Should I Opt Out of Social Security?

by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Executive Summary

The coverage of ministers under Social Security has caused much confusion because of two special rules. First, ministers always are self-employed for Social Security with respect to their ministerial services. This means they pay the self-employment tax, not "Social Security" and "Medicare" taxes. Second, under very limited circumstances, ministers can exempt themselves from self-employment taxes with respect to services they perform in the exercise of ministry by filing a timely Form 4361 with the IRS. The treatment of ministers under Social Security is the subject of this lesson. We will give special attention to this of opting out of Social Security



Ministers are treated very differently than other workers for Social Security purposes. First, they always are self-employed with respect to their ministerial services. This means they pay the self-employment tax, not "Social Security" and "Medicare" taxes. This special rule is explained fully in another lesson in this series. Second, under very limited circumstances, ministers can exempt themselves from self-employment taxes with respect to services they perform in the exercise of ministry by filing a timely Form 4361 with the IRS.


Ministers are automatically covered under the Social Security system, but they are permitted to exempt themselves from coverage if they meet the following conditions:

(1) minister

Only ministers who are ordained, commissioned, or licensed by a tax-exempt church or religious organization qualify for exemption.

(2) file Form 4361

The exemption application (Form 4361) must be filed on time with the IRS. The deadline is the due date of the federal tax return for the second year in which a minister has net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more, any part of which derives from the performance of services in the exercise of ministry. In most cases, this means the form is due by April 15 of the third year of ministry.

(3) religious opposition to accepting public insurance benefits

A minister certifies on Form 4361 that "I am conscientiously opposed to, or because of my religious principles I am opposed to, the acceptance (for services I performed as a minister . . .) of any public insurance that makes payments in the event of death, disability, old age, or retirement, or that makes payments toward the cost of, or provides services for, medical care." The form states that "public insurance includes insurance systems established by the Social Security Act." There are three important factors to note that new ministers often do not fully understand: (1) The tax regulations make it clear that "conscientious opposition" refers solely to religious opposition. Non-religious conscientious opposition to receiving public insurance benefits (including Social Security) does not qualify. (2) The exemption is available only if a minister is opposed on the basis of religious considerations to the acceptance of Social Security benefits rather than to payment of the tax. A minister may have religious opposition to payment of the tax, but this alone will not suffice. The individual must have religious opposition to accepting Social Security benefits upon his or her retirement or disability. (3) Participation in private insurance programs is permitted, since these are not "public insurance." As a result, a minister who files the exemption application may still purchase life insurance or participate in retirement programs administered by non-governmental institutions (such as a life insurance company or pension board).

(4) notification of ordaining, commissioning, or licensing church or denomination

Applicants for exemption must inform their "ordaining, commissioning, or licensing body" that they are opposed to Social Security coverage for services they perform in the exercise of ministry. By signing Form 4361, applicants verify that they have satisfied this requirement. Ministers who plan to apply for exemption from Social Security coverage must be sure to notify the church or denomination that ordained, commissioned, or licensed them regarding their opposition to Social Security coverage and presumably of their intention to file an exemption application. This notification must occur prior to the time the exemption application is filed.

(5) IRS verification

No application for exemption will be approved unless the IRS "has verified that the individual applying for the exemption is aware of the grounds on which the individual may receive an exemption . . . and that the individual seeks an exemption on such grounds." This "verification" requirement was adopted to prevent the widespread practice of ministers exempting themselves from Social Security coverage solely on the basis of financial considerations. To satisfy this requirement, ministers must sign and return a statement the IRS mails to them to certify that they are requesting an exemption based on the grounds listed on the statement.

Common questions

Some common questions pertaining to the exemption from self-employment taxes are addressed below.

(1) When is an exemption effective?

Filing a timely exemption application does not necessarily qualify a minister for exemption. An exemption is effective only when an applicant receives back one of the three 4361 forms (it is filed in triplicate) from the IRS marked "approved." Ministers should be careful not to lose an approved Form 4361.

(2) Will I receive a refund of self-employment taxes I paid before filing Form 4361?

Yes. To illustrate, ministers who wait until close to the deadline for filing an exemption application will have paid self-employment taxes on their ministerial income for two years. IRS Publication 517 contains the following instructions for claiming a refund of these taxes:

If, after receiving an approved Form 4361, you find that you overpaid SE tax, you can file a claim for refund on Form 1040X before the period of limitations ends. This is generally within 3 years from the date you filed the return or within 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. A return you filed, or tax you paid, before the due date is considered to have been filed or paid on the due date. If you file a claim after the 3-year period but within 2 years from the time you paid the tax, the credit or refund will not be more than the tax you paid within the 2 years immediately before you file the claim.
(3) Can the period for filing an exemption application be extended or renewed?

No. The fact that you did not acquire an opposition to Social Security until years after you became a minister will not "restart" or delay the filing deadline. One court did allow a minister to requalify for an exemption who met the following conditions: (1) change of church affiliation; (2) reordained by his new church; (3) developed an opposition, based on his new religious convictions, to the acceptance of Social Security benefits; and (4) submitted an exemption application (Form 4361) by the due date of the federal tax return for the second year in which he had net self-employment earnings of $400 or more, any part of which comes from the performance of ministerial services in his new faith.

(4) Is an exemption from Social Security coverage irrevocable?

Yes. However, Congress has provided a few limited opportunities over the past several years for exempt ministers to revoke an exemption.

(5) Can ministers who have opted out of Social Security receive retirement and Medicare benefits based on the fully insured status of their spouse?

Yes, according to the Social Security Administration. To the extent that a minister's spouse is fully insured under Social Security as a result of nonministerial services, Social Security benefits the minister receives as a result of his or her spouse's Social Security coverage are not based on services performed in the exercise of ministry and so are not precluded by the minister's exemption. However, the minister's benefits will be reduced by the so-called "windfall elimination provision." Under this provision, the Social Security Administration can reduce the benefits of persons who did not pay Social Security taxes, such as exempt ministers seeking benefits on the basis of their spouse's coverage. For more information on this important limitation, contact your nearest Social Security Administration office.

(6) Can ministers who have opted out of Social Security purchase Medicare insurance after they reach age 65?


(7) What benefits are provided under the Social Security program?

The basic benefits are retirement benefits, disability benefits, survivor benefits, and Medicare. Note that retirement benefits, disability benefits, and survivor benefits are inflation adjusted each year, and are tax-free for most taxpayers. These benefits are available to persons who have at least 40 quarters of covered work.

(8) Social Security benefits based on secular employment

Many ministers have paid Social Security taxes as a result of secular employment. If they exempt themselves from Social Security by filing a timely Form 4361, will they lose all benefits that would have been paid as a result of their secular employment? The answer is no. An exemption from Social Security only applies to services performed in the exercise of ministry, and so exempt ministers will receive benefits based on their secular employment (assuming that they otherwise qualify). In most cases, eligibility for benefits requires at least forty quarters of coverage.

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

well.... DARN IT!!!!!

The author was a friend of my soul at least

The Catcher in the Rye Quotes ~ J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye (Quotes)
J. D. Salinger
RIP my good man

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Pencey Prep is this school that's in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard of it. You've probably seen the ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence. Like as if all you ever did at Pencey was play polo all the time. I never even once saw a horse anywhere near the place.

Anyway it was the Saturday of the football game with Saxxon Hall. The game with Saxxon hall was supposed to be a very big deal around Pencey. It was the last game of the year, and you were supposed to commit suicide or something if Old Pencey didn't win.

