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.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Depression: Non-psychotheraputic therapies

It is widely agreed that two neurotransmitter systems are implicated in depression: serotonin (5HT) and norepinephrine (NE).  While many psychotherapeutic strategies have been adapted for the treatment of depression, the therapy of choice is the medication that makes existing serotonin more available by preventing its re-uptake, or the SSRI (Peterson, 2004). 

In depression, the brain networks become hyperactive, and the serotonin enhancing medication "calms down" the activity, helping the brain networks normalize and allowing a return to normal cognitive-affective functioning.  The SSRI medication helps reduce the dysfunction, or dysregulation, that causes depressive symptoms, especially uncontrollable worry (Peterson, 2004).

Sometimes there is no benefit from SSRI medication, and a common alternate strategy is non-SSRI medications such as bupropion, mirtazapine, or venlafaxine (Papakostas, 2008).  Mirtazapine and venlafaxine affect norepinephrine function (they are called noradrenergic) where norepinephrine is shown to reduce neuron excitability (Zhaoyang, 2009), and hence help keep the brain "calm" in ways achieved by SSRIs.

In the case of seasonal affective depression (SAD), a third medication, bupropion, is used to prevent the re-uptake of dopamine rather than serotonin (Modell, 2005).  SAD is a "hibernation-like response" typically triggered by the change of seasons that creates a desire, even craving, for sleep (Morano, 2003).  Bupropion is considered an "activating" medication (Rye, 1998) as it promotes the stimulating effects of dopamine.  Bupropion is also effective in treating the "sleepiness and fatigue" associated with major depression (Papakostas, 2008), which implies that there are widely differing seemingly contradictory types, or perhaps components, of depression requiring divergent treatment strategies.

Treatment resistant depression describes depression that won't respond effectively to medication.  While counselors remain a lifeline for the deeply depressed who cannot respond to treatment two electric stimulation therapies are used to stimulate the brain: electroconvulsive therapy and Deep brain stimulation (Bewernick, 2010).


Bewernick, B., Hurlemann, R., Matusch, A., Kayser, S., Grubert, C., Hadrysiewicz, B., et al. (2010). Nucleus accumbens deep brain stimulation decreases ratings of depression and anxiety in treatment-resistant depression. Biological Psychiatry, 67(2), 110-116. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.09.013.

Modell, J., Rosenthal, N., Harriett, A., Krishen, A., Asgharian, A., Foster, V., et al. (2005). Seasonal affective disorder and its prevention by anticipatory treatment with Bupropion XL. Biological Psychiatry, 58(8), 658-667. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.07.021.

Morano, R. (2003). The sun also rises. Better Nutrition, 65(1), 46. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Papakostas, G., Fava, M., & Thase, M. (2008). Treatment of SSRI-resistant depression: A meta-analysis comparing within-versus across-class switches. Biological Psychiatry, 63(7), 699-704. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.08.010.

Petersen, T., Papakostas, G., Mahal, Y., Guyker, W., Beaumont, E., Alpert, J., et al. (2004). Psychosocial functioning in patients with treatment resistant depression. European Psychiatry, 19(4), 196-201. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2003.11.006.

Rye, D., Dihenia, B., & Bliwise, D. (1998). Reversal of atypical depression, sleepiness, and REM-sleep propensity in narcolepsy with bupropion. Depression & Anxiety (1091-4269), 7(2), 92-95. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Zhaoyang, X., Pan-Yue, D., Rojanathammanee, L., Chuanxiu, Y., Grisanti, L., Permpoonputtana, K., et al. (2009). Noradrenergic depression of neuronal excitability in the entorhinal cortex via activation of TREK-2 K<sup>+</sup> Channels. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284(16), 10980-10991. doi:10.1074/jbc.M806760200.