3D printing

Cover of "The Diamond Age: or, A Young La...

Cover via Amazon

For a few thousand dollars, $2000 to $3500, it is possible to buy a device about the size of a portable microwave oven that is capable of 3D printing or additive manufacturing. Using computer software as a template, many devices and components can be manufactured at home at little cost. That includes the regulated mechanism which is the heart of an AK-47 or other assault-type weapons. At the moment, the quality of the printed item is low, but that will change. Imagine if you will, that anyone can make an assault rifle at home. How do you regulate that?

We live in exciting times and the 3D printer will revolutionize our lives. Imagine a world where shipping containers and delivery trucks are no longer needed. The dawn of that age is upon us. In Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson wrote about a future where basic necessities and luxuries were manufactured at home to the extent that consumers could afford them. When I read the book in 1995, I never expected to live long enough to see the actual devices. Well that day is here now. It will make our lives easier, hopefully, but it will also make gun control and the regulation of illegal substances more difficult.

Please see Interface

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Interface

Cover of "Zodiac: The Eco Thriller"

Cover of Zodiac: The Eco Thriller

Interface by Neal Stephenson under the pen name of Stephen Bury in collaboration with his uncle, J. Frederick George. I recently saw a mention of this book by another blogger. When I learned that it was a political novel by Neal Stephenson, a favorite science fiction writer, I decided to read it. In the novel, a Governor of Illinois, William Anthony Cozzano, suffers a stroke and is subjected to experimental surgery by having a computer chip installed in his brain to help him recover. It does speed his recovery, but it also allows a shadowy organization, the Network, to control his thoughts and actions. They want to gain control of the US Federal government by his election as President. Some of the dirty tricks that are used are even worse than what is going on now, that is to my knowledge.

This is an uneven book since it has two authors. I have read all of Stephenson’s books, and my suggestion is to start with Zodiac, a novel about corporate polluters around Boston Harbor. It is Stephenson’s shortest book and an entertaining read. Another favorite of mine is set on the Pacific rim of China in the near future and entitled The Diamond Age. I have read it twice and plan a third read. It is only 455 pages; the rest of Stephenson’s books usually exceed 1000 pages and make good door stops when not being read and enjoyed.

The blogger who drew my attention to this book noted a resemblance between Mitt Romney and Cozzano, the candidate under corporate control. Actually Cozzano is the smoother, more polished candidate. Mitt responds to public opinion just as Cozzano did, but Cozzano had the advantage of being fed polling data on a realtime basis.

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Coincidences

Coincidence

Coincidence (Photo credit: Cam in Van)

I like to collect coincidences. Most coincidences are random occurrences, but I still enjoy looking for causal connections and possible insights. The hunt adds interest to life. For example, when I worked as an aide in a hospital, I noted that most patients select a doctor whose last name is the same length, or nearly so, as their last name. Probably meaningless, but still fun to spot it. My own last name is five letters long and my current doctor’s last name is also five letters long.

I am reading Interface by Neal Stephenson written under the pen name of Stephen Bury. Stephenson is also one of my favorite writers of science fiction and I have read all of his books. Interface takes place in the near future and is set in Illinois and Denver, just as Dan Simmons has near future books set in both places. And both authors have last names beginning with “S” and ending in “on.”