Old Selma Thurmer - she was the headmaster's daughter - showed up at the games quite often, but she wasn't exactly the type that drove you mad with desire. She was a pretty nice girl, though. I sat next to her once in the bus from Agerstown and we sort of struck up a conversation. I liked her. She had a big nose and her nails were all bitten down and bleedy-looking and she had on those damn falsies that point all over the place, but you felt sort of sorry for her. What I liked about her, she didn't give you a lot of horse manure about what a great guy her father was. She probably knew what a phony slob he was.

I was the goddam manager of the fencing team. Very big deal. We'd gone in to New York that morning for this fencing meet with McBurney School. Only we didn't have the meet. I left all the foils and equipment and stuff on the goddam subway. It wasn't my fault. I had to keep getting up to look at this map, so we'd know where to get off. So we got back to Pencey around two-thirty instead of around dinnertime. The whole team ostracized me the whole way back on the train. It was pretty funny, in a way.

Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these wealthy families, but it was full of crooks anyway. The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has - I'm not kidding.

What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by, or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse.

"What'd he say to you?"

"Oh... well, about Life being a game and all. And how you should play it according to the rules. He was pretty nice about it. I mean, he didn't hit the ceiling or anything. He just kept talking about Life being a game and all. You know."

"Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules."

"Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it."

Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right - I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game.

People never notice anything.

"We studied the Egyptians from November 4th to December 2nd," he said. "You chose to write about them for the optional essay question. Would you care to hear what you had to say?"

"No, sir, not very much," I said.

He read it anyway, though. You can't stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it.
The Egyptians were an ancient race of Caucasians residing in one of the northern sections of Africa. The latter as we all know is the largest continent in the Eastern Hemisphere.
I had to sit there and listen to that crap. It certainly was a dirty trick.
The Egyptians are extremely interesting to us today for various reasons. Modern sciences would still like to know what the secret ingredients were that the Egyptians used when they wrapped up dead people so that their faces would not rot for innumerable centuries. This interesting riddle is still quite a challenge to modern science in the twentieth century.
He stopped reading and put my paper down. I was beginning to sort of hate him. "Your essay, shall we say, ends there," he said in this very sarcastic voice. You wouldn't think such an old guy would be so sarcastic and all. "However, you dropped me a little note, at the bottom of the page," he said.

"I know I did," I said. I said it very fast because I wanted to stop him before he started reading that out loud. But you couldn't stop him. He was hot as a firecracker.
DEAR MR. SPENCER [he read out loud]. That is all I know about the Egyptians. I can't seem to get very interested in them although your lectures are very interesting. It is alright with me if you flunk me though as I'm flunking everything else except English anyway. Respectfully yours, HOLDEN CAULFIELD.
He put me goddam paper down then and looked at me like he'd just beaten hell out of me in ping-pong or something.

I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away.

After I shut the door and started back to the living room, he yelled something at me, but I couldn't exactly hear him. I'm pretty sure he yelled "Good luck!" at me. I hope not. I hope to hell not. I'd never yell "Good luck!" at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it.

... he started telling us how he was never ashamed, when he was in some kind of trouble or something, to get right down on his knees and pray to God. He told us we should always pray to God - talk to Him and all - whenever we were. He told us we ought to think of Jesus as our buddy and all. He said he talked to Jesus all the time. Even when he was driving in his car. That killed me. I can just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear and asking Jesus to send him a few more stiffs.

What really knocks me out is a book, when you're all done reading it, you wished the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.

"I've read this same sentence about twenty times since you came in."

Anybody else except Ackley would've taken the goddam hint. Not him though...

"What the hellya reading?"

"Goddamn book."

He shove my book back with his hand so that he could see the name on it. "Any good?" he said.

"This sentence I'm reading is terrific."

"Stop calling me 'Ackley kid,' God damn it. I'm old enough to be your lousy father."

"No, you're not." Boy, he could be really aggravating sometimes. He never missed a chance to let you know you were sixteen and he was eighteen. "In the first place, I wouldn't let you in my goddam family," I said.

"I got about a hundred pages to read for history on Monday," he said. "How 'bout writing a composition for me, for English? I'll be up the creek if I don't get the goddam thing in by Monday, the reason I ask. How 'bout it?"

It was very ironical. It really was.

"I'm the one flunking out of this goddam place, and you're asking me to write you a goddam composition," I said.


"What on?"

"Anything. Anything descriptive. A room. Or a house. Or something you once lived in or something - you know. Just as long as it's descriptive as hell... Just don't do it too good, is all," he said. "That sonuvabitch Hartzell thinks you're a hot-shot in English, and he knows you're my roommate. So I mean don't stick all the commas and stuff in the right places.

That's something else that gives me a royal pain. I mean if you're good at writing compositions and somebody starts talking about commas. Stradlater was always doing that. He wanted you to think that the only reason he was lousy at writing compositions was because he stuck all the commas in the wrong place.

"Listen, where ya going on your date with her?" I asked him. "Ya know yet?"

"I don't know. New York, if we have the time. She only signed out for nine-thirty, for Chrissake."

I didn't like the way he said it, so I said, "The reason she did that, she probably didn't know what a handsome, charming bastard you are. If she'd known, she probably would've signed out for nine-thirty in the morning."

"Goddam right," Stradlater said.

... I yelled over and asked old Ackley if he wanted to go to the movies. He could hear me all right through the shower curtains, but he didn't answer me right away. He was the kind of guy who hates to answer you right away. Finally he came over, through the goddam curtains, and stood on the shower ledge and asked who was going besides me. He always had to know who was going. I swear, if that guy was shipwrecked somewhere, and you rescued him in a goddam boat, he'd want to know who the guy was that was rowing it before he'd even get in. I told him Mal Brossard was going, He said, "That bastard..." All right. Wait a second." You'd think he was doing you a big favor.

People never believe you.

You could also hear old Ackley snoring. Right through the goddam shower curtains you could hear him. he has sinus trouble and he couldn't breathe too hot when he was asleep. That guy had just about everything. Sinus trouble, pimples, lousy teeth, halitosis, crumby fingernails. You had to feel a little sorry for that crazy sonuvabitch.

"Hey Ackley," I said, in sort of a whisper so Stradlater couldn't hear me through the shower curtains.

Ackley didn't hear me, though.

"Hey, Ackley!"

He still didn't hear me. He slept like a rock.

"Hey, Ackley!"

He heard that, all right.

"What the hell's the matter with you?" he said. "I was asleep, for Chrissake."

"Listen. What's the routine of joining a monastery?" I asked him. I was sort of toying with the idea of joining one. "Do you have to be a Catholic and all?"

"Certainly you have to be a Catholic. You bastard, did you wake me up just to ask me a dumb ques-"

"Aah, go back to sleep. I'm not going to join one anyway. The kind of luck I have, I'd probably join one with all the wrong kind of monks in it. All stupid bastards. Or just bastards."

When I was all set to go, when I had my bags and all, I stood for a while next to the stairs and took a last look down that goddam corridor. I was sort of crying. I don't know why. I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice, "Sleep tight, ya morons!" I'll bet I woke up every bastard on the whole floor. Then I got the hell out. Some stupid guy had thrown peanut shells all over the stairs, and I damn near broke my crazy neck.

Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a toilet seat.

"Would you care for a cigarette?" I asked her

She looked all around. "I don't believe this is a smoker, Rudolf," she said. Rudolf. That killed me.

