January 31, 2007

Spam and free speech

Category: Academic,Politics,Tech — Biella @ 1:23 pm

It is weird when spam arrives in your folder with a free speech self-justification:

Name: nude girls | E-mail: jenna@haze.com | URI: http://nudefreexxx.com/ | IP:

“Spam e-mails should be, should not be outlawed – Or: can, can not be outlawed, are examples of persuasive speech topic variants.”

January 30, 2007

My God it is Big

Category: Academic,Tech — Biella @ 8:32 pm

I am not a big watcher of T.V. (though I do manage to get my fix of the daily show, colbert, and more recently heroes, thanks to the good ol’ internet) but i am a big fan of good commercials. Because a good commerical is, let’s face it, hard to pull off. You have like less than a minute to say something and more important, have it be memorable; and that is why 98% of ads are creative disasters. But I really appreciate the other 2% and try to see the movie that displays all the best ads of the year, which I did this past weekend.

And my favorite of them (that I can find on the internet anway, in less than five minutes) is Big Ad because it is so meta and so riding/riffing off the popularity of the LOTR aesthetic… (there was an especially wacky and wonderful Thai one, in 3 parts, for a face cream cleanser, but I cannot find it…)

January 29, 2007

Wikipedia in the classroom or not

Category: Academic,Politics,Tech — Biella @ 5:29 pm

Thankfully I don’t have to directly deal with the Wikipedia question till next fall when I am teaching a bunch of students but the debate is totally fascinating and the comments in this Inside Higher Ed article are quite provocative and thought-provoking (if not sometimes downright hialrious).

Why Launchpad isnít taking off just yet

Category: Academic,Anthropology,Debian,Hackers,Tech — Biella @ 10:02 am

My Ubuntu-counterpart, Andreas Lloyd, has written a nice response to Lars Risan’s interesting discussion of tensions between Ubuntu and Debian and in it, he visits, with great detail (or as much as a blog post will allow), the limits of launchpad. It is exciting to see more anthropologists conducting in-depth research on F/OSS projects with a keen awareness of the ways technology mediate or make possible certain social relationships. . .

Thailand allows copycat AIDS, heart disease drugs

Category: Academic,IP Law,Politics,Tech — Biella @ 7:55 am

Hope this sticks in Thailand yet spreads to other nations struggling with exorbitant drug costs… Time will tell…

January 26, 2007

Low-tech solutions in a pinch and in the tropics

Category: Tech,Travel — Biella @ 12:24 pm

Recently I complained about using dial-up in PR and I believe in response to my post, Joey Hess provided some great tips for making the dial-up experience a little more bearable. He, of course, was providing a set of solution to constraints, which is what the likes of Joey Hess do a lot of their waking (and according to a recent IRC conversation, even dreaming) hours.

I as an academic am not involved so much in the business of finding real hard solutions but when I go to Puerto Rico, that is what I DO spend a lot of time doing. And I came up with 3 solutions this year, 2 of which I was particularly proud of (one of which may be useful to the blog readers), so I thought I would share them here:

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, my mom has been plagued with a problem of choking on her saliva because she is not swallowing. It causes her and those around her a lot of angst. I tired many things but when I stopped trying and just started watching and observing to see when it seemed to be worse, I finally noticed that if she wore her dentures, the problem, while not totally resolved, was like 70-80% better. With her dentures, she would never choke on her spit and often times there would be not spit. I think the dentures changes the shape of her mouth so that she can swallow with less effort. I was pretty proud to notice this because it was the overwhelming problem of the season. Now, there is, of course, another problem. She loathes wearing those teeth and well, it has been a battle to convince her it helps (I think she sort of knows but does not want to admit it) but she is wearing them a lot more than she used to…. Maybe I will come up with a long-term solution to that problem later but I have failed in all of my attempts while still there which stretched from begging, to coy deception, to outright bribery.

