The Border Between “Proto” and “Early” Gets Closer

April 26th, 2017

It’s less than two months before his company’s initial product launch, and CEO Ric Fulop is excitedly showing off rows of stripped-down 3-D printers, several bulky microwave furnaces, and assorted small metal objects on a table for display. Behind a closed door, a team of industrial designers sit around a shared work desk, each facing a large screen. The wall behind them is papered with various possible looks for the startup’s ambitious products: 3-D printers that can fabricate metal parts cheaply and quickly enough to make the technology practical for widespread use in product design and manufacturing.

To continue:

Hobbyists and self-proclaimed makers can use relatively inexpensive 3-D printers to make wonderfully complex and ingenious shapes out of plastics. And some designers and engineers have found those machines useful in mocking up potential products, but printing polymer parts has found little use on the production floor in anything but a few specialized products, such as customized hearing aids and dental implants.

Though it is possible to 3-D-print metals, doing so is difficult and pricey. Advanced manufacturing companies such as GE are using very expensive machines with specialized high-power lasers to make a few high-value parts (see “Additive Manufacturing” in our 10 Breakthrough Technologies list of 2013). But printing metals is limited to companies with millions to spend on the equipment, facilities to power the lasers, and highly trained technicians to run it all. And there is still no readily available option for those who want to print various iterations of a metal part during the process of product design and development.

This is a huge milestone. Being able to design and print metal parts or components will revolutionize industry on every level.

Where is your gun control now? And where will it be after ten years of refinement and market development? Sure, right now, you’d have to sell your kids, a leg, and several internal organs to get your hands on one. But in the not too distant future? Maybe not in every workshop, but odds are that if you don’t own one yourself, you’ll know someone who does.

If these guys are successful, this will likely mark the transition between proto-fabbers and early fabber technology.


April 26th, 2017

As one expects from USA Today this has far more fluff than substance. I’ll be doing a bit of digging on this one, but there’s no reason to subject you to my geekery, since this article isn’t the point of this post.

In a provocative and controversial claim, scientists say a scattering of bones and stones suggests ancestral humans reached the New World more than 100,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Most genetic and archaeological evidence shows humans first entered the Americas some 15,000 years ago.

Please note that Ms. J-School has completely ignored the evidence from Stonecroft, which is earlier than the “15,000 year” thing, meaning the Clovis culture.

But a study nearly 25 years in the making in this week’s Nature finds that the 130,000-year-old bones of a mastodon, an extinct relative of the mammoth, unearthed in California were split open with blows from rocks. Rocks discovered near the bones bear the hallmarks of use as hammers, the scientists report.

This is kind of a big deal. We know a fair amount concerning the critters that were walking, slithering, flying and swimming about back then, and unless you want to posit a clan/tribe of tool-using bears, there wasn’t anything but humans who could do this.

[200+ words in, and he finally comes to the point] This is just one example of why your response to a claim of “the science is settled” should be derisive laughter. Proper science is never settled.

PS: There was an article published yesterday (too lazy to look it back up) that suggests that in terms of physics, we don’t know as much about protons as we thought we did. And that bit of science was “settled” about a century ago.

Vacation for Me, But Prison for Thee

April 25th, 2017

A 19-year-old Detroit teen now faces up to 20 years in prison for what he claims was an accident. Juwan Plummer has multiple charges against him, including intentional discharge of a firearm in a building causing serious injury after shooting two police officers he thought were breaking into his home.

Plummer’s father, Vincent Redd said his son was shaken up from an attempted break-in the week prior and said he didn’t know the officers were called to the neighborhood to investigate suspicious activity. “They’d been looking at this house and that house,” Redd said. “He was in the basement and he heard a noise on the side of the house coming towards the front.”

That’s when Plummer fired a single-shot through the front window in hopes to scare away who he assumed were burglars. Prosecutors last week said that however wasn’t the case because the two officers were in full uniform and allegedly knocked on the door. Plummer alleges he didn’t hear a knock.

“He never heard anyone announce themselves,” Redd said. “He just saw flashlights down by the window and heard a noise approaching the porch.”

Let’s review, shall we? Armed trespassers with neither permission nor warrant. That’s a good shoot in my book. If the Detroit police had a trace of honor, they would patch their wounded, and take steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again. But of course they don’t, and instead they’ll do their utmost to ruin this 19 year-olds life.

And of course they announced themselves. I have a very nice bridge for sale if you believe that.

Here’s local coverage: Absolutely no pro-cop bias to be seen there, no sirree.

Self Explanatory

April 24th, 2017

Another Step in the Right Direction

April 24th, 2017

Knife Rights’ bipartisan Texas Knife Law Reform Bill, HB 1935, that would repeal the ban on ALL “illegal knives” in Texas statutes, has passed out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee by a unanimous vote and is now headed to the Calendars Committee. HB 790, the other knife law reform bill that only repeals the ban on daggers, also passed out of the Committee.

H.B. 1935 pretty much removes the term “illegal knife” from Texas statutes, while adding specifics about knives as applies to the expulsion of students in Texas schools.

