Back of the Book — December 19, 2020

Oh, I've had a lot of stuff going on this past week. I've fouled up my E-mail, and I've had to replace hard drives, and I really needed to get more sleep than I did. We covered the below topics on this program. I'm hoping that I'll be able to finish writing this Web page soon. So check back and see if I managed tog et that done.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings?

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

The next WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, it will be held as a teleconference meeting, as the nine previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.

We held elections. I got reelected LSB Treasurer. Nobody else wanted to do it. Carolyn McIntyre was reelected Chair, Jack DePalma got elected Secretary and the Vice-Chair election is going on now, virtually.

Before the meeting I had put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

Some years ago 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. For some time I was unable to post archive blurbs, then I could, and then I couldn't again. You can take a look at it and see if I've been able to post anything on it lately. There are still some limitations, but I am assured that I can plug in the archive blurbs that were lost in the latest upgrade.

This is a link to the latest version of the official WBAI archive. The archiving software appears to have been at least partially fixed. To get to the archive of this program you can use the usual method: 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 only this Back of the Book program. Management has fixed some problems that we'd been having with the archives.

For programs before March 23, 2019, we're all out of luck. The changes that took place once WBAI Management took control of the WBAI archives seems to have wiped out all access to anything before that date in March. You'll have to click on the same drop-down menu as above, which says Display, and find Specify Date, it's the second choice from the top. You are then given a little pop-up calendar and you can choose the date of the program there. Then click GO and you'll see a list of programs that aired on that date. For those previous programs you can get the audio, but nothing else, since I can't post anything to those pages anymore. Yeah, it looks like they'll have some alternating program's name prominently there, but if you have the right date it'll be our program. Good luck.

Since the General Manager has banned Sidney Smith from WBAI he's not alternating with us on the air. There is another program in the alternate week's time slot.

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?

More to come.

sars-cov-2+syringes (141K)
Now We Can Fight Back

Vaccines are on their way. We talked about the Covid-19 pandemic and our lives within a bubble as we try to avoid death from a historic disease. Between the time when we recorded this program and the time when it aired the FDA gave an emergency approval to the mederna vaccine. So now we have two vaccines that can be used against this disease that has killed more that 300,000 people in America as we go on the air.

And all of this can be put at the feet of the Communist Party of the si-called People's Republic of China and U.S. President Donald J. Trump. There should be trials for all of them in the Hague. Yeah, it'll never happen.

With more vaccines we should all be able to get out vaccinations sooner, and that should save some lives. R. Paul and Pickles of the North hope that it's saving theirs.

The Winter Solstice will occur this coming Monday December 21, 2020, at 5:02 PM (ET). Pickles of the North talked about the Solstice and its meaning to people through the ages. More on the dates of the seasons and sub-seasons can be found here.

Many galaxies
A Small Snapshot

There may be another one of those strange things going on in the universe that scientists are being puzzled about and which may end up revealing something deeper, or not.

In the past, scientists have noticed little things in their data that have seemed not that significant, but which raised questions. And those questions have gone on to give rise to more research and then to, in some cases, a revolutionizing of astrophysicists' view of the universe.

Hipparchus measured the longitude of some bright stars. Comparing his measurements with data from his predecessors who'd lived hundreds of years earlier he found that the position of the star Spica was 2° different relative to the Autumnal Equinox from the value arrived at by his predecessors. Hipparchus' finding showed that the fixed stars were not as fixed as everyone thought they were.

In 1887, Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley conducted an experiment to see how the aether effected matter passing through it by measuring the speed of light through the aether at perpendicular angles. They found that the speed of light was the same at all angles. This led to the abandonment of the concept of the aether.

From the late 19th Century to about 1933, scientists, concluding with Fritz Zwicky found that when they measures the motions of stars near the outer edges of galaxies they found that the stars were moving faster than they should. This gave rise to the theory of so-called dark matter.

In 1998, two teams of scientists were trying to measure the rate at which the expansion of the universe was slowing down. They found that it was in fact accelerating. People are still trying to account for this with what's being called dark energy.

The latest seemingly little thing that's being noticed is a measure of how bright the universe seems to be.

We've talked in the past about the New Horizons spacecraft which was launched on January 2006, and which flew past the no-longer-a-planet Pluto in 2015. The spacecraft has done a number of experiments since the Pluto flyby. One of the ones that didn't seem all that big a deal was one where the scientists were measuring how dark the universe is. Turns out it's a lot brighter than they'd expected. From a piece in the Science section of The New York Times by Dennis Overbye we read that a scientist named Tod Lauer who's with the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory at Tucson, Arizona is saying that, "The universe is not completely dark" and he and the other scientists who did an experiment with the New Horizons spacecraft found evidence that empty space was about twice as bright as they'd expected it to be and they don't understand what this means. Since the spacecraft was just photographing distant Kuiper Belt objects the scientists used software to subtract the light of those objects from the photographs and looked at what was left. This is the most accurate of the background light of the universe yet done. The amount of light they recorded was approximately equivalent to what you'd see from a an open refrigerator a mile away.

There are a number of hypotheses about why the universe appears to be twice as bright as scientists expected it to be, including a technical screwup by the scientists themselves. The scientists only measured visible light in this experiment and now they want to measure how bright the background of the universe is in the radio, X-ray and infrared parts of the spectrum.

It's possible that if this data holds up we may be seeing yet another experiment that is going to drastically change how we look at the universe. Future research in this area could reveal new forms of matter, radioactive decays that hadn't been seen before or they might even reveal that there are a lot more stars and galaxies in the universe than the scientists think there are today. We'll keep watching this sky.

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 open list that no longer exists was the WBAI specific Goodlight Web based message board. It was sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as the bleepin' blue board, owing to the blue background that was used on its Web pages. This one had many people posting anonymously and there was also an ancillary WBAI people board that was just totally out of hand.

In June 2012, I ended up having to salvage the bleepin' blue board, and so I was the moderator on it for its last seven years, until it got too expensive.

Sometimes we used to 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, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

One formerly popular mailing 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 February 2019, it had 696 subscribers coast to coast, but postings on it had become very infrequent. During the WBAI Coup of 2019, traffic picked up on that board again, for a while.

Back in the day it sometimes also got a bit nasty. All sorts of things used to happen on that 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.

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

A WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2020, R. Paul Martin.