Weekly Rochester Events #472 Starting Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Bob Spahn Talks About Climate Change and Bird Migration at Thursday Thinkers
by Jason Olshefsky at 5:15 pm (add a comment)

I went to The Rochester Public Library (115 South Ave.) to check out the Thursday Thinkers lecture: Bob Spahn was to talk about The Earlier Springs, Later Falls in terms of whether birds are extending their migratory stay in the north owing to a warming climate. He rephrased the question: "do we have bird record data to show changes in arrival dates indicating warming climates?" and to that he said no.

He examined the data from several regional ornithological groups' records of arrival dates of birds in New York State but found no statistically significant difference in dates over 25 years of records. At first I wasn't satisfied with his analysis, but as the lecture continued, I realized it was the data that was the culprit. He mentioned that when you set out to analyze data, you need to carefully specify how to collect the data so it's relevant and useful.

The idea behind the data collection in New York State was to determine the number of each species of bird. As such, there were also notes of the first recorded sightings of each species. Additionally, the state is divided into 5-mile-by-5-mile regions for analysis. The criteria for observation seems specific, but even as Spahn noted: he recorded data for one region for several years until someone else took over and there was a huge disparity between their reports.

An alternative question to ask is, "is there a correlation between bird arrival dates and climate temperature?" The answer is "probably not". Spahn said that it's believed that bird migration is dictated by light levels. According to the WikiPedia article on bird migration, the purpose of migration is believed to do with the longer days in northern climates in the summer (i.e. more hours of daylight than the tropics) providing more hours to feed their young. Thus, even if there were climate change, it would likely not be shown in bird migration.

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Friday, January 18th, 2008

Abel Raises Cain at the Dryden
by Jason Olshefsky at 8:00 pm (add a comment)

I headed out to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Abel Raises Cain, a documentary about Alan Abel by his daughter Jenny Abel.

Abel made a name for himself by being a professional hoaxer starting in 1959 when he founded "SINA": the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals — their "goal" was to clothe animals but the subversive edge was as a protest to media censorship. He waited for the media to catch on that it was a hoax but they didn't — as he points out, even the name of the group defies its own cause.

I was really inspired by his life and work. Although his overarching message is "don't believe everything you hear," I was transfixed by the manipulation of the news media. For if there's one secret the news media cannot bear to let the public know, it's that they are pretending to be expert authorities on everything they report on — journalism is supposedly this noble profession where hard-working reporters seek out the truth and report it for everyone to see.

The trouble with the truth is that you — yourself — need to do the work of fully understanding what it is you're trying to understand. For the most part, we take it on faith that cold water will freeze before hot water, the interstate highway system has straight sections that can be used as emergency airstrips, or that cell phones can cause a fire at a gas station. We take it on faith that the people reporting the news know what they're talking about — that they found experts and checked sources and did all that important stuff to ensure it's all true.

So I'm thrilled when someone like Abel can come around and show that the foundation for the faith in the news is false. Other people, though [also known as "people I tend to not get along with very well"] are deeply troubled by such exposure. They felt safe and assured that everything they were told was true. But when someone proves otherwise, it is they who make the world less safe by pointing it out.

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Ali's Mom Visits
by Jason Olshefsky at 9:47 pm (add a comment)

Ali's mom came to visit this weekend. They got to spend a lot of time together working on decorating her house. We also hit a couple local restaurants — first-and-foremost was Don's Original (4900 Culver Rd.) as she always makes her way back there any chance she can. We also had an excellent meal at Pomodoro Grill and Wine Bar (1290 University Ave.) There's no surprise why they're still around after all these years.

I spent most of the weekend alternately trying to get things done and nursing a fever. I would have probably given them lots of time anyway (as it's been a long time since Ali's mom has been back in Rochester) but the fever just amplified the situation that much more. (And they did have a nice time, just the two of them.)

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Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I saw an interview with John Hope Franklin by Charlie Rose and it got me thinking about slavery
by Jason Olshefsky at 11:25 pm (add a comment)

I had a hard time getting to sleep and I ended up watching TV for a bit. I stumbled on an episode of Charlie Rose on WXXI re-run from December 1, 2005: an interview with John Hope Franklin shortly after he published his book, Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin. I caught bits-and-pieces as I went in-and-out of feverish sleep.

