April 28, 2004

In the Parlance of Our Times

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 11:15 pm

Thanks to Andrew Dilts, we receive word of a fantastic Mid-West Happening Lebowskifest in Kentucky in the middle of June. In the parlance of our times, this seems worth the 6 + hr drive….

April 25, 2004

The Essence of Dissertation Writing

Category: Research — Biella @ 11:38 pm

I was once told that writing a dissertation is 90% enthusiasm. I think the number is more like 78% but anyways…

I would like to add that it is also an exercise in containment and a fight against boredom.

I just finished writing a 40 page “dry run” of what will only be like 20 pages in my dissertation. This excess of information partly has to do with the nature of my research which is data-heavy but usually we collect too much data and are forced in our disseration to cut out a good chunk of info and complexity in favor for something that is more manageable and contained.

Also I am pretty excited about my topic but I would be fibbing if I did not admit that there are times I just grow somewhat bored of it. I mean thinking about this for 5 years straight has its consequences.

April 22, 2004

Rooster Fest in Ravinia

Category: Humor — Biella @ 3:13 pm


Younger Cop:

April 21, 2004

Dare to Let Go

Category: Not Wholesome — Biella @ 11:59 pm

I don’t get it. How can I go from really liking something I wrote to loathing it. Does it depend on my mood or the writing or something else entirely?

I have written this paper reformulating the hacker ethic. I like the content and ideas yet frnd the presentation lackluster. Tomorrow I am going to start a major gutting of the paper, basically trashing huge sections for a re-write. It is something I tend not to do and I think this has been one of my problematic writing pitfalls. Sometimes if it aint working, you might as well throw it in the bag and start afresh. I will let you know in a few days if it gets me anywhere.

April 20, 2004

Less is M0RE!!!!!!!!!

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 10:02 pm


It has been one of those bottom up and top down organizational and cleaning weeks. My kitchen seems back to normal and my in-box has been halved from 300+ messages to 169. It feels so contained. Yes Less is More.

We all know that in the wonderful, Labyrinthian, a-Scythian world of UNIX,
Less is actually More. And alas this UNIX truism might hold veritable waters elsewhere; in the munch munch chomp chomp gulp gulp of our foodeating habits .

Though fasting of all kinds has been around since time immemorial, a more calculated conscious technique to Elongate Life though a reduction of calories has cropped up in the last decades. Tested on micey mice (or rats), scientists have been tracking the low Low calorie consumers for a couple of years.

And now that this nation has tipped the scales of fatness into the HOLY CAMOLOESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Obese-Nation-Range, such a study comes at an opportune time.

To enlarge their study they can perhaps enilst graduate students. I know I cut down on food consumption when the bank is not rolling in the dough… Hmmm, maybe that is when I get all my work done :-)

April 18, 2004

The Art of Deception

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 11:47 pm

So he started rocking, ain’t never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rocking, someday gonna make it to the top

And be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes
He’s a juke box hero
He took one guitar
Juke box hero, stars in his eyes
Juke box hero, stars in his eyes
He’ll come alive tonight

Since I have been on a ‘Jack Black’ blog kick, I might as well continue with it because I have more to say. I am basically in love with him. No, no, this is not a confessional blog-moment to let my partner know through oblique (and embarrassing) means that I am no longer satisfied with his lovin’ because he is just not AS ‘rockin’ as the Black. Indeed, he is not as rockin’ in that rock sort of way. But I am really in love with the idea of Jack Black, of what he represents, as opposed to the flesh and blood of the Black, which actually does not do much for me (sorry mr. black, I know this news will disappoint…).

You see, friends think that I am infatuated with him just because I tend to love dorkorific movies and tv shows. And they are so right. At some level, I love him for the inane mindless fun he provides and I am sure I will never ever be able to adequately convey the joy I receive from sub-standard slapstick movies. But in this case, there is more than beholds the eye. You see, Jack Black is on the outside of the institutional milieu of rock and this is where his power, intrigue, and appeal lies.

