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Mindconnection eNL, 2005-04-07

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In this issue:

  1. Product Highlights
  2. Brainpower tip
  3. Time tip
  4. Finance tip
  1. Security tips
  2. Health tip/Fitness tip
  3. Thought for the day

1. Product Highlights

T-shirt Time
Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are entering spring. With spring, we find warmer weather. And that means T-shirts and jeans for many of us.

At right, you'll see a couple of Albert Einstein T-shirts. This being Mindconnection, the Einstein motif is to be expected.

But what if you want something less cerebral? While the opposite of Einstein is the US Congress, the closest we can come is the old "I'm with Stupid" theme. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt....

So, you want something fresh this spring. Maybe a T-shirt with a musician, a group that thinks they are musicians, or a Simpsons shirt? A sports theme? Something clever, funny, or just plain offensive? We have you covered (so to speak)! Visit our T-shirt Shack.

 

 

Update:
no longer offered
 

http://www.mindconnection.com/stores/art/tshirts.htm

  

2. Brainpower tip

Many times, we squander our brainpower by forming opinions and then defending them. Consider the following:
  • The opinion was formed based on an emotional response to snippets of information.
  • Those snippets did not provide the full story.
  • Once we state an opinion, silly human pride makes us not want to be "made wrong."
  • Rather than update our opinion, we go to absurd lengths to justify it.

Of course, the rational response is to update your opinion based on new information. But that is a reaction--and not our natural choice. The best approach is to gather sufficient (if possible) properly-filtered information before forming an opinion.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • If someone else ventures an opinion, there is no law requiring you to agree or disagree. Simply respect the fact that person has an opinion, and leave it at that.
  • You do not have to have an opinion on every issue. There's nothing wrong with saying, "I don't feel qualified to have an opinion on that, but I find your opinion interesting."
  • Where you do have opinions, be sure to review them against information you have properly filtered.
  • To properly filter information means to analyze it to ensure it's not just the spouting of unfounded opinion. Look for internal and external inconsistencies, bias, references, logic, etc. This topic is a whole article in itself....

Defending your expertise

But what about when you are challenged by someone who is obviously wrong?

Remember the proverb, "Do not argue with a fool. Another person will see you arguing with the fool and not be able to tell the difference."

It's a waste of brainpower to engage in arguments. People do not argue because they are convinced of their positions. The argue because they know they are wrong but won't admit it.

As soon as someone trots out emotional arguments, fallacious reasoning, or false "facts," this person is admitting being wrong simply wants to save face. Let it go at that. Don't waste your brainpower trying to unravel the stupidity thrown at you. Find something you can say to let the other person save face--and move on.

An example

Let me give you an example to illustrate. Last night, some kids in the neighborhood were trying to determine why one kid's car stereo wasn't working. This is a system with one of those huge amplifiers in the trunk. He had two 15" speakers in back, two tweeters in front, and no mid-range speakers anywhere. If you know anything about stereos, you know this whole thing is a lost cause. Be that as it may, these boys wanted to get this "system" working again.

I have two engineering degrees (one in electronics, one in electrical), and was named the Outstanding Member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) a couple of years ago. I have hundreds of electrical articles published with my byline and have edited several major electrical books. I built my first car audio system years before any of these kids were born and have built several since. I also worked as an electrical technician, instrument engineer, and electrical power engineer in industries ranging from nuclear power to paper mills. So, maybe I'm not completely ignorant on the subject of electronics and electrical systems.

  • I looked at this system and asked, "Did you check for the incoming power?"
  • They all replied, "It's got power."
  • I asked, "How do you know? Did you measure it?"
  • They didn't know--they simply believed.
  • I got a meter and measured. They did not have power.

The reason for this lack of power was their return wire had become disconnected from the amplifier power supply. I pointed this out, and then told them why this happened: none of the components were mounted--they were just loose--and none of the wires were tinned.

When I offered to tin the wires, one of the kids started arguing with me. He commented something like, "That isn't going to keep the thing from working." Now, I did not waste brainpower by jumping into their "troubleshooting" procedure or by letting this boy define the terms of an argument.