I think if you don't really like a girl, you shouldn't horse around with her at all, and if you do like her, then you're supposed to like her face, and if you like her face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like squirting water all over it. It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes.

Sex is something I really don't understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are... Sex is something I just don't understand. I swear to God.

I'm a goddam minor.

I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.

... she was terrific to hold hands with. Most girls, if you hold hands with them, their goddam hand dies on you, or else they think they have to keep moving their hands all the time, as if they were afraid they'd bore you or something. Jane was different. We'd get into a goddam movie or something, and right away we'd start holding hands, and we won't quite till the movie was over. And without changing the position or making a deal out of it. You never even worried, with Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All you knew was, you were happy. You really were.

Ernie's a big fat colored guy that plays the piano. He's a terrific snob and he won't hardly even talk to you unless you're a big shot or a celebrity or something, but he can really play the piano. He's so good, he's almost corny, in fact. I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it. I certainly like to hear him play, but sometimes you feel like turning the goddam piano over. I think it's because sometimes when he plays, he sounds like the kind of guy that won't talk to you unless you're a big shot.

"The fish don't go no place. They stay right where they are, the fish. Right in the goddamn lake."

"The fish - that's different. The fish is different. I'm talking about the ducks," I said.

"What's different about it? Nothing's different about it," Horwitz said. "It's tougher for the fish, the winter and all than it is for the ducks, for Chrissake. use your head, for Chrissake."

I didn't say anything for about a minute. Then I said, "All right. What do they do, the fish and all, when that whole little lake's a solid block of ice, people skating on it and all?"

Old Horwitz turned around again. "What the hellaya mean what do they do?" He yelled at me. "They stay right where they are, for Chrissake."

"They can't just ignore the ice. They can't just ignore it."

"Nobody's ignoring it. Nobody's ignoring it. They live right in the goddam ice. It's their nature, for Chrissake. They get frozen right in one position for the whole winter."

"Yeah? What do they eat then? I mean, if they're frozen solid, they can't even swim around looking for food and all."

"Their bodies, for Chrissake - what'sa matter with ya? Their bodies take in nutrition and all, right through the goddam seaweed and crap. They got their pores open the whole time. That's their nature, for Chrissake."

People always clap for the wrong things.

Then she left. The Navy guy and I told each other we were glad to've met each other. Which always kills me. I am always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.

The thing is, most of the time when you're coming pretty close to doing it with a girl, she keeps telling you to stop. The trouble with me is, I stop. Most guys don't. I can't help it. You never really know whether they want you to stop or whether they're just scared as hell, or whether they're just telling you to stop so that if you do go through with it, the blame'll be on you, not them. Anyway, I keep stopping. The trouble is, I get to feeling sorry for them... They tell me to stop, so I stop. I always wished I hadn't, after I take them home, but I keep doing it anyway.

I wouldn't mind being pretty good at that stuff. Half the time, if you really want to know the truth, when I'm horsing around with a girl, I have a helluva lot of trouble just finding what I'm looking for, for God's sake, if you know what I mean. Take this girl that I just missed having sexual intercourse with, that I told you about. It took me about an hour to just get her goddam brassière off. By the time I did get it off, she was about ready to spit in my eye.

I'm sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don't care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoyed the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples. If you want to know the truth, the guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the Disciples, that poor bastard.

He kept saying they were too new and bourgeois. That was his favorite goddam word. He read it somewhere or heard it somewhere, Everything I had was bourgeois as hell. Even my fountain pen was bourgeois. He borrowed it off me all the time, but it was bourgeois anyway.

The thing is, it's really hard to be roommates with people if your suitcases are much better than theirs - if yours are really good ones and theirs aren't. You think if they're intelligent and all, the other person, and have a good sense of humor, that they don't give a damn whose suitcases are better, but they do. They really do. It's one of the reasons why I roomed with a stupid bastard like Stradlater. At least his suitcases were as good as mine.

Catholics are always trying to find out if you're Catholic.

Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.

He was singing that song, "If a body catch a body coming through the rye." He had a pretty little voice too. He was just singing for the hell of it, you could tell. The cars zoomed by, the brakes screeched all over the place, his parents paid no attention to him, and he kept on walking next to the kerb and singing "If a body catch a body coming through the rye." It made me feel better. It made me feel not so depressed anymore.

"Promise me you'll let your hair grow. Crew cuts are getting corny. And your hair's so lovely."

Lovely my ass.

The waiter came up, and I ordered a Coke for her - she didn't drink - and a Scotch and soda for myself, but the sonuvabitch wouldn't bring you one, so I had a Coke too.

"You ought to go to a boy's school sometimes. Try it sometime," I said. "It's full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the goddam intellectuals stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that belong to the goddam Book-of-the-Month Club stick together."

Girls. You never know what they're going to think.

All these angels start coming out of the boxes and everywhere, guys carrying crucifixes and stuff all over the place, and the whole bunch of them - thousands of them - singing "Come All Ye Faithful" like mad. Big deal. It's supposed to be religious as hell, I know, and very pretty and all, but I can't see anything religious or pretty, for God's sake, about a bunch of actors carrying crucifixes all over the stage. When they all finished and started going out the boxes again, you could tell they could hardly wait to get a cigarette of something. I saw it with old Sally Hayes the year before, and she kept saying how beautiful it was, the costumes and all. I said old Jesus probably would've puked if He could see it...

I was crazy about The Great Gatsby. Old Gatsby. Old sport. That killed me. Anyway, I'm sort of glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. If there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it. I'll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will.

One of them played the piano - strictly lousy - and the other one sang, and most of the songs were either pretty dirty or in French. The one that sang, old Janine, was always whispering into the goddam microphone before she sang. She'd say, "And now we would like to geeve you our impressions of Vooly Voo Fransay. Eet ees the story of a leetle Fransh girl who comes to a beeg ceety, just like New York, and falls een love wees a leetle boy from Brookleen. We hope you like eet."

People never give your message to anybody.

Boy, when you're dead they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.

When the weather's nice, my parents go out quite frequently and stick a bunch of flowers on old Allie's grave. I went with them a couple of times, but I cut it out. In the first place, I don't enjoy seeing him in that crazy cemetery. Surrounded by dead guys and tombstones and all. It wasn't too bad when the sun was out, but twice - twice - we were there when it started to rain. It was awful. It rained on his lousy tombstone, and it rained on the grass on his stomach. It rained all over the place. All the visitors that were visiting the cemetery started running like hell over to their cars. That's what nearly drove me crazy. All the visitors could get in their cars and turn on their radios and all and then go someplace nice for dinner - everybody except Allie. I couldn't stand it. I know it's only his body and all that's in the cemetery, and his soul's in Heaven and all that crap, but I couldn't stand it anyway. I just wished he wasn't there.

"You know that song 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye'? I'd like -"

"It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye'!" old Phoebe said. "It's a poem. By Robert Burns."

"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns."...

Anyway, I keep picturing these little kids playing some game in this big field or rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean, except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

I walked all the way downstairs, instead of taking the elevator. I went down the back stairs. I nearly broke my neck on about ten million garbage pails, but I got out alright.

While I was walking, I passed these two guys that were unloading this big Christmas tree off a truck. One guy kept saying to the other guy, "Hold the sonuvabitch up. Hold it up for Chrissake!" It certainly was a gorgeous way to talk about a Christmas tree.

