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.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Zwik's Defiance: "Nazi, Soviet, Zionist, same thing."

Note: I wrote this retro-review for Rob Kall's Opednews.com, and he published it--but not without "political cleansing." He removed this, the most significant line, and because he did, I know that it is telling. At a key point in the movie, one of the heroic Bielski brothers makes this observation, which is psycho- and sociologically accurate. Please learn about the Bielskis.Daniel Craig has failed so miserably as 007, that I decided to give him another chance when his film Defiance appeared in my local "Red Box" for only a dollar.

Billed as a violent thriller, the defiance enemy soldiers by loyal brothers, it delivers as advertised, and more, taking off right from the opening credits with the killing of family, family vengeance, and all-out world war.
But as it happens, Defiance is much more. Not advertised is that Defiance is the true story of the Jewish Bielski brothers who operated extremely effectively as anti-Nazi partisans (historically true), and saved many Jews as Schindler did, not as refugees--as surviving natives of the forest they hid, and thrived, in.

The plot is simple: Tuvia (Daniel Craig) arrives home to find that collaborating police have killed his parents. He and his brothers move into the forest they know very well and accidentally create a community of Jews who, rather than being victims, become an effective if tiny combat force. There are many levels of drama in the movie, but the most significant is between Tuvia and his brother, Zus (
Liev Schreiber), whose love/hate relationship makes them nearly as combative with each other as they are with the Nazi enemy.

I’ll kiss it and make it better: Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber in Defiance.
Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber

The brothers fight each other one last time, and Zus, the more hawkish of the two, takes the best soldiers of the community to join a Soviet guerrilla force. Tuvia, a brilliant tactician, remains to lead and protect the community against insurmountable odds with minimal causalities. With the arrival of a major Nazi force, the Soviets retreat (cowards!), and the community is attacked and forced into a swamp that is compared (quite sentimentally) to the Red Sea. Zus and his fighters rejoin the community just in time--to the extreme relief of both the community and the audience!


I don't mean this as a spoiler, but as an in-road into the history of WWII: the just, if complicated war. I, as a pacifist, believe WWII was necessary.

Defiance also shows the military strategy that so has effectively defeated invaders through history, and especially in Vietnam: digging into the woods and living, literally, underground.
But most important, Defiance brings up the major ironies of the Second World War, and shows us how this irony still influences our lives today. Zus, when rejoining his brother after fighting with the Soviets, states it flatly: "Nazi, Soviet, Zionist, same thing."

While exposing us to the irony of this war, Defiance unintentionally makes us look at the issues surrounding the endless pogroms that occurred in Europe, not only to Jews, but an endless number of groups. The
Bielski brothers were in fact traitors of a sort.

Completely based on reality, with minimal flights of cinematic fantasy, the family, according to the Wikipedia, fought
the Nazis by with the Soviets who had invaded their region as part of an invasion of Poland. Not only did a few of the brothers fight for the Soviets, the family worked as low-level administrators for the Soviet occupiers. The Jews of the region, in fact, wholly supported the Soviet invasion, which resulted in the extermination of the Polish intelligentsia by Soviet partisans in the Katyn Forest with the full approval of the Soviet Politburo. The Bielskis have been accused of complicity with the Soviet invasion of Poland--and in fact, the movie is set in the Katyn forest.

The Bielskis brothers are unquestionably heros of the first order, making the sacrifices necessary not only to survive, but to thrive. But the holes created by the historical expediences taken by movie's maker, Edward Zwick, (and perhaps the story's author, Nechama Tec) are actually heightened by many of the characters statements, especially Zus' comparison of Zionism, Nazism, and Sovietism. The Bielskis never sought credit for their efforts, but then maybe there is a reason for this--their necessary but regrettable cooperation with the predatory Soviets.

From the military perspective, I writhed in frustration at some of the Bielski's strategic missteps. But as it happens, these were cinematic fantasy; in reality both brothers were experienced fighters, and adapted perfectly to the needs of forest survival. And they survived immigration to the US to found a trucking firm!

Get and enjoy this movie, know that it is often violently tragic (and a little long) but that it ends happily. Take it to the Net--learn about how it REALLY goes down in war and in war's aftermath!

Further reading:

More Defiance!: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defiance,_Ohio_(band)

Edward Zwick (right) directs Daniel Craig and Alexa Davalos on the set of Defiance. (Photo: Karen Ballard)

Edward Zwick (right)