffoon has posted some statements in support of caving in to the Chinese government for the sake of a few bucks while glossing over that government's atrocious human rights record.

I suspect that there's more than one creep involved in the Unites States government who drools over the prospect of being able to deal with dissidents and people who speak out on the Internet the way the Chinese Communists have.

Here's Mr. Qi's Web site. There's some English there, but it's mostly in Chinese, of course.

Pickles of the North and I went to Prospect Park a couple of weeks ago. We looked around the area by the Picnic House. I recall going there as a small child. In those days the main part of the Picnic House was closed most of the time, but the little concession stand on the bottom of the building was open in the Summer time.

I recall getting orange drinks there, when my mother could afford them. It was just a little hole in the wall.

On our visit I noticed that a tree had recently been cut down right to the north of the Picnic House. I figured that this tree was big enough that it had probably been there when I was having those kid Summers. I wondered how old it was, if it had been a small tree when I was a kid or what. So I counted the rings. I counted 141 rings! If I got the count right, this tree began growing in 1858, and is therefore part of the old Brooklyn forest.

A tree in Prospect Park that appears to have been 141 years old when it was cut down.

I'm writing this column on Planet IT about being a beginner with the Linux operating system. You can watch me stumble around trying to figure it out.

And here's a more recent column on beginning Linux.

I got through less of the mail backlog than I'd planned, on the program. But I got through some of it. Here's the mail now, along with some comments.

Subject: Communication with intelligent life beyond Earth
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 04:29:07 -0500 (EST)
From: David
To: rpm@glib.com

Dear Mr. Martin,

I tuned into your broadcast early Monday morning for the first time during a road trip. Your commentary on the Drake theory introduced many ideas for which I have spent hours pondering. Thank you, I guess.

One of the issues that is nagging me however is the concept of time you presented for the transmission and reception of communication between galaxies. I wonder if perhaps our perception of that time is prejudiced because of our understanding of the existing technologies used for electronic communication.

What do you think? I'd appreciate your feedback.

Mancelona, Michigan

I replied to David, probably the only person in Michigan ever to hear Back of the Book, on the air, but I also replied in E-mail. In the E-mail I said, “Well, if a faster than light (FTL) form of communication were ever developed it would certainly change the time scales in terms of the transmission of messages is concerned. But we don't have such technology now, and no one seems to have any realistic proposals for such a technology yet. So my remarks about the time required to send and receive messages intergalacticly still applies to anyone getting to our level of technology. Even if FTL communication were to be accomplished there's still the time frame for the development of such technologically advanced civilizations. A society can rise and fall over a period of a million years and its period of time when it can use FTL communications is still likely to miss the time of equivalent development of another society.

“So although FTL communications would increase the likelihood of such societies contacting each other the odds are still against it, IMO, due to the enormity of time and space.”

Subject: The universe
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 14:35:03 PST
From: "Peter from Brooklyn"
To: rpm@glib.com

Dear R. Paul,

Thank you for the recent programs on the universe. The show on the end of the earth a couple of months ago was especially interesting. It occurs to me that if the religious right doesn't agree with the facts of the origins of the universe, they probably don't believe that life on earth will end with the end of the sun, etc. They probably believe that the earth, the sun, human life, and the United States will last forever. What is scary is that these people are in a position to determine what gets taught in schools, as we have seen in the Kansas evolution decision. This is very similar to Lysenkoism in Stalin's Russia. Or know-nothingism, or just plain stupidity. Have you heard anything about the religious right's attitude toward this?

Peter from Brooklyn

I'm still trying to research some of the stuff that came from that Scientific American article about the end of life in the universe. Some of it looks really bizarre and interesting.

The religious right does seem to prefer to keep its head in the sand on scientific subjects that would force them to concede that the universe is bigger than their little superstitions allow. They want the world and the universe to end as per the Bible, not according to generally accepted scientific discoveries.

One thing I've never seen anyone in debate with them bring up is this: we have lots and lots of photographs of stars and galaxies. Counts can be made of the stars to determine that our galaxy, and lots of other galaxies, have on the order of a hundred billion stars in them. Over a hundred thousand galaxies have been photographed, with the assessment that there are probably something like 50 billion galaxies in the universe. But staying only with the stars and galaxies that have been actually photographed, we have a substantial number of them. The religious right tends to favor an age of the universe of 6,000 years, with their more “liberal” members allowing that it could be up to 10,000 years old. If that's the case, then all of these stars and galaxies can only be occupying a space with a radius of 6,000 to 10,000 light years.

Rather than get into a calculation that involves cubic volumes, let's just say that we're looking at the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). We're seeing thousands of stars in our galaxy, and then at least a hundred billion stars in the Andromeda Galaxy. So between us and the edge of the universe there must be all of those stars. A fast calculation reveals that this averages out to about 16,666,666 stars per light year in that direction, using 6,000 as the maximum number of light years. A light year is about 5.878 × 1012 miles. So this means that each star will have about 352,680 miles to exist in. Well, this is obviously absurd because the sun is 93 million miles from the Earth. We'd have over 250 stars between us and the sun in this case! So unless the religious right wants to challenge the countable stars, they'd have to concede that the universe is a lot bigger than their scriptures allow.

I've never seen anyone try this logic on them. I bet they wouldn't like it.

Subject: they'll try anything on eBay
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 18:25:37 -0500
From: North American Shirley
To: rpm@glib.com

Top World News
Thu, 24 Feb 2000, 6:24pm EST

EBay Won't Let California Man Sell His Soul in Online Auction, DPA Reports
By James Gunsalus

San Jose, California, Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- EBay Inc., an Internet auction site, banned a California man from selling his soul to the highest bidder because there was no proof the item for sale actually existed, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported. The man's asking price of $5,000 wasn't matched with a bid before being removed by the auctioneer. In the past, several sales of souls got through the eBay system unhindered, with prices ranging between $1 and $10, DPA said, citing a ZDNet report.

In February, San Jose, California-based eBay agreed to provide information to the Federal Trade Commission to be used by law enforcement agencies to combat Internet auction fraud.

(DPA 2/24)

For the Web site of Deutsche Presse-Agentur, type WDPA .

Subject: Late night thank you
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 03:23:35 -0500
From: John & Wendy
To: rpm@glib.com

Way past my bedtime, after bringing myself up to date on Pacifica courtesy of your web site. Thanks for all your work.

I've enjoyed Back of the Book for a long time; it's probably my favorite 'BAI program. It's fun and thoughtful, the science “stuff” is great, and to someone with as poor a memory as mine, I really dig how well you revisit the early events and places of your life. I hope you put it on paper as well as on the air.

Best wishes, John

Subject: Question
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 13:22:06 -0500 (EST)
From: Joshua
To: rpm@glib.com

How did you originally get involved with WBAI. I love the work that you guys do and I am interested in being more than a subscriber. Thanks for any info you may provide.

I answered Joshua's question on the air, but I've also got a Web page devoted to WBAI where I talk about how I came to the station.

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 follow the instructions, 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 these 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.

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

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The contents of this Web page and subsequent Web pages on this site are copyright © 2000, R. Paul Martin