Back of the Book — September 16, 2023

It's Thursday, September 28, 2023 13:43, and this Web page is finished. I've added the piece from Pickles of the North about her encounter with the spotted lanternfly invasion, and I've put in the part about my new, and serious, eye problem. The original top of this page follows the arrow. This was the 37th anniversary program for Back of the Book. We talked a little bit about the program's history and we played a short piece that consisted of the first few minutes of the first Back of the Book program. We also did the traditional reading of Before the Law by Franz Kafka. We said goodbye to Summer, since it will have ended before we get on the air again.

The next WBAI LSB meeting will be on Wednesday October 11, at 7:00 PM. That meeting will be held on ZOOM, even though ZOOM compromises privacy and security. That meeting will be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 49 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

You can now listen to this program on the official WBAI Archive.

We had a LSB meeting this past Wednesday September 13. I gave a Treasurer's Report and the written version is here. There was scheduled a Q&A session with WBAI Management and any listeners who called in to talk to them. This Q&A session started at 6:30, a half hour before the LSB meeting was scheduled to begin. The General Manager took up most of the time and one listener asked a question. Some people go on and on about having the listeners being in on everything. Some people on the LSB make noises about having the listeners in general figure out how to fix WBAI's finances. It's obviously just grandstanding by those LSB members, but they behave as if no one sees through them. And I do not think that having a lot of people who are not aware of the realities of WBAI's finances hear some speeches will result in realistic actions.

The WBAI/Pacifica elections are going on. If you contributed enough, $25, to become a member by June 30, you get to vote. Apparently WBAI is lagging behind on the number of listeners casting votes. Pacifica and WBAI Management wants us to tell you to vote, if you're eligible. If not enough listeners vote in this election the election will have to be extended at all stations, at a cost of thousands of dollars.So vote already. They're sending out ballots every Tuesday. If you haven't gotten one yet write to the National Elections Supervisor, get your ballot and then vote.

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. Now I can again and there are a whole bunch of archive blurbs up there now.

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?

Program Note:Back of the Book is preempted on September 23, as a part of the 52 Week Schedule that Management has the entire station on. We're scheduled to be back on the air on September 30, 2023, at 5 AM.

A radio

We celebrated the 37th anniversary of this radio program this morning. Back of the Book first aired on September 8, 1986, and since we got preempted for a special emergency on-air fund raiser last week when we'd planned to celebrate this annual milestone we're doing it this week. This radio program has covered a lot of ground over the decades. A Program Director in 1986, had the brilliant idea of making shows alternate with each other. So we were on for two hours every other week. The program aired from 1 to 3 AM on alternate Sunday nights/Monday mornings.

I did the program all alone for some years and then Radio's Pickles of the North and I met. She'd been doing another program with some other folks late in the last century. We got together, she sat in with me a for a while and she then she became my co-host at the end of the 20th Century.

This program has had its bumps in the past 37 years. We've had people threatening to take us off the air, we've had people blasting us for political reasons and we've also had people who really like this radio program. Back when we were on from 1 to 3 AM we used to raise more money than other overnight radio programs, and even some daytime programs. In 2020, certain interim Management people at WBAI moved us to this 5 AM time slot on Saturday mornings. I must say I do not fathom people, getting up so early on a Saturday morning, but you're all welcome to listen, the few of you who do listen. I'm not sure, but we may have more people listening to our archived programs than we have listening to us live. So we've really started our 38th year now. As part of our little celebration we played the first few minutes of the first Back of the Book program.

Of course we read the traditional Before the Law by Franz Kafka.

autumn_banishes_summer (22K)
We Said Goodbye to Summer

We said goodbye to the Middle Third early this month, and now we're about to say goodbye to the Summer season as well. Next Saturday morning the Autumnal Equinox will occur. It'll happen on September 23, 2023, at 2:50 AM (ET) that's ten minutes before three o'clock next Saturday morning. We're preempted next Saturday morning, so this is our last chance to say goodbye to the Summer of 2023. The Doors helped us to sing the season out. Sorry to hear it go.

sars_cov-2 virus with a francy, yellow mask
Deaths Are Significantly Higher

The CDC Web site isn't giving us all that much information about COVID-19 in America, although they're saying that Total Deaths in Americas are at 1,141,782 which means that 2,325 people have died of COVID-19 since our last program two weeks ago, That's 1,162 or 1,163 a week, well over the rates for the previous few weeks. We're hoping to get our COVID-19 booster EG.5 variant in time to avoid getting sick.

The pandemic is not over. Pickles of the North and I are still keeping our masks on. We've both gotten our bivalent vaccinations, and our bivalent booster shots. We're hearing that the new boosters are going to be ready as early as next month or surely by October. We'll probably wait until mid-October to get our new booster short against COVID-19 and the latest flu shot at the same time. It's a ritual we've gone though for the past couple of years.

Intermediate age related macular degeneration

On this program I talked about a little surprise I'd gotten a couple of days before this program aired.

