Web links related to the Back of the Book program of July 13, 2009

It's Sunday morning, July 26, 2009, 01:57, and this Web page is finished. I've updated this Web page with some more of the topics we covered on the program, and I'd already updated it with information on the PNB meeting that's happening this weekend and with information about applying to be on the WBAI Management Search committee. I'd previously updated it to show what's next in this LSB election, I've also posted the solar eclipse information. Before that I'd posted an E-mail from the Local Elections Supervisor, but that's in the past now. And what follows is the original top paragraph of this Web page ⇒ Well Summer's here at last. The rains have abated and we're feeling nostalgic.We're going to talk about a lot more than the below stuff tonight, I'll be updating this Web page soon so check back for updates.

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 next WBAI LSB meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 12, 2009, at 7:00 PM, at a location to be announced.

There was a regular meeting of the WBAI LSB held on Wednesday, July 8, 2009, at 7:00 PM, in the community room of Cathedral Parkway Towers, 125 West 109th Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues in Manhattan.

Once again the faction that's losing its grip on the radio station didn't make the huge, impressive showing they'd been threatening to make at these meetings. In fact there were fewer of them than has been usual of late. Part of the reason for this was that some of the FoBs were at a faction band rally where their faction boss was speaking at a front group of the so-called Worker's World Party.

The issue of waivers finally came up. The Pacifica Foundation bylaws allow for waivers which would allow folks who can't afford to donate $25 or 3 hours of work to WBAI over the course of a year to become members and vote, and even run for the LSB. The faction had been screaming that the bylaws require the LSB to issue waivers. Well, this is not the case. After the faction operatives had made this claim again I read the relevant part of the bylaws which say the LSB, “...may adjust or waive the contribution requirement for Listener-Sponsor Membership....,” at the LSB's discretion. Well, that shut that argument down.

The waivers issue has been on the agenda for months, but the FoBs have been disrupting the meetings and we haven't been getting to that part of the meeting agenda where we could take up the waivers issue.

Well, the deadline for being a member is July 15th. So any waivers would have to be granted by the LSB by that date. By the July 8th, LSB meeting this was not looking so likely to happen.

At this meeting I made a motion to move the creation of a Waivers Committee down in the order of business after the Finance Committee reports. We had a lot of things to get to, we haven't had a financial report since June 10, and I figured we could put a proposition to the faction operatives. With the Waivers Committee agenda item at a place on the agenda after some other business they could either disrupt the meeting as they've been doing and delay things and not get to that agenda item, or they could behave, let the meeting go on and get to that item. Unfortunately, my proposal got voted down with 3 for and 15 against.

So the faction disrupted, we went through business slowly and there were a number of roll call votes.

The Chair screwed up, in my opinion, by instituting a new policy of having people sign up for public comment. We've never had this before, and this sort of thing was a problem back in the days of the old hijacker PNB. I appealed the ruling of the Chair on this and the chair got upheld. Interestingly, this vote had me voting the same as the faction operatives on the LSB did.

Public comment went on, and lasted for the full 30 minutes required. Actually, it lasted longer than that. At the end there was one person left who had signed up but had not gotten to speak. The Chair asked if the LSB would allow an extra two minutes for this person to speak. The faction was eager to have another delay of the meeting, even if only for two additional minutes, and since most of the speakers were people they'd brought to the meeting with their lies they really wanted another speaker. The rest of the LSB didn't object. The final speaker turned out to be Jim Dingeman who has been an opponent of the FoBs for many years and who tore into them with some truthful comments that they did not want to hear.

Eventually we got to the waivers section of the meeting.

So a faction operative read out a motion from two years ago that had established a Waivers Committee then. After reading that out she added some parts to it. Essentially it called for some of the dates related to the current election to be pushed back so that the WBAI waivers could be given out. A substitute motion was proposed that asked the National Elections Supervisor to push back the date for those who wanted to run as candidates in this election but who couldn't afford the $25 donation to join Pacifica or couldn't put in the 3 hours of work, usually answering phones during a 'thon, required to become a member.

