tcpip: (Default)
Thursday, October 20th, 2016 07:23 pm
Second day in Stuttgart involved a visit to the local university, where is the home of the High Performance Computing Centre, which includes a Department of Philosophy of Science and Technology of Computer Simulation. From the latter group I received a summary presentation of each of the research projects. From the main body, attended the large (sixty plus) advanced parallel programming class lead by Dr. Rolf Rabenseifner and a visit, of course, to the data centre. The HPCC is home of one of the most powerful (currently 9th) computer systems in the world; Hazel Hen, a Cray XC40-system - along with the remains of a Cray II. Afterwards took a two hour walk home which was mostly through dense urban forest, a surprisingly delightful detour courtesy of Google Maps recommended path. That evening took the family to Weinstube Froehlich an excellent traditional Swabian restaurant. The lovely Kinder had already received their special present - a couple of Australian Menagerie and all the supplements we could find.

From Stuttgart we caught the dawn bus service to Freiburg im Breisgau, a visit which, alas, all too brief for a single day. We stayed next to the Stadtgarten on the edge of the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität district and the old city. The (often reconstructed) medieval area does feature the extremely impressive Freiburg Minster, a massive high-gothic construction which was first built in the 1100s, then added to successively over the next four hundred years. The internals are quite a sight, almost enough to convert someone if only in recognition of the human effort and creativity involved. The main part of the day of course was a visit to the university HPC centre (consisting of a a tour of the facilities, a long discussion and comparison of differing architecture and management) was very valuable. It is interesting that they are also doing a cloud-HPC hybrid system, albeit with quite a different architecture - which can be summarised as the differences between a chimera and a cyborg. We have a multi-headed system, and they have cloud instances within their compute nodes. I am already seeing several papers coming out and much closer collaboration from these visits.
tcpip: (Default)
Monday, October 17th, 2016 04:20 pm
Journeyed from Frankfurt to Schwarzwald via train, changing at Karlsruhe and then to Freudenstadt (whose name translates as "City of Pleasures"). From Freudenstadt we were collected by relatives to be taken to their "little cottage" (Herrenwald) in Schwarzwald, which is two refurbished barns whose foundations date from the early 16th century. The area is high ground and denseley forested with firs and ferns resulting (as the name indicates) a very dark and cool place. As one could expected we took several long walks with great views ("panoramaweg"), along with visits to Mummelsee, legendary home of a water spirit (Nix), hence the logo, which was also an opportunity to eat Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, and a morning on a tour of the Alpirsbach Abbey, an 11th century Benedictine monastery.

From the Black Forest we have travelled to Stuttgart for a few days, where we took the afternoon to visit the rather impressive Mercedes Museum, both in form and content, which includes several stories of vehicle history and engineering well correlated with historical events. The city itself lives up to its traditional name ("mare's garden") with a heavy automative influence, being the world headquarters of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, along with parts manufacturers Bosch and Mahle. "See if you can smell the money", as one Australian friend advised me on this trip. Afterwards made visit to the Bismarck Tower and today (having had one work meeting shifted to tomorrow) too the opportunity to spend some time in the Ludwigburg Palace, an enormous building and grounds with highly differentiated baroque and neoclassical styles. Built in the early modern period, one could sense the opulence and excess that came from medieval royal lines - and the impetus towards revolution that would come in the future.
tcpip: (Default)
Friday, October 14th, 2016 03:59 pm
There was something quite perfect about landing in Doha, capital of Qatar, listening to The Clash doing "Rock The Casbah". The end of the first leg of the gruelling journey with plentiful but poor in-flight entertainment there was one good LP from the selection, the Hits Back compilation by aforementioned band. To their credit, Qatar airlines is quite comfortable and the airline food (which they keep on providing) was of a very high quality. From the transfer from the massive Doha airport it was another several hours before landing in Frankfurt, a stunningly simple transfer through German customs and then to Five Elements Hotel, an extremely well-priced and comfortable hostel in the middle of the red light district.

The following day the first port of call was the Goethe University library where I had made a previous request for some hard to find material from Friedrich Pollock. I was astounded to find the library special collections staff had put aside several folders of original typed and handwritten material, which I am sure (based on the foxing) that I was the first person to open in seventy years. After taking numerous photos of that material it was a short walk to Institut für Sozialforschung to be an academic fanboy. It was mostly deserted as it was undergoing renovations, but nevertheless did engage in a bit of an explore. It is difficult to underestimate the importance of this small group of serious and careful radical intellectuals to my own spiritual development. A homecoming in so many ways.

