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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 [livejournal.com 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, [livejournal.com 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.
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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 [livejournal.com profile] sebastianne's "thirtieth" birthday gathering at The Drunken Poet (related to such establishment, I have been interested in the series No BĂ©arla - 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 [livejournal.com 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".
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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.
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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 [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce and [livejournal.com 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.
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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 [livejournal.com profile] log_reloaded in celebration of her completing her Diploma of Accounting.
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Saturday, July 23rd, 2016 03:25 pm
Anne Kay, whom I had known for many years through the Unitarian Church, died last Tuesday having turned 93 that day. An independent thinker, a genuine Unitarian, and a person with a subtle sense of humour, she had been well for a number of months, so I can say it was a surprise. What was surprising was her express wish that I conduct the funeral service for her; which will be held this upcoming Tuesday 26th of July at 2pm at the Unitarian Church. I can presume that work is going to give me the afternoon off.

Ran another Introduction to High Performance Computing session on Wednesday which was well received. Actually, I must confess something, which has me a little confused if pleasantly so - is it normal these days for people to be applauded after giving workshops and lectures? I understand it as the norm in a speech and such like, but over the past two years almost every training class I've given has ended in applause. I'm certainly not objecting, but I do wonder if there's been a recent cultural shift that I am unaware of.

Two gaming sessions this week, on Thursday and Friday nights respectively. Thursday night was a session of Laundry with implications that supernatural activity is reaching a critical level and the agency is preparing to become the emergency government, "just in case". Friday night went to Gatekeeper Games for their "dice and drinks" evening, where Karl B., was running a playtest of the upcoming John Carter RPG, which seems to fit well with the genre so far. Next issue of RPG Review is going well, with just over half the page count filled.
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Monday, July 18th, 2016 10:02 pm
Have just completed the first draft of a new UniMelb training course on shell scripting for HPC, which frankly is quite a lot to take in for a single day, so I'll need extensive notes as well. During the weekend also gave a presentation for Linux Users of Victoria, on GnuCOBOL: A Gnu Life for an Old Workhorse, with a command summary also available. I am tempted to delve even further into this strange archiac language, if only because of my perverse enjoyment of accounting and organisational logic ([livejournal.com profile] horngirl may have an interest as well).

In the aesthetic realm, did a review of 65daysofstatic's, to-be-released album for the game No Man's Sky, which has a number of great pieces and is of lasting quality overall. Also on Saturday visited Brendan E., where he treated us to the comedy-zombie film Cooties which was much better than the rating suggest, and the faux documentary, The Great Martian War. Pusing the aesthetic realm into storytelling, played Eclipse Phase on Friday night albeit with some technical issues, and tried to push some plot resolution in GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday.

For the RPG Review Cooperative, have contacted the BBC over our Watership Down poll, WotC over our 4th edition Open Game License proposal, have started submitting issues of the journal to the National Library of Australia, and have set up the drivethrurpg.com store for impending publications (no items yet, of course). The next issue of RPG Review, in the "Old School Revolution", is well underway with a special interview with Ken St. Andre.
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Friday, July 15th, 2016 09:48 am
Utter smashed by a migraine for much of Sunday which turned out to be a cold, I spent fair portion of the last week in varying states of illness. Took Monday off and will be working from home today (well enough to work, sick enough to be a vector). Despite the illness gave my address the Unitarians on Sunday on The Abolition of Crime, which had a fair turnout (especially given the season) and good discussion, and apparently is getting a bit of circulation.

At the end of the presentation I turned to the matters of the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain's decision to invade Iraq, which unsurprising to some, makes it very clear that the invasion was illegal, and therefore a crime against peace (not a "war crime" per se). I have taken the opportunity to raise a few comments on that matter as well, suggesting that Australia needs it own equivalent of the Chilcot Inquiry.

This evening, assuming I am up for it, I'll be attending a meeting and sharing a post-presentation panel with James Hughes, transhumanist sociologist. Tomorrow, will be presenting at Linux Users of Victoria on GnuCOBOL. Over the next six weeks I have weekly day-classes to run at the University of Melbourne on Introduction to High Performance Computing, Edward to Spartan Transition, and Shell Scripting for High Performance Computing. There is also an impending review of 65daysofstatic's latest album being composed courtesy of [personal profile] reddragdiva.
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Saturday, July 9th, 2016 06:39 pm
Spent the previous two days at Questnet 2016 at the aforementioned open air luxury prison known as Royal Pines. Managed to escape for a while to visit the Botanic Gardens, which was pleasant enough, but apart from that it was conference, conference, and nothing but the conference. It was just as well that the events were very well catered, and the vendors had plenty of interesting items to view and discuss, as the quality of the talks were certainly among the worst I have encountered.

