ASFO 2022–05–14

TANSTAAFL! But that doesn’t preclude reduced–price lunches… Also, Power Outrage! Also 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. Where else would you get this value?

Supplementary Show

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, Onward and Upward with Space Power, a piece on the use of steam in space, by someone with the delightful name of J Frank Coneybear. I didn’t finish that, and the remainder is sufficiently interesting that I’ll come back to it.

ASFO 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!

Supplementary Shows

  • 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 Contrary to all expectations you may have of me, I actually finish the article from the previous show, with about a minute to spare.
Cover of ANALOG magazine, 1968 January : NASA photo of the catastrophic launch-pad explosion of the Atlas-Centaur 5 launch vehicle

ASFO 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? Hopefully next week will be more organized, although I say that pretty often.

Supplementary Show

  • 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.

ASFO 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.

ASFO 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 parable (or metaphor if you like) concerning a seed, and a greeting to some friends of mine who went out to eat.

Supplementary Show

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.

ASFO 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.)

Supplementary Shows

ASFO 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.

ASFO 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.

Supplementary Show

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.)

ASFO 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.”

Supplementary Show

2022–03–18 A transcription of a two-disc LP set entitled Century of the Atom, given out at the US exhibit at the 1971 (Fourth) Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, narrated by Chet Huntley and Glenn Seaborg, with the voices of JJ Thomson, Lord Rutherford, Albert Einstein, and other noteworthy scientists.

ASFO 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.)

Supplementary Shows

  • 2022–03–08 Conclusion of Weinberg’s review of Non–Nuclear Futures in Continuing the Nuclear Dialogue ; 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, all from the same volume.
  • 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, all from Continuing the Nuclear Dialogue by Weinberg. 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.