ASFO 2023–09–23

Good news from Canada! Also the OSIRIS–REx space mission, some observations about the UAW strike, the politics of the Wall Street Journal, more of my accurséd numismatism, and the usual miscellany.

Two rectangular blue cards with "The Luna Project" stamped on them in gold, and cutouts holding Luna Project medalets. Scattered around, five Greek 10 drachma coins with an imaginary head of Democritus on one side and an atom symbol on the other.
The laser-cut, rubber-stamped Luna Project medalet cards, and some of the Greek coins I propose to make into similar souvenirs

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–09–26 More from Science News Yearbook 1970, mostly about the continuing struggle to get enough data to understand and predict the weather, and the longer–term changes in climate.
  • 2023–09–29 The “Awards and Prizes” section of Science News Yearbook 1970, and a goodly part of a little booklet entitled Euratom at the Atomium, describing a “Permanent Exhibition” inside a large sculpture erected for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Unfortunately, this exhibition appears no longer to exist, and the space is now used for a historical presentation on the 1958 Fair. This may be considered a symptom of the loss of confidence and forward momentum in the field of atomic energy and in Euratom specifically.

ASFO 2023–09–16

Mail call! Also a contemplation of nuclear safety, in the context of the horrific dam collapse catastrophe in Libya ; Indian country broadband, the question of “sticking to the old ways,” and the possibility that novelty–seeking is a fear response, with a diversion into alternative foodstuffs (the peanut is your friend!) ; and “teaching the controversy”.

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–09–19 Again from Science News Yearbook 1970, sections on Apollo 12, Soyuz 4―8, and Mariner 6 and 7.
  • 2023–09–22 The rest of the space material from Science News Yearbook 1970, including Venera 5 and 6, the death of Bonnie the macaque, and a round–up of major space missions launched in 1969 up to 17 November. Also I start reading the section on atmospheric science, led there by a note in the space round–up. (Again this is a substitute archive.)

ASFO 2023–09–02

On Labor Day, thank a union worker for your freedoms! This show may be the only time this year you hear a mention of the “Helderberg War” for the abolition of feudalism, fought in upstate New York against Cornelius van Rensselaer. Also it looks as though I really am going to Loscon, and I may also be making a further venture into private minting.

Die of the Luna Project medalets, surrounded by its produce
The original Luna Project medalets were struck in 2008. One custom die was made, and the other side was a generic token die in a starburst pattern.
Stacks of Luna Project medalets, some packaged in flips with cards
One thousand of these medalets were struck on nickel-plated brass blanks, and shipped to me at the 2008 World Science Fiction Convention in Denver. This photo was taken after my return, and I had sold or given away some of them by then, so there are fewer than 1000 pieces pictured.

Supplementary Show

  • 2023–09–05 I begin reading from Science News Yearbook 1970. In addition to the Table of Contents, Preface, and Introduction (by Glenn Seaborg), I get through the chapter on the Apollo 9 mission, and also spend a little time reading an item which helps explain the global warming/cooling controversy which some people remember from the early 1970s.
  • 2023–09–08 After a couple of brief notices from a 1978 number of the Journal of College Science Teaching, I pick up again with Science News Yearbook 1970, reading (with my usual interspersed commentary) the sections on Apollo 10 and Apollo 11. Again this did not archive properly, but I recorded it locally and uploaded it to my own Webspace.

ASFO 2023–08–26

Chestnuts? (Not the literary kind, either.) It seems there are few subjects on which I don’t have at least a little to say. Also why a Mars colony needs good AI ― and LLMs will kill you out there ; a long digression on the American mode of providing medical services (which is still not a “health care system”) ; and a possible visit to Loscon in late November.

Supplementary Show

  • 2023–08–29 More from ST ’87, mostly regarding the Venera–15 and –16 and Veha/Vega missions, and the then–planned but ultimately unsuccessful Phobos missions.
  • 2023–09–01 Probably the last I will read from ST ’87, including a note by Valery Legasov about Chernobyl and its implications. Did not archive.

ASFO 2023–08–19

When you don’t pay, that’s piracy, and it’s a crime. When we don’t pay, it’s just good business. Also, “grain disposal systems” in America, and fertilizer in Africa ; the surprising connection between mushrooms, Texas school libraries, and California math classes ; and a note on the continuing (largely pointless) controversy over the use of nuclear weapons against Japan in 1945.

