Web links related to the Back of the Book program of August 19, 2002

It's Sunday morning 9/1/2002 09:36:57 and this Web page is done. I got to all of the below topics on the program, plus a very little mail. I was solo for this program, Pickles of the North was visiting the north. By the way, this program ends the 16th year that Back of the Book has been on the air. On to year 17! As always, don't be thrown by the tenses in the below paragraphs; some were written before the program and some were written after it.

Here is the latest on the saga of Pacifica. There was a big meeting of the interim Pacifica National Board in June in Berkeley, CA. I have a link to notes from a listener who was there.

As we move into the next phase of the Pacifica Crisis there are various elements that would like to simply replace the previous group of hijackers with themselves and/or their pals. But some of us are more convinced than ever that only open elections will provide a long range cure for the Pacifica Crisis. Here's a link to the various election proposals.

Here's the WBAI schedule. Don't blame me if it's not accurate, I didn't make it up I'm only relaying it. Here's a schedule made by a listener who has Web links for various programs and producers.

Our colleagues from Off the Hook now have both a RealAudio streaming web cast operating, and a new MP3 stream both of which were working at about 8:24 PM last night. The MP3 feed is now the preferred feed.

Superstition takes many forms. One form is believing in popular delusions such as the mysterious origins of “crop circles.”

There's a movie out now which uses this belief that crop circles are mysterious for its plot. I've seen trailers for this movie which have people talking about how the crop circles can't have been made by humans. Of course this raises the question of how they made them for the movie.

Well, Scientific American magazine has a piece by someone who has made crop circles for the fun of it for more than a decade. Folks who make these crop circle things even have their own Web site. Funny, we just don't experience these things in Brooklyn.

Some computer scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur have found a method for having a computer determine if a number is prime or not. Sounds esoteric, right? Right now it is, but their discovery may lead up to a day when it may be very hard or impossible to keep snoops, whether governmental of otherwise, from examining your bank account or your hard drive at their leisure.

The way in which banking, and all other financial transactions not conducted face to face, is kept secure these days is by encryption. The information sent back and forth is encrypted by one party and decrypted by the other. Anyone intercepting the signals, which is pretty easy to do, will get nothing but gibberish. Unless they can crack the encryption keys.

Most encryption keys are based on large prime numbers. Every one of them can be cracked, the keys can be discovered, but it would take billions of years to do so. That's where the security comes in. However, if numbers can be tested for primality quickly and accurately this could aid governments, crackers, thieves and anyone else to discover the keys, and decrypt the messages, in a timely manner. We're not there yet, but this discovery may be the thin end of the wedge. Here's a link to their paper.

So the war between the multinational record and film giants and the Internet has reached a new level. Thirteen record labels have filed suit in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan demanding that four large ISPs block access to a site in China named Listen4Ever.com. As of this writing that original site is either down or is being blocked. However, if you want to look at it you can see where Listen4ever.com has gone, and it's apparently still operating. The four ISPs named as defendants in the suit are AT&T Broadband, Cable and Wireless, the Sprint Corporation and UUNet Technologies.

This case is important because the Recording Industry Association of America, the RIAA, and the Motion Picture Association of America, the MPAA, aren't just going after the site, they're trying to get a federal judge to force the ISPs to do their work for them.

Having blasted Napster out of existence the RIAA and MPAA are now looking to build a virtual wall around their properties. But they want the ISPs to build and maintain that wall! They want you and me to pay for their policing of their copyrights. Traditionally, firms that own copyrights have been required to fight their own legal battles. But The Best Congress That Money Can Buy has passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which favors these huge companies at the expense of citizens. No wonder some people dislike these “associations” so much.

Interestingly, America On Line (AOL) is not one of the ISPs named. This is probably due to the fact that they are part of the package owned by Time/Warner and Warner Bros. is one of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit.

On this program I continued with the discussion of another alternative, but not wacky, hypothesis about cosmology. This hypothesis is called Modified Newtonian Dynamics, or MOND. It was first put forth by a physicist named Mordechai Milgrom in 1983. MOND says that extremely small accelerations, such as that exerted by a galaxy's gravity on that galaxy's outer portions, don't behave the same as acceleration does in Newtonian kinematic theory.

MOND is proposed as an alternative to “cold dark matter” (CDM), which is what most cosmologists think causes certain anomalies such as the observable fringes of spiral galaxies to move differently from what is expected. It all boils down to this: Newton says that force is proportional to acceleration; MOND says that in cases of extremely small acceleration force is proportional to the square of acceleration.

So MOND accepts that for ordinary things which you and I experience, such as dropping a weight on or near the surface of the Earth, where the acceleration is 9.8 meters per second per second, Newton works. But in cases of extremely small acceleration, such as is experienced by stars in the outer parts of spiral galaxies, where the acceleration of gravity is about one Angstrom, or 10-10 meters per second per second, Newton doesn't work anymore and MOND does.

CDM is generally accepted as the cause of the observed anomalies, even though no one has ever seen or demonstrated the existence CDM nor does anyone even have a good idea of what it might be. MOND has some adherents, but it's run into a problem recently because it can't account for gravitational lensing.

So MOND is an interesting hypothesis, and is at odds with what most scientists think is going on, but it's not at all wacky.

And of course we got mail! We got an amusing birthday card from regular listener Martha From Queens. The only E-mail I was able to get to was the following from “Mr. Charm.”

Date: Sun, 04 Aug 2002 19:26:12 +0000
From: "mister charm"
To: rpm@glib.com

Oh my goodness Mr. Fernando's virulent sexism seems to grow apace!! Why o why? Perchance I have an explanation: Mr. Fernando ignores, with great dignity, my incessant sodomic advances directed at him and certain specific though unmentioned aspects of his anatomy. Alors!! Mr. Fernando doesn't attack me, but he does upbraid poor Pickles for her observations, fomented by his egregious and , as far as Pickels is concerned, unasked-for remarks! Yet he doesn't say anything about my remarks, which are truly insulting, and which also come out of left field! I have a theory- Fernando thinks that, if he ignores my remarks but insults Pickels, he will enhance his masculinity; oddly, his enhancement of his masculinity comes about from his contemplation of homosexuality provoked by me- therefore, Fernando's enhanced sexuality is the result of his (probably) involuntary but exacting contemplation of himself in a homosexual situation- with me, a fat, very well-hung middle-aged man. To which I would say: “Oh my boy, turn over, and let my instrument be the instument of your deepest and most profound passion! And then, turn over again.” I am an equal opportunity sodomist.

Love to all in Back of the Book Land,
I am forever

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.

Another 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. With that warning in mind, you can look at the NewPacifica list here, and you can join the list from that Web page too, although you'll have to deal with Yahoo! to do so.

There is also the more WBAI specific “Goodlight” Web based message board. This one has a great many people posting anonymously and there's also an ancillary board that's just totally out of hand.

The “Goodlight” Web based message board has expanded to cover all Pacifica stations.

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 and subsequent Web pages on this site are copyright © 2002, R. Paul Martin