But while I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody'd written "Fuck you" on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them - all cockeyed, naturally, what it meant, and how they'd all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever'd written it. I figured it was some perverty bum that'd sneaked in the school late at night to take a leak or something and then wrote it on the wall. I kept picturing myself catching him at it, and how I'd smash his head on the stone steps till he was good and goddam dead and bloody. But I knew, too, I wouldn't have the guts to do it.

That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it'll say "Fuck you." I'm positive.

About all I know is, I sorta miss everybody I told about. Even Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

suprised kitty. just for laughs. cause life is too short.

orwell rolls in his grave

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JUNE 2, 2003

I dissent to this decision. I dissent on grounds of substance. I dissent on grounds of process. I dissent because today the Federal Communications Commission empowers America’s new Media Elite with unacceptable levels of influence over the ideas and information upon which our society and our democracy so heavily depend.

This morning we are at a crossroads – for television, radio and newspapers and for the American people. The decision we five make today will recast our entire media landscape for years to come. At issue is whether a few corporations will be ceded enhanced gatekeeper control over the civil dialogue of our country; more content control over our music, entertainment and information; and veto power over the majority of what our families watch, hear and read.

Two very divergent paths beckon us.

Down one road is a reaffirmation of America’s commitment to local control of our media, diversity in news and editorial viewpoint, and the importance of competition. This path implores us not to abandon core values going to the heart of what the media mean in our country. On this path we reaffirm that FCC licensees have been given very special privileges and that they have very special responsibilities to serve the public interest.

Down the other road is more media control by ever fewer corporate giants. This path surrenders to a handful of corporations awesome powers over our news, information and entertainment. On this path we endanger time-honored safeguards and time-proven values that have strengthened the country as well as the media.

So the stakes are high – higher than they have been for any decision the five people sitting here today have ever made at this Commission. How do we decide which path to choose?

We should begin by examining the law. What does the law tell us? The Communications Act tells us to use our rules to promote localism, diversity and competition. It reminds us that the airwaves belong to the American people, and that no broadcast station, no company, no single individual owns an airwave in America. The airwaves belong to all the people. And the Supreme Court has upheld media protections, stating that “it is the purpose of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail, rather than to countenance monopolization of that market, whether it be by the Government itself or a private licensee.”

We should then look at the world of experience. What practical, real world experience do we have to guide us? Radio deregulation gives us powerful and relevant lessons. When Congress and the Commission removed radio concentration protections, we experienced massive, and largely unforeseen, consolidation. We saw a 34 percent reduction in the number of radio station owners. Diversity of programming suffered. Homogenized music and standardized programming crowded out local and regional talent. Creative local artists found it evermore difficult to obtain play time. Editorial opinion polarized. Competition in many towns became non-existent as a few companies bought up virtually every station in the market. This experience should terrify us as we consider visiting upon television and newspapers what we have inflicted upon radio. “Clear Channelization” of the rest of the American media will harm our country.

We should, finally, seek out the counsel and wisdom of the American people. Commissioner Adelstein and I have attended public hearings across the country with conservatives and liberals, broadcasters and creative artists, concerned parents and civil rights activists, church leaders and educators. Our Commission has seen close to three quarters of a million people register their views – more than for any proceeding in Commission history. And in a nation that can be deeply divided on important issues, these citizens are uniquely unanimous on the question of whether this Commission should allow further media concentration. They are screaming that we should protect local broadcasting, diversity of programming and opinion, and the ability to compete with the huge companies. We should heed their conservatism – their urgent call to refrain from abandoning time-honored protections when so much is at stake and so much is unknown about the consequences of what we are doing here today.

The majority instead chooses radical deregulation – perhaps not quite so radical as originally intended a year ago before Americans found out what was going on and began to speak out – but radical nevertheless. This decision allows a corporation to control three television stations in a single city. Why does any company need to control three television stations anywhere? The decision allows the giant media companies to buy up the remaining local newspaper and exert massive influence over a community by wielding three TV stations, eight radio stations, the cable operator, plus the already monopolistic newspaper. The decision further allows the already massive television networks to buy up even more local TV stations, so that they could control up to an unbelievable 90 percent of the national television audience. Where are the blessings of localism, diversity and competition here? I see centralization, not localism; I see uniformity, not diversity; I see monopoly and oligopoly, not competition.

Will the vaunted 500-channel universe of cable TV save us? Well, 90 percent of the top cable channels are owned by the same giants that own the TV networks and the cable systems. More channels are great. But when they’re all owned by the same people, cable doesn’t advance localism, editorial diversity or competition. And those who believe the Internet alone will save us from this fate should realize that the dominating Internet news sources are controlled by the same media giants who control radio, TV, newspapers and cable.

Don’t tell me that those of us who feel strongly about this are being too emotional. Some would have us believe that this is merely an ordinary examination of our rules that we conduct every two years. Let’s not kid ourselves. This is the granddaddy of all reviews. It sets the direction for how the next review will get done and for how the media will look for many years to come. As for the emotion, I have seen the concern, the deep feeling and outright alarm on the faces of people who have come out to talk to Commissioner Adelstein and me all across this country. Are they emotional? You bet. And I think they are going to stay that way until we get this right.

Why did the Commission get this so wrong? Good, sustainable rules are the result of an open administrative process and a serious attempt to gather all the relevant facts. Bad rules and legal vulnerability result from an opaque regulatory process and inadequate data. Unfortunately, today’s rules fall into the latter camp. This proceeding has been run as a classic inside-the-Beltway process with too little outreach from the Commission and too little attention paid to the public. This is the way the Commission usually does business, we are told. Well, I submit this is too important to be treated on a business-as-usual basis. So Commissioner Adelstein and I traveled across the country to attend as many hearings and forums as we could.

I am also troubled that the Commission has refused to publicly disclose the rules we are voting on today. What possible harm can come from transparency? How can telling Congress and the public what we plan to do possibly be bad? Isn’t the animating spirit of our “notice and comment” procedure to make sure our people know as much as possible about the specifics of what is being proposed?

And so, we arrive at today. Citizens across this country will hear for the first time the proposals that we are adopting. Some of the details of the rule changes have leaked to the press. Even with this incomplete information, the public reaction against the proposed changes has been unlike anything the FCC has ever experienced. Of the nearly three quarters of a million comments we have received, nearly all oppose increased media consolidation – over 99.9 percent.

We’ve heard bipartisan concern from more than 150 Members of Congress, including the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, asking us to slow down and put these proposals out for public comment before we vote. Some of those Members of Congress are here today and I thank them for coming.

Dozens of organizations – from the National Rifle Association to the National Organization for Women have weighed in with their concerns about media concentration and the process by which we are dealing with it. City councils across this country in such places as Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Buffalo, as well as a whole state – Vermont – have gone on record against media concentration.

As Brent Bozell of the Parents Television Council so aptly put it, “When all of us are united on an issue, then one of two things has happened. Either the Earth has spun off its axis and we have all lost our minds or there is universal support for a concept.” Well, it’s the concept – a transcending, nationwide concept.

The FCC is not, of course, a public opinion survey agency. Nor should we make our decisions by weighing the letters, cards and e-mails “for” and the letters, cards and e-mails “against” and awarding the victory to the side that tips the scale. But even this independent agency is part of our democratic system of government. And when there is such an overwhelming response on the part of the American people and their representatives in Congress assembled, we ought to take notice. Here the right call is to take these proposals, put them out for comment and then -- only then -- call the vote. The spirit underlying the “notice and comment” procedure of independent agencies is that important proposed changes need to be seen and vetted before they are voted. We haven’t been true to that spirit. Today we vote before we vet.

