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Mr.B
01-14-2002, 04:43 AM
This forum is, more than anything else, a vehicle by which people can enjoy the free exchange of ideas and participate in equal measure in conversations born of their passions and interests.

Years past I could afford the indulgence in time to participate frequently in these discussions and even author a thread or two. Now I can only steal the occasional moment ( not tools or laptops though!) to quickly read what the wonderful kids, and dedicated teachers and engineers have to say about the hard work of learning and doing engineering.

I enjoy reading how people, through dialog and discussion, work out the discord and conflict born of passion and the desire to both create and be a part of something they hold to be special and important….the desire to be purposely and productively engaged in the pursuit of designing and fabricating “A better way to do something.” Whether that something is a better way to go about the process of education, or a better robot to play a game…or even….a better game for a robot to play….

And this is my segue* into a new thread…..

I am compelled by my appreciation of ALL robotic sports to offer an additional opinion with regard to issues introduced by Raul in the Kidnapping Opponents Robots discussion.

Personally I applaud FIRST’s willingness to introduce a sports like competitiveness to the game. I sense from the response that the current FIRST participants have lost their taste for any form of contact in the sport of robotics, and that their concerns are about “Angry people”, “Bad feelings” and “Damaged Robots”….

While those are certainly legitimate concerns… “Angry people”, “Bad feelings” and “Damaged Robots”….have been a part of FIRST since back when it was played in a high school gymnasium at Manchester Central High School…those were heady days for sure!

I know of a robot that was deliberately entangled by an opponent so another opponent could win…(1x1x1) and while that team had “Angry people”, “Bad feelings” and a “Damaged Robot”….they endeavored to work hard, fix it and continue to play the game passionately, and they went on to win rookie of the year….see, those people sucked it up because they bought into The Game. I’ve seen dozens of other teams do the same thing.

Robotic sports like FIRST and BattleBots are not about the ROBOT…or even about your feelings. These sports are about learning to live in a very very unregulated world…to survive and to thrive in the diverse, dangerous and complicated environment we’ve created on this planet…..and to do it with élan!

I desperately want to believe that people who play this years FIRST game will not cry, will not whine, will compete to the best of their abilities by designing and building robust robots and taking the risks of fielding it against other teams willing to take the same risks…see that’s the point.

In FIRST and in BattleBots..everyone reads the rules and makes the decision….to play, or not to play. That decision, once made SHOULD be enough to prevent “Angry people”, “Bad feelings” and “Damaged Robots”….The decision to play is an exercise in choice….

And I believe this years FIRST game honors some very important choices…it honors those heroic, non whining choices made by heroes who everyday put themselves in harms way so we can all enjoy the freedom and luxury of playing these robotic games…Those people who put themselves in harms way by rushing into burning buildings, or fighting criminals late at night in our city streets while we lay safely in bed dreaming of new robot designs….or those men and women who take up arms in defense of our freedoms…who play by some very very difficult and dangerous rules…and what they play is decidedly not a game….and these people don’t whine.

They don’t whine because they made a choice, and they accepted the consequence of that choice….

I am proud to know that many of the engineers that help these kids…and that many of my students who have participated in FIRST and BATTLEBOTS are presently engaged in engineering systems for the defense of this nation…very very proud of them. The reason why so few of our fighting men and women were spared in Desert Storm and Afghanistan is in great part because of our nations technological superiority….

Please children of FIRST recognize this irony….do what you will with it, that’s your choice…but recognize the irony that to be gentle, to play nice is a good thing, but the ability to have it that way is paid for in the currency of the lives of the people who ensure and defend our safety….

Our team is one of those you glibly refer to with a “BattleBots mentality”…I find it to be fun, exciting and throughout the games, we share camaraderie and friendship and laughter and good spirits with the other contestants because we recognize that we all made the choice to participate…and strangely, after three seasons, I have never witnessed “Angry people”, “Bad feelings” even though there have been tons of “Damaged Robots”.

To those FIRSTERS to whom this message makes sense, I invite you to design and build fast, strong robust robots, and to play the game well and with dignity and within the spirit of the rules and the purpose to which you have chosen to commit yourself…and then, If you want to…throw some armor plating on your bot’ and bring it over to a BBIQ competition and have some fun….after all…you can’t use it again anyway!

