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Mindconnection eNL, 2006-05-07

Past issues

In this issue:

  1. Product highlight
  2. Brainpower tip
  3. Time tip
  4. Finance tip
  1. Security tip
  2. Health tip/Fitness tip
  3. Miscellany
  4. 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:

  1. Assuming opinions are fact, just because they are widely held or passionately declared; or
  2. 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 new information.

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 second definition.

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, here.
  • 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. Touché.

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 great clue.

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 address?
  • Which are about my venting and which are actually helpful?
  • 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 perspective?
  • 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 being right.

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 tax trouble.

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 impossible.

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 blessings.

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 examples:

  • Female nurses working nights.
  • Business owners handling the day's cash receipts.
  • Single mothers driving their kids around.
  • Tavern owners and bouncers.
  • Security personnel traveling to and from the job.
  • Anyone with reason to routinely be in high-crime areas.
  • 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 everybody.

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

We have a new article at one of our sites. If you're trying to slim down for summer, read it here:


7. Miscellany

  1. Bloodsuckers never quit. Fact: The AT manual has instructions for collecting taxes after a nuclear war. That includes interest and penalties.
  2. We don't run ads in our newsletter. We do get inquiries from advertisers, all the time. To keep this eNL coming, go to and do your shopping from there (as appropriate). In addition to our own products, we do have an Amazon box on the home page and your using it would be helpful!

  3. Please forward this eNL to others.

  4. See: It has some great offers that are worth following up on. I especially like this one: Free special offer for people who are tired of not sleeping. Visit QualityHealth to get your free special offer and get the sleep you need.


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,

Mark Lamendola


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