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Bandit Lights an Xmas Fire

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Bandit’s Cantina Episode 96 : a 2021 Christmas story

by K.Randall Ball

Bandit looked around at the dozen or so kids and looked at the sleek classic chopper with highbars he was building. The Knucklehead engine and transmission were now in place.

Marko approached and whispered something into Bandit’s ear, “Exactly,” Bandit added.

It was the week after Thanksgiving. Marko disappeared for a minute and returned with a couple of large boxes marked, “Xmas.”

“We need to do something to brighten Christmas for these kids. I’m going to paint the Chopper red and white for the holidays.” said Bandit.

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Motogo teaching confidence, building grit through motorcycles

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by Taylor Bruck from https://www.mynews13.com

CLEVELAND — Not everyone learns in the same way. Some people are visual learners, some are auditory, some learn better through reading and writing and others are kinesthetic learners, which is another way of saying “hands-on.”

What You Need To Know

  • The nonprofit Motogo teaches young people life skills through motorcycles
  • They teach students how to take apart a motorcycle and put it back together
  • They do that by bringing back shop class through partnerships with schools and community organizations
  • Motogo helps students learn from their failures and build self-confidence, resilience and grit

“I’ve always been a hands-on learner, and I can relate to students who have a hard time sitting still in class. I think I played sports my whole life because that’s how I learned. I learned by doing and using my hands,” said Molly Vaughn, the executive director of Motogo, a nonprofit in Cleveland.

With a majority of funding tied to high test scores in schools, many districts in the U.S. eliminated their shop classes in the 70s or 80s. She and her husband Brian Schaffran are bringing it back.

“He’s the head coach at Motogo. I love being his boss,” said Vaughn.

Schaffran owns Skidmark Garage, and in 2017 alongside Vaughn, the two founded its nonprofit educational wing, Motogo. Motogo is a mobile shop class with a mission to teach kids to solve problems and build grit and confidence through building motorcycles.

Schaffran is a former high school math and history teacher. It wasn’t until he could use his hands that he really fell in love with learning.

“Once I just learned by doing, then that woke my motivation up to take as many college classes as I could and learn as much as I could about everything in the world,” said Schaffran. “Getting a kid to memorize is one thing, but getting a kid to love to learn is the ultimate goal, and shop class helps some students wake up that love of learning.”

He’s not alone. Many people prefer to learn by doing.

“I find it easier, like when you’re actually like in the field doing something, not just like reading off a book,” said Liam Michael, a junior at Saint Martin de Porres High School, a school currently hosting an after-school Motogo program.

“It’s different. I’s something I never thought about doing so it’s fun doing it and learning,” said Maladdia Williams, a freshman at Saint Martin de Porres High School.

Motogo has already been in more than 20 different schools and community organizations. They offer quarter-long and full semester in-school and out-of-school STEM curriculums, as well as week-long summer camps for middle and high school students.

“It helps me figure out what I want to do. I mean, the more knowledge, the better,” said Elijah Williams, a sophomore at Saint Martin de Porres High School.

“I learned a lot about the tools. Like I really didn’t know any tool names or like all the different sizes and stuff,” said Summer Onwundinjo, a freshman at Saint Martin de Porres High School.

Motogo aims to be that outlet to teach young people that there’s a place for everyone to succeed in life, regardless of what motivates them.

“This isn’t a boy’s world, and this isn’t a boy’s job. This is everybody’s job,” said Schaffran. “Girls are better at this and should be trying this and should be getting their hands dirty. And I hope that it’s going to take a generation or two, but I think this is the beginning of a permanent change in who gets to do what, and who’s better at what, and who gets to experience this kind of confidence and victories.”

Motogo also aims to give them the physical and metaphorical tools to succeed in life, helping young people realize that failing is just another word for learning. If at first effort doesn’t work, try and try again.

“We just want to be one opportunity, maybe find the kids that haven’t found that thing that sparks them yet,” said Vaughn. “We’re really a unique opportunity to make someone feel valued, who feels left out, whether a student wants to go into a manufacturing career or they want to go into something more like becoming a doctor or a lawyer, or they’re going to be a stay-at-home parent one day. It doesn’t really matter what the end product is. We know that by taking shop classes again, that it’s going to rewire their brain to kind of think about the way you approach the world differently.”

“A lot of people don’t know that they can fix the world around them and they don’t have the confidence to even try most of the time. Hopefully, after going through a Motogo course, they just gain a little bit more nerve, a little bit more confidence than they’re willing to try and grab a tool and figure it out and problem solve,” said Schaffran. “Whatever problem that someone comes across, I hope that they say to themselves, well, I rebuilt a motorcycle. If I did that, I can do this.”

For more information on Motogo visit their website.

Motorcycle Helmet Performance: Blowing the Lid Off

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Searching for the truth behind motorcycle helmet design, helmet standards and actual head protection

By Dexter Ford and California Scientific

How good is your helmet? Will it actually protect your brain in your next crash? Will it prevent your next accident? I don’t think so, but it may cause your next accident–watch out.

These seem like easy questions, ones you probably think you can answer by reciting the lofty standards your helmet meets and the lofty price you might have paid for it. But the real answers, as you are about to see, are anything but easy.