Love and best wishes to all FIRST participants

Mr. B

*Segue

1.) To make a transition directly from one section or theme to another.
2.) To move smoothly and unhesitatingly from one state, condition, situation, or element to another:

Gary Stearns
01-14-2002, 06:08 AM
Thanks Mr. B.

When our team or any team worries about if the right choices were made, design, strategy, etc. your sentiments about team work and overcoming adversity, playing the game or doing the job you committed to are what some of the life lessons that FIRST indirectly teaches.

Thanks for the reality check.

TEAM !! 236 !! TECHNO TICKS !!!

Bill Beatty
01-14-2002, 09:22 AM
Mike

So good to hear from you. Us folks of FIRST sure miss you.

You have, in your usual eloquent style, raised some interesting points. I feel there is one flaw in your position, however. In Battlebots, the goal IS to damage and destroy your opponents robot. Not so in FIRST. Hears hoping we don't have an upset "hockey parent."

Regards,

Mr. Bill

ColleenShaver
01-14-2002, 10:17 AM
Mr.B-

Your posts are few and far between but always well worth it.... I completely agree because I, for one, have missed the game of the old days, where a little rough and tumble in the 2minutes was followed by a handshake, a little fixing in the pit.. and just on to the next match...

A wise man once said "These robots are 3-dimensional, physical metaphors for what we are actually trying to accomplish" We're trying to educate people (not just the 'kids') about life, the real world.. all things not created equal.. it's not all fair.. but you enjoy the ride for what it's worth.

Gotta love it.... T190 will be ready to play :)

--colleen

Mr.B
01-14-2002, 07:48 PM
Colleen,

You were a force in the Gael, Girl.

And a woman who "Got it"...I wish you the very best of luck always...and I miss you.

Colleen help an old man's memory please...were not you and I sitting together in an arena outside Chicago watching Mr. Bill Beatty and crew win a match while their robot lay flat on it's back?

If my memory is correct...and I admit the sixties have taken their toll....those were pretty exciting matches...and while "Wild Bill Beatty didn’t exactly like it..he accepted it as part of the game...

And we all thought he was God like...still do actually.

Torroid Terror...pretty rugged stuff...nobody I knew was crying. I remember you drove pretty hard....and NYPRO always built rugged machines....in the expectation of a little pushing and shoving...mostly with you at the controls.

And hey...while it was not pretty...Didn’t J&J get the crowd to their feet one summer in some horrendously rugged Post Season Play?....not once...but twice.

I'm not implying right or wrong...I'm not making a position statement...I'm just saying that people who saw those matches remember them...and that's how you impact folks...you get them to notice...and then to remember...

The way we always notice...and remember you!

Ciao

Mr.B

meaubry
01-14-2002, 10:01 PM
Mike B.- so nice to have you wade in on this one. You have raised a number of good and relavent points. I indeed remember the rough and tumble days of yesteryear TJ2 and Naval Undersea War Fare at the Rumble at the Rock (who could forget that one) and a long list of really tough matches (I know we were the target of more than a few beatings handed out by others).
Yes - FIRST teaches many things but so does alot of things in life. I believe the nature of sporting competitions can teach you sportsmanship, understanding, compassion, gracious professionalism, (the best in people) BUT - it can also bring out the worst in people as well. I know, because its happened to me and others witnessed it. That is my fault, I'm human and I made a mistake. Do we really want the mistakes that will sneak out in the heat of battle to be the defining thought that others have ?
Rationalize the reasons for the competition format anyway that you want - bottom line to me as regards to FIRST is, "Does the potential outcome result in increasing the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology?
If I wanted to learn the pyschological effects of sports on the nature of human beings - I'm not sure that I'd want to link it to FIRST, but then again - I suppose this is not that far from the social experiments that they have induced in the past (forced cooperation by forming alliances, and eventually teams playing against the clock instead of head to head)
I suppose you are right - maybe FIRST has become more than just Inspiration or Recognition. Maybe, FIRST isn't really even about Science and Technology. Maybe, Woody really teaches in the Behavioral Sciences and FIRST is just a smokescreen!
But, as I have stated on Rauls' post - CD7 will be designed as robust as we can afford it to be, considering the weight limitations and the choices we make for the functionality we have chosen to design into the Chief so it can play the game. That is because we do accept the challenge, we will accept whatever the rules are - afterall, the rules will apply to all. BUT, that doesn't mean that I agree with them, and in this case I have said I hope that FIRST changes their mind and allows only pushing and not pulling or lifting. Interaction is unavoidable as bad driving and a crowded playing field will prove that. Bad decisions and accidents are easily disguised, and intentions are difficult to measure.
In closing, I can only agree with you on the excitement and memories of the matches that resulted in parts flying and lots of repairs - I wonder if my memories and feelings are the same as the people on the teams that were on the short end? The main difference between Battlebots and FIRST is that in Battlebots you not only accept the possibility, you realize the goal is to immobilize (aka; destroy) the opponent, where as in FIRST you are told to approach this game and everything you do with gracious professionalism, and the goal here is to win the game.
Mike, I applaude your effort and you know I respect you more than I could ever say - I respect the very difficult decisions that you have made in the past (we miss Plymouth North at FIRST) and I wish you the very best in whatever direction that life takes you. Goodluck and please post as often as you can - your insights are always welcome.

