July 31, 2004

From Phreaking to Preaching

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 5:03 pm

Who would have known…. There is thie Greek Orthodox priest I know, yes, I know… And so he is a pretty cool guy so I invited him to join my home away from home, #techfed, an irc channel on the indymedia network where I can be found most days, most waking hours. So alas, a few hours later he shows, and once there reveals his ex life as a hacker, and a cracker, phone-phreaker type! Woah, I love it, phreaker–> priest. Yes, it is quite the natural progression…

July 28, 2004

A Round-Up

Category: Personal — Biella @ 8:32 pm

So lately I have not been much in the blogging mood. I think from time to time, the name blog annoys me so deeply, I just want to throw the whole bloga-thingie down the toilet. But sooner or later I get a little inspired and look past the dorkiest of names and write a new entry.

And though here I am writing, I can’t say that I am inspired by much these days. Not the way that I want to really lead life but then again, it is silly to think life is like how all the beer companies portray it in their ads: cool, refreshing, exciting, and with a great taste.

Anyway, there have been some new happenings in my life lately. I started a new blog: Psychiatry News to help me keep track of the articles and news relevant to my next project on Mind Freedomish stuff. I have to write a small entry “What is Psychiatry News” in part to explain the images I have on the blog. But I will do that, when, inspired. I also hope to comment more on that blog than my FOSS blog which is pure links. You know a research tool.

Otherwise, I am wrapping up an article, with El Golub, and frankly I can’t wait till we finish. The topic, a whole new way of thinking about hacker ethics, I have been thinking about for a year straight. This piece is a culmination of much of my work and thoughts and I just want it *out* of my life. And after Sunday and some marathon editing, maybe with some rooster to celebrate, I hope it will be gone.

Speaking of writing, I wrote an article on Indymedia and Free Software that came out this week. It is a sort of “rah-rah” feel good activist piece. Yes, you know the type of writing us academics are not supposed to dip in (or at least till you have “made it” and only then In the Nation). But screw it, it is sometimes nice to put the trenchanct critique aside and be positive for a change. The aritcle, I warn you, is long, I think approaching 10,000 words. It is not super academic though it is not super lay-speak either. Well, actually, I have been told that it is too jargony, cleary written, mediocre and brilliant. Clearly bi-polar reviews, so really, you be the judge of it.

On the non-academic front, I have changed my daily habits. I go to bed early and wake up early. I would love to go to sleep at 9 and wake up at 5 but I am managing sleep between 10-11 and wake up around 6-7. It is nice and peaceful in the morning. Only me and the mouse that we can’t get rid of (though he is sequestered…)

In an entirely unexpected turn of events, I stopped drinking coffe. Yes, just out of the blue. Strange as strange can be. I just got disgusted by the black aphrodite and switched to tea… I imagine this won’t last too long but it is sort of nice for now.

Well, that was a weird round-up of my life blog entry… Maybe when the inspiration returns, I will come up with more innovative flair.

July 17, 2004

Puerto Rico’s Biotech Harvest

Category: Politics — Biella @ 6:55 pm

A regular contributor to Indymedia Puerto Rico Carmelo Ruiz has written an excellent article, Puerto Rico’s Biotech Harvest detailing the distrurbing, entirely unmonitored experiments with GE foods going on in Puerto Rico. He asks, why PR?, and he provides with no frills, its answer.

But another reason for choosing Puerto Rico is its “good political climate.” Puerto Rico is not an independent country, nor is it a state of the American union. It is an “unincorporated territory.” Puerto Ricans are US citizens subject to US laws, yet they cannot vote in presidential elections and have no representation in Congress. There are no anti-biotech campaigns or protesters, not even the mildest criticism. If the American people are for the most part unaware of genetic engineering and food biotechnology issues, the people of Puerto Rico are blissfully in the dark.

This of course is no isolated case in PR or in the region. Since the turn of the last century, the Caribbean and Central America have been part of America’s Manifest Destiny, in particulary a convenient “backyard,’ a test bed for various social, medical, agricultural experiements, most of which never produced any benefits to local populations, only harm. Whether it is the very visible military take over of the region or the less visible but as harmful birth control experiments to test the first very high hormone pill on Puerto Rican women (who gave no consent to the experiments) the Caribbean has been America’s pet laboratory, indeed perfect because of Puerto Rico’s fundamentally ambigous political status…

July 16, 2004

Pa-CHIN–> too cute

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 11:25 pm

So below, I re-transmit a comment from my entry that touches among other fine subjects, my favorite pen, the UniBall Signo extra fine:

“…. But my favorite thing about them is what it says on the little UPC label on the cap. I don’t know if your friend Joe explained this to you, but each of these pens has a little message on the cap that reads..”

