Web links related to the Back of the Book program of October 6, 2008

It's Sunday night, October 19, 2008, 20:31, and this Web page is finished. The missing former WBAI producer has been found, and I've updated this Web page with the address of the next LSB meeting. What's the difference between a depression and a Bush recession? The lipstick! We plan to get to the below topics and more on tonight's program. Check back for the updates.

We are glad to report that the former WBAI producer who had been missing has returned to his nursing home.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of many of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do.

The next sort of regular LSB meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 15, 2008, at 7:00 PM, at the Cathedral Parkway Towers Community Room, 125 West 109th St. Located in the middle of 109th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. The #1 Local stops at 110th Street and Broadway, 1½ blocks away. The M-4 bus stops at Amsterdam and 110th, as does the M-11 bus. The M-7 bus stops at 106th Street.

The first meeting of the WBAI LSB last month was held on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008, in the Assembly Room of the Judson Memorial Church, just south of Washington Square Park.

We elected a new Secretary, Gail Blasie. She's not a member of the WBAI LSB but the bylaws allow non-members to serve as Secretary.

We postponed a whole lot of things, but we did pass a motion regarding excused absences in committees. And then we went into a committee of the whole to discuss the budget. Oh, these are interesting financial times for WBAI.

The second meeting of the WBAI LSB last month was held on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008, in a meeting room at the Broadway Housing Communities (at the Dorothy Day Houses), 583 Riverside Drive between 135th & 136th Streets in Manhattan. This was actually the second venue for this meeting. The first turned out to be not wheelchair accessible so it had to be changed at the last minute.

We finally got to the budget at this meeting. But of course this couldn't be a meeting that simply focussed on the budget.

The faction currently somewhat in charge at the radio station had started agitating a few days before the meeting, sending out press releases and E-mail spam, as well as initiating a telemarketing campaign consisting of a recorded message from one LSB member telling people that the current majority on the WBAI LSB was out to fire the Program Director. Their E-mail said in part, “On Wed., Sept. 17, the WBAI Local Station Board will consider a motion to abolish the position of Program Director, held by Bernard White -- in essence, a political purge.”

Of course this was a lie. What was on the agenda was the approval of the WBAI FY09 budget, which was absolutely essential for the survival of WBAI. There was no motion about abolishing the position of Program Director.

Now at various times people have said that this ought to be done, but it was not a motion at this meeting. When it's been brought up in the past the faction that's sort of currently in charge at the station didn't make a big telemarketing push to get people to come to the meetings. But this time they did, when there was a crucial budget motion pending. Given their push I suppose we should refer to them as the “Friends of Bernard” from now on, FoB for short.

So we had a whole bunch of people, some of them crazy, many of the belligerent, showing up at this meeting all fired up about something that wasn't scheduled to happen. Many of these people carried signs that decried the “purge” and called LSB members who weren't part of the FoB mob racists.

So the agenda got moved around and after a while the end time for the meeting was set at 10:00 PM from the original 9:30 PM. The problem there was that at 9:30 PM I, as Treasurer, had to get on a conference call with the Pacifica Foundation's National Finance Committee and report on what WBAI had done regarding the budget. And then that National Finance Committee would have to vote on what to send to the Pacifica National Board, which would meet in less than 48 hours.

The WBAI Finance Committee, which I Chair, had brought some motions that proposed that WBAI's FY09 budget allow for some increased income based on previous years' experience. These requests had originally been made by WBAI's General Manager Anthony Riddle. Mr. Riddle and I had argued for these proposals at more than one meeting of the National Finance Committee and had been rebuffed. So the attempt was made to have the LSB put its weight behind the recommendations.

Nobody on the LSB opposed these measures, but the FoB crowd had to do their version of political theater in that relatively small room. So we had LSB members and some of the audience members vying for the title of most supportive of the current Program Director, even though he wasn't on the agenda.

So at 9:30 I went out on the terrace of this place and I was able to get the National Finance Committee to delay the consideration of the WBAI budget. While I was out there I could see and hear chaos from inside the meeting room. The FoB mob was screaming and yelling and being threatening. It was like a throwback to the LSB meetings of 2004, when some of these same people behaved threateningly towards LSB members and used violence at meetings.

Eventually I brought the motions, which passed the LSB easily, from the LSB to the National Finance Committee. And the National Finance Committee voted all of them down and passed another motion that recommended tighter control of WBAI's budget.

After the LSB meeting finally adjourned I ended up pacing back and forth on the sidewalk on Riverside Drive doing this teleconference meeting on a cell phone borrowed from another member of the LSB.

Well, this weekend the Pacifica National Board met and restored the provisions that the LSB had proposed.

The bottom line is that WBAI now has a very tight budget to live up to and that budget is going to be monitored for compliance on a monthly basis. And what was the FoB bruhaha really about? Well, I suspect that it's the opening of their campaign for the 2009, LSB elections which will be ongoing a year from now.

A reporter was at the September 17, 2008, WBAI LSB meeting and he's given his take on all of this here.

WBAI has a program schedule up on its Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out.

WBAI has an official Web stream of what's on the air at any time! You can go here and pick which type of stream you want! If this stream isn't working let me know. The stream was working at 11:07 PM last night.

WBAI is archiving the programs! Just go here and you'll be able to listen to the program any time for the next couple of months. When you first go to the Web page you'll only see the WBAI programs for the past 7 days. If you want to see older programs you can click on one of the “See ALL Shows” buttons.