I did catch a discussion on slavery, though. Franklin's view is that for America to really get over slavery, we need to acknowledge that it was a pivotal part of building America. He also made an argument for reparations in an intelligent manner. I don't remember it completely clearly, but he said that it wasn't as simple as white people writing checks to blacks. I gathered that his intention was that it was not the monetary compensation that was important — for that alone is meaningless — but that it was the whole process of accepting that it happened, understanding that it was an important part of America's development, realizing the effects that have carried to today, and preparing to heal those wounds and close the gaps.

Here he was a man born 50 years after slavery was abolished and who has grown through the slow process of stamping out the flames of racism. As I drifted off, I recall him talking about how slavery is alive today. All those ideas seem to have stuck with me.

So I got to thinking about slavery: what is it?

Well it's white slave masters with whips in the South beating blacks to pick cotton while they got rich. Something like that, right? I imagine that on average slaves were treated like work animals: they were given minimal-but-adequate food, shelter, water, clothing, and health care, they were forced to work, and they were not allowed to leave of their own volition.

So then I connected that with minimum wage. Consider a married person with 2 kids working 40 hours at New York's current minimum wage of $7.15/hour. Working a full 52 weeks nets you $14,872 a year and at the end of the year, you pretty much pay no income tax. Let's round that off to $1,250/month. You'll need a place to stay, so that's like $700/month, then gas and electric will cost another $250 or so. Groceries for a family with 2 kids you might be able to sneak for $200/month if you're frugal. So that's $1,150/month in basic expenses leaving $100 for "incidentals" like health care, clothing, and, oh yeah: transportation.

Let's say you manage to enroll in night classes for a better-paying job (which is the only "acceptable" way of bettering yourself — unlike a well-paid person who is free to take classes in scrapbooking, for instance, without nearly as much sneering and harumphing: a clear double-standard if you ask me). But then the car breaks down … *whip crack* … or your kid needs a tooth pulled … *whip crack* … or you fall ill … *whip crack*.

Just making it through one year without some "mishap" qua "financial disaster" happening is a lucky year indeed. Add to that that you need to be infallible — for human error is not an acceptable portion of the equation. (But remember also that by the luck of the draw, you're probably somewhere around average intelligence and average skill, not superhuman.)

Oh, you say, but there's a safety net of welfare. Yes, a safety net indeed — wherein you accept your minimal-but-adequate food, shelter, water, clothing, and health care, on the condition that you follow the rules and take any job you're accepted for. Given your skills, the best you can hope for is another minimum-wage job. By the way, good luck paying off that debt you now have too.

But there are people who have escaped the cycle, so it must be possible. Possible, yes, but likely no. It requires determination, skill, and luck to all come into confluence. Without all three, the cycle stays closed.

So in the end, I think that's maybe what we need to realize about America: that it took determination, skill, and luck to get to where we are today. Then perhaps we can admit that "minimum wage" approximates "slavery" well enough to call them equivalent. And then we can look at how America operates today and realize that our present view of "prosperity" is predicated upon owning slaves.

And then, maybe we can start to talk about ending slavery once and for all.

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Top Pick Tonight at 5 p.m. in the Hawkins-Carlson Room of The Rush Rhees Library at The University of Rochester (Library Rd. at Intercampus Dr., details on River Campus Map) is a lecture by Steven Kurtz titled Crossing the Line: Interdisciplinary Work in a Society of Fear. [source: University of Rochester website]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at 6 p.m. at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) are two separate events. There's a Members' Conservation Clinic for tips on how to care for old photographs, and there's a Photo Lecture by Will Yurman on his exhibition Not Forgotten: Portraits of Life and Death in Rochester. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at The Baobab Cultural Center (728 University Ave., formerly on Gregory St.) at 7 p.m. is a screening of Spotlight on Global Issues: Coming Out of the Smoke followed by a discussion with Ben W. Ebenhack on the growth of modern energy consumption in Africa. [source: Baobab website]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Nightmare Alley starting at 8 p.m. It's a gritty film noir about the "dark and seamy side of carnival life". [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at The Bop Shop (274 N. Goodman St., in Village Gate Square) is Animal ForumMySpace link starting around 8 p.m. [source: WBER calendar] [all ages]

