“A Step Farther Out” 2022 Shows

ASFO airs weekly at 19z00. In this post you will find links to the shows from 2022, along with my attempts to describe each show.

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To understand what this show is about, and for the shows from 2021, go here.

  • 2022-01-01 This is not only the first show of the year, it’s the first day this year when we could have had a show! Honestly, that’s about the most interesting thing about this one. Mostly it’s maundering about the James Webb Space Telescope, some speculation on its possible role in planetary defence, and reflections on why that could be important in a world in which international tensions remain high. Also there’s a brief mention of the depressing situation in Germany.
  • 2022–01–08 In which I talk about Sex. Fair warning, if you hold any strong opinions on topics such as gender identity or feminism, you probably won’t feel that I have fairly described either your position or opposing ones. Just as a reminder, I have very little patience with anyone who claims to hold an “unpopular opinion”, and then comes up with what is probably the second or third most popular opinion on the topic. Be original!
  • 2022–01–15 Continuing on from last week, somehow, I manage to talk about Joan of Arc and Ray Kurzweil in the same show. Also news from Berlin ― the city, not the German government.
  • 2022–01–22 Wrapping up the theme of the past two weeks by talking about sexually transmitted infections? Well, that’s a rather grim pun.
  • 2022–01–29 In which I break my rule of mostly not talking about computers by discussion Bill Jolets of 386BSD fame ― but in the context of Federal support for mad science. Also, if a SpaceX Falcon booster smacks into Luna (on the far side where we can’t see the flash), and there are no seismographs around to hear it, does it make a crater?
  • 2022–02–05 In all honesty, this one is a trifle profane. Mostly I rant about the National Agency for Space Avoidance, and try to explain why the much–criticized rise of private space industry is good for those of us who understand that the Cosmos is the stage upon which the future of humanity will be acted. Jeff Bezos’ colossal new sailing yacht, which is causing consternation in Rotterdam, comes in as an example of what we can expect from a “renewable energy future”. Also a mention of the problems with decarbonization by taxation, although there is much more to be said about it.
  • 2022–02–19 After skipping a week because I was unfortunately busy about other things, I start off by discussing a beautiful photo calendar commemorating the Gundremmingen nuclear power station, created not by the plant owners, but by the local parish priest! This leads into more of my interminable bitter ranting about the German energy policy, and an attempt at analysis of an € 85 000 PV+hydrogen “home total energy solution” which is now being offered on the market. But also I try to explore a little why some of the arguments people give about energy are fallacious.
  • 2022–03–05 “The rent is too damn’ high!” But what does that have to do with the crisis in Ukraine? I have ideas about that. (Also, the people on this planet are insane, and I want a billion dollars so I can leave for elsewhere.)
  • 2022–03–12 Not my most edifying, informative, or entertaining show ever, by a long chalk. It’s thirty minutes of sheer, uninterrupted “something has gone horribly wrong with the humans on this planet and I need to vacate, soonest.”
  • 2022–03–19 Starting (somehow) from a British condiment known as clotted cream, I discuss various world problems which I would not advise trying to solve with nuclear energy or space travel, or for which I have no particular solution, including French pension funding and the supply of paper in India. Of course, I end up circling back to the topic of the current fuel stringency, the absurdity of measures being advocated to deal with it, and the possibilities of a global Messmer Plan.
  • 2022–03–26 Reverend Onan Canobite of the Church of the SubGenius says, “how about we stop funding problems here on Earth, and explore space instead, how about that?” I’m afraid that’s about as coherent as this week’s show gets, but hey, it’s a good message. I’ll try to be more coherent next week.
  • 2022–04–02 Two definitions of power, McJobs in the context of the social implications of energy policy, and the perennial question “what does the House of Thurn und Taxis have to do with the regulated utility model, and what can that teach us about alternatives to profit–maximizing capitalism?” Also why there are special coffee mugs for nuclear power plant refueling outages, and an update on the film–transfer situation.
