Back of the Book — August 7, 2021

It's Wednesday morning, August 18, 2021, 10:29, and this Web page is finished. I've added some of the other topics we'd talked about on this program, and I've put in some graphics to accompany those parts. The original top of this page follows the arrow. This is the first program we've had to get posted with a deadline of at least 10 hours before air time. We made the deadline. We talked about the COVID-19 crisis, and the insane responses some are having to it. One Republican governor seems to be breaking from the pack, however. Could a trend be starting? We talked about various topics this on the 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, August 11, 2021, it will probably be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 23 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

The LSB meeting was sort of the usual, with some grandstanding.

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?

Arkansas with sars-cov-2
Republican Governor Wavers

According to the Johns-Hopkins Web site COVID-19 cases in the whole world reached 201,271,096 on Friday, and global deaths reached 4,272,990. In America the number of cases as of Friday was 35,467,746 and the death toll in America was 615,438, so 3,050 people have died of COVID-19 in America since our last program one week ago. The death rate in America has gone back up kind of significantly this past week. The disease is still ravaging areas where vaccination rates are low. The south, and other Trump-country areas, continue to lag in vaccinations. More than 99% of COVID-19 deaths are among those who have not been vaccinated. But the vaccination rate has jumped in the last week or so. Apparently a whole lot of the unvaccinated are getting vaccinated now that they're seeing other unvaccinated people getting seriously ill and in some cases dying. Apparently these are the people who have been hesitant but not wildly anti-vaccine. A poll shows that about 18% of adult Americans are hard and fast against getting vaccinated, and for some of the stupidest reasons. Meanwhile, breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people still only account for about 0.1% of the hospitalizations. By the time this program airs on Saturday morning all of those figures we quoted will be higher of course. And, again, this was all mostly preventable.

As cases increase rapidly among unvaccinated individuals Asa Hutchinson, the Republican Governor of Arkansas, said that he regrets his April ban on mask mandates and is hoping to reverse course. He changed his mind, he said, because The delta variant hit us hard. Only 42% of Arkansas residents ages 12 and up are at least partially vaccinated. Cases among kids in Arkansas have risen by 517% between April and July, according to the Associated Press. Governor Hutchinson said, There's been a lot of distrust and we hope to overcome that because medical sciences, vaccines work, I believe, and we need to get those out — because that's the way out of this.

Meanwhile Republican governors Greg Abbott of Texas, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Kristi Noem of South Dakota have all opposed mask mandates and say that individuals should make their own decision about whether or not they would wear a mask.

People will remember one of Trump's Press Secretaries Sarah Huckabee Sanders, well that moron is running for governor of Arkansas. She's said, If I am elected governor here in Arkansas we will not have mask mandates, we will not have mandates on the vaccine, we will not shut down churches and schools and other large gatherings, because we believe in personal freedom and responsibility.

Brian Hayes the Coroner of rural Macon County, Missouri has admitted that he's been omitting COVID-19 from death certificates when families of the deceased have requested it. Hayes said families' reasons ranged from not wanting to relive the trauma of the pandemic to political motivations for keeping it off official records. So there's another example of coroners in red states fudging the records on death certificates in order to make it seem as if COVID-19 weren't quite as bad as it is.

In the past week we've seen more instances of people denouncing the vaccines and mask wearing and then dying of COVID-19. One such case was that of Texas politician H. Scott Apley, Dickinson City Council member and State Republican Executive Committee member. Last Friday he had posted a crazy, right-wing anti-vaccine meme. On Wednesday morning he died of COVID-19. His widow is soliciting donations to help pay for his funeral expenses.

red_tailed_hawk_on_fire_escape (52K)
He's Looking Right at You!

In the first month or so of the pandemic lockdown in Greater New York Pickles of the North and I talked on the program about how we'd started to see some animals that were rarely, if ever, seen in Brooklyn, or at least our part of it, getting pretty bold about showing up in the streets that had been all but abandoned by humans. Since then we've seen all sorts of critters showing up, and sometimes howling in the night.

One thing we noticed in the Spring of 2020, was that some large birds were flying much lower than usual in our neighborhood. Among them we noticed some red-tailed hawks. We'd seen them around for years, but only rarely, and they were usually flying very high up. The exception to this was one time years ago when we were walking down our block and a pair of pigeons were flying nearby. Suddenly a red-tailed hawk swooped down after one of the slow moving pigeons, but the pigeon seems to have noticed it and at the very last second, as the hawk was in its dive, the pigeon banked to one side. The read-tailed hawk's talons hit the pigeon, as evidenced by the pigeon's trajectory suddenly changing and some pigeon feathers in the air, but the talons hadn't been able to dig into the pigeon and catch it. Both the targeted pigeon and its flying companion bolted for some nearby low shrubbery.

Maybe a year or so ago we noticed red tailed hawks flying low over the neighborhood. They could sometimes be seen on roof tops and fire escapes. As of a couple of months ago Pickles of the North noticed that we'd hear a high pitched bird call. It didn't sound like it was coming from a cardinal, a mourning dove or any other kind of small bird. Pickles saw three red-tailed hawks flying together through the neighborhood around then. She said she'd looked it up and although the fully adult red-tailed hawks are pretty much silent predators, which makes sense, the young males will make a call. After a while we started hearing this bird's call often, and then the hawk would just sit on a fire escape and make that call. No doubt then that we had been hearing the call of a red-tailed hawk.

