- Product highlight
- Brainpower tip
- Time tip
- Finance tip
- Security tip
- Health tip/Fitness tip
- Thought for the day
1. Product Highlights
The TS2 provides a comprehensive two-way dictionary and a
massive phrasebook. The available languages range from Albanian to Vietnamese.
These also have an easy to-use sentence builder. Select a
phrase, and substitute words. For example, change "Where is the hotel?" to
"Where is the restaurant?" This unit has over 450,000 words, 8,000 phrases,
voice in the target language, English voice, and voice input.
We sell quite a few of these to law enforcement officers,
because they can use voice commands rather than have their attention diverted by
a keyboard. But increasingly, civilians are buying them up because they are just
so darn easy to use.
For current offerings, see:
2. Brainpower tip
Differentiate opinion from fact.|
People waste enormous amounts of brainpower by either:
- Assuming opinions are fact, just because they are
widely held or passionately declared; or
- Assuming facts are opinion, just because their
own views disagree.
One of my poorly-informed correspondents (not a member
of this list) has a habit of saying, "That's your opinion" any time I relate
to her a fact she was previously unaware of. This says more about her than
it does about me, but more importantly it limits her ability to assimilate
Fact and opinion can be very hard to tell apart, but
there are some tools you can use toward this end. Before we get to those,
let's clarify definitions:
Fact: In an absolute sense, a fact is
something that is true. Facts are, however, difficult to establish. At a
lesser level, a fact is something that has enough substantial evidence
behind it that you can accept it as true. I'm going with that
For example: Fact: This car is in excellent
mechanical condition. It's been well-maintained, looks like new, and
belongs to someone who is anal-retentive about possession care. We can
accept that statement as fact. For it to be fact, we would need
to perform about $100,000 worth of tests on the car.
Opinion. There are several types:
- Expert opinion. Someone who is an expert
renders an opinion in the area of expertise. This is very close to
the second definition of fact, above. We're not addressing that,
- Personal evaluation. For example, I say, "I
think so and so is an idiot." The word "idiot" has a specific
meaning, and only a licensed expert can legally administer the test
to determine if someone is actually an idiot. That's not what we're
talking about here, either.
- Preference. I like mustard, you like catsup.
That's not what we're talking about here, either.
- Baseless statement. This is what we're
talking about. For example, I say, "A 30-year loan is always best."
That's an opinion. Someone making it may have found it's best for
him or her. But it's not always best.
Short case history: I made a statement that soft drinks cause osteoporosis, and got back, "That's your opinion." How insulting. That's not my opinion. That's a finding from
decades of research (plus, it's basic common sense). Interestingly, it was a
health professional who gave me that reply. Who did the research? The AMA.
Here are some ways to differentiate opinion from fact
Look for an agenda.
For example, a used car salesman tells you the car is
a really sweet deal. But what is his agenda? Is he there to inform you about
car deals or sell you a car?
Suppose your banker tells you the car is a really
sweet deal. What's the agenda there? To sell you a loan. But the banker also
wants good collateral, so there's a countervailing agenda.
A friend tells you the car is a really sweet deal.
What's your friend's agenda? If your friend isn't on an ego trip, your
friend probably is offering an honest opinion. But how would your friend
actually know this is a sweet deal?
Look for expertise.
If your friend in the previous example is one of those
people who analyzes purchases to death before making them, you are very
likely getting fact rather than opinion. Suppose your friend works for a car
magazine. Another good sign. Look for other good signs. You get the point.
This is how you can establish amateur expertise.
What about other kinds of expertise? You are
discussing diets with two people. One has extensive experience and has tried
all kinds of diets--similar to your friend who has bought many cars. The
other person doesn't diet at all. Which one is more likely to give you fact
rather than opinion? Be careful, here. The clue is the person who has tried
all kinds of diets. Such people typically have zero expertise. Take a look
at both people. Does one have the look of an athlete and the other not? A
It also helps to look at such things as:
- Length of experience. Joe's been a carpenter for
25 years. So when he says "the right way" to shorten a door is X, he's
probably right. Unless Joe has just been a screw-up for 25 years. And
that's fairly common.
- Significant accomplishments in the area of
expertise. Many people glide through their careers, repeating six months
of experience 80 times. They punch the clock, but never do anything
notable. Chances are, they don't have expertise at anything other than
gaming the system and generating BS.
- Published articles. Someone who's been published
is probably knowledgeable. There's no guarantee, but it's very
likely--as opposed to someone who has never been published.
Look at track record.
If this person frequently offers unsubstantiated
claims, most likely the latest claim is just opinion.
Listen to how it's stated.
Claims that are very emotional are less likely to be
correct. Of course, the opposite is also true! You have to look at the
context. If the emotion is the rationale for the claim, it's probably
opinion. If a person feels strongly about the claim, that is an indication
the person has reason to feel strongly. Emotion, like the other
indicators, isn't conclusive. But it gives you a sense of how much the other
person believes the claim.
Look at orientation.
Some people are very scholarly, others are not. A
person who is naturally skeptical and makes a point of checking things out,
that person is likely expressing a fact rather than an opinion.
Give the argumentative test.
