Just before our trip to Buenos Aires I read Wired‘s report on artificial diamonds: The New Diamond Age. I remember, as a child, reading about the failed efforts to make large diamonds; however, very small diamond and boron nitride crystals were coming into use as industrial abrasives. It’s a gripping story.

At the airport on the way back I picked up the print version of Wired 11.09, which has that as a cover article (starting at page 096); with a great cover photo, yet. As an aside, Wired is the only print magazine I still buy every month, down from about 30 magazines a decade ago – not only is all the interesting stuff on the net, but the mass (or perhaps mess) of old magazines was becoming too large to handle. However, I still find interesting things in the print version – strange and/or great advertisements, for instance.

Paging through the magazine reminded me of many other things besides my boyhood fascination with weird industrial processes. For instance, on page 025, Josh McHugh exhorts Sony to buy Apple; a little over 19 years ago, flying to California on my first US trip, I read in the paper that Apple should be acquired by General Electric. Emphasis has shifted, however; now, Apple is regarded as so good that it should be bought by a larger company; then, Apple was “beleaguered” and should be bought to avoid closing down. Hmm…

On page 040, the “Jargon Watch” section mentions the new term “bright”, about which I’d written previously. Coming home, #4 of the “The Brights’ Bulletin” was in my e-mail.

On pages 044/045, there’s an ad for the Mazda RX-8 sports car. Mazda is the sole remaining car manufacturer to use Dr. Felix Wankel‘s rotary Wankel engine, whose development I’d followed assiduously in the same magazine that reported on the invention of boron nitride. That was in 1958, if memory serves.

1958 also was when I first read a translation of Bulwer-Lytton’s “Last Days of Pompeii”. Despite the turgid prose, I was impressed by the description of Greek customs. And sure enough, on page 049, Wired reports on the efforts to build a complete 3D computer model of the Pompeii ruins.

Starting on page 076, Wired has it usual tech toys review section, albeit in a new layout. They kept the Splurge/Best Buy/Overrated format, though; and on page 077, the PowerBook G4 appears. It’s the first time I actually bought something rated as “splurge”, and even before it appeared in Wired… 😉

On page 081, one of my favorite authors, Bruce Sterling, writes about “Freedom’s Dark Side”. Of course, Sterling was on the cover of Wired 1.01 – I think I have a nearly complete set of issues, by the way – and also was present on the Buenos Aires trip, as I took two of his books with me: the 1988 “Islands in the Net” and the 1998 “Distraction”.

“Island in the Net” is still a gripping read but oddly quaint and old-fashioned in a futuristic way; the “Net” mentioned in the title means the international phone and TV networks; I think there’s some passing mention of e-mail. On the other hand, Third World-based “data havens” and “data pirates” feature prominently, the latter selling bootleg copies of audio and video, as well as lists of addresses for marketeers and illegally obtained personal data. While I was posting this, I happened upon James Lilek‘s article Why the Record Industry Doesn’t Stand a Chance, commenting on the activities of the EarthStation 5 music pirates, operating in the Jenin refugee camp on the Palestinian West Bank. Wow.

Finally, on page 147 there’s one my favorite Wired features, “Artifacts from the Future”. This one shows a “Melanoma Removal Gel”. As I’m just back from an appointment with my dermatologist, I’m very happy to report that none of my assorted moles, spots or other skin markings are melanomas… she also assured me that the recurring scales and fissures on my fingers weren’t psoriasis but rather the milder, and more easily controlled, Dyshidrosis. Whew.