Weekly Rochester Events #670 Starting Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Attending TEDx Rochester 2011
by Jason Olshefsky at 6:00 pm (2 comments)

Today was the third year of TEDx Rochester, held at Geva (75 Woodbury Blvd.) TED is a lecture series that originally focused on "technology, entertainment, and design" (providing the words for the acronym) but shifted to simply, "ideas worth spreading". "TEDx" lectures are independently produced, but attempt to mimic that theme. This year, TEDx Rochester featured sixteen live discussions, two video presentations, and a proper video lecture from TED itself.

Adam Walker kicked things off talking about a project he's involved with: The Kosovo Wind Gardens. The idea is to create small electricity-producing windmills all around countries without infrastructure for a reliable electric grid. Kosovo is one example, as it has very few power plants (their largest is a 1950-designed coal-burner with disastrous emissions) and simple things like dairy milk production are hampered by unreliable power. The windmills are designed with "appropriate technology" in mind: not just something from an industrialized nation, but a design that relies on simple materials and manual labor (rather than efficiency of mass-production) to better suit local self-sustainability. I was impressed with Walker's presentation and the keen sense of appropriateness and a focus on the people being assisted.

Next was Andrew Perry who discussed Visual Literacy and Graphic Narratives. His thesis was an attempt to show that the means of storytelling and communication are changing — whereas the poem was central to literature prior to the 16th century the novel became the dominant form starting around then, and now we are seeing a new form that integrates text with images and diagrams (in a creative, literary way, not solely for factual reference). There is a new manner of storytelling that goes with it and, while I'm not sure it will become a dominant form, it has definitely come into its own as a rich and complex literary form.

Ashley Aberg then spoke about the difficulties of changing medical thinking when it comes to gender. She centered her talk on what medicine calls "intersex" — neither dominantly male nor female. It is because the male/female binary-gender system influenced the medical community that the medical community considers it worthy of "correction" that typically involves surgically modifying the appearance of a child's genitals. Aberg's point is that there is nothing life-threatening or unnatural about intersex, and as such, it is society that should adapt to it. In some ways a radical concept, but in others, it is solely habit that keeps society's view of gender from matching what nature produces.

Next, Christopher Azzarra spoke about Improvisation: Musical Literacy Beyond the Page. As a music teacher, he observed that formal musical training does more to hamper individual music development than it helps. Since the measurement and analysis of music is so mathematical and sterile, it is hardly the place to start. Instead, he provided some examples of how natural it is for children and for professional improvisational performers to communicate with one another purely with music. Music touches us deeply because it is a fundamental part of our being.

Next was a video presentation of Raymond McCarthy Bergeron's La Lune et Le Coq — an amusing animation wherein the moon and rooster compete at the end of the night.

Dr. Tim R. Mosmann, Ph. D. gave a presentation on the complexity of the immune system. He gave a depth-first tour of immune response and how astonishingly complex it is. At each of a half-dozen levels (from the body to the lymph nodes to the chemistry of the lymph nodes to the cellular interaction to sub-cellular and so on) a huge amount of information is known on how it all works. But then we can extrapolate the exponentially large amount of information, since each specific example was only a fraction of the interaction at that level. In essence, the amount of information is too large to aggregate, so we need new tools to handle it.

In another radical turn, next was Jim Maddison who gave a case for building the The Roc City Skate Park under the eastern terminus of the Freddy-Sue Bridge. Like the shift to accept graphic novels or intersex individuals, skateboarding is a perfectly acceptable leisure activity that offers a mix of exercise, creativity, and accomplishment. Maddison and his team have been working to break down the entrenched view of skateboarders as ne'er-do-wells and hoodlums.

Xanthe Matychak presented Make Better Stuff: the rise of social business and distributed manufacturing. She sees a major shift in manufacturing where it will be possible to build on-demand at nearly anywhere in the world, alleviating the need for the manufacture/transportation cycles we have now. I tend to agree that these new technologies are a game-changing development. But I don't think it will have as nearly a large impact as she thinks or hopes, unless we see a major change in how people view money and cost that would permit local artisans to overshadow the desire for cheap mass-production.