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–08–22 Further from ST ’87 : Soviet Science and Technology : Thirty Years of the Space Age, a chronology.
  • 2023–08–25 A somewhat aimless quasi–random walk through ST ’87 : Soviet Science and Technology. There are quite a few good segments in this book, as well as some I read in a spirit of irony, talking about the next 30 years of the CMEA and so on. (May not have archived properly)

ASFO 2023–08–12

Back from vacation! Do I have anything new to say? Complaints about landlords, economists, and bad reasoning probably don’t qualify. Also a brief description of some of my recent activities, and a reflection on the failure of oil to spur broader economic and social development even in some of the largest producing countries.

Supplementary Show

  • 2023–08–15 ATOM 302 (1981 December) supplies the material : a summary of a lecture in October of that year by the incoming President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, Sir Francis Tombs, under the head of Misunderstanding Nuclear Power ; a report on a colloquium in Paris on Energy and Society, organized by the deeply antinuclear “Groupe de Bellerive” ; and a couple of short items.
  • 2023–08–18 Selections from a Novosti Press Agency Almanac ST ’87 : Soviet Science and Technology. I read the captions to the two color glossy photo sections, and then most of From the First Satellite to Orbital Research Complexes, a contribution by cosmonaut and engineer Georgi Grechko DSc, to a section headed Jubilees, Memorable Dates, Reminiscences.

ASFO 2023–07–08

Probably the last new show until August 12th, although I might be able to use the call–in feature while I’m at the beach in Manitoba. Mostly I talk about transport ― filling stations for motorcars versus charging stations for battery–electric cars, hydrogen propulsion for trains or perhaps airships, and especially the remarkable scaling properties of steel wheels on steel rails with overhead–wire electrification.

Supplementary Show

2023–07–11 Dialing in this time, to check that this should work for ASFO shows while I’m in Canada the next few weeks (I’ll leave the HNtW timeslot for repeats), I finish the Hoyle et al piece from last time, and then read Nuclear Reactions in Stars Without Hydrogen (Astrophysical Journal, 1952) by EE Salpeter and Primeval Helium Abundance and the Primeval Fireball (Physical Review Letters, 1966) by PJE Peebles, from the same source, and a bit of Hans Bethe’s famous 1938 “Solar Phoenix” paper, Energy Production in Stars (Physical Review).

ASFO 2023–07–01

Comparisons between the recent first revenue flight of a Spaceship Two for Virgin Galactic, and the now–infamous submersible Titan, are examined to discover how justified they may be. Also, Canadian space money, possibly soon to go out of circulation, and my recommendations for a new US coinage ; and the turmoil in Russia and popular indignation against the United States Supreme Court lead me to consider (once again) to what extent the problems of government can be solved.

Supplementary Show

2023–07–07 Tanabata! After a great deal of rambling about what is going on in my life, and why I find it unsatisfactory, as well as a bit of dead air, I finally read some selections from a booklet of reprints entitled Synthesis & Abundances of the Elements. Origin of Actinium and Age of the Earth by Ernest Rutherford (from Nature, 1929), and the better part of Origin of the Elements in Stars by Fred Hoyle et al (from Science, 1956).

ASFO 2023–06–17

The “Juneteenth” holiday, and the recent death of disgruntled mathematician Ted Kaczynski, bring me back to the question of the as–yet unfinished work of emancipation, which somehow requires me to cast aspersions on the literary works of Herman Melville and James Joyce. Regardless of that, however, I consider the Marxist idea of historical inevitability, and the doctrines of economics as taught in the business schools, as modern equivalents to the old idea that the existing order of society is the direct manifestation of the Will of God, and it is not only impious but futile to imagine that it could be any other way. This I regard as extraordinarily dangerous and destructive, because we humans are at this time more masters of our own destiny than has ever been true in the past.

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–06–20 I commence reading the South Sea Bubble chapter of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
  • 2023–06–23 Conclusion of the South Sea Bubble, and my reflection on its relevance to current affairs. Probably all I will read from this book. Also, at the beginning, one brief extract from Science–Fiction : The Early Years by Bleiler.

ASFO 2023–06–10

Unclean! unclean! or, a neat way to circumvent that nasty habit of ratiocination some humans have. Also, dams and other concrete structures ; the damnable American workplace ; and the dark suspicion that Wall Street Journal articles are being written by “AI”. Dorlisa Flur, really? (The lack of a show last week was entirely owing to my error.)

Supplementary Shows

  • 2023–06–13 Continuation of “John Law and the Mississippi Bubble”.
  • 2023–06–16 Conclusion of the “Mississippi Bubble” chapter of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, and sundry announcements, about some records I have bought to provide interstitial material for HNtW, and about Pemmi–Con and my planned exhibits there.