Back of the Book — November 21, 2015

It's Sunday night, November 22, 2015, 22:25, and I have updated this Web page with the information about how to get a ballot for the current election, a bit about the stretch marks on Phobos, my statin drug adventures, and even a little photograph of a sunflower that has survived into the second half of November. There is maybe one more thing to add, but not tonight. The original top of this page follows the arrow. ⇒ We are rushing to get out. I hope I update this Web page.

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, December 9, 2015, at 7:00 PM at a location to be announced.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, November 11, 2015, at 7:00 PM at the ARC Central Harlem Senior Center, 120 West 140th St., New York, NY 10030, between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in Manhattan.

The meeting started almost an hour late. We had a presentation from the Local Election Supervisor, and the LSB voted to hold an executive session meeting after the public portion of the next LSB meeting.

There was a very small 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, 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. We can no longer tell if the stream is working without testing every possible stream. Good luck.

WBAI is archiving the programs! WBAI has permanently switched to yet another new archive Web page! This one is more baffling than the previous one. We have to put archive blurb copy in before the program airs. The person in charge of the WBAI Web site says, “If you fail to create a playlist, your show may not show up in the archives at all.” So we made an archive blurb long before the program.

This is a link to the latest version of the official WBAI archive To get to this program you'll have to click on the drop-down menu, which says “Display,” and find Back of the Book on that menu. We're pretty early in the list, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Once you find the program name click “GO” and you'll see a list of programs, most of which are Back of the Book programs. I will see if this can be made easier to get to, but they've only recently implemented this new page and I haven't had time to see what I can do with it. Good luck.

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.

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.

Peace for Paris symbol
Another Symbol of the Current World War

One hundred years ago the first conflict that was named a World War was going on. We've since had the Second World War, the Cold War, which was also waged world wide, and now we really do seem to be engaged in a world war of another sort.

The First World War could be said to have started due to trickery and the blundering of empires. The second World War was started by fascist states that were trying to take over the world.

I think that currently we are seeing the world war against religious fundamentalist imperialism. This is probably not going to be a short term war. This war could go on for decades or even centuries. The imperialist forces unleashed in the year 629 when Abu Kasem ibn Abdullah began his campaign to take over the city of Mecca were mostly successful in taking over territory until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Other religious fundamentalists would also like to take over the world and convert all humans to their superstitions by force. In the future there may be even more players.

The attacks in Paris this past fortnight are only one of the many incidents and battles of this war, as were the events of September 11, 2001.

I got this Web page updated a little late, but I'll still note that we entered late Autumn on Sunday, November 22, 2015, at 12:58 AM (ET). For even more on the seasons and sub seasons click here.

Atorvastatin molecule
Now I'm Taking This Stuff

Over the past fortnight I've been to see my primary care physician. My rather strict diet has apparently been working all right. My HbA1c test was 5.7%, which is quite good for someone who's had diabetes for 13 years. My cholesterol is 138, which is just fine for my particular situation.

That graphic on the right is of an Atorvistatin molecule. I had been on Simvastatin for nearly 13 years, but my doctor has put me on this new statin drug. He says that it will do what my previous statin drug was doing plus it will have an anti-inflammatory effect on my blood vessels. Yeah, I'm in something of a fight to keep the plaques from gaining more of a foothold than they already have. My blood test numbers were generally quite good all around.

Pickles of the North has been a little concerned about my weight loss over the past several months that I've really been strict about my diet. So we saw a dietician, and she looked at my weight and said that I probably should consume about 500 more calories a day than I've been doing, in order to keep my weight stable. Yeah, I'd say the diet's been pretty strict, all right.

So we're watching out for any extra fun things that might result from the switch to this new statin drug.

We'd planned to talk about my latest adventures regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on this program, but we just weren't able to fit it in. We'll try to regale everyone with all of that fun stuff on a future program.

Our friend Lynn Samuels used to sign off her program saying she'd be back next week, “If I don't get run over by a truck.” We mostly do not assume that we'll be on in the next fortnight, but I suppose that I do need to watch out for those trucks Lynn was talking about. Other than that, and being an old man, I am not doing so badly.

The stretch marks of Phobos.
Phobos Showing His or Her Stretch Marks
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

It looks like Mars' larger moon Phobos is showing signs of having had a hard satellite life, and with worse to come.