Emcee Howie Jacobson presented his own project: Vote Be Heard. The gist is to encourage primarily poor, primarily black, and primarily inner-city people to vote in major elections to make their world better. Although I think the effort was valiant, it did not strike me that much care was given to the voices in those communities. In other words, it seemed like some comparatively wealthy white people got together and made what they thought would be powerful messages for a group they largely do not interact with. As I see it, the inner-city poor (like the Occupy Wall Street movement) have little idea what they can do to improve their situation without the benevolence of the wealthy people who keep them there. Because of that, voting has comically little effect, and the oppressed are wise enough to know that.

Theresa B. Mazzullo followed that talking about a group she's involved with, $eedNY. They have financial resources to fund start-ups and other technology ventures. I spent her entire talk trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I was seething as I wondered why people with great ideas and people with the ability to produce things (and often some of both in one person) were not already rewarded with great wealth — and those who have great wealth have neither ideas nor means? Further, I seethed at the whole "venture capital" concept where a person with an idea presents it to those with money, and if they are given money to proceed, either they fail and the gambled capital is lost (and they probably have to pay off crippling debt regardless) or they succeed and the bulk of the profits go back to the investor, reinforcing the cycle.

In another topical twist, Jon Schull presented a history of transportation, paying particular attention to bicycling and human-powered vehicles. Although his talk was interesting and sometimes enlightening, it lacked a call-to-action punch. Rather, it seemed to advise going along for the ride and to be prepared for things to change in the future. Having lived a zero-automobile lifestyle for 4 months now, I feel deeply relieved that I need not worry about all the maintenance owning an automobile brings. I tend to work from broad goals — even in 1994 when I bought my Civic, I was already thinking about rising gas prices (which never hit until 10 years on), and since then, I tended to steer my life toward eliminating the need for a car. Having finally achieved that, I feel well positioned for the future. I advise people to do the same: it's much easier to plan to live close to work 10 years from now than it is to try and achieve next week, so start now thinking how to adapt to our world in 10 years.

Mark Noble presented some recent developments in stem-cell research. Again, an informative lecture, but pretty much just that. And again, part of me gets annoyed that (in America, at least) this lifesaving technology is reserved for the rich people who can afford it. It's kind of disheartening to know that I'm less valuable as a person than someone else.

Triggering more irritation was Hasan Elahi's video lecture from TED titled Hasan Elahi: FBI, here I am!. In this case, I was annoyed with the totalitarian police state we live in, not in Elahi's lecture. He talked about how he was interrogated by airport security because of a name mix-up and how he now lives his life under constant government scrutiny. His solution was to publish the minutia of his life: he uses his smart-phone to periodically (and frequently) document his whereabouts along with other things like photos of his hotel rooms or the urinals he uses. In the end, it's a clever redirection of energy that is resulting in a surreal art project on surveillance.

Prove Your World was next: a group of people who are working on a science-based program for children that tries to be better than either dry lecturing or vacuous demonstration. By that, they mean that (like Christopher Azzarra said about music) exploring the theoretical side of something first turns people's interest away, yet by simply offering a flashy demonstration without explanation leads to no learning (or, for that matter, curiosity) whatsoever. Their technique is to start from a simple question (in their demonstration it was, "what's a supernova?") and use demonstration as a tool for learning. Of all the lectures, this was the one I want most to get involved with. Of course their pilot episode is about how airplanes fly, and I cringe that they will reinforce the "equal-transit-time myth" of the airfoil.

Jim Gresko and Dave Vogler paired up to talk about how design is similar to jazz improvisation. I thought it was an innovative approach to discuss the concepts and it worked well.

