Web links related to the Back of the Book program of 6/14/99

Well, now it's Sunday, 6/27/99 02:32:14 and the June 17thdemonstration at KPFA in Berkeley, CA was very successful, with hundreds of people attending. At the next demonstration on Monday the 21st fourteen people were arrested for sitting in front of Pacifica Headquarters. The Berkeley Police Dept. didn't want to arrest them at first, and Lynn Chadwick, Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation ended up performing her own citizen's arrest of the 14. There is to be another demonstration in front of KPFA on Monday, June 28th

There have been some disturbing new developments in this saga over the past couple of days. First the Pacifica Foundation has gotten the Berkeley Police Department's Homicide Division to investigate the shootings at Pacifica Headquarters last month, even though the office was empty at the time. Pacifica Management has said that it's handing over all letters, E-mails and faxes of protest that have been sent to Pacifica to the Berkeley Police to be examined for “violent tendencies” on the part of their writers. What this is all about is obvious: Pacifica Management is using intimation tactics to get people to stop sending them protest letters. What a thing for them to do!

On Wednesday KPFA News reported that Mary Frances Berry, Chair of the Pacifica National Board, got U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to get one of her Justice Dept. officials to call the Berkeley Police Dept. and make “inquiries” about their supposedly soft treatment of the protestors at KPFA.

It has just been reported that Pacifica Management has replaced their unarmed guard in the lobby of KPFA with two armed guards. This is by way of harassing and intimidating the KPFA Staff.

Meanwhile, the Pacifica National Board is meeting in Washington, D.C. this weekend. KPFA intends to air reports on that meeting between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM EDT on June 27th. To keep up with developments you should look at my Pacifica Theft page regularly. I'll keep it as updated as I can with the most recent items at the bottom.

What a time I had getting this program together! I fell asleep Sunday night, which is an extreme rarity. I had trouble with my computer printer, and the entire system locked up and had to be crashed, rebooted, etc. before I could even load the Web files up here! So, inadequate though it was, there was almost no Web page up here for the program on Sunday night/Monday morning. Of course there were unplanned events on the program, and I don't just mean that fact that the headphones were connected to the rest of the equipment by some hastily soldered wires hanging out on the floor. I'd planned on only mentioning that the jerks at a local store had lost my photographs, instead I went into a history of my life's relationships with photography. Oh well, it's an interesting link.

I'm wondering if some of you would like to see the program's Web page updated with more than just the topics and links related to the last program. Lots of stuff never gets to the program, and a lot happens in the week that Back of the Book doesn't air. I guess we'd have a sort of newsletter evolving in that case. What do you think? Would you want to have the bi-weekly program page updated with stuff that will not get a chance to get onto the program due to time? Please let me know what you think either way.

It was in my notes, and I mention it every year, so why did I neglect to say on the air that the Summer Solstice will occur on Monday, June 21, 1999 at 15:49 EDT, which is 3:49 PM for those of you who haven't become addicted to 24 hour time? The old brain is falling apart here.

Footprints that may be as much as 23,000 to 32,000 years old were discovered in Chauvet cave, in France. Besides being filled with some serious Upper Paleolithic art and some examples of the superstitions prevalent at that time (I wonder if the cave bear worshipping cult will lambast me for denigrating their religion?) a small footprint, from a boy guessed to be about 10 years of age, has been found there.

As I noted on the air, there was some controversy surrounding this find back in 1994-95, when some people insisted that the entire thing was a fraud, and that the art in the cave was the product of recent hoaxers. Among other things, some art critics said that the art was “too good” to be that old, and others pointed out that it wasn't until Eadweard Muybridge took his famous set of photographs in 1878, that it was proven that horses had all four hooves off the ground simultaneously when running. Some paintings of horses show them running with all four hooves off the ground. However, the controversy was settled when it was found that there was overwhelming evidence that the paintings in Chauvet Cave were genuine upper paleolithic art. Among other evidence was the fact that some of the art was covered by a thin layer of calcite, which had dripped down the walls of the cave. The calcite would have had to have taken thousands of years to accomplish this, and there is no known technology that could fake the effect. So we must conclude that there were some fine artists and excellent observers of nature practicing their art around 300 centuries ago.

In even older news, scientists in Kenya have discovered stone tools that were made by pre-humans about 2.3 million years ago. These were pretty sophisticated activities for creatures that weren't much more advanced than chimps. It is not known if these tools were made by Homo Habilis, thought to be an ancestor of ours, or a from of Australopithecine, a biped that is not in our direct line of descent. To give it some perspective, the stone tools were estimated to be about 2.34 million years old. The paintings, made by people who were modern humans, in the cave mentioned above are only 0.03 million years old. And yet when we think of the paintings as being 300 centuries old they appear amazingly distant in the past. There's a lot to know.

