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Comment Production style is important to me (Score 1) 268

I listen to podcasts daily, mostly in the car. I find that the key criteria for me is whether the podcast is scripted. The shows that are interview style, or discussion style, get removed from my play list. I believe this is mostly because the information density, or the amount of new stuff I can learn in the least amount of time, is much higher in well-produced, scripted shows. Of course that means I mostly listen to professional podcasts from podcast "groups" like Panoply, Radiotopia, and Gimlet. And their ad content has gotten higher over the last year, which is a necessary evil, but it's still better than commercial radio (or, frankly, NPR with a high ratio of traffic, weather reports, underwriting spots, and self-promotion that I could do without). So on to the list, in desert island order: 99% Invisible, This American Life, Radio Lab, Criminal, Planet Money, The Moth, The Rule Book, Invisibilia. Honorable mentions: Science VS, Below the Ten, Serial, Neighbors, Theory of Everything, Us & Them, Love & Radio (can be risque), The Memory Palace, The Gist (daily, highly timely and topical, but smart and funny).

Comment Re:Feinstein and Burr are scum (Score 1) 346

I concur. As a Californian I have some standing to at least write to Feinstein and express my opinion. I would urge others to do the same. Here's what I submitted through her Senate web page: Dear Senator Feinstein, I am a constituent of yours. It has come to my attention that you are working on a bill concerning the use of encryption in consumer technology such as mobile phones. I would like to urge you to ensure that there are never any limitations on the use of encryption technology by private citizens. I strongly feel that our system of government was designed to promote the privacy of citizens over the authority of the government to collect information. I believe that fear of terrorism and other violence understandibly leads to legislative measures that strengthen law enforcement and seem resonable at the time, and it is the natural tendency of many people to latch on to that fear and support such measures. Donald Trump's active supporters are proof that such a demographic exists. But as a powerful force in the legislative branch, you have the opportunity to promote the idea that America will not react to fear. You can help ensure that the government protects and promotes the rights of American citizens, rather than increasing the power and reach of government agencies at the expense of personal freedom and privacy. I recently read a comment that I agree with: I'd rather die in a terrorist attack than live in a constant state of fear and the ever-expanding intrusion of the government into my everyday life. I suspect that you have a firm idea in your mind on the balance between citizens' privacy and government authority, and I would like to think it is tilted heavily in favor of privacy. However I'm not sure your public statements and voting record support that hope. Even so I felt that it was important to register my feelings on the matter. Please take them into consideration. If there is any chance that you or your staff could respond with a note about your legislative intentions with regard to limiting encryption on consumer products, I would appreciate it. Sincerely, [my name]

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.

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