Friday, October 07, 2011


Popehat sees the same 3-D printing/desktop CNC revolution coming that I did, and points out it moots a lot of gun control.

--Theodore Sturgeon was famous (in some circles, anyway) for the aphorism "Ask the next question." The next one along this line of thought might be desktop "printing" (for want of a better word) of simple chemical mixtures -- and moving from there to more complex synthesis. Smokeless powder, aspirin, ascorbic acid -- or LSD and heroin. As far as I know, that's still over the horizon, but ask me again in five years, or ten.

One the other hand-- Prediction tends to go sideways, kind of like having a long tape measure spooled out; the darned thing doesn't always go where you'd think. Print-on-demand made a change, but it's nothing to the paperless version: the e-reader/iPad/smartphone is rapidly expanding the wealth of "printed" matter available to people. I love my library but those several thousand volumes would take up a few thumb drives at most. What happens when the contents of your medicine chest (and all that stuff in bottles under the kitchen sink!) goes the same way?

What happens when you cross that with 3-D printing? (Print out a nice new computer?)


My other "tolja" is considerably more grim. Back when Anwar al-Awlaki was offed for bein' seditiously mouthy, one of the defenses offered was that he had it comin'. Which, okay, he did -- but not in any legal sense; as a citizen, you can go off and preach against your government all you like. Even if you're actively helping set up malefactors, you-the-citizen don't generally rate summary execution unless you're in the act thereof and violently resist apprehension. Nope, rule was that you had your day in court, just like it says right there in writing, and then they took you out and strung you up, and no weaseling about it, either.

...Used to be that way. Now? Now it's not even the President; it's some knot of wonks at the National Security Council who decide you're a bad, baaaaaad person and wham! you get an exploding visitor from above, no arrest, no trial, no nothing, not even the State of Texas tellin' you that you'll have what's on the same menu the other jailbirds are getting. Who chose these guys? Did you vote for 'em? I sure don't remember having the chance. But hey, for now, if you stay in the country, you're probably fine. Besides, the neighbors will agree after the news reports that you probably had it coming anyhow.

Take what comfort you can that whichever party is in power, it's the same shined-up jackboot. And as long as it is only stomping cockroaches, who cares? --At least, who cares until they find themselves defined as a cockroach.* But, damn you, don't look me in the eye and tell me that it is in any way how the freely elected government of a free country of free men and women operates, 'cos it ain't.

So much for Article Three, Section Three. But hey, Mr. Madison, nice work anyway. (Lotta good stuff in there, btw, including the evils of Hamiltonianism, which ought to look very familiar.)
* Which reminds me, has anyone camping out in an NYC park for "Occupy Wall Street" ever heard of what happened to the Bonus Army? Or, for that matter, the Canadian solution? Sleep tight!


John Peddie (Toronto) said...

Only in Canada would "rioters" be considerate (dumb?) enough to hold their riot in the city (Regina) where the RCMP had its national training facility.

No shortage of testosterone-fuelled young Mountie recruits there, ready for their first live-fire training exercise.

Roberta X said...

Oh, let's go with "considerate." I like to think of Canadians as being generally the sort of people who would stick around to help clean up and then write thank-you notes after a riot or revolution. (You did notice that, with a single exception, there was no looting in the Regina riot, either).

og said...

The manufacture of meds is.... complex. Some things aren't, but some things require the manufacture of specific chemicals inside the bodies of certain types of animals, for instance (even now) and chemical reactions that are insanely difficult and touchy.So I expect that is not in my lifetime.

The 3d printing of parts is very interesting. Like all things of it's type, the first products tent to try very hard to look like the things they replace (the first cars looked like carriages, the first vinyl goods tried to look like leather, the first plastics tried to look like rubber, etc. etc.) I expect 3d printed firearms et al to be very unlike anything we can imagine. and I expect them to arrive very soon.

Roberta X said...

Yep. Y'know, it's supposedly pretty easy to do carbon-fiber reinforcement in a home shop....

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

“There is no civility, only politics. The Republic is not what it once was. The Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good. [...] The bureaucrats are in charge now.”

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

When you look at lots of simple things that already exist, home manufacturing really isn't that far away even now. I expect it wouldn't be too difficult to set up 3d printing of simple ceramics - you can already get bake-in-your-oven stuff from art/hobby shops, and even if the quality isn't the greatest it shows the possibility. Simple metal epoxy is readily available at any auto-supply or hardware store, so that should be fairly easy to adapt to the process as well.

Anonymous said...

While 3D printing of firearms is still a little over the horizon a reasonably mechanically minded person with a used tabletop hobbyist milling machine can fabricate an AR-15 receiver from a few bucks worth of aluminum flat stock. It's completely legal at the moment if considerations of that sort are important to you.

The link opens a download window to a .pdf file. If you are not into metal working it might still be worthwhile to download the prints just for insurance.

There are lots of firearm related things that can be made on small tabletop machine tools. There is a learning curve involved with acquiring the skills but metal working is really not the dark art that many people think it is. Table top lathes and mills are small enough that even a small apartmet would have enough room.

dakotared said...

The contrast with retrotechnologist is nice. The book "Daemon" by Daniel Suarez turned me on to the existence of this tech and possible ramifications. The frogs are swimming fast tonight.