Back of the Book — May 10, 2014

Yes, we're pitching again. But it really is necessary. We plan to talk about various things tonight, some of which is referenced below, and we probably won't talk all that much about Horseshoe Crabs at Coney Island, because there's an entire part of this Web page devoted to that. Oh, we really hope we can make the goal that's been set for us on this program tonight. 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 some of that.

I have also posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next WBAI LSB meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at 7:00 PM at The Theater for the New City, on the 1st floor in “the Johnson room,” at 155 1st Ave. between East 9th and East 10th Sts.

The WBAI LSB met last on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 7:00 PM at the offices of the Legal aid Society 111 Livingston St, 7th floor, in downtown Brooklyn.

This LSB meeting was mostly taken upwith discussions about the “sustainability plan” mandated by the current PNB and a discussion of the current crisis with the majority on that PNB claiming to have fired Pacifica's Executive Director Summer Reese and Ms. Reese's insistence that she is not fired, and her occupation of the National Office. We let everyone in the room have a say, even people not on the LSB. Some of those people has interesting ideas, and some were really clueless. One of the crazies who's been around for a couple of years now was attacking me, saying that Robert's Rules of Order says that I'm not allowed to make motions and amendments at the LSB meeting. Yeah, this is the sort of stuff I have to put up with.

The LSB did not get to a Treasurer's Report at this meeting, but I put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

In the end the LSB, at the urging of the Chair of the WBAI Community Advisory Board moved to urge WBAI Management to get nine more phone lines installed in the station ASAP. One faction operative, Cerene Roberts, tried to amend that down to four lines. I think it was mostly an amendment made out of spite. Her amendment got voted down, although all of her fellow faction operatives voted for it, and the motion urging the installation of nine phone lines got passed.

The phone lines are used to contact listeners who haven't fulfilled their pledges yet or who need to be contacted about problems with premiums and such.

At a previous meeting the WBAI LSB voted to hold its regular 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.

Because WBAI was forced out of its studios by the flood waters' destruction of the building's electrical system we still have this alternate, temporary stream for the radio station! I do not know how long this emergency stream will be up for. If this stream isn't working let me know.

WBAI has put up a stream for the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. 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. There is also another version of the archive here.

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!

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.

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) met in Washington, D.C. February 7-10, 2014. The big news is that they have mandated that there be no negotiations with the four candidates for the PSOA for 60 days.

Given that the PNB has had a change in its membership that has affected the balance of power, this postponement of any negotiations may actually be a ploy by the people who want to sell WBAI to make that sale more likely. It is possible that a PSOA would allow WBAI to come back after a few years, but it would also not result in a big cash influx to the rest of Pacifica, and that is what some people at other Pacifica stations want. Well, things are pretty much up in the air with WBAI right now.

You can listen to the public parts of the quarterly PNB meeting by clicking on the below links:

The Friday session
The Saturday session
The Sunday session
The Monday session

Chaos and fighting continues on the PNB and at the Pacifica National Office. The people who want to sell off WBAI have started on their destructive path with the firing of the Executive Director at a critical time. The Executive Director, Summer Reese, says she has a contract with Pacifica and that the PNB can't just violate that and fire her the way that they did. So the Executive Director is barricaded in the National Office along with some supporters and the PNB members who want to, among other things, sell WBAI are exchanging barbs with her. Yeah, Pacifica's getting some great publicity from all of this.

The disputed Executive Director has issued a press release giving her side of this episode. Here is her press release. Luckily for the Pacifica stations Ms. Reese worked to get the CPB filings done by the March 14, deadline despite having been fired the day before. Had she not done this work Pacifica, and all of its radio stations, would have missed out on all of the CPB funds for which they are currently eligible.

UPDATE: A lawsuit was filed by some of the PNB Directors asking a judge to grant a temporary restraining order, among other relief. The judge's decision is here. Everyone has another date in court before the same judge about the rest of the complaint on May 6.


our notice that we're pitching
We're Pitching Tonight!

This is a pitching program. As you can see, we're tasked with raising $500 on this program. So we will try to do that.

So for this WBAI Spring 'thon, 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.

If you want to pledge to the program via the Web it's best to do so while we're on the air, you need to go here and pick the amount you want to donate, then click on “Add to cart,” and then be sure to pick Back of the Book as the favorite show from the drop down menu. Otherwise your pledge won't be counted towards the program.

WBAI is fighting for its life right now, and the amount of money raised in this 'thon will be crucial for the station's survival.


Hey, Craig Ferguson is leaving The Late Late Show in December. We've been watching him for years. We probably won't watch whomever replaces him.