So in PR, we have an awesome mutt, who goes by one of three names, Isabela, Gordita (look at her tummy in the pictures to see why we call her ďchubsterĒ) and Pucha. She is literally the joy of the house and she truly revels in this role. She is, in fact, like a hovercraft of love , in the sense that she will hover over you, as you are, for example, trying to get work done, and she will whimper, or lift her little paw, or more audaciously butt her head against your hand, until you assume the position and pet her, or preferably hug her. And she wants demands this sort of attention for as long as you can humanely sustain it. Ok this is not the problem part (though it can be a problem when trying to complete work and I usually just give up and give in to her or kick her out of the room). The problem was that the pucha would routinely despoil the same spot on the floor, usually every day, usually in dramatic response to leaving her in the house alone for more than 10 minutes. And I know this is willful because she is otherwise quite potty trained. She just likes to remind those who shower her with affection and love that she wants it to rain harder.

The problem was that she was soaking and thus really rotting the wooden trimming (and poking around led me to discovering the third huge problem, termites, but more on that soon) and this had just had to stop. Giving her a light whallop in her chubby behind never helped (maybe she was too well padded?) and obedience school seemed like way too much effort and money.

Eventually, I just threw her little bed right where she peed, and vualla, she stopped peeing there and thankfully she did not have the cojones to find another spot. I am not sure if this is long-term solution, but for now I am satisfied.

Through the pucha, I found out that the wooden trimming in our house was ingested with termites. This caused a mini-heart attack, because well, termintes are a bitch to eradicate and they are a real problem in the tropics. I called the exterminators just to find out some information on termites and they assured me that once I ripped out the molding (which was my low-tech solution), I would not be putting the other wood in danger by accidentally flinging one of the little chubby white grubs over to another piece of wood and there is a lot of wood at home. Thankfully, since that is unlikely, with some help , I proceeded to tear most of the molding out only to disover a cornupia of bugs living there. It was so so so so so gross, really, gross that of course I am not replacing the trimming with wood but with some other bug-resistanant material. But that will have to wait till another trip.

January 24, 2007

Green Mapping

Category: Politics,Tech,Travel — Biella @ 2:14 pm

I was hoping to find a “green” dry cleaner in Edmonton and have had no luck finding one (so now it is just me and the bathtub and woolite). But I did happen upon this nifty five limes site that helps you locate those super-hippie-hot-spots in major cities in the US and Canada (Edmonton does not count as a major city). It is somewhat incomplete but there is a decent start there.

January 20, 2007

Babycakes recipe

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 9:27 am

One of my favorite things about NYC is the bakery babycakes. Recently, the owner of the joint was featured on Martha Stewart and a few of the delicious recipes were released.

I think that the babycakes establishment actually uses cocounut oil for the bakery (at least that is what they claimed when I lived there) but you will see for these recipes they use canola oil… I bet Martha did not want to support coconut oil, which is vilified by mainstream nutritionists but actually revered in alternative circles. Whatever oil you use, I am sure they will turn out quite good so long as you have the time and patience to find all those odd grains and starches.

The Fury over Zypexa continues, unabated

Category: Academic,Mad Movement,Pharma,Politics,Psychiatry — Biella @ 9:15 am

In the last few weeks the news, no really uproar, over Eli Lily’s suppression of data over Zyprexa, has in no way waned.

The EFF, thankfully, is on board, defending the rights of citizen-journalists to link to the Eli Lily documents and the New York Times continues with what is actually really impressive coverage and the news is making its way into other publications
(and here too.)

It now looks like (and I knew this would happen, it was just a matter of time) that state prosecutors are turning up the heat. Zyprexa is a priceeeeeeeeey drug, truly expensive, and since a lot of folks given the drug are on disability or medicaid, the state has been picking up the tab, so a few states, like Illinois and Vermont may be launching civil and criminal investigations, in part to recup their money.

January 19, 2007

Internet Radio Under Threat

Category: Politics,Tech — Biella @ 10:53 am

Probably one of my favorite things about the Internet (and high speed connections) is Internet Radio. My favorite stations are:

Space Station, Secret Agent and Tag’s Trance Trip on soma fm out of SF, John in the (weekday) morning on kexp out of Seattle and the The Terrordome and
Asiko Africa Phantom Pyramid
hosted by the simply amazing (really, check out his shows) Minister Faust out of Edmonton.

But thanks to witless senators, all this awesomeness is under threat (and most of your probably already know). So support the effort to stop the shenanigans and let’s keep Internet Radio alive… And if you know of any other awesome radio shows or music, please do pass along. I am looking for a good salsa station, classical music and more dance music.