"What does not change / is the will to change"
--Charles Olson, "The Kingfishers"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Packed house for Destiny 's Bridge screening at Rutgers

About 100 people are in attendance tonight for a screening of Jack Ballo's Destiny's Bridge at the Cook Campus Center at Rutgers.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Today's question is about polling

Here is something I posted to Facebook the other day:

The point I was trying to make -- and that folks like David Redlawsk and the Rutgers Eagleton polling team and Patrick Murray at Monmouth University can make a lot better than I can -- is that we need more precise language to distinguish between the open-ended surveys much of the media run and the kind of scientific polling done by Eagleton, Monmouth and others. Granted, the pot survey being conducted by NJ.com is technically a poll, but it is not scientifically constructed (to account for demographics, for instance) and, even if there are mechanisms in place to prevent the gaming of the survey, it only records voluntary responses. These are valuable tools for online news services, but the potential conflation in the reader/users' mind requires us to be more precise.

Enter the Greensboro News & Record. The paper has announced that it is renaming its online polling as a "Question of the Day," with this explanation (thanks to Jim Romenesko's blog):

We’ve changed the name to be less misleading to readers who might assume our polls are scientific. Please keep that in mind when you’re touting them on social media.
Other news outlets really should follow suit.

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Christie review clears Christie

The Huffington Post sums up the impact of the release today by the Christie administration of its internal investigation into Bridgegate with a headline/photo package that proves, once again, that you do not need a lot of words to make your point:
The governor's press release called it a "Comprehensive and Exhaustive Report" based on "More Than 70 Interviews And 250,000 Documents (were) Reviewed Over Two Months, The Internal Review" and a "Thorough Investigation." (The capitalization is from the press release).

The co-chairs of the Legislative Select Committee on Investigation Co-Chairs -- Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg -- offered a slightly different assessment. They said the Christie review "has deficiencies that raise questions about a lack of objectivity and thoroughness."
Lawyers hired by and paid by the Christie administration itself to investigate the governor’s office who then say the governor and most of his office did nothing wrong will not be the final word on this matter.
The select committee will continue its work, the pair said, as will a team from the U.S. Attorney's office.

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Jonathan Schell, a voice of reason and compasion

Jonathan Schell, the antiwar activist and journalist, has died from cancer.

Schell was an important, if too-often-ignored, voice against the excesses of American empire.
With a hatred of war shaped in part by his firsthand accounts of U.S. military operations in Vietnam, Schell wrote for decades about the consequences of violence — real and potential — with a rage and idealism that never seemed to wane.
Of course, that rage and idealism was never given a chance to wane as wars both large and small continued to leave millions dead, wounded or without homes.

Here is a column I wrote in 2008 -- Dispatches: We should do as we say -- based on an interview I did with Schell before he was scheduled to speak to the Coalition for Peace Action. (It is behind the pay-wall for archives at The Princeton Packet site -- sorry.)

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Southside still has it

It's been 38 years since his debut album was release, and Southside Johnny hasn't lost a step -- well, maybe a step, but it hasn't affected what the man can do on stage.

The 68-year-old is one-part old-time R&B shouter, one part crooner and one part straight-up rocker, and if that sounds like rowdy mix, well, it is. Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes know how to put on a show.

I hadn't seen the then 11-piece Jukes live in 33 years -- since an outdoor show at Freehold Raceway in1981 (opening acts: Hall & Oates and Willie Nile). That show was raucous and charged and the closest thing to Springsteen I'd seen at that point. There's no accident, of course. Bruce and Johnny run in the same circles and grew upon the same bars and on the same stages. They even swapped band members.

I've been promising myself I'd catch him live again but, for reasons I can't really explain even to myself, it never happened. Until Saturday.

Southside didn't disappoint. With a set list mixing great early cuts (a good helping from This Time It's For Real and Hearts of Stone) with later songs ("Pills and Ammo") and covers ("Walk Away Renee, "Can I Get a Witness"), Johnny led a smaller version of the Jukes (eight members) on a two-hour romp that had the crowd singing and dancing along.

The band was tight, even with two subs (on bass and sax), and keyboardist Jeff Kazee acted a perfect foil, even taking lead vocals at one point.

My only complaint was that two hours wasn't enough.