August 29, 2004

Pide Que Hay

Category: Politics — Biella @ 1:14 pm

Before I forget, for those in Puerto Rico, Yari of YariDiaries has created a useful website pide que hay, a guide for how to get services and free stuff in Puerto Rico (food stamps, health insurance and grants). Nice..

Numb my Legs

Category: Personal — Biella @ 1:01 pm

After a week in Paris, culminating today in a walk of epic proportions across half the city with my sister, I would love some home-delivered super-novacaine for my legs (codeine coated tylenol would be fine too). My feet feel like 1000 of the worlds most vicious fire ants chomped on my feet make them swell but also causing massive leg stiffening. But aside from the lack of all sensation but pain and stiffness in my legs, this has been quite an enjoyable trip. I am afraid that I have so much to say, it is as if a bundle of stuff has burst from a bag, scattering all the contents on the floor, so that I can’t usefully say much now.

But before I retire early so that I can take one last dash in Paris tomorrow, here is some provocative news from the SF Indymedia collective. In short, they are changing directions:

August 29, 2004
As this is being written, thousands of people are pouring into New York City to demonstrate at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Four years ago, encouraged by WTO/Seattle demonstrations, organizers mobilized impressive protests at the previous national party conventions, and the Independent Media Network was just getting started. On the west coast, people determined to have a San Francisco Indymedia raced back from the Democratic Convention protest in Los Angeles for a whirlwind month of IMC-building. In the four years since, San Francisco Indymedia has grown as a hub of independent media and information/technology dissemination during tumultuous, historic times in our own city and around the world.

This year, San Francisco IMC has had a unique opportunity to reflect on successes and mistakes of our local Indymedia organizing. Examining our own work experiences with Indymedia, we’ve attempted to understand how we think about Indymedia and where we think it could go. Finally, we’ve emerged with a solid vision about our IMC’s future (and we hope to expand these discussions on a network-wide level)…. This reality conflicts with Indymedia’s broader potential

August 22, 2004


Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 7:30 pm


If there is one thing I learned in Vermont is that hippies still know how to make Puppets like No One Else on Planet Earth. Before leaving Vermont last week, we were able to catch one of the last summer shows of Bread and Puppet in Glover, Vermont. True to the style of the Carnivalesque, they had one festive part of the show held in an open field and the other, somber, held among the rows of tall trees in the forest. Larger than life puppets are just one of those things that I think always draws your full awe-like attention from deep within, awakening the spirit of laughter and wonder that is always part of us, yet sadly dulls and dampens for too many of us as we age. You need puppet and hippies to get that fire going and I recommend a side trip to Vermont just to check it out, even if it means an insanely long drive, like you know 17 hours on no sleep.

Here are some more pictures from my trip which was truly a ++++ in so many ways. I am now back out the door tomorrow to attend the 4S Science Studies Conference in France. I have yet to attend a European academic conference so I am sort of intrigued to see if there is anything different about it. I managed to get on two panels though I hear that is illegal. I sort of wish now they had kicked me off of one because I still need to finish one presentation so… I mean, the paper is written because I wrote it last month with Rexter and I really like the paper a ton. But I am not sure how to convey a 40 page paper in 20 minutes. Anyway, that is the headache for tomorrow.

So, I yet again I will be an absent blogger most likely although I did hear there is wireless in the place where I am staying which is a real plus since I have a feeling I will be glued to the computer during the RNC convention to keep with the protest action. I was really torn about whether to go to the conference or the protests and I am not sure I really made the right choice. In the end, it was a matter of finances. The trip to Paris was free, and I am so broke right now that well, yea, we won’t even go there :-)

Anyway, I imagine like the great puppets of Vermont, which have also graced so many protests in recent years, the RNC protest will be joyful, tense, beautiful, solemn….

August 12, 2004

A calm storm of a summer

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 1:02 pm

I will remember the summer of 2004 as the summer of storms. Chicago has had some stunning storms of thunderous lightning and brilliant thunder. I am now in Plainfield, Vermont and the storms have followed bringing along cool air, lightning, and thunder making it feel a lot more like a New England fall than summer. I’ve enjoyed the storms, funny enough, feeling like they put me in a state of calm. Of course, I have shelter which always helps when there is pelting rain but it is like the storm gives allowance for me to just sleep in, not have to worry about going out and “getting stuff done.”

And I decided to be like the French and take most of August off, doing the bare minimum I need to do to fulfill prior committments. This includes blogging and hence the sparse or just non-existent postings. I have had a lot to write about but just feel somewhat unmotivated to transform what are musings in my head into something a bit more coherent and tangible. My thoughts have little desire to go anywhere I guess. I am sort of burnt out on writing and was most of the summer but until now, I pushed through most of the summer to get some done but I think if I want to be more effective with it in the fall, I just need to give it a full fudged break.

I came to Vermont to present a talk at the Institute for Social Ecology. The talked compared free software to indymedia in terms of their stated politics, their political impact, etc..

It made me realize or confront again how hard it is to convey the geek world of free softwar to those who know very little about hackers, technology, or intellectual property law. To present the subject matter effectively either requires some really good metaphors, or time to explain some of the basics of law, technology, and geek culture. I am glad next year I have a whole quarter to teach a course on hacker culture, though I still am not crazy it is a quarter and not semester… I always felt jilted after a 10 week course, feeling like you know, we just got everything on the table and now were at the place where we could wrap things up.

During the talk we got in a big, at points contentious discussion about women in technology. It is rare this question does not come up among activists, and I always flounder when it comes to give an adequate account of “why” there such few women in the tech sector. It is not that there are not explanations, it is just there are many, and it seems like very little empirical work has been done on the subject (correct me if I am wrong though, I would love to read more about it)

Today there was an interesting article in US News and World Report which published some recent and scawy figures:

That sense of isolation and inadequacy is one reason the number of women earning computer science degrees in this country has plummeted over the past two decades–with women dropping from 37 percent to 28 percent of graduates–at the very moment their presence in other scientific and engineering disciplines has soared.


I was also able to also take a couple of the courses offered during thier summer session called Theoretical Inquiries in the Age of Globalization. I took one class on Foucault and Anarchism taught by Todd May and another on History and Revolution in Anarchist Thought taught by Chuck Morse. Both were really interesting and it was great to revisit Foucault who I had largely chose to leave in the closet after some farily intense exposure to him starting as an undergrad. I appreciate his perspective on power, but I still feel like he is fairly limited in what he has to offer in terms of a politics and hence he is not the first one I turn to when it comes to those things. He offers a nice slice but if you start making that into the pie, you are in for some pretty depressing baked goods.

It was great to be on the student side of the classroom which I have not really done since 2001. It made me wonder why more teachers or professors don’t take a class every now and then. Is it time? Or just socially unacceptable? I think you learn so much more when some other teacher has taken the time to complie a class and when you actually deal with some material over weeks with a group of people.

Along with class, sleep, great food, lots of cute animals climbing all over my computer, people playing “scawy” DOOM 3 in the house (yes there are still geeks in rural vermont), I have been also jumping a lot on a trampoline. I have really enjoyed that prolly more than anything aside from the great sleep I have been getting.

All right back to my summer R and R, hope everyone is having an equally nice time :-)