After that made a journey to the Struwwelpeter Museum, Frankfurt's long-lasting fictional children's character, them to the very impressive Frankfurt Zoological Gardens, where had a bit of a chuckle at the collection of exotic Australian birds. The day ended with a visit to the Alte Opera for a bit of high culture to listen to Schumann concert, although with some amusement almost ended up at the wrong concert (who would have thought would have two different shows on at the same building, at the same time, at the same price, with the same seating numbers?).

Today was spent almost entirely at the Center for Scientific Computing at the Goethe University, discussing their various system configurations, and sitting through one of their training courses on high performance computing using Slurm. It was a very comprehensive course but I felt that it could have done with more hands-on activities. As it was the in-class conversation with the systems staff and researchers was excellent. Aferwards they took us out to some traditional Frankfurt dining at Lamer Esel (The Lame Donkey). Apropos this I have written a presentation for the four HPC centers I am visiting in Germany and Switzerland, A Cloud-HPC Hybrid Model for HPC Centres. Now it is time for the train and a weekend in Schwarzwald
tcpip: (Default)
Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 10:47 am
Tonight we leave for Europe for a month (it took me a few minutes to pack). Our wonderful housesitter, Janie G., has arrived and familiarised herself with the environment. She has already proven her weight in gold by a timely discover of a resisentialist event; a water pipe on the second floor has burst, dripping through the ceiling plaster. That's going to be annoying and probably expensive to repair.

Currently at eResearchAustralasia, former co-worker Andrew Underwood is giving a very high-level keynote on artificial intelligence work at Dell. In the afternoon I'll be presenting on Spartan with a a further lightning presentation later on. The conference itself reminds a lot of Questnet, insofar there's big vendor input and a little light on the technical level.

Edit: Presentation went extremely well for such a short talk. Engaged and interested audience with a good turnout with people from several institutions expressing great interest on what we have done and considering adopting our model for their future implementations.

Appropriate for the Europe journey, I have joined The Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy. The good folk at the Institut für Sozialforschung have done some searching for me for works by Frederich Pollock. The following morning will be visiting the Frankfurt Center for Scientific Computing, who have gotten back to me. I have managed to list several places that we should visit at each city in this whirlwind tour.
tcpip: (Default)
Saturday, October 8th, 2016 12:21 am
Linux Users of Victoria had its AGM on Tuesday night with Scott Penrose talking about the use of Linux in Arctic and Antarctic conditions for satellite date; a great presentation and once again I find myself on the committee for another term. The following night attended a Socialist Left post-election union meeting at Trades Hall. It was what could be expected, burly left-wing unionists from the CFMEU, the ETU, the AMWU, the MUA, etc being prominent in the event and raising funds for the CUB 55, but also with a significant portion of young Labor left attendees. The meeting was well addressed by Senator Kim Carr, but the headline act was Labor leader and apparently Prime Minister apparent, Bill Shorten. Shorten is note exactly from the left by any stretch of the imagination but he does have a degree of political cunning and he certainly does understand union issues as illustrated by an impressive speech. I was very surprised when afterwards he broke from the group he was with to greet me - it has been some fifteen years since we were in any sort of regular political contact. Apparently one does not need political power to retain at least the status of being worthy of consideration.

Work has been ridiculously busy with the usual gaggle of tickets, infrastructure testing, and paper preparations. A major achievement has been shifting data - some of it over ten years old - from a long-retired HPC system. A good meeting today with a representative of Mathworks who provided an educated and interested summary of various types of parallelisation with Matlab. I must admit that I was a little stunned when an alleged adult educator claimed that 'andragogy' was a buzzword, and then contrary to their own claims that adult education is a peer-to-peer relationship rather than instructor-learner, cut off an important issue raised in a computing lecture that illustrated the potential of an off by one error. It was less than a personal affront or an example of workplace idiocy, which I usually take in my stride, but rather it offended the core principles of adult computer science education, something which I have a surprising attachment to, and confirmation of some rather unfortunate functional issues common in contemporary organisations. Afterwards continued my rants with the good hackers from 2600.

