Thursday, March 02, 2006

logic lessons

I've been wondering for some time why logic isn't taught in schools. Like Diane, I find it difficult to believe that logic isn't a core curriculum. Althought I don't completely agree with her assesment of algebra and trig, the crux of her argument is true. I propose we teach logic as a defense against, well, all the evil in the world. Bad politicians, check. Advertisments for useless goods, check. Damn near anything I can think of that I consider bad, check.

I have to be quite frank. I have no skill or training in logic but I understand it as a positive, protective force. Can you imagine a world where people can't be coerced by faulty logic? Where children know enough to question the automatic imposition of authority. Take, for example, the intelligent design argument: roundly defeated by a firm application of reason by PZ Meyer among others. Hear, Hear! This gentleman is on the search for enlightenment using the tools of logic. Would that we were all so minded.

I've found several texts on teaching logic to children. Bravo! but they cost. It seems to me that we would want this taught to our children at any cost. But better yet taught to all children equally that we might improve not only our own standing but the standing of the entire world. Better people than myself will have to help with this. I am neither smart enough or eloquent enough to make this happen. Will you help?

The main need is for curriculum that can be used to teach children at home. There are parents who read to their offspring to better them. Surely they would be interested in having materials that would enable them to teach logic lessons. I'd love to see this taught in schools but perhaps a start would be a childrens story.

Please help the world by helping develop a freely distributable curriculum for teaching logic.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

reporting these days

I imagine it must be hard for a reporter to jam a camera in someones face and ask them hard hitting questions. Imagine, you, who have just sat down to a nice meal of still twitching child flesh and hearing a voice call out "Mr. Delay? About Jack Abramoff?" and then getting grilled like never before on who, what, when, where, why and how much. It must be hard, thus explaining why reporters aren't doing it. Or when they do, concerning themselves with such inanity as to be immediately irrelevant. I am, some people would say, relatively outgoing, but to interrupt a person in conversation amongst friends, uninvited, would be one of the most difficult things I can imagine. I have, however, figured out, just now, why republicans are so staunchly against abortion.

It cuts down on their food supply.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

21st Century Toys and tank disappointment

Well the previous post on the cheap tank was about right. Poor components make it expensive even at $80. What a shame. The M1A2 broke after less than 30 minutes of use. First the turret quit firing. Not unexpected because it was a spring loaded affair and felt cheap from the get go. What was unexpected was the main drive gear on the right side of the tank giving way. 21st Century Toys kindly prints their "toll free" number on the instructions so a quick call should set things straight. Right? Wrong. Their "toll free" number is in fact a regular long distance call. There doesn't seem to be anyone located at the ofice either. Ah well. Fact of the matter is I can fix the broken part pretty easily but it would be nice to have some response from the company. You'd be better off spending the money to buy this guys tank plans and scrounging your parts than buying this. Pictures will be posted shortly.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

tanks and robotics platforms

I was in Walmart today and saw a great deal that'll be loads of fun and might be exceptionally useful to someone with more skill in electronics than I. A 1/9th scale Abrahms M1A2 tank for $80. It was originally $200. The battery in it (a 12V 7Ah) is worth around $40 so it would be worth buying just to retrieve the lead/acid combo. This is a relatively lifelike model from 21st Century Toys. I couldn't find any info on their website about it so I assume it was built exclusively for Walmart. It is amazingly huge: 3' long with a turret that measures 12" by 16". The battery takes 18h to charge, so we haven't run it yet. It'll be interesting to see how well it runs and for how long.

I haven't taken it apart yet but it looks like it will easily fit a laptop and GPS. I'd bet with some skill it would be a fantastic, cheap robotics platform. If the boys let me, I'll take it apart and post some more pictures and specs on its mechanics.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

recumbent bike skills

One of the skills that is involved in making bike frames is braze welding. My understanding of it leaves something to be desired but hey what the heck... I wish I had found this guide before I had attempted this awful piece to the right.

Heat is the key to good brazing and obviously I didn't have enough. I was heating with MAPP gas. Later (after filing all that junk off) I used a propane torch and a MAPP torch. That was enough heat for this joint and one other small joist but not enough for larger joints. When the joint is properly hot the alloy, copper, in this case, will flow like water , not bead up. The beads in this show a cold tube.

This weekend was a good weekend for learning what not to do. I tried to shape a piece of cromoly tubing by packing it with sand and using a bicycle wheel to get a good radius. I didn't pack the sand nearly tight enough, crimping my tube. If you try to shape tubing this way ensure that you have packed the sand extremely tight. Avoid crimped tube! Do not get in eyes! Dilute! Dilute!

long wheel base recumbent

I found some plans for a long wheel base recumbent bike (the Tour Easy) online. Just what I needed to realize one of my dreams! So I obtained a couple of frames (Thanks Mike! Thanks Beverly and Tommy Dale!)and some cromoly tubing and decided to try my hand at building one of these neat bikes.

I've wanted to build a recumbent and really didn't know it. It seems like it would be a great energy saver/exercise inducer and could actually be relatively practical as transportation. Outfitted with a motor (electric or gas, more on gas later) and a shell, it would be great for getting to work. Work doesn't have a shower so that makes cycling a bit unrealistic. I don't mind smelling funky but my coworkers might. OSHA requires having one shower stall for x number of employees. Great but at the same time it prevents companies from building showers because of the expense. It would be a nice gesture towards truly sustainable practices to either require showers or lessen the number that would have to be built.