Some felt that both of these motions were out of order. I voted against both, the substitute motion passed.

The history of waivers at WBAI is interesting.

YearWaiver Applications

Most of the 2007, applications came from one person who had gotten them from selected attendees at a faction rally in Newark, NJ. It was flagrant cheating, and I suspect that if the faction had gotten their way this year they'd have cheated even more flagrantly and have tried to stuff the ballot box with hundreds if not thousands of votes that they'd basically manufactured.

This meeting ended at 10:15 PM.

The 2009, WBAI LSB elections are under way at Pacifica. So for the next number of months we'll be seeing the FoBs trying to regain a majority on the LSB and the PNB in an effort to reinstall their faction boss and turn back the clock for WBAI and Pacifica, which would of course result in the destruction of both, which may be exactly their goal.

At its January 21, 2009, meeting the LSB voted to hold its meetings on the second Wednesday of every month and/or the last Thursday of that month, subject to change by the LSB, which gives us 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 9:58 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!

The 2009 Local Station Board Elections Have Begun!

The Local Station Board (LSB) is the primary governance body for WBAI. When meeting as delegates the LSB members elect the Directors of the Pacifica National Board, which is the governance body for the entire Pacifica Foundation. The Pacifica Foundation owns WBAI.

Here is the official time table for this crucial election.

This election is crucial for the survival of WBAI and Pacifica. WBAI and Pacifica are in a precarious position right now as current Management attempts to reverse the death spiral that the station and the network have been in for years. If some bunch of chuckleheads gets a majority on the WBAI LSB they'll be able to change the composition of the Pacifica National Board and revert to corrupt, incompetent and malfeasant Management, they might even sell WBAI.

We need decent people on the WBAI LSB who will be interested in preserving the station, not in selling it or running it into the ground. I hope that the listeners will educate themselves about the candidates and vote for good ones.

The official Web page containing the list of candidates and their statements is here. You'll have to scroll down the list to find the WBAI candidates.

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) is meeting in New York City from Friday July 23, to Sunday July 26, 2009.

The meeting will be held at the Beekman Towers Hotel, 3 Mitchell Place, in Manhattan. This is really 49th St. and 1st Ave. The Beekman Towers Hotel is only tall building at that intersection. It's a couple of blocks north of the United Nations.

The PNB hopes to start Friday's public session at 6:30 PM. They'll be setting the start times of the public sessions for Saturday and Sunday when they get their agenda arranged. They may not do that until Friday's public session.

There's a Google Map of the location here.

There's an election going on in Pacifica, so there may well be a few candidates attending and speaking during the public comment sessions. Maybe you can get an idea of what some candidates are like by going to this meeting.

I'm sure that I'll be talking about this meeting, at least a little bit, on the next program.

WBAI currently has interim Management and needs a permanent General Manager and a permanent Program Director. At its June 25, 2009, meeting the WBAI LSB voted to establish a search committee. This committee will produce a list of people whom it will recommend to be hired as General Manager and Program Director.

The committee already has its LSB members on it, but at the August 12, LSB meeting we'll be voting in the 3 listener representatives who are not members of the LSB, and the 3 staff representatives who are not members of the LSB to complete this committee.

If you're not a member of the WBAI LSB and you want to nominate yourself for this committee just go here and fill out this form and then E-mail it to WBAI-LSB-Public-owner@yahoogroups.com or send a paper copy to:

WBAI Local Station Board
att: Chair
120 Wall Street, 10th floor
New York, NY 10005

The vote is going to be held on August 12, so if you want to be on this committee you'd better make sure you get it to the LSB Chair by August 11, at the latest.

From news reports I'm seeing it looks like the case for former Vice President Dick Cheney to be indicted for criminal wrongdoing is stronger than ever. He should have been impeached and removed from office years ago. Now he should just be tried, convicted and put in jail.

Oh, the next 'thon is almost upon us. We've been informed that the Summer 'thon will be happening from Monday August 3rd, to Saturday August 15th. We'll be pitching on the program of August 9/10. WBAI is in financial trouble and we hope that you'll help out. There is hope for WBAI now that some important changes have been made.