There’s a fundamental debate raging in the motorcycle helmet industry. In a fiberglass-reinforced, expanded-polystyrene nutshell, it’s a debate about how strong and how stiff a helmet should be to provide the best possible protection.

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Meet The White House’s New Chief Climate Change Skeptic

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William Happer, a Princeton scientist who is doubtful of the dangers of climate change, appears to be leading a White House challenge to the government’s conclusion that global warming is a threat.

Twenty five years ago, William Happer had an encounter with the White House that ended badly.

At the time, in 1993, the Princeton professor was taking a break from academia to direct scientific research at the U.S. Department of Energy. He turned a skeptical eye toward one of then-Vice President Al Gore’s favorite issues: the risks posed by chemicals eating away at ozone in the stratosphere and letting in dangerous ultraviolet radiation. As the story goes, Happer went to the White House and told Gore’s staff he saw no evidence that the ozone hole actually was hurting anyone.

Gore was annoyed, and Happer lost his job.

Today, Happer is back in the White House, still fighting against what he considers unfounded claims that our globe is in danger. But this time, his cause is backed by the man in the Oval Office.

Happer, 79, joined the staff of President Trump’s National Security Council last fall. And according to documents first leaked to The Washington Post, he appears to be pushing the White House to mount a challenge to the government’s official assessment of climate change, which calls climate change a serious national security threat.

On Thursday, the chairs of four different committees in the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern about “recent reports that the National Security Council (NSC) is planning to assemble a secret panel, led by a discredited climate change denier, to undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus on the nature and threats of climate change.”

The four Democrats called it “deeply concerning that Dr. Happer appears to be spearheading” that effort.

Happer is an intriguing and controversial figure. He was born in India when it was a British colony, the son of a Scottish military officer and an American medical missionary. His mother, with young Will in tow, spent part of World War II working as a physician at the secret Manhattan Project site in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The family later settled in North Carolina.

Happer became a physicist. He taught at Columbia University and joined the faculty at Princeton University in 1980.

“He is a damn good scientist,” says Steven Koonin, a prominent physicist who is now a professor at New York University and who has known Happer for 30 years. “There are two really significant contributions associated with him.”

One of them made it possible to capture much better images of people’s lungs; the other allows astronomers to see the stars more clearly.

At the same time, Happer acquired a reputation as a contrarian, quick to challenge conclusions that struck him as unproven — especially when it came to environmental science.

That reputation was cemented by Happer’s confrontation with Gore’s staff over risks posed by the ozone hole. The incident was widely covered in scientific publications — Physics Today ran an article headlined “Happer Leaves DOE Under Ozone Cloud For Violating Political Correctness.”

Koonin thinks Happer was doing what a scientist should, demanding better evidence. “I think it sensitized him to the squishiness, if you will, of a lot of the environmental science,” he says.

Some of Happer’s scientific critics, though, see it as something more: a visceral distrust of scientists who study environmental risks.

Over the past decade, Happer has waged a fierce campaign aimed at debunking fears of global warming caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

In a speech to a 2015 conference organized by the Heartland Institute, which has railed against restrictions on emissions from fossil fuels, Happer scoffed at these fears, calling them an Alice-in-Wonderland fantasy. “When I got into this area and started learning about it, I learned that when I looked at CO2, I should assume that it caused harmful warming, extreme weather, Noah’s flood, you know. I remember thinking, ‘Are they mad?’ ”

Carbon dioxide is actually good for the planet, Happer claims; it’s like fertilizer and makes crops more productive.

“We’ve got to push back vigorously on the demonization of fossil fuels,” he said in his speech. “They’re not demons at all. They’re enormous servants to us.”

Some of Happer’s colleagues at Princeton are reluctant to talk publicly about him; it’s like discussing a relationship that got messy.

“I mean, I liked him. We went off for coffee after our committee meetings a couple of times,” says Michael Bender, an emeritus professor of geoscience and climate researcher.

Bender says he wouldn’t do it now, though. It’s partly because of the scientific dispute, because he thinks Happer is misreading the evidence. But it’s also because of Happer’s style — he’s labeled climate science a cult and accused other scientists of whipping up climate fears to boost their own careers. Most offensive for Bender: Happer once said the “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the Jews under Hitler.”minnn

“You know, there came a point where he attacked my colleagues’ integrity,” Bender says, “and I felt like I couldn’t have a cordial relationship with him after that.”

Happer, who last fall went to work in the White House as a senior aide to the National Security Council, wasn’t authorized to comment for this story.

Robert Socolow, another Princeton colleague, has mixed feelings about Happer’s post. Socolow’s own biography — first a physicist, then a specialist on the environment — makes him a kind of bridge between Happer and the environmental scientists on Princeton’s campus. He doesn’t doubt Happer’s technical grasp of climate science but says that “everybody has areas of irrationality.”

“I think the environment in general, and climate change in particular, is an area of Will’s irrationality. But nonetheless, I think he can accomplish something” in his current job, Socolow says.

Socolow hopes that while in the White House, Happer will behave less like an argumentative physicist and more like the kind of person who has to prepare for every possibility — including those that strike him as unlikely.

“A military person doesn’t underestimate the enemy. A business person doesn’t underestimate the competition,” Socolow says. And even if, as Happer insists, there’s uncertainty about the course of climate change, the U.S. can’t afford to underestimate those risks.