Back of the Book — October 23, 2021

We talked about the convergence of conspiracy disinformation memes on this program, including a story about a flat Earth crazy who was also anti-vaccination; apparently he had been against any vaccination from way back. We also talked about the naming of the new space telescope that's going to launch in December after a homophobe who purged gay and lesbian workers from government jobs in the past. We plan to update this Web page soon, so check back for those updates.

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

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do, and I've recently updated some of that.

I have also posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee on this Web site. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, it will probably be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 28 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic. This will be the last meeting of the Eleventh WBAI LSB.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, October 18, 2021, 2021.

The LSB meeting featured lots of hijinks with people trying to get a very badly put together motion pushed far up on the agenda. They failed, but they are up a lot of time in the failing. I think that much of it was simply electioneering. And at this time the 2021, WBAI elections are over. That's a good thing. We hope that none f you voted for the so-called Justice & Unity Campaign.

Before the meeting I had put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

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, which gives us the following schedule:

All of these meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM. That meeting will end the 11th WBAI LSB. The 12th WBAI LSB will be seated on December 8, 2021.

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. You can take a look at it and see if I've been able to post anything on it lately. There are still some limitations, but I am assured that I can plug in the archive blurbs that were lost in the latest upgrade.

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?

JWST spacecraft model 2
The New Space Telescope

A new and much more powerful space telescope is now scheduled to launch on December 18, 2021.

I talked about how we assume things sometimes. I'd thought it was to be named after Thomas William Webb, a 19th Century Anglican Church sky pilot and prominent amateur astronomer. The 19th Century Webb had published books and articles on astronomy. He was most famous for the book Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes which was first published in 1859, and was revised several times after that. I have the 1962, version which is a Dover reprint of the final 1917, update. Thomas William Webb's book was a mainstay of amateur astronomers well into the 20th Century.

Well, the James Webb telescope is not named after him. I'd seen the name Webb associated with the new space telescope, which will provide improved infrared resolution and sensitivity over the Hubble Space Telescope, and I had assumed that it was to be named after the old sky pilot. I was not that pleased with a sky pilot getting his name associated with a serious scientific instrument, but that 19th Century Webb was an amateur astronomer and would have been a better choice for the name of the new telescope.

Turns out it's named for James E. Webb who was the administrator of NASA from 1961, to 1968. James E. Webb was an administrator in the United States government for many years. Besides being in charge of NASA for seven years, James E. Webb served as Undersecretary of State from 1949, to 1952. In 2002, NASA renamed the Next Generation Space Telescope the James Webb Space Telescope. Unfortunately James E. Webb was a homophobe, and not a passive one. In the years 1950, to 1952, James E. Webb played what's been described as a leadership role in purging gay and lesbian personnel from the State Department. Of course there was no protection for gay and lesbian people back then, not even the minimal protections that we have now, in some places.

Records cited by a Wikipedia article show that Webb met with President Harry S. Truman on June 22, 1950, soon after the Korean War had started, In order to establish how the White House, the State Department, and the Hoey Committee might work together on the homosexual investigation, and Truman agreed to send two White House aides with Webb to meet with the Hoey committee to establish an modus operandi. Purges of LGBTQ state employees continued throughout Webb's tenure at the State Department.

Jeez, I wish that the Next Generation Space Telescope had not been named after this guy. I read from an article in the May 2021, issue of Scientific American that was authored by four scientists who oppose the renaming of the Next Generation Space Telescope to honor the administrator who purged gay and lesbian workers from NASA.

Yeah, the other Webb, Thomas William Webb, was a sky pilot and his book would launch into a gratuitous assertion of how great his god was now and then, but even he would have been a lot better person to rename the telescope after. The four authors of the Scientific American article suggested that renaming it after Harriet Tubman would be appropriate. Others have suggested that it be named after Sally Ride, a lesbian astronaut. It is being reported that last month NASA had decided not to rename the telescope as a result of the controversy.

Well, the telescope won't care what it's named, and I certainly hope that the telescope works very well and discovers lots of new things about the universe. I just won't like how it's been renamed.

Crazy Convergence

And there's one thing that I think many people find attractive about crazy conspiracy frauds, I don't like to call them conspiracy theories, if you like one you might very well like others. And there are a hell of a lot of them around.

The crazy conspiracy disinformation we hear about COVID-19 shares true believers with all sorts of other such crazy things. And while some people find it hard to believe there really are people who buy into the disinformation that the planet Earth is flat there are people who seriously push that disinformation. I've looked at their Web site in the past. Well, there is one fewer flat Earth conspiracy crazy these days.

A guy named Rob Skiba was hospitalized in September with low blood oxygen levels. He was a prominent flat Earth crazy. He had apparently gone to what's being described as a Christian-centric conference in August called Take On The World. He didn't feel so good after that. While he was at that conference he posted on Facebook saying that people would know whether vaccines were a solution or a problem, Within I'd say 2 to 3 years or so. He also said, Truly, I take no joy in saying this, nor will I if I'm the one still standing. He complained that people, Gotta take the shot or else you can't be a teacher in a school or you can't work at CVS. A video of Skiba has been unearthed showing him preaching opposition to flu vaccine mandates in 2012, with the usual reference to inoculations as, the mark of the beast, which we've pointed out in the past shows him as a Christian who either doesn't actually read the so-called Book of Revelations or else his reading comprehension skills were really poor. So he was saying this stuff about vaccines nearly a decade ago that we're all too familiar with today from right-wing ideologues. In that sermon from years ago Skiba said that the side effects of mandated vaccinations, included counterfeit immortality and being Cast alive into a sea of fire. So Skiba had been hospitalized in September, after that conference he'd gone to.

People who knew him posted status updates about his condition in recent weeks. On October 13, they announced that Skiba had died. His followers expressed shock that such a thing would happen to him. They are probably as stupid as he used to be. Some expressed grief and reportedly some threw in some conspiracy disinformation to spice things up. Skiba was a film maker and writer and his YouTube channel is reported to have had 210,000 subscribers. Really, believing in a flat Earth and opposing vaccines are quite compatible.

We Got to Some Mail Again

Yes, we once again read some listener mail on this program.

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.

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