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Comment Just buy the bricks (Score 1) 165

I know this is a maker question and it's not really about cost, though the OP mentions "bang for the buck" as a requirement, but I think it's better to go to the Lego Pick-a-Brick store to buy individual pieces. It's like McMaster-Carr for Legos. I agree with others that there is no way a 3D printer will come anywhere close to meeting the tolerances you need to make Lego-compatible bricks. Other options include buying bulk bags of Legos on eBay or other web sites. We did that years ago and our 14- and 11-year-olds still go to the Lego pile daily.

Comment Autobiography (Score 1) 698

Share your story with her, and moments from your life. Even the banal. Wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others, so give her the gift of your mistakes. But also share the successes in your life, as that will help her build her identity, since we see ourselves in the images of the people around us. May the rest of your life be more joy than pain.

Comment Re:No contest, surely. (Score 3, Insightful) 405

A government without debt is a government that isn't investing in its future. Government debt is money that the public is borrowing from *themselves*. So it's not like an underwater mortgage, or a credit card. As long as a government balances its debt with the rate of inflation (which in the US, despite repeated cries of doom, has been at historic lows for a long time), the debt can serve to help drive the economy. If the inflation rate stays low, that means that creditors believe that the government is being responsible with the money, and will be willing to buy more debt. Debt can be a problem, but it's not one the US has to worry about any time soon. Now, unemployment, a stagnating education system, and a healthcare system that is both more expensive and less effective than other developed nations are issues worth addressing. And, frankly they can be addressed to some extent by borrowing more money. I'll sign off this debate after this comment... I think opinions on government services and debt are more like religious faith than considered opinions for most people, probably myself included.

Comment Re:No contest, surely. (Score 5, Insightful) 405

I'm sorry, can you please give an example where the government is more cost effective than the private sector? I sure can't think of one. If the government is so much more cost effective than the private sector then their profit margins must be ridiculously high! Oh wait, they're in debt up to our eyeballs...

Private education is cheaper and more effective than public education. Private charity is more effective with less funds than public handouts. UPS and FedEx are cheaper and faster (for comparable services) than the USPS. Need I go on?

I keep typing and erasing replies to this, knowing that my points won't hit home. As long as there are a lot of voters that believe that there is no place for government in providing services and investing in the future, things are not going to get better. The other fallacies in the quotation above are equally dismaying; the government doesn't provide services with a profit motive. Government debt is not inherently a bad thing (anyone who compares public debt to a credit card is ill informed). Public education and other services do not threaten private education or private donations, but believing that they are mutually exclusive is a red herring and dangerous. I'm in the USA, but I don't think these ideas are uniquely applicable to my country.

Comment Teamwork (Score 1) 64

Getting mentors that have engineering or shop skills (and equipment) is important, but frequently overlooked or undervalued is getting a mentor that knows how to talk to kids and get them organized and working as a team. I'm sure there are plenty of engineers that can do that, though its not the most common set of soft skills in a highly technical person. A teacher or a coach that can help the kids break down the competition, prioritize, divide up tasks, help kids identify their strengths and weaknesses as individuals and as a team, set schedules and priorities, and constantly help the kids remember why they are there can go a long way towards a successful competition and teach really valuable life lessons that they are not as likely to get in the classroom at college.

Comment Don't take on someone else's problem (Score 1) 619

Many commenters have said this already, I just wanted to add my vote. This applies to life as a whole, not just email - People will always try to pass on their problems to you. Don't accept the burden. Nothing good can come of it. You are not being nice and helpful, you are enabling their bad behavior. If an IRS agent sent me an email saying that I forgot a deduction, and would I mind if they just tacked it on to my return before sending out the refund check, I wouldn't bother spending all those hours checking my math next year.

Comment I have served, and served, and served... (Score 1) 528

Not sure if my experience is common or rare, but since moving to California in 1993 and registering as a voter and a driver (the two lists from which they pull prospective jurors, as I understand it), I have been called for jury duty every 3 years like clockwork. You can opt out if you have already served in the last 3 years, but it seems like every time my anniversary passes I get another summons to serve. Furthermore, most of the time I have been called to sit in the jury pool in a courtroom, and on most of those occasions I have been seated as a primary or alternate juror. If I am counting correctly, I have deliberated on 5 cases (one criminal and 4 civil) and was a juror in one criminal mistrial that never made it to the deliberation phase. I recently received my latest summons, and for the first time returned it with an excuse: I am presently the stay-at-home care giver for our two kids and finding child care for 2 weeks would be a serious hardship. I don't feel bad at all about opting out this time. As for those who casually brag about getting out of jury duty by claiming partiality or just by being an engineer (since the conventional wisdom is that neither side in a trial wants someone who can piece the facts together on their own), I call bull. Every judge I have ever sat before has grilled prospective jurors that claim they have some reason to be partial to one side or the other. They always end with the bottom line question: "Do you think you can be impartial in this case?" And answering no doesn't guarantee a dismissal from the jury pool.

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