Back of the Book — December 25, 2021

It's Saturday, December 25, 2021, 10:48 and this Web page is finished. I've updated the piece on the Next Generation Space Telescope and I've changed the formatting of the list of elected LSB officers. The original top of this page follows the arrow. This was our Isaac Newton's Birthday program for 2021. It was also our last program for the year. We covered the below topics, from a short biography of Isaac Newton to the COVID-19 pandemic to the Trump-instigated January 6, insurrection to the the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers and more.

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 January 4, 2022, but it will be in executive session to discuss personnel matters, so you won't be able to hear it. The next WBAI LSB meeting that you will be able to hear the thrilling details of will be held on January 12, 2022, at 7 PM on ZOOM, even though ZOOM compromises privacy and security. We're supposed to elect WBAI's Directors to the Pacifica National Board at that meeting and we'll see what else comes up at it. These meetings will be held as teleconference meetings, as the 31 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, in an odd mix of the 11th and 12th LSBs. There was a Delegates Assembly meeting, and it happened right before the LSB meeting. A majority of the WBAI LSB had voted last month to hold the Delegates Assembly meeting before the LSB meeting in order to allow the members of the 11th WBAI LSB to vote on four amendments to the Pacifica Foundation bylaws that had been presented. I questioned why it had to be done this way. I said during the November meeting that this would put the legitimacy of those bylaws amendments in jeopardy because the time for the LSB meeting was the same as the time for this Delegates Assembly. The vote on handling the Delegates Assembly this way was 10 for, 3 against and 4 abstentions. I was one of those who voted No. The time for the start of the WBAI LSB meeting was changed by a couple of people to 7:30 PM and then to 8:00 PM. I think that we could have allowed the members of the 12th WBAI LSB, which consists mostly the same members as the 11th LSB, to vote on the bylaws amendments. I guess that the LSB members in favor of all of the bylaws amendments had counted votes and decided that they'd do better with the 11th LSB members than with the 12th LSB members. The bylaws needed to get 13 votes each to pass, and they got that. I voted for some of them, and I voted against some, and I abstained on one that I believed was out of order. Turns out the one bylaws amendment I'd said was out or order was indeed out of order, but maybe not for the reason that I'd cited.

So at the first meeting of the 12th WBAI LSB, which started seconds after the ending of the Delegates Assembly meeting, we elected the offers of the LSB for the next year. The Chair and Vice-Chair of the LSB will be elected via some company that will send out virtual ballots and count the votes. So it will be some weeks, I think, before we know who got elected to those offices. But no one contested the Secretary office, and so Mr. John Hoffman was elected Secretary by acclamation because no one else was nominated to run for that office. He's not a voting member of the LSB, but the bylaws allow for the offices of Secretary and Treasurer of the LSB to be held by people who are not voting members. And I got reelected Treasurer because I also ran unopposed.

The results are in and these are the 2022, officers of the WBAI LSB:

Chair - DeeDee Halleck
Vice-Chair - Michael D.D. White
Secretary - John Hoffman
Treasurer - R. Paul Martin

Before the December 8, 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, so we have the following schedule:

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?

Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton 1642-1727

Of course the world is celebrating Isaac Newton's 379th birthday today.

One of the major things that Isaac Newton did was come up with the theory of universal gravitation. This put together the work of astronomers like Galileo Gelilei, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler and gave a reasonable foundation for why those observations were correct.

Newton also invented the calculus. In the 17th Century, and on to the 21st, there have been disputes about whether Isaac Newton or Gottfried Leibniz actually invented calculus. In my opinion Newton did it first. But Leibniz came up with a notation that was better, more easily manipulated, than Newton's. Newton, who called the technique fluxions had a notation that worked just fine, but you had to be a mathematician to work it. I remember reading in a 20th Century book that a calculation that took Newton weeks to work out would take a modern undergraduate about 20 minutes to work out owing to the help that one gets from the mathematical notation used these days.

universal gravitation equation.
The Universal Gravitation Equation

But Newton was into more than one area of the sciences, or Natural Philosophy as it was called then. Newton published a book called Opticks, which set out what light does. He established a basis for understanding lenses, and he also built the first reflecting telescope, based on his understanding of light and how it can be manipulated.

