Web links related to the Back of the Book program of November 16th, 1998

It's Tuesday November 24th as I write this. I've gotten some more links up about the Leonid Meteor showers, and I've put up a photograph from the trip my male ex and I took to Greenwich Observatory in 1976. Hey! I've had more root canal! Hey! I'm in pain again!

The Royal Greenwich Observatory, Britain's oldest scientific institution, closed on Oct. 31, 1998. It was one of the most famous and historic scientific institutions in the world. The “Greenwich Meridian,” which marks 0° longitude, and was therefore the determiner of the eponymous Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which evolved into Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), was based on this observatory.

I went there once in 1976, and got to straddle the Greenwich Meridian and look around the observatory. However, the only photograph I have of it is of my male ex standing on the Prime Meridian of the World. The photograph is used with his permission.

A lot of the things we take for granted about time, various celestial phenomena, the location of things on the Earth and navigation were based on this observatory and the work of its resident scientists. Looks like another piece of history is being thrown away.

The Leonid meteor shower is due to descend upon us! It's really supposed to hit its height on Tuesday morning, but the TV weather people said that the weather will be best for observing the shower only on Wednesday morning. The best thing to do is to try both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and maybe Thursday morning as well, just for luck. Although they're predicting a big meteor storm this year, peaking on Tuesday morning, they can't be certain about these things, and even a non-peak meteor shower can be great fun to watch. One hint: dress warmly.

The most complete set of links I've found covering this meteor shower is at Astronet.

There is also some good information at Astronomy magazine.

Actually, the shower is now long over, but here are some reports on it from observers who were actually able to see it, as opposed to everyone in the WBAI listening area who was under clouds all the while.

I'll be one of the people speaking at the Forum on Unions and the Media being held on Monday, November 16, 1998, at PS 41, located at W. 11th St. & 6th Ave. in Manhattan. This event is being run by the group “Save Our Station.”

The event will go from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. The suggested donation is $5.00, and some of what we'll be talking about will be WBAI Management and the steps it's been taking to try and bust the Union at WBAI.

I'll be speaking as the Chief Steward of WBAI's Union. We're part of Amalgamated Local 404 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

I've been looking around the Web and the site for The American Museum of Natural History is an interesting place to spend some time.

I've noted in the past that someone was putting some selected WBAI programs on the Web. Well, he wrote to me that, “Last show you mentioned something about the possibility of the station hiring someone (full-time?) to handle their web presence. Being currently under-employed, destitute, but highly skilled i can think of no other job i would rather have. I've been doing things on my own the past few years to bring bits and pieces of WBAI to the web including live realaudio of selected shows which i had to stop due to lack of resources (specifically cpu cycles and bandwidth) and an often non-existant audience (but feedback indicates this would change with a 24hr live feed). If you know anything about the application process or what's happening with this please let me know. It would be a dream come true.”

Unfortunately, WBAI Management isn't saying anything more about this and there's every possibility that if they do allow this that it'll be handled by people who are chummy with the rulers of The Pacifica Foundation which owns WBAI. So I guess it'll be some California pal of someone's who will get this job, if ever the Pacifica brain trust tumbles to the fact that it would be a tremendous boost for WBAI and Pacifica to get the station on the Web.

As I said, I'm having a tremendous amount of pain from a tooth that had its filling fall out. When it was re-drilled and refilled last Wednesday it was a hell of a painful experience. Here's someone's temporary remedy for a toothache. I do not recommend or endorse this “remedy!” I present it only as a curiosity.

Given the amount of time that I've been enduring this excruciating pain I'm probably going to have to get another root canal job done. Oh, the pain! Oh, the expense!!

As I said on the program, I'm putting the letter from the listener signing himself “Feaster” up here. I'll also have a short statement after it.

Dear Paul,

How about something on your website re subject venture?

Every time I hear the pitch, I want to toss the radio; in fact, I often turn it down. What happened to the 8th Ave. equipment purchased with listener funds? Did Sidney and another(minimally) lose their jobs in the move? In this vein, I'm bemused to hear the pitch indicate a need for staff as well as equipment. Also strikes me odd a capital campaign would raise funds for staff. I think we already know the operating costs at 120 are higher, not lower, than at 505.

At one of the SOS or more general free radio campaign sites, I know I read about the fiasco at WPFW-a cost 'overrun' on designing new studios that produced a couple hundred thousand dollar deficit, and speculation that hiring this same firm for the Wall St dive was a ploy to create a deficit as pretext for PF takeover. Could this kind of bill be what the capital campaign is really about?

I'd appreciate hearing from you on this, or reference to the subject on your next show with appropriate links created to access information or opinion on the matter.


Most of that equipment did indeed make the move with us to 120 Wall St. But we have also bought some new equipment for the station. Part of the problem is that both old and new equipment had to be installed and wired. WBAI Management tried to cut corners on this and the bottom line to a long story is that the equipment is only just done getting installed and wired. There are still problems with the installation though. Also, people need to be retrained on the equipment since the rewiring changed a lot of things.

The Union has been successful in keeping the Operations Assistants from being fired. At one point late in the negotiations WBAI Management had announced that they were going to fire the Operations Assistants and rehire new people into their jobs. This would, of course, have been illegal and shows what sort of bad faith environment WBAI Management creates at the station. In the end, however, Max, Sidney and Tom have retained their positions with a few changes and some new training.

Some of us have been concerned from the beginning about problems related to the move. Paramount has been the concern about the finances of the move. After refusing for several months to reveal what the costs related to the move were, WBAI General Manager Valerie Van Isler issued a vague set of figures which showed that everything was fine. And then last week she told a hastily called Staff meeting that the station was now about $200,000 in the red. Van Isler blamed the deficit on premiums for the fund raiser, not on the move.

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.

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 #11

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 © 1998, R. Paul Martin