Currently it's Sunday 9/10/2000 20:54:08, and I've not been updating this page in a terribly timely manner. I've added the mail we got to and the part about the Pope beatifying a creepy predecessor. I think this page is done now. Of course I've said that in the past and been wrong. Amazing that we've gotten to the 14th anniversary of this program. I put more of a dent in the mail backlog.
You can use the Pacifica Theft Page to find out what Pacifica Management is up to these days.
I was able to listen to WBAI just before 9:00 PM last night, so we're probably getting Web cast by porus dot com.
So this is the 14th anniversary program of Back of the Book! Who'd have thought that it would have lasted this long? It's been quite a roller coaster ride in terms of various elements of the WBAI Managerial entity targeting Back of the Book for cancellation over the years.
As I've said before, no radio program is forever and I'll just have to do the best I can and we'll see how long we last.
I expect to read the very short “Before the Law” by Franz Kafka, as usual. And you can read a short biography of Kafka and see some photographs of him on the Web.
I'm sure I'll go on a little bit about the history the program's been through. You can browse the last 2½ years of the program's Web pages, if you like.
A news item showed up just before I went on the air. It told about Pope John Paul II announcing the “beatification” of five people. Of course this is one of the things that the Pope may do that the Roman Catholic Church claims is infallible. One of the people beatified was Pope Pius IX (1792-1878), who successfully lobbied the Vatican Council of 1870, to vote for a declaration on the infallibility of the Pope. Beatification is one step short of, and a required prerequisite to, canonization as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
Not everyone is thrilled with the Vatican's putting Pius IX on the sainthood track. He was an opponent of the unification of Italy. He was the Pope who lost the Papal States to that unification. Prior to that he was a secular king in his own nation state. He was also a very serious anti-Semite, having referred to Jews as “dogs” on occasion. His most notorious anti-Semitic act was his participation in the kidnapping of six year old Jewish boy Edgardo Mortara in 1858. Pius IX made the kid his personal ward and prevented the parents from ever being able to even see their boy again. Edgardo Mortara was made into a Catholic priest.
So this is some guy Pope John Paul II has raised up to the sill of sainthood. Did he have a general thing for little boys? I guess if you're a Pope and a king you can get away with this sort of procurement scenario.
Pius IX was also an enemy of ecumenicism and is right there with the current Pope in declaring that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true religion and everybody else's religion sucks. The current Pope said of Pius IX's little imperfections, “Sanctity lives in history and every saint is not removed from the limitations and personal conditioning of our human nature. By beatifying one of its sons, the Church does not celebrate particular historical choices he made but rather points him out for imitation and veneration for his virtues and praising the divine grace that shines in them.” So it looks like sainthood is going cheap these days, Pius IX can join his fellow deposed monarch Czar Nicholas II in the ghastly saints club.
The robots are coming! Well, maybe not coming, but sort of reproducing, anyway. Scientists at Brandeis University have made a robot that uses a computer to think up solutions to problems, and do computer simulations of those solutions, and then design a new robot to implement those solutions.
The robots it produces are usually about eight inches long and made of plastic tubes, motors and ball joints. Human intervention is still necessary with this prototype to install the computer chips, download the programmed instructions and put in the motors the “daughter” robots use to move. But it's still quite an advance on what's been possible heretofore. These new robot producing robots could produce industrial robots far more cheaply than they're made now. This raises the prospect that not only will they put ordinary working people out of work but they'll also put the scientists who make robots out of work as well. Cyber-poetic justice?
On top of that, some scientists are proposing ways to have robots figure things out rapidly in real time using swarms of robots rather than one.
There are all sorts of ethics issues swirling around these developments, of course. There is also some consternation over the possibility that the robots will eventually replace humans completely.
I went on some months ago about the BOOMERANG experiment that seemed to establish that the universe is “flat.” Now the results are in from a more recent experiment named MAXIMA for “Millimeter Anisotropy eXperiment IMaging Array.”
The University of California at Berkeley has issued a press release on it. Basically, they confirm a flat universe and say that 65% of the mass of the universe is made up of that odd, “sort of” force called quintessence that's theorized to be acting like negative gravity and accelerating the expansion of the universe. I've also gone on in the past about the theories regarding the ultimate extinction of all life in the universe.
We got a number of birthday and program anniversary wishes on the program. I read them out of order because of their time sensitivity. They were all on paper, so they're not showing up here. But I was glad to get them. Here's the E-mail:
Next we have a missive from someone who was going to the Pacifica National Board meeting in Washington, D.C. in June. Coincidentally, they're meeting in the same place next weekend.
Hi, R. Paul,
I just thought you might be interested to know that in an hour or so I'll be on my way to D.C. with Patty to confront the Pacifica corporation unethical gang When I return, probably following a nap, I'll send you a longer letter if I think I've gleaned information worth communicating.
YOu're welcome to the middle third. I hate hot weather. So do our computers which would fare much better without it.
In solidarity with raised fist,
Just to let you know, if you have some patience and walk around Brooklyn or Manhattan for awhile, you will come across a discarded computer put out with the rest of someone's trash This computer will probably have most of its innards removed. However, I would bet that the fans will still be remaining and in good working condition . I once read a book about computers and it said that eventually the fans of a computer will quit working. With that tidbit of information lurking in my head; one day I was walking back from the store and came across a discarded computer and removed the fans with a small scewdriver . Months later, one of my fans kicked the bucket and I used one of the fans I found. It worked and it is working this very moment as I type this e-mail.
The above was in relation to my having mentioned on the air that one of my old computer's fans had died. Indeed, I am looking to replace that fan even now from a discarded machine.
The next couple of E-mails pose a question I'm still not sure I understand. But the writer has replied again after having heard his correspondence read on the air, so maybe we'll get him an answer soon. Of course there's also the real possibility that even when I understand the question I won't be able to answer it, but what the hell? I don't know what he means about 4¼ pounds of photons.
We must specify here that we're talking about the speed of light in a vacuum. The speed of light is different in different materials. It's fastest in a vacuum. The photon, the most basic unit of light, is currently believed to have a rest mass of zero. Of course it doesn't actually rest. It's pretty easy to get bollixed up with realtivity because it's so non-intuitive and much of it can really only be expressed mathematically. So I guess the bottom line here is that the photon doesn't have any rest mass, so it can move at the speed of light.
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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