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Weekly Rochester Events #490 Starting Thursday, May 29, 2008

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Eminent Domain, Duffy-Style
by Jason Olshefsky at 8:45 am (add a comment)

I noted a press release from City Hall (30 Church St.) from May 23, 2008 titled "Mayor Duffy Statement on Court's Approval of Midtown Condemnation Proceeding". The title implies Midtown was condemned, but the body of the release states, "we are thankful for Judge Van Strydonck's decision to grant our motion to take ownership of Midtown by eminent domain." My confusion was directly clarified in the Wikipedia article on eminent domain, explaining that "the term 'condemnation' is used to describe the formal act of the exercise of the power of eminent domain" and that it is "not to be confused with the same term that describes a declaration that real property, generally a building, has become so dilapidated as to be legally unfit for human habitation due to its physical defects."

While I'm no fan of the myriad of ways the government can take away one's earned property, I do give preference to those methods which are a simple if-then algorithm. What I mean by that is things like property tax: I at least know that if I do not pay my property tax, the government will take that property away. As such, I can choose my course of action and understand the reaction.

Exercising the power of eminent domain — condemnation — can happen at any time and without any cause on the part of the property owner. Because of that, I would hope that the government uses it with great care. Let's say you've got a $50,000 house — at least that's what it would sell for on the open market. If the government wants to run a highway through it, I would hope that is done gingerly and fairly — so for instance, one might request $150,000 to find a suitable replacement home in short order and to cover personal losses and such, but it would typically be unreasonable to request $1,500,000 unless there's some unusual circumstances.

One has to remember, of course, that the will of the government will persevere. Realizing that, it should be as cordial a disruption as possible — the government providing the "scooped-up in the hands of God" kind of move, and the property owners agreeing to reasonable discomfort. In theory, the governmental need for the property is so great that paying more than the current market value is a bargain.

Admittedly I'm talking about someone's home. In the case of Midtown, it's commercial property. Regardless of who owned it — [and with great reluctance *sigh*] even if it's a property holding company — as long as they met the requirements for keeping the property, as far as I'm concerned, they have the right to continue to keep it.

So let me go back to eminent domain once more. My recollection is that it's for things like a highway or a railroad where one property owner blocks completion of a much larger project — for instance, a farmer refusing to sell a mile of access across a 1,000 acre farm, preventing the completion of a 500 mile highway, or at least dramatically increasing the cost and complexity. I gather that historical precedent has changed this view, and indeed a project can target only one property.

In the case of Midtown, the whole project has me thinking of the City government with cartoon dollar-signs in their eyes: it's the City gambling with their revenues as if they were a business. I would much rather have had them support PAETEC's efforts to purchase the property themselves — welcome PAETEC to the table and open up the zoning and permit processes, for instance. As I see it, PAETEC has no risk — the City now owns Midtown and PAETEC can set up their world headquarters wherever they please. This is the same perfect-storm situation as the Fast Ferry: the City removed risks to encourage economic development, and caused irreconcilable bad business decision to be made in the artificial safe-harbor.

But I would also like assurance that the property owners have been justly compensated — by definition of the property owners. I guess this will come to be known in the coming months, as the press release says, "the parties affected by the condemnation will have six months to file claims for additional compensation that they believe are not resolved by the condemnation and relocation payments". We shall see.

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Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Decisions, Fear, and Excitement
by Jason Olshefsky at 8:31 pm (1 comment)

I got into a discussion on Tribe the other day about what is fear — specifically, when are decisions made because of fear. I argued that fear never comes into play in decision making because it never gets the chance to be explored. I talked about this with my friend Tony and he pointed out that biologically, fear is the same thing as excitement — the only difference is attitude. So I thought I'd revisit all of it and try and tie it into something coherent.

In the Extreme Honesty Tribe, I made a case for fear never actually being experienced in a rational decision-making process. It's a semantic argument, but important: saying one didn't act because of fear usually means they decided to avoid a situation that might cause fear. For instance, saying "you didn't apply for that creative director job because of fear" doesn't really mean that you were afraid — you just avoided the anxious experience.

In other words, fear is the experience of feeling anxious from taking an action that has a broad and unpredictable set of outcomes. Curiously, it's the same circumstances that cause excitement — except that instead of anxiety, one feels invigoration. Hence, it's all attitude; whether one is worrying about a negative outcome or anticipating a positive one.

Let me start a scenario to work from: running into a busy street, right into traffic. When I think about it, I think, "that's a stupid idea because I'd probably get run over." If I imagine myself actually doing it, there would be screeching tires and people honking their horns and maybe some collisions; I might get run into and thrown over a car; or maybe I get whacked and injured bad enough to lose consciousness and end up in a hospital.