To give a summary of the issues, some (especially the keynotes) were so high level the ground level of operations. Others were delivered as if the attendees were primary school children. Those that had worthwhile content, did so with insufficient attention to implementation. One informative presentation was by Cisco on their Digital Network Architecture, although it filled me with fear and loathing. The major exception to the rule was a dual Dell/Nvidia breakfast presentation which included a great deal of information on developments in machine learning and the hardware and software implementations. It included a little but of Dell spruiking, which they acknowledged, but that was tolerable under the circumstances.

In any case have returned to foggy Melbourne. Two upcoming events include an address tomorrow at the Unitarians on The Abolition of Crime: New Principles in Criminology and Justice, and next Saturday, presenting at Linux Users of Victoria on An Introduction to GNU Cobol. Tomorrow will also run a session of Eclipse Phase where the characters will be engaging in one of the more terrifying activities - Gatecrashing to an alien planet. Also, have made a solid start on a semi-secret project that will be officially announced at the end of the month.
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Wednesday, July 6th, 2016 07:51 am
The results of the Australian election is still ongoing, and despite a good swing to Labor, it seems the LNP Coalition will be returned with a minority government. As always, The Pollbludger gives the most up-to-date analysis and count. The conservatives in the LNP have taken no time to turn on the more liberal Malcolm Turnbull who, already held in check with for any policy initiatives, with calls for him to step down. The campaign is a significant credit for the Labor Party who faced a media that overwhelmingly endorsed the Coalition, and actually made policy initiatives the main point of contention. The possibility remains that if nobody can gain confidence of the House, that new elections will be called.

On a completely different tangent, I am currently at Questnet 2016. at the Royal Pines. To be honest, there isn't a great deal on the agenda that looks especially of interest of me (the data storage talks are perhaps useful), and there is far too many IT security talks (as if that isn't a racket). Bugging the vendors about hardware we need however will be worthwhile. The venue itself is of come interest; set several kilometers inland on a golf-course and surrounded by suburbia, the triangular-shaped building has the feel of something of an open-plan luxury prison from a 80s science-fiction film. I took a walk around the grounds yesterday afternoon, studiously ignoring the all the signs that said that it was meant to be limited playing golf, and spent some time in the company of the various waterbirds that inhabit the artificial lakes in the vicinity.

Finished last night with the completion of my third Duolingo skill tree; German. I cannot pretend that I am enamoured by the sound of the language, the inconsistency of the pronoun 'Sie', the sheer range of definite articles according to declension and contraction, and especially the V2 word order. I also found that despite much commonality with English, there were many words that could not be recognised intuitively from an Anglophone perspective (unlike French). Still, I shall nevertheless soldier on with this tongue primarily for familial reasons (and maybe even technical purposes), despite a personal preference for the Romance languages. Speaking of which, my next owl objectives are the West-Iberian languages; Spanish and Portuguese.
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Friday, July 1st, 2016 11:46 pm
It's been quite a week; started off with a giving an introductory HPC class at the University of Melbourne with a particularly engaged an interested group of researchers on Monday, whom I found out later one was enthusiastically tweeting as the class went on. Thursday was the official launch of Spartan, the new HPC-Cloud hybrid, with over a hundred people in attendance and several speakers (including the Acting Vice-Chancellor). I gave a presentation on the architecture and technical side and have noted the widespread media coverage it has picked up, including sites like HPC Wire, Gizmodo, and Delimiter. Also, damn awesome luch afterwards. Next week I'm off to the Gold Coast for QuestNet.

Tomorrow is the Australian Federal election. Most opinion polls are predicting a close result on raw TPP votes, but with the Coalition leading in the key marginal electorates. I have giving a pessimistic reading of such analysis which also outlines what one can expect in the next three years (which has received some circulation on social media), with thesauce providing a item-by-item manifest of the atrocity exhibition that has made up this government. It all raises the question of deliberative and informed democracy, an issue which Brad Murray has explored with regards to Brexit.