BSMFIRST
01-14-2002, 11:16 PM
The main difference between Battlebots and FIRST is that in Battlebots you not only accept the possibility, you realize the goal is to immobilize (aka; destroy) the opponent, where as in FIRST you are told to approach this game and everything you do with gracious professionalism, and the goal here is to win the game

There is a whole lot of gracious professionalism in BattleBots like Mr. B pointed out.

Did you know Dan D.--a BattleBots competitor, Robotica & BattleBots host, FIRST judge, and Innovation FIRST resaler and on-site competition support staff--also designs and supplies custom parts used by virtually all BattleBots competitors? Did you know the heavyweight champ Whyachi team machines parts for other competitors? Did you know the Mauler team opens up their house as a bed & breakfast for others during competitions?

It isn't as clear from watching the show, but gracious professionalism is there.

Dan

s_alaniz
01-15-2002, 12:18 AM
MrB....Ok So you like Battlebots...I have no quarrel with Battlebots. I think interesting designs are always something to be admired. The inventive mind is something we can all appreciate and admire.

However, it's best to know WHAT the inventive mind was trying to accomplish. As you know, The inventor of dynamite was looking for a way to transport Nitro Glycerin safely and save lives. So he was understandibly distressed to see his invention used for warfare. SO much so that he was moved to established prizes for people who made significant advances in furthering humanity.

Perhaps there is a significant need for such "battles" I guess humans need to have a conflict to feel good about themselves, but as a member of society who carried a draft card in the 70's I'd rather concentrate on creating peaceful means of competition rather than creating new ways to destroy.

Yes, our technology has been a blessing, but the glorification of combat using our technology is a human failure. (There is a fine line that separates combat from competition but, it is there. )

At last year's awards ceremony, Dean made a statement that merits reflection. "Raise the bar..." If you "raise the bar" by making the better destroying robot, then I applaud you. Just be careful you don't cut your fingers off.

Closing thoughts, "ANYONE can learn to fight, it takes a superior mind to find ways not to." A quote form a teacher of mine.

A quote from MrB.
"Please children of FIRST recognize this irony….do what you will with it, that’s your choice…but recognize the irony that to be gentle, to play nice is a good thing, but the ability to have it that way is paid for in the currency of the lives of the people who ensure and defend our safety…."
This is a lie and an exaggeration. There is no other way to put it.

Yes we must and will aide those who defend and protect us as a people, even gladly give them our best work. They rightly deserve our continued gratitude and support. Their bravery and selflessness fulfill what President Bush predicted, "...you will make us proud."

But There is NO irony. The day we embrace the notion that we are little more than techs who provide means for destruction of lives is the day we lose ourselves as humans. I'll go further, the day we glory in being the most destructive nation on Earth, is the day we no longer possess the fortitude to handle the responsibility for such ability.
HERE is the irony: we must be unmatched at our ability for destruction, but never be particularly proud because it is a necessary evil at best.

Mr.B.. anyone who equates F.I.R.S.T. to Battlebots has missed the point of F.I.R.S.T.....and CERTAINLY missing the point of Battlebots. AND I resent the way you cheapen the sacrifices of our "Daily Heros" and "Service men and women in the desert" by attempting to use them as justification for your defence of a "Battlebots Mentality".
Sorry, if I seem angry... it's because I AM.


