January 11, 2004

gab gab graeber

Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 10:42 pm

When I am unproductive academically, I am usually productive blogically and Internetally. I generally catch up with blogs and write personal emails and pour through some online reading material. Tonight, I was reading unreasonables and was reminded of David Graeber a graduate of my department who I saw talk this fall at the Anthropology meetings in Chicago. He was lively, interesting and I wanted to read more and as usual, I forgot.

Today I found him again online and I was shocked to discover he was a politically active Anarchist.
Chicago Anthropology is productive of a surplus of high minded intellectuals, not many radicals. Good to see that they can leave here intact and get jobs. Yet of course he has commented, with wit, on the Chicago style of things here:

All this struck home to me because it brought home to me just how much
ordinary intellectual practice–the kind of thing I was trained to do at
the University of Chicago, for example–really does resemble sectarian
modes of debate. One of the things which had most disturbed me about my
training there was precisely the way we were encouraged to read other
theorists’ arguments: that if there were two ways to read a sentence,
one of which assumed the author had at least a smidgen of common sense
and the other that he was a complete idiot, the tendency was always to
chose the latter

I liked his AAA talk which was about (not) consumption. He made a classic anthropological move calling us academics in general as being ethnocentric in our assessment of consumption. He basically argued that we tend to treat everthing that is an act of using and ingestion (he used many digestive metaphors during his talk) as consumption based out of a capitalist base of sorts and even when critical scholars treated it as something different, it is alwas a deviance or resistance to as opposed to something perhaps with a different history, ontology, direction. Not capitalist consumption. In his unusual though endearing talking style, he challenged us to think beyond consumption reminding us that it does not have to be our de facto measuring stick…

His writings are blunt but multi-dimensional and unlike much academic writing you feel like you learn something. I like facts of some sort and some graspable opinion to churn through your head.

January 8, 2004

Ph.D. Pride, Ex Post Facto

Category: Humor — Biella @ 11:35 pm

This year during conversations with departmental friends, I discovered that I was not alone and unique in receiving attacks from a parental figure about our vocational choice, which has kept us in school for years (and thus rendering us wageless, parasitical bums who reek of steeeeeeeeeenky eeeeeeelitism). Though seemingly exciting and prestigious at first, they never really thought a Ph.D would take SO long (the average in anthro is 9 and thus I am still below average but this meaty statistical tid bit seems not to appease my mom’s appetite when she has these occasional yet voracious outburts).

Hey who knows, perhaps they are glaringlycorrect or perhaps there are judicious dissertation advisors behind such, at times amusing and at times really irritating shenanigans; our adivsor might, post-field, call our ‘rents once a year and feed em stories of our “bumliness”, white lies told in the hopes that the subsequent parental pressure and humiliation will hasten our time here…

But I think it really pains them at some level to have a kid that is still a student and thus offers really paltry gifts every birthday and holiday season.
Yet once you have the degree in hand, I am sure for most of the rents out there with kids like me it will all of sudden feel like going through 9 years of school was a worthy, noble, admirable, (it could not have been anything else for you choice) sort of thing. Funny how that is.

January 7, 2004

A Texan with a Right Frame of Mind

Category: Tech — Biella @ 9:28 am

Texas produces a lot of bunk. We are reminded of this daily on the news thanks to our Sir President who carries the Texan signature of elongated drawl curbed by the extreme close-mindedness and nitwitedness of his less than pristine mind. But once in a while Texas produces a gem, the classic bodacious bent enlivening instead of frustrating through the idiosyncracies of Texas: Bruce Sterling. Many in the cyber, web, Internet, virtual et al world find him somewhat distasteful: arrogant, aloof, bawdy. Yet these are the reasons I like him. His distance adds force to his words which I happen act to perk up my nose and eyes as I read them.
Check out a pretty good recent
interview with BS..

January 5, 2004

Winter Snow

Category: Personal — Biella @ 7:18 pm


Ahh Chicago

Mish Mosh of Everything

Category: Personal — Biella @ 9:14 am

So I am not your traditional blogger, not that there really is a traditional blog, now is there? However, let’s say I don’t link as much as others and I foray into the entrails of my personal life a bit more than most other blogs that I read and link to. In part, I do this because I feel like other have a handle on the linking and since they are doing such a fine job of it why bother to repeat?

But in the last few days as I have struggled to keep awake (the snow in Chicago or something has made me really sleepy), I have come across some really cool and interesting sites and articles on our such fine and wonderful Web so here they are for your enjoyment and New Year’s edification:

1. First, a really great Overview of Free and Open Source Software from our pals at Grok Law. In my opinion you can never have a glut of general overviews and reviews if they really are general, expansive, informative, and pleasant to read.

2. Rabble has pointed out one of the most sublime looking of blogs. Damn, she’s got game in the aesthetics department. This sounds a bit chesse-odd-ball-ish but her site gives me this calm sense of pleasure it is so pretty. It does on the web what gardens do for me in the real world.

3. So, so, so, let me tell you, this Debian compilation meta blog is an anthropologist’s wet dream. However, my fieldwork dream is pretty much over so I won’t comb it as regularly as I would have had it been around in the past but wow, what a wonderful idea to congeal, to cement, to link the disparate members of the Free Software project together. I guess GNOME has had its own meta-community blog for a while now.

4. Good writing. What makes a good writer? I don’t know the answer but some folks have been looking at whether blogging improves writing. In my case, I think absolutely. I used to write a personal journal and without the audience, without knowing that my words were enjoined to perform at some level, I wrote a lot of wet, soppy, mopey… trash. It was thick, ugly, muddy, fuddled and befuddled as I knew only I would read it. Though, I have to admit some days I do miss writing the marshy stuff from time to time, which is why some of the mushy slop makes it into my blog from time to time.

January 3, 2004

Back in Chicago

Category: Personal — Biella @ 1:07 pm

Terrible. Yes I have been terrible about upkeeping, grooming, managing this paltry site of mine. While in PR I am not too inclined to write entries given my chaotic moods and my imprisonment to endless errands that in my last week devolved into a vortex of mini-nightmares –> hours and hours at doctor’s offices, stolen keys, failed plumbing (almost leading to a total flood of the apartment), continuation of moldfest 2003, a mother’s grave silence… All in the course of 2 days actually and if I wrote about it, my entries would be a string of tepid complaints followed by some more complaints with a dash of whining with an occasionaly rumination about the despair of illness so it was best to have some silence instead.

But I made it out alive, my mother and I thankfully reconciled, and I have been taking it easy, excessively partaking in domesticity here in Chicago charging my internal batteries for a few days before making my foray into “more serious” writing and the outside world.

Roasting coffee with an air popcorn maker, making homemade almond and hazlenut milk and ginger lemonade, wathing movies, ordering raw milk cheese, and generally cleaning and tidying, and taking copious breaks on the couch (though unfortunately never falling asleep). It has been nice not to be beholden to anyone or anything but I have to say, it would get boring after a week or so. Homemade almond milk is exciting and yummy but not that exciting…