We hope that you'll pledge to WBAI while Back of the Book is on the air in August.

If you listen to the radio program on tape or via the archives you probably won't be able to pledge during the program, but you can send us a check ahead of time. A regular one year membership is $25. So, if you can, please send a check made payable to “Pacifica/WBAI” and send it to:

R. Paul Martin
120 Wall St. 10th floor
New York, NY 10005

And we hope that everyone who listens pledges or sends in a check.

I should also point out that we'll need help answering the phones. In order to answer the phones you'll have to get into the building. The building Management now requires that you get your name added to a list so you can enter 120 Wall St. So if you want to volunteer to answer phones for this 'thon you should call the WBAI switchboard at 1-212-209-2800 during business hours and let the folks in charge know you want to volunteer so they can put your name on the list. We always need more folks to answer the phones so if you want to volunteer to answer the phones for another program during this 'thon the above procedure is the way to do it.

So of course we talked about the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon.

Pickles of the North was a 12 year old kid at home with her parents on the night of July 20th, 1969. Of course everyone knew that the Moon landing was happening on that Sunday afternoon, and Pickles and her family had watched on TV as the Lunar Module Eagle had landed on the Moon at 4:17 PM (EDT).

The family was excited about this and of course it was just about the only thing on TV, even way up north. The landing was dramatic with Neil Armstrong having to take control of the Eagle in order to avoid landing in a field of boulders which the computer aided flight machinery was aiming them for, and it had seemed that the astronauts had just managed to land before their fuel ran out.

Live TV picture of Moon landing
Pickles' Family TV Showing the Moon Landing

And then the family waited for the astronauts to prepare to leave the Eagle and set foot on the Moon. There was a lot of anticipation in all of this and Pickles' father got out the brownie camera and cleared the coffee table so that he could set the camera down on it and get a clear view of the TV set. On this page you can see one of the three photographs that came out as Pickles' father took the shots without the aid of any ability to change the shutter speed or aperture of the camera, both of which are fixed on such cameras.

Pickles talked about how she and her brothers would look at the TV pictures and then run outside to look up at the Moon and just realize that there were people up there!

It was quite a night in that household, along with a lot of others.

I described my experience with the Moon landing. Basically, I hadn't known about it. For me the landing had occurred at a little more than quarter after three o'clock in the morning on July 21st, 1969. There was no news. I did not see a TV. I was in the Republic of Viet Nam.

By the time Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic descent down the Eagle's ladder to be the first humans to set foot on the Moon I had been at work at the Ho Nai railhead for some hours. It was only when I got to take a break to eat lunch that I turned on my little transistor radio and heard about the Moon landing over the Armed Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS). I was amazed. But I wasn't nearly as moved by the event as I would have been had I been home.

I was at once struck by the fact that something I'd been reading about in science fiction stories since I was a kid had actually happened and equally struck by the fact that I had not been able to follow it at all. From the AFRTS broadcast I hadn't known how much earlier in the day the landing or first excursion on the Moon had taken place. In fact I've only recently found out about just what the time frame was for all of those events.

The other G.I.s I worked with at the railhead didn't care. Some of them were hardly literate. The Viet Namese didn't seem to be paying attention to the events on the Moon at all, at least not that day.

So after lunch we went back to moving cargo around and that was it for me. I guess that I'm one of the rare people who can't say precisely what I was doing when the Eagle landed or when Neil Armstrong took that first historic step onto the Moon.

All right, we've been complaining about this new DTV thing since before it became the only broadcast TV game in America. And the more we have to deal with it the worse it gets.

On this program we talked about the difficulties we have in getting and keeping the channels. We don't have one of those new DTV sets, we have an old fashioned analog TV set to which we've attached a converter box.

The bottom line is that for us at least this setup is just not as good as the old analog TV broadcasts were.

