Back of the Book — June 19, 2021


It's Sunday evening, July 4, 2021 18:21, and this Web page is finished. I've added some text about what we did on this program, along with some graphics. No need for updates to this Web page now! The original top of this page follows the arrow. I keep falling asleep and having certain other things happen to delay me as I try to get these Web pages and Tweets done, along with the graphic that I post for every program. Well, once again I'm rushing to get this Web page posted. I've put up a major piece of what we talked about on this program.

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? 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 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, July 14, 2021, it will probably be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 16 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

The LSB meeting didn't have much drama this time, that was good. Ahem.

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. As of November 2020, Back of the Book airs weekly.

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?

spiral_galaxy (33K)
How Does NGC 1365 Not Fly Apart?
Image credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSC

In an underground chamber located about 1,500 meters beneath Gran Sasso mountain in Italy scientists have for years been doing experiments designed to reveal the existence of dark matter particles.

I am not convinced that the dark matter phenomenon is actually something that's caused by discrete particles, but a hell of a lot of scientists seem to be banking on there being such particles.

So far, the dark matter phenomenon has been a manifestation of gravitational anomalies. Stronger gravity is present where there's nothing to make it happen.

Various groups, including lots of scientists, have been working under the Gran Sasso mountain with all sorts of experiments aimed at finding a particle that can be called dark matter. Some have been using larger and larger vats of super cooled Xenon in the experiment called XENON1T, some are using large vats of water and now Ciaran O'Hare, at the University of Sydney in Australia, along with his colleagues, is looking to make an experiment using DNA.

Gran Sasso has had a history of looking for dark matter, and some years ago some of the scientists working there thought that they had detected it. But no one could replicate their experimental results.

There are also other experiments going on there. All of the dark matter experiments are based on the idea that the Earth is plowing through quite a bit of dark matter all the time. The scientists aren't just figuring that the Earth's orbit around the Sun is plowing through the dark matter, they're figuring that the Earth is plowing through dark matter as the Solar System revolved around the Milky Way galaxy. The Earth's speed around the sun is, on average, about 66,600 mph, but the solar System's speed as it orbits the center of the galaxy is about 536,865 mph. So that means that the Earth will plow through more than half a million miles of dark matter every hour.

While the XENON1T experiment may detect a positive result it can't tell what direction the particles it detects are coming from. The DNA experiment seeks to establish that any detection of a particle that may be dark matter is coming from the direction of the Earth's travel around the galaxy. Dr. O'Hare's team is designing an experiment that will use strands of DNA hanging from layers of gold metal sheeting. Each DNA strand is unique and its position within the detector known with great precision.

The idea behind the detector is that when a particle comes flying through this detector it will cut through multiple strands of DNA causing the part that's beneath the cut to fall into what the scientists are calling a collection system. They are quoted as saying, Since the sequences of base pairs in nucleic acid molecules can be precisely amplified and measured using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the original spatial position of each broken strand inside the detector can be reconstructed with nanometer precision. And the scientists hope to be able to then backtrack the path of the particle through the strands of DNA.

Of course dark matter itself is theorized to not interact with anything other than through gravity. So this is another experiment based on the idea that dark matter will somehow interact with ordinary matter, or with itself, and will produce particles that can be detected.

There was a recent article in Scientific American about the lengths scientists have to go to in order to keep their experiment here clean of things that will cause false readings from radiation. Even then there are natural problems like normal radiation from the rocks turning an ordinary Hydrogen atom into a Tritium atom, and the double-electron capture which causes the radioactive decay of xenon-124.

I'm updating this Web page late, so I'll just say that we reminded our listeners about the Summer Solstice occurring late on the next day after this program at June 20th, 2021, at 11:32 PM (ET). We have a recently updated chart of the seasons and sib-seasons on this Web site.

microbe in m3
Cell Membranes in Space?

Victor Rivilla and colleagues at the Spanish Astrobiology Centre in Madrid, have made the first detection in space of ethanolamine, an important component of the simplest form of phospholipid. Phospholipids are the things that form the cell membrane. The scientists were looking at an interstellar cloud of gas and dust called Sagittarius B2, which is 390 light years from the center of the Milky Way when they found the chemical floating in space.

