- Finance tip
- Security tip
Health tip/Fitness tip
Thought for the day
1. Product Highlight
with people and translate printed text|
2. Brainpower tip
I recently reviewed a book by a well-meaning, but grossly
disinformed author. As a consequence of her being disinformed, her book had
so many errors of fact in it that I was able to list one for every single
She got her diseducation from several
sources, including a fraudumentary that was long on emotional scare tactics
but short on truth. That author knew absolutely nothing about most of the
subjects she covered, and merely parrotted what she'd gleaned from tertiary
We can look mighty stupid when we reach false
conclusions. How do you sort out the propaganda from the truth? When someone
presents you with "facts" supporting an obvious agenda, ask what the sources
are. And then, determine if those sources are authoritative.
What's an authoritative source? Well, I'm not an
authority on that. However, I am a very good secondary source for answering
because I have spent many years researching highly technical topics for
publication and the quality of my work has resulted in a reputation that
brings in new projects with no marketing on my part whatsoever.
Here are some things to look for:
- Does this source do original research,
development, or design in that area of expertise?
- Does this source have significant experience, and
not just in terms of time?
- Does this source do any consulting work in that
field, or has this source served in any lead technical capacity
(not management capacity) in that field?
- What has this source accomplished of note in that
field (disregard awards, as they are seldom made by experts in the
- Do other sources point toward this source,
formally (that is, quoted in research papers and theses)?
- Is this source politically independent (not
focused on a particular political agenda)?
- Does this source have extensive material you can
review, and is that material internally consistent plus consistent with
the literature of that particular field?
The more these characteristics apply to your source, the more
authoritative it is. If none of these characteristics apply, your source
Now, let's take an example to show a concept, here. A doctor is an
expert, right? You wouldn't ask your plumber to check you out for a
recurring pain in your chest. Which one is more authoritative, a doctor or a
plumber? If you are
asking for a recommendation on whether to use flex or solid tubing to your
toilet tank, the plumber is an expert and could be considered an authority.
Your doctor would be a tertiary source, at best.
If your doctor happens to be the nation's foremost heart surgeon, then
your doctor is an authority on chest pain. If your doctor is a general
practitioner, then your doctor is a secondary source.
Note that secondary sources are often sufficient. But if the questions is
highly technical or the stakes are particularly high, then you want to go to
an authoritative source. Doing this will help you understand the actual
facts and not get derailed by incorrect information or outright
Note also that original research is entirely different from google-searching
or literature-searching. For example, the PhD who is working in the Dept of
Agriculture and plans to present a paper on the effects of drought on the
average weight of Celebrity tomatoes in the Midwest is doing original
research. The gardener who spends an hour online and another hour poring
through gardening books at the library is doing secondary research.
Both might be excellent sources for your questions on growing tomatoes.
But the PhD will be the authoritative source, because the gardener hasn't
done the research firsthand. In fact, the gardener probably will have read
an article written by the PhD and make that the basis for the answer you get.
That is not to say all PhDs are automatically more knowledgeable than all
non-PhDs. If you drew that conclusion, please re-read.
Remember, your conclusions are only as good as your information. And your
information is only as good as your sources.
3. Finance tip
If you're one of our USA readers, you've no doubt
heard people complain about the "high" cost of gasoline at the pump.
People are calling for the govt to "make Exxon lower the price" and
If you look at the price of
gasoline twenty years ago and compare it to today's price adjusted
for inflation, gasoline actually costs less. What has happened is
the Federal Reserve has pumped out so much money that the currency has
been severely debased. When Alan Greenspan mismanaged the Federal
Reserve for 18 years, he effectively stole half of all your earnings,
savings, and property by causing the dollar to drop 50% in value during
his reign of economic malfeasance.
But Greenspan did this to please a free-spending
CONgress. And CONgress gets away with it because every time there's an
election, millions of Americans vote Demopublican and thereby throw away
any power their vote would have. You can't stop this sorry state of
your own actions, but you don't have to contribute to it either.
For more immediate results if you don't like the
price of gasoline at the pump, you can do the following:
- Drive less. Think about how to do this, and
start turning your thoughts into action. I drive 90% fewer miles
than I did a decade ago.
- Burn less per mile. Keep tires inflated, use
synthetic motor oil, and drive a fuel-efficient vehicle. My standard
transmission Camry gets almost dead-nuts 40MPG on the highway.
Contrary to the blatherings of clueless media types, you can easily
exceed the EPA ratings.
Please note that plug-in electric cars do not
save fuel or reduce pollution. They have exactly the opposite
effect. This is because electricity, like money, does not grow on trees.
4. Security tip
In a previous issue, I mentioned the 3 Ds personal security:|
- Deter. Make it hard for thieves to attack you, in the first place.
- Detect. Know when your security has been compromised.
- Defend. Take corrective action.
Now, let's look at….
