January 26, 2004

The Mud Fud Fuddle of Tech Corporations

Category: Tech — Biella @ 7:29 pm

For those interested in reading an amusing and well written account about the SCO case, here it is (thanks Patrice!)

I.B.M. looks like the pretty good guy in all of this but indeed they of course do things that are typical of a corporate giant who makes big bucks off of patents. But really they should at least stick to technology patents and not the likes of How to Pay an Open Source Developer. Lame. Yeah they should just stick to what they do best software patents


Category: Politics — Biella @ 6:34 pm

During the huge anti-war protests last winter, Chicago did not figure prominently. In the US context, NYC and San Francisco got most of the coverage, which is too surprising given America is really a bi-coastal nation with the middle being, you know, “just the flatlands” with nice wholesome people (the midwest) and those large states with big mountains, generous driving limitis, and a dearth of people (Utah, Nevada, Montana etc). And anway, the turnout was apparently not that high in Chitown, again not too surprising: you try protesting in the cold-and-wind-and-misery-factory that is a typical midwest winter.

So why not move the Chicagoans to the protest instead? That’s the idea behind ChicagoNewYork to bring Chicagoans in the boat-and-butt-load (really busload) to NYC for what is anticpated as the Mother Ship of Protests to “honor” the Republican National Convention, in a disproportionately Democratic city.:

Welcome to the mother of all protests

The reasons for going are immense. The numbers that will be there will be incredible. The event will be historic.

There will be hundreds of thousands. Most of them will be from New York City. Our goal here at chicagonewyork.net is to make sure that the second largest group is from Chicago.

This is not about being an activist or going to just any protest. This is about bringing everybody you know. Everyone you’ve ever talked to who cringes when they hear Bush’s voice. Everyone who ever expressed fear and anger at what’s been done in our name.

Worth checking out…

January 23, 2004

Cannibalizing your hopes

Category: Personal — Biella @ 7:44 pm

I think a good portion of my energies are spent trying to converge my very firm belief that we really don’t have much control over our lives (and it is the great American myth to think that we can and do) with acting in the world as such and feeling good about it. Instead of management, control, direction, I strive for release, acceptance, spontaneity, mindfullness. But I usually fail and just the fact that I am on an academic path already indicates that, as well, us academics are notoriously controlling types.

There are little moments and ways that one can assert control and I guess that is why I love email. Someone writes to you and you reply at your own time and pace. Sometimes I spit it out a reply fast as fire other times I sit on it and move like molasses.

With the phone there is no such luxury and anyone who knows me well knows that I am not a “phone person.” I no longer go out of my way to make phone calls and in general they represent one huge source of anxiety in my life as bearer of bad news especially in the last year and a half.

I think one of the worst moments was when my mom called me after trying to dial the phone for 5 hours. And this was not a “circuits are busy” problem but a problem with her not being able to see and just trying over and over again to get the numbers right and hit them in the right spot. Since that day, my already tenuous relationship with the phone turned downright sour.

And unfortunately since then I tense when the phone rings expecting to hear some bad news which seems to happen at least once a month with either news from my sister that my mom is missing or my mom recounting a lousy story of someone trying to mug her or swindle her because people can tell she can’t really see well and that she is frail and sometimes confused. Apparently in the fall some mugger pushed her down and tried to take her purse but she, face down, and stubborn as a mule, held on. I have no idea how. She weighs 100 pounds and is mostly skin and bones at this point.

This makes me mad to no ends as it should though as my I first wrote, I still need to release, release, release because sooner or later, I will self-cannibalize with those feelings… Release though is not so easy in those circumstances.

Today she told me about her new medicine which cost her $ 110 (after insurance) for 10 days. That mind you, is only one pill a day and she is supposed to take two, so yeah you figure the math, it is, as an economist might say, a buttload of money.

That is what drives me crazy by the pharmaceutical industry. They feed off of people’s misery and hope. My mom keeps wondering if someone can cure “her brain,” whether there is some operation that will make her see again, whether a new drug can help her. Somehow she retains hope despite knowing that basically part of her brain is dying. When she raises hope I don’t slap it down nor do I feed it too much. I just try to take it as it comes.