The basis of life on Earth is that oil and water don't mix. This discovery of ethanolamine in space means that yet another important chemical building block of life is floating around in outer space and may be how life started on Earth, and maybe elsewhere.

This ties in with the Star Trek episode that featured a giant space amoeba. Maybe space aliens from the future wrote some of those episodes.

Supreme Court exterior.
Biggest Craps Game in the Country

The Supreme Court was both good and bad this past week.

In a unanimous decision, the justices ruled that Philadelphia's exclusion of Catholic Social Services, a faith-based agency, from foster care placement over its refusal to work with same-sex couples, was unconstitutional.

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter hailed the decision, as a victory for Catholic Social Services, foster care and for the religious freedom for every American; Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee, called the ruling a great win for children and religious freedom.

The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, stressed the need for Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would expand federal civil rights laws to protect LGBT+∞ people from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, jury service, and federally funded programs. He is quoted as saying, For the past several decades, we have had opponents of equality looking to discriminate against LGBTQ people, We now have two recent Supreme Court decisions where institutions have asked for a constitutional right to discriminate: the Masterpiece Cake case, and now the city of Philadelphia case. And in both cases, the court denied them that right, he said. The court has left standing non-discrimination laws in both cases." He also said, that the Supreme Court today ruled that, The city of Philadelphia acted improperly by applying their non-discrimination law because they allowed a secular exemption but not a religious exemption, he noted that the court didn't say religious institutions cannot be required to comply with-non discrimination laws. Quite the opposite, he said. Non-discrimination laws can and will continue to apply to all — including religious institutions. Mr. Davis concluded by saying, Folks shouldn't read this decision as creating some new standard, but the ruling highlights the need for the Equality Act.

And then on Thursday the Supreme Court voted to reject a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, keeping Obamacare in place with a 7-2 vote.

Justice Stephen Breyer ruled that Texas and other Republican-run states don't have standing to challenge the so-called individual mandate in Obamacare.

They have not shown a past or future injury fairly traceable to ... the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional, Breyer wrote.

As it turns out the reason why there isn't any injury that the state of Texas can claim is that the Republican-dominated Congress had reduced the individual mandate to zero a couple of years ago. So the Republicans screwed themselves in this Supreme Court case.

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, both right-wing bad guys, dissented.

The ruling rejected the conservative states' argument that it is unconstitutional to require that individuals have health coverage. But it did so in a narrow way that could leave open the door to future challenges to Obamacare.

ball and chain
Juneteenth Celebrates the End of Slavery in the United States

Also on this past Thursday President Biden signed a bill formally designating June 19th, as Juneteenth and making it a federal holiday. Juneteenth celebrates the date of Monday June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger landed on the island of Galveston, Texas to take command of the federal troops that had recently arrived in the department of Texas to enforce the emancipation of its slaves. General Granger marched his men though the streets and read out his General Order No. 3 which said:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

In Texas the Emancipation Proclamation, which had come into effect on January 1, 1863, and which had declared all slaves in the so-called Confederate States of America free had been ignored. It took a Union general and his troops to finally enforce the end of slavery. Since Texas had been the last holdout in the south of slave holders, June 19, 1865, marked the final end of slavery in the United States of America.

The bill to make Juneteenth an official, federal holiday passed both houses of Congress. The Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill, but 14 Republican members of the House voted against it. I was so surprised that all of the Republicans didn't dig in their heels in an effort to stop this bill from becoming law.

President Biden said during the signing ceremony that, Juneteenth marks both a long, hard night of slavery and subjugation and a promise of a brighter morning to come. Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments. They don't ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them. Great nations don't walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger.

washing machines
A Laundromat Excursion

Pickles of the North told of going back to the seemingly abandoned laundromat in our neighborhood.

The last time she'd gone there the place had been deserted. The lights were out, the riot gate was down over the front window and she was all alone except for the palmetto bug which we speculated might have been the new attendant for the place. She didn't finish drying the clothes she'd brought there to wash because it just felt so creepy, she just left and came home.

This past week she tried again and the place had a couple of other women in it doing laundry, the lights were on and no palmetto bug came out to greet her. So she got the laundry washed, and she even stuck around to use the dryers this time. Looks like something resembling a laundromat is back in our neighborhood, post lock down.

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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