The goal of the Linux-Society (LS, dating back to the mid-90s as a professional club and tech-mentoring group) has been a purely-democratic Information Society; many of the articles are sociological in nature. The LS was merged with Perl/Unix of NY to form multi-layered group that included advocacy, project-oriented learning by talented high school students: textbook constructivism. Linux has severe limitations such that it is useless for any computer that will, say, print or scan. It is primarily used for webservers and embedded devices such as the Android. (Google is high-invested in it).

Technology is problematic. During the heyday of technology (1990s), it seemed it had the democratic direction Lewis Mumford said it should have in his seminal
Technics and Civilization.

Today, we are effectively stuck with Windows as Linux is poor on the desktop and has cultured a maladaptive following. Apple is prohibitive, and all other operating systems lack drivers, including Google's Android, an offshoot of linux.

In the late 90s there was hope for new kernels such as LibOS and ExoOS that would bare their hardware to programs, some of which would be virtual machines such as Java uses. Another important player was the L4 system that is a minor relation to the code underlying the Apple's systems. It was highly scientific but fell into the wrong hangs, apparently, and has suffered from having no progress on the desktop. There is a version, "SE" that is apparently running in many cell phones as specialized telecom chips, but is proprietary. SE's closed nature was only recently revealed, which is important because it is apparently built from publicly-owned code as it is not a "clean room" design it may violate public domain protections, and most certainly violates the widely-accepted social contract.

Recent attempts to enjoin into L4 development as an advocate for "the people" have been as frustrating (and demeaning) as previous attempts with the usual attacks to self-esteem by maladaptive "hacks" being reinforced by "leadership" (now mostly university professors).

In short, this leaves us with Windows, which is quite a reversal if you have read earlier posts here. But, upon Windows, we have free and open software development systems in the forms of GTK+ (the windows usually used on Linux) and the Minimal GNU Windows (MinGW and MSYS) systems. It is very likely this direction that development should go (that is, on Windows) such that s/w can then be ported to a currently-valid microkernel system that includes a driver system that can be adapted by hardware developers to reuse of their windows and apple drivers.

From a brief survey of L4, it appears that the last clean copy was the DROPS system of the early 2010s, was a German effort that used the Unix-like "OS kit" from an American University.

If we are going to be stuck on Windows, then it seems that a high level approach to free and open systems integration, such as creating fully transparent mouse communication between apps so that they can seamlessly work together as a single desktop (rather than deliberately conflicting). This would be very helpful for GIMP and Inkscape, both leading graphics programs that are strong in the special ways, but suffer from an inability to easily interrelate.

Another important issue is the nature, if you can call it that, of the "geek" or "hack." Technology is formed democratically but "harvested" authoritarian-ly --if I can coin a term that Mumford might use. Authority is plutarchy: a combination of aristocracy and oligarchy that is kept alive after all these millennia by using, or maligning, the information society as a part of the civilizing (or law-giving) process that embraces the dialectic as its method. Democratic restoration, that is to put humanity back on an evolutionary (and not de-evolutionary) track, I think, will require the exclusion of the "geek" from decision-making. As is, the free/open s/w culture attempts to give leadership to those who write the most lines of code --irrespective of their comprehension of the real world or relationship with normal users. We need normal people to somehow organize around common sense (rather than oligarchic rationalism) to bring to life useful and cohesive software and communications systems.

Interestingly, the most popular page on this site is about Carl Rogers' humanistic psychology, and has nothing to do with technology.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Remembering Krishna

Remembering Krishna

Krishna was bigger than life, certainly the most thinking, emotional, and communicating cat I have ever seen. I rescued him, and probably would have found new owners for him, but he was so damn smart. He would sit with guests and try to talk. He lived with me through the Internet revolution, but I had to give him to my parents during the 2000's when conditions, including 9/11, forced me to leave NYC. They took care of him, but they are very unemotional, and that was not good for him--he often got depressed.

About six months ago, his kidneys started to fail, and yesterday morning he passed on. It was an old mouth injury from abuse that hurt him the most in the end, it had been aggravated by my parent's use of very hard treats to control him through Skinner-type behavior. A week ago he could no longer eat normal food, but they kept feeding him the hard treats making him bleed from the mouth. I had to take him. I did manage to stop the problem in his mouth, but it was too late--he was too weak from not eating for a week, and his kidneys failed completely. He understood he was dying, and I struggled internally with the idea of euthanizing him, but I could see his desire to live life as best he could to the very end, so we kept him close for his final days.

I read all I could find about the issues of dying cats and ending their lives early, but nowhere could did I see any consideration of what the animal wants, animal rights not withstanding. That I thought was amazing; all these people with expert opinions, including animal rights activists, did not even consider the possibility that dying animal might have desires, one way or the other.

He did start eating his last few days, but it was of course too late. His will to live was strong.

His body was still warm when I woke up yesterday to find he had passed
on. I quickly put him in the box I had made for him, and expoxied it
shut. I then took the box downstairs and put it in the early morning
Sun. Our new cat, Missy, came over and investigated the box--she was
wondering what had happened to Krishna.

We took him in his box to a river bank along the Housatonic, where he had played as a kitten (before the lyme tick infestation), and I buried him in the sandy loam. I partly chose the spot because I don't think it will ever be bulldozed, and it will be easy to visit even if it changes hands.

I learned a lot about cat kidney disease over the past week, and also various kinds of feeding. What amazed me is that therapies for humans with kidney disease have nearly nothing in common with therapies for cats with this disease--cats and humans are not THAT different. One might think the vets are treating reptiles instead of cats. I realize it is a long stretch to memorialize a cat, but Krishna's life was significant, and if circumstances had been better, I think his life could have had even more meaning--and been longer. So I think I will create a research wiki where my empathy model is, Wikiveristy, about treating cats in their final stages, especially with kidney disease, which is their most common old-age disorder. I also think there needs to be a discussion about the morals of euthanasia from the perspective of the cats' desires: real animal rights.

I was very glad that got to know many people, and that he recovered emotionally from the abuse that he got when he was younger.

I am finding that my photography is with me to help me share, and to make more meaning from my efforts by being able to record them. Krishna does have a very nice box, and a very nice resting place. I refinished a wine box for him, and decorated the lid with two playing polar bears taken from a vodka box. I could not find the right cloth for the lid, so I used a shirt--I had to build his box on short notice, and he needed it the morning after I finished it.