Back of the Book — August 2, 2014

It's Friday evening, August 15, 2014, 19:40, and I've updated this Web page with the piece I'd talked about on the air about the malware threats to USB flash drives. Previously I'd updated it with news of the cancellation of the August 13, LSB meeting, a bit about the Straphangers Campaign's assessment of the #2 train and with links to the pages I'd updated in the fortnight before this program. The original top of this page follows the arrow. ⇒ Oh, jeez, we're pitching again. Well, there's no way around it. The radio station is in pretty bad financial shape these days. We plan to get to the below topics and maybe more, but what we get to will depend on how much we have to actually pitch during our 55 minutes of air time, assuming the MTA doesn't send us all around Manhattan again. We will sadly report the passing of two former WBAI producers on this program. 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, August 13, 2014, at 7:00 PM .... This meeting was cancelled because no meeting place was found for it.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, at 7:00 PM at The Theater for the New City, at 155 1st Ave. between East 9th and East 10th Sts. on the lower east side of Manhattan. Yes, we met in “the Community Space room.”

The meeting started nearly an hour late, and I was the one who showed up and made the quorum. People had planned to argue over that hardly readable 46 page “melding” of every one of the “sustainability plans,” and their “notated,” bloviations again. I think it was good that we didn't even get to that.

As is unfortunately so often the case 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.

Maybe because the meeting started so late, maybe because one faction operative has been shooting her mouth off saying things about people not coming to the May meeting, there was a lot more discussion about the “excused absences” portion of the meeting, where the LSB routinely excuses the absence of everyone who hasn't attended. And then we voted and not all of the faction operatives got excused this time. If you have three unexcused absences in a row you're off the LSB. I suspect that mostly the actions at this LSB meeting were just people venting.

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 a number of workers have quit their jobs in disgust. The people who want to sell off WBAI started on their destructive path with the firing of the Executive Director at a critical time. The Executive Director, Summer Reese, said she had 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 barricaded herself and the National Office workers in the National Office along with some supporters. Yeah, Pacifica got some great publicity from all of this.

The disputed Executive Director 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 been ineligible for CPB funds, which have been a significant part of every station's budget.

UPDATE: There have been lawsuits filed, and judgments rendered in the cases brought by the minority PNB members against the actions of the majority PNB Directors. I'll keep this running battle updated on the appropriate Web page.

Margot Adler

Former WBAI producer Margot Adler died this past fortnight at the age of 68. She had been battling cancer for about four years.

Margot had started doing radio at our sister Pacifica station KPFA in the 60s. She came to New York and was News Director at WBAI for some time, and she was the founder of the programs Unstuck in Time, and Hour of the Wolf, the latter of which is still being produced by Jim Freund. Starting in 1979, she started doing reporting for NPR, and then became a regular there. Her reports were often heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. She did a program called Justice Talking for a few years on NPR.

Margot brought a New York City view to a lot of the people who listen to NPR around the country, and she also brought a bit of that WBAI edge to NPR. She once had Pickles on the air to talk about a Star Trek movie.

She also wrote a number of books, including Drawing Down the Moon, and Heretic's Heart: A Journey Through Spirit and Revolution, which were about her adopted religion Wicca. She was a Wiccan priestess.

Besides the Wiccan books she also wrote Vampires Are Us and Out For Blood a Kindle single.

She was a good producer, and a nice person. We all miss her.

Eddie Ellis

Eddie Ellis passed away from a heart attack this past fortnight. He had been the producer of On the Count, a program about prison related issues here on WBAI for years. A former member of the Black Panther Party, he'd spent 25 years in prison for a murder that he always maintained he did not commit. He was an organizer of inmates in prison and lobbied for educational opportunities for those incarcerated. Upon his release he worked on the outside for prisoners' rights, and social justice in general.

Eddie Ellis was 72.


This is another pitching program. We're tasked once again with raising $500 on this program. So we will try to do that. I hope we can get a bunch of members to pledge.

our $500 pitching goal

This is the WBAI Summer '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.


The Ebola virus.
The Ebola Virus

The most widely spread epidemic of the Ebola virus is going on right now. We plan to talk about this, if we can, on this program.

USB flash drive
A USB Flash Drive

USB flash drives became the new version of the floppy disk within a short time of their introduction. Now they're used to store all sorts of digital data, and they're very useful for moving files from one computer to another if the two computers aren't conveniently connected otherwise.

Well, there may be a problem in all of this.

There's an article on that says that researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell have found that there are some very big security holes in the firmware that USB flash drives run on.

To most people it seems as if the USB flash drives are just passive containers for digital data. But they have all sorts of things going on in them. For instance, they have what's called wear levelling protocols which make sure that data gets written in such a way that the drive doesn't wear out from having only the first few MB of storage written to over and over again. There are other things going on there as well. All of this functionality is in the firmware.

Nohl and Lell say that they will be showing a proof-of-concept malicious software they call BadUSB next week at Black Hat USA 2014. Their discovery potentially allows a USB flash drive to be infected with malware, which can do anything from erasing data, to turning a computer into a zombie on a botnet, or just about anything else. An infected USB flash drive would be able to infect any computer it was plugged into, and that computer would in turn infect all USB flash drives plugged into it.

They say that the problem is bigger than just the USB flash drives, however. They say that the malware can infect anything attached to a USB port, including keyboards, printers and smart phones that are plugged into the computer.

The really bad problem here is that there currently appears to be no defense against a USB flash drive exploit like this. You can't erase it from the flash drive, and it is very unlikely, Nohl and Lell say, that the malware will even be detected. So is this the end of the now ubiquitous USB flash drive? Or is this maybe the end of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) itself?

It is thought that the NSA loves these kinds of tricks.

The broken number 2

The Straphangers Campaign has issued its latest ratings for New York City's subway lines. The #7 train was was found to be the best line, because it comes more frequently than trains on the majority of other routes. It also delivered above-average performance in three other areas: delays caused by mechanical breakdowns; seat availability at the most crowded points during rush hour, and subway car cleanliness.

The front of a #2 train.
A #2 Train

What subway line came in at the bottom of the list? Why the #2 train. The Straphangers Campaign said that the #2 train performed below average on regularity of service, delays caused by mechanical breakdowns, and seat availability during rush hour. Yeah, we take the #2 train to get to WBAI's studios at CCNY.

I should note that our recent, unpleasant experience getting to the studios was an artifact of the #1 train. But we've had the #2 train drive us crazy too.

The Straphanger's Campaign has the report on the #2 train here. The assessment is that the #2 train is not as regular as the average subway line, and the cars on the #2 train break down more frequently than on the average subway line.

You can go to their site and browse through the report on the entire subway system. See how the subway lines you take fared in this assessment.

For us it doesn't really matter, we have to take the #2 train. Better than not having a train to take at all, but it can be frustrating.

Uncle Sidney at the Merry-Go_Round
Uncle Sidney at the Merry-Go_Round

We've been to Coney Island more this past fortnight. One day we even met Uncle Sidney there.

Here's Uncle Sidney either photographing or shooting a video of the horses on the new B&B Carousell (that's how they spell it). I hope we'll have the time to talk about this tonight, but it is a pitching program, so there are not guarantees about what we'll get to.

Pages that have been updated this past fortnight:

My Web page which links to the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance committee.

The July 19, 2014, Back of the Book program's Web page.

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

Back to the Back of the Book page

Back to my home page.

The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2014, R. Paul Martin.