I was intrigued that the performances of the racially-charged play Dutchman at The Flying Squirrel Community Space (285 Clarissa St., formerly the Flower City Elks Lodge) would be followed by a moderated discussion on racism so I headed over.The play was written by Amiri Baraka and first performed in 1964; it was later made into the film Dutchman. Although the dialog and situations were a little dated, the core story of a black man seduced-then-ridiculed by a white woman is still haunting and strong.
Rakiyah Tapp acted as facilitator for the discussion and did an excellent job keeping people communicating. She noted that there are three kinds of racism that tend to stratify into levels: [if I remember correctly] individual, institutional, and systemic. Systemic racism provides the discriminatory rationalizations for institutional racism (at the organization-level) and individual racism (one-on-one between people).
I started out by saying that I felt that "racism is taking culture too far". (Of course, I always seem to start with something that makes no sense and ends up alienating everyone, some of them for the entire night.) My point was that we're all biased by our stereotypes based on our first impression of someone, but racism is when those stereotypes obliterate the individual before us. I suggested that we should train ourselves to treat every new person as an individual and ignore cultural cues — at least at the outset.
In the ensuing discussion, it became clear that white-on-black racism is unique among the ways individuals discriminate against one another because the systemic component is so deeply ingrained. (In fact, the play's climax brings this idea to the forefront.) As such, no suitably complex analogy is available for whites. For women, gender bias is deeply ingrained, but it is not nearly as tenaciously sinister as racism, and for white men, there is no systemic discrimination of any appreciable magnitude. So the mechanisms I used to bond with another person — commiseration and analogous stories — not only fail, but backfire tremendously as I'm reinforcing my own lack of understanding.
So I step back from my original argument and simply say that what I do (declare all cultural and ancestral markers irrelevant when I meet a new person) is an attempt to break the back of systemic racism. Like any "good progressive" I discourage racial stereotypes and other divisiveness. But I'm also aware of how I appear to other people — particularly children. I was raised in a country where systemic racism has continued to thrive, but I choose to buck that and adapt my behavior to treat people as equally as I can. As time goes by, it becomes more and more natural to do although I can still hear the echoes of prejudice quite well.
The film lays out a tale of hope and skepticism. The ivory-billed woodpecker was one of the largest woodpeckers in the world, but logging of its natural habitat in the southeastern United States, and (to a lesser extent) hunting resulted in its extinction. Declaring something "extinct" is a fickle thing because something is only extinct until one is seen again. And that's what happened … sort of, anyway. A bird watcher managed to barely catch a few frames of video of a large woodpecker in an Arkansas swamp that was thought to be an ivory-billed. Years of searching yielded no conclusive evidence (nor any tangential evidence like the tell-tale large nesting holes). Further muddying the search was that pileated woodpeckers — common in that area — could be almost as large and (to all but the best-trained eyes) look a lot like the ivory-billed.
As such, it's more a documentary about the complicated interplay between science, money, and hope. True scientific research (that is, research that does not have a specific economic or ideological goal) seeks the truth. But as researchers rely on money and jobs as much as anyone else, this creates pressure to conduct research that gets research dollars rather than what should be done next (in an interview with director Scott Crocker by Ben Radford, Crocker relays (sans formal attribution) that the "process of acquiring funding for research [is] akin to throwing spaghetti at the wall: whatever project sticks gets the green light. This 'stickiness factor' of proposals is often determined by very unscientific agendas having more to do with commercial and public relation interests.") And then there's the hope — against all odds — that humans did not actually wipe out a species.
As a believer in scientific research, I was rather shaken to learn that a pair of scientists had their paper silenced because it called into doubt the video depicted an ivory-billed woodpecker. I firmly believed that science was immutable to outside forces — that reasoned dissent was so integral to science that it could not be bribed away. Finding that I'm wrong breaks a few of the fundamental rules I had about what to believe.
I had relied on peer-reviewed and approved studies as the gold standard. But that assumed the review process was open and any rigorous argument would be published for review. And so (as I did a couple weeks ago) I'll revisit global warming and specifically whether it's significantly caused by humans. I understood that the self-perpetuating nature of research funding meant that (at least today) research projects whose thesis supported human-caused global-warming theory would be more strongly funded through traditional means of government and educational institutions. However, other wealthy interests were equally providing funding to discredit the theory: petroleum companies in particular would derive great benefit if global warming were not caused by man, so I had a high level of confidence in human-caused global-warming because of that balance.
Alas, the publishers of reviews are biased. So given that new information, where do I turn? Unfortunately I'm cornered into the milquetoast "the results are inconclusive." In other words, if I can find a rationale for significant bias, I can only ascertain that I can't confirm or deny the claims made as a result.
So let me formally split global warming. I don't think there is significant bias in the study of global temperatures, so based on research I've seen, the global average surface temperature is increasing. But as for the human influence on that warming trend, because of the bias from political, social, and economic forces, I cannot determine a reliable source. That said, I have yet to see where the addition of car exhaust, tires, garbage, or pollution has improved a natural habitat, so I'll continue to work to reduce my ecological impact.
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Senso starting at 8 p.m. Here's what the Eastman House calendar has to say: "Alida Valli plays the tragic aristocratic Italian heroine whose downward spiral begins when she falls blindly for an Austrian soldier (Farley Granger) in this 'lush, melodramatic portrait of seduction and betrayal, decadence and deceit in the midst of Italy's resistance to Austrian occupation in the mid-19th century' (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader)."
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
In theory, there is another
Emerging Filmmakers Program
(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.
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.
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Special Delivery starting at 8 p.m. According to the Eastman House calendar, "recently restored by George Eastman House, the last silent vehicle for legendary wide-eyed vaudeville and Hollywood comedian Eddie Cantor finds the funnyman as a hapless mailman. While going through his swiftly appointed rounds, our hero stumbles upon a gang of crooks (led by William Powell) who are planning a large-scale confidence scam." Featuring live piano accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli.
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
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, November 25, 2010 (Thu, Nov 25, 2010, 11/25/2010, or 11/25/10) Friday, November 26, 2010 (Fri, Nov 26, 2010, 11/26/2010, or 11/26/10) Saturday, November 27, 2010 (Sat, Nov 27, 2010, 11/27/2010, or 11/27/10) Sunday, November 28, 2010 (Sun, Nov 28, 2010, 11/28/2010, or 11/28/10) Monday, November 29, 2010 (Mon, Nov 29, 2010, 11/29/2010, or 11/29/10) Tuesday, November 30, 2010 (Tue, Nov 30, 2010, 11/30/2010, or 11/30/10) and Wednesday, December 1, 2010 (Wed, Dec 1, 2010, 12/1/2010, or 12/1/10).
indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.
indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.
links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.
links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.