“Kyappu wa PA-CHIN to on ga suru made shikkari shimete kudasai.”

Which means,

“Please close the cap tightly, until it makes the sound PA-CHIN.”

Somehow I think that’s just adorable.”

You are right, that exceeds adorbale, that is adorably wholesome: seriously why don’t all pen manufacturers tell us how to deal with our pens accordingly and give us a sonorous lingustic representation of the sound that we will hear when we do? Pa-CHIN. Music to my ears…

If I were 10 and living with my parents and I had found this factoid out, I would spend the next 10 days saying PA-CHIN whenver possible…. Now I just think it (PA-CHIN, PA-CHIN, PA-CHIN, PA-CHIN, PA-CHIN, PA-CHIN…) and keep it to myself..

July 14, 2004

The Form Is Where the Taste Is

Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 9:59 pm


I got home from the 5th HOPEin NYC which is one of the more political and what I like to think of as “attention deficit” hacker cons in the circuit. Attention deficit only because there is no central area for hacking in the gynormous Pennsylvania Hotel where it is held every 2 years in mid-town NYC hell. And then of course there is the inherent distracting nature of NYC streets. Gazillion people, things, and store to distract a wandering mind.

The con was great though. I saw a bunch of friends (great to see you all), heard that in fact, my chicken on a bottle image was a provocative and necessary addition to the aesthetics of my blog (and hence it is back along with the cute sato so the wholesome and not wholesome sit one on top of each other), and the best of all was seeing Kevin Mitnick and the Woz speak. I especially enjoyed Kevin Mitnick. He was a very personable speaker who gave us mad insight into his hilarious personality, deep social engineering skillz, and his distrurbing years of government/FBI reaming. It was good old fashion entertainment and kinda cool to see what is a hacker of such iconic status speak to 3000 + of his kind. I highly recommend listening to the audio.

Now that I am back in Chi-town I am struggling with form. Yes form. Lately I have been thinking lots about the relationship between form and content in relation to how we imagine a politics, or possibility for future change. I am arguing against a whole slew of writers (that is, as hacim pointed out “the dizzzz” in dissertation) who represent dominant conditions as *so dominant and overpowering* that there is no hope (ahem, exuse the bad pun) for politics, and yet these dudes (mostly dudes but some dudettes) tag themselves as critical scholars of capitalism. So really thier critique is a totally masturbatory exercise which is what so much of academics are about so why am I even bothering to dizzz… Anyway, the problem is that I can critique them fine (I have no problems dizzing when need be) but I am having an inordinate amount of trouble writing the second half of my chapter, not because of content, but FORM. I am not sure how I want to say everything I want to say and since I come up some complex theory of the need to deliver your form in a way that makes room for politics, so you know, I need to deliver on my frikken critique. Blargh. Dizzing is easy, constructing is harder…

I first learned of the importance of form while living aboard the R/V Heraclitus through punishment over the way I made vegetables. These two Germans crew members would get really pissed at you if you did not chop vegetables finely so of course being that 10 of us lived in the span of 80 feet, everyone who cooked, which was everyone, became like awesome, little mad-vegetable chopping machines. I mean the choice was easy: fine chopped vegetables or the wrath of the captain and expedition chief. Now my drive to chop vegetables finely was not mere coercion. I fully came to fully agree with those picky Germans (I think some academics that I dizzz might called this self-imposed agreement hegemony or governmentality). But really it is not so complex of a phenomena as finely chopped veggies, kick butt over coarsely chopped ones. I mean, it can mean a world of difference to my taste buds so of course I gave in…

So today in my great form frustration, I turned to the vegetable, making what is probably one of my favorite dishes outside of the double-fried plantain, coleslaw (pictured above). Yep, plain old coleslaw. I don’t make it all that often because the labor is too intense for a feeble academic like myself. It is so labor intensive because I have to shred it to pieces to make the cabbage transform from this somewhat gross lifeless vegetable into a succulent biella-delight. To make it this tastly, I also combine red and green cabbage, shred carrots, and garnish with finely, chopped mint. I then dress wtih ginger, lime, salt, and olive oil, and vaulla, what a fine, fine meal.

I wish my dissertation form problem was as easy as shredding or that I could “shred” through the second half of my dissertation but I think I will have to suffer a much slower and painful process to arrive at a form that delivers on the taste of my argument.

July 7, 2004

Thanks for rocking classmates

Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 10:21 pm

Wow, this week, my anthropology friends have just saved my butt or made my life so much infinitely richer, I must take a moment to thank them.