Steve Alaniz

BSMFIRST
01-15-2002, 01:12 AM
Mr.B.. anyone who equates F.I.R.S.T. to Battlebots has missed the point of F.I.R.S.T.....and CERTAINLY missing the point of Battlebots.

Sorry for pulling [Mr. B's] rank--but don't you feel just slightly uneasy accusing a Woodie Flowers Award winning coach that he has "missed the point of FIRST"?????

There is no one point to either competition. There are rules and there are awards; but there is no one point. Every team has different needs, resources, and desires and this is reflected in who built the bot and how they went about it.

This holds true regardless of the competition.

I don't want to speak for Mr. B; but I'm very sure that the mission of his science program did not change when they changed competitions. He just found one competition suited his mission better. His students still build the bots and they are still extremely kind even after they beat you in the BattleBox (as they beat my robot this summer.)

Dan

Mr.B
01-15-2002, 05:36 AM
Steve,

I regret any implications that you, I or we are mere techs serving the needs of what Dwight Eisenhower termed, “The military industrial Complex”. I’d like to think we are making the world a better place to live.

I too served my country…but not in the armed forces. Rather I taught 8 years in the ghettos of the Caribbean arguably one of the most socially and economically deprived communities under the American Flag…and one of the most violent. Violence born of anger and frustration.

One might think working in the tropics is not so much of a sacrifice…and I will happily admit these were the very best years of my life…But the environment, communities and schools I worked in offered both the most enriching and rewarding experiences and the most violent. It was for all practical purposes a war zone…and I carried a pen, not a gun.

Interestingly enough Steve…the US Military stopped all RR on the Island for many years because they were loosing too many soldiers to the local population of bad guys…the kids I worked with. I find that Ironic…but certainly not in any satisfying way.

With respect to the comments that you termed lies and exaggerations…that was not my intent. Obviously I was not as clear as I needed to be, and I touched upon some sensitivities of yours. My point was really a little one. It was about making commitments and accepting consequences…it was about taking risks in an effort to ensure that the larger mission (in this case a robot game) be successful.

Ironically what I was addressing was the fact that every time FIRST authors a game, a game they try very hard to make what people say they want, there are always people who have a problem with it..read the forums…In fact I used to be the biggest offender…All I was suggesting was that what needs to be done to insure the success of the game and therefore the program, was to UNDERSTAND and ACCEPT the rules and play the game for all the right reasons….and since this game has a “Rugged Element”..and since you can’t use your robot again next year…then if any teams WANT to…they can reengineer the robot and come and play a game of BattleBots IQ…it was an invitation…that’s all.

Steve, I was blessed to have had a FIRST team of outstanding students and parents for many years…I was merely a conduit for any awards or accolades that came our way. We all worked tirelessly to promote FIRST…and we still promote FIRST….See Steve…FIRST and BattleBots can be functions in the same expression…they are in fact subsets of a larger order of “Numbers”…do the math Steve. It’s the people, not the game.


I do maintain that there are ironies in this strange and wonderful world we live in…always have been, always will be…and ignoring them won’t make things any better…dealing with the realities of a robot game was all I was trying to talk about…any robot game Steve…Because it’s not the game, it’s the people. There is some important symbolism here, and thinking about it, and talking about it in an effort to understand it will help all of us…Labeling people liars will kinda get in the way of working things out…it sorta puts a damper on things…Getting angry does too…

A robot game is not inherently good or evil…right or wrong, just because you play one game, and someone else plays another kind of game…that does not make you “Better” and them “Worse”.. There are millions of people in the world who do not “Like” the “game” we play Steve…this “game” we call America…and there are people who accept the responsibility and the consequences of ensuring that the “Game” continues. I don’t think any of us would want to demean that in any way…I certainly don’t.

Look…Steve…I’m not looking to change your view, or anyone else’s view of anything…I’m a defender of the right to have opinions…to communicate (without anger or ideologies getting in the way of sensible discussion) ideas so that in the end…everyone can make up their own minds…

Again…I am so sorry for your anger, and for any part I may have had in causing it. Please know, I have no agenda…people here know I respect them, and what they are doing…more than you might imagine. In a way that you cannot yet understand, I am “On your side”….it’s just that I play a different game…but for the same reasons Steve.