Pharmaceutical are the great cannibalizers I feel of people’s hopes and fears yet they claimthey charge such high prices to match their high R and D investments. Fine if they could really back that up. They are not legally required to release numbers of investment to compare with profit. Although based on net profits of billions, they seem to be faring ok. So basically we are taking their word for it. Their word. Heh.

But if you want to learn more about the good practices of a Corporate Citizen read away.

January 22, 2004


Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 10:35 pm

Happy Chinese New Year! To celebrate, I avoided the mind numbing cold as much as possible and ate Happy Lamb at Lao Sze Chuan. Then I came home to find out that I had spelled Mr. Randel, the president of the University of Chicago, as Mr Randall, on the SOSHI Petition. :(

Unfortunately, that is so like me which is why I so liked watching Spellbound the other night. Funny movie about a life I could have never traversed. Iteresting portrayal of class and ethnicty in the American landscape through a already bizarre youth competition.

SCO’s downfall

Category: Tech — Biella @ 9:11 am

First of all, SCO is 10 years too late in their lobbying efforts in congress to sully open source because it does not conform to the principle of copyright law and that wonderful DMCA, so it is bad unamerican shit,and will drive us back to the competitive middle ages. Open source will bring us down………….

What a farce. It is almost comical. I mean it is like outlawing the VCR after there were gazillions of users which is why the Supreme Court basically could not rule in unconstitutional back in the 80s. Why and how are they justifyin the money they are spending. Don’t they even realize how much open source software is out there? I mean can you imagine the migration nightmare if let’s say all of Apache servers had to come down and be replaced by something else?

Bad Move SCO. You are fueling the fire of a passion that is already passionate you dumb Silly nitwits.

What I love though is that this so brings into clear relief one of my main arguments about the power of open source politicallys speaking. It transformed what was a singular model of IP rights into a multiple one and SCO is desperately trying to make it singular again.

Also, who exactly is behind thi? I mean wouldn’t it just be so great from the perspective of “great stories”, (though so high schoolish which would never surprise me in this American nation of ours where so many interactions post high school still seem to exude the warring, cliqueish natire) if we found out that like Mr. Gates was conspiring and colluding with Mr. McBride so that SCO is the conduit for what MS sort of tried to do but failed? And then when caught, they would go down in monstrous flames, a moment mythologized as the apogee, the pinnacle of great hacker moments. One can fantasize, no? Heh

January 20, 2004


Category: Politics — Biella @ 10:20 pm

My head hurts. I am tired thanks to the monkey wrench that is insomnia which has plagued me for the last three nights usually in different forms (why do we only have one word with a possible add on to describe what is such an intensely complicated phenomena?). I had to take the day off as birds and bees and stars and comets were you know, metaphorically spinning around my eyes.

But some good news is on the horizon: SOSHI (Save our Student Health Insurance) that I helped start in the fall has drafted and released a petition asking the University to do something to deal with the inequity of health insurance provision for grad students. Right now, all the hard science students (physical and biological) get full coverage while the gimpy sciences (the social sciences), the “religious weirdos” (the divinity student who work harder than all of us combined imho), and the lit freaks (humanities etc), don’t. Most students don’t know this so we are letting them know and letting the University administration that 2000+ in health fees don’t fly with a student budget.

If anything I am interested in what the online petition will yield.

ps—> Thanks to the dmh-boy with all his help and patience…

Access Denied

Category: Research — Biella @ 9:29 am

What does an anthropologist do when she has worked all day on thinking and writing about hackers, technology, and such to unwind? Watch a movie aboout hackers, of course! Last night I watched Freedom Downtime basically
crafted by and starring Mr 2600,
Goldstein (aka Eric Corely). He is one of the “big men” of hacking like Stallman and John Gillmore who have come to define the ethical stuff and meaning of what hacking is all about. (One of these days I am going to write an article about what hacking is through the vantage point of these this holy trinity). Emmanuel, I think is one of the most interesting cultural figures and activists of current times using hackish means to activize, to politicize. He is the master mind behind one of the most electrifying hacker cons HOPE the 5th one being held this summer in NYC. I who am already somewhat politically minded was swept by the tide of energy at this conference. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep at the time and the hecticness of NYC but that is part of the draw. Time stops to consider the ordinary temporal and spatial quality of life which badly needs to be stopped to precisely reflect on those times and spaces.

