Back of the Book — March 14, 2015

It's Saturday evening, March 14, 2015, 19:02, and I have updated this Web page with some information that I hadn't know when I'd originally posted this Web page. There was a major screwup with this program. It did not air on WBAI! I had posted it, but what aired was the program from the previous month. I do not know why this happened. I am not pleased about it. I have updated this Web page with a link to that Web-legal archive that I created from the original program by stripping out the music. What a mess. What disappointment and frustration. The original top of this page follows the arrow. ⇒ This is another pre-recorded radio program. I am still just too sick to get in to the studios. So here's a new program that is free form recorded radio. I plan to get more up here about the program shortly. I also have an archive ready to post because the official WBAI archives are just shot. We've been told by Management that they'll be fixed real soon now. So check back in and you may well see this Web page not only updated, but completed.

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, April 8, 2015, at 7:00 PM at a location to be announced.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, March 14, 2015.

There was no Treasurer's Report at this meeting. As usual I put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

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.

Here is WBAI's current Internet stream. The stream does appear to be working at this time.

WBAI is archiving the programs! WBAI has permanently switched to a new archive Web page. I appear to have succeeded in getting an archive blurb posted to that official archive page.

This is a link to the official archive of this radio program, unlike the first time this particular program was aired, this file does not have audio problems. The problem is that the station did not play the program I had sent in! So the voice part of the program, linked to below, is the only copy of this program around.

For those who want to hear the entire program, minus the copyrighted music, I have made a good archive of this radio program, you should be able to get it by clicking here.

Since the General Manager has banned Sidney Smith from WBAI there's no telling what's on in the alternate week's time slot anymore.

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.

Bring Back Uncle Sidney!

Our friend, fellow WBAI producer and Saddle Pal Uncle Sidney Smith has been banned from WBAI by General Manager Berthold Reimers. The General Manager will not say why. He won't even tell Sidney why he's banned! This is grossly unfair to Sidney and constitutes abuse of Staff. Why did Berthold ban Sidney?

There's a posting here about it. More to come.


Itís pi day, 3.14. Next year will be an even better pi day because it could be said of it that itís 3.1416, which is a pretty good value of pi for most purposes.

In 1949, a team led by George Reitwiesner and John von Neumann came up with the first 2,037 digits of pi with a calculation that took 70 hours of computer time on the ENIAC computer. At the top of this program I recited pi to 50 digits. As it turns out, pi to 39 digits is accurate enough to calculate the volume of the known universe with a precision of one atom. Wow.

Albert Einstein was born 136 years ago today. I wonder if having been born on pi day at all influenced his career choices? Merry birthday, Al.

Einstein published a number of scientific papers early in the 20th Century, among these was one about gravity, called the General Theory of Relativity, which heíd worked on between 1907 and 1915. General relativity says that gravity warps space-time. In fact this theory was tested during the solar eclipse of 29 May 1919. During the eclipse the Sunís glaring light was obscured by the Moon, and astronomers were able to photograph the eclipse and the area of space near the limb of the Sun. And there they found that a star appeared to be in a position different from where it should have been. This showed that the light from the star had been bent by the Sunís gravity having warped space-time.

Albert Einstein 1904
Albert Einstein in 1904

This is what made Albert Einstein famous to the world at large.

Some years later Einstein and other physicists extrapolated this effect of General Relativity to a phenomenon that was called “gravitational lensing.” Gravitational lensing occurs when light from very distant objects, like galaxies in the early universe, is bent in such a way that itís effectively magnified. It was only in 1979, that gravitational lensing was actually observed.

Now something else that had been predicted has finally been observed. In 1964, Norwegian astronomer Sjur Refsdal first proposed using time-delayed images from a lensed supernova to study the expansion of the universe. Astronomers have been looking for such a phenomenon since then. Last week astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope announced that they had observed a supernova the image of which had been split into four separate pieces, called an Einstein Cross.

This powerful lensing effect is the result of the light from the supernova, located about 9.3 billion light years from Earth, passing through galaxy cluster MACS J1149.6+2223, and right around a massive elliptical galaxy which is about 5 billion light-years from Earth.

Astronomers discovered this Einstein Cross in November of last year.

hs-2015-08-a-web (129K)
MACS J1149.6+2223

Patrick Kelly from the University of California, Berkeley said, “It really threw me for a loop when I spotted the four images surrounding the galaxy — it was a complete surprise.”

The current four image display will fade away in time, but scientists have been running computer models on this galaxy cluster and they say that they expect this same image to reappear in about five years. Their computer models indicate that this particular Einstein Cross also appeared about 20 years ago. The reason for the repeated manifestation of the images over such a long time frame is owing to the different paths the light has taken before it reaches the Hubble Space Telescope orbiting Earth.

One of the people working on this project, Steve Rodney of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland said, “Our model for the dark matter in the cluster gives us the prediction of when the next image will appear .... We already missed one that we think appeared about 20 years ago, and we found these four images after they had already appeared. The prediction of this future image is the one that is most exciting because we might be able to catch it. We hope to come back to this field with Hubble, and we'll keep looking to see when that expected next image appears.”

All of this is very interesting in and of itself, but the phenomenon of the time delays and the calculations the scientists are using to predict them are allowing the scientists to build a model of the dark matter in the elliptical galaxy and the cluster. This will give more information on dark matter which makes up about 74% of the universe and which is, so far, very mysterious stuff.

Pickles of the North talked about two books she's read about women and the space program.

The Vernal Equinox will occur next Friday evening, March 20, 2015, at 6:45 PM. I am looking forward to Spring. You can see the dates for the seasons and sub-seasons here.

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 formerly popular list is the “NewPacifica” mailing list. Founded October 31, 2000, this list has been moribund for a couple of years due to de facto censorship by the group owner. As of early 2015, it has 693 subscribers coast to coast, but postings on it are very infrequent now.

Back in the day it sometimes also got a bit nasty. All sorts of things used to happen on this list and official announcements were 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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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2015, R. Paul Martin.