Back of the Book — February 17, 2024

It's Saturday morning, February 17, 2024, 15:51, and I have updated this Web page with something from radio's Pickles of the North about the piece she did on the program about snow. The original top of this page follows the arrow. A lot of this program was taken up with a discussion of a new theory of how super massive black holes formed in the early universe. Pickles of the North talked about different kinds of snow, and about the snow that she ran into this past Tuesday morning. We also talked about the pandemic. There's a little bit more that we can post here about this program, so check back for those updates.

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

The next regular WBAI LSB meeting will be held on Wednesday March 13, 2024, at 7:00 PM. That meeting will be held on ZOOM, even though ZOOM compromises privacy and security.

We had a LSB meeting this past Wednesday night February 14, 2024. We had a minute of silence for James Irsay and Jazz Hayden who died this month. We also had to elect people to committees of the PNB. One of the usual suspects from the so-called Justice & Unity Campaign disrupted the meeting, she was alleging that things were being done wrong, in a parliamentary sense, and that we'd have to do the start of the meeting differently, even though when her faction had a majority they did it the way we did it on Wednesday and we've been doing it this way for 17 years. Doing it differently would also allow more disruption. Basically this person and her faction were trying to impress the newer members of the LSB with their tactics and disparage those of us who are not in their faction. We got most of the committees populated.

The Final results of all of the LSB officer elections we held last month are in.

At the February 14, 2024, LSB meeting the election were announced for who from WBAI will sit on the Pacifica National Board (PNB) for the next year.Those elections are below.

Listeners: Paul DeRienzo, Jim Dingeman, Cerene Roberts
Staff: Shawn Rhodes

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, so we have the following schedule:

These meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

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. Now I can again and there are a whole bunch of archive blurbs up there now.

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?

A quasar
Artist's Depiction of a Quasar

Quasars were discovered in the 1950s, when radio astronomy really started to take off. Astronomers were finding all sorts of new things with radio astronomy then, and they also found that many familiar objects were also putting out radio waves at various frequencies. But there were some radio sources that didn't seem to be connected to anything visible. They were just very bright radio sources. Sometimes they looked like maybe a single star far away. So astrophysicists named them Quasars short for quasi-stellar objects. because they were very bright in the radio spectrum but but they seemed to be obviously very small, like a star. Spectroscopic analysis showed that quasars had weird spectrums. They matched no known elements or combinations of elements. The quasars were so small that changes in their radio and light output showed that they had to be physically small no matter how far away they might be. The changes showed that the source of these radio emissions from quasars had to be maybe one light month wide or maybe only the size of the Solar System. And they were definitely far away.

In the early '60s the Moon was going to eclipse a quasar named 3C 273, which was the first quasar ever to be identified. So scientists watched this eclipse very closely. From the information the scientists gathered from that eclipse one particularly bright person figured out that what they were seeing was ordinary matter, mostly hydrogen, but the light was red shifted by 15.8% which indicated that it was receding from us at almost 30,000 miles per second, which was an unheard of velocity then. Scientists found visible light images of 3C 273 from the early 20th Century and it was variable at that time too. Scientists concluded that 3C 273 was about 2.4 billion light-years away and the red shift was mostly caused by the expansion of the universe.

The huge amount of energy from quasars is the result of at least one super massive black hole at their centers. We're lucky that the super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy weighs in at a mere 4,000,000 solar masses, and it's relatively quiet; it's not eating a lot of stars and gas. When black holes are feeding they can put out a lot of radiation from their poles and they also spew matter from those polar jets at relativistic speeds. You don't want to be near a thing like that, and by near I mean not even in the same galaxy.

So scientists have been dealing with quasars for decades now. Recently a team led by Priyamvada Natarajan, an astronomer at Yale University studied a quasar designated UHZ-1 because it appears to be the most distant, and therefore the oldest, quasar that we know of. The black hole that powers the UHZ-1 quasar is estimated to be about 40,000,000 times the mass of the Sun, and the light and radio waves that reach us now are estimated to have been generated about 13.2 billion years ago, which means UHZ-1 is about 13.2 billion light years away. That means that this huge black hole was operating for only about 470 million years after the Big Bang. The question has been how could that be?

Dr. Natarajan and her team members are saying that UHZ-1 is what's called an over massive black hole galaxy. They're theorizing that the super massive black hole at the center of UHZ-1 did not start out the way black holes we're familiar with start out, as a star that aged, went supernova and collapsed and fed on other matter or merged with another black hole. There couldn't have been enough time for all of that that to have happened in a mere 470 million years. Dr. Natarajan and her team are thinking that huge gas clouds came together to form black holes directly in the very early universe. This raises questions about the role of dark matter in forming these over massive black holes. The black hole at the center of UHZ-1 is about 10% of its host galaxy's mass, but most super massive black holes are only about 0.001% of the host galaxy's mass. So there's something else unusual about it. Maybe the different way that it formed is responsible for it being such a large percentage of that galaxy. There's no telling how big that galaxy, and that over massive black hole, are now. How the theorized over massive black holes form would have to be very complicated, and might involve processes that no one on Earth has thought of yet.

But now we have a model of a new way in which black holes formed in the early universe.

sars-cov-2 with Guy Fawkes mask
The Death Rate Is Lower

The CDC Web site says that as of their last reading, the death toll in America from COVID-19 was 1,176,639. Which means that 2,013 people have died from COVID-19 since our last program a week ago. So the weekly death rate is down a bit, 467 lower than the rate a week ago. Well, that's good. In Winter infectious diseases usually spread more rapidly and efficiently I'm wondering if the weather is having an effect on that. Of course some people are oblivious to COVID-19 because they think that the pandemic is over and that's another factor.

The pandemic is clearly not over. Pickles of the North and I are mostly still keeping our masks on. We've gotten our new shots, we don't want to get this disease.

Pickles of the North's grandmother in 1982.
Pickles' Grandma in the Snow

Pickles here once again! We talked about our snowstorm of this past week, and now make that two snowstorms, Tuesday and Saturday! And both of them sugar snow, which is the heavy wet snow that is also known as heart attack snow - always push the snow while shoveling, never lift! Canucks learn that from an early age. Also to constantly stamp your feet in the sugar snow to keep it from re freezing on your soles as you walk so you don't take a header on the sidewalk.

The sugar snow gets its name from the insulating effect it has on maple trees, keeping the trunk and roots warm in late winter and early spring while the sap is circulating. Sunny days and cold nights keep the trees healthy and ready for tapping the sap that later is boiled down into maple syrup. My Mom knew this from living on a farm as a small child, when one of her uncles had a maple grove. But when I think of sugar snow, it's the tiny hard crystals that shine like diamonds and look like grains of sugar! But then, I didn't grow up on a farm! Ah, the glittering snow that's dry and feels like little needles hitting your face as the wind blasts you on your way through the night to Midnight Mass, knowing Santa was making his way through the clouds with all that loot!

I remember my grandmother, whose family for generations farmed in the Laurentian mountains north of Montreal, would stand in the doorway of our flat and sniff the air to see if it smelled like snow. And her nose was pretty accurate! Mon Dieu!

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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