Back of the Book — November 5, 2022

It's Monday afternoon, November 7, 2022 14:17, and this Web page is finished. I've updated this Web page with a a piece about Guy Fawkes Day, which we talked about on the program, and I've put in a little piece about voting. Previously I'd posted a better graphic for one item and I'd put in a link to the archive of this radio program. The original top of this page follows the arrow. We talked quite a bit about black holes, quantum entanglement and the theoretical end of the bit box. I have been of the opinion for years that information can be destroyed. Now we're hearing from some physicists that information is forever. I am displeased, but I've favored scientific theories in the past that have been superceded by new information. Will this be another of those? We also talked about the pandemic, a lunar eclipse this coming Tuesday morning and Guy Fawkes Day. We mentioned R. Paul's dislike of setting back the clocks to turn afternoons into night, and the ongoing struggle of radio's Pickles of the North with something that seems like a cold, but which may be that RSV thing that's hitting a lot of kids. R. Paul has also caught that germ now. It was mentioned that R. Paul has been at WBAI for 41 years as of this month.

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 regular LSB meeting will be held on Wednesday November 9, at 7:00 PM on ZOOM, even though ZOOM compromises privacy and security. This meeting will be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 40 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB tried to meet on Wednesday, October 12, 2022. The LSB failed to achieve quorum and so the meeting was cancelled.

Before the October 12, non-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?

Clock turned back
Oh, The Clocks Turn Back

We lamented the advent of Eastern Standard Time this weekend. We turn the clocks back on Sunday morning and the Sun will set at about 4:46 PM (ET) in Brooklyn that day. Sadness accompanies the darkness at the loss of the light.

We'll go along with it because we have to. In another month or so the Sun will set at 4:28 in the afternoon. The yearly rituals of dreariness will be forced on us all and the Standard Time sunsets will accentuate that.

What a difference an hour more of sunlight would make. But Winter advances, and there are those who like it.

SARS-CoV-2 virus
New Variants Are Abroad

According to the Johns-Hopkins Web site COVID-19 cases in the whole world reached 632,163,042 on Friday, and global deaths reached 6,599,111. In America the number of cases as of Friday was 97,714,211 and the death toll in America was 1,072,355, so 2,217 people have died of COVID-19 in America since our last program, which is slightly lower than the previous week's death toll. We know that the real figures are higher than that, but this is the information we have. The pandemic is not over. Pickles of the North and I are still keeping our masks on. This coming Wednesday will mark two weeks since I got my bivalent vaccination, so I should have built up maximum immunity at that point. I didn't have any bad reactions to the vaccination, just a little soreness in the injection site. Pickles and I are bracing for what may be an Autumnal surge.

Pickles of the North told us about the warning levels for COVID-19 rising in Greater New York. She said that Brooklyn, Manhattan and The Bronx are all at the yellow or medium risk level, but Staten Island and Queens are at the orange level, which indicates a high level of risk of contracting COVID-19. She figures the other three boroughs will follow them into the high risk category soon, especially with all of the indoor holidays coming up and with so many people behaving as if the pandemic is over by not wearing masks and getting close together in indoor spaces. Yeah, a surge looks probable.

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.

The black hole at the Milky Way Galacy's Center (7K)
There Are Stealthier Monsters

Some months ago scientists Tomer Shenar of Amsterdam University in the Netherlands and Kareem El-Badry of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and others announced the first discovery of a dormant black hole outside of the Milky Way. Dormant black holes are not capturing matter from nearby stars or anything else big so they are extremely hard to detect. Dormant black holes do not have an accretion disk, and the accretion disk is the only thing that emits light from a black hole.