- Shred personal documents, discarded paper statements, old
checks, and even solicitations. Anything with your name, address,
phone number, etc., shred it. Thieves get one piece of information
(e.g., your name) from one source, another piece from another
source, and before long they have built your identity. Don't give
- Don't give out your SSN. Your SSN is your "cattle ear tattoo"
foisted upon you by the government. That number is between you and
the government. Only an employer (who must report your wages to the
government on a W-2), entities that must report payments to you on a
1099, and government agencies need this number. Refuse to give it to
anyone else. If some flunky tells you it's "required," kindly inform
that person that it's not required, and ask to speak to his/her
- If a merchant insists on having your SSN to authorize a credit
card, report that merchant to your card-issuing bank (the toll-free
number is right on the back of the card). My suggestion is to place
the call while still in the store. Before you place it, inform the
merchant this is a violation of that company's agreement with its
card service provider and one call from you could result in loss of
the merchant account (that penalty is stipulated in the merchant's
service agreement). This is actually a very serious infraction, so
use that fact to your advantage.
- Don't sign up for contests and drawings that ask for your name,
phone number, e-mail address, etc. This is how you get flooded with
junk. Worse, though, this information gets sold to list rentals.
That's how these contest organizers can afford to give out prizes.
- Never click on links in unsolicited e-mails.
- Use passwords that don't make sense. If your password spells a
word, it can and will be guessed. Always use a nonsensical
combination of letters and numbers such as xv7m89j and memorize it.
- Conduct credit card transactions online rather than in person,
whenever possible. This dramatically reduces the chance of credit
card information theft. It's a bit harder to stand behind you with a
cell phone camera snapping photos of both sides of your credit card
when you are seated in front of your home computer than when you are
standing in line at a cash register.
Your greatest risk and how to deter it
Your greatest source of security risk is the IRS. This is an agency
where adhering to ethics, being honest, playing by the rules, and
supervising employees are "not part of the culture." This agency fails on
all counts in colossal ways, such as in the
While there is no legitimate reason for this agency to exist, the
fact is it does. And its employees have pretty much carte-blanche to
misbehave however they want to. Which is why the GAO reports on crimes
committed by IRS employees are shocking but never followed up on by law
enforcement. That is not to say all IRS employees are criminals or bad
IRS employees are actually decent people, even if they are deluded about
why they get up in the morning.
Selling the personal and confidential information of taxpayers is a
big and thriving business at the IRS. It's been written about quite a
bit lately, but CONgress pretends it doesn't happen. You need to reduce
your exposure to that business by properly limiting what you give to the
IRS, to whom at the IRS you provide it, and how you provide it.
This does not mean you should become a "tax protestor." The
horrendous problems with IRS employee misbehavior have nothing to do
with taxation. It has everything to do with a extreme imbalance of power
that presents very tempting opportunities to steal from defenseless
individuals. In fact, people who "tax protest" provide ammunition for
supporting the delusion that the IRS is somehow necessary. It makes you
wonder if many of those "tax protestors" are actually hired by IRS
managers for this very reason.
To deter IRS problems:
- File your taxes on time and accurately. Don't let low audit
rates give you a false sense of confidence that you can cheat and
get away with it. Murphy's Law does exist. Once you are audited, you
will have to provide more information, and your risk of being an
information sales target increases exponentially.
- Don't associate with known tax cheats. IRS
employees will be the first to say they are wonderful people, even
though a "few bad apples" are in the IRS (they have this exactly
backwards, proportion-wise), and guilt by association isn't fair.
But IRS investigators are also quick to jump on the guilt by
association bandwagon and go after people simply because a known tax
cheat has their name on file. And the IRS presumes guilt; you have
to prove your innocence. If you can't, then you owe. Even if you
can, sometimes you owe.
- Keep income tax filing matters private. It's
nobody's business what you deducted or what you paid.
- Live within your means. The fact it's now
illegal for the IRS to conduct "lifestyle audits" doesn't stop them
from conducting such an audit anyhow and just keeping it "off the
record." Ostentatious wealth isn't smart from a security standpoint,
These are just four tips. A list of ten would be
easy to come up with, because many of the things that initiate an IRS
attack are subtle. Your being an honest, hard-working member of society
doesn't protect you. Every IRS employee wants to look good at review
time. One of the best ways to look good is to "realize additional
revenue," that is, nail a taxpayer hard. The bottom line here is that
you should conduct your business and personal affairs in a manner that
doesn't give IRS people the idea that going after you would look good at
They are watching all of us, looking for some
fools to pop their heads up and become targets. Don't be one of those
5. Health tip/Fitness tips
Blow out and vacuum your computer.|
In addition to putting your data at risk, this dust puts you at risk.
The dust gets constantly pumped into the air you breathe, and that's
- Shut the computer off.
- Open the case.
- Use the blowing attachment of your vacuum cleaner, blow dust in
a logical pattern. Just as you wash a car from the top down, blow
out dust from the front to the rear.
- After waiting a bit for the worst of the dust to settle, vacuum
the bottom of the case and vacuum the openings.
- Close the machine back up.
- Vacuum the area around your workstation.
- Wait at least half an hour before turning the machine back on,
so you aren't simply sucking in much of the dust you just blew out.
Pay special attention to:
- Hard drive bays.
- CPU fan.
- Any external case fans.
- Power supply.
To get it really clean
Using a can of compressed gas, blow the power supply outwards from
the internal vents while vacuuming from the outside.
- The three most valuable brand names on earth: Marlboro, Coca Cola,
and Budweiser, in that order. All are toxic drugs, responsible for more
deaths and disease than all of the viruses combined.
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7. Thought for the Day
What you don't say can communicate even more than
what you do say. How often do you fail to tell others you appreciate
them? Make a list of people important to you and review it with this in
Wishing you the best,
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