Lobby4Linux Founder Battles Illness

Posted by Scott_Ruecker on Jul 21, 2006 8:34 PM EDT
LXer Newswire; By DC Parris
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LXer Feature: 22-Jul-2006

Lobby4Linux founder, Ken Starks (a.k.a., Helios) recently went to Washington to take the fight for freedom - whether it's software or media - to the hallowed halls of Congress. Now he faces an even greater battle - a battle for his very life.

Ken Starks, the man many of LXer's readers know as "helios", has long been using his pen - well, would you believe his keyboard? - to fight the battle for freedom, whether it is software freedom, freedom to play the music you pay for, or even just the freedom to enjoy some degree of privacy. And he's a real fighter. The blog post I think of as most symbolic of helios' battle for freedom was of the 86-year-old Great Grandmother Hoisting the Jolly Roger.



Helios raised money to go to Washington, D.C. a while back. While there, he slept in his vehicle and ate lunch at a homeless shelter so he would have enough money to get back to Texas. What we did not know until now is that, upon returning to Texas, helios was immediately hospitalized. He has been in and out of the hospital ever since. The trip, it turns out, was a serious health risk. Some of us knew he faced health problems; we did not know the extent of those problems. The fact is, cancer is killing him.



Helios, according to his wife, Debbie, "is horribly ill." It is not clear whether helios realized his lung was partially collapsed when he left his family behind for Washington. If so, he didn't tell anyone. He simply had to fulfill his mission. He has kept quiet about his health problems, dropping only a few hints on the LXer forums and in e-mails. Speculation by one or two people that he may have mis-used the funds he raised for his trip to Washington is likely due to his inability to communicate effectively. He has not been able to use a computer at all while in the hospital, due to his condition. His wife e-mailed a few people Friday afternoon, mainly in response to harshly critical e-mails.



What did helios accomplish in Washington? Probably not much. Had he dined with Senator Kennedy or some other big shot law-maker, we surely would have been informed by now. But he went up there and attempted to make his voice heard. He sought to speak with anyone who would so much as give him the time of day. And even if he didn't win over a single law-maker in Washington, he spoke up for all of us to whatever audience he may have obtained.



According to the doctors, Forrester, and the Yankee Group, helios was supposed to be dead last November, along with the OpenDocument Format. What they did not factor into their analysis was that helios found a purpose, something he could focus on - freedom. Not only did he keep up his blog and raise money to go to Washington, he gave a presentation to some 400 Realtors about how they could save money and improve their businesses with GNU/Linux. That's an activist's activist - a person who actually does something.



The Lobby4Linux site will probably be inactive for a while, unless someone else takes up the activist banner. And that brings us to a question. Just how far are you willing to go to stand up for freedom? Is anyone else willing to take up the banner? Richard Stallman and others have devoted many years of their lives to freeing people technologically and culturally. Helios risked his life going to Washington. Why?



Freedom is just that important.



Helios was in the process of being brought home from the hospital at the time this article was written Friday evening. He will be unable to use his computer for some time. The editorial team of LXer wishes helios and his family all the very best, and hopes that the battle will turn in his favor. Thanks for all your efforts, and keep on fighting! - dcparris

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