Back of the Book — March 20, 2021

We covered the below topics on this program. We were especially proud of having gotten the Vernal Equinox to occur during this program. I think we even got the timing right on the recording. We talked about the below stuff and more. I am thinking that there is not really much more left to do on this Web page, but I do plan to update it slightly and then declare it finished very soon.

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, April 14, 2021, it will probably be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 13 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.

The LSB spent quite a bit of time on a motion regarding something I can't talk about on the air or even on this Web site, for now. But you'll hear about it on the air at some point, just not from me - until later.

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?

Spring flowers 2021
We'll Soon Have Plenty of Flowers Like These Around

Vernal Equinox came as a guest to this program at exactly 5:37 AM on this date. Yes, the Spring of 2021, is brought to you by Back of the Book. We've been looking forward to this.

Pickles of the North and I are both looking forward to days with longer daylight and less nightdark. It will also get warmer, and that I will like. Pickles of the North is usually all right with Spring warmth too. It's the hot and humid Summer dog days that she's not pleased with.

Since Daylight Saving time kicked in last Sunday morning the Sun has gotten to setting after seven o'clock in the evening. I am especially disposed to liking that. I find the early sunsets of the Autumn and Winter seasons depressing, especially around early December when the sunset time in Brooklyn gets as early as 4:28 in the afternoon.

So we have some good, seasonal times to look forward to now. And we welcomed Vernal Equinox to the Earth with the help of The Beatles, as we do every year in our first radio program of Spring.

The SARS CoV 2 virus
This Thing is Still Around, But We're Fighting it

According to the Johns-Hopkins Web site Covid-19 cases in the whole world reached 122,086,638 on Friday, and global deaths reached 2,695,945. In America the number of cases as of Friday was 29,714,219 and the death toll in America was 540,733, so 8,582 people have died of Covid-19 in America since our last program one week ago. The death rate continues to trend lower and that's good. We're under 10,000 dead in America for one week for the second week in a row. I'm still a bit amazed that I can view that statistic as positive. Before the pandemic thousands of people in America dying every week would have been very alarming. We've been looking at these numbers for a year now. By the time this program airs on Saturday morning all of those figures will be higher.

It's now been more than two weeks since I had my second Covid-19 vaccination so I should have my maximum immunity from the virus at this point. And this past week Pickles of the North got vaccinated. We're both really looking forward to the time when she and I can go out together for the fun of it and not have to worry about getting killed by the virus. We're really aiming at going to Coney Island this Summer!

No Hate

There is also a plague of hateful acts, including violence, against persons of east-Asian ethnicity. This Robert Aaron Long character murdered eight people, six of them women of east Asian ancestry. I think some of this can be traced back to Trump referring to the China Virus, and his many tiny, hateful comments.

Mmmm Space Cookies

Oumuamua is back in the news. Oumuamua was the first known interstellar object detected passing through the Solar System. That hapened in 2017. Now it turns out that the elongated object that came from interstellar space and looped through the inner Solar System before heading back out to interstellar space may have been a block of frozen nitrogen. According to Arizona State University astrophysicists Steven Desch and Alan Jackson of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Oumuamua is most likely a shard that sheared off of an ice planet that was sort of like Pluto. The scientists say that instead of being a long, drawn out object, as presented in the most publicized artist's conception, it was actually shaped a lot like a cookie. The two astrophysicists suspect that an impact 500 million years ago knocked a chunk out of a planet that was coated in frozen nitrogen, and that chunk became the large piece of ice that then entered the Solar System for a while. This would also explain the rocket effect as it left. Nitrogen ice will sublimate rapidly when warmed, and as Oumuamua presented its posterior to the Sun it got warmed up and nitrogen ice turned to nitrogen gas, thus providing some propulsive force. This would explain why the object actually accelerated as it left the Solar System. Meanwhile, Harvard University astrophysicist Avi Loeb disputes the findings and stands by his premise that the object appears to be more artificial than natural — perhaps an alien probe. I prefer a large, interstellar ice cookie.

Watching You Is Their Business

From an article by Daphne Leprince-Ringuet on ZD Net I see that Facebook has a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) model that can learn from any random group of unlabeled images on the internet. This AI is called SEER (SElf-SupERvised), the model was exposed to one billion publicly available Instagram images, which had not been labeled. Without the labels and annotations that typically go into algorithm training, SEER was able to autonomously work its way through the dataset, learning as it was going, and eventually achieving top levels of accuracy on tasks such as object detection. Yeah, the information generated by this SEER thing will, of course get scooped up by the likes of the NSA and other state actors. But it may also get used commercially. Facebook already data mines its users. With the Seer AI it can not only tell who you are from a photograph but it will also be able to tell what you're carrying, what you're wearing, what you like to eat, etc. All of your preferences will be figured out by the AI. This will make the information mined from your postings even more valuable to the companies that Facebook will sell it to.

During this program Pickles of the North asked if the AI could read our minds. Well, not in a telepathic way, but from analyzing all of the data it will have about you it could infer a lot of what you're thinking. AIs can be amazingly able to draw conclusions from the late datasets that they can generate. I am thinking of the chess playing computer called Alpha-Zero. It was simply told the rules of the game of chess, nothing more. It was then told to play itself and learn. Within 24 hours it became the strongest chess computer on Earth. Some of the chess computers it bested were already unbeatable by mere humans. Yeah, this is big brother stuff. So years from now privacy may be something that's totally extinct on this planet.

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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