September 30, 2003


Category: Politics — Biella @ 4:42 pm

I am finally back in the swing of things reading articles on the relationship between software and speech (yep, not your ordinary layperson’s treatment of software) and going about my business in Chicago. Luckily I have less obligations here in Chicago than I did in SF and PR so I can concentrate on finishing, I mean starting so that I can finish my dissertation…

One of the things I get to do again is read websites galore again. Before I blogged, I used to, believe it or not, print articles about Linux, free software, intellectual property, hackers and now I am filing so many articles, it is unreal. What is more unreal is that I a kinda enjoy the filing despite the ache in my back but I am sure my pleasure will wear out soon.

But now I can just read and blog not having to worry about pieces of paper anymore. Today, when catching up on the RIAA lawsuits, I read an article about LL Cool Jay and Chuck D testifying at a Senate subcommittee hearing about the “Evils” of file Swapping (LL (Not So) Cool’s position) and of the P2P really being “Power 2 the People (Chuck D’s position)…

I saw Chuck D talk nearly 2 years ago and Seth is right, he said some really provocative and funny things in a talk that if I recall correctly was like 3 hours long. The man is brilliant and you would think that with his humor he also takes an occasional gig with da onion.

The best is when Chuck D mixes humor with critque and insight:

P2P to me means power to the people,” said Chuck D. “I trust the consumer more than I trust the people at the helm of these (record) companies.”

“LL’s a staunch American,” Chuck D added in a brief interview. “He’s my man and all, man, but when you solely have an American state of mind, you’re increasingly bec oming a smaller part of the world.”

September 27, 2003

regaining life

Category: Ethics — Biella @ 7:32 pm

I have always been weary of being served “decaf” at cafes. Tonight, I think I find mysef caffeinated for the first time in a long while. My friend Jason recently told me, “you know, caffeine does not wake you up but gives you some really good ideas, they just come one after another….” Well, as I sat watching Ikiru at the Music Box, ideas came racing through my head (I drank the supposed decaf before the movie).

The movie was stunning, which was confirmed at the end when Marshall Sahlins who was sitting in front of me broke out clapping at the end. Seriously, it was a moving movie about regaining life and the conditions that sap it away from you which are at once psychological and social. The main character led an intert life for 30 years as a faceless beaurocrat working in a mind numbing position. Time ceased to be important and was essentially robbed from him. He was busy all day stamping papers and evading life in whatever guise and doing so in the name of a son he had no connection with… All of this changed when he got the diagnosis of cancer and he started to feel again and creep into the vicissitude of life. He found meaning fighting for the “right thing,” (I don’t want to ruin the movie) and basically he took control of time in his life again.

Among other things, the brilliance of Ikiru is capturing the relationship between time, meaning, and modern beaurocracies. Think about it… Every time you are running some errand, going to the doctor, trying to figure out your goddam taxes, trying to make a positive change in your neighborhood, working two jobs to make the bills meets, etc, you usually encounter a faceless entity (health insurance company, the government, American high school system, your employers, the IRS) in total frustration and you are robbed literally of time and eventually for many, their will. Many people don’t find themselves as in an extreme of a situation as that of the protaginist in Ikiru yet his state is what many people world over find themselves in a less virulent form. But once you have like a good portion of society in a state where they are without time, the status quo is easy to stay as the… status quo.

Unfortunately the brilliance of American political hegemony is the fact that 1. People are given freedom of speech although basically the message is ignored and/or drowned out 2. Many folks are scraping away just enough that they are not in a terrible socio-economic state but are left with little time to do anything else but make sure to keep etch a living 3. There is such a strong ethic of individualism that if you aren’t “making it” in whatever capacity, it is well the individuals fault… There is little room for an ethic of social welfare and responsibility

This movie actually speaks to some of these elements such as muting information, the myth of individual self-sustainability in a powerful way… It also gave me some good ideas for my dissertation on the relationship between free software (by the way, GNU sort of turned 20 today!) and rerouting around bureaucracy. The philisophical and cultural elements of free software culture empahsize everything that is antithetical to bueaucractic culture and this is captured even in technical architectures and expressed in the anxiety over keeping everything “open” and having control ove everything. I do think this is very much a response to the deep seated bureaucratic ways (the Iron Cage perhaps in Weberian terms) of our social state. But perhaps I just had too much caffeine.