That Thursday morning we'd tripped off on one of my rare excursions out of the house . We were going to the V.A. Hospital's Eye Clinic to get me a new pair of glasses. I had a list of questions written down that I was going to ask the doctor about. My eyesight has been deteriorating for a few years now, in my estimation, and the reading glasses I'd gotten last year seemed totally inadequate. I just can't read with them sometimes. Even with my distance glasses on I often have trouble seeing, and at one point some months ago it looked like the floor of the apartment building where we live was moving in waves, similar to what hot surfaces will look like because of the heated air moving around above them. But the hallway wasn't hot. I did not think that this was a good sign. So I unloaded all of this on the doctor, who turned out to be a resident, rather than the usual intern.

The doctor did the usual tests and got the information he needed to generate a new prescription for my next pair of reading glasses. Of course he dilated my eyes so he could look inside. I thought that he was looking around with that very bright light in my dilated eyes a bit longer than usual. He then brought me to another room and said I should take my stuff with me because we might not be coming back to the room he'd been examining me in.

The other room was one of the dark rooms they have in the Eye Clinic. There were some machines in there and I was directed to sit in front of one. I had to put my chin in a socket in order for the machine to align its lens with one eye, and then I had to switch my chin to another socket so the machine, called a fundus camera, could take images of the other eye. The machine had a display and I was told to keep my eye on the green cross-hair. While I did that I saw a red line run down that screen. It was doing a special type of scanning. The doctor looked at the results, and told me that we were going back to the original examination room.

Fundus Camera Image of a Healthy Macula
image credit:Wies6014 License:CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed image cropped and scaled

Back there he told me that some of my eye problems have to do with the cataracts I have. But he said that they were not serious enough to have caused me so much trouble with reading. And then he brought up on his computer screen the images he'd taken of my eyes in that darker room. He showed me the image taken with the special fundus camera, which showed a slightly jagged line under the smooth curve of my retina. In the image to the left on this page the bright line toward the bottom is normal; in the image of my eye that line is what's jagged. This slightly jagged line is apparently an accumulation of junk from the retina, and in a healthy eye it should be a perfectly smooth line. Mine wasn't smooth, and it had some notable peaks in it right under the macula, which is the part of the retina that's used for things like reading. The doctor's diagnosis was dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Oh boy, we were not expecting that. I was given some pills to take that may help to slow down the accumulation of detritus in back of my retina. I was told that these pills were something to fight the progression of AMD, but what damage has been done is irreversible. The pills are mostly vitamins and minerals. I got issued a fast supply of a handful of pills from the V.A. Hospital's pharmacy. The next day the doctor called to say that the pills that the V.A. was handing out were not the best and lacked some ingredients. Luckily when the full prescription came a few days later what I got was in fact the good stuff with all of the ingredients for fighting the macular degeneration. So I'm taking those pills. I am to go back to the Eye Clinic in six months and we'll see if things are any worse.

This was an unwelcome surprise, all right. I read a great deal in the course of the day. If my eyesight gets any worse I'll have a very hard time reading. What I have is called dry AMD. If it progresses much further I could end up with wet AMD, which happens when the crap buildup in back of the retina pokes through the retina and there's bleeding in the eye. That condition is really bad. So now I have some more pills to take and all I can do is take them and hope this condition doesn't get much worse.

spotted_lantern_fly (15K)
The Invader!

Radio's Pickles of the North here with some news regarding the Spotted Lanternfly - they are everywhere! Meaning not only in New York, but also 13 more States! They are an invasive species from Asia, and our infestation came specifically from China on a shipment of stone in 2012. They glue their eggs to almost any surface, and the stones were in a shipping container crossing the briny deep. They were first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014 and by 2020 some were found in Staten Island.

They like to suck the sap out of more than 70 plants, their favorite being the ailanthus tree, but they will go after grapevines, hops, maple, walnut and fruit trees. This weakens the plants, very bad in general and potentially devastating for agriculture. Their excrement is just as bad as their sap sucking. It's called honeydew and their droppings create ideal conditions for the growth of a black sooty mold. So they further damage leaves and fruit. This also attracts other insects. So far few birds are interested in eating them, and in their native lands they are predated on by two species of wasp. Best not to be importing more invasive species to take care of them! Cold will kill their eggs, and each female bug lays 50 to 100 of them - yuck - but it has to get to 25° below zero Fahrenheit to do that. Federal and State agencies are trying to combat their spread, especially since they are already destroying vineyards.

So far, locally they are being sucked up into vacuums and then blasted with an alcohol mist which kills them. Also we are supposed to stomp on them when we see them. I was out walking with my friend Lulu of the Far South in Manhattan near Central Park- they were all over the sidewalk on one of the side streets on the east side - plenty of squishing was going on! They are also on the sidewalks in Brooklyn, which means they are on the trees of Brooklyn. It's pretty bad and going to get worse. But whether you see one or many, keep squishing!

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.

You can also send me E-mail.

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WBAI related links

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