Web links related to the Back of the Book program of March 14, 2005
It's Sunday afternoon 3/27/2005 15:03:28 and this WEb page is finished. We covered the below topics plus more on this program. I also spoke about the purge that started on the WBAI LSB on March 9, and we even read some mail.
The WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) will meet next on Monday March 21, 2005, Hostos Community College, Savoy Multipurpose Room, 120 East 149th Street (corner of 149th Street & Walton Avenue). Take the 2, 4 or 5 train to 149th Street & Grand Concourse. Location is wheelchair accessible and public comment is welcome.
Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of almost every WBAI LSB meeting so far? Well, I do. And I'll be updating it soon.
At the March 9th WBAI LSB meeting the faction currently in charge pulled a fast one and went around the bylaws, which state that you need two thirds of the entire LSB to vote someone off the LSB, and came up with the idea of “suspending” a member for six months, which they claimed they could do with a simple majority. I have written a statement about this travesty and sent it to the PNB, the WBAI LSB and various public mailing lists and bulletin boards.
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.
Our colleagues from Off the Hook now have both a RealAudio streaming web cast operating, and a new MP3 stream. The MP3 feed is now the preferred feed. Both were operating at 10:28 PM last night.
The Pacifica Foundation, which owns WBAI, has revamped its Web site and now has something called the Pacifica Lounge where you can post messages about Pacifica, WBAI and other Pacifica radio stations. This may be a good thing, and of course there are other, long term fora in which to participate.
WBAI also has a forum on its Web site now. You have to register to post messages, but anyone may read the messages.
If you've never seen the planet Mercury this is the month to look for it. It's visible in the evening twilight.
Spring will arrive this fortnight! The Vernal Equinox will happen next Sunday, March 20, at 7:34 AM. But I'm also seeing some sources say it's at 7:33 AM. More seasonal stuff here.
When I was in grammar school one of the things that I really disliked, and never learned to do properly, was diagramming sentences. But some people apparently really liked that exercise in the dissection of communications and now they've brought it to a new, dark place.
I read from a New York Times article about computer software that diagrams sentences, in service to intelligence gathering operations. A firm that's financed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of several which has developed software that will diagram a sentence very rapidly. Their software was able to diagram every sentence in an electronic text version Moby Dick by Herman Melville in 9½ seconds. What this does is it allows the body of text that's being examined, most frequently E-mail, captured Instant Messages, Chat Room messages, etc., to be put into a database.
The problem that the intelligence gathering agencies, both governmental and domestic, have had over the years is that there is one hell of a lot of information whirling around the Internet in various forms and much of that information is buried among misspelling, bad grammer, broken sentences and half thoughts. All things that human beings can figure out but which are currently beyond the abilities of computers to make any order out of. This has necessitated having human being read through mountains of material looking for the bits of information that they want.
But when you get the information and put it into a relational database you can search through huge amounts of data very rapidly and focus on only the items that are of interest to you. Given that the United States Government is grabbing enormous amounts of information from E-mails and other Internet communications, very notably by the F.B.I's now obsoleted Carnivore software, and from international electronic communications of all sorts via the C.I.A.'s Echelon program, there's simply more information than a set of expert human being can sift through.
But the firms that are offering this sentence diagramming software are making it a lot easier. Their software puts the huge amount of information gathered from the Internet into an orderly form that a computer can work with. At that point almost anyone can query the database for specific points. It's also being used by ordinary companies like Westinghouse and General Motors to search through customer records and other communications to see where problems might be and to see what people might be interested in buying.
So we have a real convergence of interests of what President Dwight David Eisenhower called the “Military/Industrial Complex.” Some will be looking to improve customer relations, some will be looking for problems with their products, some will be looking for specific ways of spamming people and some will be delving into the details of people's lives with an eye towards prosecution or prophylactic termination. The bottom line is that Big Brother is getting much more efficient at snooping on us.