It's stressful being the innermost moon of Mars, orbiting only about 3,700 miles above the surface of the red planet. And although Mars' gravity is only about 37.8% that of Earth 3,700 miles is damned close. By contrast Earth's Moon averages a distance of about 239,000 miles from the Earth.

Scientists who study Phobos have theorized that the innermost Martian satellite is actually a “rubble pile” type of celestial body. That is, it's not solid, but consists of basically a whole lot of rocks and other debris left over from the formation of the Solar System that have come together through gravitational attraction but which are not connected to each other in any other way. And then there's the surface of Phobos.

The surface of Phobos is actually more interesting than the satellite's innards. That rubbled interior is surrounded by a powdery exterior, called a regolith, that is thought to be a little more than about 100 yards thick. A NASA article on Phobos' delicate condition quotes Erik Asphaug Ph.D. of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe and a co-investigator on a recent study of Phobos as saying. “The funny thing about the result is that it shows Phobos has a kind of mildly cohesive outer fabric,” which actually is serving in the capacity of a container that's holding that rubble pile together. Dr. Asphaug said, “This makes sense when you think about powdery materials in microgravity, but it's quite non-intuitive.” I think it's quite interesting!

You basically have a lot of dust forming a bag that's very weakly holding those rocks together in the airless and very low gravity environment of Phobos. Who knew that fine dust could do that?

Getting back to those stretch marks on Phobos, that really is looking like what they are. The idea that the grooves seen on the satellite's surface were stretch marks caused by Phobos being pulled on by Mars was first put forth in 1976, when the Viking spacecraft sent images of Phobos to Earth. But at that time it was thought that Phobos was a solid rock and Mar's gravity was too weak to start pulling it apart.

One theory about the observed grooves on the surface of Phobos was that they were artifacts of the impact that formed Stickney crater, which is visible on the lower right of the image, just to the right of the white part. But the grooves don't line up right for that.

Now, however, much more is known about these sub-planetary bodies, and there are any number of asteroids that are thought to be rubble piles drifting through space.

So what appears to be happening is that Phobos' interesting regolith is losing its fight against the gravity of Mars. The stretch marks show up where the rocky rubble of the interior of Phobos is being pulled in the direction of Mars and the regolith can't stop the movement and subsides into the spaces opened up by the stretched interior.

So the bottom line is that the stretch marks indicate that as Mars pulls Phobos closer by about 6.6 feet per century that the satellite will fall apart completely in about 30 to 50 million years. When that happens the material that currently forms Phobos may get stretched out into a planetary ring around Mars. It won't be a very spectacular ring, such as what Saturn has, but it'll be there, and Phobos will not be.

A ballot.
Maybe Your Vote Will Save WBAI

The WBAI/Pacifica elections are ongoing. There are two separate elections happening for folks at WBAI right now. One election is to elect listener members to the WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) and the other is to elect Staff members to the WBAI LSB.

If you are a member of WBAI due to having contributed $25 or more to the station by August 17, 2015, or having done more than three hours of work for the station as a volunteer over the year ending in August 17, 2015, then you are eligible to vote in this election.

If you have not yet gotten a ballot then you need to get one right away!

The Local Election Supervisor, Gene A. Johnson, Jr., is telling people that if they do not have a ballot yet then they should write to him or call him to get a replacement ballot.

You can E-mail him at:

His phone number is:
(347) 927-0701

Click here to fill out a Ballot Request/Replacement Form.

The Local Election Supervisor says that the deadline for voting is “11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on 04 DECEMBER 2015.” So you should contact him ASAP, and probably vote on-line, which is pretty easy to do.

Another Coney Island flower photograph.
A Mid-Autumn Sunflower

Yeah, I'm posting another photograph of a flower.

This Sunflower was blossoming when Pickles of the North and I were down at Coney Island this past fortnight. It's probably not going to last long.

Pickles said that this sunflower is blowing us a kiss goodbye as we go into late Autumn and all of the flowers disappear.

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 used to alternate with us before Berthold Reimers banned him from the station and still won't tell him why, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here. Uncle Sidney also has his own Web site where he posts all sorts of things, including his podcasts.

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.