September 26, 2003

Class Action Against Walmart

Category: Politics — Biella @ 4:32 pm

Hallo Everyone who comes to this. Here is more recent information about the lawsuit and where you can sign up! Thanks for your comments, good luck with it all!!


We have the laws in place for equality which is great but norms and cultural practices are very powerful structures for upholding things like sexism and racism and whatever ism. That is why it is important to keep battling and it is exciting to see that there might be a class action suit against America’s friendliest “retailer” Walmart. They have done everything in their power to avoid unionization and keep women a step behind from men in terms of positions and wage. If you need some background about women and Walmart, check it out here

Some honest words

Category: Politics — Biella @ 3:54 pm

So, some senators and presidential candidates have called for Rumsfeld to resign. Somewhat expected although somewhat late in coming. Today, a father of 2 soldiers in Iraq ran a full page adin the NYTimes calling for his resignation. It looks like a pretty poweful ad (though I have not seen it). But hopefully it simple message will start to change the minds of some:

  ”We now know that the President and those who serve him misled us about weapons of mass destruction, about Saddam’s supposed nuclear program, about a link between Saddam and September 11,” the advertisement said.

It is pathetic though that a newspaper like the NYTimes can’t forcelly report on this issue… At least someone can publish an ad about it..

September 23, 2003

Made it

Category: Personal — Biella @ 7:55 pm

I’ve made it… To Chicago and to the 30th year of my life. I am just glad that I am no longer… On the Road Again…

Blogging (NOT)Live from Wyoming

Category: Personal — Biella @ 2:59 pm

I have made it out of San Francisco where I lived off and on since January
of 2001. Part of me was sad to leave the city of youth where all types of
young people go to self explore, activate, or make money. I don’t think I
will ever live again in a city with so much young energy which is really…
ok. I mean, I loved it. The endless of options of great exciting things to
do, of really “great” bars, the latest documentaries, excellent food,
interesting people doing even more interesting things, and outdoors sea and
mountain adventures at your fingertips. But for me, it is a city of
transition. That might be because it was a transitional city for me but I
think it goes beyond that. It is a city of self and movement, where people
are doing first thier thing, and when and if that encouters others,
relationships forms. Otherwise, people will flake on their committment to
you to go contemplate the meaning of compassion…. Ok, maybe it is not that
bad. I met people SF that became friends that would go the distance for
others but there is this very strong form of individualism in the area that
seems to work against certain froms of friendships.

In part, the pace of life in SF is quick and full, just as quick as NYC, it
is just mixed in with the outdoors as well as city things. There is a
certain quality of slowless and empty time that is not found in SF. One of
the most noticeable social markers of this is that people tend not to do
things at people’s homes in SF, like dinner and movies. Friends meet
outside. This is in part a function of my age group but I did a little
asking with my older friends epecially ones that have lived in other cities
and they did note that friendships are not as “domestic” in SF as in other

All in all it is an amazing city especially one to live in when you are
young and wanting to “do.” There is too much too do and learn whether it be
political organizing, ecological and martial arts, music, and the visual
arts. Exploration in the 5 hr radius to the North , South, and West is
endless. I am going to miss the easy access to beautiful outdoors
activieties which are so sparse in the midwest.

September 15, 2003

Lost in Translation

Category: Personal — Biella @ 9:17 am

As an anthropologist, I have grown accustomed to making the unfamiliar, familiar. And even if it is not talked about, the process is always as much a psychological self journey as it is an academic, intellectual activity. Alive and traveling in a foreign environment, you are given a clean slate to examine your own world and life, whether it be your values, relationships, aspirations, and cavernous beliefs. Last night in Seattle I saw a movie that so captured this cultural process of self-exploration, Lost in Translation my Sophia Coppola. I went to see the movie as soon as I could being a fan of Bill Murray as well as wanting to see the movie of the rare breed of movie makers, female directors and/or writers and in this case, Sophia is both the writer and director. I liked her debut film, The Virgin Suicides although I felt the movie was an “atmospheric classic,” capturing and evoking an errie yet sublime atmosphere but stopping short at being able to capture the inner psychological world of the imprisoned sisters.