I recall that some yeas ago folks had a day of trying to jam the Carnivore software by sending lots of messages with words they thought might trigger something in that software. I don't think that the small scale protest action did much to the snoops' operations, but now that action would simply be swallowed up and the information “noise” it was intended to introduce into the data that the F.B.I. was monitoring would be shunted aside by the computers before it could ever have an effect on anything the humans were doing.
And of course the national security argument for this stuff is just a smoke screen for the government to be able to spy on us even more. Right after 9/11 attacks there was a big media splurge about Al-Quaeda using sophisticated encryption techniques such as steganography to send their secret messages back and for th to each other. In fact they simply wrote to each other in plain text Arabic, the language they all spoke every day, and the intelligence agencies simply never got around to trying to translate their intercepted messages. I think we're experiencing something beyond the thin end of the wedge here.
Some scientists have found bacteria which they claim to have brought back to active life after a period of dormancy which lasted for 32,000 years! I think I have some of those under my sink.
Pickles of the North couldn't be with us on this program. We tried to get her in on a call from the North Pole but we couldn't get the connection to work, partly because certain people who call every program kept bombarding the phone lines and Pickles couldn't get through. She'll be on the next program.
We got to some of the mail on this program. Here's the E-mail that we got to.
Well, Rich, her warning that “Something big is about to happen somewhere in the world in the near future,” was bound to have some sort of correlation to something happening in the year 2005. In what year hasn't something big happened somewhere in the world? As for her warning “Don't go to India,” was she okay with what happened to the Indonesians? Sumatra got hit worse than India did, and why did she not mention Sri Lanka, which got hit by the tsunami really hard? The fact is that if these folks say something that could be interpreted as a “hit” they play it up, but when they miss they just keep mum about it. With 25 books she must have predicted a hell of a lot of stuff by now. How much of what she predicted didn't come true?
And if this person was really able to predict 9/11 and the tsunami why didn't she start really letting people know about it? The reason is probably the same as for al of the other psychics: she didn't know any such thing and just made so many predictions that some real world events just had to occur which could be presented as fitting one of her many predictions. I'm still not believing in psychics.
The stuff I'm writing is what I guess you'd call mainstream. Maybe “historical fiction” is the best description, since all of the events take place more than forty years ago. None of it is likely to ever see publication.
As for me knowing it all, well that's certainly not what I'm presenting. I ask questions and talk about various developments. I do think it's necessary that I be prepared to discuss the stuff I talk about so I research the issues. I'll certainly listen to see if there's some “know it all” sounding element next time.
I tried to get the book as Kathy mentioned, but by the time I tried, on the afternoon of February 28th both copies has been sold! But I was glad to see that I hadn't lost the only copy left in the world. There will be an announcement about this book on the next radio program.
There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even now that the gag rule has been lifted. 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.
Probably the most popular list that's sprung up is the “NewPacifica” mailing list. This one is very lively and currently includes over 400 subscribers coast to coast.
Being lively, of course, it sometimes also gets a bit nasty. All sorts of things are happening on this list and official announcements are frequently posted there.
You can look at the NewPacifica list here, and you can join the list from that Web page too. If you subscribe to the “NewPacifica” mailing list you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list.
There is the option to receive a “digest” version of the list, which means that a bunch of messages are bundled into one E-mail and sent to you at regular intervals, this cuts down on the number of E-mails you get from the list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.
This list also has a Web based interface where you can read messages and from which you can post your own messages.
There is also the more WBAI specific “Goodlight” Web based message board. It is sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as “the bleepin' blue board,” owing to the blue background used on its Web pages. This one has many people posting anonymously and there's also an ancillary “WBAI people” board that's just totally out of hand.
When the computer in Master Control is working we sometimes have live interaction with people posting on the “Goodlight Board” during the program.
And then there is the historic “Free Pacifica!” list, which has been used to help organize resistance to Pacifica Management hijackers since the mid-90s. It's become a low volume mailing list because it's been eclipsed by some of the newer, more technologically advanced, lists. Just click on this link and follow the instructions, and you'll be subscribed. This is a mailing list only, it doesn't have a digest option nor does it have a web interface.
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