Princeton’s Got Innovation

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Thirty thousand grand will be on the line on Wednesday, February 15, at the Innovation Forum organized by Princeton University’s Keller Center. Participants present their research in a three-minute “elevator pitch” to the audience and a panel of judges. Simon Cowell’s got nothing on this show!

Register to come and watch the excitement.  You get to see inside the Andlinger Center and there’s networking and refreshments afterward.

 

The dollar value of Orange and Black

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I’m not among those who think Princeton University should pay more taxes. The University is the reason my house is worth more than a house three miles away. The University is a big part of the reason I moved here.

Here is the report citing the dollar value of the university. It was put together by a New York-based consulting firm, Appleseed. Yes, the university paid for it. But that doesn’t make it untrue.

While I’m thinking about the plethora of university events that I could attend if I had the time, many of my favorite events take place at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding. It’s on the edge of the Engineering Quad at the corner of Prospect and Olden.

As one of the several events that will commemorate the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the university will host a free community breakfast on January 16 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Fields Center. Everyone’s invited.

Insider tip: this even used to be held after lunch in Richardson Auditorium. This year it changed to a breakfast and, for the first time (!), the MLK day is a holiday for university employees.

 

March, call, write!

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What do I do, personally, about reacting to Trump? March? Tweet? Write letters? Make calls? Many of my Trump-resisting friends will go to Washington on January 21. Many more will carry signs in Trenton.

At first I resisted resisting. I espoused the views of an Italian on the  Right Way to Resist Trump ?

“The Berlusconi parallel could offer an important lesson in how to avoid transforming a razor-thin victory into a two-decade affair. If you think presidential term limits and Mr. Trump’s age could save the country from that fate, think again. His tenure could easily turn into a Trump dynasty. (the opposition) was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity.”

So, no, insults don’t work. Focus on issues, like how healthcare can be improved by patient-centered healthcare, whether under the ACA or another system.

But a good friend, a Washington insider, tells me that “the op-ed from the Italian is already outdated (we’ve learned a lot about Trump’s future government since 11/18) and shows the folly of the approach he advocates. Trump’s made  most of his cabinet picks, so we now have the benefit of actual decisions to use to evaluate whether there is really any interest in bi-partisan governing that would be consistent with his campaign promises. 

“It will easily be the most extreme cabinet ever sworn-in.  The Department of Labor nominee opposes the idea of a minimum wage and required overtime pay, not exactly economic populism.  The AG was rejected by the Republican majority senate in 1986 when he was nominated to the bench.  And the details of the infrastructure plan that he says Democrats should work with Trump on have been announced and will amount to a massive give=away to corporations and the privatization of public infrastructure. 

“The NYT has run an excellent series on the potential consequences of that policy choice.  A recent article was on the Bayonne water authority.   

Will Trump himself pay attention to the marchers? I don’t think so. But the march can put the legislators on their guard.

“I agree with you that Trump will care little about the protests nor will he care what Democrats think of him.  The key are those people and institutions that are enabling him and necessary for him to govern. NeverTrumpers who worked hard to defeat him in the primaries did the good work, the Republicans that have continued a public stance against him after the election are true heroes and that opposition is mainly from the foreign policy and national security wing of the party.  They have put country ahead of party.

“Unfortunately, the broader so-called Republican establishment, if that still exists, has decided that the opportunity to get its policy wish list through is more important to them than the dangers that will come from giving this man and his followers the keys to the country with little oversight or accountability.  The only thing that will change that will be if they believe there will be electoral consequences as a result of Trump’s unpopularity. 

“To that end, protest, including the occasional massive protest like the woman’s march, is an important action but of course cannot be the only thing. Mass protest is a piece of movement building AND people need to contact their elected officials.

“That needs to be followed up with intensive grassroots organizing in the places that Republican elected officials represent, like Pennsylvania, including reaching out with empathy towards those that are suffering economically and need help.  Help that Trump has already shown he has no interest in delivering at a systematic level. 