Isaac Newton did a bunch of other things, some of which are a bit strange to us today. Newton was an alchemist. He really believed that alchemy could work. He may have poisoned himself at one point by working with mercury compounds. In the 17th Century there weren't a load of scientific instruments that could help a scientist determine what was happening with the results of combining different chemicals. So the way to test the result was - to taste it. This could have some pretty bad consequences. It is widely believed that Newton went a bit nuts for a while due to his having tasted some mercury compounds and getting poisoned by them. You don't have to get much of that stuff in your system for it to have a bad effect on your health.

Newton was under the impression that he would be remembered in the future for his work on biblical studies. Well, he got that one wrong.

Newton also filled a number of offices in English politics.

So we celebrate his birthday on December 25. And we're glad that he did what he did for all of humanity.

The omicron variant with a flag and fangs.
King of the COVID-19 Viruses

According to the Johns-Hopkins Web site COVID-19 cases in the whole world reached 278,754,737 on Friday, and global deaths reached 5,391,371. In America the number of cases as of Friday was 51,914,072 and the death toll in America was 816,275, so 11,021 people have died of COVID-19 in America since our last program one week ago. This week's death rate is significantly higher than last week's. The omicron variant is not showing up as the real killer here, but there has been at least one death that was certainly caused by the omicron variant, and I'm sure that there will be more.

By the time this program airs on Saturday morning all of those figures we quoted will be higher of course. This was all mostly preventable.

There are various predictions going around about the future mortality statistics of this disease. There are predictions regarding when the total number of dead from COVID-19 in America will hit the one million mark.

Pickles and I are quite aware of the statistic that says that 1% of the people 65 and older in America have already died of COVID-19, and that at least three-quarters of the 816,000 people who've died of COVID-19 in America have been elderly according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We're still pretty much locking down these days. Places that had been opening up are now trying to mitigate the infection rates, while not necessarily just doing a 180 degree reverse of what they had done a couple of weeks ago.

Mayor DeBlasio had had the annual Times Square New Year's celebration opened up again, and now he's limiting it to only 15,000 people and they all have to be vaccinated and have to wear masks. Yeah, that's going to work out. The smart thing would be to just cancel that event entirely. But I'm sure that there are monied interests that really want it to happen.

One Mr. John Parney who owned the Quincy Diner in Quincy, Michigan kept his restaurant open in 2020, in violation of the Michigan health department's partial shutdown affecting dine-in businesses. Mr. Parney said that he and his wife, who was battling cancer, depend on this restaurant to help subsidize billing and all of that. My employees need that. Of course, if I'd have stayed closed much longer, I'd have lost the business. He also said, You do get flak from a lot of people that lean the other way, that you ought to be closed. They don't understand that I lost a quarter of a million dollars the first time around [in spring 2020]. I'm not a rich man at all. I need this place to run. He said that a lot of prayer went into his decision to stay open in defiance of the Health Department's mandate. Mr. Parney died of COVID-19 last week.

In Oakboro, North Carolina T.J. Smith, the town's Police Chief, was placed on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks. He had been telling his cops how to go get phony vaccine certificates. Only a two week suspension for committing an actual crime? Fraud, along with aiding and abetting a counterfeiting scheme sounds like stuff that should disqualify him from being on the police force at all.

Merck has been granted emergency use authorization for a second antiviral pill used to treat COVID-19. It's called molnupiravir.

I think that maybe Trump is concerned that a lot of his voters won't be around to vote in 2024, and maybe not even in the mid-term elections. He said, The vaccines work ... The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take the vaccine. He has also reportedly gotten himself a booster shot. A bunch of his anti-vaxxer cuckoo MAGA supporters booed him when he said people should get vaccinated recently. He's still against vaccine and mask mandates, however. Some of the other right-wing nuts are feeling a loss of solidarity with Trump, who demands total loyalty from others but has never been loyal to anyone other than himself. Meanwhile former Alaska governor and joke vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has said that she would only get vaccinated against COVID-19 over my dead body. We look forward to seeing her get vaccinated under those conditions.

U.S. army researchers have developed a vaccine designed to counter all coronavirus variants, but have yet to test it against the omicron variant. The army vaccine is called spike ferritin nanoparticle. Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, head of Walter Reed's infectious disease team said, We decided to take a look at the long game rather than just only focusing on the original emergence of SARS, and instead understand that viruses mutate. There's no projected date for when this vaccine will be available to the public.

