Licensing & Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation
Simple rules like not touching dead people or sick people? Simple rules, like not touching dead or sick people, and washing your hands regularly would have helped a lot more than "databases" and "global warning and response systems.
It is not reasonable to expect people to not touch dead or sick people and it is absurd to think that proper hand washing would prevent the transmission of Ebola. Ebola is primarily a caregivers disease because the people most likely to get it are those caring for someone near the end of their life. A person walking around with Ebola is unlikely to spread it to another person. And a person who is near the end of life and severely sick with Ebola is unlikely to be walking around. In most places on Earth, a person with Ebola would go to a hospital when their symptoms were very strong. When there aren't hospitals, though, then it will be family members that will help care for a person who starts to spike a fever and is becoming dehydrated due to the explosive diarrhea or projectile vomiting (or both) that they are having. And, people should care for one another, because most of the time, the symptoms of Ebola are indistinguishable from other common ailments a person might have. For some patients, at the very end of life, there might be other signs that are peculiar to Ebola, such as lesions, but this isn't always the case. But in any case, even in a hospital setting, if a person is projectile vomiting or having explosive diarrhea, then often it is not just simply a matter of properly washing ones hands to prevent infection. Lastly, if when a person dies of such conditions, they are likely covered in their own vomit and excrement and may on occassion even have open lesions on their skin. Properly cleaning the area of a sick person and preparing their body for burial is something that trained professionals with proper equipment should do. But, again, such professional services do not exist throughout much of rural West Africa, and so the job of cleaning, preparing a body, and burying a body falls on shoulders of the members of the family and household.
As Paul Farmer said: "The only formula we’ve come up with is the following: you can’t stop Ebola without staff, stuff, space and systems. And these need to reach not only cities but also the rural areas in which most people in West Africa still live."
Both nurses and doctors are scarce in the regions most heavily affected by Ebola. Even before the current crisis killed many of Liberia’s health professionals, there were fewer than fifty doctors working in the public health system in a country of more than four million people, most of whom live far from the capital. That’s one physician per 100,000 population, compared to 240 per 100,000 in the United States or 670 in Cuba. Properly equipped hospitals are even scarcer than staff, and this is true across the regions most affected by Ebola. Also scarce is personal protective equipment (PPE): gowns, gloves, masks, face shields etc. In Liberia there isn’t the staff, the stuff or the space to stop infections transmitted through bodily fluids, including blood, urine, breast milk, sweat, semen, vomit and diarrhoea. Ebola virus is shed during clinical illness and after death: it remains viable and infectious long after its hosts have breathed their last. Preparing the dead for burial has turned hundreds of mourners into Ebola victims.
He concludes the article stating:
Fifth, formal training programmes should be set up for Liberians, Guineans and Sierra Leoneans. Vaccines and diagnostics and treatments will not be discovered or developed without linking research to clinical care; new developments won’t be delivered across West Africa without training the next generation of researchers, clinicians and managers. West Africa needs well-designed and well-resourced medical and nursing schools as well as laboratories able to conduct surveillance and to respond earlier and more effectively. Less palaver, more action.
"The ME and its extension, AMT, are serious security issues on modern Intel hardware and one of the main obstacles preventing most Intel based systems from being liberated by users. On most systems, it is extremely difficult to remove, and nearly impossible to replace. Libreboot X200 is the first system where it has actually been removed, permanently," said Gluglug Founder and CEO, Francis Rowe.
"A good tool is an invisible tool. By invisible, I mean that the tool does not intrude on your consciousness; you focus on the task, not the tool. Eyeglasses are a good tool -- you look at the world, not the eyeglasses. The blind man tapping the cane feels the street, not the cane. Of course, tools are not invisible in themselves, but as part of a context of use. With enough practice we can make many apparently difficult things disappear: my fingers know vi editing commands that my conscious mind has long forgotten. But good tools enhance invisibility."
Hill points out that one of the times we actually do notice technology is when it breaks. He also has a rather clever blog, Revealing Errors , in which he and other contributors "reveal errors that reveal technologies" so as to learn how they affect our lives.
One year ago today, an NSA contractor named Edward Snowden went public with his history-changing revelations about the NSA's massive system of indiscriminate surveillance. Today the FSF is releasing Email Self-Defense, a guide to personal email encryption to help everyone, including beginners, make the NSA's job a little harder. We're releasing it as part of Reset the Net, a global day of action to push back against the surveillance-industrial complex.
If the FSF really want to do something useful, they should start with something smaller.
Our first products to recieve Repsects Your Freedom (RYF) certification (i.e., use of the RYF certification mark on their product) was the LulzBot 3D printer made by Aleph Objects, Inc. (the latest model is the TAZ). The next products we certified were wireless chipsets sold by ThinkPenguin. The latest company we worked with, Gluglug, came forward and submitted these laptops to us for certification, so we reviewed the work they did and then awarded them use of the RYF certification mark.
The kind of approach you discuss makes sense. But, should the FSF really be building and selling hardware? From what you are saying it sounds like, perhaps, you understand hardware a lot better than I do. As such, I hope you will launch a business to do the kinds of things you discuss. If you do, and you aim to sell hardware that meets our certification criteria, I'd be happy to talk with you about what we can do to help in terms of promotion or endorsement.
Thanks for the feedback.
Licensing & Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation
Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.