Tonight and every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Learning Center at Brighton Memorial Library (2300 Elmwood Ave.) is a meeting of The Rochester Movie Makers Club [source: Rochester Film Lab Yahoo! Group]

Drinking Liberally meets at 8 p.m. tonight at Monty's Korner (355 East Ave.) [source: RocWiki calendar]

Apparently The Critical Mass Bike Ride is tonight starting at 5:30 p.m. at the clock tower near The Wilson Commons at The University of Rochester (Library Road, #39 on River Campus Map.) to The Liberty Pole (1 Liberty Pole Way) at 6 p.m. and heading through the city from there. [source: the proverbial grapevine]

Really talented guitarist and singer Kinloch Nelson will be at Bodhi's Cafe & LoungeMySpace link (274 Goodman St. N., in Village Gate) starting around 6:30 p.m. [source: Bodhi's Cafe MySpace page]

Boulder Coffee Co.MySpace link (100 Alexander St.) will be hosting The Soups of the DayMySpace link, WalriMySpace link, and Nora KaminskiMySpace link starting around 8 p.m. [source: Boulder Coffee MySpace site] [all ages]

Tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Shipping Dock Theatre (31 Prince St., new location at Visual Studies Workshop) is Shipping Dock UnleashedMySpace link. [source: Shipping Dock Theatre mailing]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Strange Culture starting at 8 p.m. Steven Kurtz will be on hand as well to discuss this film about his encounter with the U.S. Government's overzealous use of the PATRIOT Act. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Tonight and tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. at Nextstage at Geva (75 Woodbury Blvd.) is more improvisational comedy with Geva Comedy ImprovMySpace link. [source: RocWiki]

JayceLand Pick The Dub Land UndergroundMySpace link (315 Alexander St., formerly Whiskey) will be hosting pure instrumental funk from The Filthy FunkMySpace link starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Freetime]

Tonight probably starting around 7 p.m. at The Storefront Anti-War Crisis Center (658 Monroe Ave.) is the Subversive Komedy Fest. [source: the proverbial grapevine]

The Club at Water Street (204 N. Water St.) will be hosting RedLine Zydeco, and The All Night Ramblers starting around 7 p.m. [source: Water Street calendar] [13+]

Over at The House of Hamez (389 Gregory St., formerly Daily Perks) starting around 8 p.m. is Tina Albright with The Steve Greene Trio. [source: House of Hamez website] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Over at Boulder Coffee Co.MySpace link (100 Alexander St.) starting around 8 p.m. is The Varnish CooksMySpace link. [source: Boulder Coffee MySpace site] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Starship Troopers starting at 8 p.m. Although I missed the message when it came out, I've come to realize this is as the Eastman Calendar notes: "one of contemporary cinema's great anti-war satires, taking every opportunity to lampoon fascist ideology". (And as an added bonus, watch for comedian and actor Greg Travis as the reporter who gets gruesomely killed — he's the same guy who gets the crap beat out of him for tailgating in Lost Highway and generally gets somehow thrown around in several other movies.) [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Over at Potential Life StudiosMySpace link (34 Elton St.) starting around 8 p.m. is noise-based loops and haunting voices from City Harvest BlackMySpace link, Deep Fried Radio Static For a New American Century, 8:14amMySpace link, and Nothing Moves Inside. [source: Carbon Records calendar]

Tonight at The Flat Iron CaféMySpace link (561 State St.) is Mike CottoneMySpace link starting around 9 p.m. followed by The After Hours Jam Session with The Quinn Lawrence TrioMySpace link. [source: Flat Iron Cafe webstie]

Tonight at The Dub Land UndergroundMySpace link (315 Alexander St., formerly Whiskey) is Jae MoodMySpace link, and Aranka Fabian starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: JamBase calendar for Rochester]

JayceLand Pick The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting a Roast of Todd "Grinder" with his band The Grinders starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [21+]

JayceLand Pick Good stoner rock-influenced rock band Argus EyeMySpace link will be at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: Monty's Krown MySpace page] [21+]

Betty's Sing-a-Long is regularly scheduled at Betty Meyer's Bullwinkle Café (622 Lake Ave., a.k.a. "Bullwinkle's") starting around 10 but since September, 2007 people have reported they were closed.

