Letters for the week of May 28-June 3, 2003 

Two pleas for theater listings. Five thanks for parks coverage. One movie to dry your tears. Five percent for statistical significance.

Billboard, Theater Listings

It all begins with listings
I'm writing to ask that you please resume running theater listings. I founded Impact Theatre in 1996, and Christopher Hawthorne saw our very first show in the Berkeley Store Gallery, which is now Kinko's. He wrote a capsule review, just a one-paragraph listing in the Express -- and that started the ball rolling. More and more people came and saw the show, and told their friends. The Express reviewed our next few shows as well, and eventually other papers took notice and sent their reviewers, until in 2000 we won two awards (including Best Original Play) from the Bay Area Critics Circle.

Without the theater listings in the Express, this would have been a much longer and more difficult process. It's possible that it wouldn't have happened. Theater in America is in deep trouble, and it's the small companies like Impact (and Emerald Rain, and Central Works) that have the best chance at reinvigorating the form and bringing in the new audiences it needs. Weekly local papers like the Express have a responsibility to inform their readership to publish weekly theater listings as one of the best ways to allow theater in our country a chance to survive.
Josh Costello, former artistic director, Impact Theatre, Seattle

The theater needs media
Having heard that you are considering not running theater listings, I urge you not to do it. First, there are hundreds of theater companies -- large and small -- in the East Bay. The companies need the media in order to exist, and the media need the theater companies to be the information center that theater audiences can depend on.

Check your competition in the entire Bay Area and see how much effort is put into theater. In fact, I was extremely surprised that you would consider such a move.

I am the president of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and, naturally, a believer in theater. I am also the on-the-air theater critic for KGO radio, and I know how important theater information is to our listening audience from our Web site and personal mail.

Please do not drop theater from your publication. I would love to be able to tell my audience that you will continue coverage.
Jerry Friedman, president, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, San Francisco

Editor's Note
Each week, the Express dedicates approximately seven pages of coverage to local events occurring in the upcoming week. This includes three and a half pages of newly expanded coverage of upcoming events that Express critics deem most worthy of attention. For complete coverage, the paper continues to compile the East Bay's most comprehensive theater, arts, and cultural listings, which are updated twice weekly on our easy-to-search Web site, EastBayExpress.com. In the "Billboard" section, select an event category from the pull-down menu and click "Go."

Crate-Digger, 4/2

Rock on
I'm so glad you guys are finally giving a column to someone who can turn us on to new, innovative rock that you won't hear about in SPIN. These bands won't be dueling it out on MTV's "garage rock night." Instead, they'll actually be setting trends in the underground, while bands like the Hives and Vines put out decent but forgettable albums. Rock on, Mighty Diamonds. Rock on.
Marwan Kanafani, Berkeley

"The Little Park That Couldn't," Cityside, 4/30

It's City Hall's turn
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for writing about the frustrating bureaucracy that is impeding the development of this park. What is the City of Oakland going to do about this slab of cracked cement? The neighborhood has already raised the money; now it is time for City Hall to step up and support the community.
Barbara Collins, Oakland

A film for one good person
I hope that Jennifer Lowe saw Ikiru when it was shown recently at PFA. This Japanese classic is about life, but also about government bureaucracy, efforts to build a park for a poor community, a group of community members who won't take "no" for an answer, and one good person like Jennifer Lowe. See it, Jennifer; it will help dry your tears.
Jeffrey Dickemann, Richmond

"Cutting Corners," Feature, 4/16

Look into my eyes
In addition to pill-splitting, I believe Kaiser Permanente harms patients in many other ways. I hope you will continue to write and expose Kaiser Permanente so the public will be advised of what it really represents ... bad medicine, which I believe is delivered through its illegal or unethical practices such as refusing to diagnose in order to avoid treatment of disease in order to lower costs, misdiagnosing/labeling patients to discredit those who advocate for themselves, and inappropriately using therapists and alternative/complementary medicine staff who use brainwashing techniques to alter the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of its patients.
Vivian Bergamotto, San Mateo

"Voodoo Doctor," Feature, 5/14

Voodoo statistics
Your sidebar to the "Voodoo Doctor" story stated that results from scientific studies of faith healing have been "statistically significant -- they can't be explained by chance."

Statistical significance does not mean that events cannot be explained by chance; it means only that they are unlikely to be explained by chance. Statistics is the process of quantifying exactly how likely it is that something was caused by chance. For most studies in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the standard is 5 percent -- i.e., 5 percent of the time, some treatment that has absolutely no real effect will appear to have an effect. Put another way, scientists are generally wrong about 5 percent of the time -- even if they design their studies well and do everything else right.

I don't know the studies in question, so I can't comment on the level of statistical significance they used or whether the studies were well-designed. But please don't tell your readers that anything that is statistically significant could not have been the result of chance.
Virginia Matzek, Palo Alto

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