Let’s Talk About Energy

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States Atomic Energy Commission released at least six records : three volumes entitled Let’s Talk About the Atom, one entitled Let’s Talk About Energy, one entitled Atomic Year 25, and one entitled Century of the Atom. The last–named was given away to visitors to the US display at the 1971 Geneva “Atoms for Development” conference. The other five were intended for broadcast on radio stations as public–affairs programming.

Atomic Year 25 is a single half–hour program, commemorating the anniversary of the first controlled fission chain reaction (2 December 1942), whereas the Let’s Talk… records are 3–LP sets, each with two 10–minute programs per side. The general format of the Let’s Talk… programs is that an announcer (credited on this release as John Flynn) introduces Ed Ronne of Argonne National Laboratory, who then interviews an eminent scientist employed by the USAEC about his specialty.

I have been making an attempt to acquire these records (and whatever similar ones may exist), as I have with atomic energy public information films, and printed materials of similar character. As I acquire and transcribe them, I will have them available for use as “fillers” in my aNONradio shows.

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ASFO 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.

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ASFO 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?

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ASFO 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?

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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