Back of the Book — March 27, 2021,


So we talked about finally getting a phone system that Verizon will not let go to hell so easily as they have allowed the copper-based system do over the past few years. It'll be good to not have to worry about the phone dying every time it rains. We also talked about that situation where there's a huge container ship stuck in the Suez Canal. We talked about a few other things as well. I really will try to get this Web page updated over the next couple of weeks.

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 14 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?

Verizon ONT
Verizon ONT

We have a telephone again! It's a fiber optic connection. Verizon sent us an E-mail that said that it's Fios Digital Voice that we now have. Really, it's just a fober optic connection. The Verizon installer came this past Thursday. It took about 2½ hours for him and a partner to install it. Now we have this device called an ONT, or Optical Network Terminal, sitting on a bookcase in the kitchen. It's not the busy looking thing I'd seen photographs of. And as you can see in the photograph we now pay for Verizon's electricity to run the phones.

The guy installing it was surprised that Verizon hadn't notified us a while ago that they were going to switch us to this setup so we could make arrangements. Instead Verizon just shut down our copper based land line on March 3rd! We complained about our phone being dead and got a trouble ticket from Verizon. And then they sent us an E-mail the next day that said, Your Verizon repair request, ticket #xxxx has been resolved. So right after that we contacted them again via chat within a day or so, due to their various departments shutting down, and got a new ticket. Within a few days we got notified via another E-mail that the new ticket had also been resolved! Only after I spent more time in Chat with a number of Verizon customer service people did I get told that they were no longer accepting complaints on our line problems, and that the only thing we could do was to let them install the fiber optic phone system. They had only just installed the fiber optic system in our building, so it was not an option before now.

One good thing about this new installation is that it's a part of Verizon's current business model. We can probably count on them doing something about it if something goes wrong with this setup, unlike when the copper-based land line got filled with water and they really did not want to be bothered with it. I think that the fiber optic cables are maintained better now than the ancient, copper cables were being maintained over the past few years. The copper cable feeding our apartment building was laid down about 90 years ago.

They only installed this fiber optic version of a land line on March 25. We are probably going to have to fight with them about the bill. We were without a phone for more than three weeks, and they said they were giving us a refund of $1.90. I spent quite a number of hours in chat and on the cell phone with Verizon people, some of whom just lied to me. Really, I'd like all of that time back. But I know that I'll probably have to spend more time dealing with the bill.

Suez Cabal with a cork in it.
Suez Canal Corked

The container cargo ship the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship, is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in both directions on the waterway.

We are told that the Ever Given is 1,300 feet long, 193 feet wide and it's a 220,000 ton container ship carrying 20,000 containers to European markets.

This thing is huge and weighs a great deal. It is acting like a cork in the Suez Canal, blocking all other shipping from moving through it. Of course the Suez Cabal is a major waterway of the world, cutting travel times between Asia, the Indian Ocean and some parts of the South Pacifica to Europe and the east side of the Americas by quite a bit. There are at least 150 other ships stuck in the canal because there's no way to get past the blockage.

I've read that high winds and a sand storm pushed the ship into one bank of the canal. They are trying everything from bulldozers on the ground to large tug boats in the canal to push, pull or nudge this huge vessel into the channel so that it and the rest of the ships can resume moving through the canal.

I had thought that they'd get the thing out of there within a day or so, which would still have been quite a blow to the world economy. As we recorded the radio program the Ever Given had been stuck in the canal for three days. I've seen that Peter Berdowski, CEO of the Dutch company Boskalis, which is one of the companies trying to free the ship, told a Dutch television station that, We can't exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation. Weeks!

Well, this added to the economic impact of the pandemic is going to make things worse. And, really, do they need ships that are so big that they can clog the Suez Canal and cause worldwide economic suffering? I think that greed has a lot to do with this. And I wonder how much stuff that's in those big containers that are baking in the Spring, Egyptian Sun is going to rot from the delay and the heat and all? Yeah, the graphic shows the position of the Ever Given in the canal, it's position is represented by a cork.

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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WBAI related links

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