The changing skyline of Coney Island
Coney Island Ride Construction in Mid-Spring

Pickles of the North and I went to Coney Island again this past fortnight. Yeah, in nicer weather it is a tempting place to go hang out. The construction of the roller coaster ride they're calling the “Thunderbolt” continues. Some officious guy was warning us to not walk on the Boardwalk anywhere near the fence around the construction site because they were lifting heavy steel just then. They weren't lifting anything, and hadn't been for quite some time. You give some people a little, plastic orange flag and they get very vociferous.

Horseshoe Crab encrusted with mussels
Horseshoe Crab With Mussels Attached to its Shell

On this Coney Island excursion we were very surprised to see some Horseshoe Crabs showing up right on the public beach! Pickles thinks that they had lost their way and were trying to get to the so-called Coney Island Creek, which is on the north shore of Coney Island, and which used to be the small body of water that separated Coney Island from the rest of Brooklyn before most of that waterway was filled in.

The Horseshoe Crabs were around long before humans filled in that watery gap, and so they may have been going there since the glaciers deposited Coney Island in its current position.

This particular Horseshoe Crab pictured above has a large number of mussels attached to its shell. The mussels are sessile feeders and just look for something to latch on to so they can open up under water and filter small things out of the passing stream. They are usually found on rocks, but the relatively hard shell of the Horseshoe Crab appears to have been good enough for these two colonies of mussels.

Pickles of the North
The Heroic Pickles of the North — Savior of a Horseshoe Crab

The mussels are not helping this particular Horseshoe Crab to survive at all. The Horseshoe Crab has a shape that allows the waves to go right over it when the creature comes up to the shore to mate. But these mussels change the Horseshoe Crab's hydrodynamic profile. They also weigh enough to cause the Horseshoe Crab problems when it gets out of the water and has to carry their weight around on the beach. So this Horseshoe Crab could hardly move, and later on in the water we could see it getting shoved back toward the shore and also getting tumbled over and over under the water as the force of the tide caught the colonies of mussels and they acted like unwanted sails on the Horseshoe Crab.

We tried to get this Horseshoe Crab back out into the water. They are very vulnerable to human predation when they're on the shore and they are especially so in broad daylight.

At first we hadn't seen that this was a Horseshoe Crab, owing to the mussels on it. Then we thought it was dead. But after looking at it and photographing it a bit I saw that it was alive, trying to slowly move under the weight of those mussels.

We figured we should get it back into the water. I tried to toss it out into the water, but that did not quite work. Then Pickles of the North took off her shoes and socks, rolled up her pants legs and waded in to the surf, picked up the Horseshoe Crab and walked it out a short ways to water that was at least several inches deep.

Last we saw that Horseshoe Crab was still safely under water.

Another Horseshoe Crab on the beach at Coney Island
The Second Horseshoe Crab We Found That Day

Above is a photograph of a second Horseshoe Crab we found maybe 20 yards from the first one. I think that both of these were females. This one only has barnacles stuck to its shell. They're also sessile feeders that usually attach themselves to rocks. This one was walking around better, and we decided against intervening in its life. We definitely decided not to try to get this one back under the water when a guy walked right past us, between us and the Horseshoe Crab, and never noticed it. Most people will think it's flotsam washing up on the shore or a rock and not really look at it.

A Horseshoe Crab that was killed
Horseshoe Crab Killed by Humans

We walked along the beach and when we got a little past the Steeplechase Pier, by Stillwell Ave., where the beach gets most populated, we found the Horseshoe Crab pictured to the right. It wasn't just dead, it had been killed. Clearly only a human being could have done this to such a harmless creature. It looks like someone just stomped on the Horseshoe Crab as hard as they could. This was the sort of thing we were so concerned about when we saw them crawling up on this very populated public beach.

The Horseshoe Crab is not an endangered species, yet, but their numbers are declining due to human activities, destruction of their environment as well as actions like the one pictured to the right. They are currently classified as being “Near Threatened.”

Waxing Crescent Moon
A Waxing Crescent Moon on a Mid-Spring Morning

Horseshoe Crabs have compound eyes like insects, but they also have some other light detecting patches on their shells. One of these detects moonlight. We wondered why the Horseshoe Crabs were showing up on a sunny morning. And then Pickles spotted a waxing crescent Moon off in the east. Did this tiny amount of moonlight in a bright, sunny day draw them out of the depths and onto the dangerous beach, or would they have come up there just then anyway?

The Horseshoe Crabs mate in May and June. They are especially active during the Full Moons of those months. They are fascinating creatures. They evolved around 440 million years ago and played tag with the Trilobites in ancient oceans and crawled along and mated on the shores of Pangea. Look around nearby Atlantic Ocean beaches and inlets, you may be able to see these ancient creatures, and you may even see them mating. Yeah, we've gone on about that sort of thing before. But, really, you might enjoy seeing these creatures in real life.

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.

We like to stay interactive with our listeners. Here are the various options for you to get in touch with us.

You can also send me E-mail.

And now you can even reach me on Twitter Twitter logo

WBAI related links

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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