Web links related to the Back of the Book program of August 2, 2004
This is an unusual Web page for a Back of the Book program. It never went up on the night of the program! I tried to get the page up before leaving as usual, but my Web host had a server problem and it was just impossible. It's all up here now though. We did get to a bunch of mail on this program.
The WBAI LSB will meet next on Thursday, August 12th, at 6:30 PM, but I don't yet know where it will meet.
The LSB's July 27, meeting was much better than it's previous one. There were no assaults at this meeting! Of course Management had been made to hire two security guards by the Pacifica National Board (PNB) after complaints about people's safety at the last LSB meeting. And then there was the person video taping the proceedings for the PNB. No faction bosses were observed sitting outside the meeting room sending in instructions this time, either. Funny what happens, or doesn't, when it's known that people are really watching and actions can't be simply denied.
WBAI's mandated Committee of Inclusion (COI) is currently looking for candidates. The members elected to the COI by the LSB will be electing other members to this committee. If you'd like to be a candidate for inclusion in the important work of the WBAI COI click here and fill out the form. There has been talk of pushing back the deadline for applying for membership in this committee.
WBAI now 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 feeds were working at 11:28 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.
On this program we talked about the “cop surge” stuff that's been going on around New York City for some months now. Pickles of the North talked about seeing these and about some of her fiends having to endure them around their Manhattan apartments.
What happens is that up to eighty cop cars will go madly charging into one street and the cops will get out, many in full body armor and carrying high powered weapons, and then they just mill about there for half an hour.
This is apparently an exercise performed in the interest of getting a lot of heavily armed cops someplace in case they're needed. Is it to deal with people who might be trying to blow up something or is it to intimidate peaceful demonstrators? It apparently rattles a lot of people who see one of these things for the first time.
I went on a bit about the RFID phenomenon on this program. This is the technology where a small chip can be implanted in the human body and it will serve as a transponder which can be read by a type of radio scanner. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification.
This technology has been used for years as a high tech method of branding cattle, and as a means of identifying pets in case they get lost. But once the technology was put into animals there was no technical reason why it couldn't be put into human beings. The Attorney General of Mexico, Rafael Macedo, has had a chip made by the company Applied Digital Solutions implanted in himself to allow him to access certain high security databases owned by the Mexican government. The RFID chip is encapsulated in a plastic casing and is described as being about the size of a grain of rice.
A company named VeriChip has applied for the F.D.A.'s final approval for its chips to be implanted in human beings. Right now they want to be able to have their RFID chips implanted in hospital patients so that they can be identified and so their medical records can be accessed more easily. The only real issue that the government sees at this time is the privacy of the patient. The F.D.A. is looking into whether or not confidential patient information could be disclosed improperly. VeriChip is already allowed to implant its chips into people who want to use it as a security device.
The RFID chip simply sends a number to the scanner. This will probably be a very large number, to insure uniqueness. Computers attached to the scanner would then look up the information about who is associated with that number in a database.
This is how it starts. People will be offered something that will seem to enhance their lives, make things more convenient. In this case the RFID chip has been getting sold to some companies as a sort of access card key that employees can't leave home and which is difficult to steal. Some people will even be glad to get such things implanted in themselves. Then this initiative addresses the “convenience” of having hospital patients implanted for the purpose of better treatment through easier access to medical records. It will keep up like this for however many years it takes to build up a willing, and in some cases even eager, base of people who have been implanted with RFID devices. And once a critical mass is reached it will become something close to a necessity like a credit card or a driver's license. Eventually, when the government makes such implants mandatory, there will be not that many people who don't have one already. And those people will not be powerful enough to reverse the trend.
In these days when internal security operatives from the former Soviet Union are tutoring the United States Government in the finer points of restricting travel and issuing national ID cards and internal passports these technological advances are troubling indeed. Given the size of the databases involved we can guarantee that your future number will not be 6, but we can't guarantee that when you get your summons to come and get implanted and you say, “I am not a number, I am a free man/woman!” you will not be greeted with mocking laughter from above.
On this program we talked about how Dr. Stephen W. Hawking has done some new calculations and has abandoned his previous contention that black holes destroy all information contained in whatever falls into them. He now says information sort of does come back out, although retrieving it is probably a practical impossibility.
A black hole is basically matter that is so compressed that the mass of a million Suns occupies a space smaller than a proton. Black holes have such strong gravitational fields that even light cannot escape from them. For more about the phenomenon of black holes look here.
