Henry F. Phillips — when do we celebrate?

August 10, 2007

Herny Phillips' patent for the Phillips screw and screwdriver (Google Patents)

Patent drawings for the Phillips screw and screwdriver, 1936

Only Crook in Town was alerted to the work of Henry F. Phillips by an alert and helpful librarian (well — aren’t they all?). She worries –January 15 is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, and July 7 is the middle of the summer — what day would be appropriate to celebrate the invention and patenting of the Phillips Screwdriver? (If image above does not display, click the thumbnail picture at the end of the post.)

Ah, history teachers, you noticed that the drawing comes from Google’s files of patent applications. And now you wonder: What other wonderful illustrations can we legally rip off to use in class? Wonderful question — what do you find?

The Phillips screwdriver came along in time for World War II and the mass assembly of aircraft, and aircraft instrument panels. The Phillips screw head helped aircraft assemblers keep from scratching the black metal of the rest of the panel while securing instruments into the forms.

Read the rest of this entry »


Disturbed congressman

August 10, 2007

Idaho’s Rep. Bill Sali is disturbed. But will he seek treatment?

Idaho Rep. Bill Sali - photo from Spokane Spokesman-Review

Better, might he read the Constitution if we give him the link?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula, and to Dispatches on the Culture Wars.

Photo probably from the Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review


A religious bias against good higher education — in theology!

August 10, 2007

Some religious primary and secondary schools stand on the same, treacherous ground when it comes to curricula which deserve challenging. Castle Hills First Baptist School is not the only educational institution damning children with fool ideas.

Douglas Groothuis teaches at Denver Seminary. In his blog, Constructive Curmudgeon, he lists a set of “imperatives” that he presents annually to his class in “Christian Ethics and Modern Culture.”

Despite his imperative #9:

9. The biblical concept of truth is that a true statement corresponds with or matches objective reality. While human knowing is corrupted by sin, knowledge of the things that matters most—divine and human—is possible, desirable, and pertinent.

Groothuis continues to support and defend intelligent design, a position I find both contrary to his imperative #9, and unethical for anyone, especially Christians, in imperative #17:

17. The Intelligent Design movement is thrusting a wedge between empirical science and philosophical materialism such that the evidence for design in nature may emerge apart from dogmatic and a priori restrictions. Learn about, teach about, and support this movement. See William Dembski, The Design Revolution (IVP, 2004).

Groothuis is a genuine fan of Dembski and Jonathan Wells and all the folderol they can produce. Urging students who claim to be Christian to promote the falsehoods of intelligent design is not a major sin; it’s not so severe as coaching them on racism, genocide, murder, sexism, or disowning the poor. I fear, however, it is the seed of those greater sins. (Here’s a clue: Inter-Varsity Press (IVP) is not known for high standards on science, nor on theology, to some of us; but they are probably more reputable than Regnery publishing.) Intelligent design ideas trend to the fantastic, undesirable, and not relevant.

Shakespeare put the words in Hamlet’s mouth; if only philosophers today would pay them more attention:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

More things like: science, biology, real facts, and honesty and good faith.

What is it about philosophers (Dembski, Groothuis, others at DI)? Are they competing to become to literature and social sciences what engineers are to the sciences, with regard to creationism?


Typewriter of the moment: The Living Classroom

August 10, 2007

Typewriter donated by Anya to the Living Classroom, at the Community School of West Seattle, WashingtonSlight deviation from my usual practice of featuring the technological marvel of the writing machine of a well-known writer — these writers are not yet well known.

Someone brought in a vintage Smith-Corona typewriter to one of my favorite classrooms, at the Community School in West Seattle. Photographic evidence shows the machine is still in good working order (better than my Royal), and the students have already figured out how to make it work (see photo below).

My typing career began with my mother’s and father’s Royal, similar to the one I now own. It got me to ninth grade with no problems. I took typing classes on the classic, newsroom Underwoods, about the time that the IBM Selectric was making in-roads. In my senior year of high school I got an Underwood portable — brother Dwight was selling for Underwood-Olivetti. Later I got an old, junked Olivetti electric that was gray, would do line-and-a-half as well as double spacing, and which had a pitch somewhere between 10 and 12 pica. It was heavy and industrial, but the typeface was so readable that it was popular with my debater colleagues — we used to carry the machine with us to tournaments after I joined the college debate squad.

In my junior year at the University of Utah, on a Thomas J. Watson, Jr., Memorial scholarship from IBM, I purchased a Correcting Selectric II (no, IBM offered no discount). About 20 years later, tired of the massive repair bills and hoping word processors would forever banish it from our house, my wife donated that typewriter to the Salvation Army. I found another at a garage sale, and got it for $10.00. The mechanism on that one sprang out of the case about a year later, and we eventually donated it, too.

Perry W. Buffington found the Royal that graces my home office now, largely unused but full of sentiment. (I think Buff wanted me to write more.)

These kids in Washington — they don’t know the value of the tool they have. They can’t know.  Lucky kids.

Paper typed in the Living Classroom

Photo from the Living Classroom; work product from a student.


%d bloggers like this: