Bookmark and Share
Subscriptions
Past issues

Mindconnection eNL, 2015-03-01

Home

In this issue:
Good News | Product Highlight | Brainpower | Finances | Security | Health/Fitness | Factoid | Thought 4 the Day

Please forward this to others who might find it useful. If you have a social media acct (Facebook, etc.), please add our link: http://www.mindconnection.com

1. Good News

Item 1

An inexpensive process can make steel more corrosion-resistant and, amazingly, make it 10 times stronger. Think of what that means. This will go a long way toward reducing energy consumption and pollution, for one thing. Read the whole story here:

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/534796/nano-manufacturing-makes-steel-10-times-stronger

Item 2

And not just cheaper steel. Cheaper titanium, too! Read the whole story here:

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535386/new-titanium-making-process-could-result-in-lighter-aircraft

 

Item 3

Google's misconduct has inspired a slew of anti-Google sites, Google complaint sites, and Google-bashing sites. Here's one, for example: http://google-sucks.org/VentingBooth/GetItOffYourChest.php

Here is a corporation caught with its proverbial pants down. And people are publicly dissing it for being a very bad corporation. It's good news that people are speaking out, instead of putting up with the insanity as if it's somehow acceptable.

It's not just people complaining on Websites that has the Evil Empire in trouble. Its blatant disregard for ethics has led it to break laws in several countries (including in the USA, but we don't have an actual Department of Justice). It's hard to tell how much Google is spending to "lawyer up" but it's no small amount.
 

Item 4

The massive dissatisfaction with Google and its horrendously bad "search engine" (if you still want to call it that) has helped ethical, competent companies move ahead against the Evil Empire. Google's share of search has been steadily dropping, while that of companies that actually care about search quality has been rising. Duck Duck Go and Yahoo are the two primary beneficiaries of this trend. It's good to see good companies rewarded, especially when that's at the expense of bad ones like Google.

2. Product Highlight

We have a great deal on a great camera, while supplies last. The Pentax K-S1 is a stylish midrange DSLR that features futuristic LED lights on its grip and a backlit mode dial on its rear.

The Pentax KS-1 uses a new 20MP CMOS sensor and the highly reliable Pentax SAFOX IX i+ autofocus system. It has a shake reduction system that provide image stablization; that means better, sharper photos.

You can compose your photos through the large optical viewfinder, or you can use the 3-inch LCD display for that purpose. It can shoot at a blazing 5.4 fps, and it records video in 1080p/30.
 

Click the image for more info or to just to buy it. We beat the Amazon price.

 

 

  • Attractive LED Indicator lamps in grip and lighted camera controls.
  • 5.4 frames per second continuous shooting.
  • Full 1080p h.264 HD video recording.
  • ISO Speeds up to 51200.
  • In-body shake reduction.
  • In-body RAW development & HDR shooting.
  • Works with all K mount lenses.
  • AA Filter Simulator (SR unit).
  • Eye-Fi and FLU Card Compatibility.

 

3. Brainpower tip

A reader mistook my positive comments about peer review as meaning it's some sort of guarantor of accuracy or scientific legitimacy. I'm sorry I was unclear. That is absolutely not the case.

Peer review is helpful. But it doesn't guarantee anything. An article in Science Magazine earlier this year went so far as to say "Peer review doesn't work."

Peer review filters out a lot of erroneous and fraudulent claims. But it also lets many through. And it can block information that contradicts the existing orthodoxy, even if that orthodoxy is wrong. This is particularly the case in certain disciplines, such as archaeology.

Here are some reasons peer review can fail:

  • A leading figure publishes a paper. Due to the halo effect, people just don't pick up on an error. Or they may pick up on it and stay silent, because nobody wants to challenge someone who is in a position to make or break their career.
  • Professionals read journals to learn, not to volunteer their free time redoing the research behind the article they are reading. The assumption is that the author is the expert.
  • Even when there is input, overworked editors don't want to open a can of worms by starting a public fight or debate over it. There is only so much space in the magazine and only so much that can be done in every 14 hour work day. Even if the whole thing is moved online to get around the space issue, there is still work involved and it could drag on for a considerable time.
  • Many papers are so obtuse and poorly articulated, that readers hardly understand them anyhow. They don't want to be embarrassed by asking what something means. This is the same dynamic that Dr. Atul Guwande described in medical care situations; the young doctor uses word inflation to impress the supervising physician, who is subsequently unable to understand and afraid to challenge the barrage of bulls---.

