I could easily come up with dozens of scientific theories and concepts that are certainly more important to be taught than evolution.
Importance here is largely dependent on context. The theory of Evolution, for instance, may or may not be terribly important or even remotely interesting to a physicist (although many of the concepts may be shared, like that of self-organization). However, to a biologist, it is very important; in fact, to remove it is to castrate the biological community at large.
Do you consider it abuse to not teach kids about Newton's laws of motion?
I suppose it depends on why you're not teaching it. If you're not teaching it because you're teaching a theory that has superseded it, then of course it's not abuse. Of course, the thing to remember here is that Special Relativity largely encapsulates the body of work that Newton built his theory of motion on. This isn't to say that Newton doesn't have a place in the classroom, because it is readily derived from Special Relativity. What I am saying is that when we teach children science, we should teach them what is supported by evidence. Now, if someone were proposing to remove Newton's laws of motion from the cirriculuum because they had ideological problems with it (even though it is demonstrable and yields reasonably accurate predictions in context), I might not be inclined to call that abuse as such, but I would certainly call it negligence. I do not feel that we should be teaching our children to retreat into uncomfortable falsehoods because the truth offends us or makes us uncomfortable.
This is the problem that I have with the whole evolution/creationism in education debate: the theory of evolution is just not that important.
As I just said, it depends on context, but the problem with that argument is that you could make that argument about virtually any theory in science, including Newtonian mechanics. I have always thought that one of the best ways to teach science is through its applications. The Theory of Evolution is an excellent example of this because of its predictive power and because it is supported well by disciplines outside of itself. If we are to remove a single teching out of the cirriculuum, why should we remove one that is recognized as one of the single-most useful tools within it's domain?
The loudmouths on both sides of this debate aren't interested in education; they're just using it as a proxy to attack their political enemies.
Well, of course both sides are (at least to some degree) interested in education! I have no doubt that there are creationists who feel that it is within their children's best interests to learn creationism, despite however much I might disagree with it. Likewise, evolutionary biologists are interested in education because today's students will one day be their progeny, and without a well-rounded rounded education, science as whole would suffer a serious setback. The trouble happens because creationism has no basis in science; aside from the fact that it deals with question that science cannot answer, it doesn't make many predictions, and the few it does happen to contradict the evidence we've found to this point. While I won't dispute that politics enters the equation somewhere along the line, to say that education has nothing to do with it is disingenous.
Try fixing the general state of science education, and then you can go attack the evolution in education question all you want.
While I can agree that we need to fix science education, I cannot agree with your latter sentiment, because part of fixing science education is through teaching science. I might agree with you about not teaching a hypothesis with little support, but in this case, we're talking about a tool that domain experts use daily. If the Theory of Evolution is not one of the clearest textbook examples of science at work, then I'm not sure what is.
In order to address the kind of ROM programmer you need, it's helpful to know what you're looking for. Are you looking for a universal programmer, or are you willing to buy a ROM programmer that might only cover a certain class of PROMs? If you can peg down your requirements, that could potentially open a lot of opportunities up to you that you might not normally consider. It might even be possible to leverage the work of other hobbyists and roll your own, perhaps something like this. You might also be able to get a good deal on such a device through surplus.
I have a Xeltek Superpro universal programmer that I bought a few years ago for about $500. (I know, not quite within your $300 upper bound) It was an alright investment, I guess, but I haven't really used it much. At the time I bought it, it appeared that there were only Windows drivers for it, and I didn't really have the time to write my own drivers for it at that point. The few times I did use it, however, it was a decent device. If you could find something like that within your price range, it might be worth your consideration.
I have nothing MS in my house, nor do I intend to just give them money, why would I want to use
The fact that the CLI is standardized is a potentially compelling reason to use
Why should you use