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?

Supplementary Show

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…

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 Shows

  • 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.
  • 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 which I will be reading on the next 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. My timing on that one was perfect.

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.