Just because something is peer reviewed is not reason enough to believe it. Nor is something that hasn't been peer reviewed necessarily inferior.

If you're actively involved in a given scientific or engineering discipline, you should be able to apply your own expertise to evaluate the likely veracity of an experiment-based paper or of a study. You can also apply your expertise to judge whether to trust an article you're reading.

But what if you don't have have the expertise in that field? Let's say you're reading an article in Science about a new astronomical discovery. But you're not an astronomer. You're a plumber or an accountant or the CEO of a consumer products company. Here are some things to consider when encountering articles or papers discussing something outside your area of training and expertise:

  • Is it really up to you to evaluate what's being read? Do you have a stake in the outcome? Or is your interest really in learning more about the universe? I personally don't stay awake at night worrying about whether I'm being led astray or just becoming more informed after I read about these things.
  • Vet the source. Science magazine is an excellent source. An article appearing in that magazine has a high trust factor. If I read about an Alzheimer's cure there, I would be inclined to believe that a cure has been found. But the same claim in unsolicited e-mail or on some non-prestigious Website carries a lot less credibility.
  • Compare sources. So someone writes about a cure for Alzheimer's but there's no mention of this momentous discovery by Nova, Discover, Science, or other sources that have proven time and again to be reliable, I'm not going to believe it.
  • Compare against what you've been reading. Because my mom has AD, I track what's going on in the research. There are exciting developments. If a "cure" comes out of nowhere rather than arising from the known paths that research has been taking, I will be very skeptical to say the least. The alleged cure would be a non-sequitor.

You have many evaluation techniques available to you, even if you are not an expert. Relying on peer review as the arbiter of what is accurate is a huge mistake. Peer review is helpful for experts to police each other, but it is seldom a formal, structured process in any discipline and there are many incentives for peers not to rock the boat. In many cases, it simply means an editor likes the paper and after it's published the journal subscribers can put in their two cents about something in the paper.

Traditionally, peer review occurred at conferences or symposia. Not so much anymore, but that was the original method. The author of a paper would read it to professional peers, who would ask questions, offer suggestions, and challenge the underlying research. The author would often withdraw the paper, realizing there was more work to do.

Today when papers are actually presented in person, the typical presentation is based on a Powerpoint slide shows. These are painfully boring. The speaker first passes copies of out the actual paper, printed in size 6 font to save on cost. Then he tries to bore you to death by droning on while reading one poorly done Powerpoint slide after another. I think if this method had been tried at Guantanamo, the prisoners would have thought it comparable to water boarding.

I have attended "peer review" presentations in which nobody notices an egregious error on slide 43 (because they are asleep by then), but several people have commented on spelling errors in the first few slides.

This whole mind numbing exercise in sadism is what passes for "peer review." Because people are loathe to subject themselves to such abuse unless they also have a paper to "present" it's hard to get peers to endure such things.

But papers are increasingly not presented in person. They are published in journals, presented in webinars (by invitation only), or vetted by an editor who pretends to circulate it around to "peers", or vetted by an editor who circulates it to folks who pretend to review it, or in some other way inadequately tested but stamped with the imprimatur of "peer reviewed" nonetheless.

So in most cases, what is labeled as "peer reviewed" isn't.


4. Finance tip

I just thought I'd share some ways I personally have been saving money. This is by no means an exhaustive, or even complete, list. You may glean some ideas for yourself from the items I mention.

