Back of the Book — August 18, 2012

It's Friday, August 31, 2012. 21:27, and I've updated this page with a a bit about the “Meshworm” that we talked about on the air, and the list of pages updated before this program. Previously I'd put in a link to the official WBAI page about the elections that are currently ongoing. The original top of this page follows the arrow. ⇒ Oh, the Middle Third is almost over! This time, late August, used to be called “The Silly Season” by newspaper people. All sorts of bizarre stories got published, mostly because there was a paucity of real news at this time of year. Well, we have some real news, but we may also have a “Silly Season” piece as well. Check back for updates.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do, and I've recently updated all of that.

The next regular WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, at a location to be announced.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, at Alwan-for-the-arts, 16 Beaver Street, 4th floor, in downtown Manhattan. This was to be the big meeting where the LSB considered, and probably approved, the radio station's FY13 budget. Well, we did consider the budget.

The faction was there to play. And they played. Former WBAI Program Director Bernard White, who is suing Pacifica and is also on the LSB, brought up a motion that said that the LSB urged the General Manager not to sign a lease extension. And it also called for WBAI to abandon its transmitter and antenna facilities located on the Empire State Building and find lower priced facilities that would not result in the signal having less strength or range than we have now.

Well, this was just a stupid motion designed to sound good to the seriously uninformed. If the General Manager doesn't sign a lease extension WBAI will have no place to broadcast from. Of course Bernard White may well want to have the station housed in his basement, but even that isn't possible.

WBAI can't just pick up and move. A radio station needs to have its space prepared so that all of the electrical and acoustic necessities are available. And just moving the equipment costs money. Back in 2005, we had an expert on Manhattan real estate come in and give us estimates. The estimate for a move to a place that WBAI could eventually own was way too high. A half-assed move, he estimated, would cost at least $1,000,000. Even if the move could be done for half that cost, WBAI doesn't have that sort of money hanging around. WBAI isn't even able to break even yet. So right there this is not something that could be done, and finding a place to move to before the lease runs out would be very unlikely.

The proposal about finding a place for the station's transmitter and antenna other than its current position in the Empire State Building, a place where the station wouldn't suffer a signal degradation, simply defies the laws of physics. A powerful FM radio station broadcasting its signal close to ground level would also cause a whole lot of interference, and the FCC would have something to say about that.

So the faction played around with that nonsense. Luckily the motion got voted down.

But the faction had wasted a lot of time through this long meeting, and the Vice Chair had allowed it to go on for too long. In the end when the station's FY13 budget came up for a vote it failed to pass. The vote by then was seven for and eight, all faction operatives, against.

The WBAI FY13 budget will go to Pacifica National Finance committee on Tuesday, August 21, at 8:30 PM (ET). You can go here and listen to it live, if you want.

At a previous meeting the WBAI 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 newly revamped 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. And you can see the status of the streams at any time by clicking here. The stream was working at 02:53 this morning. The station has a Flash stream here, make sure you enable Javascript so it can work for you.

New WBAI stream! WBAI has put up an experimental stream for the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. This is a brand new, experimental stream. So if you have one of those devices you might try the link out. And let us know how it works for you one way or the other. That way the folks implementing it can iron out any kinks in the system.

WBAI is archiving the programs! Just go here and you'll be able to listen to this program any time for the next couple of months. You may need to scroll up one line to see the audio archive. Let me know if you find this feature useful.

If you want to listen to any part of the WBAI archive click here to go right to the archives. 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. Or to see only the two shows in this time slot click here.

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

In the table on the archive Web page Back of the Book and Saturday Morning With the Radio On 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!

In the Summer of 2009, there was a Pacifica National Board meeting held in New York. Here's the Web page I did about this PNB meeting and the amazing things that went on at it.

And the PNB has also met in Houston from Friday October 9th, through Sunday October 11th, 2009. The official audio archive of that meeting is here. It was not disrupted as the New York meeting was, although some of the same miscreants got out there to say stupid things.

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) met in Manhattan the weekend of October 1-3, 2010. The audio has been posted for the first day of the meeting, the second day of the meeting and the third day of the meeting.

PNB Chair Summer Reese has been appointed interim Executive Director of the Pacifica foundation, which owns WBAI. Press relese here.

The 2012, Pacifica election cycle has begun! Want to be a part of it? Click here.

We talked about the “Meshworm” on this program. Quite the thing.

The Meshworm is a “synthetic earthworm” created by roboticists at MIT. The video shows what it looks like when it's moving around.

This thing is made of a plastic mesh tube for its body and a set of wires made of a nickel-titanium alloy for its muscles. When the wires are heated they expand, when they cool back down they contract. So by running an electric current through the wires expansion and contraction can be controlled in different parts of the Meshworm and it can crawl around.

The MIT scientists hit it with a hammer, stomped on it and threw it across the room and it still works. It's made of flexible parts, which seems to be what makes it so resilient.

In terms of practical applications this thing could get into places that would be very hard to get into otherwise. Maybe it could help to deal with sprung valves at refineries or nuclear power plants. And of course it might also have an application for spying. This latter is especially probable since this research was funded by DARPA.

R. Paul taking photographs on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
R. Paul on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

So Pickles of the North and I met a couple of relatives the day after the last radio program. Yeah, owing to my actual, legal marriage to Pickles I'm now an uncle, or an uncle-in-law, so something.

Anyway, after we had lunch with the young folks they took off on a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and Pickles and I wandered off to look at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. It's been a little while since we were last there.

I took a lot of photographs of the skyline of lower Manhattan, including the building at 120 Wall St. where WBAI is currently located.

Here's a photograph that Pickles took of me while I was contemplating what to photograph next.

Pickles of the North under her parasol in Brooklyn Bridge park
Pickles Under Her Parasol

While we were looking around and taking photographs from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade we saw some folks walking around below us, we figured that they must be in the rather new Brooklyn Bridge Park. So we went off looking to get into this new park.

We eventually found our way in by going to the old Brooklyn Ferry. The old ferry house is now an ice cream emporium where you can buy a single scoop of ice cream for $4.00. Yeah, we didn't try any of that.

But you can currently walk over a good portion of land that used to be occupied by warehouses and construction material yards. So here we see Pickles sheltering from the fierce mid-Summer Sun under her parasol. In back of her are the steps that have been put into this new park. They don't really go anywhere, I think they're mostly there for people to sit on during fireworks displays in the East River.

Pickles is sitting on a bench that's right next to the East River, and you can see that the similar benches stretch quite a ways down the river. At the end you can see parts of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. The famous Watchtower sign is to the right in this photograph.

We didn't get to see all of it, but we plan to revisit this park some time when it's not so blazingly hot and uncomfortable for Pickles. Yeah, we'll probably have a bunch of photographs from that excursion.

Since the last program the following pages on this Web site have been updated:

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even though the gag rule was lifted in 2002. 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.

One popular list the “NewPacifica” mailing list. Founded October 31, 2000, this list is sometimes lively and as of mid-2011, has 687 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 Saturday Morning With the Radio On 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 © 2012, R. Paul Martin.