We sometimes lose channels, mostly what passes for Channel 5 and Channel 9. But we also can have a hard time pulling in Channel 13, and that's something of a loss. Sometimes we can get it and sometimes it's nothing but a jagged, scrambled green mess, looking sort of like Astroturf in a high wind.

In order to get a channel back we have to rescan for all of the channels. We've never been able to get a single channel manually scanned in on this converter box.

The DTV signal can be affected by lightning, rain, other weather conditions and even people moving around in the apartment next door! Really, the woman next door has to use a walker and she's between us and the broadcasting antenna, and when she walks sometimes our picture breaks up. And if you don't have a clear view of the Empire State Building where the signals, mostly, come from you're seriously out of luck. Our DTV signal must come to us after having bounced all over half of Brooklyn!

Besides breaking up totally, the picture, and sound, will sometimes just freeze as the signal is lost for a split second or a little longer. So you can miss words and some actions this way. Not a great TV experience.

The latest fun thing we've found is that if the signal from a channel you're trying to watch is too screwed up, and you leave the channel on in the hope that maybe it'll clear up, the converter box blows away all of your channels and you have to have it automatically rescan them all! This takes about ten full minutes and if you're watching something on TV and they're about to get to a crucial part of the show, or if you're just tuning in to the beginning of the show, then you are about to miss at least ten minutes of that TV show.

Pickles of the North in Times Square
Pickles of the North and friend in Times Square

This is pretty maddening.

The only thing I've found so far that I like about DTV is the odd channel on 25.2 that shows traffic cameras around Greater New York. I've been able to look at these sorts of things on the Web for years, but for some reason seeing it on the TV set as I sit in bed is just sort of fascinating.

In the photograph you can see, just barely, Pickles of the North and her friend Joanne in Times Square. I had Pickles call me on her cell phone when she was approximately in position. I then turned on Channel 25.2 and I took a photograph. The arrow is pointing to Pickles who is wearing a yellow rain poncho, her friend Joanne is holding an umbrella. It was pouring rain when they stood there for this photograph. You can see a big drop of rain on the Times Square camera at the top center of the photograph.

Yeah, that was fun, but it doesn't compensate for the mess that the vested interests have made of TV.

I think that this DTV thing is all a plot to force everyone to get cable. Not only does it enrich the cable companies but it also makes the broadcast media very vulnerable to being shut down the second the government wants to do so. With cable there's no danger of a bunch of people setting up a pirate TV station to get some sort of different message out, even if only for a short while. Okay, I'm somewhat paranoid here but it's still awful that the TV setup that has been functioning well for the past 62 years has been essentially destroyed by this forced move to DTV.

On July 7th, there was a lunar eclipse. Pickles of the North and I went out at about four thirty in the morning to try and catch it but the sky was overcast, we even felt a couple of drops of rain as we looked for holes in the cloud cover. So we had to miss seeing this one.

We talked on the air about a big solar eclipse that's going to occur on July 22. This will be the longest solar eclipse of the 21st Century. It will only be visible in parts of the Pacific Ocean and Asia, but it will cross China and India, so a large percentage of the world's population will have a chance of seeing it.

This eclipse will last for 6 minutes and 39 seconds at a point over the Pacifica Ocean. Totality will start out off the west coast of India, sweep across that country, continue on through China and out into the Pacifica Ocean. For thousands of miles north and south of the path of totality people will be able to see a partial solar eclipse.

Since we're dealing with an event that's to the west of the International Date Line the time of it is a little tricky. It will occur on July 22, but that will be the time in Asia and the Pacifica Ocean. The event will begin at about 8:30 PM (ET) on July 21, for New Yorkers, and end at about 11:30 PM (ET).

For more on just where the solar eclipse will be visible from and for how long click here.

For a little more about the eclipse, including links to the photographs that will be taken of it, click here.

Wikipedia has a page about this eclipse too.

Here's a Web page with a list of sites some of which may stream live video of the eclipse.

And here's another Web page with links to live video streams of this solar eclipse. Of course all of this depends on the weather and in some parts of Asia it's the rainy season, which could result in cloudy or even overcast skies that would give a lot of folks pretty much the same view as Pickles of the North and I got of the lunar eclipse earlier this month.