Home

  • Water-saving shower heads. These don't cost much and are easy to install. In addition to conserving water, these provide a more comfortable shower.
  • LED lamps (bulbs). While CFLs actually waste energy in the typical home application, LEDs save money. Especially if you use them for plant lights or office lights.
  • High-efficiency water heater. It uses a fraction of the gas and has a smaller tank, but I never run out of hot water. The year after I got it, I ran the dishwasher and took a shower while a guest showered in the other bathroom. It's also self-cleaning (but I flush it anyhow).
  • Replaced old top-loader with LG top-loading washing machine. This was expensive, but my estimated cost for water and electricity is $9/year. It is ultra-efficient.
  • Fiberglass entry door. It's far stronger than a steel door, and the energy efficiency exceeds that of the wall it's installed in (yes, being an engineer I actually used a thermographic gun to verify this).
  • Installed heat pump system. Did this many years ago, and it was a hugely smart decision. Not just for energy savings, but for improved comfort.
  • Cut up old clothes into rags for use in kitchen (I keep a supply folded in a cupboard). These cost less than paper towels and do a better job.
  • DIY. I have extensive training in several skilled trades, so do many of my own handyman projects. I also repair things that would typically mean calling a plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc. If you don't have the training, don't attempt DIY. Get the training, so you are able to do the work competently. Mistakes can cause disasters.
  • Clean air filter in HVAC system. I replace the filter when it gets discolored, not when it gets thick with junk. This costs less than paying for the increased electricity to run the straining blower motor through a clogged filter. It also saves on repairs; clogged filters cause premature failure of the blower. My blower motor is about $400, plus labor (it did fail once under warranty, because of a manufacturing defect).

Car

  • Bought a car with a standard transmission (actually, my last three cars have been a stick). This saves quite a bit on fuel.
  • Use synthetic motor oil.
  • Run a K&N permanent air filter. This idea is a carry-over from my race car days. The thing is, I don't buy air filters and my car isn't suffocating on a clogged one. I have to clean the K&N every 50,000 miles, which is no big deal.
  • Keep tires inflated. I bought a digital tire gage to help make this job easier.
  • Combine trips. This not only saves money, it hugely saves time. Going to three different places separately means I drive down some of the same roads three different times instead of once.

Food

  • Don't eat out, unless there is a very good reason to. This saves money in several ways.
  • Shop primarily in the produce section. The amount of money people waste on processed "food" to get even 1/10th the nutritional value is amazing.
  • Plan my meals, so no waste and no spoilage.
  • Grow some of my own, in the summer. That includes much more than just tomatoes.

Entertainment

  • I don't watch television, so don't have a cable TV bill. I think many people are paying around $70 a month. I pay zero.
  • The public library has free audio books, free movies, and free books. Well, not free exactly because a tiny sliver of our property taxes goes toward this resource.
  • Friends. What a bargain! It's cheap to entertain at home or to go do some errand together just to have the company along. In my neighborhood, we do crazy things like shovel each other's driveways and rake each other's lawns. The competition to out-nice the other guy is pretty entertaining!
  • Play with the cat who runs this household. She is really a blast. If a pet doesn't own you yet, offer to walk a neighbor's dog. Offer to babysit the cat(s) while the neighbor is out of town.
  • Local attractions. Sometimes a friend visits from out of town and we see some local attractions. Because everybody has different tastes, these vary according to who is visiting. Most local attractions have very low cost of admission or are totally free.
  • No bars. I have never seen the appeal of such dismal, costly, places.

Health care

  • Weight train at home. I have my own Olympic weight set and other equipment. This means I can work out without smelling other people's farts, and I don't have to drive to the gym and back 6 times a week. I can do my workout in the time it would take to make that car trip.
  • Supplement. By selecting supplements intelligently, I prevent all kinds of problems while enhancing my athletic performance.
  • Chiropractic. If you find a good chiropractor and have monthly maintenance care, you are taking a huge step toward getting or staying healthy. This area is neglected by most people. It's not about cracking your spine, it's about all kinds of other things.
  • Clean air. I have several portable HEPA filters. These do use electricity, but I am spending much less on allergy medication and facial tissue.


5. Security tip

The terrorist group known as the Institute of Reprobates and Sociopaths still has no oversight and still conducts deadly terrorist attacks against innocent citizens of this country. Until such time as enough members of CONgress actually care about America and put down this rabid dog, we mere citizens must find ways to protect ourselves from its vicious bite.

When I say "deadly terrorist attacks" I am being precise rather than exaggerating. Here's an example of how they do it:

Somehow, you get on a secret list of targets. Your first inkling that something is wrong is when you log into your checking account online and find a few hundred dollars of overdraft fees and a large negative balance. Plus your home equity line is maxed out. What happened?

