Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chemistry Sets...


Back in yonder days of lore, my father purchased for me, a chemistry set. These were strange things, sold way back when, that let you mix chemicals to see "nifty stuff". All kinds of prearranged experiments. With a chemistry set like mine, you could do "cool shit" like make gun powder.

Well, I recently read an article about the endangered chemistry set. Thinking about it, I haven't seen them in stores for a long while. Going to a high school science fair will tell you a lot about the status of our country. I recall (very vividly, I might add), being told that if I made one of the classic 'volcanos' that I would fail. Now, that's about the highest level you get.

Even worse, I have seen 'computer science' science fair projects, the sum total of which amounted to purchasing various hardware components and building a computer. I could respect that, if it weren't for the fact that these hardware components were designed to be put together with a minimum of effort. When did a department store bookshelf EVER count for a shop project?

But, it's not only the forces of consumerism damaging the chemistry set, it's the government as well. Why would the government not want people purchasing these things? Well, 2 reasons:

1. The War on Terror
2. The War on Drugs

Yes folks, the little $80 chemistry sets with small amounts of dangerous chemicals can be used to manufacture drugs and explosives! Nevermind, we are talking about the same amount as a single sparkler or maybe a single pill of drugs. Forget the fact that a drug dealer would have to purchase a shop full of these things to get quantity. And just think, we are saving lives (or at least injuries!!!!) to children.

To quote a John Stossel, give me a break.

An unrecognized casualty of the wars on terror and drugs, our repression of experimentation, curiosity, and ingenuity strikes at the heart of the forces that propelled America ahead during the 20th century. By not allowing a youth to experiment and 'be a nerd', we are relegating the future of this country to that of a third rate has-been. Intelligence and curiosity, like so many other things, has become a packaged commodity.

It's funny, to watch a movie like October Sky, or read Rocket Boys, and realize that the creative spirit and drive there exhibited is no longer tolerated in our country. Being out in the work force, for a different industry, I never saw the damage done to the home experimenter.


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