And what are we voting on? The majority decides to allow TV networks to control up to 45 percent of the national audience – up to 90 percent once the strange decision to keep the UHF discount is considered. Merrill Lynch predicts this decision will result in a “Gold Rush” where the national networks buy up the remaining local broadcasters. This decision is made without an adequate explanation for why 45 percent is not just an arbitrary number pulled out of a hat, and despite exhaustive and largely uncontested evidence supporting the existing cap by local broadcasters. I frankly doubt the courts will be impressed.

Some have argued that free over-the-air television is doomed unless we allow more concentration. The facts tell a different story. The networks not only reach consumers over the air through their own highly profitable stations and through affiliates, but they are also guaranteed carriage to cable subscribers. Indeed, they own much of cable. The networks command an enormous advertising premium, recently receiving a record $9.4 billion in up-front prime-time advertising for the next season. They have ownership in most of their profitable programs, and these are subsequently put into syndication or “repurposed” – the fancy new term for a re-run. This argument that the only way for the poor among us to continue receiving free, over-the-air television is to allow already powerful networks to grow more powerful would have been better left unsaid.

The majority inexplicably, maintains the UHF Discount. Under the UHF Discount, UHF TV stations are considered to reach only 50 percent of the households that VHF TV stations reach for purposes of determining whether a company has exceeded the national cap. Once upon a time, that was warranted. The Commission found that over-the-air UHF stations reached fewer viewers than VHF stations because their signals were different. But UHF and VHF stations reach an identical number of viewers when delivered over cable TV facilities. Today, over 85 percent of consumers receive their signal from cable and DBS. Program carriage requirements ensure that cable consumers receive the UHF signal, and DBS operators are required to carry all UHF stations in any market where they carry any local channel.

With 85 percent of Americans experiencing no difference between UHF and VHF stations, the discount no longer makes sense. Eliminating the entire discount may be warranted, but at a minimum it requires replacement with a number that reflects the reality of today’s technology and marketplace.

The more you dig into this Order, the worse things get. The Order finds:

That further concentration in already highly-concentrated markets is acceptable.

That in a town with only four TV stations, it is acceptable for the top-rated
television station to buy the only daily newspaper.

That consolidation going forward will enhance news programming, despite considerable record evidence showing that increased concentration more often than not reduces quality news.

There are other things this order could have done. Commenters addressed the need to require more independent programming on our airwaves so that a few conglomerates do not act anti-competitively to control all of the creative entertainment that we see. These proposals should have received the serious attention they deserve in this decision. Over the past decade, we have witnessed a substantial increase in the amount of programming owned by the networks. In addition to the obvious loss of diversity, this has also entailed the loss of thousands of jobs, including creative artists, technicians and many, many others. Years ago, we had protections against this kind of program ownership. Now that the majority is loosening outlet ownership rules, we ought to be looking at the consequences of having no limits on who owns the programming.

The Order could have addressed having a legitimate license renewal process to partially protect against the risks of further consolidation. The system has degenerated into one of basically post-card license renewal. Unless there is a major complaint pending against a station, its license is almost automatically renewed. A real, honest-to-goodness license renewal process, predicated on advancing the public interest, might do more for broadcasting than all these our other rules put together.

The Order could have analyzed the impact of media concentration on indecent and excessively violent programming. Some have suggested that there may be a link between increasing consolidation and increasing indecency on our airwaves. The Commission fails to address this issue in its analysis. It seems plausible that there is such a connection. I don’t know the answer to this question. I do know this: we have no business voting until we take a serious look at the matter and amass at least a credible body of evidence.

The Order could have addressed the impact of media concentration on women and minority groups. We know that there are substantially fewer radio station owners today than there were before the rules were changed in 1996. People of color now make up less than four percent of radio and television owners. The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters tells us that the number of minority owners of broadcast facilities has dropped by 14 percent since 1997.

We have not even attempted to understand what further consolidation means in terms of providing Hispanic Americans and African Americans and Asian-Pacific Americans and Native Americans and women and other groups the kinds of programs and access and viewpoint diversity and career opportunities and even advertising information about products and services that they need. America’s strength is, after all, its diversity. And our media need to reflect this diversity and to nourish it.

Today’s Order puts most such questions off into the future, with the exception of a curious plan to allow a small business, perhaps a minority firm, to buy a consolidated block of outlets from an incumbent who exceeds the limits. That would require deeper pockets than most such firms could afford. I would prefer to look for real opportunities for small entrepreneurs instead of encouraging them to buy large consolidated properties.

All this means that I am deeply saddened by the Commission’s actions today. Some have characterized the fight against this seemingly pre-ordained decision as Quixotic and destined to defeat. But I think, instead, that we’ll look back at this 3-2 vote as a Pyrrhic victory.

This Commission’s drive to loosen the rules and its reluctance to share its proposals with the people before we voted awoke a sleeping giant. American citizens are standing up in never-before-seen numbers to reclaim their airwaves and to call on those who are entrusted to use them to serve the public interest. In these times when many issues divide us, groups from right to left, Republicans and Democrats, concerned parents and creative artists, religious leaders, civil rights activists, and labor organizations have united to fight together on this issue. Senators and Congressmen from both parties and from all parts of the Country have called on the Commission to reconsider. The media concentration debate will never be the same. The obscurity of this issue that many have relied upon in the past, where only a few dozen inside-the-Beltway lobbyists understood the issue, is gone forever.

I believe, after traveling almost the length and breadth of this land, that our citizens want, deserve, and are demanding a renewed discussion of how their airwaves are being used and how to ensure they are serving the public interest. I urge my colleagues to heed the call. I want to thank the hundreds of thousands of people who have attended hearings, filed comments, written letters to the editor, and contacted the Commission. You have made a difference. And if you stay the course now, the chances have improved that we can yet settle this issue of who will control our media and for what purposes and to resolve it in favor of airwaves of, by and for the people of this great country.

Thank you.

Your next president WILL be Ronald Mcdonald

Supreme Court: Corporations Can Spend What They Want in Political Races.

NBC News and news services

WASHINGTON - In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down laws that banned corporations from using their own money to support or oppose candidates for public office.

By 5-4 vote, the court overturned federal laws, in effect for decades, that prevented corporations from using their profits to buy political campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

It leaves in place a ban prohibiting corporations and unions from directly contributing funds to candidates for any use.

In a statement, President Barack Obama said that the decision gives 'a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics.' The president pledged to work with Congress to 'develop a forceful response' to the court's ruling.

Critics of the stricter limits have argued that they amount to an unconstitutional restraint of free speech, and the court majority agreed.

"The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion, joined by his four more conservative colleagues.

Strongly disagreeing, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his dissent, "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens' dissent, parts of which he read aloud in the courtroom.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as November's congressional elections.

The decision removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.

The case does not affect political action committees, which mushroomed after post-Watergate laws set the first limits on contributions by individuals to candidates. Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas joined Kennedy to form the majority in the main part of the case.

Roberts, in a separate opinion, said that upholding the limits would have restrained "the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy."

Stevens complained that those justices overreached by throwing out earlier Supreme Court decisions that had not been at issue when this case first came to the court.

"Essentially, five justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law," Stevens said.

The case began when a conservative group, Citizens United, made a 90-minute movie that was very critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton as she sought the Democratic presidential nomination. Citizens United wanted to air ads for the anti-Clinton movie and distribute it through video-on-demand services on local cable systems during the 2008 Democratic primary campaign.

