March 26, 2004

Off east

Category: Personal — Biella @ 10:40 pm

I am going east tomorrow Penguin Day to facilitate a rountable not on the mating practices of our fine feathered friends but on non-profits and open source software. I then pop through NYC where I used to live and I do hope the spring weather keeps up. I love NYC in the spring: it surprisingly just smells good.

I have been meaning to give props to the
design master who developed the Not Wholesome chicken to your right. He is also the fine creator behind the Tighty Whitey Tee which even some of the bravest souls dare not wear for some strange reason.

Also, I have been doing some new blog reading, like those of Yari a fellow anthropologist of the Caribbean style, from PR and doing her fieldwork in Gaudelope. Idyllic. Then there is Unreasonables now from Italy, the author of which is an IRC partner in crime. I partner way too much on IRC these days… Oh well, offline I go and out east,


March 25, 2004

Amazing, Soy Travels

Category: Humor — Biella @ 8:31 pm


I am one of those freaks of nature that eats no gluten. It is pain but after a while you grow used to it. You always hope that some mad scientist will cook up a glutenious-like substance that can replace the really tasty and binding nature of gluten but you know deep down that if it is too good to be true, it is prolly that, too good be true.

Today I found a pasta substitute Whole Black Pasta and I was actually impressed, as I usually am with the damn mutability of soy. The stuff travels, far, and wide, a true engine of translation, taking such unique form, from ice cream, to nuggets, to pasta, soy is so mutagenic, it is a little errie.

March 24, 2004

Online Movie Entertainment

Category: Humor — Biella @ 12:12 am

After 9:30 I was so drained and tired tonight that all I did was watch my favorite online movies and clips. They are all worth checking out, deeply clever and humorours, and all pretty short. Enjoy.

First the Linux Parody of Apple. This will only be funny if you know at least a little about free and open source.

Then there is the magically touching Bush Loves Blair and Vice-VersaEndless Love rendition.

And for those who are a bit more on the agro-anarchist-activist side, check out The Fellowship of Free Trade which is very well done.

And finally for those who have a life on IRC or chatting, watch the The Parlor which cleverly recreates an online chat…

March 23, 2004

The Tao of Freedom

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 9:06 pm


I am now nearly finished the Dispossessed by Ursua Le Guin, which I wrote about a week or so ago. Now I can say I have taken quite a fancy for the book for it combines two of my all time favorite methods of looking at the world, a taoist and anthropological one. I have never come across a novel that so captures a taoist sense of morality, time, and being via an anthropological method of “exposing” norms (and flaws) through the contrast of two vastly different societites, each of whom treat each other as a ghastly moral aberration. Like the Tao, true understanding comes through a cyclical (never ending) contrast, and as anthropological knowledge goes shows, meaning is culturally contingent yet often experienced as viscerally natural. One effective way by which to disturb that often rigid commonsense is through contrast, so that neither the “naturalness” of Yin (this) or Yang (that) dominates, but are balanced in and through their interface, rendering them always partial and contingent, never controlling, whole, and absolute.

And morality, to enact freedom through responsibility, must also let go off rigid adherance to dogma and ideas to give way to a certain type of fluid dynamism and relativity in which the true, the good, the ugly, are not necessarily found as absolute things in laws, but in an openness to engage responsibly with the processes of life, ones actions, and especially other selves, without which our lives would be truly barren.

Reaching a sense of the right is often an act of striking a balance and openly interfacing with other selves but this can only be achieved, if one openly and thoughtfully takes the full momement into account up and above seeking any rigid understanding of the moment in relation to already posited law. It requires not obedience but an thoughtful, ever-shifting participation in the ethical, transforming mere law into something which is harder, but ultimately much more effective and fulfilling, active continous practice.

March 21, 2004

Hacker Signatures

Category: Humor — Biella @ 10:19 am


So I have one chapter in my dissertation which is on hacker humor. What can I say, I found hackers funny and I must write about it. One of the points of data that I have collected to display this humor has been their email signatures. It has been a long time since I came across one that I found particularily hilarious but this one caught my attention this morning, perhaps because all of a sudden, an image of geeks in mud came to mind:

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realise the pig is enjoying it.

March 20, 2004

HOT (Pink)

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 9:18 am


Wowzzzers. This is just one example of a wider Japanese youth culture phenomena of Cosplay!

Kool (copylefted) WikiGuide

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 6:46 am

Evan (known in some circles as Mr. Bad) and Maj are bringing us Wiki Travel, and aside from being inhrently bad ass kool, it is badder because it is full on Copyleft.

Looks great, and looks like they need all sorts of help! Check it out

March 17, 2004

Let the ball be cheese

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 10:37 pm


So some readers will automatically jump to read the conclusion of a book. I rarely do that but always read the acknowledgements first. It is first of all, a fascinating genre that admits to the deeply collaborative, conversational nature of our work (in a way that our larger texts are not allowed to do because the convention is to only cite that which is printed already) and it is an intellectual compass, directing one to the broader intellectual milleu and genealogy through which the works was produced.

