Web links related to the Back of the Book program of September 3, 2001

It is Friday morning 9/14/2001 10:26:03. I was going to get this page finished on Tuesday, but I couldn't deal with it then because I couldn't take my eyes off the TV. The attacks against New York City and Washington, D.C. are of course devastating in many different ways. WBAI was taken off the air by the power going down when World Trade Center Building #7 collapsed on Tuesday afternoon. Since then Interim General Manager Utrice Leid and her core faction members have broadcast from a secret location for 12 hours a day. I do not know if Back of the Book will air as originally scheduled on September 16/17. Therefore, this page should be considered not done yet. I've added some things, but I'll update this page more if I find out anything about the program. If Back of the Book doesn't air I'll have a program page for it anyway. So you should check back here on Sunday night/Monday morning to see if there's going to be a program on WBAI or not.

This was the 15th anniversary program of Back of the Book! I reminisced, and talked about the topics below. I spent a lot of money bribing high government officials to make Monday a day off for everyone so they could listen to this radio program. I did make a bit of a dent in the mail backlog too. As usual, there are some tense, in the grammatical sense, variances on this page because it was updated. I'd usually say that this page is done here, but unfortunately, it's not. If I find something out about the next program I'll post it here.

Here is the latest on the theft of Pacifica.

Here's my take on the current WBAI and Pacifica crisis.

And remember, there's still a gag rule at WBAI.

There have been some developments in the listener lawsuits, as well.

Some listeners are convinced that only open elections will provide a long range cure for the Pacifica Crisis. Here's an election proposal.

Our colleagues from Off the Hook have a RealAudio streaming web cast operating. For a while they were trying to provide a new, permanent MP3 stream but the link to the MP3 stream now just gives you the RealAudio stream. At 7:36 PM last night this feed was working.

Well, the biggest news is that Back of the Book has survived to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary!

I don't know how many programs I've done. But with a calculator and a good guess at how many times the program has been pre-empted over the years I'd say that Back of the Book has aired about 380 times.

I plan on reminiscing about the last 15 years of doing this program for a while tonight. Of course there are Web pages for the past 3½ years of Back of the Book that you can browse through to create your own retrospective. Unfortunately, I left the book with the Kafka story I traditionally read on every anniversary program home. If I have another program I'll read it then.

It seems that my favorite peanut butter has been embroiled in a trademark controversy for decades.

It turns out that the peanut butter is named after a cartoon character named Skippy, who rose to fame in the 1930s.

There's been a dispute over the status of the trademark and compensation to the surviving daughter of the artist, Percy Crosby (who created the Skippy character), for almost 70 years. The daughter had basically won the legal case against the company that makes Skippy Peanut Butter a long time ago, but the paperwork got lost!

In the past couple of months, however, a photocopy of the missing document, a denial of trademark for Skippy Peanut Butter, turned up and the law suits are back in business again. The new owners of Skippy Peanut Butter are so big that they probably don't care. It's amazing how long some legal stuff can grind on. I'll keep eating the peanut butter, and the lawyers will keep making a lot more than crushed peanuts as a result of all this.

Over the past fortnight Fred Hoyle died at age 86. He was the one who coined the phrase “Big Bang.” He called it that in derision, but the name stuck. Hoyle was a proponent of the “Steady State” theory of cosmology, which got pretty much wiped out when Penzias and Wilson found the faint echo of the Big Bang that Hoyle had mocked.

It has come down to people claiming to own letters of the alphabet. And stupid judges are letting them get away with this.

I did get to some of the mail on the anniversary program. We start with a short one from Fernando.

Subject: An Apology
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 13:57:42 -0400 (EDT)
From: Fernando
To: rpm@glib.com

Dear R.

Happy Memorial Day!

First I would like to thank you for answering my questions concerning the Cydonia Monuments of Mars. I found your answers and the information I gained through the links on your web site very enlightening. You said some thing particularly in regard to Richard Hoagland that I had not considered. There are sites on-line that refer to him as “Dick Hoaxland.” Did you know this? Thank you not only for responding but for answering so quickly as well, Paul.

Secondly, I wish to apologize for writing you too often. I had not realized this until you made mention of it on your broadcast this morning (5/28) Sometimes I will have a question that will not leave my thoughts until I do something about having it answered. I also work at home ( I am an artist) and have no one to talk to about these matters. My mother doesn't know anything and what I enjoy about your show is that you are very knowledgable on many topics I think about such as Mars and evolution, but you take a critical, sober approach in how you process information. This gives me a fresh perspective on these subjects different from my own. You are among my favorite radio personalities and you are right there with Casey Kasem. I wish he worked with you, R.

I will curb my missives in the future. In the meantime, I wish to leave you my web address:


The website features more information on myself, some pictures of me, and some of my work. I am an artist. I hope you enjoy it.

Your new saddlepal,

Florham Park, NJ

PS. I appreciate the irony of you reading my “crackpot” comment on the same broadcast that you made mention of my many missives, but please understand I did not intend it as a satirical reference on myself. We all know who the real crackpots are!!!