Someone who is argumentative about a viewpoint is
probably spewing opinion. People who know what they believe don't
need to resort to specious arguments, insults, and so forth. Of course,
someone may throw an insult out of exasperation--but if an insult is
somewhere near the first line of defense, then suspect opinion.
3. Time Tip
The telephone is a powerful potential time trap. In a
previous article, we talked about preparing a short list of the topics
you want to discuss and we also talked about ending a call when things
have petered out.|
Another aspect of saving
time when using the phone is to clean up that list before calling. And I
don't mean pare it down for the sole purpose of limiting how much there
is to discuss. What you discuss and what points you raise are
even more critical.
Here's a short case history. I had a problem with
something another person was doing. So, I wrote up a list of my key
points and fleshed them out a bit. Then I read through these and asked
myself these questions:
- How important is each of these points to
- Which are about my venting and which are
- What outcome do I desire?
- What suggestions might I have to improve the
other person's act?
- What am I missing that reflects a sympathetic
- Which items are telling this person something
she already knows?
Then, I reviewed the message to see how well I
would be talking with this person, rather than talking at
her. The goal was to make her feel the call was valuable to her, rather
than having it come across as an attack or a push to conform to my view
of how things should be. I wanted to focus on a positive outcome, not on
The final result was vastly different from what I
had originally intended to say, and the call itself was very pleasurable
for both of us. Which made me sweat over how many times I had not gone
through this process and just made a total ass out of myself. Oh, well.
I think when you take the time to properly prepare
your message, you can reduce the time wasted apologizing for things you
didn't mean to communicate but communicated nonetheless. And, you can
reduce the time lost to missing out on the valuable resource that other
people can be. Most of all, you use your own time much better. It's
never a waste of time to make another person feel good. If you can do
that while also helping someone improve, then you have made very good
use of everyone's time.
4. Finance tip
The tax code does provide some ways to get tax-free
income, without the risk of tax shelters or the complexity of "creative"
investments. If you live in a country that is so barbaric it has an
income tax (e.g., the USA), these tips apply to you. Based on the
current insanity that is our federal income tax code....|
You do not need a tax shelter to reduce your taxes, Part Six.
- The proceeds from long-term healthcare insurance
are normally tax free.
- You can deduct premiums on long-term healthcare
policies. But the amount varies according to the age of the insured.
- Employer-provided insurance is tax-free to
employees and deductible to the employer, within certain limitations.
- Of course, the best health insurance is living in
a healthy way. You can't get a tax deduction for that, but you still
come out ahead.
- If you prefer the disease-oriented lifestyle that
is so prevalent today, you can take (cold) comfort in the fact that
accelerated death benefits paid on a life insurance policy are tax free
if paid to a terminally ill insured individual before s/he dies. If
someone mentions viatical settlements, that's what these payments are.
As with all financial transactions, don't do things for the tax
motivation. Do them for the business motivation, and then avail yourself
of the tax breaks. That is your first line of defense in staying out of
Remember, the AT can void the statute of limitations on the
flimsiest of grounds, and assess you whatever interest and penalties
they feel will most painfully destroy you. Following statute or
Congressional intent is not in their game plan. In their sick, twisted minds,
they get a thrill out of inflicting massive damage on other people. Don't give them an excuse to do it to you.
Once the "Borg" locks onto you, getting rid of them is almost
In our next issue, we'll present more ways you can reduce your taxes
without shelters or other dubious means.
* American Taliban.
5. Security tip
Only three states (and Washington, DC) in the USA still
lack a Right To Carry (RTC) law (which is why their violent crime levels
are atrociously higher than everyone else's).|
So, the whole country is safer from predatory
criminals than it was only a few years ago. But this law has mixed
On the one hand, we know from the experience in
Florida and the other early adopters that RTC dramatically cuts violent
crime. This, of course, is common sense--no other outcome is possible.
But, there's a dark side to this law. It informs
the government exactly what firearm(s) you have, and where to find you.
The original purpose of the Second Amendment--to protect citizens from
an oppressive government--was proven moot with the attacks at Ruby Ridge
and Waco (among others). So, think carefully before obtaining your RTC.
The only reason for it today is to protect yourself from those criminals
who do not work in government.
If you are at risk, then there's not much
to think about. Just get your RTC. Who might be at risk? Here are some
- Female nurses working nights.
- Business owners handling the day's cash
- Single mothers driving their kids around.
- Tavern owners and bouncers.
- Security personnel traveling to and from the
- Anyone with reason to routinely be in
- Former law enforcement officers.
- Elected officials.
- Postal workers.
If you're not at risk, then you need to weigh your
immediate security needs against the privacy issues. RTC isn't for
Also, you must remember that RTC means carrying a
pistol on your person. Pistols are heavy, and they stink of cordite and
oil. If you fly frequently, you will need to wash carefully before
heading to the airport (this should not be a problem for anyone over the
age of 6). For a person at risk, these annoyances are acceptable. For
everyone else, they may be too much.
6. Health tip/Fitness tips
Bloodsuckers never quit. Fact: The AT manual has instructions
for collecting taxes after a nuclear war. That includes interest and penalties.
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8. Thought for the Day
Wherever you are at this moment, take a look around you. And
be grateful for what's there.
Wishing you the best,
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