I’m less than thrilled about the part concerning the expulsion of students, but I understand it. As far as “do it for the children”-ism is invoked, this really isn’t that bad, and let’s not forget a child’s ability to make poor choices, so keeping them away from large pointy objects makes a certain amount of sense.

Remember that we got here one step at a time, and we need to take it all back the same way. Stupid, I know, but that’s how things work. Unless I can convince y’all that hanging legislators is both “petitioning the Government” and “protected speech and self-expression”.

Weaponized Bacon

April 24th, 2017

Wild boars rampage in Kirkuk leaves 3 Islamic State members dead

Kirkuk ( Three Islamic State militants died late Sunday when wild boars attacked them in southern Kirkuk, a local source was quoted saying.

The animals went on a rampage near a farmland in al-Rashad region, an Islamic State pocket 53 kilometers south of Kirkuk. They attacked the militants and left three killed, according to the source.

This is delicious, and that doesn’t include the pig’s normal deliciousness.

Pretty sure this is going to be your feel-good story of the week.

The Four Rules Aren’t Just For Guns

April 24th, 2017

(Newser) – A track and field event ended in tragedy Saturday afternoon in Illinois. A 19-year-old freshman volunteering at a competition held at Wheaton College was accidentally hit by a hammer during the hammer throw event. WCPO reports the “hammer” is actually a metal ball that’s attached to a grip via a steel wire; it weighs 16 pounds for men and 8.8 pounds for women, though it hasn’t been reported which size hammer hit Ethan Roser.

Be sure of your target and what’s behind it.

The Vapors

April 24th, 2017

This was published this past Saturday in the NYT:

That phrasing sounds too reasonable for the spirit of this series, so here’s the more outrageous version: Bring back the stocks and the firing squad.

The tendency in modern criminal justice has been to remove two specific elements from the state’s justice: spectacle and pain. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, pillories and stocks and whipping posts became museum pieces, the hangman and the firing squad were supplanted by more technical methods, and punishment became something that happened elsewhere — in distant prisons and execution chambers, under professional supervision, far from the baying crowd.

This doesn’t really break any new ground. One thing the author missed is that public shaming tends to be less or even ineffective in large population centers. Another thing left out is the mobility we enjoy today. You get tossed into the stocks today, and tomorrow you move someplace else where nobody knows about your misdeeds.

The best part however, is where the piece was published, the New York Times. The even better part is the comments, which, as might be expected, is chock-full of liberal pieties.

Troll Level: Epic

Normally I don’t suggest you reward a rag like the Times with your clickery, but this might be an exception. After all, I read this stuff so you don’t have to.

Tactics and Strategems

April 23rd, 2017

I don’t know how many of you watch Fox. Me? I gave up on them years ago, about the same time I ditched both a TV and cable service. But I’m aware of the Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly thing. And now there’s this:

The latest conservative commentator to be accused of sexual misconduct is host Sean Hannity who was accused on the Pat Cambell Show by lawyer, political commentator, and frequent Fox News guest Debbie Schlussel. Debbie claimed on the show that Sean Hannity asked Schlussel to come back to his hotel twice after a book-signing event. Does this constitute sexual misconduct?

Look, I have no opinion on this. I stopped paying any attention to Sean Hannity in the run up to the Iraq invasion back in 2003, when he would talk over people who would argue against the Iraq thing and accuse them of being unpatriotic. There’s a limit to the amount of stupid I’m willing to tolerate.

What I’d like to point out is the tactics employed. The Right has (and still does) have a third rail when it comes to “sex stuff”. Ailes, O’Reilly were both driven away due to allegations of “sexual misconduct”, and now they’re going after Hannity.

I have no idea if this is true, and frankly I don’t care. But this is telling, and if we’re to defeat the Left short of gunfire, folks who care about this sort of stuff need to either toughen up or they need to shut up. We’re all playing by the Alinsky rules these days, and giving OPFOR any advantages is a losing move.

Once Is Happenstance…

April 22nd, 2017

OK, in much less than 24 hours, we have two articles claiming the same thing:

Space is big and the hardware that humans keep sending into the great beyond is comparatively small, but our habit of letting random bits of space vehicles, boosters, and defunct satellites hang around in orbit is starting to concern scientists more than ever before. Now, the European Space Agency is sounding the alarm and pleading with the space-traveling nations to pitch in and help clean up the estimated 150 million bits of debris with the capability to destroy or damage spacecraft that accidentally collide with them.

“Today, we find in space roughly 5,000 objects with sizes larger than 1 meter (3.25 feet), roughly 20,000 objects with sizes over 10 centimeters… and 750,000 ‘flying bullets’ of around one centimeter (half an inch),” Rolf Densing, director of operations at the ESA said at a conference regarding space junk, held in Germany. “For objects larger than one millimeter (0.04 inch), 150 million is our model estimate for that.”

“held in Germany” Alright, this might be two different reporters assigned to the same conference ( but it makes one wonder what is going on. Is this some neo-Luddite thing trying to convince us to concentrate on Terran concerns (even though anyone with any sort of vision knows that the survival of humanity depends on geting off this rock), or is this just “happenstance”?