Some psychopath at the Institute fed a judge a line of sh-- about you, and got a court order forcing the bank to repeatedly withdraw your funds. The first withdrawal is for the balance. The next one is designed to hit your overdraft protection. If you are using a home equity line of credit for that and have a $50,000 line, guess what? You now have that line maxed out. And you have to make payments on it.

But the psychopath also hit you with a wage garnishment. You don't have enough left over to pay for food and utilities. So bills start bouncing, and creditors start hounding you.

But it's worse than just not being able to pay your bills. Your bank immediately went into foreclosure when the first attack began, because they didn't want to be a secondary lien holder. In 90 days, you will be homeless and facing debt that is growing exponentially. And you won't have the money to move your possessions or the money to store them. You lose everything, all of your mementos, your tools, your furniture, your kitchen appliances. It will all be auctioned off, with not a penny of the proceeds going to you. Except your mementos will simply be burned or trashed. That includes baby pictures and anything else of meaning to you.

You're glad you at least have a job. But guess what? Your employer considers you toxic, especially since they received a large, intimidating package from the Institute demanding they fill out a few dozen forms within 15 days. Rather than do that, they just fire you.

With no job, no home, and no money, will your friends take you in? Sure, if you're lucky. But the Institute is watching you. So your friends get that same package. And so do THEIR employers.

This isn't an abstract scenario pulled from imagination. It's a real scenario pulled from actual case histories. Nor is it rare. It can happen to anyone. You don't need to do something wrong to get this kind of abuse heaped upon you.

Is the prospect of this terrifying? You bet. And terror is the point of doing this sort of thing. How many people who knew you will know about this problem? Maybe all of them? Want to bet they will fear the Institute?

I've given a similar scenario and described this theme in a previous newsletter. I'm doing it again, because:

A. It is not a rare event.

B. You can greatly reduce the risk that the terrorist attack will succeed.

You need a multi-layered defense:

  1. Isolate the Institute from your banking information. How do you do that? Establish an account just for sending them any payments (at a bank that you have no other dealings with and make all deposits in cash). That is the only account they will have the account number and routing number for. If then send you a "mandatory" information packet demanding you supply them with a complete list of your assets and account numbers, refuse. Think of why they are asking for that information.

    If you do refuse, the "penalty" is they will seize only the assets they know about. If you don't refuse, they'll seize those assets plus the ones you were dumb enough to tell them about. There's no win for you, here. Only a choice between loss and greater loss. Don't let them know about assets other than what's necessary to inform them about when you file your 1040 tax forms.
     
  2. Don't own any assets you don't have to own. It costs a little to establish a corporation, but do that. It will be a "pass through entity" for tax purposes, but not for collection purposes. An LLC will do just fine. Be very careful to treat it as a separate entity, making sure it has its own EIN (an EIN is easy to obtain from the IRS). Don't let the LLC be a sham; learn the rules and follow them. Have this corporation act as a holding entity, letting it hold assets. For example, let the LLC hold mutual funds in its EIN rather than holding them yourself in your SSN.

    For the Institute to just go in and seize your SSN-held mutual fund is no big challenge, and they really don't need a reason. But there is a much, much higher bar for seizing assets owned by a corporation. That is true even if the victim individual owns the corporation. BTW, the Institute refers to a single-owner LLC as a "company" even though LLC literally means Limited Liability Corporation. That is the literal translation of the German version, which was the forerunner of this business formation in the USA. Only in the USA has the meaning been debauched, and it's been debauched by criminals. Even so, they can't pierce the corporate veil without a huge effort. You can prevent them from destroying you by putting that huge effort between them and assets you don't want them to steal.
     
  3. Don't associate with shady characters. People who seem to make "easy money" or who play fast and loose with the rules are typically tax cheaters.

    This is borne out by the fact that among all occupations, Institute "Collection Agent" is the one with the most egregious tax cheating. These people play very fast and loose with rules. They have zero ethics or moral scruples, so tax cheating is something they simply feel entitled to do.

    The Institute applies the "guilty by association" policy. In a well-known case, the granddaughter of the primary victims was assessed massive back taxes, interest, and penalties for a defrauded investment her grandparents had made on the advice of a shady character--and which she had never heard of.

    The Institute's case actually held up in the joke of a system known as "Tax Court" even though it violated several statutes and made absolutely no sense. And even though both grand parents were deceased. In Tax Court, reality is seldom considered acceptable. The only thing that really matters to the criminals who pretend to be judges in that abominable system is coming up with tortured reasoning that "justifies" the unjustifiable.

