It's Sunday, 1/28/2001 00:20:08, and the gag rule is back. I think that this page is finished at last. On the program I spoke a little on the current crisis and on some scientific subjects, along with my jury duty experiences. I only got to one piece of the mail backlog, unfortunately. WBAI has a new policy that the Operations Dept. person on duty will do all readings from now on. In the years I've been at WBAI I've always signed onto the logs and taken transmitter readings on the program, so it was odd on this program to not have to do any of that. We are being taken one more step away from being autonomous programmers.
Meanwhile, you can keep up on the current WBAI crisis and the overall Pacifica crisis on my Pacifica Theft page.
UPDATE: To make things on the air even more interesting, WBAI General Manager Utrice Leid has reinstituted the “gag rule” on all producers at WBAI.
WBAI was being Web cast when I checked at 10:38 PM last night. So you should be able to hear the Web cast from porus.com.
So I finally got around to talking about my jury duty stint back in December. As it turns out, this story is a bit long, so I've provided this link to the story of my last jury duty of the Twentieth Century for those who want to bother reading about it.
George W. Bush has been crowned Usurper and has taken up residence in the White House. He's not the first unelected person to do so, but he's the first to have no Constitutional reason to be there.
The WBAI civil war continues. For my take on it all CLICK HERE. The WBAI Union has issued some statements, as well.
Earlier this month something happened that shows how wrong people can be when they're absolutely certain that they have seen something.
A couple of people who were driving across the George Washington Bridge used a cell phone to report that they'd seen a small plane crash into the Hudson River. The cops showed up and looked but they couldn't find anything. However, people who were on shore at the time corroborated the original claims.
Turns out that no plane crash had occurred. The plane's pilot had come very low over the river, and even touched the water a little, while watching migrating ducks for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
This just shows how people can be wrong. Even now, after the pilot and plane were found and were still flying, the people who originally reported the crash is adamant that they saw a plane crash into the Hudson River. Of course this is to be expected. We are just little animals who are mostly evolved to live on the plains of Africa. Our visual acuity is optimized to keep us alive in that environment. We notice little things that we can eat and we notice big things that can eat us. We are not evolved to be able to visually figure out what's going on far away in three dimensions, especially when something's moving through the air at any altitude. Our ancient ancestors were threatened by lions, not birds.
So this incident is something to keep in mind when people are so certain that they have seen UFOs do things that “prove” that they're alien space ships.
A monkey has had a gene from a jellyfish inserted into it. Keep that in mind.
Some Australian scientists have found, by accident, that some very bad viruses can be made rather easily, and they're concerned about the technique they used violating the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, to which 140 countries are signatories.
Both of these stories involve genetic manipulation which, while it may involve a lot of benefits for the future, such as medical advances that will improve and lengthen life, may also provide biological weapons that can kill us before we can reap any of the benefits.
The gene that was inserted into the monkey was successfully replicated throughout the monkey's body, but the gene didn't function. In the case of the Australian scientists they were trying to make the immune systems of female mice attack their eggs and thus thwart the reproduction of wee mousies. So they altered a gene in mousepox to affect the production of interleukin-4, which they reasoned would cause the auto-immune disorder they wanted. They infected the mice with the altered mousepox. But instead of rendering the mice infertile the gene destroyed the immune systems of the mice, killing almost all of them.
If the mouse eradication experiment had worked the scientists had planned to put the altered gene into the murine cytomegalo virus, which is common among mice and which they will spread among themselves.
So here are two examples of experimenters successfully manipulating genetic material in living organisms but ending up with results that were not what they had predicted. The scary part of this is that the monkey is a primate, as are humans. Manipulation of the human genome is closer to being a reality than it has ever been. And the mouse experiment has analogs to things that occur in humans, as well. While mousepox won't infect a human, smallpox will, and there's still a small amount of smallpox around. There is also a human version of the murine cytomegalo virus which was to be used as a real world delivery vehicle for the altered gene. And the role played by interleukin-4 in the human immune system is almost exactly the same as in the mouse immune system.
Does anybody else think that these two stories might presage something really bad in store for us down the road?
Scientists have previously slowed light down to 38 MPH. Now they've stopped it entirely.
Most of us know that light travels at a speed of about 186,000 miles per second. But that figure is the speed of light in a vacuum. When light travels through materials it gets slowed down. A lens is an excellent example of light slowing down in a material. Light moves more slowly through glass than through air. The shape of the lens is the way it is in order to provide the proper angles at the interface of the glass and the air to deliver the light to the focal point of the lens. This phenomenon is called refraction. Since the relevant part of the lens is the interface between the glass and the air a French scientist named Fresnel discovered in the 18th Century that he could make lighthouse lenses much lighter by putting only specifically angles pieces of glass in the lens of a lighthouse.
Different frequencies of light also travel at different speeds through materials. It's this fact which allows prisms to work. Different frequencies of light are perceived by our eyes as different colors. Red is the lowest frequency of the visible colors and blue is the highest frequency.
Every material has its own refractive index, which indicates how much it refracts, or in fact slows down, light. Of all the natural materials known diamond has the highest refractive index, which means that it slows light down the most.
So humans have been observing the slowing down of light for a long time. In this case, however, certain quantum effects have been used to sort of store the state of the light in the sodium vapor that the experimenters used.
This new ability to slow down, stop and store light could result in faster computer networks.
I only got to a single E-mail message on the air this time. I really am going after the mail more on the next program. This one was about some solar activity back in November. But we're getting these storms so often these days that it doesn't really matter.
There are a lot of issues that we can't talk about on the air at WBAI. But there is an Internet list called “Free Pacifica!” which you can subscribe to, and these issues are discussed there. If you subscribe to it you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.
If you want to subscribe to the “Free Pacifica!” list just click on this link and follow the instructions, and you'll be subscribed. Could open your eyes a little bit.
The above list has occasionally produced a high volume of E-mail because of the attention that these issues have drawn. If you would prefer to subscribe to a low volume list that only provides announcements of events related to these issues then subscribe to the FreePac mailing list.
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