He is a fringe figure who is not connected to the glam, to the lifestyle, to the pressures, and privileges of what is social membership in the Halls of Rock and Roll. And he is aware of his outsider status, always sort of trying to get in, but also continuing to rock with total passion, gusto, and bravado, even when he so clearly is running in place; he is gets no where, he gets little prestige, yet he rocks ON. Who knew when Foreigner wrote
Juke Box Hero that THAT HERO would be Jack Black?

This outsider status puts him in a position of a peculiar type pf reflexivity, which leads him to do whatever the hell he wants, so that in fact, he lives true to the spirit of Rock in Roll in a way that those in the inside, can never really fully or at least always do (I mean there are some exceptions like Black Sabbath, the Who and Journey (Journey??!!!!!!!!!! Yes, I am sorry, I like cheese rock)). He is not bound to the II, the Institutional Imperative, whether it is reputation, profit, you know the bull that comes with being part of any discrete social world that defines the permissible and impermissible, the aesthetically pleasing and displeasing, and the morally right and wrong. He does as he pleases, taking the essential form of Rock and Roll, of what it is supposed to represent and do, and belts with freedom as there is NO consequence in doing so. At times you are not sure if he is tauting it or actually loving it but you know he wants to go further than any Rock and Roller has ever gone even though really he never goes makes it ahead.

It is the ambiguity of play and performance, of his desire and taunting, of his creation and degradation, that I find so appealing about the Black. He can do things, that you know, would not necessarily fly if he were part of the establishment. Perhaps I am so obsessing over him and what he represents at the point when I inch a little closer to a professional life as an academic (though I have serious doubts right now if this will actually happen or if I want it to happen for that matter). Being a student, though it is surely still part of the ‘blishment, is still not totally quite there. There is more license to move, to be daring, to slack, to follow your inner paths and interests, you know do what the Black GOOF OFF and just ‘be’ in your learning and exploration and have fun in a way that I am afraid I will have to give up (it seems so to me, I can be totally wrong as I have never been on the other side of the moon).

And yes, I know savvy readers, what I think the Black represents, is just a mass-media construction feeding off the American myth of individual independence and freedom from [X] contraint. I mean I know the DUDE has actually MADE IT! He is

April 15, 2004

The Jack Black of Tax Companies

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 7:23 pm

So I got this nessage from TaxSlayer:

Your return was accepted by the IRS

California State Acknowledgement for Return

Your state return has been accepted for electronic filing by California.

Now I am just waiting to hear from IL and I am sure they are planning my tax-demise….

But what a relief for now. Next time, though, I might not pick a tax company just because it sounds and evokes Jack Black and TenaciousD NO Matter HOW much I like them. …

April 13, 2004


Category: Not Wholesome — Biella @ 11:50 pm

I just used a tax service called TAX SLAYER because I thought it was a dorky name. It indeed cut my taxes down like 300 dollars but I am not sure it is a legit service thought it is linked on the IRS website. I indeed might be jailed in a couple of weeks…

April 12, 2004

The Follies of Spring

Category: Personal — Biella @ 8:27 pm

It is that time of year where I feel the greatest ambivalence. I walk the streets drawn by the budding white flowers, sitting so frail at the ends of branches while spring winds and rains threaten its beautifully liminal existence. I am excited for it is the end of winter, yet peeved at the indecisiveness of the weather. A prefectly agreeable day of sun and mild winds is followed by piercing winds threatning to bring an end to those wonderfully rich nuggests of colors starting to emerge, seemingly from nowhere.

But this period has always been matched with a lot of personal anxiety. Part of it, as silly as it may sound is taxes, the enigmatic and arcane bureaucratic form causing me great distress especially after messing up on taxes years ago which led to a hefty re-payment plan (with interest of course) years later. Also, it is the time of year in which I start to ponder, as a grad student, about my financial future and this I feel very very very ambivalently. On the one hand I am nothing but grateful for the supoprt I have received, and the same time I have the leisure to think about what are really at some level, frivolous affaris. I feel no reason to complain. On the other hand for example, I am not really allowed to legally work for more than 6 hrs a week on my current fellowship so when I run out of funds, I am basically left bone dry. This is an arcane way of managing financial affairs, one of course that I find perturbing– since I don’t know of many jobs that pay around 800 a week for my skill set (you know to cover all the expenses I need to cover), I will either have to take out a loan, find a big wad of cash in the dumpster, or come up with an all together new and really creative solution to this financial problem.