I also find it highly (perhaps way to much) entertaining to see the immense variation of the basic following confession:

1. The work is indebted to the insights, suggestions, advice, criticisms of [x] others
2. So much so
3. That only the good stuff should be attributable to others
4. And that the bad stuff is of my own making

This basic confession can be said so many ways that it astonishes me and I love to mull over the fine distinctions and differences in what boils down to a pretty similar message.

I did not think beyond this although now that I have been writing so much, it so strikes me as an accurate confessional and unfortunately one that is so limited in scope. I was recently pleased to see this confessional in the actual introduction of Michael Warner’s book, Publics and Counterpublics, which makes me like it more than I already do.

As I write my dissertation, there are clearly so many ideas of “mine” that really emerged in conversation, as outright suggestion, or magically appeared through some weird state of assocation from what someone else said or told me. It is fantastically endless.

Members of my dissertation committee have blown me away by their suggestions, in part because this world of geekdom is not you know, their area of expertise. Yet each member within like a 15 minute description of my musing, had some insight or question that put a lot of “out of place” material, back into place.

Then there are those, most notably, patrice, mako, ck, golub, and micah who are all very familar for various reasons with the worlds I am trying to evaluate. Each of them has pushed me into directions and places I don’t think I could have ever gone on my own. I know I am starting to sound cheeseballish but what can I say, let the ball be cheese. It is true.

March 16, 2004

Leonardo, Reviews

Category: Tech — Biella @ 11:41 am

So, I stumbled across what is a very interesting site, Leonardo Reviews which “is a scholarly review service published by MIT Press and the International Society for Arts, Sciences, and Technology” and part of the Leonardo Journal. I came across it during a search on the Sarai Reader (03) where I published a talk. Here is the Review

I also found a review of Hacker Cultuer by Thomas which is one of my favorite books on hacking though I think he simplifies the moral codes of hacking by letting the political aesthetics of the hacker underground to stand in for the whole of hacking. I am currently working on a piece trying to address how to best come up with a model that at once regonizes shared elements of hacking while honoring, acknowledging the really fascinating gradations of difference and competing interests. I hope Patrice will as usual give me good feedback :-)

Also the reviewer makes the excellent following point about the lack of an analysis of hacker practice in Thomas:

The one thing I missed from Thomas

March 15, 2004

AAA statement on constitutional ban

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 10:12 pm

Last night, I ODed on Dune
(The Sci-Fi not David Lynch version) at the house of Golub where many geeks came to enjoy hacker beer, chips, pizza, and the strangely enthralling 3 disc series. By the end, I was completely hooked although as put by Karl Fogel (or at least some version of it) every step of the way was pretty darn cheesy. The costumes were gaudy and sophmoric, the acting lukewarm (though decent at times), and the graphics were lackluster (though also cool at times). Yet what an epic and with some decisive points of heckling it was full blown enjoyment, especially for someone who had only interacted with irc-humanoids for three days prior.

I am also reading, finally, a book that Cory Doctorow, Mr. Science Fiction himself, recommended: The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin. She is the daugher of an anthropologist and it shows immediately in this tale about Sheveck, a physiciist from an Anarchist Colony who returns to the “outside world” to I guess seek some answers (I am not that far into yet, only at the part where he arrives at Urras).

This seems only fitting for me right now as I am learning some stuff about Anthropology and Anarchism and I like her very sort of anthropological take on things. She is careful not to laud or condmen either Anarress or Urras as Manichean opposites where the utopia stands in clear contrast to the capitalist order. Its more ambivalent and complex. She states it nicely in a recent interview

UKL:.. I thought both Urras and Anarres had their virtues and their faults, so that each could serve to some extent as a corrective and model to the other – though obviously my heart belongs to Anarres! Therefore the utopia, instead of being prescriptive like most utopias, is ambiguous. Ambivalent. Ambidextrous. Two hands, each offering something different.

Anthropologists have straddled that line of acceptance/tolerance of others (and ourselves) and critique in which bringing to light the ways of one culture can stand as a correct to the other. This is not always an easy ethical position to stand on but one that I personally find enjoyable and worthwhile. I have written about that a little elsewhere and it is a tension on my own ethical and political sensibilities that I might never resolve. However, today I was very pleased to hear that the American Anthropological Association issued the following press release on Mr. Bush’s recent announcement that he will seek a constitutional ban on gay marriage. This is good to see.

Statement on Marriage and the Family from the American Anthropological Association

Arlington, Virginia; The Executive Board of the American
Anthropological Association, the world’s largest organization of
anthropologists, the people who study culture, releases the following statement in response to President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as a threat to civilization.

“The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.

The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.”

Media may contact either of the names below:
Elizabeth M. Brumfiel, AAA President (847) 491-4564, office.

Alan Goodman, AAA President-Elect (413) 559-5372, office.

Roger Lancaster, Anthropologist, author, The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture , 2003 (202) 285-4241 cellular