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I find it interesting that even Evan Kirshenbaum, the father of our ASCII IPA, departs from IPA in at least ... Segment Symbols.) He has stated that he knows about this difference, but he chooses to leave it as it is.

I don't think this is a good thing, at least for purposes of discussions of English accents (that's "English not as in Englandish only"). In AmE we see that some accents are distinct from others precisely because they have a front "cot" vowel rather than a central "cot" vowel.

Does this reflect EK's biases as a Chicago-native speaker? NTTAWWT, ITTLCIAAA.
I find it interesting that even Evan Kirshenbaum, the father ... difference, but he chooses to leave it as it is.

I don't think this is a good thing, at least for purposes of discussions of English accents (that's "English not ... some accents are distinct from others precisely because they have a front "cot" vowel rather than a central "cot" vowel.

The reason it's not a good thing is that ASCII IPA should adhere to IPA defintions.
Does this reflect EK's biases as a Chicago-native speaker?

I doubt it.
We're told and I've experienced in one case that some Chicagoans pronounce "cot" with a vowel that sounds a lot like Emotion: dog, which is a front vowel. Dictionaries show "cot" pronounced with (AEmotion: smile, which is a back vowel.
I suspect that Evan's disagreement with IPA shows an influence from American authors: Ladusaw and Pullum's Phonetic Symbol Guide (Second Edition) has a vowel chart labeled "American Usage Vowel Symbols" (page 298). They say the chart "is an attempt to generalize the usage of several American authors to represent the points of agreement and disagreement among them and to highlight differences between what we have called 'American Usage' and the IPA".

That chart shows both "a" and "script a" (ASCII IPA (a) and (A)) to be low central; "ae" (ASCII IPA Emotion: dog), low front; and "open O" (ASCII IPA (O)), low back. The chart also has a "lower low" that has "a", "script a", and "turned script a", which are "not always distinguished, but when they are, they are ordered from front to back as indicated". It's a mess.

Regardless of Evan's reason for not adhering to IPA definitions, it seems clear to me he should not call his system "ASCII IPA" unless he does want to follow IPA definitions.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
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I find it interesting that even Evan Kirshenbaum, the father of our ASCII IPA, departs from IPA in at least ... Segment Symbols.) He has stated that he knows about this difference, but he chooses to leave it as it is.

The ASCII IPA guides at the AUE Web site under "Focus on Vowel Sounds" say correctly that (a) is
"{low,fnt,unr,vwl}"; that is, "low, front, unrounded, vowel".
Introducing phonemes into the discussion obfuscates the issue by throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I wish to stress that I didn't introduce phonemes into the discussion. My aim was to alleviate the obfuscation you ... had introduced phonemes to the discussion without realizing it or indicating that he had. I see that I didn't succeed.

You inferred that Ross had phonemes in mind, but he didn't mention the word. You brought phonemes into the discussion by being the first one to mention the word. I doubt that Ross was thinking of phonemes when he gave his strange "definition". I'm also not convinced that your phoneme justification of his "definition" was valid.