Anyway, I am veering away from the movie. So though Goldstein really could have used a better editor (there was a surplus of scenes that are really only of interest to those filming the movie), there was also a surplus of vastly interesting material to think with.

The movie was primarily about the rise of the Free Kevin Campaign which is as much about why Kevin should have never been jailed (or at least should have receivd a fair trial), how the media and court system are dually based on the false premise of conveying truth, and one of the most interesting was how hard it is to access corporate “peoples” to get information. Media, courts, and corporations were triangulated as sites of information fudging. And it is thick fudge.

Unlike Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine who is sufficeintly famous to access high level officials in Lockhead, Kmart, and actors like Mr. Heston, most of us have so very little access to the innards of corporate offices and peoples that it is quite astounding. They have a protective sheath around them especially any located in a corporate park which is not so easily physically accessible. If you would want to protest on site, it would be illegal to enter, so you would, you know, have to protest onsome isolated highway in San Jose where like no one would see you. Not all that effective.

Anyway, Goldstein and his crew who rented a car with unlimited milesdrove all over the US to try to talk to some corporate officials in places like Novell and Sun. They were fortresses and it was basically useless to try to break in.

The great irony of it all was that it demonstrated that for these hackers it was easier to break into the corporate palace via the computer that to do so through legal channels. Access Denied. Heh.

January 17, 2004

Trains of Thought

Category: Personal — Biella @ 12:04 am

I have been running around Chicago the last two days on buses, trains, and in cars, doing a million and one things so that I can get on with what I really want to do.. Today and this weekend I hope to get to that.

I have to say though, there is something that I love about moving around from place to place one mode of transportation to the next. My mind wanders as much as I do physically wondering about all sorts of things, an endless string of judgements and ideas, most of them worthless, filling my mind. I admire, wonder, loathe, and desire. I want to ask many questions but I can only ask myself. Here is a short sampling of a longer menu of random thoughts.

1. If you want to feel space indoors, go to Union Station’smain room. Even when it is gray outside, the light pours in, the wood benches beckon for you to join them, and the serenity of this otherwise bustling train station is ironically thick. It reminds me of the NYC public library in midtown. Spacious, quiet, expansive. There is no such library in the U of C which is a shame.

2. I hate the American Express ads draped all over Union Station’s main walls. You start to think, how can I rip them down, who made the decision to get them up there? Who gets the money? Is this the only reason that the room I love so is so well kept is thanks to the corporate (wolly) mammoths? Can google answer my questions? Apparently not.

3. I have been reading “The Elements of Style” and apparently I use my commas all wrong. Wow. Years of incorrect comma application. I felt so silly and wondered if I could get out of my habituated ways.

4. Why do older couples (post 40 it seems but especially post 60) never seem to hold hands and you know be “lovvvvy dovvy” in any way? It is a bad example, you know, for us younger folks like me. What does it say about love, and lust
and infatuation?

4. Late in the day, I spotted one such hand holding older couple. It resparked my faith, I am not sure in what, but in something. I mean for all I know the lack of any physical display is a sign of solidity but really I just need to ask. But first I need to find out a way to ask that is not rude. Any suggestions? I do really want to know.

I think everyone who blogs should from time to time record thier trains of thoughts and lay it out there bare and rough as they are…

January 12, 2004

Off to Yoga

Category: Personal — Biella @ 6:51 pm

View image

I used to do a lot of yoga in SF. It is somewhat inescapeable. Sort of like the afternoon fog. I really don’t like it because it hurts and usually a lot but I gave it a shot a number of times this week and surprisingly it was more soothing. Perhaps my classes in SF were too agro-Intense and now everything else in comparison seems like a walk in the park.

I actually like that method of short term extermity (run the marathon and then just do 10K,s sort of thing) so that your normal routine seems not so harsh, right?

Grad School In a Nutshell

Category: Humor — Biella @ 6:34 pm

Well. well, well, feeling grad school down? Here is something to cheer you up

Opps. That is my grad school research above, here is the real joke