Europe preparations continue to go extremely well. My preparation of the core languages from Duolingo (German, French, Spanish, Esperanto) are at pace, and as a tangent I have just put in a request for Tetum (if they don't do it, I'll write my own). All transport and hotels booked, with the exception of our final week in Barcelona. Have also managed to come across some Frankfurt School researchers who are holding a conference just outside our visit, alas. Neverthless has already developed opportunities for further collaboration especially on the works of Friedrich Pollock, who was director of the Institute for many years and had a very interesting take on the transformation of market capitalism into authoritarian collective capitalism and the state-regulated class-compromise capitalism of the twentieth century, along with issues on automation. Whilst the Frankfurt School were very much into psychology, sociopathologies, and aesthetic criticism, their multidisciplinary approach did not preclude those with an economic and technological orientation of which Pollock is representative.
tcpip: (Default)
Monday, October 3rd, 2016 10:36 pm
Whilst others on Saturday were concerned on which side of the grand ritual of the boot would be premiers for the year, we nerdlingers held a Cheesequest day, between myself [ profile] caseopaya, [ profile] hathhalla, and [ profile] ser_pounce. I made a small mountain of liptauer (including a surprisingly tasty vegan not-cheese variant), which was contrasted with a crumbly Warrnambool cheddar, and some Wensleydale with cranberries. All of which was accompanied with a tofu goulash, which another European dish of "find vegetables, add 'x' (spices, stock, cream etc), simmer". Afterwards we played the classic realist-comedy game of Junta where one plays a ruling family of a Latin American dictatorship. The idea, of course, it to get as much money as you can into your Swiss bank account from foreign aid before the international backers give up on you. An early run as El Presidente followed by a well-time assassination resulted in my victory.

Overall it was a good weekend for games; played Eclipse Phase Mars on Friday night via our usual multinational Google Hangouts group, and on Sunday ran the Eclipse Phase Extrasolar group, and gave them a little more than they bargained for with robotic spiders under the sea. It is something worth realising; GMs of Eclipse Phase can be a lot challenging to their player-characters because of the backup system - even more so than fantasy GMs with various Raise Dead or Resurrection magics. Indeed, there is something to be said about the hostile alien system where the GM goes out of their way to confront the PCs with deadly forces that are beyond their capacity to defeat in a stand-up conflict. Interestingly the game dove-tailed well with The Philosophy Forum group which met earlier that afternoon. Our planned speaker had fallen ill and thus could not attend, but nevertheless was kind enough to provide some papers on the pro-technology environmentalism and its relationship with transhumanism, which was just as well given the excellent turnout.

Baa baa black sheep how much wool can you carry? 'Well, it all depends on the load-bearing capacity of my legs, and now we have new ways of calculating this'. Yes, I'm the co-author of a published paper (I helped with the computational side of things) with the snappy title: Spatial Distribution of Material Properties in Load Bearing Femur as Characterized by Evolutionary Structural Optimization. I have also been preparing papers for my presentations at eResearch Australasia next Tuesday, and OpenStack Summit in Barcelona in three week's time. Janie G., from SA will be our housesitter whilst we're away. All legs of the transport are now booked with a combination of train and bus through Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain. In the next couple of days I'll get what remains of the hotels bookings done.
tcpip: (Default)
Friday, September 30th, 2016 10:48 pm
Victoria can be a strange state to live in at times. Today is a public holiday dedicated to a football grand final, with a massive parade through the city. The state also has a holiday dedicated in about a month dedicated to a horse race. I find both events incomprehensible. Melbourne Cup day seems to be an opportunity for people to dress up, ignore any sense of the style for the rest of the year, and get stupidly drunk. I can vaguely understand the appeal to the "aspirational" lower middle class who want to LARP as upper class for a day and fail miserably. Why would you want to do that? For the AFL ritual of the boot, I even understand watching the game. It a highly dynamic game that requires a high level of both natural talent and skill. The phenomenology of the viewing contrasts significantly with cricket. Viewing Australian Rules Football has a high level of intensity; cricket is like background music - occasionally something interesting happens, and it has a narrative, but its mostly low-intensity viewing.

It's not as if I don't grok sport, even competitive sport. In my grade school teen-aged years I was quite the player; in summer an opening bowler for a local u/18s cricket team, in winter an interschool football player (half-back flank with occasional ruck rover), ruby player (oddly, wing), and when I could, Gaelic football, lacrosse, and European handball. I was one of the school's best medium distance runners - anywhere from 400m to 3000km I excelled at. There was other outdoor pursuits as well; especially rowing, cross-country running, archery and the like. There were a few things that put me off such activities however shortly after starting university. Firstly, there was university where my interests rapidly moved to political activism, intellectual investigations, the trinity of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. Secondly, the sporting institutions themselves struck me as being more than a bit yobbish and had commanded far too large a portion of income and expenditure for what they did. Thirdly, was sports fans as a group, with the partisanship and anti-intellectualism, and often loutish behaviour. But buggered if I can work out why people want to go to the AFL parade, let alone why the day has a public holiday, as if any of it has existential importance.
tcpip: (Default)
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 01:21 pm
Last night was a vist to The Astor for the classic SF double, The Thing and Videodrome. Prior to the movie we ate at Kabul Flavour which is inexpensive, tasty, and with friendly staff. The films were absolutely superb of course - I have seen them multple times previously, and at $12 for the night, a steal. Unlike so much popular SF both films are founded on fairly hard science premises, the notions of an alien life form that mimics and assimilates other life on a molecullar level, or the ideal of extreme subliminal stimuli generating hallucinations and madness. What especially appeals to me (as a founder of a science fiction club at university) is that the stories are disturbing on a psychological level. They are, in my opinion, what science fiction should be about. SF (or fantasy) which is just contemporary culture with spaceships can, at best, provide humour (Red Dwarf, Quark) or even some camp charm (Dr Who, Star Trek). But when a person walks out thinking "that was disturbing", or even better still, "that was alien", science fiction has done its job. Which is part of the reason I play Eclipse Phase and look forward to the day that someone has the courage to make a film of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

Apart from that the past few days have been relatively normal; went to The Luwow on Saturday night to catch up with Stean V's visit to Melbourne. They've done a 'tropical gothic' aethsteic really well, if you can imagine such a thing, and a couple of quite good psychedlia and psychobilly, respectively, bands playing. Preparations for Europe continue as I power through revisions on Duolingo for the four languages of choose (German, French, Spanish, and Esperanto), and bookings of various train connections and hotels between cities. I've also made some progress on Papers and Paychecks, but with a lot to go before the Kickstarter launch date, and played a somewhat truncated session of GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday. My review of Castles and Crusades, originally from RPG Review, has been posted on Finally, the relative break in the training programme at work has meant that I can get back to preparing presentations for eResearchAustralasia and OpenStack in Barcelona, and a bunch outstanding software installs and job scripts.
tcpip: (Default)
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 07:19 pm
It's been a interesting past week for various gaming endeavours. The next issue of RPG Review is coming out soon, although it will be slightly delayed as our guest interview subject - Frank Mentzer - will be away for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile I've been working on Papers and Paychecks, along with several reviews, with a planned Kickstarter launch on October 24. In actual play the Eclipse Phase session last Sunday involved transporting alien eggs (what could go wrong?) to a transhuman habitation and a visit to the cold water world of Droplet. Tonight will be running Delta Green Mimesis, a home brew system that is a stripped down version of GURPS on a simulationist perspective and a built-up version of HeroQuest from a narrativist perspective.

Today was an gruelling day in training, running a course on parallel programming, covering issues in computer architecture, data parallelism using job submissions, library and package extensions in existing applications and programming languages, usage of OpenMP shared-memory programming, finally MPI distributed memory programming. Most of the people were already fairly experienced in the subject, so I hope it wasn't too simple for them. That will be the last training course for several weeks, as Europe beckons. After that courses are being planned for economics (primarily maths and stats), and engineering (numerical solvers and continuum mechanics) It was meant to be an introductory course. Afterwards was the HPC Users Forum where I gave a short presentation on various transition actions from the Edward to Spartan systems and updates on the latter. Not a huge attendance, but a worthwhile one.
tcpip: (Default)
Saturday, September 17th, 2016 11:43 pm
It has been another secular heavy-week. On Tuesday attended the University of Melbourne Secular Society meeting with club president and physicist James Fodor giving a presentation on contempory theories on cosmology and how religious fundamentalists have reacted to this subject. Also present, unexpectedly, was Colin Macleod, whom I recall from more than fifteen years ago as author of Patrol in the Dreamtime. That evening the Victorian Secular Lobby met with Harriet Singh, MLC at Parliament House to discuss the future of the Safe Schools Programme, and especially attempts to overturn it by religious conservatives. Tonight the Isocracy Network met at Trades Hall with Anthony Wallace of Equal Love (they should fix that website), the national campaign organisation for marriage equality. The proposed plebiscite now looks dead in the water and soon it will be time to lobby politicians for a conscience vote.

This week witnessed the final transfer of data and restarting of the queue of the Edward HPC system, which was a very big deal. It also saw another class, a well-attended Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting Course conducted by yours truly. Feedback was again extremely positive, and this coming week will see the first course in Parallel Programming, with courses for fluid dynamics and economics for HPC being planned (two courses, obviously) following requests by appropriate groups of researchers. I am reminded that I should also consider adding some of the material in these courses to Udemy or some other equivalent MOOC. This week also witnessed the submission of an abstract ("Hekatonkheires is Spartan", another Hellenic mythological pun) for the Australian Symposium on Parallel and Distributed Computing. Finally, today was Software Freedom Day with Melbourne people meeting at The Electron Workshop, which was followed by a committee meeting of Linux Users of Victoria. The AGM will be the next main meeting, with a subsequent meeting being planned for disincorporation and the establishment of the group as a subcommittee of Linux Australia.

