Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Grr. Christmas, and me without a credit card to max out.
As my schedule quickens and things happen faster, I find it takes more and more guilt to motivate me to do things I don't really feel are very important. And yet, I still try and get presents for my family on christmastime, and spend the day/days with them. Why is that? Environmental programming? Lingering memories of christmas past? Or some editorial filter, that picks those bright and worthwhile things about christmas, and lets me enjoy all of it, for the sake of the pure intent in parts of it.

But for the record, Fuck You, Santa Clause! And your celebratory capitalist pig-dog elves too!

Friday, December 20, 2002

oh, FLENSER is all salvage electronics and materials at this point, so amazingly enough, the only costs I've incurred are some gas charges transporting, and a new battery for my trusty DMM. We may yet run into trouble, but thus far, FLENSER is pretty sturdy for little cabbage. The current design/test phase should cost us little or nothing, and then the debug/rebuild phase will be where the costs start piling up, with the nice batteries, motors, and titanium weapon/armor pieces. ugh. It's cheap, but I hate block aluminum. At least with Titanium I don't have the option of trying to do it myself and I'll have to pay someone else to do it. I can watch them sweat. heh.
More progress on the front lines, I've organized a team to field a combat robot, code-named FLENSER. He'll bear the MadScientistMagazine nameplate, and hopefully compete in either Robot Wars, or Battle Bots (or both) His control and weapon systems are currently in spec with the requirements of both. I'd hate the let out too many details and then be embarassed when we change them later, so I'll just say that while it's mostly a virgin crew, I have high hopes we'll see results quick, and with interesting(if not victorious) results. FLENSER will hopefully get on TV during the next BattleBots season, if we finish him quickly enough, and grab some eyeballs for MadScientistMagazine.

Which of course means I have to work on creating a team for that also. Pending Funding, I'll be recruiting real writers and features soon. "Soon" being within the next two months. Not quite up to internet speed yet, but things are building. Money remains tight, even through these prospective times. I'm full of ideas and projects, but stereotypically low on funding and allies. Christmas will be lean this year. I'm planning on giving mostly self-constructed gifts to those that expect them, and agnostica cards to those that don't.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I have to also admit a desire to use Mad Scientist Magazine to prove my friend Eliezer Yudkowsky wrong. He said to me recently, within a larger conversation, "But Corwin, mad scientists don't exist in real life." Realizing that he's mostly right, and wondering to myself why that's so is at least tangentally related to my decision to start this magazine.

I also cannot help but think that an organized sub-culture of maniacal rational engineers that communicate and assist each other would be a good thing.

There are two paradigms of Scientific Endeavor just now, one is Science for Science's sake, and perpetuates itself in Universities, research institutions, and the heart of every mathematical platonist. The other is Applied Sciences, and it lives in Corporate Think Tanks, Design Engineering courses, and Product Delivery Systems. I'm trying to discover and promote a third kind of Science and Scientist, the Artistic Scientist, who creates and searches and discovers for his own sake. And if there isn't a sub-culture that puts Nicolae Tesla on the covers of it's books, and has inside jokes about rational madness, well, I guess I'll just have to make one.

Another large reason I'm working on this project is out of a desire to bring my life into sharper focus. The last two years I have spent largely reading, researching, talking to people about things thought to be important, and thinking about what to do. Launching this magazine, I hope to provide myself with a vehicle to effect change, give other people tangible support in endeavors I find important, and furthering my support for realistic and rational outlooks.

I also hope to use this magazine to help myself produce references for other people, share what I've learned so far, and provide myself with more opportunities to learn.

Mad Scientist Magazine is to be a publication about amateur science, in it's application, it's participants, and it's value. I am an amateur scientist, and seek to both promote the lifestyle, and proselytize it's benefits. Ours should be a culture that creates, understands, and improves ourselves and our tools.

An amateur scientist is simply a person who uses scientific principles within his life, performs scientific research, or relies primarily upon scientific methods to made decisions, yet is not a member of that happy group that is paid and tenured to do such work for a living. Almost everyone, at some point in their lives has been an amateur scientist. An argument could be made that everyone is, because even professional scientists are not qualified in ALL realms of scientific thought. But the title 'amateur' need not be bad. Hobbyists and Home tinkerers have a long and distinguished history of adding to, correcting, and complementing mainstream science and scientists, arguably one group: Amateur Astronomers sometimes actually supersede the professionals in some areas(discovering comets, for example). We home engineers, and basement chemists may not have the budgets or focus of 'real' researchers, but creativity, enthusiasm, and the progressive nature of scientific discovery are on our side.

I wanted to start this magazine for a few reasons. First, to provide a voice and community for home scientists. Second, to encourage amateurs within scientific investigation, showing that Truth is there for the discovery with or without mandates and budgets. Third, to foster the spirit of engineering experimentation in myself and others. And fourth, to help struggling Mad Scientists like myself and my friends work more effectively, see more clearly, and build and discover more.