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Technical Monday

Over the last week I managed to install opera on debian testing. I am moving to Evolution on all my machines — using webmail for a couple of accounts that don’t allow for email clients apart from outlook. Debian testing remains quite stable, and it is fast enough.

I have seen services promoting themselves as cloud based — often using Amazon Web Services (AWS). I’m not sure if this is a wise decision,

The woke employees at Amazon are trying to get it to agree to climate emergencies. Such people are the herd: they do not make the tools we use. The people who do are more like Richard Stallman. Old enough to miss being labeled at school, but now too old to be respected by those who use their tools.

Stallman agreed to eat dinner with me on the condition that he be permitted to order my meal and that I eat the whole thing without complaint. I wouldn’t have dinner with a resurrected John Coltrane under those conditions but there were plenty of great jazz musicians and there is only one Richard Stallman. The meal was an utter nightmare, of course. Everything he picked had the texture, and taste, of Jell-O made from dog vomit. I told myself that if G. Gordon Liddy could burn his own finger down to the tendon that I could finish a five-course “authentic” Chinese meal. Having done so, I managed to extract some absolutely brilliant ideas from him about software design and programming principles. “Come back to my office,” he suggested, and we headed out to walk over towards the MIT Media Lab. About ninety seconds into our walk, it started to rain. Just a light sprinkling, not build-the-ark stuff. Stallman screamed like a teenage girl, pulled his dashiki (yes!) over his head, and ran in waddling fashion towards MIT.

Twenty minutes later, I arrived at the Media Lab to find him huddling on the other side of the door, shaking. “Why did you not run?” he asked, in a whining monotone. “Is it because you are heavy?” (I was 195 pounds at the time; lighter than Stallman, half a foot taller.)

“Yes,” I replied, “my weight prevents rapid locomotion.” Stallman nodded in satisfied fashion. Two hours later, in the middle of demonstrating some bizarre Bulgarian folk dance, he looked over his shoulder at me and said, “I would be happier if you were not in the office.” He did not stop dancing. I took this as my cue to leave.

I mention all of this so you know precisely the sort of person who is in the middle of being crucified for “defending Epstein’s rape island” by his institutional rivals.

“Wait,” some of you are saying, “that’s right! Jeffrey Epstein had a rape island! I’d forgotten all about it, what with Epstein’s convenient suicide and some remarkably media-friendly mass shootings occurring right as justice was about to be quote-unquote handed out!” Funny how that works. Perhaps it’s because Mr. Epstein had a full list of powerful and notable friends. One of those friends, apparently, was MIT artifical-intelligence savant Marvin Minsky, who is alleged to have had sex with a 17-year-old girl on the island.

When asked to give his thoughts on the matter, Stallman responded like any 110-octane autism-spectrum genius would: by questioning the terminology involved.

It’s no different from the thousands of logical but emotionally uncomfortable things he has said and written over the past forty years. Stallman has no way to understand how people feel about something; he doesn’t feel that way. The community of actual computer scientists and clued-in tech people has long accepted this because — and I cannot emphasize this enough — Richard Stallman is responsible for computing as we know it.

In a world where Richard Stallman did not exist, neither would Apple, or the Android phone, or “cloud computing”, or Amazon.com. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The world without Stallman would be a world where you still used a Windows 95 computer, where you paid real money for every single piece of software on it. Internet Explorer would be the browser. Computing would be limited to the upper-middle-class, the way it was in 1985. No matter how you are reading this website, both you and I are using systems which incorporate GNU software. Even if you’re using Windows, which nowadays runs on a very GNU-like operating system beneath the covers.

The idea of truly free software given to the world for humanitarian purposes would not exist without Stallman. He was the only person who ever had the thought. Which means it is more radical than calculus, heavier-than-air flight, the theory of relativity, or the atomic bomb. It took someone with Stallman’s particular blend of Promethean IQ and mentally handicapped social skills to push it all the way to reality. You live in Richard Stallman’s world, whether you like it or not.

Haven’t you noticed how much worse computing has gotten in the past ten years? How much slower your phone is to do something than the desktop computer of 2002, which had a fraction of your phone’s power? How every bit of software in your possession requires near-constant updating to eliminate previous bugs and introduce new ones? This are the bitter fruits of modern tech-industry stupidity. Nota bene that China has very little difficulty of this nature; their WeChat software combines the functions of Facebook, Paypal, iMessage, and a half-dozen other apps in one lightweight, fast-running platform that works effortlessly on a twenty-dollar phone. That’s the kind of efficiency, and progress, we sacrificed when we decided that Selam Jie Gano’s vision of the future is more valuable than Richard Stallman’s. The eventual reckoning implied in that comparison will not be long in coming. Oh, wait: it’s already here. While we were busy making sure that every programming team at Google looked exactly like a Benetton ad, the Chinese were putting microchips between the layers of motherboards to give the CCCP ultimate control of the world’s networks.

Perhaps the final indignity here is that Stallman should be protected by the very guidelines of Diversity And Inclusion which are being used to crucify him. Were Stallman in a wheelchair, MIT would make sure he had a near-effortless path to work. Were he blind, he would have the appropriate hardware and software to enable his genius to proceed uninterrupted. But because he is mentally challenged in social interactions — an area where the Illuminati respect, and permit, nothing besides complete and total compliance — he is going to be drummed out of the world that he single-handedly created.

Mark my words: if we continue like this, the airplanes will start falling out of the sky. Oh, wait. It’s already happening.

Needless to say, Stallman has been kicked out of the GNU foundation. Because feelings and breaking social cues.

The university should be a sheltered workshop for the very bright, oot an indoctrination centre for the progressive cadre. The move from one to the other has significant consequences.

I wrote a thesis using emacs and Latex. Never again. I prefer simpler text processors: often at work I have to use Microsoft word for final versions because that is all editors can handle. But then, I can fake normal. Stallman cannot. And he’s being crucified for this.

On the hardware front, If you want a laptop, consider the Pinebook Pro. I’m keeping my old laptops running as long as possible — macs have got worse not better. If you want a secure phone, consider the librem 5 and/or the pinephone, which will be here real soon now. As will the new Huawei phones, which (like Oppo phones) don’t run Android — but don’t have any Google code enabled.

One could not guarantee their security, of course.