Web links related to the Back of the Book program of May 18, 2009

It's Sunday evening, May 31, 2009, 20:08, and this Web page is finished. I've updated this page with more about what we did on this program as well as the now completed mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, I've already updated the date and place of the postponed WBAI LSB meeting, I'd previously updated this Web page with the total pledged to the program. I've also fixed the photograph of the UFO landing strip. We're pitching on this program, maybe we can still make it worth your while to listen. If we get enough pledges soon we can have more radio program. We plan to get to everything below and more, but pitching programs are always subject to sudden changes. You never know what might happen.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of many of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do, and I've recently updated this stuff a tiny bit.

There was a sudden Town Hall meeting held on Monday, April 13, 2009, at 7:00 PM at The Fortune Society, 630 Riverside Drive at 140th St. in Manhattan. Here's a flyer that was passed out at the event.

The April 15, 2009, LSB meeting had to be cancelled because the elevator at the place where we were going to hold it broke down and this made it not wheelchair accessible. An LSB meeting was held in executive session on April 20, 2009, at El Taller Latino Americano, 2710 Broadway, 3rd floor (SE corner of 104th St), in Manhattan.

The next WBAI LSB meeting will be held on Thursday, May 28, 2009, at 7:00 PM, in the community room of Cathedral Parkway Towers, 125 West 109th Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues.

There was a meeting of the WBAI LSB held on Thursday, March 26, 2009, at the 6th Street Community Center, 638 East 6th St. between Aves. B & C, in Manhattan.

We wrangled about the agenda, and we then went on to have a decent, productive meeting.

The General Manager gave more than one report, much of it written, and those of us on the National Finance Committee drove home the fact that WBAI and Pacifica are in very serious financial straits.

We created a working group to set up the LSB's next mandated Town Hall meeting. and we got comprehensive reports from the new Programming Committee. Unfortunately, the news they brought is not good.

The meeting went on for quite a long time. Faction operatives objected, but the long meeting allowed us to get things done. The faction isn't pleased when the LSB gets things done.

The LSB has voted to hold the rest of its meetings on the following schedule:

All of these meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

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 9:39 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!

We are pitching on this radio program! If you can please call 1-212-209-2950 during the radio program and pledge some amount of money to help keep Back of the Book on WBAI and help keep WBAI on the air.

UPDATE: Well we pitched on this program, all right, and we got 30 pledges and made a total tally of $1,964. This was considerably better than we'd been doing in some of the most recent 'thons, and is more like the sort of tally we got in days gone by. Thanks to everyone who pledged. And thanks to all who took the phone calls in the tally room.

The Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope Before the Repairs

photo credit: NASA

On this program we talked about the current mission to repair and update the Hubble Space Telescope. When we went on the air that mission was going very well. And, as I said, I hope that they can eventually get the whole Hubble Space Telescope back down to Earth when its operational life is over so it can be mounted in the Smithsonian.

The Astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis captured the Hubble Space Telescope, then they started to repair it, and then they got some really tricky repairs done. In the end Astronauts John M. Grunsfeld and Andrew J. Feustel got the 19 year old Hubble Space Telescope fully repaired and operational.

UPDATE: Not only is the Hubble Space Telescope repaired and operational again but the Space Shuttle Atlantis and crew returned safely to Edwards Air Force Base on Sunday, May 24, 2009.

John M. Grunsfeld and Andrew J. Feustel working on the Hubble
Astronauts John M. Grunsfeld and Andrew J. Feustel on the final Space Walk to Repair the Hubble Space Telescope

photo credit: NASA

In the course of the repairs the Astronauts even used some parts that had been designed for the James Webb Space Telescope, which is to be launched some time in 2013. These more modern and compact electronics should help the Hubble to keep on performing ground breaking science experiments for at least the next five years.

The Astronauts did bring back the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 that had been replaced. At least that part of the Hubble will eventually reside in the Smithsonian Institute.