Casey Kasem? Oh no!

Next we have a missive from Susan who is not from Long Island.

Subject: Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 11:00:50 -0700 (PDT)
From: Susan
To: “R. Paul Martin” <rpm@glib.com>

Hi -

Last night's web cast worked! In fact, since I haven't mentioned it the web cast worked during your two previous programs. Not so sure about this MP3 stuff though.

I guess you pitched last night, and I made my unique political statement by falling asleep at around 11:30 PM and not waking up until about a half hour before the end of the show. It's just another fun Springtime hibernation phase. Sounds better than calling it depression anyway.

So, it looks like I'm going to have some major surgery to repair the retinal damage in my left eye in the next few weeks. I'll have this done in NYC and because I'll have to spend anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks with my head down, I'm not sure how this will impact on my computer use or when I'll return to Virginia. Kind of scary, especially since the first time I had this surgery in the summer of 1994 (completely successful BTW on my right eye) I just couldn't sleep one late Sunday night/early Monday morning due to the very awkward required resting position. So, I turned on WBAI and decided I would force myself to listen to whatever happened to be on the air until I fell asleep. Guess whose voice I heard that, yeah, I sort of recalled from BAI's gay programming many years ago? Hint: it wasn't Sidney Smith who I already knew had a free form show. Maybe, this kind of compulsory listenership would increase your audience. In fact this may just be the market niche WBAI is looking for! Maybe, I'll propose this innovative idea to the current Management....

We thought it was a pretty weird coincidence that Susan From Long Island also sent you a Yahoo greeting that expired! I can always move to Long Island just to avoid more confusion.

Take Care,


Subject: Communique #1
Date: Sat, 02 Jun 2001 12:55:22 +0800
From: e.g.
To: rpm@glib.com

Greetings RPM,

I've been listening to your show for some time now and wanted to thank you for the enjoyable and informative work you do. Don't always agree with you on some things, but as they say “different strokes for different folks”. What I do particularly enjoy are your reminiscence of Brooklyn past and the accounts of your ramblings through the city we call home. It's great to hear of another that walks through life with eyes wide open and mind buzzing with curiousity.

I finally got around to checking your website and got a kick out of your description of romantic evenings on Ocean Parkway (with the Evil Morelab[?]). Living not far from the part that overlooks Washington Cemetary, our paths must surely have crossed at some time as I was prone to late night rambles along that very Parkway. However, I don't recall any obviously awkward looking bi-sexual couples on those darkened benches; so either I've never run into you or your self described strangeness is grossly exagerated!

Recently, I've been receiving a lot of email containing advertisements for a product called Evidence Eliminator. Out of curiousity I downloaded a demo copy from ZDNet.com to see what it was all about and I'd be curious to hear your take on the matter.

The Claim: your computer retains information about everything it has ever done. A record of every file you have viewed, every website you have visited, every keystoke you have ever made remains in hidden files a long, long, long time (well, forever) even after you have deleted any reference to them. These hidden files may cause the loss of your job if found on a corporate computer or imprisonment if the files reveal some legally questionable activity. The program claims to protect you by scrambling the hidden files through multiple write overs of random data, thus saving one's behind from prison or a pink slip. ------ I think this is the gist of the claim.

Now, I don't doubt that a computer records and retains information about what it has done. The average ignoramus like myself just has no idea where these files are, nor their purpose. (I'm guessing they have something to do with a computer's ability to multi-task and return relatively easily to something we've worked on earlier. I really don't know). But it seems inconceivable to me that these “hidden files” are not being constantly overwritten or changed by the very use of the computer (particularly in, let's say, a daily 9-5 business environment). If, as Evidence Eliminator claims, these files exist forever wouldn't the hard drive be constantly running out of free space as it stored more and more data about how the computer has been used?

I'm particularly skeptical about all this when I view it in conjunction with the program's graphics.

Its Logo: a surgically garbed investigator peering through a microscope (a la FBI lab). The startup screen is even more interesting: the Text: “this screen will make you wait 10 seconds… 10 seconds is not as long as 10 years !” The accompanying graphic: a burly bodybuilder of a black man glares ominously at you from out of the shadows. He is illuminated only by a shaft of light peeking through what appear to be prison bars.

This product not only uses computer privacy issues to make their sales pitch, but also appeals to the most offensive brand of racial stereotype and paranoia (i.e “you'd better use our product, bitch, because Rachim from Cell Block B is looking for a new girlfriend!”).

I guess I'm just amazed that I have been seeing so many references and prompts to use this program and suspect that many will be using it either because of its appeal to their own paranoia or because of ignorance of how the program and an operating system actually work. Considering your knowledge of computers and your concern for privacy issues, I'm hoping you can set the record straight. Just what are these hidden files? How long do they exist? If necessary, how can we clean them ourselves or do we really have to buy such a product from a bunch of race-baiting bastards? Please, help cut through the melarkey!