Next was a discussion of Empathy in Education by Timothy Cottrell. He runs a program called The Center for Mindfulness and Empathy Education which pairs high-school students with people in Hospice care. Students' own testimonials revealed a surprising maturity for people in young adulthood.

BELIEVE/Visual Intervention is a film by Ian Wilson and Philip Night that documents a street-art project bringing in international talent side-by-side with Rochester's own on projects on Troup Street and the Union Street railroad bridge near the Public Market.

Relatedly, closing the show was Joan Hildebrand — "the Voice of the Public Market". She had simple, straightforward observations on adapting to change, as she went from a mid-time TV personality to being nearly unknown in this small town, but rather than harp on what she lost, she found new vitality in her work with the Market.

Overall, I found this year's TEDx Rochester to be an even and varied distribution of good discussions. I found it a little heavy on money and products in that many lectures centered on either an existing or future product or project, or gave significant focus to money and profitability. Of course, that may be more my own bias as I tend to seek TED lectures that are more philosophical or human-centered, and tend to ignore those that highlight a new technology or product. I find it a little off-putting, though, that in their re-cap blog post, they note that they "partnered with RIT & U of R to help us recruit new talent for the stage" and add that in the coming year they are "looking to also partner with groups like The Entrepreneurs Network and High Tech Rochester to expand our net." To me this means even more focus on money, product, and project rather than ideas and exploration.

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    The Rochester Police Accountability Coalition (RPAC) meets this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. at The Flying Squirrel Community Space (285 Clarissa St., formerly the Flower City Elks Lodge). [source: Flying Squirrel Community Space website]

    Today at 7 p.m. at The Henrietta Public Library (455 Calkins Rd., Henrietta), Jack Kowiak "tells the remarkable stories of some common plants" in a lecture titled Amazing Backyard Plants. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar] [all ages]

    Craig DeLancey will present Why You Like Science Fiction (Even if You Think You Don't) at Brighton Memorial Library (2300 Elmwood Ave.) tonight at 7 p.m. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick Today at 7 p.m. at The Rochester Visual Studies Workshop (31 Prince St.) is the opening of Thirteen Views in Arid Lands by Potter-Belmar Labs. [source: Visual Studies Workshop calendar] [all ages]

    The Bertrand Russell Society meets tonight at 7 p.m. at Writers and Books (740 University Ave.) [source: Writers and Books calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick The Baobab Cultural Center (728 University Ave., formerly on Gregory St.) will be screening Louisiana Blues tonight at 7 p.m. [source: Baobab website]

    JayceLand Pick Also at 7 p.m., The Little (240 East Ave.) will be screening Big Bang Big Boom then Megunica with a discussion with Megunica director Lorenzo Fonda. [source: Carbon Records calendar]

    The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Joanna starting early at 7 p.m. From the Eastman House calendar, "Urszula Grabowska gives an unforgettable performance as Joanna, a piano teacher in Nazi-occupied Poland who discovers a seven-year-old Jewish child hiding inside a Cracow church." [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    Tonight at Physikos: The Art and Science of Movement (302 N. Goodman St.) is The Marilyn Lerner, Lou Grassi, and Ken Filiano Trio starting around 8 p.m. [source: Bop Shop calendar]

    JayceLand Pick Jeffrey LewisMySpace link, very good, experimentally-daring acoustic soloist Seth Faergolzia, Berth Control, and Payton Maravitch will be at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 9 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

    Fly the flag today.Veteran's Day

    JayceLand Pick Terence Blanchard: Flow — Living in the Stream of Music will be screened tonight at The Baobab Cultural Center (728 University Ave., formerly on Gregory St.) starting at 7 p.m. with filmmaker Jim Gabour. [source: Baobab website]

    JayceLand Pick Tonight at Kilbourn Hall at Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) is The Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble starting at 8 p.m. [source: Eastman School of Music calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Passione starting at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday at 2 p.m. John Turturro explores the music scene of Naples, Italy. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    Anderson Alley Artists (250 Goodman St. N.) will be having another open house this and every second Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. [source: the proverbial grapevine]