  • 2022–04–09 What will the people do with the atomic power? asks my grandmother. It turns out that this is related to the vital question of what is going on in France. First time as tragedy, second time as farce : the lights are going out, all across Europe. Also a metaphor (or parable if you like) concerning a seed.
  • 2022–04–16 Whale Oil! It’s the energy policy equivalent of snake oil, and wow is there plenty of it circulating right now. (No whales were harmed in the making of this broadcast.) Also, the Wall Street Journal continues to baffle, disgust, and enrage me by turns ; and I consider the implications of collective electricity and water supplies in terms of personal liberty ― getting in some digs at the government of Santiago, Chile, and an endorsement of passenger rail along the way. More to come on that topic, undoubtedly.
  • 2022–04–23 An exceptionally rambly show without proper planning or any kind of theme. Mostly I talked about my latest film transfer, and the great work of Bazalgette in creating the London sewer system. Could you really get away, today, with naming a sewage pump after a member of the Royal family?
  • 2022–05–07 Who pays for your power? What have we learned from Chernobyl, and what does that have to do with airlines? How do we make the human the focus of a machine civilization? Where and when can you watch my newly–transferred films? And why do I keep buying light bulbs? All this and more in a sizzling new episode with an experimental audio setup!
  • 2022–05–14 TANSTAAFL! But that doesn’t preclude reduced–price lunches… Also, why Starlink is exactly the wrong way to do satellite broadband ; the latest film transfers (here and here) inspire the question of what deserves to be called democracy ; a nifty DVD ; “activist investors” ; and high–end overcoats. All of this while exiled from my house by a Power Outrage.
  • 2022–05–21 Doomsayers and death–cultists receive a stinging rebuke, as I explain why ― even if you are chary of trusting me with a billion dollars ― you ought at least to vouchsafe me a hundred million to rehabilitate the NS Savannah. Also, what is my beef with solar power, anyway?
  • 2022–05–28 Speech! It is at the heart of what we do and how we experience the world, as humans, and yet it is inherently limited by distance and ephemerality. That is, it was limited until the second half of the 19th century, when the telephone and the phonograph utterly changed that key aspect of human existence. Was this the “real” Singularity? What kinds of technologies might come in the future which could have any such effect on the human condition?
  • 2022–06–04 Western converts to Buddhism are somehow in my line of ire? Honestly, it’s more about writers who begin statements consisting of bare assertion with the phrase “we know that…” This show is notable for long quotations from people I whose positions I feel the need to assail. As Levar Burton always said on Reading Rainbow, “don’t take my word for it!” Also I use backyard swimming pools as an extended metaphor, or something.
  • 2022–06–11 Rant, glorious rant! Mostly I roundly curse every politician since 1973 who has not seen it as imperative to diminish the use of fossil fuels, which inspires me to mention the long–planned but never–implemented use of heat from Pickering to replace oil and gas heating fuel in central Toronto. I also mention the abortive attempt of some of the major oil companies to get into nuclear energy (and, by implication, out of fossil fuels) in the 1970s and early ’80s. And in the last minute or so I explain that Elon Musk, no matter what else you can say about him (and there’s plenty to be said), is not enriching himself at the expense of NASA.
  • 2022–06–18 Have we built a society which is not oriented toward our needs as humans? This is a key question of our times, and I do little more than ask it, although in the process I get nauseated by a Starbucks corporate communication. Also “Back to Atomic Power!” in Germany ; antinuclearism on the rise in France despite all facts, logic, and common sense ; idiocy from Elon Musk and the Biden Administration ; the new Federal holiday ; and how LambdaAI is like the Impossible Burger, even though Bill Gates is probably not killing cows in Kansas.
  • 2022–06–25 Westercon 74, here I come! Also, as you have come to expect from me, I state a Moral Imperative. I have some commentary on current events, but it essentially dovetails with things I was planning to talk about anyway.