But then I think, "well, I actually probably won't get run over unless I jump right out in front of a moving car." What would probably really happen is that people would honk and yell and stop. If I made my way to the other side, they'd probably cuss and gesticulate angrily and that would be that.

In that is an interesting demonstration: that our reflexive rational sense is often quite flawed. If I say, "why don't you just run out into traffic?" the reflexive answer is something like, "so I don't get hit by a car". However, if you separate "running into traffic" into two cases — "arbitrarily jumping into traffic" and "abruptly entering traffic such that an attentive driver would have adequate time to stop" — you find that two separate risks emerge. In the former, there's a statistical likelihood that you're going to get hit: if cars pass at an average of one every 5 seconds and it takes 2 seconds for them to successfully stop, then your odds are 2/5 that you'll get hit by a car if you randomly enter traffic. But if you only enter traffic when an attentive driver has the ability to stop, your chances of getting hit are much lower — let's say (arguably …. arguably)1 in 200 that a driver is not being attentive — then that's your odds of being hit. It's still not enough to warrant the risk, at least for most of us, but if you add in your own ability to jump clear in the 2 seconds when a driver is failing to stop, then it's really not all that bad.

But that in itself is a flawed argument. While statistical analysis opens up to new ways of understanding the world, it still is not a predictive tool: it can only guarantee the outcome of future statistical analysis. For instance, no matter how many ways I analyze the results of the roll of a 6-sided die, I still cannot predict the outcome of the next roll. If I run into traffic — whether arbitrarily or with caution — I cannot predict whether I will actually be hit by a car.

So now where's our rational mind? Mine says, "Well, regardless: I don't want to piss people off". I'll leave an exercise for the student to chase each risk and reward (to oneself, to the drivers, and to society in general) of such behavior to its nonexistent conclusion.

But what would the point be — of running into traffic, for instance? Therein lies the point of the whole thing: I don't know and neither do you. Perhaps one would grok the behavior of people in cars and find solace in that. Perhaps one would realize that they have been overly cautious their whole life. Perhaps someone turns around and seeks the pedestrian to punch them. Perhaps one would get hit by a car. — I don't know.

I can guarantee, though: that one will face a situation where the outcome is unknown. And that is the root of both fear and excitement.

I can also say that I experience regret whenever I encounter a situation that would force me to face unknown outcomes and I avoid it because of that — that I avoid a situation if I believe myself to be unlikely to succeed without evidence. I regret it because I think it perpetuates a state of childhood — that dispelling the unknowable through experience is the path to true adulthood.

And I think it is indicative in the culture around me. Powers-that-be are drawn to the safe and the statistically demonstrable. We shun risk-takers — and at the same time admire them … in an instinctive way. I think it is our nature to face the unknown to make it understood.

The ultimate, permanently un-shareable unknown is death itself. Only by constantly building confidence in our ability to face the unknown can we even hope to face our inevitable ends with peace, confidence, and grace.

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Tonight at 6 p.m. at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) there is a Photography Lecture with Bob Krist titled Behind the Scenes: Real-Life Misadventures of a Travel Photographer. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Slums of Beverly Hills starting at 8 p.m. with an introduction by and discussion led by writer-director Tamara Jenkins (kicking off a weekend with her). The semi-autobiographical film follows a middle-class family trying to skim along the bottom-edge of upper-crust Los Angeles. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

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

JayceLand Pick Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (99 Court St.) will be hosting wicked fun percussion-and-saxophone dominated jam band The BuddhaHoodMySpace link starting around 10 p.m. [source: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que calendar]

At 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Link Gallery at City Hall (30 Church St.), The Chinese Dance School of Rochester will perform a benefit for victims of the earthquake in southwestern China. [source: City Hall press release]

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


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Memorial Day

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]

Tonight at Boulder Coffee Co.MySpace link (100 Alexander St.) is "horror movie soundtrack" band J. G. BlizaroMySpace link, and Sakes Alive!MySpace link starting around 7 p.m. [source: Boulder Coffee MySpace site] [all ages]

Top Pick At the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.), Tamara Jenkins will be introducing Make Way for Tomorrow starting at 8 p.m. Jenkins cites this film about an aging couple who get little support from their children as influencing her own film The Savages, screening tomorrow night. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Mez (389 Gregory St., formerly House of Hamez and Daily Perks) will be hosting Tumul, Ben Court, and Dead Dogs Bit. I figure they'll start around 8 p.m. like usual even though the Carbon Records website said 11 p.m. [source: Carbon Records calendar] [all ages]

The Po' Boys Brass BandMySpace link will be at The Bop Shop (274 N. Goodman St., in Village Gate Square) starting around 8 p.m. [source: JamBase calendar for Rochester] [all ages]

