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Mindconnection eNL, 2008-11-16


In this issue:
Product Highlight | Brainpower | Finances | Security | Health/Fitness | Miscellany | Thought for the Day


1. Product Highlight

Powerful, Affordable Scanning Pen
The Infoscan TS Elite text scanning pen allows you to scan, store, hear, and transfer text anytime, anywhere.

Scan and transfer images, too. Scans and recognizes (but does not translate) English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. View stored information on the integrated LCD display and easily transfer data to PC, PDA, or Smartphone via USB or Infra-red. Earphone included.

Click the picture to see more offerings, or use the link below.



2. Brainpower tip

Some of the reasoning errors to be on the lookout for and avoid:
  • Guilt by association. Many people assume because A is with B, A and B must be like-minded.

    Most people did not assume that when Obama and McCain appeared in a "debate" together they were in agreement. I didn't watch these fiascoes, but I do know that the on the one issue that mattered, they agreed completely--both wanted to spend MORE of our money to plunge us DEEPER into the debt.

    Too bad they both agreed that it somehow makes sense to bring a gasoline truck to a house fire, but that's another whole topic.

  • Non sequiturs for truth. If A is true and B is true, then C must be true. This assumes C is related to A and B. Don't make that assumption. Often CONgressmen (and other con artists) will state a couple of true facts and then state a lie. But the two facts do not prove the lie, and are not even related to it. Unrelated facts do not confirm each other. Even related facts do not necessarily confirm each other.

  • Non sequiturs for falsehood. If A is false and B is false, then C "must" be false. Same thing as previous. There is no logic, here.

  • Assessing an individual by membership. If A is a member of Group B and some other members of Group B have certain characteristics, then A "must" have those characteristics. This is the basis for racial prejudice.

    You cannot tell anything about an individual if the only information you have is the racial group that person belongs to. You can tell a few things based on other ethnic considerations, but none of those things will be about that person's character, intelligence, personality, ethics, honesty, integrity, personal philosophy, competence, and so forth.

    Nothing about a person's ethnicity tells you anything about whom that person is. More accurately, nothing about a person's ethnicity tells you anything about whom that person has chosen to be.

  • Translating facts. I run into this all the time. I called the cable company to complain that I had intermittent outages. Every time I got passed on to yet another person, it was, "You aren't able to connect to the Internet, correct?" No, that's not what I said.

    The technician showed up and said, "It says here you don't have an Internet connection." Aargh!

    Don't translate facts to fit a preconceived notion of what is most likely or most common. Take them at face value.

  • Jumping to conclusions. This is the only form of exercise some people get.

    The other day, a relative called me and asked how I was doing. I said I was tired. She said that's probably because I sat at the computer so much every day.

    I said no, that's because on Sunday I did my back and biceps workout (brutal, by any measure), Monday I did squats (I do these twice a month, and it takes 4 or 5 days for me to stop hurting), and Tuesday I did chest and triceps. I had also raked four bags of leaves each day for the past four days. I don't think my sitting down was the cause.

  • Failing to see the obvious. This is the opposite of jumping to conclusions. My uncle Larry is a classic example....

    He went to the doctor one winter, complaining he was feeling very tired. The doctor said, "Mr. Pozzi, you're 93 years old. At your age, people get tired. Especially if they overdo it. Tell me, have you shoveled any of this snow we've been having?"

    My uncle thought for a moment. "Not all that much. I did the sidewalk in front of our house...."

    "Mr. Pozzi, that snow's a foot deep! No wonder you're tired!"

    "...and our driveway and the one next to it and the one on the other side. Then Mrs. Palooka needed her porch shoveled. So, it wasn't all that much. Just a few driveways and sidewalks."

3. Finance tip

We don't have a cure for cancer, but there is a cure for the IRS:

That first sickness isn't something we can eliminate yet, but the second sickness is.

4. Security tip

More about protecting your identity....

Identity theft officially became a federal offense in 1998. But laws don't stop crimes (if they did, then we wouldn't have criminals, would we?). They merely provide a reason to punish for their commission after the fact.

So, prevention is everything. And we are getting better at it.

The number of identity theft victims has decreased, mostly because people use the Internet more these days so the security is better than in the days when people did so much on paper and via other highly vulnerable means. Consequently, the number of identity theft victims per year in the U.S. fell by nearly 2 million from 2003 (10.1 million) to 2007 (8.4 million) even while the population increased dramatically during that time.

The average amount stolen via identity theft is down, also. Various experts have various reasons for this. One reason is the type of transactions that provide the biggest booty are being done online instead of via less secure means previously employed.

Amazingly, it takes less time today to undo the damage. With the growth of bureaucracy fueled by the stupidity epidemic, you'd think it would take longer. Fortunately, it doesn't. In fact, it takes about half as long today as it did three years ago.

People worry about their credit cards, but in fact it's the merchants who usually get stuck with the tab. Fraud experts say it's the credit card companies, and that kind of talk is, well, fraudulent.

The credit card companies actually make money off of fraud. First, they stick the merchant with the amount that was obtained via fraud, then they charge the merchant round trip credit card fees and a chargeback fee. A merchant selling a $500 item typically has to sell 20 more just to break even from a single case of fraud, but the amount can be much higher on items that have even tighter than normal margins. I'm not implying that credit card companies are pro-fraud, just because they have the means, motivation, and opportunity to be. The facts are what they are, and you can infer what you want.