Supplementary Shows

  • 2022–01–14 A reading from The Uses of Atomic Energy for the Social and Economic Development in the German Democratic Republic, National Report of the GDR to the UN Conference on the Promotion of International Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (undated but circa 1986, issued in both English and German editions)
  • 2022–01–18 Panel discussions and abstracts of papers from Volume 11, “Health Physics and Radiation Protection / Radioactive Waste Management / The Environment and Public Acceptance”, of the Proceedings of the Fourth Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (the “Atoms for Development” conference), 1971
  • 2022–01–28 Most of the expert panel discussion on Ecological Aspects and Public Acceptance from the 1971 Geneva proceedings.
  • 2022–02–01 The remainder of the expert panel discussion, plus abstracts and discussion of papers presented on the topic of Ecological Aspects and Public Acceptance.
  • 2022–02–04 Preface, Chapter I (Introduction and Outline), and Chapter XVIII (Concluding Reflections) of The Coal Question, An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of The Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal-Mines (Second Edition, Revised, 1866) by W Stanley Jevons, Cobden Professor of Political Economy, Owens College, Manchester.
  • 2022–02–15 Miscellany : an editorial, and a brief explanation of fast-neutron breeder reactors, from Nuclear Power magazine (1957) ; a couple of introductions by Alvin Weinberg to essays of his contained in the book Continuing the Nuclear Dialogue ; and part of a paper on Importance of Isotopes in Technology and Industry from the 1955 Geneva conference proceedings.
  • 2022–02–18 From Continuing the Nuclear Dialogue : front matter, Peacetime Uses of Nuclear Power (1946), and the first part of Energy as an Ultimate Raw Material, or, Problems of Burning the Seas and Burning the Rocks (1959)
  • 2022–02–22 I started late (weep! wail!) but managed to get through Problems of Burning the Seas and Burning the Rocks, and started on Nuclear Energy ― A Prelude to HG Wells’ Dream (1971)
  • 2022–03–01 I finish Prelude to Wells’ Dream and begin Is Nuclear Energy Acceptable? (1977)
  • 2022–03–04 The news from Energodar has me asking whether I am insane, or the people on this planet, and renewing my appeal for a billion dollars to allow me to depart for Luna. Continuing with the Alvin Weinberg essays, I read a section from Nuclear Safety and Public Acceptance which is directly relevant to current events, before returning to and finishing Is Nuclear Energy Acceptable? After this, I read some book reviews : Challenge and Response, 1972 (The Closing Circle by Barry Commoner and Earthkeeping by Gordon Harrison), Energy : A Crisis in Power (a “Sierra Club Battlebook”, 1971) by John Holdren and Philip Herrera, and the first part of Non–Nuclear Futures : The Case for an Ethical Energy Strategy (1975) by Amory Lovins and John Price.
  • 2022–03–08 Conclusion of Weinberg’s review of Non–Nuclear Futures ; his review of Soft Energy Paths : Toward a Durable Peace (1978) by Lovins ; Response to Amory Lovins (1980), or more specifically a response in The Sciences (magazine of the New York Academy of Sciences) to Lovins’ own review in that publication of Economic and Environmental Implications of a US Nuclear Moratorium, 1985―2010, a study published by the Institute for Energy Analysis at Oak Ridge, with which Weinberg was intimately connected ; The Lilienthal Plan (1980), review of Atomic Energy : A New Start by David Lilienthal, first Chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission ; and all but the last paragraph (I have to quit doing that!) of Weinberg’s review of Entropy : A New World View (1980) by Jeremy Rifkin and Ted Howard.
  • 2022–03–11 Conclusion of the review of Entropy : A New World View ; Fast Breeders : All Cons, No Pros? (1980), review of The Fast Breeder Reactor : Need? Cost? Risk? ; The Manichaean Conception of Technological Risk (1982), review of Risk and Culture : An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmental Dangers by Douglas and Wildavsky ; Safety Is as Safety Is Seen (1982), review of The Cult of the Atom : The Secret Papers of the Atomic Energy Commission by Ford. Also most of a Pennsylvania Power and Light company leaflet entitled Nuclear Power Makes a Good Neighbor, from October 1965 if I am not mistaken.
  • 2022–03–18 My transcription Century of the Atom, a double LP given away by the US government at the 1971.