During the press conference that was held after the Atlantis landed one of the NASA officials said that they would be studying the part of that camera that had been exposed to space for the past 16 years. This will give them a good idea of the micrometeorite flux in the vicinity of the Hubble's orbit. This sort of study is important because the very small bits of stuff flying about at great speed in space just can't be detected from the Earth. In fact anything smaller than about four inches across just won't show up on the NORAD radars. While something as robust as the International Space Station doesn't have to worry much about these tiny missiles they do pose potential threats to Astronauts who only have a space suit between themselves and the hard vacuum of space.

The newly installed Wide Field Camera 3 can see light from the infrared to the ultraviolet, so the Hubble Space Telescope will now be able to see things that it hadn't been able to see before. I think we can expect a lot more great science from this amazing instrument.

For an overview of this mission and links to an extensive gallery of photographs of the mission go here.

Also launched on Thursday were the European Space Agency's (ESA) Herschel and Planck missions, which will also be doing some pretty fabulous science.

We talked about the Washington D.C. Council passing a piece of legislation that recognizes same gender marriage in that city. After the Mayor of Washington D.C. signs it the Congress will have 30 days to review the measure before it can become binding.

The Council passed this measure by a vote of 12 for and 1 against. Who was the one who voted against recognizing same gender marriages? why none other than former Mayor and convicted crackhead Marion Barry. This is the same Marion Barry who used to sit on the Pacifica National Board (PNB) when the old hijacker PNB was trying to poison Pacifica.

In other news we reported that the Governor of Maine has reversed his position and signed a bill into law that will allow same gender marriages in Maine. He is quoted as having said, “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law.” Well, good!

We also talked a bit about some new discoveries about Homo Floresiensis, the tiny, extinct people whose skeletons were found in the Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia a few years ago.

Now that scientists have been allowed to examine the skeletons it's becoming pretty obvious that this is a separate and previously unknown species of hominin, very unlike Homo Sapiens Sapiens the scientific name for we modern humans. Some scientists had been contending that the tiny people, who lived a stone age existence on that island up until maybe as recently as 13,000 years ago, were either individuals who had diseases or else a tribe of modern humans who had suffered from downsizing because they were on an isolated island. Dwarf elephants on that island had pretty definitely suffered what's called “island dwarfing.”

The evidence that's mounting up includes not only their much smaller brain size, but also the wrist bones that are more like a chimpanzee's than a modern human's, the “Hobbits'” lack of a chin, their lack of an arch in their feet, which would make it hard for them to run or jump, and various other skeletal differences from modern humans.

This opens up a whole new area of inquiry regarding everyone's ancient ancestors, of which Homo Floresiensis appears not be a part, and there's also the question of how they managed to make and handle the stone tools that were discovered in their cave with the small brains they had.

The already interesting area of anthropology has gotten even more interesting, even heated in some cases, with these discoveries.

And if these little folks were walking around out there then why is it that modern humans are thought to have not radiated out of Africa until some 50,000 years or so ago? The skeletons of early modern humans are found from about 195,000 years ago. Much more primitive hominins radiated out of Africa much earlier than that, the remains of a settlement has been found in Georgia in southwest Asia that shows Homo Erectus or maybe even the more primitive Homo Habilis living there about 1.75 million years ago. Maybe modern humans did start trekking to other parts of the world earlier than is currently thought, but no one has found the evidence for that yet. All of humanity is thought to have been reduced to about 10,000 or fewer individuals about 74,000 years ago. That's also when the most recent super volcano eruption on Earth occurred. Maybe those modern humans just all got wiped out from the effects of the super volcano and left very little evidence of their presence in places that no one has been able to look at yet.

The UFO landing strip on Wall Street in wet weather

Here's a photograph I took of the lit up UFO landing strip in front of WBAI's studios at 120 Wall St. as Pickles of the North and I were approaching the station before the last program.

I think they had it lit up because they were expecting a UFO that night.

Anyway, I thought a photograph of it wet would look interesting.

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. UPDATE: The bleepin' blue board has had to add a step for folks to get onto it because it's under attack by spambots. When you click on the above link you may be asked for a username and password. Type in Username: poster Password: enternow

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 © 2009, R. Paul Martin.