I’m a big fan of 3D printing. I think 3D printing could be the semi-conductor of the 2000′s… that is, the technology that builds all the future technologies for the next 50 years. In fact, if you’re a young’n about to graduate, I’d head for a 3D printer company so you can say “you were there” when it all took off. Trust me, it’s a cool feeling.
That said, 3D printers have a way to go. Notably, everyone is bunched up in a wad because someone dropped a design for a gun on a 3D printer. But is it all that real, or useful? Check The Register.
When the nail hits the cap in the cartridge base in a Liberator, the expanding gas likewise pushes the lead bullet off the end of the cartridge and down the “barrel” pipe. Much of the gas leaks past due to the loose fit and soft material of the “barrel”. The lump of plastic with the nail (probably) stops the cartridge case spitting out of the back, which is pretty easy as the bullet pops out of the extremely short, basically smooth* “barrel” almost immediately with very little push from the gas required. Most of the cartridge’s hot gas spills out of the muzzle without getting a chance to do any work on the bullet, which is the main reason the cruddy “barrel” doesn’t (always) come to bits on the first shot and the cartridge case (probably) doesn’t just spit backward into the user’s face.
…which is something akin to what I thought when I saw the specs. This will scare people who don’t have a clue about how a gun actually works. It will excite people for the potential of the technology. It won’t impress someone with a Glock when you’re standing at the range.
So what we have here is not, as everyone is saying, proof that 3D printers can be used to make guns. It’s proof that they can’t, and that 3D printing at the moment is basically pretty useless.
But my word, people are excited.
I love it that the dialog on this has started to go so far that it’s distracting people from actually, you know, banning guns. Not that anyone is outright banning them… they’re just trying to lay the groundwork.
One of my favorite things to do is to examine corner cases in a strategy. By asking about the edges, I can tell how well-thought the strategy is. It’s clear that a corner case like a printed gun makes the strategy of the anti-gun crowd seem pretty insufficient. It’s also clear that this is not a rescue option for the pro-gun crowd.
But it’s fun to watch, even if it fizzles on its way out the barrel.
Actual NYT headline: “IRS Focus on Conservatives Gives GOP an Issue to Seize On”
Well… duh. I would suppose that one political leaning deciding to use government to intimidate another political leaning would be an issue that you could seize on. Perhaps similar to what liberals and communists complained about in the Nixon Administration. People complain about bullying in schools, but if governments do it, it’s just politics. (Poli: Greek for many; tics: blood-sucking insects)
Ross Douthat at the NYT had this to say yesterday, which is interesting:
I’m willing to guess this much: Even though an American Civil Liberties Union official described their excessive interest in right-wing groups as “about as constitutionally troubling as it gets,” the bureaucrats in question probably thought they were just doing their patriotic duty, and giving dangerous extremists the treatment they deserved.
Maybe. I’ve seen plenty of people in power “use” what they have to make someone else’s life difficult. It’s just a perk of the job if you look at it in an entirely incorrect way.
Is this an issue? Yes. Is this the price of doing business if you’re unpopular? Probably. Should this stop you? No. Honestly, the government has an uncanny ability to make your life suck in 99 different ways if it doesn’t like what you’re doing. Go ask the Tea Party in Bend if they’ve ever been harassed… at that’s just one place. They still go on.
To the point. If you’re willing to fight for something, you have to be willing to fight, not just say that you are. I would hope that we can have a reasonable dialog in this country. But that doesn’t mean you can be content in waiting for others to let you talk.
The base of the new Bay Bridge eastern span’s signature tower is secured by more than 400 high-strength steel rods that were galvanized under conditions Caltrans barred as putting them at risk of cracking, The Chronicle has learned.
The tower is the dominant feature of the $6.4 billion eastern span, which is supposed to open over Labor Day weekend – a schedule that is now up in the air because of problems with how the tower rods and nearly 2,000 other steel fasteners were made.
Years ago, the semi-Republican government of California tried to build a concrete causeway across the Bay Bridge to replace the other concrete causeway that fell apart in the Loma Prieta earthquake (note: that was nearly 23 years ago now). Most of California, at least the part that wasn’t concerned that the state was about to flush itself down the toilet (which is most of it… see why I moved?), wailed a mournful wail and wanted something PRETTTTYY.
Well, this is what you get when you debate efficacy with design safety:
Joseph Nicoletti, a veteran seismic engineer who until recently served on a Bay Bridge advisory panel for Caltrans, said the potentially at-risk rods serve a vital purpose – to check the shear forces in a quake.
If they failed, he said, the tower could move horizontally. “That’s something you don’t want,” he said.
Nicoletti speculated that the pitfalls of using galvanized high-strength steel were not fully understood by the bridge’s designers or Caltrans.
“When you are doing a state-of-the-art job, you are playing with the state of the art in metallurgy and everything else,” he said. “I’m not surprised something like this came up. Unfortunately, it came up at a bad time, and at quite a cost.”
I know of many people who are hyped up over the artistic structure that the bridge could potentially be. But at some point, you have to deal with millions of cars of traffic. Engineering and costs need to trump prettttyyyyy unless you’re, well, unless you’re the California government.