One day recently we could tell by the call that it was very close by. We looked and there it was, perched on a part of the fire escape that's above our fire escape. That's when I was able to get the camera and take the photograph on this page. The screen was in the window when I took it, so that's why there's a bit of a grid pattern over everything. You don't want to be a small animal on the receiving end of that look.

A couple of weeks ago we were watching this hawk, we assume this is the only noisy one in the neighborhood, and another hawk, which we speculate may be its mate. They had been flying around. Then we heard that call and it sounded like the hawk was stationary. We also noticed a squirrel that had been cavorting around on a fire escape on a lower floor.

We're not big fans of squirrels these days. We've had the apartment invaded by them before. One time Pickles awoke to a noise. It turned out that a squirrel was on top of a file cabinet, and it was pushing things around. She yelled at it several times and it finally left through the window that was only open about half an inch. After that we always made sure that we had the screens in. And then, one day in July a couple of years ago, we came home from doing a radio program, when we could do them live, and I heard Pickles give a screech from the living room. There was a squirrel running around knocking things over. Long story short we ended up paying $200 to get the damned thing out of the apartment.

So we saw a squirrel doing as it pleased on another building's fire escape. As it came to the higher floors of the building it suddenly froze, and seemed to flatten itself on the flat, metal of that fire escape. It stayed like that for a while. We knew it had seen the red-tailed hawk. We don't know exactly what happened to change this tableau, maybe the hawk looked away for a few seconds or maybe the squirrel lost patience, but suddenly the squirrel made a run for it and up the fire escape it went. It was trying to get to a broken vent on the building that the fire escape was attached to. There have been generations of squirrels living in a nest in an open vent hole in the building. The squirrel didn't get far before the red-tailed hawk was off its perch and going for it. The squirrels over the years have made a leisurely scamper of their trip to their nest. Well, this squirrel was making a run for its life. It ran in circles, it ran back and forth, it ran through every obstacle it could find. The hawk was upon it almost right away, after having avoided some steel and brick work obstacles. It kept very close to the bases of those obstacles though. The hawk was too big to easily get at it and was just barely kept from grabbing the squirrel several times. Pickles and I were cheering on the hawk!

At one point we thought that the hawk might have finally gotten the squirrel. We couldn't see the squirrel at that point and we only saw the hawk settling onto the other side of some brick work and it was no longer chasing the squirrel, although it still had its wings unfurled. But somehow the squirrel appeared amid other obstacles and kept going. The second red-tailed hawk had joined in by this time. Neither hawk could make a straight run at the squirrel, and I personally know how maneuverable a squirrel that doesn't want to be caught can be, and after they got very close to it the squirrel was able to jump from another fire escape into the nest hole in the side of the building. It was all over. No supper for the red-tailed hawks.

They can't always be failing to catch prey. They have clearly reproduced and none of them look skinny. In any event, our local squirrel population is on notice.

Greenville, CA 1850s-2021

We talked about those wildfires along the west cost of North America, and wildfires are also blazing their way through Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain and Lebanon as well as the United States and Canada. The TV news is full of videos of fire fighters trying to hold these fires back, and of the raw flames consuming brush, trees, entire forests and people's homes. This past week the wildfires in California swept through the historic little town of Greenville. Greenville was a town that had sprung up shortly after gold was discovered in California in 1849. In 2021, the so-called Dixie Fire destroyed about 75% of the town, including the entire historic district of the town. Buildings that had stood for over 140 years were turned to ash and/or rubble. The fire department building was destroyed in the fire.

We really are at a loss to figure out how people, especially politicians, can still be denying that the climate crisis is real. It's clearly happening now. The people who deny global warming/climate change/the climate crisis seem to be the same people who claim that the Covid-19 pandemic is a hoax or who rail against wearing masks and who spread disinformation about the vaccines. The world seems to be dying of stupidity.

An Old Passbook

So Pickles of the North and I went out together this past week and we managed to rescue my ancient passbook bank account the day before it was to be sent to the state as abandoned property.

I have this old passbook account from 1975. I actually got my first bank account when I was five years old. Back then New York City Public Schools taught kids things like how to save money. I was in kindergarten when they had every kid in class get a bank account, with a bank book that your parents held for you. I think we were able to start that first bank account with a dime or something. I deposited more money in to it over the years, and I kept that bank account until I moved to another part of Brooklyn decades later and had the new bank, which no longer exists, take the money from it and put it in to my then new bank account.

So I have had this particular bank account since 1975. It's my new bank account. And I've gone through multiple passbooks with it. I think that this is my third passbook for this account. I have other accounts, but I keep this old passbook account for some sort of imagined emergency. I figure that since my other accounts are accessible from the Web they could be hit and drained, leaving me with no money. I think that since this passbook account is not connected to the other accounts, and is not accessible at all on-line, that if something were to happen to my other accounts I might still have the small amount of money in this account left. It wouldn't pay the rent, but we could eat for a couple of weeks with what's in this account.

I had for more than three decades deposited one dollar into the passbook account every couple of years. But the pandemic and lockdown kept me from going to the bank for 17 months. During that time the bank account got labeled as abandoned, or something. I called the bank and they said that I had to come to the bank in person and deposit that one dollar. As it turned out Pickles of the North and I got to the bank the day before the account was to have been handed over to the New York State Comptroller's Office as an abandoned account. We could have gotten it back from the State Comptroller's Office, but that would have involved a lot more hassle. So we risked going out into the pandemic and we got it done. Wowee, just in time.

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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