In the time after a couple of previous programs we've gone searching for the exact site in Manhattan where a movie poster was shot. In that movie poster a woman is standing near a lamp post in a park. The movie was released in 1950.

You can read the start of this saga here.

And you can read about the next episode of it here.

jeanette_park (42K)
New York Viet Veterans' Plaza/Jeanette Park

Well, after our previous program we got out of the station before dawn and we had a pretty good idea of where to look, at least. We went to what is now the New York Viet Nam Veterans' Plaza. Back in 1950 this was Jeanette Park.

I only found out the previous name of this park after searching through some old maps that we have at home. And I've apparently lost my best map of lower Manhattan from the '50s. Maybe it just disintegrated. These aren't some sort of collectible antique maps or anything, these are just street maps of Manhattan that I've had for decades.

Jeanette Park was named after the Jeanette, the flagship of an arctic expedition that ran into serious trouble in the years 1879-1881. Basically, the ship was crushed in the ice, forcing the crew to walk hundreds of miles to Siberia in order to save themselves. Most of the crew died in the Arctic.

This oddly shaped piece of land had originally been Coenties Slip, a man made inlet along the shore of Manhattan where ships could tie up and be surrounded on three sides by land, which made loading and unloading them more efficient. There used to be a Wall St. Slip which served the same purpose. That's why the ass end of Wall St. in front of WBAI's studios flares out as it does.

Coenties Slip was filled in around 1835, and the resulting park had all sorts of things going on in it including a big oyster house. It was named Jeanette Park in about 1885.

So our long search for the location where the movie poster was shot seemed to be at an end. It looked like my plan to take essentially that same photograph 59 years later was going to work out. But architecture got in the way. The park had been built up in the 1970s, and parts of it were raised. In addition, quite a number of tall buildings have been built in the area over the past 59 years. Then, in 1982, Jeanette Park was chosen as the site for the Viet Nam Veterans Plaza, and the memorial there was dedicated in 1985.

potn_vnvp_wall (10K)
Pickles in the right spot

The movie poster shows a very different place. In 1950, Jeanette Park was flush with the ground at South Street, which still forms the eastern border of the Viet Nam Veterans' Plaza. But everything has now been raised by several feet, with the eastern wall of the plaza rising to 8 to 10 feet above South Street. In 1950, the Third Ave. El still ran right by the park. The el is long gone. Also those newer buildings that are in the way made it difficult to figure out where we were in relation to the 1950, movie poster.

Luckily, the tops of some buildings just barely stick up above the newer construction and we were able to orient ourselves. But the photograph of Pickles standing right about where we figure the poster was shot from shows only the eastern wall of the plaza.

So I took a photograph from on top of the wall looking in the same general direction as the movie poster and that's what you see above. To the right you can see Pickles standing in the same spot as a woman in the movie poster, but the wall takes up most of the photograph.

The Viet Nam Veterans' Plaza is ironically not very wheelchair accessible. It's full of steps and ups and downs. There is one ramp along the southern edge of the plaza, it sure looks like an afterthought. And even with the ramp not all of the plaza is accessible.

The memorial is the green glass structure. It has excerpts from letters and diaries from folks who were in Viet Nam etched into the glass. I couldn't actually read any of it. The glass just makes it so hard to read. Maybe it's just my aging eyes.

There's a sort of corridor leading up to the side of the glass memorial. The corridor is flanked by plaques that hold the names of all of the New Yorkers who died in the Viet Nam War. I know that I knew at least two of the names on those plaques. And it's just luck that my name isn't on one of them. Maybe one day I'll go there and read those plaques and hope that I don't find any more names of people I'd known on them.

So our quest for the site of that movie poster is over. It turned out to be a bit of an education in how lower Manhattan has changed over the decades. I couldn't get the photograph I'd hoped for, but it was interesting. And if I can ever post that movie poster without getting sued I will.

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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Back to my home page.

The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2009, R. Paul Martin.