Back of the Book — January 30, 2021

Here we are in mid-Winter with a big storm heading our way and a fierce pandemic threatening everyone. We talked about how Americans got so stupid, about the pandemic, about brutal homophobic punishments in Indonesia, and Pickles of the North talked about the Frost Fairs that used to be held on the frozen River Thames. I will probably update this Web page a little bit at some point.

You can now listen to this program on the official WBAI Archive.

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, February 10, 2021, it will probably be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 10 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

We held elections for Director, which will actually be held on-line. The election for Vice-Chair went on, virtually, later last month and Dee Dee Halleck is the new Vice-Chair of the WBAI LSB. The LSB meeting had an executive session attached to it. I maintained during the meeting and after it that this was a violation of the rules laid down in the Communications Act. Nothing that was actually confidential was discussed. It'll be interesting to see what the legally required report out says. That's required to be posted by January 27.

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?

The SARS CoV 2 virus
More Variants, More Danger

The Covid 19 pandemic numbers have gotten particularly bad.

Covid-19 cases in the whole world reached 101,879,986 on Friday, and global deaths reached 2,201,401. In America the number of cases as of Friday was 25,874,892 and the death toll in America was 435,452, so 22,516 people have died of Covid-19 in America since our last program one week ago. The death rate is only a bit higher than it was a week ago. By the time this program airs on Saturday morning all of those figures will be higher.

The Trump Administration left with no plan for the distribution of the various vaccines. President Biden has made a bold claim that he's going to get 200,000,000 doses for Americans. How much further along would the vaccination program be if only Trump and his pals had behaved normally and planned out how to distribute the vaccines, and that plan ought to have included obtaining a lot of vaccine doses. Trump passed on an extra 100,000,000 doses at one point.

The more infectious and maybe more virulent South African variant of Covid-19 is in the United States, and Dr. Fauci says that the vaccines will need to be adjusted due to the mutations observed in the virus. He said that scientists, will have to be nimble to be able to just adjust readily to make versions of the vaccine that actually are specifically directed towards whatever mutation is actually traveling at any given time. This is how viruses behave. Well, I say behave, but of course a virus isn't really alive. It's just a bit of very complex organic chemistry. Parts assemble into a virus and the virus goes out into the world and does what it does.

The last Frost Fair in 1814
The Last Frost Fair on the Frozen Thames — 1814

Pickles of the North read a piece about the Frost Fairs that were held on the River Thames in London long ago when the river would freeze solid. The first one was held in the year 695 CE. The final one was held in 1814 CE.

They were actually rare events. Only abut 24 of them are known to have been held, but the Londoners had a great time when it was possible to hold one. The Thames tended to freeze over in colder times and this was aided by the river being broader and shallower, thus moving more slowly than it did after the Thames Embankment was constructed. Also, the old London Bridge, which was replaced in 1831, tended to catch flotsam that came down the river and that also helped to slow the water and let it freeze. Of course the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent global warming it has caused has undoubtedly played a role in ending the era when the Thames would freeze over to any appreciable thickness at London.

As illustrated in the accompanying image by painter Luke Clenell people brought just about everything down onto the ice during a Frost Fair. Clenell was in London on February 4, 1814, the date the picture is said to represent, and he probably painted what he saw. Barbers, amusement operators, taverns and bakeries, as well as some other establishments, got onto the ice where the people were, and apparently there was a sense of abandon when people were in the wide open, cold space of the frozen river. For some people, at least, the Frost Fair was the occasion for a real Bacchanal.

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.

There used to be a number of mailing lists related to Pacifica and WBAI. Unfortunately, they were all located on Yahoo! Groups. When Yahoo! Groups was totally shut down in December 2020, all of those mailing lists ceased to exist. One year earlier their file sections and archives of E-mails, had been excised leaving only the ability to send E-mails back and forth among the members. Now it's all gone. Older Back of the Book program Web pages tell a little more about those lists.

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

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