On a higher education related event, attended the Sir Robert Menzies Oration and Conferring Ceremony at the University on Wednesday evening, which also included awarding of some cited doctorates, of which one name whom recognised from classes I've given. The event was full of pomp and circumstance, and thus it was appropriate that they had a life peer, Baroness Amos, giving the oration. It was full of well-meaning broad platitudes, as such speeches are, on the topic of the limits of free speech within the university context. I have little doubt of the baronesses commitment to raising the standard of education for the socially disadvantaged, both in developed and developing countries, but also note a level of political correctness (i.e., remarks made for the purpose of political expedience and loyalty), such as her support for the invasion of Iraq. Which of course, ironically ties into the subject matter of her very own speech, albeit in an indirect manner. Of course, direct or indirect, the effect of such censorship is still the same - the closing of the mind, the silencing of voices.
tcpip: (Default)
Tuesday, September 13th, 2016 10:26 pm
Took the opportunity to see One More Time With Feeling, the latest Nick Cave movie based on the production of his latest album The Skeleton Tree. Overall it was an excellent piece of work, and I really enjoyed the screen time given to Warren Ellis and Suzy Cave. But as the movie wore on the grief that Nick and Suzy share with the death of their son, Arthur came out in a particularly raw fashion.

Afterwards attended [ profile] usekh's birthday party, a most remarkable, clever, and stylish individual who has shown the he's prepared to give Thanatos the finger and then poke the fucker in the eye socket. Spent a good portion of the evening chatting with the aforementioned host, [ profile] txxxpxx, [ profile] strang_er, [ profile] damien_wise, and [ profile] patchworkkid, among several others. It was from the conversation with the latter two I now am now making use of a Bulletjournal, because obviously I'm not doing enough nor at optimal efficiency. Quickly diverging from the norm however, I'm using a digital text-file version of the journal and have changed some of the core signifiers. It seems to work very well so far.

The other Thanatos-themed event was the sad departure of Scamper rat last night. The middle-sized and aged rodent of our trio (Tramper, Scamper, and Rover), Scamper was always extremely shy, and suffered from particularly having ongoing cases of mycoplasma infection. Late, far too late in his short life, he decided that these humans weren't so bad after all and became a lot more friendly. In the past few days his breathing had become particularly laboured and despite an aggressive course of antibiotics, his lungs gave out on him. I do appreciate the company of my haustiere, but I must confess the 18-36 month life span of rattus norvegicus seems a little dispropotionate to their personality.
tcpip: (Default)
Friday, September 9th, 2016 11:01 pm
Last Sunday's presentation to the Melbourne Unitarian Church on Changing Definitions of Marriage: Past, Present, and Future, was very well received. It was followed by a meeting of The Philosophy Forum where Graeme Lindenmayer spoke on The Nature and Existence of Time. This coming week have organised a meeting with Harriet Singh and the Victorian Secular Lobby to discuss the future of the Safe Schools Programme. The following Saturday I've also organised a meeting with Equal Love Australia to speak to the Isocracy Network to discuss the issue of a plebiscite or a free parliamentary vote on marriage equality, and issue which I introduced in the address to the Unitarians.

Politically of course, secularism is a liberal and modern concern, which does not only argue for the separation of religious beliefs from evidence in public policy and religious appointments in public institutions, but tangentially the development of post-metaphysical reasoning. It is difficult, to say the least, to imagine how fundamentalist beliefs will succeed in a world transformed both by technology and the breakdown of cultural differences. Racial and religious inspired violence is the last and pathetic attempt to impossibly impose a worldview that is already completely out of date.

On Tuesday night I gave a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria on Spartan: An HPC-Cloud Hybrid. Following day presented for the Edward to Spartan Workshop; a good class, albeit with a wide variance in skill levels, but all of whom were quite engaged in the subject. A big change this week was a switchover in storage and DNS for the venerable Edward system, primarily by [ profile] imajica_lj and NinjaDan respectively.

Interesting collection of gaming events over the past week as well. Sunday, a busy day, was a session of Eclipse Phase which concluded with the discovery of On Monday night played some Ingress with a Sydney visitor whose IT-related agent name (Zilog80) I recognised from one of last year's visit to that town. Thursday night was the second session of Mimesis Delta Green which involved putting together the pieces of a grisly murders and concluded with an encounter with a Byakhee.