  • 2022–03–25 Selections (including “Answers to Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions”, by Dr Seaborg) from a large, glossy booklet entitled Infinite Energy produced in 1967 by Westinghouse for distribution by electric utilities to their customers. Also I mention my pressing need for a flatbed scanner bigger than letter/A4, and faster than “really slow”, in order to process my accumulation of nuclear energy ephemera. (You can see some of it here.)
  • 2022–04–05 Energy and the Need for Nuclear Power (1987), by Professor Peter (PMS) Jones, Chief Economic Adviser to the UK Atomic Energy Authority. My scan of the booklet for those who would like to see the figures.
  • 2022–04–08 Selections from Uranium Supply and Demand 1978 (proceedings of the Uranium Institute symposium), primarily “The View from Washington” by Llewellen King ; and nearly all (why do I keep doing that?) of “Nuclear Power and the Groupe de Bellerive”, a book review of sorts by LG Brookes, Economics Advisor, UKAEA, from ATOM №276 (1979 October) ― my scan of the magazine is here.
  • 2022–04–12 In honour of the anniversary, a reading from Spacecraft Designer (1976) by A Romanov, a kind of biography of Sergei Korolev, and specifically the section dealing with the flight of Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1.
  • 2022–05–03 I dig into some late 1950s and early ’60s Astounding (Analog) magazines, reading a science article about Mars from RS Richardson, part of an article on radioactivity and geology from Isaac Asimov, some extracts from P Schuyler Miller’s famous book review column The Reference Library, and one of John W Campbell’s famous editorials.
  • 2022–05–06 Hell’s Own Problem by Harry Porter, from Analog, 1961 July : all about “calorobic” (heat–resisting) materials, particularly for rocket nozzles, from someone directly involved in the work.
  • 2022–05–10 The Bugs that Live at -423 °F : The Problem of the Centaur Development by Joseph Green and Fuller C Jones, Analog, 1968 January (not complete, it’s a long article)
  • 2022–05–13 Conclusion of The Bugs that Live at -423 °F, which (astonishingly enough) I actually finish, with about a minute to spare.
  • 2022–05–17 Some Preliminary Notes on FASEG (Fairy Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Godmothers), Lawrence M Janifer and Frederick W Kantor, Analog, 1965 November. Also, from the same issue, the first part of Onward and Upward with Space Power, a piece on the use of steam in space, by one J Frank Coneybear.
  • 2022–05–20 Conclusion of the Coneybear piece (incorporating a quote from Slide Rule by Nevil Shute, a favorite of mine) ; an editorial from the Fort Worth Star–Telegram, 2022–05–11, entitled “As record gas prices hurt drivers, let’s drill for more oil”, by Ryan Rusak, Opinion Editor, because I responded to it with a letter (read on ASFO); and A Matter of Perspective, science fact article by Gordon R Dickson and Kelly Freas, from Analog, 1971 December, literally about trying to see the Apollo programme, from the perspective of a press correspondent and an illustrator.
  • 2022–05–24 Being in a strop, or a lather, or something, over predictions of the imminent collapse of the Texas power grid, I read the editorial from the 1966 April Analog, about the Northeastern blackout of November 1965, entitled The Best Made Plants…
  • 2022–05–31 The first part of an Analog article (1971 April) entitled Real Science for Real Problems, by John R Price of Bell Labs, discussing some of the results from psychological research, especially as they apply to the problems of instruction and learning in a large industrial organization. Also I somewhat angrily read a letter addressed to a current–affairs radio news program, provoked by a report entitled Europe reconsiders nuclear energy following Ukraine war, which I felt was very badly slanted ; and I mention two new film transfers, a French commerce–promotion film from circa 1964, and a Soviet school film, probably circa 1980.
  • 2022–06–07 The conclusion of Real Science for Real Problems, by John R Price. After that I played tracks from a three–LP set called Let’s Talk About Energy, released by the US Atomic Energy Commission in the early 1970s. This was a series of 10–minute talks produced by Argonne National Laboratory, to be aired by radio stations as part of their public–affairs programming. The general format of this collection, as of three previous collections which went under the title Let’s Talk About the Atom, was that announcer Ed Ronne would introduce some researcher employed by the USAEC, who would then discuss his specialty. I intend to use these talks extensively as filler material.

Author: publius

Fools! I will destroy you all!!