This dormant black hole is a part of a binary system called VFTS 243. One of the two objects that form VFTS 243 is a very hot, blue star with 25 times the mass of the Sun, and the other is a black hole that's about nine times more massive than the Sun. VFTS 243 is located in the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is located about 163,000 light-years from Earth. The Large Magellanic Cloud may or not be a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. That particular black hole's event horizon is estimated to have a diameter of about 33 miles, the giant blue star is about 200,000 times larger than the black hole. We read in Astronomy magazine that the scientists used a technique called spectral disentangling to find that there was only one thing emitting light in that binary system, the big, blue star. Since they know that the blue star is orbiting something that weighs nine times what the Sun weighs they must conclude that it's a black hole. Most black holes are thought to form after a large star explodes in a supernova and some of it gets squeezed down into a black hole. But the VFTS 243 binary system has the two components in a circular orbit around a common center of mass. So the thinking is that a large star simply had what's being termed a direct collapse, with no supernova explosion at all. So now they have proof that such things exist. Scientists believe that there are hundreds of binary systems with black holes that are essentially invisible in terms of emitting light and X-rays.

Guy Fawkes icon
Iconic Depiction of Guy Fawkes

Remember, remember,
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

We talked about the historical events behind the above bit of verse. November 5th, in England and much of the Commonwealth, is known as Guy Fawkes Day. The English people celebrate the foiling of a plot by some pissed off Catholics, as Pickles of the North called them, who had been getting discriminated against because of their religion for a long time. England had become a country with an official, Protestant religion, after King Henry VIII had broken from the Catholic church and created his own church by issuing a series of statutes between 1532, and 1537, that created the Church of England. He did this, of course, because he wanted to divorce the first of his six wives and the Pope wouldn't let him.

Catholics had all sort of restrictions put on them after the Church of England came into existence. Some English politicians and aristocrats had proposed various forms of relief for the Catholics in England, but after almost 70 years of discrimination against them some of the Catholics had had it. They conspired to assassinate King James I of England, who was also James VI of Scotland, along with the Parliament that backed him up and refused to give Catholics full civil rights.

The plot was to put a lot of gunpowder under the House of Lords when the King and Parliament would be there for the official Opening of Parliament on November 5th, 1605. The plan was to wait until the king and Members of Parliament were all together and then set off the explosives. The Catholics planned to then start a general revolt and install a Catholic monarch on the throne of England. Guy Fawkes was one of the conspirators and since he'd had military experience with explosives, in those days this meant the old fashioned gun power, also called black powder, he was assigned to plant the charges under the room where the meeting would take place. The authorities had been alerted to the plot and the night before the big shindig at the House of Lords they had people inspecting the whole place. In the course of their inspection they found Guy Fawkes loading 36 barrels of gun powder into the basement, which would have done the job. Fawkes was arrested, along with most of the other conspirators. They were all hanged, drawn and quartered, which is a pretty barbaric method of execution. The conspiracy became known as the Gunpowder Plot.

So Guy Fawkes Day has been celebrated in England and some Commonwealth countries for over 400 years, and it used to be a very nasty anti-Catholic event. It's become more of an excuse to drink a lot, set off fireworks, burn Guy Fawkes in effigy and engage in general hoopla. And here we are doing a radio program on that day.

I Voted Absentee sticker
I voted days ago.

This is one hell of an election we have coming up. Republican billionaires have been pumping huge amounts of money into the campaigns of various Trump-supporting Republican candidates for some time now. They really want to take over.

We have the various right-wing hate groups getting out the vote and also trying to suppress voting by ethnic minorities and others in an effort to magnify the vote of the people who want to have a nation-wide ban on abortions, roll back protections for LGBT+∞ people, let gun nuts wander around showing off their guns and eventually make the United States of America a Christian nationalist theocracy.

Well, I'm certainly glad that I got to vote with an absentee ballot again. I really can't afford to contract COVID-19 from standing around in a polling place with a lot of people who won't wear masks and who won't stay distant enough to at least try to prevent viruses from proliferating in the room.

In Arizona they have had these armed fools hanging out near early voting sites and taking photographs of people who have shown up to drop off their ballot. One judge said it was okay. Luckily another judge put some limits on these anti-American right-wing thugs. Meanwhile there have already been threats phoned in alleging that polling places are going to be bombed in New York! I hope that those of our listeners who have not voted early or by absentee ballot will show up to vote in this election anyway.

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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