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Mindconnection eNL, 2003-08-24

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In this issue:

  1. Brainpower tip
  2. Time tip
  3. Finance tip
  4. Security tips
  5. Health tip/Fitness tip
  6. Personal Note: Another "make me smile moment"
  7. Thought for the day

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1. Brainpower tip

Your brain adapts to the demands placed on it. If you watch much television, your brain rewires itself for short attention spans and an unnatural image orientation. Real mental power comes from the ability to focus and to deal in the abstract. So, the more television you watch, the more stupid you become. No offense intended, that's just the way it is. The good news is, you can become smarter by watching less television.

Becoming more stupid is certainly the trend today. The stupidity epidemic shows no signs of abating, but that doesn't mean you need to be part of it. If you aren't sure whether you are watching too much television or not, shut it off for the rest of this year. That may seem draconian to you, but I haven't watched television since 1990 (except on September 11, 2001). So, it's no big deal to go without the "boob tube" for a few months. At the end of the year, take stock of how you process information and formulate ideas. Do you see an improvement? Take stock, also, of your emotional state. Now that you've foregone being programmed daily with graphic images of violence and distress, do you feel happier?


2. Time tip

Multitasking--doing more than one thing at a time--rarely works. I'm not talking about walking and chewing gum at the same time. Those two activities use entirely separate parts of the brain.

The various sections of the brain--each with its own function--operate serially, not in parallel. That is, if you are accessing the frontal lobes to process visual information you cannot simultaneously access them to process auditory information. This is why you can't read a book and carry on a meaningful conversation at the same time.

The brain "sort of" multitasks, because the information coming to it is often below its bandwidth threshold. For example, if your brain can process 100 spoken words per minute and you are listening to 60 spoken words per minute, you have some leftover bandwidth. During the gaps between words, you can process other information. This is why we are able to carry on a light conversation while driving a car in fairly light traffic. But if either the conversation or the traffic ramps up, the driver will be unable to do one (or both) of the tasks properly.

Another problem with multitasking is there are transactional costs. That is, changing gears takes mental energy. The actual switching between tasks consumes some of that bandwidth and consequently takes up time.

If task X takes 10 minutes and task Y takes 5 minutes, you will use 15 minutes doing them separately. When multi-tasking, you can usually expect to take considerably longer--perhaps 20 minutes. Part of the extra time is due to the switching costs, part is due to the inefficiency caused by lack of attention, and part is due to having to repeat portions of the task.

So, to make the most of your time, avoid buying into multitasking myth. Instead, focus on the task at hand. To keep your focus sharp, break your tasks up into blocks that fit your attention span. If you are a television addict, you will have to keep these blocks small. If you are, say, a classically trained musician, try large blocks and see if you are maintaining your focused edge.

Here's an example of how this works. Instead of trying to balance my checkbook while planning a trip with someone over the phone, I might work on the checkbook until it's half done. Then, I'd call the other person and set some trip parameters--what we want to do, when we are leaving, when we are coming back. We'd agree to talk again the next day after each of us does some specific research. Then I'd finish the checkbook project and do my research (let's say I'm supposed to find the hotels and two places of interest).


3. Finance tip

Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with my old buddy Russell. We go back more than 40 years. We live 500 miles apart, but I visited with him in person last week and yesterday was just a follow-up phone call. Russ is not a scholar, doesn't have a college education, and isn't a bookworm. But he is smart. Always has been. Russ has a way of looking at complex things and seeing only what's important. Russ knows I'm an MBA and a real numbers guy. So, he wanted to run something by me. He had taken a position in the same question repeated with separate people and he was sure he was right. But he wanted to know my thoughts.

The question involved mortgage refinancing.

  • Argument #1 (the bank's view): If you have a home equity line of credit at 6.5%, you will save money by paying that off as part of refinancing your mortgage at the new 30-year rate of 5.25%.

  • Argument #2 (Russ's view): If you have a home equity line of credit at 6.5%, you will save money by leaving it separate from your mortgage refinancing, regardless of the new rate.

Actual case: Someone Russ knows had 9 years left on his mortgage, but refinanced to a 20-year term to get a lower interest rate and pay off his home equity line of credit.

 Of the two arguments posited here, only #2 is correct. Here is why:

  • In Argument #1, you are going to pay 5.25% for the term of the loan--maybe 30 years.

  • In Argument #2, you are going to pay 6.5% for maybe a year--however long it takes you to pay off that equity line of credit.

In the first instance, you might pay three times the amount borrowed. For a $10,000 loan, this works out to $30,000.

In the second instance, you pay only 6.5% of the amount borrowed if you pay it off in a year. For a $10,000 loan, that works out to $312.50 (assuming you take one year to pay it off and do so in equal payments over the year).

Now, I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that $30,000 is more than $312.50. Any math scholars who want to run that through a giant computer system to come up with an authoritative answer are welcome to--please let me know if I'm wrong, because a lot of people seem to disagree.

This is a classic case of MBA Financing 101: Never use long-term financing to pay for short-term debt.

This depends on your ability, of course, to service the short-term debt. If you have Russ's high level of common sense, though, the thought of having short-term debt you can't service would not occur to you. If you do have high levels of short-term debt, look at the root causes and stop accumulating short-term debt. Converting it to long-term debt is just another way of handing your money over to someone else.

4. Security tip

According to the OMB, employees of the IRS stole 4300 government computers in 2001 alone. There is strong reason to believe that even this number is far lower that the actual number stolen--some estimates are as high as 25,000. Can you imagine if you had to go into work each day to be among such brazen thieves? Or coming home to have them as neighbors?

This year, the Treasury Inspector General found that, when IRS employees weren't busy stealing computers, they were busy using them to watch p*orn and visit gambling sites. Excessively. The report showed the misuse of these computers was something like eight times higher than it is in corporate America. Keep in mind that corporate employees get laid off even when they do outstanding work. In the IRS, you can be a total slacker, steal computers, commit perjury, be clueless about your job, and actually get promoted!

What I'm doing here is drawing a picture of the low-life scum the IRS apparently hires from prison work release programs and mental wards. These folks, while having secure income from government jobs paid for by your tax dollars, are morally bankrupt. And they are accountable to nobody, which is one reason why they steal so blatantly from us and one reason why the IRS is widely considered the world's #1 terrorist organization. Their total of death and destruction exceeds that of the Al Queda many times over--they just don't concentrate their efforts all at one time ala September 11. As for theft, they reign supreme.

Now, think about your tax return. Look at how much sensitive information you are sending to these morally bankrupt psychopaths. Now you know why identity theft is so prevalent. Every now and then, we hear of some IRS employee's being caught selling confidential taxpayer information to some huckster. Anyone with common sense can see these cases are merely the tip of an enormous iceberg. Nothing you send to the IRS is confidential. If you believe it is, then you are the type of person who would, if raising chickens, buy foxes to guard them. Trusting the IRS with your sensitive information is like hiring a known pedophile to babysit your children.

So, what can you do about this? How can you protect your personal identity and sensitive information when you are required by law to send it to known criminals each year?

In the short run, there is nothing you can do. But, keep this in mind. Congress created the IRS. We elect Congress. We need to tell our legislators enough is enough. Keep in mind that the IRS is not a necessary part of tax collection. What we want ended isn't taxation. What we want ended is this abomination called the IRS--a crime syndicate whose members consider the law some kind of joke and who think of American citizens as cockroaches.

Here is a Web page with address information and other useful stuff:

Your personal security and the IRS are mutually exclusive. If just 5% of Americans would demand Congress put a stop to the crime-spewing IRS, Congress would do so. We could rid America of this menace in a matter of months. The only reason we have not done so is we have been too silent for too long.