The court first heard arguments in March, then asked for another round of arguments about whether corporations and unions should be treated differently from individuals when it comes to campaign spending.

The justices convened in a special argument session in September, Sotomayor's first. The conservative justices gave every indication then that they were prepared to take the steps they did on Thursday.

The justices, with only Thomas in dissent, did uphold McCain-Feingold requirements that anyone spending money on political ads must disclose the names of contributors.

NBC's Pete Williams

remembering goose creek

The November 5, 2003 police raid of Stratford High School was recorded by both the school’s surveillance cameras and a police camera. The tapes show students as young as 14 forced to the ground as officers in SWAT team uniforms and bulletproof vests lead a drug dog to search their book bags. Only a few students were restrained. The ACLU represents 20 of the nearly 120 students caught up in the raid.

The raid was brought about by discussion between the school’s principal at the time, George McCrackin, and the City of Goose Creek police department. Due to threats and many placing the blame for the raid on him, McCrackin resigned shortly after the tapes surfaced on national television. The raid was authorized based on the principal’s suspicion that several students were dealing marijuana, but was not organized or planned by McCrackin or the school's administration. No drugs or weapons were found during the raid and no charges were filed.

As 16-year-old Joshua Ody, one of the students caught up in the raid, put it, “I felt like I had less rights than other people that day”.

On July 10, 2006, a settlement was reached that awarded $1.6 million to the students in the law suit, of which $1.2 million was divided among the students, and the remaining $400,000 to be used in legal fees.

ACLU Lawsuit - This section needs additional citations for verification.
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Following the raid, the ACLU brought a lawsuit on behalf of students’ families charging police and school officials with violating the students’ right to be free from unlawful search and seizure and use of excessive force. The lawsuit demanded a court order declaring the raid unconstitutional and blocking the future use of such tactics, as well as damages on behalf of the students.

In addition to recognizing students’ rights to be free from unconstitutional search and seizure and restricting police tactics, the settlement establishes a $1.6 million dollar fund to compensate the students and help cover medical and counseling costs from the incident.

The cost of the settlement will be paid by the city of Goose Creek, the Goose Creek Police Department, and the Berkeley County School District where the school is located, with assistance from their respective insurance companies.

It is not yet known exactly how many of the nearly 120 students will accept the settlement. The offer came in response to a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 53 students, of which the ACLU’s lawsuit is a part. While both sides have agreed to the terms of the settlement, it will be technically final in July 2006, when it is expected to receive judicial approval.


More earthquakes to come

The Cause of Haiti's Latest Earthquake: Is the Worst Yet to Come? A Look at the Seismic Science in the Caribbean.

Jeneen Interlandi

In the seven days since a 7.0 earthquake struck the island of Haiti and decimated its capital city, at least 14 aftershocks measuring 5 or above have been recorded by the United States Geological Survey—including a 6.0 quake in Haiti just this morning. The event confirms a new report by Woods Hole seismologists which found that not only would such shocks be likely to continue, but the already devastated island nation would face great risk of significant future calamity.

Haiti and its neighbors sit above two tectonic plates (the North American and the Caribbean) that slide awkwardly past one another in an east-west direction at about an inch a year. The 100-mile border between these two plates, known as the Enriquillo-Plaintain fault line, extends from the Dominican Republic through Haiti all the way to Jamaica. Last Tuesday’s rupture occurred when a segment of the plates that had been stuck together since 1751 (when the last earthquake occurred) jerked themselves free, releasing 250 years of built-up friction from the earthquake’s epicenter and displacing just enough ground to topple Haiti’s fragile and ill-prepared capital.

Not all of that tension was released by the quake. As this map—created by UNAVCO, a nonprofit geology consortium—shows, a good deal of it has merely been shifted to other segments of the same fault line, collecting in two spots in particular: 20 miles west of the original epicenter, near the port village of Miragoâne (already the site of several vigorous aftershocks) and 10 miles east, near the Dominican border (where aftershocks have yet to be reported). Eventually, say seismologists, the tension in both places will be released by seismic events equal to or greater than that of Tuesday's quake.

Of course, when that might happen is anybody’s guess. "We know that both spots will rupture at some point," says Jian Lin, a Woods Hole geophysicist and the report's lead author. "But it could be in 10 months, or 10 years—or even 100 years."

While earthquakes are generally difficult to predict, data on the tectonic plates underlying the Caribbean have been especially paltry. Part of the problem is that in much of the region, the plate boundaries themselves are below sea level and thus inaccessible to scientists. The other problem is that political instability and dire poverty have made the region a challenging one for seismologists; until very recently, no consistent earthquake-monitoring efforts were even attempted. (Compare that with the San Andreas fault in California, where both sides of the plate boundary are above sea level and have been heavily monitored for decades.) While scientists have been studying the region more closely since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami spurred a public outcry for better disaster preparedness, they say not enough data has accumulated to make reliable forecasts.

What seismologists do know is that between 1751 and 1770, Haiti and its environs were struck by three major earthquakes, each about 10years apart. They also know that the Enriquillo fault is not the only one to transect Haiti: a second fault line, north of the Enriquillo, has been accumulating tension for roughly 800 years and is considered overdue for a major quake. When one connects these dots, it becomes clear that the Caribbean is an active seismic zone and that more earthquakes, like the aftershock that hit today and the original quake that devastated Haiti, should not come as a surprise. Now the question remains: if we know they're coming, how can we protect cities in the Caribbean so that the devestation in Haiti never happens again?

12 Practical Business Lessons From Social Psychology

It’s been said many times that business is all about people. That being the case, perhaps we should stop reading management books for advice and start looking at social psychology. Very simply, social psychologists study how people interact with others – their families, friends, and yes, business partners. Smart marketers and executives have been using the findings of this growing field for decades to close sales, hold effective meetings and get their way in negotiations. But rather than putting you through an academic psychology lesson, we condensed the most useful concepts into one article.

The Foot in the Door Phenomenon

The Concept: If you’re wondering how to convince superiors, employees or customers to do what you ask, try using the foot in the door phenomenon. This refers to the tendency of people to do something huge if they have already agreed to something much smaller. Your friend should be much more open to helping you decorate your entire house for a dinner party if, for example, he already helped you pick out decorations.

How You Can Use It: This handy principle has countless applications in the business world. Hand lotion and beauty supply kiosks at the mall use it all the time. If you can get a person to talk to you for a couple of minutes and rub some lotion on their hands, you’ve got your foot in the door, and they are much more likely to buy from you than if you had just screamed a sales pitch at them.

The Door in the Face Phenomenon

The Concept: Another classic persuasion tactic is known as the “Door in the Face Phenomenon.” Using this approach, you make your actual request look reasonable by first making an outrageous request that the person will unquestionably turn down. When they turn you down, you then ask for what you really want, which now looks trivial in light of what you asked for a moment earlier.

How You Can Use It: Let’s say you want your company to approve funding for a team of five marketers to research a new advertising campaign. Rather than simply asking for this funding and risking being shot down, use the door in the face principle. Ask your company for twice the amount of funding for a team twice as big as what you need. This will almost certainly be disapproved, but don’t fret; you didn’t need that amount in the first place. Act like you’re really going to work hard on cutting the funding down to the bone and reworking your proposal. In a few days, come back and propose the funding request you wanted all along. It will look as though you found a way to accomplish the same tasks for half the price with half the personnel. Social psychology research states that you are much more likely to get what you want by doing this.

