Please note, this is a serious article about mental
illness and the attitudes surrounding it in the
hacker community.

Thinking different.

LoseThos is a 64-bit supplemental (like insurance) operating system for a niche--programming as entertainment. It is not a Windows wannabe. The envisioned usage model is like that of a classic Apple II or Commodore 64. It has no security and allows full access to memory, I/O ports and all Assembly instructions from your programs. Now, the average programmer has rights normally restricted to system programmers. What's more entertaining than tinkering with kernal ideas or playing around with multicore?1

Terry A. Davis'2 LoseThos is an esoteric operating system that sports

• Some interesting UI that looks to be a mashup between DESQview and Oberon.
• A variation of C called "C+" which is also interpreted by the shell.
• A unified editor and shell with images and text
• A modifiable macro system for menus
• Some sophisticated auto-complete system
• Built-in transparent file compression
• An oddly navigable debugger
• A refreshingly straight forward and navigable website.

And did I mention that it's 100% his code?

Here is a narrated video and demo

The most notable thing, however, is not the software, or the technology but that the author openly admits to being schizophrenic.3

I regret that some of the most valuable members of the community have conditions that prevent them from not only reaching their potential, but being able to contribute at all to the community at large.

Schizophrenia, and all mental disease are horrible things that should not be made fun of; oftentimes they can and do end in suicide. It honestly feels like the disease murders the victim. It's hard to describe.4

To better understand what suffering from schizophrenia may look like, look at article about how he briefly changed his site.

For those unfamiliar with this illness but by name, here is a description from the DSM-IV

Characteristic symptoms: Two (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period (or less if successfully treated):
• delusions
• hallucinations
• disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence)
• grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
• negative symptoms, i.e., affective flattening, alogia, or avolition
Note: Only one Criterion A symptom is required if delusions are bizarre or hallucinations consist of a voice keeping up a running commentary on the person's behavior or thoughts, or two or more voices conversing with each other.

An important symptom of schizophrenia and its close brethren, schizoid personality disorder is, "an overvaluation of the inner world at the expense of the outer world" along with a "simultaneously rich, elaborate, and exclusively internal fantasy world".5 This sounds like an ideal candidate for creation of anything requiring deep innovation such as an operating system.

But since such issues lead one to be intentionally excluded from the social fabric of society, every day must feel as isolated and lonely as when many of us did when we were children; sitting by ourself at the third grade lunch table. Our community is too immature to accept and too foolish to value those with mental illness.

This attitude also enables such diseases to progress, unabated.

The Feeling of Helplessness

Oftentimes, those that wish to help can't, or are forced to only observe the problem seemingly get worse.

Perhaps, this is the unfortunate case for the author. His twitter started out with entries about LoseThos (2010):

Fixed assembler bug relating to absolute addresses of C+ functions in asm expressions. Cleaned-up lots of code. 29 Sep 10

But then, as time progressed, the topics changed and is now entirely consumed by posts such as the following:

God says, "pronouncing smelling character provoke related remembrances Thinkest reply eager singeth kings something infinitely " 28 Dec 11

After being initially surprised by the content, I believe that most struggle to try to understand what it means, and whether they should do anything other than ignore it. Is ignoring ever a good option?

Being Banished from the Community

In the case of the author, he has been banned from OSnews and from reddit and SomethingAwful and his HN account has most posts "dead".6

In the HN post below it looks like he is internal struggling with his very own sanity:

I'm not sure heterogeneous CPU cores are best. Basically, CPU GPU is good, right? That's more or less heterogeneous.
I just remembered MMX/SSE and how useless that is. A bank of floating processors would be similar. MMX/SSE is a joke 2 double operations -- you want me to go through all that trouble for just two?
Continued...

God's fickle -- only with me when I'm smart.

God says... C:\LoseThos\www.losethos.com\text\BIBLE.TXT

consider; for I am become vile.

1:12 Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.

1:13 From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate and faint all the day.

1:14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed,

----

The Lord has turned His back on me for being dumb. I have disgraced Him with stupidity, but He has no loyalty. Beware, yea others.

----

I repented of my 100 FPU idea when I remembered MMX/SSE and how useless that is for me, but it's only 2 doubles at a shot. Obviously, vectors are good on matrix math. I remembered that not once have I needed it in all my demo applications. I could invent a problem for FPU matrix units. I would like it if I had a problem.

God says... C:\LoseThos\www.losethos.com\text\WEALTH.TXT

and in gold the king's tax amounts only to a twentieth part of the standard rental. It was once a fifth, and afterwards a tenth, as in silver; but it was found that the work could not bear even the lowest of these two taxes. If it is rare, however, say the same authors, Frezier and Ulloa, to find a person who has made his fortune by a silver, it is still much rarer to find one who has done so by a gold mine. This twentieth part seems to be the whole rent which is paid by the greater part of the gold

Here he has another announcement of a new release on reddit.

Trying to Understand

The most important take-away here is that mental illness is just as debilitating as physical. Just as you should not disparage the blind or the paralyzed for what they cannot do or control, you also should not disparage the mentally ill for what they cannot do or control.

The hardest part of the struggle to support is that it is so hard to understand and appreciate the best course of action. Oftentimes, the victim may appear physically normal, but then have an episode lasting days or weeks. And in the case of involuntarily institutionalization,7 this can often appear in background checks, making the person nearly unemployable even after treatment.

Mental illness is also less visibly evident than say, the crippling Lou Gherigs disease of Stephen Hawking. However, those with mental disorders are in equal need of your accommodations and sympathy; they do not have the faculties of control and discretion to always do acceptable things in a social context.

It's also helpful to understand what these diseases look like. So, for instance when you see that the author claims that a pseudo-random number generator on his machine is actually music from God and posts some of these results on the internet:

Songs By God

If you knew that the DSM-IV says this on Schizotypal personalities (another close ally of Schizophrenia)

Odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with subcultural norms (e.g. superstition, belief in clairvoyance, telepathy, "sixth sense", or bizarre fantasies or preoccupations)

At least, for me, certainly helps better understand what thats all about. I can now appreciate it for what it is, and that is a powerful thing.

Writing an operating system is quite an achievement. However, obvious or simple ideas are sometimes so difficult to realize, that even when they are done, they aren't immediately apparent. And as someone who personally struggles with communication, I cannot appreciate the barriers that such mental issues may erect. Unfortunately, the community at large is of little help.

Here is the kind of cruelness that is all too common in our industry, in this review from, appropriately something awful:

I was then greeted with the most horrifyingly ugly thing that I had yet seen - even worse than Linux. After closing the worthless "tip of the day" window, I was apparently sent to my home screen. There didn't' appear to be anything other than a bunch of homegrown, unplayable games. The only options in the user main menu were games - all of them horrible (screenshots to follow.)

Why must we be all so hateful and negative? It takes a lot of dedication to do what the author has done.

The author's ideas and innovations in the operating system I find fascinating and motivational. He really has done some phenomenal deep thought in workflows and usability.

Conclusions

The most fascinating thing about my research into this gentleman is how totally comprehensible his words continue to be in the technical world, but then once it's non-technical, everything has collapsed.

I wish I could help when I see such innovation and beauty get lost to insanity.

Mental illness must be a struggle on the order of that which I will never know and it can afflict those of any age. It is easy to make fun of anyone for anything. It is infinitely harder to accept them for it.

The author is Chris McKenzie; a programmer dedicated to truth, no matter how crazy it gets. Check out his projects on github.

Notes

1. http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/LoseThos/1183618683/1
2. Hereunto referred as "the author" out of respect.