    Today at The Genesee Center for the Arts (713 Monroe Ave.) starting at 4:30 p.m. is the 8th Annual Firehouse Chili Cook-off: Great Bowls of Fire. [source: Genesee Center for the Arts calendar]

    JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Il deserto rosso (Red Desert) starting at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday at 5 p.m. According to the Eastman House calendar, "[Michelangelo Antonioni] builds on the achievement of his earlier films with Monica Vitti (L'avventura, La notte, L'eclisse) to create a devastating portrait of life in an industrialized society. Vitti plays the wife of a chemical magnate, groping for meaning against the twin threats of sexual liberation and familial collapse." [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick Tonight at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) is Velvet Elvis, Boston's really good classic-rock band TownshipMySpace link, Sisters of Your Sunshine VaporMySpace link, and Eddie Nebula's Awesome Sound starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

    Major Tony Nelson and Friends will present Electronic/Acoustic Poetry today starting around 2 p.m. at The Flying Squirrel Community Space (285 Clarissa St., formerly the Flower City Elks Lodge). [source: Flying Squirrel Community Space website]

    The Clarinet Collection will perform today's Musicale at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) today at 3 p.m. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

    The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting Kwoon, Alberto AlaskaMySpace link, and Silverfish starting around 9 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

    Veteran's Day (observed)

    JayceLand Pick Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) will be hosting The Eastman Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra starting at 8 p.m. [source: Eastman School of Music calendar] [all ages]

    Tonight at Abilene Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara) is The Chris Hollywood Pro-Am JamMySpace link starting around 9 p.m. [source: Abilene website]

    This morning starting around 8 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 Over at Kilbourn Hall at Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) starting at 8 p.m. is The Eastman Trombone Choir [source: Eastman School of Music calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Last Warning starting at 8 p.m. This tale of "a murder in an apparently cursed theater stands as one of the few true silent whodunits." Dr. Philip C. Carli will perform live piano accompaniment. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick Over at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 9 p.m. is The Lost PatrolMySpace link, good, guitar-driven, synth-enhanced, staccato-rock band AutoverseMySpace link, and GhostfeederMySpace link. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

    JayceLand Pick Carol Roberts hosts tonight's Monthly Story Slam at 7 p.m. at Writers and Books (740 University Ave.) [source: Writers and Books calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick The Eastman Wind Orchestra will be at Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) starting at 8 p.m. [source: Eastman School of Music calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Yards starting at 8 p.m. From the Eastman House calendar, "out of prison and desperate to support his ailing mother, Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) hooks up with his friend Willie (Joaquin Phoenix), who sabotages competitors' equipment for Leo's subway contractor uncle. When one of their jobs goes fatally wrong, Leo takes the fall, hunted by the law and his own family." [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick Project New Era, Hassaan MackeyMySpace link, and Marcus "MdotCoop" CooperMySpace link will be at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 9 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

    Ron Stackman is back at Abilene Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara) with The Weekly Abilene (upstairs) Reggae Lounge starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Abilene website]

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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, November 10, 2011 (Thu, Nov 10, 2011, 11/10/2011, or 11/10/11) Friday, November 11, 2011 (Fri, Nov 11, 2011, 11/11/2011, or 11/11/11) Saturday, November 12, 2011 (Sat, Nov 12, 2011, 11/12/2011, or 11/12/11) Sunday, November 13, 2011 (Sun, Nov 13, 2011, 11/13/2011, or 11/13/11) Monday, November 14, 2011 (Mon, Nov 14, 2011, 11/14/2011, or 11/14/11) Tuesday, November 15, 2011 (Tue, Nov 15, 2011, 11/15/2011, or 11/15/11) and Wednesday, November 16, 2011 (Wed, Nov 16, 2011, 11/16/2011, or 11/16/11).

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