The Serial Position Effect

The Concept: A truly sharp marketer should understand how our brains process information. The “Serial Position Effect” (developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus) assists by explaining how we remember items we see or hear in lists. Ebbunghaus discovered that things shown at the beginning of a list and at the end of a list are remembered best. This was later titled the “Primacy Effect,” and the “Recency Effect.”

How You Can Use It: This powerful concept can affect what the millions of people seeing your advertisements, listening to your radio promotion, or reading your sales letter, remember about your product. If you have five benefits that your product provides over the competition, think long and hard about which ones you want to stick deep into your audience’s memory. Place those items at the beginning and end of your pitch. This way, prospects will remember these benefits when they see your product on a shelf or think about the commercial they just saw.

Attitudes Follow Behavior: Resolving Cognitive Dissonance

The Concept: Cognitive dissonance is a fancy term for when people have opinions, behave contrary to them, and change their opinion to fit how they acted. For example, if you normally despise handguns, but join your buddy at the shooting range one day, you might leave thinking about how “guns aren’t really that bad if you use them safely.” Simply by holding and shooting one yourself, your brain begins thinking positive thoughts about it. Similarly, a “boring” task might later be remembered as “not being all that bad” or even being “fun” because, after all, you did it.

How You Can Use It: What this means to you is that if you can get your customer to perform a small task, such as a little game or survey online, the customer may begin making some positive assumptions about what you sell. This especially works for businesses operating in controversial markets, such as gambling, tobacco or other vice-related products. If you can find a harmless and fun way for potential customers to get involved with your products and services they will be more likely to become loyal buyers down the line.

Two Routes to Persuasion

The Concept: Not everyone processes information (including product demos and advertisements) the same way. Generally speaking, there are two types of audiences, depending on your product/service. Your audience is either attentively thinking about your message, or they are distracted. These two audiences take two different routes to understanding your message. The involved group takes what is known as the “Central Route,” meaning that they focus on what you are saying closely, develop counterarguments and respond based on what they eventually decide your product is all about. If your ad or pitch was strong and convincing, these people will probably buy. If it was weak or not convincing enough, there’s little hope of them buying.

How You Can Use It: The distracted audience takes a very different route to understanding your pitch known as the “Peripheral Route.” These people focus on irrelevant parts of the pitch that randomly interest them. The speaker’s good looks, for example might interest them more than the information in the pitch. Simple language is also important for this kind of audience. For example, if you’re selling a market research service, classic adages such as “look before you leap” will probably work better than “perform proper market research before investing.”

Perceived Expertise

The Concept: Let’s face it – most of us give more weight to what “experts” say than average Joes off the street. Most people would sooner listen to a warning about the health hazards of eating fast food, for instance, if it came from a renowned nutritionist than from a self-righteous teenager.

How You Can Use It: What makes someone appear to be an expert? One tactic that has been used by marketers (and politicians) is to begin your pitch with something the audience already agrees with. This makes the speaker seem intelligent and makes the audience eager to believe more of what he or she has to say.

Of course, being introduced as an expert never hurt either. A comment about an approaching asteroid from “Dr. Robert Kimmel, Chair of Astrophysics at Harvard University” will surely be taken more seriously than, “Robbie Kimmel, local guitarist and college student.”

Finally, social scientists find that speaking confidently greatly improves believability. A study performed by Bonnie Erikson in 1978 proved this by having college students rate the credibility of two supposed “witnesses” to an accident. One spoke very clearly and confidently and the other one hesitated and stumbled over his words a bit. One by one, each student said the confident speaker was much more credible. Perhaps it’s time to buy your TV or radio guy a course in effective speaking!

Perceived Trustworthiness

The Concept: Trustworthiness of the speaker is another factor critical to any kind of visual marketing. No trust, no sale. Fortunately, how trustworthy you look can be controlled almost entirely by you.

How You Can Use It: Our outward behaviors have a lot to do with whether trust us or not. One behavior that seems to carry a lot of weight is eye contact. Researchers have found that if video-taped witnesses in court looked their questioner straight in the eye rather than down or around, they were seen as more trustworthy.

You can also appear more trustworthy by seeming like you’re not trying to influence an audience. “Hidden camera” TV commercials utilize this tactic all the time. Social psychology experiments have found that people who don’t think they’re being watched are comfortable being completely honest.

People also find others trustworthy when they argue against their own interest. Thus, a message about risks of cigarette smoking seems much more sincere coming from the tobacco companies than it would if were given by an anti-smoking politician up for re-election. People might link the politician’s anti-smoking speeches to his political agenda, whereas they cannot do this with the tobacco companies and are much more likely to absorb the message as true.

The Mere-Exposure Effect

The Concept: Sometimes repetition alone can make a message more believable. Social research has found that people tend to eventually believe things they’ve been told many times, simply because they’ve repeatedly heard it. Studies show that people rate false statements such as “Mercury has a higher boiling point than copper” as true if they were made to read them a week before.

How You Can Use It: This concept is why companies run the same advertisement three times during a one-hour television show. The first time the audience sees the ad they might just ignore it. However, a week later they may have seen the ad 20 times, and by that point they have begun to accept its message and view favorably the product it advertises.

Distraction Disarms Counter-arguing

The Concept: Audio and visual messages are much more effective when the audience can be somewhat distracted by background clutter just long enough to inhibit counter-arguing. Mild distraction often preoccupies the brain just long enough to stop it from inventing a reason to say “no.”

How You Can Use It: Many radio commercials utilize this tactic. The words promote the product being sold while background music or intermittent comedy distracts us from thinking too deeply about the words. Be careful not to distract so much that ad is not processed, however. Extremely violent or incredibly sexual advertisements are often ineffective because the audience is simply too distracted by what they’re viewing to pay attention to the message. They key is to strike a balance such that your message is understood, but not deeply analyzed or argued by the audience.

The Self- Reference Effect

The Concept: Remember – a marketer’s job making sure the audience understands and remembers the sales pitch. One handy way to achieve this is known as the “Self-Reference Effect.” The Self Reference Effect refers to the tendency of people to effectively recall information about themselves. Most people are primary concerned with themselves. Thus, memories pertaining to what we think about the most, (ourselves), are held longer and recalled easier. Studies have shown that, when asked to compare ourselves to a short-story character, we remember that character better than if we compared them to someone else.

How You Can Use It: When planning a new marketing campaign or presentation to the board, it is important to keep this principle in mind, as it can greatly influence what your audience walks away remembering. Try focusing on the basic lifestyle and personality traits of your audience. Once you have these squared away, design your new message to match these traits. This makes your message personally meaningful to them and boosts their chance of remembering what you said.


The Concept: Priming is when various stimuli (sights, tastes, smells) automatically trigger thoughts of similar stimuli. The smell of crisp fall air, for example, might trigger thoughts about the holiday. As a result, simply smelling the fall air might make you crave pumpkin pie or apple cider, even though no food is in front of you.

How You Can Use It: Priming is a classic sales tactic that has been used for decades, and you can put it to use for your business immediately. The key is to find some kind of neutral stimulus that is clearly related to your product. A perfect example of this can be found at any movie theater. As soon as you walk through the door your nostrils are overcome with the smell of buttery popcorn. Without even seeing the popcorn or being asked to buy it, you find yourself making your way to the concession stand because you suddenly feel like the movie wouldn’t be the same without the snacks. This is classic priming, and all five senses are susceptible to priming by intelligent marketers and businesspeople.