Europe plans are going very well. Meeting at CERN was confirmed this week, so now only waiting on confirmations from Frankfurt and Montpellier Universities. This morning [ profile] caseopaya discovered that the greatest band of this century, 65daysofstatic, are playing in Barcelona on the first night of the OpenStack conference. Naturally enough I purchased tickets immediately. Now with but four weeks to go, the finer details of the intinery need to be sorted out. In many ways I've waited my entire life for a trip like this, and whilst a month is far too short to fully immerse oneself in what remains the centre of human history and intellectual - Geisteswissenschaften, as the Deutsche would say - it is coming to fruition.
tcpip: (Default)
Sunday, September 4th, 2016 10:12 pm
It is time I told the rest of the world. I'm a father; or rather, I have fathered. Three years ago I became a donor at the Melbourne IVF clinic. The simple reality is there is a number of people, who through no fault of their own, are unable to have children and wish to do so, and demand far outstrips supply (so go lend a hand, fine strapping local lads). Whilst raising children has never been high on my personal agenda, I do recognise it is very important to others and it would be absolutely heartbreaking for people to find that they cannot do this. Being a donor may, of course, generate future visitors, but that is part of the process and a responsibility. It turns out my profile apparently was sufficiently popular and there's a few of my progeny that are now healthy kinder. So the clinic has asked back to help out even further. I was worried that I was getting a little long in the tooth for this sort of thing, but they've assured me that's all fine and at least that part of my health is in a good state.

There is a changing roles of families, and like many aspects of life we overlook the profound influence of technology. Part of this changing role implies changes to "the definition of marriage" which has opponents of marriage equality so worried. Today I gave an address at the Melbourne Unitarian church on the topic; Changing Definitions of Marriage : Past, Present, and Future, which pretty much covers what it says on the tin. It's some four thousand dense and referenced words, that cover the current plebiscite versus parliamentary vote options, the diversity in traditional and historic marriages, the changes in advanced societies in the last century, and some of the future changes that are likely to occur. I was worried that it is a little long for a single address, but it went over very well and with some excellent questions from the congregation.
tcpip: (Default)
Thursday, September 1st, 2016 09:29 pm
I have dived into several secular related projects in the past several days. The first was speaking at the Sunday Assembly, a friendly godless congregation of people who like "church activities" but without a diety. My presentation ws Everyone Should Be Secular which, of course, is a rhetorical statement because everyone is secular. The issue is whether they are a secularist or support secularism - which is carefully distinguished from atheism, which many assume.

A practical example of how state atheism, effectively a type of theocracy, differs from liberal secularism, is the issue of the recent (failed) ban of the burkini in France. A debate with a former union leader (whom I discovered is perhaps not so good at cognitive flexibility) led to my writing an article for the Isocracy Network, Burkinis, Bigotry, and Beyond, which has received a very good response on Facebook and has been crossposted on the LJ community talk_politics.

"Let's be blunt about it. If you support the burkini ban, you're not a feminist or a secularist, you're a misogynistic bigot."

Tuesday was also the AGM of the University of Melbourne Secular Society. As a staff member, I am extremely sensitive of my degree of involvement in the club and try not too heavily involved, whilst at the same time wanting to assist and encourage, because they really are doing a valuable job. On being asked by the president I took on the heady role of returning officer, and that really is as far as I'm prepared to go.

Following on from this, I've arranged a meeting of the Victorian Secular Lobby has a meeting at Parliament on September 13th with Harriet Sing, MLC on The Future of the Safe Schools Programme (FB event). On September 17th, I've organised a meeting of the Isocracy Network on Paths to Marriage Equality (FB event) with speakers from Equal Love. This Sunday I'm speaking at the Melbourne Unitarian Church on Changing Definitions of 'Marriage' : Past, Present, and Future. Are we detecting a theme yet?
tcpip: (Default)
Sunday, August 28th, 2016 09:01 am
Another set of classes this week teaching Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting for High Performance Computing, to a class that was pretty well engaged. Have planned another set for the coming month with a new course in Parallel Computation and Programming. Europe plans almost encountered a conflict when I realised that I depart Melbourne at the same time that eResearch Australasia is being held. Fortunately, I can give my paper at that conference in the afternoon and still make it to the airport to leave in the evening. Nothing like be accidentally well-organised, haha. Oh, and in a great moment in science this week; malaria solved. As a disease that kill over four hundred thousand people per annum, this is big news.