I wish you the very best in your efforts to show kids how to do and be something special.


Mike

Gary Stearns
01-15-2002, 05:46 AM
Every time I mention FIRST and Robots (and we all have heard this) OH!! "like that show Battle Bots" and the internal groan that we all feel each time.

We are not Battle Bots! But some pushing and shoving will always be in a two on two alliance type game, and there was a large faction that wanted the old format back.

So build your Robots robust, make sure they can be easily worked on, make spares.

The machinist at the regional will be busier this year but we’ll do our best to get you back up and running.

I’ve always loved the pits in racing there is a ethic of cooperation among competitors, that arises, they’ll help you any way that they can so the competition can be better, no one wants to see you break and just sit there.

s_alaniz
01-15-2002, 10:09 AM
"Sorry for pulling [Mr. B's] rank--but don't you feel just slightly uneasy accusing a Woodie Flowers Award winning coach that he has "missed the point of FIRST"????? " - BSMFIRST



"Rank?" I didn't know I had been drafted... What can I tell you? It's admirable that MrB won the Woody Flowers award. As I recall, in no way did I have an issue with his achievements or accolades, rather I have a problem with the post he left...his words and the way he expressed his ideas.
So you're telling me that simply because he won the Woody Flowers Award he can't make a wrong or incorrect statement? What about me? I suppose My F.I.R.S.T. 2001 Exceptional Volunteer Award doesn't grant me the same immunity you want me to cede to MrB? Anyway in answer to your question, "no" it doesn't make me nervous in the least.

By the way, BrB... Thanks for the explanation but you didn't address your own words. I think you skirted the issues you raised. You also mentioned a few things we can definitely agree on, but piggybacked ideas that are debatible. You'd make a good politician.

"In a way that you cannot yet understand, I am “On your side”….it’s just that I play a different game…but for the same reasons Steve. " From MrB's last post.

OK I admit I'm not the brightest bulb in the hallway and I'm still young, I'm only 48, but exactly how is it I "... cannot yet understand..."? That word..."yet" implies that your position is right and that I will come around to your way of thinking. Wow thanks for respecting MY position!

I also liked the "…do the math Steve. It’s the people, not the game." - From MrB's last post.
I find a good talking down helps keep me humble and reminds me to keep my calculator close at hand.

OK while I'm quoting MrB's post:

"With respect to the comments that you termed lies and exaggerations…that was not my intent."
I am not calling you a liar Mr.B, if I implied that from my response I apologise but you still havn't explained the statement that prompted that response.

"Obviously I was not as clear as I needed to be, and I touched upon some sensitivities of yours."
(there's that personal touch again...)
"My point was really a little one. It was about making commitments and accepting consequences… (Cool, but exactly how does that even remotely fit in with your original statement? I agree with you here, but that's NOT what you stated originally in that "Irony" you wanted to point out to the "Children of FIRST...")

..."it was about taking risks in an effort to ensure that the larger mission (in this case a robot game) be successful." OK Wait a minute.... I did my math wrong again.... Lets see...
"…do the math Steve. It’s the people, not the game."
Perhaps I'm being unfair, you may have meant "One of the larger missions" but you didn't say that so what am I to assume?

FIRST is about people and Inspiration with robotics as the vehicle. I simply cannot agree that Battlebots...however friendly and helpful the participants, can make the same claims. Oh I'm certain it happens in Battlebots, but it is incidental to the main focus of that competition. As I said before, I have no problem with Battlebots or the people who participate. I have a problem with equating F.I.R.S.T. with BattleBots or even making comparisons. It's "apples and oranges."


Steve Alaniz



"See, right there on this video tape, you resolved to vacuum the house once a week." - Sally Forth
"I was mis-quoted." - Ted Forth

Dave Hurt
01-15-2002, 01:06 PM
I don't think Dan was implying that your opinion was wrong just because Mr. B was the winner of the Woody Flowers award, I think he was just trying to point out that it's a little harsh to say that anyone, let alone someone who's won an award like that, has "missed the point of first" from just a post.

I feel that Battle Bots and FIRST are more similar then you think. Let me explain before the flames start to fly...