Tonight around 9:30 p.m. at The High Falls Gorge (Platt St at Browns Race, the Pont De Rennes Bridge) is the River of Light Laser Show. [source: City Hall press release]

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]

Tonight and tomorrow at The High Falls Gorge (Platt St at Browns Race, the Pont De Rennes Bridge) starting around 9:30 p.m. is the River of Light Laser Show. [source: City Hall press release]


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JayceLand Pick Americanomicon, 8 Eyes, and experimental, organic jazz from The Blood and Bone OrchestraMySpace link will be at The Mez (389 Gregory St., formerly House of Hamez and Daily Perks) starting around 8 p.m. [source: Mez website] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Boulder Coffee Co.MySpace link (100 Alexander St.) will be hosting The Po' Boys Brass BandMySpace link starting around 8 p.m. [source: Boulder Coffee MySpace site] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Savages starting at 8 p.m. with filmmaker Tamara Jenkins. In the film, two siblings face taking care of their father as he succumbs to dementia. They'll also be screening Jenkins' short film, Family Remains. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

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

JayceLand Pick Over at The Dub Land UndergroundMySpace link (315 Alexander St., formerly Whiskey) starting around 9:30 p.m. is Lazlo Hollyfeld, and fun ska band Mrs. Skannotto. [source: JamBase calendar for Rochester]

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.


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JayceLand Pick This afternoon at 2 p.m. at The Memorial Art Gallery (500 University Ave., near Goodman St.) is a What's Up Lecture with Susan Nurse leading "an architectural walking tour of the Memorial Art Gallery grounds and neighboring buildings". [source: Memorial Art Gallery calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Tôkyô monogatari (Tokyo Story) starting at 7 p.m. in which an "elderly couple visits their children in a bustling Tokyo where they are seen almost as a nuisance". [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

Over at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 9 p.m. is Die! Die! Die!, Child BiteMySpace link, and good high-energy punk-rock band The GrievantsMySpace link. [source: Bug Jar calendar]


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JayceLand Pick Updated: Tonight at 6 p.m. at The Storefront Anti-War Crisis Center (658 Monroe Ave.) is a meeting of a new Rochester branch of The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) with longtime Wobblies Paul Paulos, and Rochelle Semel. [source: Community Biking Alliance message board]

JayceLand Pick This evening's The Monday Evening Creative Arts (MECA) Lecture Series is How Ballroom Dancing relates to Life, Marriage and Physics with Peter Billett at Edgar G. Praus Productions, Inc. (176 Anderson Ave.). [source: MECA Rochester website]

Updated: The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players with The Ching-Fen Lee Dancers at the Bug Jar has apparently disappeared since last week. According to the updates on the calendars, The Trachtenburg's will be in town on June 18. [source: Bug Jar 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]


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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.

JayceLand Pick Tonight at 7 p.m. on the second floor of Barnes & Noble (3349 Monroe Ave.) is a meeting of The Rochester Speculative Literature Association (R-SPEC) where they'll discuss Gender, Power and Superpowers. [source: R-SPEC website]

The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Cincinnati Kid starting at 8 p.m. about a poker hustler. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) is The Evil City String BandMySpace link, and good acoustic soloist Electric OrganicMySpace link starting around 9 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [18+]


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This evening at 7 p.m., meet at the Pansy Bed near Highland and Goodman in Highland Park (Reservoir Dr.) to discuss Pruning — What Is It? And How Are You Supposed To Do It? with Mark Quinn, and Noelle Nagle. [source: Upper Mount Hope Neighborhood Association e-mail] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Minnie and Moskowitz starting at 8 p.m. — a John Cassavetes film about a "brash parking lot attendant" who seeks the affection of a"reserved museum curator". [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

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 Dogtown Hots (691 Monroe Ave.) at 7 p.m. is the Rochester Cruisers Wednesday Night Cruise (for bicyclists). [source: the proverbial grapevine]

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, May 29, 2008 (Thu, May 29, 2008, 5/29/2008, or 5/29/08) Friday, May 30, 2008 (Fri, May 30, 2008, 5/30/2008, or 5/30/08) Saturday, May 31, 2008 (Sat, May 31, 2008, 5/31/2008, or 5/31/08) Sunday, June 1, 2008 (Sun, Jun 1, 2008, 6/1/2008, or 6/1/08) Monday, June 2, 2008 (Mon, Jun 2, 2008, 6/2/2008, or 6/2/08) Tuesday, June 3, 2008 (Tue, Jun 3, 2008, 6/3/2008, or 6/3/08) and Wednesday, June 4, 2008 (Wed, Jun 4, 2008, 6/4/2008, or 6/4/08).


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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