Pickles of the North read from a book about the passages that were expurgated from the Bible. The text she read talked about baby Jesus being a murderous toddler who killed adults and children when they pissed him off. Yeah, the Catholic Church repressed a lot of stuff that was just as validly the Bible as what's generally put out there these days.

Trump behind bars.
Lock Him Up!

Donnie Bonespur Trump is trying to get the Supreme Court to block Congress' January 6, committee from getting his White House documents. We wonder what they will do. It's a super majority right-wing court and Trump himself put three of them on the bench. Will the Supreme Court deeply undermine the Constitution for Trump?

More than 700 people have been arrested for taking part in the January 6, insurrection that had Trump fanatics attacking the United States Capitol in an attempt to prevent Congress from counting the ballots from the electoral College.

One Robert Palmer of Largo, Florida has been sentenced to five years and three months in prison. Palmer was in the front line during the attack. He threw a wooden plank at the cops, sprayed a fire extinguisher at them, and then threw the fire extinguisher at them when it was empty. Prosecutors said he then looked around for other objects to throw at the Capitol Police who were defending the Capitol and preventing the Trump mob from attacking legislators with murderous intent. He was pepper-sprayed by police and then he attacked them with a pole. He pleaded guilty to attacking officers. He was crying during his sentencing saying, Your honor, I'm really really ashamed of what I did. He wrote a handwritten letter to the judge that said he felt betrayed by Trump and his allies who fed them conspiracy theories. Trump supporters were lied to by those at the time who had great power. They kept spitting out the false narrative about a stolen election and how it was our duty to stand up to tyranny.

University of Kentucky student Gracyn Courtright of Hurricane, West Virginia posted on-line that Infamy is just as good as fame. She posted photos of herself online and said, Can't wait to tell my grandkids I was here! Inside the Senate chamber, she was photographed holding a Members only sign. She was also crying when she told the judge that, I will never be the same girl again, this has changed me completely. If I could take back anything in my life it would be my actions on January 6.

The Next Generation Space Telescope.
The Next Generation Space Telescope

The Next-Generation Space Telescope had been set to launch yesterday, December 24. But NASA put the launch date off again. As of the time when we recorded this radio program it's scheduled to be launched later this morning, December 25. Quite fitting for this instrument which has the potential to do tremendous amounts of scientific research to be launched on Isaac Newton's birthday! We have arranged for NASA to not start their coverage of the launch until after our program ends at 6:00 AM (ET) today.

This $10,000,000,000 telescope which is a collaborative effort of NASA, THE European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency has what even NASA calls 344 single points of failure. This refers to the fact that this enormously complex space telescope will have to be assembled by itself in outer space. Since the space telescope will be operating at a point about a million miles away from the Earth there will be no possibility of sending a repair mission to it if something goes wrong. The space telescope is enormous and in order to fit it into the payload container of a rocket it had to be folded up, origami style, into what is essentially a very compact, three dimensional puzzle. So the unfolding will require that everything designed to help it all unfold and assemble itself works perfectly. And then we have to hope that some space rock the size of a golf ball doesn't plow into the thing and wreck it.

The potential is there for this space telescope, which unfortunately carries the formal name of an American bureaucrat who was a homophobe, to discover great things, and to discover things that no one knew needed to be discovered.

UPDATE: The Next-Generation Space Telescope did indeed finally launch from the European Space Agency spaceport in French Guiana at 7:20 AM (ET) this morning. The space telescope is free of the launch vehicle and has deployed its solar array, which is providing power to the telescope. The telescope is scheduled to take about a month to assemble itself in outer space.

We are in the Winter season now. Pickles and I did a very modest celebration of the Winter Solstice this past Tuesday morning. We used to have a party to celebrate the Winter Solstice. The days will be getting longer.

A Himalayan glacier.
A Himalayan Glacier

According to a new study which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, global warming is causing glaciers in the Himalayan Mountains to melt at an exceptional rate. More than two billion people rely on those glaciers for their water supplies. University of Leeds professor and researcher Jonathan Carrivick, the study's lead author, said in a statement, Our findings clearly show that ice is now being lost from Himalayan glaciers at a rate that is at least 10 times higher than the average rate over past centuries. This acceleration in the rate of loss has only emerged within the last few decades and coincides with human-induced climate change. Those glaciers feed the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, and many other rivers. The relatively rapid melting of those glaciers could destabilize southern Asia.

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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