This boy made his comment because he had already--mistakenly--determined the cause of the malfunction must be some mysterious problem he would discover if he simply kept playing with the various components and wiring. The idea that the problem could be due to poor workmanship and ignorance of how to do the job correctly was what caused him to remark, "That isn't going to keep the thing from working."

I replied, "Actually it is. You see, it's basic physics. Any time you have stranded wire, a mechanical pressure connector is going to press on the top strands only, and it will eventually break them. When you tin the wires, you get mechanical strength, you get all of the wires working together, and you prevent corrosion. Copper corrodes almost immediately when exposed to oxygen."

He replied with some kind of argument, and I simply said, "That's standard procedure in any stereo installation. But, you are correct. We can make this work without tinning the wires." I "made him right" on one point, though he knew he was way, way, way out of his league to argue with the guy who correctly diagnosed a problem in 15 seconds when these three amigos had been farting around with it for hours.

So, I got the system working. It sounded terrible, because the components were mismatched. It also sounded terrible because it was all rap "music." The car's owner had sunk about $3,000 into a system that didn't work reliably and sounded crappy compared to the stock system in my Toyota, so I knew where these folks rated on the "fool scale." Why argue?

I'm willing to bet the boys will never tin the wires. They'll simply wait until a connection problem blows out that amplifier.

You can apply this example to your own areas of expertise--whatever those may be.

Conserving a precious resource

Now, the flipside also applies. I have a high level of ignorance in several areas, but I know people who are experts in those areas. I don't argue with them. Not because I don't want to waste my brainpower, but because I don't want to waste theirs.

The brainpower of other people is a precious resource. When they offer it, don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

3. Time Tip

We are often victims of our own attention span limitations--and those of others. In today's increasingly wired world, attention spans are shrinking. Tasks, information, and schedules are increasingly fragmented.

Thirty years ago, it would not be unusual for a person to sit and read 100 pages or so in a book without pausing. Today, that's highly unusual--because attention spans are shrinking.

This is observable in the work setting. As people progress with a task, their attention begins to waver and then they lose focus altogether. This is why when you walk around the typical office you will see people aimlessly staring at screens. Or, you can watch a person begin a task and then noticeably slow down only minutes later.

You can fight the good fight and try to maintain longer attention spans as you work. But, that's an uphill battle. I'm not saying it can't be done--I am saying it's hard to do. And, it doesn't solve your immediate need to work more efficiently.

You must accommodate your current attention span, whatever length it may be. If you know you can properly focus on your tasks for only 10 minutes before you begin to slow down or feel distractions, then limit your time for each of your most critical tasks to no more than 10 minutes each.

What if you want to expand your attention span? Doing so is much like weight training. You will have to begin by using a weight you can safely lift. Then, increase the weight as you adapt to it.

For example, let's say you can focus for roughly 10 minutes before your mind begins to wander. So, you work in 10 minute blocks to accommodate that. Get a digital timer that provides an audible alert, and set it for 12 minutes. Start a new task, and refuse to budge from it until your timer indicates the 12 minutes are up. After doing this religiously for about three weeks, you will find your attention span has increased to 12 minutes. If you could actually look at your cerebral cortex "before" and "after," you would be able to see changes to the wiring--your synaptic connections would have actually changed. Set your timer for 15 minutes, and raise the bar again.

As you do this training, you will find your efficiency drops every time you begin with the longer time spans. But, because you can work at increasingly longer stretches, you lower the "transaction costs" of switching between tasks. If your work is such that you don't actually need to do frequent switching between tasks, your overall efficiency goes up. If, however, your work is such that you must frequently switch between tasks, then your overall efficiency goes down.

The key here is to determine the length of attention span that best matches what you need to accomplish. Correctly match things up, and you will be able to make all of your waking hours (or minutes) truly count.

  

4. Finance tip

In our last eNL, I mentioned setting up a trust. Here's more about that.

I don't know about the laws outside the USA, so do keep that in mind if you are in another country and reading this.

In the USA, families can be devastated if one member dies with huge medical bills or with an alleged tax debt. The tax debt issue is especially bad, because the AT (American Taliban) now has a huge advantage because their intended target can't fight back due to being dead. They take great pride in throwing widows and orphans out into the street as a way of "getting" the person whom they--mistakenly or otherwise--accuse of owing additional taxes.