It's also been a busy week in terms of gaming and the RPG Review Cooperative. My review of Vampire:The Masquerade was finally published on rpg.net, but on a much bigger scale, issue 30 of RPG Review has just been released, which includes an interview with Steve Kenson, reviews of several superhero RPGs, a superhero short story, a campaign world setting, organisations and characters, CRPG reviews, and two movie reviews. Appropriately Wednesday was a session of Godsend Agenda which dived right into the fictionalised version of the disasters confronting Marco Polo's return trip. Plus, the Cooperative has purchased ISBNs for member publications, thus completing every single objective that we set out to achieve at the start of the year - and we're only seven months in!
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Sunday, June 26th, 2016 09:58 am
As everyone knows, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the EU, albeit by a margin of 1.9%. The key demographic groups voting for 'Leave' came from of lower income, lower education, old age, and anti-immigration, with the latter providing probabily the strongest determinant. The result has serious repercussions; already the Scots, who overwhelmingly supported Remain, have called for a second independence vote, and in Northern Ireland which also voted to Remain there are calls for a reunification referendum. Nationalists on the continent, such as the Front national in France and astoundingly misnamed Partij voor de Vrijheid in the Netherlands have argued for Leave referenda in their own country, further wishing to promote the closing of the European mind. The economy, of course, has taken a battering with two trillion wiped off the global markets, leaving the UK staring down a recession.

In the distant British colony of Australia, we have an Federal election next week. Opinion polls (for what they're worth) suggest a close election, although it is the marginals that matter and Labor is still struggling with the Herculean task of gaining twenty one seats. The loathed Tony Abbott is making a tilt on a comeback based on Turnbull's woeful and dithering performance as Prime Minister. Labor has raised the spectre of a possible privitisation of Medicare first raised in February this year. The critical issue, as I've mentioned in previous posts, is if Labor can hammer home its economic credentials and point out that the Coalition has introduced the worst fall in living standards since records began. I honestly don't understand why Labor isn't hammering this point home.

Three main gaming sessions in the past week, as normal. Last Sunday was GURPS Middle Earth with our GM promising to provide a summary of what lose ends there are in the narrative. Wednesday night was a session of Laundry Files which involved a haunted house scenario in an inner urban environment. Friday night was Eclipse Phase Mars wrapping up a few lose ends from the "Chain Reaction" series. On the latter point I've written some rules modifications which I've circulated in the appropriate forum. Apropos the next issue of RPG Review is almost ready, just in the final editing phase now. Also the Cooperative has purchased a block of ten ISBNs, so publications will commence in the very near future. We have items such as Verge from Nic Moll, Gulliver's Trading Company from Karl Brown, and I have a secret project to be announced in the next issue of RPG Review.
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Friday, June 17th, 2016 09:43 pm
I don't advise a haircut, man... Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain.


In an attempt to delve into the utterly trivial, I'm 'blogging about my hair. I think it was around 2002 when I last went to a hairdresser. Since then I've simply let it grow, tied it back and when it reaches a "it's too long" state, I snip several inches off the ponytail. Well, it's certinly reached that recently, reaching the lumbar. So I handed [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya and she snipped several inches off and now I have a vaguely concave bob. People seem surprised that (a) it was done at home and (b) it took about three minutes. The approach fits a general approach to personal aesthetics; that is, a modicum of style without spending too much time and effort on the matter. Speaking of such aesthetic matters, I have completed a review of New Order's Music Complete on Rocknerd.

The long-drawn out winter election continues will pollsters with pundits thinking that Labor will just fall short with two weeks to go. I'll readily admit that I don't particular care for the opposition leader, Bill Shorten; I've seen him operate up close and personal and it's not my way of doing politics (which is possibly why I'm not in his shoes). But it seems that he's going for the jugular in these last two weeks and doing surprising well at it. There was a smashing QandA broadcast on Monday and tonight he left the Prime Minister looking tired and directionless on a leader's debate on Facebook (copy of the debate available). Shorten and Labor seem to have the full slate of thoroughly sensible positive policies whereas the government seems to have nothing. For liberals in the Liberal Party, they must be very disappointed with Turnbull, who comes across as directionless, dithering, and waffling. If this goes on I would not be surprised to see Labor pull off a surprising victory.
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Sunday, June 12th, 2016 12:21 am
The official launch date of the Spartan HPC-Cloud hybrid rapidly approaches. A transition course and workshop was run on Monday which resulted in a few more active users online, helped by having MATLAB licensing sorted out (frustrating Intel compilers are next). Next step will be getting a major project from a climate and marine science researcher to provide an initial major case example. Will also be attending Questnet next month at the Gold Coast, and have submitted a paper for eResearch Australasia.