This article for the Guardian tells how progressives should use Tea Party tactics. Former Congressional staffers have created the Indivisible Guide for resisting the Trump agenda. “Unless you worked in congress the summer of 2009, you cannot fathom the volume of phone calls [that came in],” said a former staffer. The Tea Party “slowed federal policy making to a halt.” 

Call your own members of Congress. If you like and agree with their decisions, call  the lawmaker’s office and say so. Rally the troops behind them. Say  ‘Thank you for opposing Trump’s agenda but also speak out at every turn.’

If you need help learning to make a difference, and you live near Princeton, put this workshop on your calendar for Wednesday, February 22 at noon at Princeton Public Library: Sam Daley-Harris: Writing Checks, Signing Petitions, and Protest Marches: Is That All There Is?

Shall I march? call? write? I’m glad for the marchers –my prayers go with you! We marched in DC 25 years ago (photo above). But this year I will find other ways to ‘speak out at every turn. ‘

Protect our media watchdogs

If you don’t subscribe to the Times of Trenton or the Star Ledger or the Bergen Record or any other newspaper that still has a reporter covering the statehouse, do it now. If you aren’t a member of WHYY, with its newsroom at Newsworks, join now. Support Politico’s New Jersey desk. If you can find an independent online investigative reporter in your community, like Planet Princeton, contribute or advertise. 

You can march, you can write letters to the editor, you can call your legislators, but you can also help protect our democracy by bolstering the budgets of the investigative reporters trying to combat fraud and lies. 

I knew this before but this Wednesday New York Times column italicized my impulse.  David W. Chen, who wrote “In New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs are Left,” used to be bureau chief for the statehouse desk for the New York Times.

The New York Times no longer has a staff reporter covering New Jersey. The number of reporters at the state house has dwindled from 30 to 7.

John Oliver reminds us that social media and TV news mostly just repackage newspaper stories.

McCarter Theatre has it right. McCarter is running ads on Politico’s media page  

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.NYT photo by Charles Mostoller

Poignant detail #1: The print version of Chen’s article showed two lonely news boxes in downtown Trenton. One was for the Star Ledger, which has coopted the Trenton Times state coverage. The other was for U.S. 1 Newspaper. What?? U.S. 1 covers state politics once in a while, as in this investigative piece,. We cover important issues and the boss sometimes opines in his column, but statehouse reporting — that’s not our mission.

Poignant detail #2: Chen’s ender was a salute to the 87-year-old columnist who uses a typewriter.  A colleague converts with the typed page to a PDF, using her cell phone, and emails it in.

 

 

Lyle Menendez: From his prison cell

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Lyle Menendez in 2005 

ABC Prime Time (tonight, 1/5 at 9 pm) will air a two hour special about Princeton’s celebrity murder case — Lyle and Erik Menendez’s murder of their parents in Beverly Hills. 

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The Mendendez brothers grew up in Princeton. Lyle went to Princeton University but was suspended for cheating on a paper.They owned what is now Chuck’s Spring Street Cafe. The brothers later testified they were motivated by abuse by their father.

Larry Tabak, who had been the brothers’ tennis coach, wrote a long article for  U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 13, 1990. Though referenced in this story, it preceded our publishing everything online and is not now available on line. Later our images were used in a book and a cable TV special.

Tonight ABC has words from Lyle, from prison. I will be eager to see what new material has been revealed.

 

Not drinking the CrossFit Kool-Aid

In her inimitable wry style, Sara Hastings ‘reveals all’  about CrossFit, the rambunctious upstart of the Princeton fitness scene, in the January edition of Princeton Echo. 

I concur with the founder of Cross Fit who characterized the average gym as “predicated on a low to minimum wage, skill-less staff supervising hapless members. “ He concluded that “clients enjoyed a better workout environment, and he made more money, by training them in groups small enough that each athlete could get plenty of individual attention — rather than one-on-one. The shared suffering and shared satisfaction of completing a workout together transcends individual levels of fitness and forms the basis of the so-called CrossFit community.”

But Hastings failed to convince me that I — old enough to be her grandmother, with arthritic knees, a gimpy shoulder, and a back-that-sometimes talks-to-me — should join the CrossFit cult.