In the end, things usually work themselves out and often for the best but when you are in the thick of it all, it never quite seems that way.

The question of finances reminds me that I recently read a very well written article by
Karl Fogel on the reform of copyright (but do get your free copies while you can).

I like how he offers suggestions about how we might pay producers of content even if and when the content is made very accessible to wider publics. His analysis is passionate yet balanced, incisive yet lacking righetousness, and just written plain well (no wonder he is comissioned to write books). He offers passages like the following which sum up in plain force the nature of the industry, the stakes of the current system, and the contradictions of it all:

The combination of a still-sympathetic public and deep pockets has unfortunately allowed the copyright industry to exercise dangerous influence at the legislative level. The result is a disturbing trend: mutually reinforcing physical and legal barriers that, while ostensibly designed to combat illegal copying, have the inevitable effect of interfering with all copying. Digital copy-protection schemes are increasingly enforced by your computer’s hardware itself, rather than by malleable and replaceable programs. And the same companies that own content often also manufacture the hardware that makes distribution possible. Have you bought a computer from Sony? What about a CD from Sony’s music division? That’s the same company, and its left hand knows what its right hand is doing. With government cooperation, this combination becomes even more powerful. In the United States we now have a law

April 7, 2004

Catch Up

Category: Personal — Biella @ 11:27 pm

So, I am stealing a moment between bill paying and dream making to say hello to the few faithful readers of Not Wholesome, formerly known as satoroams. My friend Patrice asked me the other day how I find the time to blog. Really the time rarely exists as a given although Chicago winter months and long periods of time away from your partner are certainly conducive factors (and why last month was so wholesomely full)

I have been back from NYC for a week now and I wish I was able to write about my time there when it was fresh in my mind. I had so many interesting conversations and some with folks I had only known online. I love that moment of transition from knowing someone only virtually or through their text and then having the opportunity to physically interface.

One of the most pleasant surprises was meeting with Yochai Benkler. Not only did I find someone who sports one of the coolest beards ever, but was quite taken by the fact that we were talking traditional anthropology (Mauss, Kula ring etc) in light of hackers and non-economic forms of production and exchange. Sigh, if he were only at U of C, I would try to get him on my dissertation committee. He offered me some good ideas for my work and now I am more or less happily writing away on them. All of his works are available online and for anyone interested in information enclosures, the commons, IP, and free software, do check out his work, it is pristine, sharp, solid, and well written.

Otherwise, I have been back in Chicago, burrowing busy like an underground mole not seeing much of the beautful spring weather we are having as I try to get a handle on a paper on hacker ethics that went from manageable 20 pages to more monstrous 35. I need to put a lid on it.

SOSHI met with the Provost and various Deans and unfortunately it went as expected, though some progress is being made as the issue is on the table, circulating the halls of U of C. Some of us wrote a letter of response which I will soon post to the blog.

Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to a seder at the House of Golub. It was Micah’s first seder and it was like my 8th though my first in like 15+ years. I used to celebrate passover at my best friend’s house. Yael Reinhold, in San Juan, PR. They held a sort of extravagant event with 50 people spread across the rooftop of an old 16th century colonial building, lights twinkling and swaying against the light tradewinds and the twinkling stars. I loved the stories and feeling part of something larger, my parents even attending which made it extra nice (my dad is Jewish, my mother is not). The evening lasted for a long time from more somber prayer to festive eating. I liked staying up late, taking some illicit swigs of the wine, and running around the rooftop. I only had one bad experience, when I was 7 when their faifthful dog Linguini, a Hotdog breed of canine, decided to scratch me across my cheek leaving me with 4 deeply scratch marks across my face. Ouch is what I recall.

Well, I better retire before my face finds my keyboard as a comforting pillow in lieu of a much better pillow on my bed…