May 23, 2003
I have no time to write now about my view of UNIX as a form of cultural property but one day I want to make ‘em. IN the meantime, enjoy the new legal battles over UNIX. That’s what happens when this thing, is at once a commercial product, a tool, a teaching method, a techno-philosophical paradigm, a collective adventure, and cultural heritage…. A huge fascinating muck.
Speaking of muck. I am in one right now trying to write a paperfor the digitalgenres conference. My paper puports to compare IRC banter to the social banter produced by the Caribbean “man-of-words” who loiters and talks for hours in public spaces building reputation, extending networks of friends, gaming with cards and dominoes, entertaining those around him, meta-commenting on all things local and global, and even engaging in some good ol business transactions. Let’s see if I can clear the muck in time…
May 22, 2003
I have complained for a long time that doctors need to fight for more equitable health care in this country whether it be by humanizing residency, fighting the insurance companies, or questioning the use of patents for medicine especially outside of the g8 nations. So, looks like there are starting to do some good stuff through a class-action suit against a bunch of insuance companies. This group of 700, 000 doctors have settled with Aetna which happens to be my insurance company. And don’t get me started on how much I dislike them. In short my coverage when up $400 this year while my benefits overall went down like $900,000. They are bastards and I am glad they are being forced to recognize thier bastardly ways and pay.
Maybe doctors will get some joy from fighting the insurance companies and get the bright idea that serious reform can only come from within the field…
May 19, 2003
May 18, 2003
I think this is what they were talking abouttoday at the conference.
May 17, 2003
When I first started doing research on Free Software and the ethics of information freedom, I thought that the politics of information freedom were certainly important but perhaps not “as” important as other political causes. Now, years in the field and more intimate familiarity with the issues have made me think otherwise. I see the politics of information freedom as a sort of “meta” form of politics, the first condition of possibility for all other forms of political causes whether in the field of health, corporate reform, anti-globalization or the environment. Access to information and transparency are simply indispensable for social change.
Today, at the MindFreedom conference, which comes out of the psychiatric survival movement, I was reminded of the importance of transparency, information freedom, and freedom of choice in the realm of health rights whatever the health issue may be but especially in the realm of mental health.
At one point in the conference, someone asked how many people had received electroshock therapy and more than half the room in the large auditorium raised their hands. And most distrubing is that most had received it against their will. The critical hinge of the psychiatric survival movement is that it does not deny all together current and conventional medications but they shun, question, and protest the process of how such medicines and therapies are spread, administered, and forced upon patients. Informed consent is a farce (physicians rarely follow the legal process), while drug companies completely rig studies to make certain new drugs look risk free when in fact there is plenty of risk associated with them. The continued salience of stigma forces patients to adopt treatments that “pulls the plug” of their inner life force to appease a scared and prejudiced public. So the folks who are categorized as mental ill are lied to by the drug corporations, treated as unfit to make decisions for themselves by society at large, while the medical establishment gives very few choices for treatment except massive doses of pills that have been shown scientifically to have little positive effect in curing or even alleviating many illnesses. When a severely disabled patient relies on public health services for food and shelter, resisting medications is not such an easy feat. Only the rich can make choices in this country.
In the end, their main message is “no forced treatment” but that does not mean just informed consent at the moment of “giving treatment” but it means providing real alternative so that there is a choice. At this time, there is not much choice within conventional channels especially when drug companies are doing everything possible to create new markets and add depth to ones that already exist.
May 15, 2003
So, I don’t think I have ever written about my thoughts on mental health and psychiatry here on my blog and I won’t tonight because my bed beckons. But I wanted to let local San Franciscans know that there is a very very interesting event, the Alternative Mental Health Conference happening this Saturday on 16th at Church street. They have some really good speakers lined up and it is free (so money is no exuse not to go).. They hold this event to coincide with the American Psychiatric Association yearly meeting being held at the Moscone center this weekend. The mind freedom folks will protest against the APA on Sunday.
May 14, 2003
Do you sometimes feel like you sort of know about a certain subject but are foggy on some of the historical details yet don’t have the time to read a long book about the subject for basic knowledge and contexual clarification. Well, if you sort of want a “101″ on the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, their history, their role in controlling public policy and economic imperatives the world over, and their current instantiation in world politics and American Empire, check out The Economics of Empire in Harper by William Finnegan. Without frills, its clear and powerful prose gets at the heart of the problems with these institutions that yield far to much power to determine the destinies of nations that depend on thier financial support in the form of loans, loans that really amount to social forms of bondage….
May 12, 2003
I have always been envious of my social science comrades who get to use spiffy graphs and statistical data to cleanly “prove” their arguments. Us anthropologists have to construct all our arguments ground up through narrative because really how the hell can one “represent” culture? (Ok, Levi-Struass had some pretty wild graphs of the “totemic operator” but really it is a hard sort of enterprise).
But every night, while lying in bed, my mind has wandered to the neat land of the graph and chart to see whether I could wrangle up some graphical processes to capture the deep processes of ethical doing and ethicalized labor that I am writing about in my dissertation that is so evident on the Debian project. I can now sleep in peace. My friend has depicted the subtleties, the force, the doing, that is ethical doing on the Debian project. Oh the power of the image…