So, you should seriously consider protecting your family's assets with some estate planning. Parents should consult with an attorney about setting up trusts for their children. Many people decide to let the children obtain full rights to the money at age 18 or age 25. This may sound like a wise move, but kids at age 18 or at age 25 usually are not the best money managers and nearly always deplete such trusts before age 30.

Ask your attorney about how to protect the trust funds from any creditors your kids might have. Remember the arm of the AT is very, very long--pay special attention to protecting the trust from rogue members of the AT. And, don't forget about divorce and other possible issues that can vaporize the trust.

The key phrase here is "asset protection." You can best accomplish this by appointing a trustee who is not related to you and over whom the child has no direct control. Let your attorney advise you as to whom that might be. Don't balk at the idea of paying a trustee, either. It's cheaper to pay a trustee than to leave the AT an opening whereby they can easily tax the heck out of the trust.



5. Security tip

Quick--what are your two most valuable possessions? Your house and car? Your stereo and stamp collection? Your wedding ring and your mutual funds?

If you answered, "My mind and body," congratulations. The other items I mentioned are things. They can be replaced. But your mind and body cannot. It's interesting that people lock up their possessions to prevent theft, but they leave their minds open to any thief or predator who comes along. Let's talk about how to prevent the theft of your mind.

Do you know why one in three Americans is obese and why nine in ten are overweight? Just look in the shopping carts of others when you are next in the grocery store. What would possess people to buy such things, in the first place?

The answer is predatory advertising. By watching television, reading newspapers, and exposing themselves to other sources of disinformation and mindtheft, these people have allowed others to steal their most valuable possession.

Why bother locking up your possessions, if you don't bother to protect your mind? Seems rather pointless, doesn't it? How can you set up security where it counts the most? The following exercises will help you get started.

Exercises

  1. Set aside half an hour this weekend to take a look around your home and make a list of all the unnecessary items you are storing there. Be sure to write down every item that contributes to clutter. Why did you buy all of this stuff? Was doing so a rational decision, or did you allow someone to steal your mind? What are the sources of these influences? Identify and eliminate them.
     
  2. Think about the last time you got upset while driving your car. Why did you get upset? Did you let someone else steal your peaceful feeling? Protect your mind by refusing to let other people so easily control it. Simply acknowledge the other driver either made an honest mistake or is simply not worth your attention. In either case, there's no reason to get upset.
     
  3. If you read the newspaper, suspend your subscription(s) for one month. Make a note to review your patterns of spending, eating, and fretting in the third week. See any difference?
     
  4. Go on an "electronic fast." Simply declare the month of May a "television-free" month. If you have a television, unplug it and either remove it from where it is or turn it so the screen faces the wall. If your television is in your living room, hang up a sign that says,
    "This isn't my living room. It's my dying room." That's called "truth in advertising." If you find yourself with "nothing to do" because there's no television, you have a clear indication you allowed your mind to be stolen. Take it back.
     
  5. Take notes on conversations you have. What occurred? Sometimes, we become "friends" with people who simply have a proselytizing agenda. If a person in your circle is always trying to "convert" you to a particular religion or ideology, drop that person from your circle. That is not a friend--it's a mind predator. Ditto for any "friend" who is consistently selling to you--whether some MLM scheme or ideas you don't particularly share. There's nothing wrong with a friend who talks with you about things or occasionally tries to persuade you--but don't allow someone to treat you like your mind is there for the taking.
     
  6. Don't let your employer, if you have one, dominate your mind. If you feel intimidated into spending enormous amounts of face time at work, or if you put up with mind control from your boss, your job is in more jeopardy than it would be if you protected your mind. Why? Because your employer sees you as a commodity. Instead of groveling, take the approach of having something special to offer your employer. Don't be a commodity. Find out what most matters to your boss and deliver that. Hint: It's not what people normally assume. Differentiate yourself in ways that matter, and both your mind and your job will be more secure.
     