Thursday night was another session of Laundry Files Australia. We've played this more or less fortnightly for close to a year and a half, so we're looking for a change. I am tempted to run a variant of New Statesmen or even the RPG based on Jeremiah. Friday night was a Mars Eclipse Phase session, wrapping up the Dance with the Devil. Yesterday was a cheesequest day with [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce, which involved a lengthy game of Theomachy where the righteous forces of Ares were victorious. Tomorrow will be a new chapter on the Eclipse Phase Rimward tale.

As metioned in the last post, have been working on a series of reviews for last week's New Order and Australian Chamber Orchestra concert. The intention is do reviews of the New Order conversation, the concert, and the album. This week, only managed to complete the review of the concert, which is now on Rocknerd. As it is a long weekend this week, there is some possibility to complete the others as well.
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Sunday, June 5th, 2016 08:42 pm
Went to Sydney with [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya on Thursday for a few days, including a concert booking at the Sydney Opera House to see New Order in conversation with Mark Reeder on Friday night and then in concert with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The conversation event was good if not brilliant, but the concert was really something special. I have not had much more than a passing interest in New Order since Substance 1987 as most of the music after that point is not really to my taste. But this really was a superb concert, and in a sense I think the ACO made an enormously important contribution - from their opening rendition of Elegia onward.

Whilst also on Sydney had dinner on Thursday night in Pyrmont with [livejournal.com profile] laptop006, John August, and Jiri B. The following day went wandered around Potts Point, Paddington, and Elizabeth Bay, spending quite a lot of time in Ampersand Bookstore and Cafe, which is quite a serious dangerous place for book lovers to visit, whereas a lot of Saturday was spent visiting more bookstores, gaming stores (quite a haul from Games Paradise), and record stores, primarily in Darlinghurst and the city.

The weather, it must be said, was quite humid and stormy throughout the three days and is getting worse with strong winds and floods. Our flight back to Melbourne was delayed for over two hours, with one hour spent sitting on the tarmac as other runways were closed on account of the weather. I could help but notice the absence of cats - zero spotted - and the plethora of dogs - about a hundred spotted. Where has Sydney's cats gone?
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Monday, May 30th, 2016 09:58 am
Traditional RPGs can be a mentally intensive process. My long weekend of gaming started on Thursday night with a session of Laundry Files, followed by participation via Skype of Eclipse Phase on Friday night, followed by running a session of Eclipse Phase on Sunday afternoon. The first two sessions were more investigative, whereas the third was a crazed running battle with walking wounded throughout a starport zone on Europa (I've been making heavily user of Mephit James' material of that location. The PCs, being the subtle creatures that they are, have managed to the cause of an uprising and interstellar conflict between the authoritarian and conservative Jovian Republic and the vigorously independent centre-left Europans.

In addition to this, every spare minute was put in putting together the (very late) undead double issue of RPG Review 28 and 29. As is often the case about a quarter of the page count was from myself with some six articles. My personal favourite - again very time-consuming - was the Undead in Reality piece, where I looked at mythology (Osiris is just weird), religious practises (Buddhist self-mummification), dead dog revival, a dead mother as an incubator, mind-controlling wasps and flukes, Haitan zombification, and the strange legal fight of people in India who are living, but legally listed as dead. Whilst tiring, it's still a point of some success to the editor of what is now one of the world's longest running RPG journals, albeit slightly spoiled by a one author who is less than helpful or friendly. Whilst I am editor, they will not be published again in RPG Review.