Just keep in mind that I am giving you a small slice of what is probably a much larger pie of facts regarding what credit card companies do about fraud. What I do know is the merchant pays for it, and the credit card charges the merchant for the "privilege" of being ripped off while also providing several loopholes for people who abuse the policies purely for the point of obtaining merchandise for free. We all pay for this larceny, through the higher prices that merchants must charge simply to stay in business.

The "pro-consumer" policies really aren't pro-consumer when they help criminals create costs that get passed onto consumers. The worst offender, AMEX, recently had to change its policies because merchants were fleeing AMEX in droves (AMEX posted huge losses in early 2008 because of this). This is why you often see AMEX isn't shown as a payment option online. Mastercard's policies are the most fair and most reasonable.

In the typical credit card fraud event, the cardholder might be on the hook for $50. But the cost can be much higher if the victim doesn't quickly notify the merchants and banks involved.

Most of the financial losses in an identity theft are suffered by credit issuers and banks, as victims are rarely held responsible for fraudulent debts incurred in their name. But victims often bear the responsibility of contacting their banks and credit issuers after an identity theft has occurred. That's why you're on the hook for a max of $50 if you report the problem right away and on the hook for substantially more if you don't.

While you can't stop the government from stealing from you, you can make theft very hard for other kinds of thieves. Follow these tips:

  • Don't give out your SSN. This is your IRS number, or taxpayer ID number. It has nothing to do with security, social or otherwise. Except for tax purposes, nobody else needs this number. Simply refuse to give it out for any other purpose. Because an employer and a bank need to this number on documents related to you for IRS purposes, you need to give them that number. You do not need it for non-IRS purposes. If you run an individual-owned business (proprietorship or LLC); your Tax ID matters to anyone dealing with you, because IRS issues come into play as do collection concerns.
  • Don't give out personal information to solicitors, except on a "need to know" basis. Nobody who phones you out of the blue needs to know your age, how many people live in your home, what you do for a living, etc. These things provide vital clues about how to rob you. Robbing you is the government's job (partly for necessary reasons--not all taxation is evil), and they do it very well. Don't hand that job over to strangers.
  • Similarly, watch those phishing e-mails. These often contain spelling errors or just don't read right. Rather than click the links in them, type the link into your browser. For example, you get a message from Bank of America's "security team" to log into your account. No bank ever provides a log-in link in an e-mail. But phishing folks do. You click, and it looks like BoA but it's not. Now they have your IP address and other information about you. If you are still determined to wreck your life, just go ahead and give them your log-in information.
  • File it or shred it. Dumpster diving is a great way to find out useful information on potential victims. When you do shred, don't toss all of the shredded material in the same trash container. Keep it in a bucket (such as the container that goes with the shredder) and grab random bits to toss into each trash bag. This make reconstruction unlikely, especially if parts of the same document wind up in 19 different trashbags over a period of 6 weeks.
  • Store it securely. People can find ways into your home, for whatever reason. They can check obvious places to find your passwords (that Post-It note stuck by the monitor might not be such a good idea), SS cards, and other sensitive documents. If you keep things such as tax returns in paper format, consider keeping them in a safety deposit box. You cannot ever toss a tax return, because contrary to common misperception,tax investigations do not have an ironclad statute of limitations. You can be audited for any tax year in which you have existed, at any point in your life. If, for example, you were to turn 93 in 2009 you might find your nest egg cleaned out for the $15 in taxes you allegedly didn't pay in 1952 (with the bill well over a quarter million dollars now, due to interest and penalties). It's up to you to prove you paid it. Let me repeat that, in different words: In tax disputes, the burden of proof is on the accused rather than the accuser.
  • Re-examine your password strategies. Many people like to use short passwords that are their wife's maiden name or something else that's easy to guess. And the reason is obvious--we can't remember strings of 17 random numbers or letters. One solution is to use chains of such items and break them up with numbers. For example, Bob's wife Betty Riggins met Ringo Starr in 1968, they have a dog name LuLu, and Bob once owned a 1958 Chevy. So, he comes up with the password 9rig19lu58. Or maybe 7riggins1958luludoggie. See how that works? There are enough pieces that fit so he can recall it. This isn't as good as completely random, but it's better than what he did have. That first number is a random one just thrown in there.

And remember, nothing compares to the degree to which you are robbed by your own government. You can keep writing to your misrepresentatives to stop grossly over-spending and maybe they will slow it down a bit. But a huge cost you bear is that of complying with the federal tax regulations. It's not just cost that's the issue. You are forced to provide very sensitive information to an agency whose employees steal several thousand computers from their own offices each year. Do you see the obvious problem, here? There is a solution: the Fair Tax. The only viable way to ensure your personal security is to help get the Fair Tax passed.

Note: Contrary to anti-citizen propaganda, the Fair Tax is not a flat tax. Nor does it punish the poor nearly as much as the federal income tax currently does. The "progressive" part of the federal income tax is the part of the iceberg that is above the waterline. Below the surface is a monumental burden of billions of dollars of compliance costs that show up in every product and service you buy.

5. Health tip/Fitness tips

It may be impossible to get CONgress to stop pigging out at the feeding trough, but there is help for people are interested in a leaner waistline:

6. Miscellany

  1. Annually Americans eat 45 million turkeys at Thanksgiving. Every other year, they "elect" turkeys to CONgress in that same month from a rigged ballot. Ballot access rules keep good people from even being considered for election. If you wonder why that is, just repeat the following phrase 100 times: "Lobbyists provide great incentives."
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7. Thought for the Day

It's not necessary to agree with, or even understand, another person's viewpoint for you to be respectful of that person and his/her right to hold that viewpoint without needing to defend it.


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!).

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