Well, enough for now. Greetings to Pickles of the North! It's good to hear her again. (I always enjoyed her appearances on that other show [MORC]). If hearing, like seeing, is believing then you have one delightful companion there. My best to both of you!

Take care,


First, my “self described strangeness” is pretty much documented.

As for that wonderful product, basically, what e.g. is referring to is a spam that went out to every USENET news group and many individuals in an effort to scare people into buying a product that they don't need.

It's mostly aimed at people who are viewing pornography on line. An activity which I by no means condemn. Some view it at work and are concerned that their boss will find out and fire them, and others download things which are illegal in some places and thus the references to going to jail.

The software company that's spamming everyone is addressing, and over stating, the fact that records of what you do, on and off line, are retained by your computer. The data is NOT retained forever, and the files and means of doing this are by no means secret.

What happens is this: your browser is probably set to retain a history of your browsing activity for a week or more. The browser retains a cache of the pages you visit, including graphics. These files can be accessed easily.

Then there are temporary files on your hard drive. Various programs use them, and some are sloppy enough to not erase them at all when you shut down the program.

There is also, on Windows machines, a “swap file” where a lot of the data you see gets stored temporarily, even if you never save it to disk. Given the way Windows deals with this swap file some things can persist in it for quite a while after you're done with them.

Then there's slack. The operating system keeps track of what files are on what parts of the hard drive. When you erase a file on your computer the system only really erases the first letter of the file name. The rest of the file, all of the data, is intact. Besides erasing the first letter of the file name the operating system also marks the place(s) on the hard drive that the file occupied as available for being written to.

Well, there are plenty of off the shelf utilities that will “unerase” the files, unless they've been overwritten. In some cases a partially overwritten file can even be recovered. When Oliver North tried to erase the evidence of his Iran-Contra shenanigans he just erased the files. They were recovered with such a utility very easily.

Also, the hard drive space is broken down into sectors of a fixed size. But on a modern hard drive there are so many sectors that the system can't efficiently track each one. So the operating system arranges the sectors into “clusters.” A cluster is a bunch of sectors. Let's say that your hard drive has 512 byte sectors. And let's say that your operating system arranges these sectors into groups of 32. This results in 16 kilobyte (KB) clusters.

Let's say that you have a big word processed file, or a doity pitcha, that takes up a few clusters. You erase it after enjoying it. Some of the space it occupied gets overwritten. Say you overwrite it with some phone number you save, or a smaller text file. If this small file is only, say, 1 KB then it's saved in the first two sectors of the cluster. What's in the other 15 KB of that cluster? Why the file you'd erased! Most of the data is still there. This data that's still in the cluster but not really part of the file that currently occupies that cluster is called “slack” or a “cluster tip.”

So we have browser history/cache files, temp files, swap files and the contents of cluster tips keeping a sort of log of your activities.

Only something like a law enforcement investigation would usually bother to look at the cluster tips. But almost any techie can use some common software to do so. The clowns who are trying to scare people into buying their software are just going to clear the browser history and cache, clean up the swap file and wipe the free space, the cluster tips and unused clusters, on your hard drive.

For the browser history/cache just look to your browser and erase it all. One utility that will deal with wiping the free space and cluster tips, and for advanced users the swap file, is Eraser 5.1. And it's free! So you can use it instead of the stupid spam-ware.

The following E-mails were read out of order because they contain birthday greetings and congratulations on the program's 15th anniversary, as did some snail mail I read on the air. Let's hope that both Back of the Book and yours truly survive!

Subject: when I'am 54
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 13:28:47 EDT
From: Norman
To: rpm@glib.com

Well....I turn 54 this coming April.

I have no clue where the time went.

Enjoyed your show.

best regards,

Subject: Happy Anniversary Part 1
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 03:46:06 -0400
From: Susan (not from Long Island)
To: rpm@glib.com

Hi R. Paul -

So, as you can tell I'm in Virginia. I've been given a 3 week vacation by my eye doctors in New York while they try to figure out what to do to me next. Everyone in the Freepacifica movement including you seems so excited about tracing e-mails to their real senders and their geographic locations. I thought I'd give you something new to look at. This is my real server when I'm here, but since Nidiots don't know what remote e-mail is I can only use this account when I'm actually in VA. At this time of night I'm fairly certain I'm the only person dialed into this local access number.

The web cast is working. Don't know how it worked all Summer, since I was in New Jersey most of the time, and my girlfriend has had to work during your last few programs. You see Virginia is a right to work Commonwealth. So, the law says that employees get a minimum of eight hours off time between the end of one scheduled shift to the beginning of the next. You can't say my girlfriend's employer doesn't follow the law to its letter especially for employees who have achieved a certain amount of seniority meaning they're starting to earn a livable wage more or less. Do you know of any shop stewards who may be losing their current positions who are interested in moving to a rural, conservative community in the middle of nowhere. There's a Union here that needs a lot of help. LOL.

I'll be listening next time.


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

Back to the Back of the Book page

Back to my home page.

The contents of this Web page and subsequent Web pages on this site are copyright © 2001, R. Paul Martin