Back of the Book — January 7, 2023,

We talked a lot about Gamma Ray Bursts on this program. A really big one was observed last October. It was also the closest Gamma Ray Burst to the Earth that's been observed. We talked about the pandemic, and the significant jump in the weekly deaths in America that have been reported. We did talk about Kevin McCarthy's comedic attempts to win over the far right-wing Republicans in the House of Representatives by giving them all sorts of concessions so that they'll vote for him for Speaker of the House. We'll include more about that when we update this Web page, which I hope I can get to soon. Check back for the updates.

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 January 11, 2023, at 7:00 PM on ZOOM, even though ZOOM compromises privacy and security. We'll probably elect new members to the Pacifica National Board at that meeting. This meeting will be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 40 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met in executive session on December 7, 2022. The report out from that meeting was, The WBAI LSB met in executive session to discuss personnel, financial and legal matters of a confidential nature. It also discussed a disciplinary matter. The WBAI LSB met in open session on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, and held elections for officers. The WBAI LSB elections for officers are over. DeeDee Halleck was reelected Chair, Michael D.D. White was reelected Vice-Chair, and as I said last week Kay Williams was elected Secretary and I was reelected Treasurer at the December 14th meeting, after we both ran unopposed; I think that no one else wants these jobs. Once again the LSB was unable to get to the oral Treasurer's Report. A new Staff LSB representative was seated after a Staff person who'd been elected quit.

Before the December 14, 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?

Packs A Long Distance Wallop

A gamma ray is about the most energetic electromagnetic wave there is. It's got so much energy that it is actually on the verge of becoming matter. Einstein's equation E=mc2 tells us why. Gamma rays usually come from nuclear reactions or the decay of some part of the nucleus of an atom. Gamma rays are a very penetrating form of radiation. A Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) is am intense, short-duration shower of gamma rays from some extraterrestrial source.

GRBs were first detected in 1967 by the Vela satellites, which had been designed to detect illegal nuclear weapons tests. This detection of sudden gamma ray activity, which appeared to show a nuclear explosion in the south Atlantic Ocean, got the attention of the signatories of the treaty that banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere. Over time further research revealed that a space probe orbiting the planet Venus had detected the gamma ray burst too, and it was just as strong, so it couldn't have been something that had happened on Earth.

Over the decades scientists studying GRBs found that a lot of them lasted for one second of less, but some lasted for a minute or longer. GRBs were found to put out as much energy in mere seconds as the Sun will put out in its entire lifetime of 10 to 15 billion years. Over time theories were developed around what these mysterious, very high energy events were and what had caused them. One theory was that some were caused by two neutron stars colliding and emitting an enormous amount of gamma rays. The other theory held that some GRBs, probably the longer duration ones, came about when a really enormous star exploded in a supernova. The idea was that a black hole would form from the collapsing core of the star and the material that remained around it would be whipped into an accretion disc that would go around the new black hole's event horizon very quickly and some of the infalling material from the accretion disk would form jets at the poles of the event horizon. These jets would be largely formed of gamma rays. This would all happen in an extremely short amount of time and a lot of the exploding star would still be getting ejected when the GRB was generated. The GRB would blast through that material and start a journey across the universe.

GRB221009A occurred on October 9, 2022. It was an extremely long duration GRB. This GRB lasted for more than ten hours! It was also the closest GRB to the Earth ever observed being only about 1.9 billion light years from Earth. This GRB was so powerful that it stripped the electrons from atoms in the Earth's outer atmosphere, and this was detected by lightning detector instruments in India and Germany. Something has to be pretty damned powerful to do that from almost 2 billion light years away.

This GRB is going to be studied for years. It is also suspected that one of the mass extinctions experienced on the Earth long ago may have been caused by a GRB in the Milky Way. If one of these things happens in the Milky Way these days, or several thousand years ago, we could be in trouble. Luckily for our survival chances the actual beams of the GRB are pretty narrow, and if you're not in the direct path of the beam you just see a regular supernova. Well, the universe is a tough place and the energies going on in it dwarf anything humans can do.

SARS-CoV-2 virus
Deaths Were Higher This Week

According to the Johns-Hopkins Web site COVID-19 cases in the whole world reached 663,480,285 on Friday, and global deaths reached 6,704,271. In America the number of cases as of Friday was 101,194,443 and the death toll in America reached 1,096,279, so an average of 3,657 people have died of COVID-19 in America in the last week which is 1,168 more deaths than the previous week, or about a third more than last week's death toll. The pandemic is not over. Pickles of the North and I are still keeping our masks on. We've both gotten our bivalent vaccinations. We are not among those who are saying that getting a COVID-19 infection is like getting a cold. I bet that 3,657 people didn't die this past week from colds. We may be seeing another surge now that Winter is really with us. Meanwhile people who are opposed to vaccines of any kind are still preaching their pseudo-science and probably causing even more unnecessary deaths.

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 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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