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Praise starting at 7 p.m. Filmmaker John Curran will be on hand to introduce and discuss his "decidedly offbeat, and ultimately haunting story of love between two outsiders." Also screening is his short film, Down Rusty Down. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

Top Pick A new program titled The Hornets' Nest starts tonight at 7 p.m. at Nextstage at Geva (75 Woodbury Blvd.) with a script-in-hand reading of Back of the Throat by Yussef el Guindi. The play deals with the supposed balance between freedom and security. [source: Geva Theatre website]

Tonight at Verb Café at Writers and Books (740 University Ave.) is another Wide Open Mic with Norm Davis at 7:30 p.m. [source: Writers and Books calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick In theory, there is another Emerging Filmmakers Program tonight at The Little (240 East Ave.) at 9:15 p.m., but I haven't heard anything about it so your guess is as good as mine. As soon as I get the details I'll post the films.

JayceLand Pick The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting thick bass-driven noise from Tuurd, instrumental-cacophonous-rock from Science vs. WitchcraftMySpace link, and Red Tag Rummage SaleMySpace link starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Carbon Records calendar]

Bored? Why not check out 1980's DJ night at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 11 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

This morning at 7:30 a.m. in the cafeteria overlooking the arboretum in Bausch and Lomb (140 Stone St.) is the Artists Breakfast Group meeting ... anyone interested in art or creativity is invited.

Today from 12:12 p.m. to 12:52 p.m. in Gleason Auditorium at The Rochester Public Library (115 South Ave.) is a Tuesday Topics discussion with Mayor Robert J. Duffy discussing Public Safety and Our Community. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar] [all ages]

Tonight's Game Night in The Little Theatre Café (240 East Ave.) features an assortment of board games. [source: Little Theatre e-mail]

The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Serenity starting at 8 p.m. in which the crew of a cargo spaceship "protect a mysterious young girl by avoiding the fascist Alliance and a powerful bounty hunter." Of interest is that the movie was made largely at the insistence of fans of the related television series, Firefly. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting Vinnie's Attic starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [18+]

JayceLand Pick The Dub Land UndergroundMySpace link (315 Alexander St., formerly Whiskey) will be hosting Four Finger FiveMySpace link starting around 9:30 p.m. [I thought it funny that Freetime Magazine has this band listed as Four Finger Eleven.] [source: JamBase calendar for Rochester]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Juventude Em Marcha (Colossal Youth) starting at 8 p.m. in which a man who visits his fellow immigrants living in a housing project at the site of a demolished slum. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) is The Shitty FaggotsMySpace link, and The Dead CatholicsMySpace link starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [18+]

Poor People United meets tonight and every Wednesday at 7 at St. Joseph's House of Hospitality (402 South Ave.) [source: the proverbial grapevine]

Every Wednesday starting at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) at 7 p.m. is the Rochester Cruisers Ride for bicyclists. [source: RocBike website]

There's an Open Mic for Acoustic Music at Boulder Coffee Co. (100 Alexander St.) tonight around 8. [source: the proverbial grapevine]

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This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do. Music events are usually original bands with occasional cover bands and DJ's with musical styles including punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat." Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed. Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events. I also tend to express opinions, review past events, make reviews, speak of philosophy or of a philosophical nature, discuss humanity and creativity. Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.) It's also not to be confused with Jake's World or JakesWorld which is a site of a Rochester animator. While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, January 24, 2008 (Thu, Jan 24, 2008, 1/24/2008, or 1/24/08) Friday, January 25, 2008 (Fri, Jan 25, 2008, 1/25/2008, or 1/25/08) Saturday, January 26, 2008 (Sat, Jan 26, 2008, 1/26/2008, or 1/26/08) Sunday, January 27, 2008 (Sun, Jan 27, 2008, 1/27/2008, or 1/27/08) Monday, January 28, 2008 (Mon, Jan 28, 2008, 1/28/2008, or 1/28/08) Tuesday, January 29, 2008 (Tue, Jan 29, 2008, 1/29/2008, or 1/29/08) and Wednesday, January 30, 2008 (Wed, Jan 30, 2008, 1/30/2008, or 1/30/08).

JayceLand Pick indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.

Top Pick indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.

GarageBand link links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.

MySpace link links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.

Fly the flag today. is a day when you should fly the flag according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars calendar.

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