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Mindconnection eNL, 2009-04-19


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


1. Brainpower tip

Recognize that you don't always see what is. We all like to believe we hold views that are sensible and rational. Someone who disagrees is probably wrong.

But is that person really wrong, or just operating from different information? The brain tries to make sense of the world before passing information to the cerebral cortex (the part of the brain that members of CONgress don't have--it's where thinking and judgment take place).

Have you ever looked for something and not found it until much later, only to realize you must have looked right at it three times? For example, you were looking for a particular product at the store and it has always come in a white container before but not it's in a blue container so your eyes go right past it.

The brain is set up to process enormous amounts of data very quickly. The upside of this is humans (and other animals) can do things very quickly, such as get out of the way of danger. The downside is the view we get of the world isn't complete. We see only what's important, only what we expect to see, or only what stands out from the expected picture.

I reviewed a book on this topic:

If you assume your perceptions are 100% accurate, you will inevitably err. Probably, you will err spectacularly. So, don't make that assumption.

If you are solving a problem:

  • Look for information you don't already have on hand.
  • Look for information that conflicts with information you already have on hand.
  • Ask reverse questions. For example, "I assume A is true, but what if A is false?"

If you are debating an opinion:

  • Account for your own built-in biases and misperceptions.
  • Look for additional information that is contrary to your position.
  • When encountering conflicting information, avoid finding ways to "make it wrong." Instead, try to determine what is valid and not valid about both sets of information.
  • Restate the other person's underlying assumptions. "So, if I understand you, A is true because B is true?"
  • Ask the other person to challenge your underlying assumptions. If those are weak, admit it.
  • Ask the other person to challenge your underlying data. Don't build arguments on false "facts."

Why ask the other person to challenge your assumptions and facts? That's proper debating. Debate on the merits of the arguments. This not only allows you to maintain mutual respect, it helps you build your brainpower while getting past your built-in biases.

2. Finance tip

Here are two quotes from Winston Churchill:
  1. "For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle"
  2. "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings, while the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery."

My city, like many others, recently had an election. It tossed out the mayor and council members, based on one issue: A big tax hike. Citizens can assert some control over their single largest expense. But the only way to do that is to look past the rhetoric and look at the actual voting records.

Those who vote to part you from your money are not your friends, any more than the mugger who attempts to rob you at gunpoint is. In either case, the money thus extracted typically goes for personal enrichment and not the public good.

Some things you can do:

  • Contact your representatives (and/or misrepresentatives) once each quarter and say you have a zero tolerance policy toward additional spending, for any reason whatsoever. Mark this on your calendar and do it. Ask your neighbors to do this. Organize a small group to do this.
  • If you have not done so already, join the National Taxpayers Union (
  • Understand that nearly all Demopublicans have a consistent record of assuming you are merely a farm animal to be milked. Factor this in when deciding who gets your vote.
  • If you like to blog, consider doing a blog that exposes which (mis)representatives are robbing you and your fellow citizens.

3. Security tip

The administration of computer passwords normally leads to gaping holes in security, because people hate to use passwords. But that needn't be the case.

In the old days, we used simple passwords that even someone as dim as a member of CONgress could guess. Well, OK, maybe not someone that dim. But a trained monkey could guess it.

IT people started telling us, "Don't use the name of your spouse or child." So we switched to other names that were just as easy to guess. This whole dance changed, and we began adding a number here or there. Then after a few problems and scares arose, we went to the other extreme. We created passwords so long, complex, and unmemorable that we began to write them down and/or store them in text files. This defeated the purpose of having passwords, in many cases.

A better solution than creating a password that you have to store in a readily accessible place is to create one using techniques borrowed from our Memory Course. Here's one such strategy.

  1. Pick a name you are familiar with. This could be the name of your neighbor's dog, your grandfather's first name, or your spouse's middle name. Don't use something like the name of your favorite band, as that might be easily guessed. If your spouse's middle name is Ann, then use something a bit more challenging.
  2. Switch a couple of letters around and move the capitalization. So, Edward becomes dewaRd and you capitalized the R because he's a Republican (if Democrat, you can cap both Ds--sweet). Use any kind of assocation that fits.
  3. Now, pick a number such as the year you went to your first live concert. Don't use a birthday or other date that is found in about 79,000 databases along with your name. Use something you can remember but isn't likely to be looked up. Reverse the number and insert it.
  4. Now dewaRd becomes d0w8a9R1d.

If you forget your password, you can reconstruct it. Since you have to type it in anyhow, don't worry about keystroke loggers. You can use notepad or a similar app to jog your memory. If yo use paper, you are going to leave your password in the trash unless you burn the paper and then soak the ashes in water. Probably not a good career move if you work in a corporate office.

4. Health tip/Fitness tips

With summer rapidly approaching, people who over-ate during the holiday season are starting to get desperate. We are now into the traditional panic diet phase of the year. Going on a spring diet is a self-defeating and painful strategy.

Even worse are the gimmicks, such as using laxatives to lose weight. It isn't weight per se you want to lose. It's body fat. Laxatives won't help you get there, and the "I know what I'm doing" approach with them can cause serious problems. Here's an article:

So, what should you do if you are too fat? Here's some unusual advice: stay fat. That's right, don't diet down. When you diet down, the effect is temporary and you go back to your same old bad habits later. Most people who diet down don't quite get rid of the fat they've piled on since the previous effort, so each summer they set the bar a little lower (or wider, as the case may be).

Fitness supplements for bodybuilders
As regular readers know, I'm 48 years old in the picture (above, right), taken in December. I don't diet down for summer. I don't have good genes for maintaining a lean body, I really have to be conscientious and disciplined about it. That doesn't mean I suffer, eat bland foods, or starve myself.

At, 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.

Nor does it mean being hungry all the time (you are less hungry on six small meals a day than three large ones), being weak from hunger (on a proper dietary regimen, you will have much more energy than otherwise), or "giving up pleasures" (I have no idea where this concept comes from, unless a person considers being sick a "pleasure.").


5. Factoid

Gon Yang-ling of Harbin, China, has memorized more than 15,000 telephone numbers. While this skill isn't particularly useful to anyone who has a modern, number-storing phone, it's still impressive. You, too, can have an impressive memory (but put it to good use), if you purchase our Memory Maximization Course.

6. Product Highlight

ReadingPen Spring Sale

Scan text and hear it read. Hear the definitions, too.

The ReadingPen comes in two versions:

  1. Basic, for grades 5 -12.

  2. Advanced, for grade 9 through adult.

Works with any printed text, and is on sale now for a limited time. Get the savings while they last.



How does it read back to you?

  • The unit recognizes one word at a time, does the OCR on it, does the speech processing on it, then speaks the word.

  • When it does this after scanning a string of words, the playback will be staccato rather than smoothly narrative.

  • This works great for selected words and passages, and helps people get past "bumps" in the "reading road." What it doesn't do is pave an entire highway.

We don't run ads in our newsletter, despite getting inquiries from advertisers all the time. This eNL is supported by sales from Please shop there, as appropriate.

7. Thought for the Day

If you've made the statement, "That guy really made me angry," have you followed it with, "Why did I let him do that?" Who is really in control?


Please forward this eNL to others.


Wishing you the best,
Mark Lamendola
Mindconnection, LLC 

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