I’ll be interested to see what happens by Labor Day, when the bridge is supposed to open. I can’t think it’s a good story for the people of the state.
Hi, it’s been solid travel for my day job for three weeks along with some personal jaunts in there as well.
I can’t tell you where Lynn’s head is these days… I think she’s busier than I am, and she’s more a person that looks for inspiration rather than just posts and wings it.
I’m casting around the net to see if I have any random thoughts. Otherwise, we’ll resume the regularly scheduled infrequent posts on Monday. Thanks for reading our little blog.
While paging through some morning reading, I caught this article at The Register, on North Korea’s efforts to cut down on contraband information.
DVDs and USBs loaded with South Korean TV shows and films are usually brought in across the northern border with China, although the authorities are getting wise to the increase in smuggling.
One trick is to cut off the power supply to an area – assuming it was on in the first place – and go house to house to check if any of the DVD players have contraband discs stuck in them, according to the North Korea Tech blog.
As a result, USBs have become more favoured for smuggling in foreign content, although the authorities have apparently reacted by disabling the USB ports on DVD players imported from China.
It’s almost like the Norks are the parents in a sitcom trying to catch their kids reading in bed at night. Of course, most parents don’t shoot their kids…
Finding ways to limit information is usually a losing proposition, especially since information continues to come in new and exciting forms. While a totalitarian government has the ability to limit nearly everything, the contraband can only get smaller, or more mobile, or… you get the point. It’s to the limit of the imagination on how to get information.
I still hearken back to growing up in southern Ohio, where I would drive past one of the Voice of America antenna arrays on occasion. It was ingrained in me that the technology I could see was beaming information around the world so that those in Eastern Europe could get that data to make decisions closer to those of a free world. Today, it’s not just a radio, it’s an array of satellites, a whole spectrum of wireless, and an army of mobile video devices that can deliver the message. It’s not possible to stop them all… though I’ll also say it’s not possible to get everyone to actually start listening.
But as a techie, and especially as one who had a strong hand in at least one of the above technologies, it heartens me that information is still on the march. I hope that lightens the hears of those in the darkness all around the world.
Here’s a cute one. Just because is has GDP bigger than most countries, Google is starting to think it’s one.
In a statement, Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said: “We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products. We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries. In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, ICANN, ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organisations.”
Google’s “controversial” decision angered the Israeli foreign ministry: “This change raises questions about the reasons behind this surprising involvement of what is basically a private Internet company in international politics,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
Dr Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was delighted. He said: “This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories.
Really, this is a drop in the bucket. I can see how a reasoned company would make a change like that, and it might not even have been a decision that went that high up… well, except for the PR. Once you get to PR then you are talking the company, not some manager in the company.
Governments have the ability to raise revenue on a whim, as well as the ability to spend some of that revenue on tanks. Google has the ability to raise prices on ads, but not a lot of enforcement if people just stop paying. I’ve seen a couple companies in the past think they’re big enough to avoid the pain of being a country while acting like one on the political scene. Microsoft tried it once or twice. Then the DOJ lawsuit hit, and people figured out that a ton of lawyers on taxpayer dime can always beat a company’s legal framework by wearing it down… especially when the company is paying taxes.
If Google keeps up like this, I don’t predict things ending well.
The federal government is doubling its estimate of how much oil might be discovered and harvested in the booming area of the Dakotas and Montana, a region that’s already helping to drive the United States’ dramatic shift into a role as the world’s leading oil producer.
“These world-class formations contain even more energy resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday in a conference call.
Of note, there’s a new formation in the Dakotas and Montana with a few billion (to likely tens of billions) barrels of potential energy. Note, this doesn’t mean we can immediately get to it. Even if the technology exists, that doesn’t mean it’s cost-effective to get to them. But technology changes, and cost structures change. It’s good news that we continue to find mine-able energy here in the US.
Overall, we continue to discover energy deposits all over the world. It’s working to improve the lives of many people, and it’s certainly making some formerly-poor countries very rich. Oh, and speaking of one of those…
Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali al Naimi, said Tuesday that he welcomed the United States’ new bounty into the global oil market. But he said it wouldn’t mean an end to America’s “so-called” reliance on foreign sources of oil.
“I believe this talk of ending reliance is a naive, a rather simplistic view. . . . Talk of energy independence fails to recognize the interconnected nature of the global energy markets,” he said in an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research center in Washington .
America will still use a range of energy sources to meet domestic demand, Naimi predicted. A better question than whether America is energy independent, he said, might be whether the United States starts allowing exports of its crude.
Most of the world doesn’t really want our oil. We tend to be more in the heavy, sour crude oil category, which is harder to refine. But I do believe that energy independence is not attainable in the US, but not because of lack of resources.
The real issue here is that we don’t have the capacities to refine and utilize what we already have, or even to some extent what we can get on the market. Last year, a refinery fire in Washington causes supply shortages that raised gas prices in the Northwest and California by almost a dollar. If there’s truly industry demand, I’d expect that we’d see more petitioning for resources to refine it… oh, wait, it’s nearly impossible to actually get state and federal permits to plant refineries…
So the limit of the US for controlling our energy destiny is still the need to safely refine and transport it. For now, we’ve got the potential, but not the ability to go kinetic on our energy plans.