Prevent Employee Social Loafing

The Concept: Have you ever noticed, perhaps in college or around the office, that when groups are assembled to complete a task, it always ends up that a couple of members do most of the work while the majority of members do almost none of the work? This is a social psychological phenomenon known as “Social Loafing,” and it happens everywhere and in absolutely every profession. Social loafing is defined as the tendency for people to put less effort into a task when they are in a group than when they are alone.

How You Can Use It: Social loafing can seriously drain a team’s performance. The good news is that the causes of social loafing are known and consistent. Social loafing happens when no one is personally accountable. When the group is judged as a whole no matter what its individual members do, loafing is almost sure to occur. The sure-fire way to make sure that all of your employees are contributing equally to the task at hand is to assign them to groups, but assure them that they will be personally monitored and evaluated on their contributions to the group. The more someone thinks they will be judged personally, the less social loafing you have. This allows you to make the most of the talent you have on staff and almost always produces stronger results than the vague “group evaluation” does.

craigslist post

here is the actual post


craigslist > for sale / wanted > cars & trucks - by owner
please flag with care:

best of craigslist
Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally! Beware any deal involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, cashier check, money order, shipping, escrow, or any promise of transaction protection/certification/guarantee. More info
To the person who stole my Trailer Today!! - $800
Date: 2010-01-16, 6:41PM CST
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

If you are the person who stole my trailer saturday near mingo and admiral. You better be sleeping with 1 eye open. I have your truck description. I have your description. And I am out looking hard for my trailer!!! I currently have a baseball bat in my truck waiting to meet your skull.

I use that trailer to help a non-profit youth football club move football equipment and helmets back and forth everyseason. That trailer positively affects the lives of over 200 inner city youth kids every year. I have no idea what we will do now. I also use it to make money with on the side due to my current paycheck being cut in half due to the ecomomy.

You are scum and I WILL FIND YOU!!!! If i was you Dad I would be ashamed to call you my son. You will rot in hell!!! WATCH YOUR BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 1556209631


everything's better in a litter

priming with money

fun with sulfur hexaflouride

create a unique snowflake


Relative Prices Of Different Liquids

RCA Airnergy Pulls Power From Thin Air, Charging Your Phone With Ambient Wi-Fi Signals

By Clay Dillow

RCA's Airnergy Wi-Fi Powered Charger RCA

CES may be over, but in our post-technalia hangover we’re still discovering a few small wonders that flew under the radar last week, not least of which is this RCA Airnergy, a small USB device that harvests electrical power from Wi-Fi signals. Anytime the device is in the vicinity of one or more Wi-Fi sources, the Airnergy is charging, converting the wireless antenna signal into DC current that can power myriad small electronics. The idea isn’t novel, but this is the first time anyone has created a commercial product efficient enough to be useful.

The Airnergy unit stores the charge in an internal lithium battery, so you don’t necessarily have to be in a hotspot to recharge, say, your phone. If you have Wi-Fi at home, the Airnergy will automatically charge itself anytime it comes in range of your wireless hub (a good overnight charge should top off the battery; recharge time correlates to its proximity to the Wi-Fi source). You can then tap into that stored charge later when your iPod dies on the subway or your phone starts flagging during an important call.

Now, the limitations: the Airnergy unit that should hit store shelves this year (for about $40) is expected to have a USB connection, meaning it won’t sync with a lot of devices (like the iPod or iPhone) without some kind of connection converter. It’s also an extra device that you have to carry around with you, making it a cumbersome addition your daily tech routine.

But we’re big-picture thinkers here at PopSci, and here’s what you need to know: RCA is also developing Wi-Fi harvesting batteries that should cost roughly the same as the OEM batteries in most devices; that means your phone/iPod/Blackberry/etc. will be able to recharge itself wirelessly anytime you’re near a hotspot without any extra peripheral devices. As cities and networks experiment more and more with Wi-Fi clouds that blanket entire cities, the day may not be too far away when our smartphones download our email, update our Twitter pages and recharge our batteries all from the same signal, all the time, no matter where we go. That’s a brave new world that can’t get here soon enough.

Well Planned

Finding The Surprising Gaps in Your Self-Knowledge

Are you an independent person? Classic social psychology research suggests some people can't tell.

Why are people so blissfully ignorant of certain aspects of their personalities?

Take an everyday example: there are some infuriating people who are always late for appointments. A few of these people explain it by saying they are 'laid-back', while others seem unaware that they're always late.

For laid-back people, their lateness is a part of their personality, they are aware of it and presumably not worried about appearing unconscientious. For the unaware it's almost as if they don't realise they're always late. How is that possible?

It's probably because they've never noticed or paid attention to the fact that they are always late so they never learn to think of themselves as lacking conscientiousness. Or so suggests a psychological theory describing how we think about ourselves called self-schema theory.

This theory says that we have developed 'schemas', like internal maps of our personalities, which we use to understand and explain our current and future behaviour to ourselves, e.g. I'm always on time for meetings so I'm a conscientious person.
Are you an independent person?

However schema theory also suggests that these maps have uncharted areas, leaving people with certain blind spots in their self-knowledge. This aspect of self-schemas was investigated in a classic social psychology study by Professor Hazel Markus (Markus, 1977) who examined not conscientiousness but whether people thought they had independent or dependent personalities.

To do this she gave 48 female participants questionnaires which assessed their self-perceived independence. It asked whether they were individualists or conformists and whether they were leaders or followers. From their answers the women were sorted into three groups: independents, dependents and a third group that showed no clear pattern.

This third group that showed no clear pattern was labelled 'aschematic', i.e. having no schema about independence or otherwise — for one reason or another it was a hole in their self-knowledge. Crucially, though, this group was only arrived at after discarding the people who thought the dependence/independence dimension was important but happened to think they were independent in some situations but not in others. Only those who truly didn't care either way were labelled aschematic.

So there were some people who appeared not to notice or even care about their independence (or otherwise) while others did notice it. But Markus wanted to see if people were just saying these things, or whether they actually behaved as though they were true. To find out she invited the same participants back to the lab a few weeks later to give them a few more tests.

This time she flashed up words on a screen, some of which were related to being independent, some dependent and some neither. It emerged that participants who had said they were independent endorsed more words associated with being independent and did so quicker. Dependents did the same with words related to being dependent but those who were aschematic showed no preference either way.

In further tests those who had identified themselves as independent remembered more examples of independent behaviour as well as resisting an experimental suggestion that they weren't independent. The same pattern was seen with the dependents. The aschematics, however, could remember few examples demonstrating either dependence or independence and could easily be swayed by experimental suggestion towards believing they were dependent or independent. It seemed they simply hadn't been paying any attention to situations which marked them out as either dependent or independent people.
Building self-awareness

What these results confirm is that the three groups of participants did actually think in different ways about the idea of independence. Some believed they were independent, some not and the others didn't know or, apparently, care. In some ways the aschematics are the most fascinating category because they are the people that seemed not to realise whether or not they were independent.

And we all have these aschematic areas in our self-knowledge, traits which are blind spots to us but are perfectly obvious to others. Unfortunately the only way for us to find out is to ask other people, but this may prove difficult or embarrassing. Still, while our hidden traits might be negative, they might also be positive: people are sometimes surprisingly unaware of their charm, warmth or conscientiousness.

Whether or not we pluck up the courage, this research reveals the fascinating and unnerving idea that some aspects of our own personalities may be completely mysterious to us only because we never bothered to take any notice of them.