So, Joe of the Hankins family was kind enough to feed and satisfy a really strange obsession of mine, pens. I have this need to write with only pens I love and it was only recently that I found my true love, the uni-ball SIGNO, the nob being .5 thick. Of course this pen is impossible to find in America despite this supposed age of high globalization with the extreme fluid flows of people, financial instruments, goods. Well yeah, everything moves except for my favorite pen which comes in .7 nib but that is not my prefered size. So Joe, dear soul that he is, sent me a bunch from Japan-land as well as a packet of scary looking pickled pears. I am afraid if I eat then, I will die and never be able to use my sweet pens. So I will use the pens and keep the pears sealed in their well-sealed plastic, but thanks Joe!

Then there is my dissertation writing group, the I3. We met for the first time yesterday and I can’t believe how much of a life saver this little enterprise of ours i going to be. Their ideas and suggestions rocked. I mean Really Rocked and will mean improvements in leaps and bounds for my dissertation. Thanks you 2.

And then there is Yari, out in Gaudelope doing “fieldwork” (really at some level impossible on such a beautiful island)… Yari, a Puerto Rican anthropologist is also a TH, a True Hacker, and I don’t mean she hacks on perl (although she is always equipped with the latest and finest gadetry). I mean she is the master of social engineering always getting what she wants no matter how great or high the obstacle. For example most students at U of C don’t get office until they are POST-Field (as well as needing to accomplish like, some amazing feat). She on the other hand landed a prime office on campus as a pre-field student (and handed the torch on to me when she left). In Guadelope where she is studying union politics, she managed to move in the house of the main union boss, which is a huge ethnographhic score and just seems like a sweet pad… 1/2 of being a good ethnographer is being an adept social engineer, and since she is the master social engineer, I am sure she will rock her way through research.

Speaking of rock, since that seems to be the theme of my entry today, I want to thank Yari for she finally took my suggestion and saw some Jack Black and she, being a kindred soul, LOVED IT. Of course! So being that she is a full blooded Puerto Rican and I have some weird connection to la isla del borinquen, I went ahead and started the FIRST, Puerto Rican Jack Black Fan Club (PRJBFC). But as a matter of karma, I wanted to make sure we got Jacks approval so I wrote him a little letter explaining our club, gave him the coordinates of PR, a short history of our neocolonial status, a summary of our fine contribution to world culture (rum, dance, awesome parades), debriefed him on the Vieques affair, invited him to stay with our mommies whenever he so pleased, and explained our intention of pure goodness for the first Puerto Rican Jack Black Fan Club. Yari, my note rocked so much, he was thrilled. And as proof, to send to the world, he sent me a
photo of approval. Sweet, Puerto Rican’s Rock his WORLD! We got the green light, let’s go for the gold, my only requirment is that I am la presidente for at least the first year…

July 3, 2004

Inexplicable attraction–> AC/DC

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 8:37 am


Some might say I have an unhealthy love for 70s (and 80s) rock. In fact, I have an unhealthy and somewhat inexplicable love for all 70s music from AC/DC to Abba. Well, I don’t think it is all that inexpicable because it was the music that I listened to as a little kid. No, my parents did not buy me the latest Black Sabbath or AC/DC or even Abba when I was 7 years old (I could only wish for such a fortunate childhood) but my best friend did have 3 teenage sisters and we were merciless about breaking into their rooms where we would, among other travesties, listen to thier records. We were pirates before we even knew of such a concept, wanting the music that was locked away by “evil” big sisters.

We also listented to music during thier truly massive parties they held on the rooftops of thier house. Parents dead asleep, we would invite ourselves, discretely sneaking out of bed to hide under a table and enjoy the tunes and gossip about all of the boys, romances, and drunkards till we could not hold our little eyes open.. During our own slumber parties (less alcohol and more screaming) we would stage our own rock concerts, screaming our hearts delight because at 2 am in the far corners of her house no one could hear us. It was a child’s dream.

So whenever I hear music from that era, it really strikes this chord of illicit fun. And frankly there is no one that strikes a chord like AC/DC. Born the same great year of my own birth, 1973, AC/DC has seen many incarnations, the Young brothers a steady state of outrageousness. AC/DC did not acquire the master of the melodic and metabolic shrill, Brian Johnson, till 1980 and it is he who I think lit an already fired AC/DC, on fire.

Today, for some odd reason, I heard 3 AC/DC songs on the radio in the span of 3 hours while running otherwise really borning errands in Chicago. Cutting into my boredom it brought me back to that “state.” What can I say, I love AC/DC… Among other things, I think I finally realized why I like them so much and it is all Brian Johnson’s voice. I mean, listen to the guy, he is one shrilling machine, a maniac of the the scream. But despite the shrill, despte the fact that part of you thinks, “lord, that is the most shrilly, annoying sound in the world, I am not supposed to like that voice” you nonetheless fall deeply for it (or at least I do). It is that disjuncture, in other words inexplicable attraction, which makes AC/DC what it is, rockin…