5. Health tip/Fitness tips

Back in the 1970s, I posited that drinking carbonated beverages greatly increases the likelihood of getting osteoporosis. About 15 years later, the AMA came out and said the same thing. Well, that told me something about how well they keep up with things!

My opinion of their ability to keep up recently changed, however. I have long thought of hydrogenated oil as one of those "bowel cancer is my friend" foods. This is why I read the labels and don't buy things that have this toxin in them. For example, on nearly every baked good (bread, cookies), you will see "hydrogenated oil" on the list of ingredients. If you want to feed your children cookies that don't give them bowel cancer, see this recipe page:

Unlike dietary cholesterol, this oil doesn't break down in the stomach. It passes on through to the small intestines and lower bowels, where it throws off free radicals--in essence, it bathes your bowels in cancer cells.

In my small mind, that was the role of hydrogenated oil. The AMA has now corrected my view. No, hydrogenated oil does far more than generate sales of colostomy bags. Years of double-blind studies and other research show effects I had never guessed at

When hydrogenated oil begins breaking down in the intestines, its byproducts pass into the bloodstream, and all kinds of nasty things happen. For example, blood triglyceride levels rise. This, in turn, creates other problems.

The human body has all sorts of defense mechanisms, but these are not designed to handle today's abuses.

For example, if you drink a soda, the body interprets the fizz in your stomach as excess acid and it pumps out calcium in response. This does nothing to "correct" the fizz, but it is all the body knows to do. That calcium then binds with the carbonation to form calcium carbonate, which your body then eliminates in your urine. The bones then lose calcium to make up for this "withdrawal." The result of repeated cycles of soda intake is osteoporosis. You can see this happening today in even in teenage children! Thanks to the poison peddlers at Coca Cola, Pepsi, et. al, this old person's disease is now a childhood ailment. But, I digress.

When you ingest excess sugar, the body secrets insulin to prevent massive damage to nerves and other tissue. But, the insulin has nasty side effects if there is too much of it.

Too much stress, and your body secretes excess cortisol. The cortisol is necessary, but in massive doses the side effects are harmful to health.

Similar to the three situations above: When you ingest hydrogenated oil (not that you'd do this on purpose) the body responds by increasing cholesterol. This substance, like insulin, has a life-saving purpose. But, it also has harmful side effects when it passes some level. We do not know what that level is, but it appears to be centered around a "norm" for most folks. Unless you have been tracking your cholesterol levels since birth and have correlated those with the events and activities in your life, you have no way of knowing if your body follows the norm. So don't get too caught up in the numbers. In any case, the hydrogenated oil causes harmful levels of cholesterol to appear even when the intake of hydrogenated oil isn't very high. Medical researchers ascertain this by watching the side effects, not the actual cholesterol numbers.

To my knowledge, hydrogenated oil--a man-made substance--is the only food that causes the body to produce more cholesterol than it needs to solve whatever problems the body normally solves with cholesterol production. One problem that LDL cholesterol solves is leaking blood vessels. Too much LDL, and blood vessels shut off completely. Which is why the body also produces HDL to remove the LDL after the leak is stopped. The body is self-regulating, but like any industrial process it can become a "runaway system." Adding hydrogenated oil to the system is a sure way to make the controls ineffective and get a process that causes the whole system to self-destruct.

6. Personal Note: Another "make me smile moment"

The Institute of Certified Professional Managers has asked me to serve on their Board of Regents, and I have accepted. Just another reason for you to have confidence in me as I share information with you in this newsletter. Yes, not all of what I write is management-related. But, I have significant qualifications in those other areas also or I wouldn't write about them. If you question the veracity or accuracy of anything I say in these newsletters, feel free to "call me" on it.


7. Thought for the Day

Rather than remark on how "they" are screwed up or what "they" did wrong, ask yourself, "What can I do to make things better?" This is how real change comes about. Personal accountability makes good things happen.


Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola


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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