In Lost in Translation she was able to also capture the atmosphere of inner psychology and relationships and blend it so well with the visual atmosphere that the movie, though slow, enraptured. Both of the main characters, Charlotte and Bob find themselves in a strange land, disconnected and lost culturally from Japan but especially lost in their personal relationships. Bob is accustomed and almost resigned to his unfullfiled marriage while Charolotte is just coming to grips with the reality of a relationship where her husband says and declares love but words are so far from matching is action and true state of mind.

And that is what is really clever about the movie. The play between imagery, action, and words.

September 11, 2003


Category: Politics — Biella @ 7:17 pm

I just got back from seeing the documentary aftermath, unanswered questions from 9/11 made by the Guerrilla News Network and hosted tonight by Chicago Media Action. The documentary along with the two shorts were well done, mixing provocative information, with well-edited footage, and with a clean presentation style. Shown downtown in the heart of Chicago’s financial and governmental distict at a really beautiful Methodist church, the turnout was decent and definitely more diverse than what you would see at a similar event in San Francisco, the eternaly youthful city. Notably missing though were young people between the ages of 15-30… In some ways this was refreshing in other ways disturbing because Chicago is teeming full with young people. I guess it was refreshing because there was a better cross section of people from little old ladies to mothers with kids. But given the size of this city, I was surprised at the lack of young people at an event like this.

I have more to say about the fears, apathy, and frustrations that keep interested folks from actively seeking new avenues for expression, information, and change but I am too tired right now and somewhat down about the current state of affairs. It bothers me so that there is so much active protest and voices of dissent but that mainstream channels for media, expression, and politics can so effectively silence and earse primarily by tactics of ignoring. Who needs supression when you can ignore so effectively? It bothers me how easily the politicians and media have been able to conflate ( and with this seamless sickening perfection), 9/11 with terrorism, with the war on Iraq, and all though a simple language of good, evil, freedom, and terrorism, all the while social and economic conditions here and world over just worsen. But despite this people are actively demanding for other scenarios and options whether in the protests in Cancun or in the demand for the formation of a 911 Truth Commission

September 9, 2003

A natural jolt

Category: Politics — Biella @ 5:35 am

Oh and if you need a natural jolt, well, just need to read news about 9/11

Adios Cafe

Category: Personal — Biella @ 4:48 am

I am up early this morning, sipping a warm NON-caffeinated beverage. It is not what I want to be drinking because coffee is like soul food but for the first time in years, I think I have really quit the stuff. In the past year, I have sort of quit twice, even mentioning it on my blog before. But I usually always went straight to decaf which has a fair amount of caffeine and eventually always went back I think because I never felt like I really quit because I was still drinking this coffee like liquid everyday.

I have had a whole month with no coffee and only 3 cups of decaf and some of the results have been shocking. My concentration fares no better wtih caffeine…. And if anything my energy is more level and even throughout the day. It even has had the effect of stabilizing food and sugar cravings (by curbing insulin release). All of these things I like although I really do miss the taste like a mad woman, but the impact of caffeine on concentration is not enough to get me back to it right now.

What is harder are the mornings like now. I am still pretty out of it and stuffed up from my wonderful allergies and having a cup of joe would just perk me up instantly. I guess it gets your adrenals to release cortisol which is your fight and flight hormone so yeah, you get this little kick in the ass to “wake up because some shit is going down the houz” when really all you need to do is get online to check your email and read the news. But you are awake to do it! Now I just chill a little longer in the morning and I am ok…

It will be interesting to see how long I last on this regimen. Ultimately I quit because it caused me to sleep poorly which made me need coffee. I felt stuck in this childish catch 22 that I wanted to break. But life in grad school without coffee is not easy. The whole lifestyle here like in so many other places extends out of the black oil. And then of course when the ideas are not flowing or you are having writers block a little bit of the flight or fight hormone might seem like just the thing you need to get you over your hump…