    The misruling was later overturned in Appeals Court, but at great expense to the parents of the granddaughter. Parents? Yes, she was only 14 when the Reprobates came after her. And the "tax event" she was supposedly liable for occurred several years before she was born.
     
  4. Keep your records clean. Because the Reprobates don't care about any proof against any mis-allegations they make, the key is to avoid reasons to draw their attention. By keeping your records clean, you avoid common filing errors and thus fly under their radar.
     
  5. If you have any "friends" who are employed by the Institute, end the friendship. The potential for these people, even if they seem decent despite being part of a loathsome organization, is too great of a risk. Tell them it's nothing personal, you just cannot risk having them know anything about you.
     
  6. Obtain your transcript. The Institute will mail you a paper copy of your transcript. Go on their Website and request it. Do this annually, so you know if there's some action being taken against you. The Institute does not have to tell you when you've been assessed; it's up to you to find that out.

    This is dense material, but you can scan through it for anomalies. If there's something you don't understand, do NOT contact the Institute for assistance. Instead, hire a reputable tax attorney. This is not going to be free, and may set you back a few hundred dollars. But it's worth it. And you can deduct that fee on your 1040 as a legal expense (probably a stretch to deduct it as a filing expense).
     
  7. Never contact the terrorists yourself. They will answer your questions. But they aren't there to provide service. They are there to troll for victims.

    If you go through an intermediary who has a very limited amount of information about you, the intermediary cannot be tricked into giving the Institute ammunition to use against you. Yes, it's expensive to pay a tax attorney. But simple math tells us that it is better to spend $400 than to be subjected to a million dollar plus collection campaign.

    Note that with the Farm Bill of, I think 2013, there is no longer a Statute of Limitations on Collections. If you become a victim, even if you don't actually owe anything, the Institute can hound and terrorize you until you die. Yes, it will be a much earlier death than otherwise, but that just means someone else in your family will be on the hook for your fake tax debt. Do not tempt these people. They can't resist temptation.
     

Of course, a determined adversary can breech any defenses. The Institute is much like some cancers; it seemingly strikes at random, and a painful death is the only possible outcome.

But like cancers, there are risk factors. For example, keeping your body fat below 7% keeps it from developing organ fat around your heart, liver, and pancreas; this eliminates one of the few known risk factors for pancreatic cancer. You still might get the cancer (or be the target of aggressive collections designed to kill you), but you've hugely shifted the odds against that ever happening.

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

How much can you bench?

That's a question that often gets asked in gyms. And the perceived need to give a big number is probably why so many men (and some women) sacrifice actually training their pecs by cheating on the exercise. They use other muscles (mostly the front delts) to bear the load.

I now have a stock reply to this question. "I use 55 lb dumbbells when I do flyes. How much do you use?"

This is more than 1/3 of my body weight. But before I do flyes, I "pre-exhaust" with bench pressing; 4 sets of 6 slow reps using about 25 lbs above my body weight. The traditional advice is to pre-exhaust by doing flyes, then do the bench. That advice is exactly bass-ackwards, for several reasons. The main one, IMO, is you need to focus on flyes. That's where you want to do the work that will induce the adaptive response.

Not that he would know anything about bodybuilding or weight training, but 6-time Mr. Olympia Arnold "The Austrian Oak" Schwarzenegger did very little with the bench press. He created those awesome pecs by doing flyes.

Lose weight, be strong, burn fat, gain muscle
 
 
 

At www.supplecity.com, you'll find plenty of informative, authoritative articles on maintaining a lean, strong physique. It has nothing to do with long workouts or impossible to maintain diets. In fact:
  • The best workouts are short and intense.
  • A good diet contains far more flavors and satisfaction than the typical American diet.

7. Factoid

Caffeine increases the  power of aspirin and other painkillers. That's why it's an ingredient in some medicines.

8. Thought for the Day

Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?

 

Please forward this eNL to others.

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. Please pass this newsletter along to others.


Articles | Book Reviews | Free eNL | Products

Contact Us | Home

This material, copyright Mindconnection. Don't make all of your communication electronic. Hug somebody!