Back of the Book is now one of the programs that you can download, as well as listen to on line.

I'm glad to announce that with a new person doing the archives there have been some positive changes. In the table on that Web page Back of the Book and Carrier Wave are both in the Show column. The “Date and Category” column shows the date of the program. After the program I go in and write the details of the program and say which program it is. Of course I'd recommend that you just listen to both programs in this time slot!

Wall St. Dollar Sign
One of the more stable dollars on Wall St.

And so we are living through the Crash of '08. The economy started to unravel because of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, which was caused in large part by bankers getting people to lie on their mortgage applications.

Seems like a small thing, getting people who can't really afford a mortgage to get one by inflating the declaration of their incomes and resources on the mortgage application. But this was one of those little things that ended up really mattering.

The current economic crisis partly answers the question, “What if everybody lied on their mortgage applications?” Of course not everybody cheated and lied, but apparently enough did. The bankers and bank clerks and bank officers who were actually coaching some of these people to lie, or who knew that the applications contained lies about incomes or who knew that others in their bank were doing this stuff in order to generate lending volume are seriously to blame.

Some people were playing the real estate market with these tactics. They would apply for a mortgage on a pricey house and lie about their incomes to get a mortgage. They would get a balloon mortgage or some other mortgage that starts out with a very low rate of payments. The plan would be to hold the house for a year or so, paying relatively little on the mortgage, and then sell the house for a significantly higher price than they'd paid for it, called “flipping” the property, and pay off the mortgage, pocketing the difference. Bankers knew that people were doing this but went along for the profits that they'd make.

Of course all of this happy horseshit went not that badly for as long as the real estate market was going up. But once the real estate market began to falter flipping properties was no longer profitable. People began to bail out on their mortgages. And quite a number of people who were simply stupid about money matters had also gotten into mortgages that they couldn't pay once the rates went up, so they defaulted too. So suddenly there were a lot of mortgages being defaulted on. It was like a house of cards falling apart.

Why would a bank make loans that it knew couldn't really be paid off? Well, a lot of them just took their high risk mortgages and bundled them and sold them to others! And the others who bought all of this junk debt wanted to get insurance on the mortgage bundles. But getting insurance would require certain questions about the bundled mortgages to be answered. Since nobody wanted these bundles looked into they went to something called credit default swaps, which are actually just unregulated insurance. And once the mortgage bundles started to default the banks holding those now-smelly bags went to get paid off by their insurers. Well, the insurers were totally unable to pay off on these garbage mortgages owing to the magnitude of the defaults. So not only were the banks suddenly without money but the insurers were also suddenly bankrupt!

A lot of illegal stuff has caused this collapse. This all started with people trying to get around regulations in the Reagan administration. The current global collapse is the end result of Reganomics!

I think that if buildings or bridges collapse people look at whether or not the engineers, architects, construction companies and maybe the people doing maintenance on them should be going to jail. I think that a pretty large number of people need to to to jail for this currently unfolding crime.

Well, for the last program we had to report that the Large Hadron collider had had an electrical problem which made the folks at CERN shut it down for repairs until next year. This time it's the Hubble Space Telescope that's in trouble.

The Hubble's Control Unit/Science Data Formatter - Side A has gone bad and so the entire telescope has been shut down while NASA scientists figure out how to switch all of those functions over to the redundant Side B.

But Side B has not been tested since before the Hubble was launched in 1990. This big switch is also very complicated.

As a result the Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope that was supposed to launch on October 10, will now not launch until some time next year. The NASA scientists have to see what they can do with Side B and it's possible that they may need to bring an entirely new Control Unit/Science Data Formatter up to the space telescope as a replacement, along with the other things that will need to be replaced.

So we've got dark matter and dark energy, now a scientist has proposed that there's something called “dark flow” that's affecting the universe.

We'll also talk about a guy from Senegal who was able to get refugee status in the United States because of anti-gay bigots in his native land.

We'll also be talking about the Pacifica National Board meeting held last fortnight. Lots of things done there will affect WBAI for the rest of this new fiscal year. This was Pacifica Executive Director Nicole Sawaya's last meeting. Here's her farewell letter.

Ms Sawaya invited the PNB to come along on her “Reality Budget Tour.”

And the outgoing Executive Director also had something to say about Program Directors too.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even now that the gag rule has been lifted. However, there is the Internet! There are mailing lists which you can subscribe to and Web based message boards devoted to WBAI and Pacifica issues. Many controversial WBAI/Pacifica issues are discussed on these lists.

Probably the most popular 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 and official announcements are frequently posted there.

You can look at the NewPacifica list here, and you can join the list from that Web page too. If you subscribe to the “NewPacifica” mailing list you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list.

There is the option to receive a “digest” version of the list, which means that a bunch of messages are bundled into one E-mail and sent to you at regular intervals, this cuts down on the number of E-mails you get from the list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.

This list also has a Web based interface where you can read messages and from which you can post your own messages.

There is also the more WBAI specific “Goodlight” Web based message board. It is sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as “the bleepin' blue board,” owing to the blue background used on its Web pages. This one has many people posting anonymously and there's also an ancillary “WBAI people” board that's just totally out of hand.

When the computer in Master Control is working we sometimes have live interaction with people posting on the “Goodlight Board” during the program.

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Carrier Wave alternates with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

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

You can also send me E-mail.

WBAI related links

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2008, R. Paul Martin.