  7. Think about the minds of those in your immediate family and circles of friends. Refuse to engage in any mindtheft, yourself. The mindtheft game is a lose-lose proposition. People involved in this don't reap the rich rewards of engaging meaningfully with other human beings. So, make a list of 10 or so people who are important to you. Ask yourself what makes each of these people special. It's not whether they agree with your political or other opinions, and it's not which of you is "winning" the mindtheft game. Your answers will provide the basis for truly valuable relationships.

 

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

People today turn to the latest "designer drugs" to "fix" problems that are real or imagined. This is a fool's errand.

First of all, these drugs usually aren't necessary (more about that, in a moment). Second, they can be very, very dangerous. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study that examined all drugs approved by the FDA from 1975 to 1999.

A full 20% of these drugs had to be withdrawn or accompanied by a black-box warning. In one year alone, 20 million Americans took drugs that were later withdrawn! Risks associated with these drugs were such things as liver damage, heart damage, and bone marrow damage. I don't know about you, but I kind of like my liver, heart, and bone marrow. Try living without them....

What can you do? Well, if you are going to take drugs then:

  • Avoid drugs just released to the market. Let other people be the guinea pigs during the initial release. If you've tried other reasonable approaches, then by all means proceed with the new drug--but take the time to learn about how it interacts with foods and other drugs before you do.
  • Use other approaches to either reduce the amount of time you will be on the drug or to eliminate the need for it altogether.

In many cases, you don't need the drugs. You can use other approaches. Let's look at some examples, noting these are generalizations that you will need to investigate for your particular situation:

  • Impotence. Rather than buy Viagra or related drugs, first eliminate the common causes. These include smoking (smokers have a very high rate of impotence, due to narrowing of the blood vessels and diminution of blood quality), obesity, and anxiety. Start lifting weights, and take up a sport that gets your heart pumping.
     
  • Obesity. Rather than go on weight loss drugs, cut back on portion size and eliminate all processed grains and other junk from your diet--the change will be dramatic and sustainable.
     
  • Attention Deficit Syndrome. This is normally a misdiagnosis. Don't fall for this one, especially in relation to children--who are naturally hyperactive when compared to adults. To reduce this as being a problem, eliminate sugar from the diet. For kids, be sure to regularly give them the one-on-one attention they need and deserve.
     
  • Osteoporosis. More women are going on osteoporosis medication these days, while still drinking sodas. Before you subject your body and your wallet to fixing a problem you are causing: eliminate all carbonated beverages from your diet, engage in weight-bearing exercise several times a week, and eat plenty of dark green leafy vegetables.
     
  • High blood pressure. A high blood pressure number by itself may not indicate anything. But, it many indicate a serious problem is brewing. Unless your blood pressure is high enough to be causing other damage, don't do the knee-jerk thing of taking medication to bring it down to "normal." Before you subject your body and your wallet to fixing a problem you are causing: eliminate smoking from your life (understanding there is zero difference between "sidestream" smoke and regular smoke), reduce your body fat levels to something reasonable, and start eliminating stress sources (such as television news) from your life.
     
  • Cholesterol. As with the other medications mentioned, lifestyle choices are your first line of defense. Keep in mind that cholesterol measurements are "general" and there's much we don't know. Medicating just to bring your numbers down may not do any good. Cholesterol may be high for any number of reasons--and sometimes, your body needs elevated cholesterol to fix another problem. The key here is to eliminate those problems. The same dietary advice applies as to the other drug issues. You need your nutrients, and you need to eliminate junk. However, beware of the doctor who misadvises you to "cut back on eggs or egg yolks." First of all, eaten cholesterol does not survive the digestion process. Second, the kind of eggs you eat is critical. Those cheap "factory hen" eggs are toxic--don't eat them. Instead, buy free-range eggs. These eggs have very high levels of Omega-3, which is absolutely wonderful for your cholesterol profile and it does survive the digestive process.




7. Thought for the Day

You can be informed or disinformed. Your choice of information sources determines this. Choose wisely.

 

Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola
Mindconnection

Authorship

The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.

Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.

Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).

The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).

Personal note from Mark: I value each and every one of you, and I hope that shows in the diligent effort I put into writing this e-newsletter. Thank you for being a faithful reader.

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