Friday evening was a night on the town with in-laws Arnold and Cathy who are visiting from Perth. We took them to the little Breton crepiere, Breizoz, one of my favourite rustic restaurants which I don't visit enough. It did make me wonder about the status of the Breton language, and some concern that it hasn't (yet) have a course on Duolingo. Clearly we live in the age of the Celtic twilight. Afterwards made our way to Madame Brussels which is a fine roof-top bar with an interesting history (but oh, my eyes, that website!).

Yesterday was a visit to [ profile] hathhalla and [ profile] ser_pounce for our regular cheesequest and boardgames (Theomachy, nice concept but dependent on initial hand). It was good afternoon visiting our human friends and their menagerie (cats and ferrets), however our trip was delayed by a police standoff in Fitzroy, which involved the Critical Incident Response Team - we walked past the place where it occurred a few minutes prior to the event, and thus our car was trapped behind the blue line. It must be said, the world is fortunate that petty criminals aren't that smart - the perp in question engaged in actions across the road from a police station.

The thirty-first issue of RPG Review has just been released with an "Old School Revolution" central topic. Our interview subject for this issue is Ken St. Andre. My own contributions include reviews of Castles and Crusades, OSRIC, Basic Fantasy, and designer's notes for Papers and Paychecks, which is reaching the end of the first draft and, following mid-week drinks with fellow committee members Liz and Karl, now has an ISBN assigned to it. The drinks are significant as they were the last to be held at The Corkman, which has just been sold.
tcpip: (Default)
Friday, August 19th, 2016 09:52 pm
Wednesday was a training day for Edward to Spartan transition workshop, which went very smoothly and also had a visiting sysadmin of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (who, in his evening hours, was a lead Pirate Party Senate candidate in the state). Thursday was mostly spent at an Amazon scientific computing immersion day which regrettably contained too much marketing material, not enough compute time. It can be quite telling when a course is not designed by educators. Other major work-related events was the installation of a metric tonne of software - an interesting feature of EasyBuild - as more dependencies are installed, installation processes become easier.

Only one major gaming event this week, being GURPS Middle Earth last Sunday. In lieu of our regular game members of our mid-week group visited the Melbourne Swordplay Guild on invitation from [ profile] kits_the_dm, to engage in some backsword immersion in preparation for playing some Backswords and Bucklers. Content for issue 31 of RPG Review has been positively powering along and it should be released this weekend.

As mentioned in passing, [ profile] caseopaya and I are visiting Europe in two months. At least for one of us it's a working trip however. I currently have plans to visit the The Goethe Center for Scientific Computing, then the High Performance Computing Center of Stuttgart, then to the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, then on to CERN, before reaching Barcelona for the OpenStack Summit, and visiting the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre. It is just as well I have concentrated on German, French, and Spanish in Duolingo in recent weeks. Yes, it is fair to say that there is a degree of excitement for this planned trip.
tcpip: (Default)
Friday, August 12th, 2016 02:06 pm
It has been a very busy week and a sense of general tiredness is pervasive. Last Sunday I gave a presentation at The Philosophy Forum on Race Conditions for the Human Species: A Global Perspective (there are a few and our actions are piecemeal and responsive). Two days later on Tuesday night, I presented Is Pantheism an Atheism? to the Melbourne Atheist Society (it depends on experience). On Wednesday ran the Introduction to HPC course which received extremely good feedback from attendees. Classes will of course continue on their regular, weekly basis. Next Philosophy Forum presentation I'm giving is in December, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, following an encounter with a lunatic who believes that their consciousness creates reality. Seriously, there is a special circle of hell for people who misrepresent the Copenhagen Interpretation in such a populist, ignorant, and ill-considered manner.

It has not been all work and now play however. Sunday night was an enjoyable gathering for [ profile] sebastianne's "thirtieth" birthday gathering at The Drunken Poet (related to such establishment, I have been interested in the series No Béarla - a first-language Irish speaker attempts to tour Ireland without using English). Last night went to see a gothic superhero double at The Astor; Batman (1989) and The Crow, with [ profile] thefon, who is visiting us from Perth. Gaming-wise we had a session of Eclipse Phase on Sunday which was something like a cross between Avatar and Aliens, a first session of Delta Green Countdown, which has started quiet enough.

