ASFO 2023–09–30

Mail Call! Much of the rest of the show, alas is political incompentence and stupidity ― thin soup, you may say. There seems little reason, though, that they should be so ubiquitous if, somewhere along the line, we the common people had not decided to accept them. As I have said time and again, policies which cannot be implemented will not be. Also, the resources required by the environmentally–benign renewable–energy–and–battery future, and their relation to cocaine and alcohol.

A letter, three Bhutanese postage stamps with a lenticular effect showing art of the Apollo landings, a Soviet 4-kopeck postage stamp celebrating cosmonautics with an attached caption, an axolotl sticker shaped like a human brain, and a Soviet electronic pocket calculator in a sheat.
Contents of a parcel from SDFer lcd

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 2023–09–09

Power outage? Power outrage! Once again I draw attention to the problem of disinvestment in civic infrastructure and public goods, that is, the physical things that make society work for all of us and not just a select few. Also, An Analogy is drawn between atomic energy and chlorine.

Supplementary Show

2023–09–12 More from Science News Yearbook 1970, much of it about the Apollo 12 mission, which is my personal favourite. (Did not archive, and I may re–read)

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 2023–08–05

Transit poverty, a new name (perhaps) for a common observation. Also the Bazalgette Problem, or, did you oversize your infrastructure, and if not, what are you going to do? Another show beginning late because I lost track of time at the beach. And I entirely missed doing a show on the 29th of August.

ASFO 2023–07–22

Report from Pemmi–con, describing my displays, and bemoaning the computer problems (partly self–inflicted) which have caused a key part of my atomic energy display, built around circa–1990 German payphones, not to work. From here I jump off into a brief discussion of the problems of control interfaces, opining that the reasons which make touchplates a very bad choice for cars are much stronger for spacecraft, and indeed space settlements.

Luna Project display at Pemmi-con in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In the centre of the image a display of postal covers hangs over a table draped with a cloth displaying the blue-and-yellow Luna Project "rocket" logo at front. Along the panels to both sides are hung a set of six prints by Frank Kelly Freas.
Luna Project display at Pemmi-con as described in the show
A view of part of the "Man and Atom" display at Pemmi-con in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Two tables can be seen, one facing the viewer and draped with the "radiant atom clutched in a fist" logo and the slogan "Atomic Power to the People". A variety of nuclear-related posters and other materials is displayed along sections of fencing covered with pegboard.
Man and Atom display at Pemmi-con, as described in the show
A view of the "Man and Atom" display at Pemmi-con in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A table can be seen draped with the "atomic flower" logo and the motto "Split Atoms Not Wood". On it there is a portable video player. Along four sections of fence panelling, and on freestanding grid constructions, are posterboards with panels covered with text and images, including many pages scanned from public-information documents.
Another view of the Man and Atom display at Pemmi-con