We got to some mail on this program. Some of it was snail mail, the kind where people write on paper and hope that the United States Postal Service will some day deliver it to the addressee, and some was E-mail. The latter we post below.
Oh, we're very well aware of the Republican national Convention being around starting on August 30. WBAI will be covering all sorts of things around that bund rally. As for going to a certain station if they offered me the chance, well, I really can't say. I've never really thought about it. I'm sure we're all quite secure in the knowledge that we'll never have to find out, however.
Susan is referring to my not wanting to wear the Medic Alert bracelet that identifies me as being diabetic. I did wear it to the court house last May when I was having to deal with a possible jury duty stint. One of the problems with the damned thing is that I can't get it off!
We were not supposed to pitch, but we were sort of told we were pitching a couple of days before one May program. And Susan was very generous on donating to that one.
Yes, I've bought two things on E-Bay so far. I haven't had any problems. Of course I bought some really cheap stuff. I've found it fascinating to just browse through what's being offered for sale on E-Bay. I find the window shopping, as opposed to the bidding, addictive! There are some folks who've been burned on E-Bay. And some people offering things are obviously just making a profit on the shipping and handling so that even if they send you absolute crap and then refund your money, after you send the crap back to them, they're still making a profit.
That's some Web site you've got in there. I'm probably not the most receptive person to something calling itself “Sacred Science.”
We were on pitching at some point, which was a big surprise to us as well as to our listeners.
In response to a snail mail on a previous program I had mentioned that the word “transpire” really is only accurately used to describe the respiration of a plant. Of course it isn't used that way at all. And dictionaries have adjusted to this misuse of the word “transpire” and now list it as a synonym of the words “occur” or “happen.” I still resist.
Dear R. Paul -- When I did write of the verb “transpire” and concerning whether it be correct in usage to imply the coming to light of an act formerly hidden, I did mix metaphors, as I remember it, and for this, sire, grant pardon. Eke (which is a very old word for also) on another matter concerning yourself and the much esteemed Pickles, I spoke of “benefit of clergy” for which again I must implore your indulgence, for that phrase does not construe aught to do with matrimony, but rather is a matter of legal right to exemption from the secular courts to appear instead before a bishop's court! and that right was in time extended from the clergy to those with the knowledge of letters, so that as one of my teachers did say, literacy at one time conferred a handicap of one, you might safely expect to commit homicide once if you had a sympathetic bishop. But some in the episcopal chair there be and they are hard men withal. Robespierre, 'tis said, argued on behalf of a bishop and the man was found guilty of a capital crime and executed. Robespierre then framed his mind so that he became for a time an opponent of capital punishment. Times do change, and men, and language. Back of the Book, by common repute, uses words well. I see that one meaning of “nullification” is that it is the setting aside by a jury of its own findings of facts. Jefferson in heaven, Calhoun in hell, both longed with passionate intellectual curiousity to see you on that jury, wondering what would come of it, but let them wonder still, glad am I that ye be in good health, your most bounden beadsman, Bill in Manhattan.
And pitch we did, and help out a whole lot Seth did! Although the fund raising marathon continued we weren't required to pitch more than once. The marathons running over has certainly been noticed by some. By adding up what pitching has been done so far and what Management projects in WBAI's fiscal year 2004, which ends on September 30, WBAI is going to be pitching for 86 days in the space of a single year! That is not considered a good thing by some of us.
I still do not know what this listener is talking about.
The next set of E-mails from a listener who regularly sends us very short messages via his cell phone relate to the death of Ronald Reagan, whose passing we appropriately noted by a chorus of Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.
The below E-mail relates to the fact that we've been having some unannounced work being done at the Empire State Building where WBAI's transmitter and shared antenna array are housed. For our June 20/21, program we had more maintenance, which was announced only hours before we came on the air, and we only did about a 45 minute radio program.
Sometimes our power is lowered and sometimes I suspect that we're being switched to a less useful antenna while work is done on the Empire State Building. I know that sometimes my air check gets badly mauled by noise, and this shouldn't be happening. This stuff happens late on Sunday nights/Monday mornings, so Back of the Book and Carrier Wave get hit with this problem a lot. Hard to build or keep an audience if people can't hear the program!
Well, we certainly read this one way after the events mentioned had happened.
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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