As human beings deal with life each day, we continually face conflict. I know I do, dealing with whether I should get up and go to work/school each day. At work, my job revolves around dealing with different conflicts that arise when I have to fix computers due to user error. I think that both of these competitions revolve around that, and they both teach us how to deal with problems. No, the problem in Battlebots isn't always to beat the opposing robot. And no, the problem in FIRST isn't always to find a new way to help your neighbor. But both of those fit into both competitions, along with many others. Trying to design a machine that will complete the task as efficiently and fast as possible, to work with others to solve problems, and do this all without going crazy. I think that is the biggest factor in both competitions, not going out on the field and competing.

As for the violence in FIRST, it's going to happen, regardless of how much we try to fight it. Robots will fight desperately to win, and I know because I've been there. I'm not proud to say that I've destroyed several robots, and I've had the 2 machines that I've driven destroyed several times. Was it intentional? Maybe at the time, but the goal was to win, not intentionally destroy robots. Some people may call that not in the spirit of FIRST, but I think the spirit of FIRST is more about just driving the robot to win a match.

But I think that most of have missed the entire point of his message.

Robotic sports like FIRST and BattleBots are not about the ROBOT…or even about your feelings. These sports are about learning to live in a very very unregulated world…to survive and to thrive in the diverse, dangerous and complicated environment we’ve created on this planet…..and to do it with élan!

Ok, I've gone on long enough....

- Dave

BSMFIRST
01-16-2002, 02:29 AM
I think if you read my message I was careful to infer that you have every right to question Mr. B; only that you should be respectful and thoughtful. We obviously owe so much to those who have the courage to question the accepted--Einstein had a picture of Newton above his desk, but thank god he had the guts to question his theories.

But--fancy awards aside--Mr. B is a highly respected and just plain awesome teacher. He is absolutely not missing "the point of FIRST." He is, apparently, only missing the point of FIRST as you see it.

Also, I think you should keep in mind that text, in even the best hands, is a poor communicator compared to speech. I guarentee that you would not be so violently opposed to Mr. B or Mr.B's thoughts if you spoke to him in person; he is a humble and respectful guy.

Dan

ColleenShaver
01-16-2002, 10:11 AM
If a kid sitting down watching TV and sees Battlebots and says to him/herself, "I wish I could do that. I wanna build robots".. maybe they'll go get a job to afford it.. sign up and work harder in upper level classes in school.. maybe even be convinced to go to college.. maybe participating will keep some kids off the street... maybe just maybe the intentional rough 'n tumble robots can do it too.... i firmly believe they can.

Battlebots inspires a crowd that we could never touch.... and getting people involved in robotic sports is wonderful.. having kids decide "i want to do that" and take physics, statics, mechanics, calculus, etc.. it's a good thing.

And no matter what their robot is built to do in the end... it is the journey that counts.

When people ask me "What is FIRST?" my most common response is usually "Have you ever seen Battlebots? Take out the wailing arms and axes and add in some scoring mechanism and some high school kids.."

MrB has his opinion, which I have a lot of respect for and happen to agree with here. We're all doing something for this world, whether we can see that or not, we just choose different ways of doing it..

If you remember the days before last year at all... you will recognize the game we're talking about. Interaction isn't anything out of the ordinary.. it's not destruction mode... it's like playing football vs. golf. Personally I think that latter is much worth watching... so let's play football, cause penalty flags & unneccessary roughness still exist...

I respected the choices of Mr.B and Team 23 when they left FIRST and got involved in race cars... I respected them when I heard they were going for Battlebots.. I cheered when I saw those guys with a little spot during Battlebots one night on Comedy Central... I respect those choices because MrB and his fellow teachers and parents and doing the same wonderful things for the kids on their team as we all are here... they are inspiring them to do something they probably never dreamed of doing before.

Long-winded but needless to say... we are not BB, never will be.. we're not supposed to be either.. nor is GM17 going to make us that is any way.. its simply making the game into pre-2k1 mode again...

This arguement can go on forever. The point is simple. Either you respect the athletes who play golf and football because they have worked hard and excel at that sport.. or you discrimnate against one or the other because you don't think their game is worthy to play.. it's either about the people or the game..

I agree with MrB, it's about the people.

(there was a point to this if i never seemed to make it :P)