My new “Think Again” column is called “Is America Getting More Conservative?” and it’s here.
Richard Thompson live, in person and on bluray:
I saw Richard Thompson do one of three “all request” shows at City Winery. It was a particularly engaging affair. Thompson sort of did the requests that had been deposited in a bowl beforehand, and sort of didn’t depending on whether he felt like it. Some of them he did even though they were pretty silly, including McCartney’s “Blackbird” and Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.” He was playing solo and not all the sightlines were great, but it’s ok, because Thompson is not so pretty to look at, and the sound was crisp and clear particularly on his guitar. The song selection turned out to be pretty excellent too. There’s a new Eagle Rock Entertainment’s release both on DVD and bluray of Thompson’s band called “Live At Celtic Connections.” It’s got twenty songs on it and comes in at nearly two and a half hours. The sound on bluray is killer. The song selection leans heavily on Dream Attic, his last album, which was recorded live, and the second set does the catalogue back to 1972, and is, I suppose, a matter of taste. You get “Wall of Death” and “Tear Stained Letter” but I could have used “The Dimming of the Day” in either place but nobody asked me. The bonus features include two extra songs filmed at the 2011 Cambridge Folk Festival: "Uninhabited Man" and "Johnny’s Far Away."
Now here’s Reed:
by Reed Richardson
The American press has long been infatuated with the allure of campaign polls, and understandably so. Thanks to their headline-ready horserace numbers, reams of topline data to be further parsed and charted, and the public’s natural curiosity in predictions about the future, polls satisfy almost every journalistic need an editor or producer might have on a slow news day. (And let’s not overlook the increasingly salient fact that, unless your news organization commissioned the poll, reporting such a story requires minimal resources.) But this symbiotic relationship has a downside too; one that is growing more insidious with every election and, if left unchecked, could start to erode the very foundations of our Constitution.
Ironically, the rise of modern public opinion polling can be traced back to perhaps the worst media-polling blunder in our nation’s electoral history. On the eve of the 1936 presidential vote, the magazine The Literary Digest—just as it had for the five previous elections—released its public opinion poll of the race. Gleaned from an amazing 2.4 million reader responses, the magazine confidently predicted Kansas Republican Alf Landon would sweep incumbent Democrat Franklin Roosevelt out of the White House, winning 55 percent of the popular vote and 370 electoral votes. The election, to put it mildly, didn’t pan out this way—Roosevelt’s nationwide landslide (he even won Kansas) left Landon with a measly eight electoral votes.