Much has been made this week of the almighty collection of failures surrounding the Australian Census. Apart from legitimate concerns on privacy, with various legal discussions, there was the miserable failure on the night it was supposed to be taken. I described it as: "The Census is a self-advertised Distributed Denial of Service attack". It didn't take the long before official claims that it was an actual overseas DDoS attack - to be honest I didn't think they would be so stupid to make such a claim. Still, on the positive side the recommendations that I initially made to the ABS in 2012 and were part of the formal review in 2013 have been accepted. To express simply, Unitarians were previously listed as a sub-group of Christians. Now they are Unitarian-Universalists and are counted under "Secular Beliefs and Other Spiritual Beliefs and No Religious Affiliation".
tcpip: (Default)
Thursday, August 4th, 2016 05:38 pm
Tuesday night attended the Linux Users of Victoria meeting to hear Russell Coker present on M.2 expansion cards, and Rodney Brown on cyclic redundancy checks. The following day had the first of a new class at University of Melbourne on advanced (on a user level) Linux commands and shell scripting. Detailed slides in MD format are available on Github. That evening, with but a couple of days notice, journeyed to Moorabbin to the MelbPC Users Group to address a group of around 60 on Supercomputers: Current Status and Future Trends.

As there is no peace for the wicked, on Sunday I am also presenting at The Philosophy Forum, on "Race conditions for the Human Species : A Global Perspective", and then on Tuesday I'll be presenting at the Atheist Society on "Is Pantheism and Atheism?". The day after that I have another several hours of Linux HPC teaching - and so they cycle goes. Actually I am hoping for a little of a break from such things so I least have the chance to finish up some writing projects that I have had sitting on the backburner for a while.
tcpip: (Default)
Saturday, July 30th, 2016 08:36 pm
Work started off well this week with notification that the paper I'm presenting at eResearch Australasia as lead author had been accepted. There is one other paper being considered for the Barcelona OpenStack Summit, and then the Australasian Symposium on Parallel and Distributed Computing. Wednesday was a postgraduate training day which, although with significant absences, was extremely well-received. The end of the week came to an interesting close with a request to install a fluid dynamics package for a twenty-three year old operating system, which the most recent documentation is a ten-year old scientific paper written in French (thankfully, clearly written French which I have had little trouble translating).

Apropos linguistic matters, Duolingo efforts continue well. Completing the Spanish and Portuguese is on target for the end of next month. On a rather odd whim from a Facebook conversation on the degree of mutual intelligibility between the North Germanic languages, I have also taken up Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian, although with only with the intent of developing a basic familiarity of comparative purposes. It does raise the interesting question of the dialect continuum and what actually constitutes a language ("a language is a dialect with an army and navy").

It's also been a few days in a row of social gaming; Thursday night was the final session of our Godsend Agenda game with the Marco Polo story; an adequate game but not really one which captured the mythic spirit sufficiently. Last night was an session of Eclipse Phase Mars where all the players connected remotely via Google Hangouts; Portland (USA), Melbourne (AU), Wellington (NZ), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and Perth (AU). Today was a regular cheesequest session with [ profile] ser_pounce and [ profile] hathhalla. In addition to the regular cheese tastings I made sweet potato gnocchi (not difficult but time consuming) and a giant tiramisu (restaurants don't stand a chance against me). Afterwards we played Hit List, which despite its poor rating from tactical gamers has the highly redeeming feature of producing amusing narratives. Tomorrow continues the ludophile trajectory with a session of GURPS Middle Earth.
tcpip: (Default)
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 09:29 pm
Today was Anne Kays' Memorial Service at the Unitarian Church. The opening hymn was Paul Robeson's Hymn to Nations. I followed with a selection from a John Chadwick poem for the opening words, then four eulogies by family members and friends (providing superb recollections of Anne's life and contributions), a musical Interlude (Judy Small "A Heroine of Mine"), a historical and religious reference to Anne Askew, a reading from "The Inquirer" by Florence W., and finally closing words from Sean O'Casey's, Sunset and Evening Star, and for closing music Nana Mouskouri's "Amazing Grace". I must confess I felt more uncertain conducting this service than any other, with a sense of deeply wanting it to be just right, due to both the honour of being selected to give the service by Anne and a desire to give respect to her memory. Members of the family seemed to think it went well, so I can feel satisfied with that.

The days preceding were a mixture of various social occasions. Last night was a night at the Astor Cinema to see a couple of classic B-grade Christopher Lee films; The Wicker Man and Dracula Prince of Darkness. Sunday's gaming session was Eclipse Phase where the PCs had the first real experience of an extrasolar planet and an experience not unlike the first half of the movie Aliens. Continuing to work backwards, Saturday night was a big dinner at Vicky's Restaurant with [ profile] log_reloaded in celebration of her completing her Diploma of Accounting.