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Anthony Rabara trains a client in the Joseph Pilates method. (I am not that client.)

I’ll stick to  Pilates at the Anthony Rabara studio where  I’ve been lucky enough to take lessons for more than two decades. Despite arthritis I’m sure not to get injured. When I walk into the studio I can say “my knee is tender today” or “my shoulder is out today” and the trainers adapt the equipment and the workout. Though I athletes and dancers train here, some clients are even more decrepit than I.

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Anthony Rabara with Moshe Budmor

Ninety-two-year-old Moshe Budmor, for instance, worked out at the studio until just before he died.

I also value my “take it slow and easy” anti-aging yoga class taught by the amazing  Germaine Tartacoff . at Forrestal Village Fitness.  (Tartacoff has her own studio and also teaches a “rank beginner” class at Princeton Adult School. Anyone leary of joining a class with folks who already know the difference between Downward Dog and Tree — this is the class for you.)

In her enticement, Hastings touts the group experience. Plenty of people who have observed Crossfitters with a mix of what’s-the-point and never-in-a-million-years have tried it out and realized that not only does it work, it’s also pretty fun.

But at my age I cast a jaundiced eye at any training that has even a whiff of competitiveness. If I try to keep up I’m likely to injure myself. But — never say never. Maybe when I turn 80.

PS: Hastings suggests examples of CrossFitters who are more my speed — here and here

Living in Trump World

The cover story for this week’s U.S. 1 Newspap1-4 Cover & Front (1-11).indder offers four suggestions for “Living in Trump World.”

Cybersecurity aka soon-to-be-Princeton-resident-again Ed Felten 

Obamacare re  Uwe Reinhardt and Heather Howard

Climate change, re Palmer Square based Climate Central, which also had some pertinent and dismaying comments about Trump’s cabinet picks.

Influencing Congress, re Sam Wang’s views on redistrcting.

Richard K. Rein, in this column entitled Trump Won, You Lost, There’s Still Lots to Do, offers more suggestions for ‘how to fight back.” What struck me was his suggestions  that the organizers of the January woman’s march come up with a particular cause. Because it is a grassroots effort, joined by many different organizations, one clear message is not coming through.

Rein hopes for that clear message:

 What’s the point of this protest? Without one, the Trumpian response will be a Tweet to the effect that “a million women gather in Washington because they lost and don’t know what to do.

He suggests:  increasing the federal minimum wage to $12.50 an hour (it’s been stuck at $7.25 since 2009). What particular cause do YOU suggest? 

Headlines must hold his feet to the fire

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From the Washington Post Plum Line:  The Wall Street Journal editor’s nonchalance “suggests a lack of preparedness for what we may be facing.

Here’s another from Greg Sargent’s Plum Line: If the headline does not convey the fact that Trump’s claim is in question or open to doubt, based on the known facts, then it is insufficiently informative.

For instance, the Bloomberg headline

“Trump seeks credit for 5,000 Sprint jobs already touted” is better than

the New York Times headline

“Trump Takes Credit for Sprint Plan to Add 5,000 Jobs in U.S.”

What about MY headline? In the movie “All the Way” Martin Luther King uses that idiom to describe President LBJ: “This president is going to have to deliver, or we will hold his feet to the fire.”

Start noticing headlines!

 

 

Authoritarianism expert: where is one?

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Graphic from PressThink

Joy Rosen’s Press Think blog (illustration above) explains what strategies journalists can use in a Trump administration. One idea:

Make common cause with scholars who have been there. Especially experts in authoritarianism and countries when democratic conditions have been undermined, so you know what to watch for— and report on. (Creeping authoritarianism is a beat: who do you have on it?)

So WHO at a New Jersey college is an expert on that? People who know, weigh in please!

Another idea: track Trump’s promises as here in the Washington Post and then get yourself on the radio to talk about them.

I have a suggestion for the ‘ordinary’ concerned citizen:Reporters are going to be looking for sources beyond the usual ones. If you know about a broken promise, a sullied right, a violation of civil rights — contact a reporter. If you don’t know a reporter, maybe I can help you find one. If you see something . . . say something.