I remember when I was in college and Lawrencium 103 was the latest synthesized element. That was long ago. In the past fortnight, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory announced the creation of element number 118. The significance of this is that element #118 took a long time to decay, in atomic particle terms. It just falls apart right away in terms of time frames that you and I experience as human beings, but it lasted much longer than other human-made elements do. This one lasted almost a millisecond, not the 30 seconds I mentioned that was reported by a now inaccessible newspaper article, but other “transuranic” elements last under a microsecond. Back in the 1970s, it was calculated that at some point you would find an “island of stability” among these heavier elements where they would last for a much longer time, possibly ever for years at a time. Because the atoms of these elements are so much heavier than the atoms of the natural elements they've been dubbed the “Superheavy” elements. The fact that element #118 took a relatively long time to disintegrate suggests that the calculations of twenty or more years ago are on target. Mostly the creation and study of these Superheavy elements will serve to educate scientists about the nature of matter and the intricacies of an extremely crowded atomic nucleus. But it's not absolutely impossible that they might serve to do something more than that. Perish the thought, however, that you will ever end up using a Superheavy can opener. This stuff would cost much more than platinum and would be impermanent.

I didn't actually get to this item on the air, but I'll leave it in here anyway. I should get to it sometime in the future, so you'll get a jump on things then. Astronomers are discovering things called “Methane Dwarfs” which are failed stars, otherwise known as “Brown Dwarfs,” that seem to have had some extra activity occurring on their surfaces to form methane. There are loads of exotic things floating around out there!

I will also be reporting, on this Web site only, about the demonstration at KPFA which I am now told will be held on Thursday, June 17th. I can't mention it on the air due to the “Pacifica gag rule”.

Subject: Picketing and Prayer on June 17
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 18:04:02 -0700
From: SavePacifica <savepacifica@peacenet.org>
To: savepacifica@hotmail.com

Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica
499 Alabama Street, #221,
San Francisco, CA 94110
510-594-4000 ext. 202 Fax 510-654-9424
Contact: Nick Alexander, 510-601-9544

June 13, 1999

Protest and Prayer to Change Pacifica

Picketing in support of staff at Berkeley radio station KPFA will begin with prayer in front of the offices of Pacifica, KPFA's parent organization, at:

1925 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, on Thursday June 17, from 4:30 - 6 PM.

Father Bill O'Donnel, priest at St. Joseph the Worker Church, will lead staff and listeners in a prayer for the “soul of Pacifica,” which was thrown in crisis with the firing of popular KPFA general manager Nicole Sawaya. The demonstration, 9 days before the Pacifica National Board meets in Washington D.C., is part of ongoing protests, including continuing on-air violations of Pacifica's "gag-rule."

Staff and listeners are demanding:
(1) the immediate rehiring of Nicole Sawaya,
(2) independent mediation of the dispute, including full public disclosure of the underlying issues, and
(3) the immediate reversal of all disciplinary or adverse action against any KPFA or Pacifica staff for alleged violation of the so-called gag-rule, including the firing of veteran programmer Larry Bensky.

So I suddenly found myself talking about photography at the beginning of the program. I may talk about this topic some more at a future date. For now, here's a web site devoted to the History of photography. For my own history of photography I first encountered a camera when I was a small child. My parents had a black box camera of the sort that everyone had in those days. It took the common film of those days which was designated “127,” and it had a fixed aperture and shutter speed. It was just two halves and one slid inside the other and you looked through the viewfinder, which was really just a right angle prism lens, and guessed where the subject was in relation to the actual lens and pushed down on the little lever. Then you hoped that you remembered to wind the film forward because this camera had no safety features to prevent double, or triple, exposures. After the program I remembered that you could tell when to stop winding the film by looking at the back of the camera where there was a small, red lens. This lens, which I think was actually plastic, allowed you to see the backing paper of the 127 film. The paper backing had numbers on it indicating what number photograph on the roll you were up to. Pretty primitive compared to today's cameras, but it worked, and without it many of the shots you can see of me and my family would never have been taken. I'd love to have that camera today, but my parents gave it away to a cousin.

What had actually started me on the topic of photography on the program was the fact that I've gotten back into it, almost entirely as a method of making notes, and the imbeciles at the local store lost my second roll of film! I have little hope of ever getting those photographs back, but if I ever do I know that some of those photographs will end up on this Web site. Stay tuned.

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.

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

You can also send me E-mail.

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Free Pacifica Web site

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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 © 1999, R. Paul Martin