The weekend also witnessed the Isocracy meeting with Bruce Poon, lead Senate candidate of the Animal Justice Party which was very illuminating. The Party, partially the result of a split from the Greens, shows significant political acumen in having broadly popular principles from which specific policies are developed, and playing hardball when it comes to political negotiations. From a description of their electoral strategy I think they have a good chance of winning a senate spot as well. There was some debate within the Isocracy Network over the issue of animal welfare and rights, I penned Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: A Philosophical Approach to a Political Issue, which asserted more an emphasis on the former, as rights imply responsibilities. Also related was the first meeting on Wednesday night at the Aldermann Hotel of a new Melbourne Jacobin Reading group, an initiative of Isocracy secretary, Dean Edwards. Good attendance, good location, and excellent discussion.
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Saturday, May 21st, 2016 06:56 pm
So the the years have passed and Australia is in the midst of a Federal election again. Rather surprisingly, the opposition Labor Party actually looks like it has a chance of winning. This is partially by putting out policies that are so middling that its hard to find people that actually disagree with them, but also because of an surprisingly terrible Coalition campaign. In a week of utterly dunderhead moves, they Prime Minister started off by claiming that Labor's negative gearing policy would result in house prices collapsing and rents going up. I could not help but pen a few words on that subject on the Isocracy website, as it does touch on one my favourite issues in political economy - the public subsidies paid to the landlord class, and the relative impoverishment of those who are not part of it.

However the quest for panic-button responses did not stop there. A day later, the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton created a new multipart paradox that asylum seekers would be simultaneously innumerate illiterate and illiterate in the own language, take the jobs of locals, and join unemployment queues - all of which also required a 'blog post. Then, later in the week, the election took a very surprising turn with the Australian Federal Police raiding a Labor Senator's office, staffer homes, and a newspaper in search of documents that had been leaked "commercial in confidence" from the National Broadband Network. Of course this has led to the campaign spotlight being turned on the trainwreck that is National Broadband Network and the questions of the government's prior knowledge.

All this aside, this coming Saturday the Isocracy Network will be hosting a meeting with Bruce Poon, the state convenor of the Animal Justice Party to discuss animal welfare issues in the Federal election (the Greens have a comprehensive policy, Labor has a few important remarks, and surprisingly, the Liberals have nothing at all). It is, of course, not a subject that will attract too much attention, human beings being what they are, but nevertheless important for Isocracy as we made freedom from suffrance as a central policy regardless of species. Hopefully Bruce will be able to provide a well-grounded theoretical framework for this issue as well as the practical implementations in public policy.
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Friday, May 13th, 2016 10:37 pm
I've organised a meeting of the Isocracy Network for May 28th, with the Victorian convener of the Animal Justice Party. It's an issue of which I confess that I don't have enormous knowledge on, but recognise a general distinction for welfare based on sentience and awareness and rights based on intellect and consciousness (with a continuum in between). Animal welfare issues are obviously not going to be a major issue in the election, but nevertheless it will be good to hear the speaker, the issues, and to provide a theoretical grounding to the issue as a whole. Apropos, the Isocracy secretary has also started a reading and discussion group of The Jacobin.

Played Laundry Files last night, dealing with a incarnation of the The Slender Man, tied up with Cthulhu-mythos worship and graphics card development (Laundry Files is like that). Our Australian-setting variant does have a great deal of charm and would make a fascinating supplement in its own right for the game and perhaps even for some fiction. Tonight (indeed currently) playing Eclipse Phase Dance with the Devil scenario. I am still taking it easy after three days of a head and throat cold, so have joined the game via Skype - along with one player in New Zealand and another in Vietnam, as well as the two at the GM's physical location. There is something delightfully appropriate playing in such a fashion given the setting.

Although I've had a few days off work, the rest of the team brough the "bare metal" nodes online for testing on the Spartan HPC/Cloud hybrid system. This was very successful, and perhaps a world's first (albeit something that's not hugely difficult). Initial testing generated some results that were as expected; internode communication on the cloud nodes had ten times the latency as the traditional HPC nodes - and there is still further optimisation to make on the compilers to improve the general performance. Have also brought Brian May and [livejournal.com profile] imajica_lj on to the team to assist the authentication and cluster management respectively. All is very good in this part of the world.
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Monday, May 9th, 2016 11:27 pm
Sunday's gaming session was GURPS Middle Earth; our GM has been running games around the Lake Town region using a European dark ages millieu, specifically the Baltic-Germanic regions. The scenarios have been taken from Harn, which actually has some of its own fascinating tie-ins with Middle-Earth - and which does quite well in portraying magic as an elaboration of reality rather than a replacement, not quite as subtle as magical realism, but along the same trajectory. Afterwards we had a brief meeting of the RPG Review Cooperative committee; not too much to report to be honest. With the exception of the library, which really has been quite a success with a couple of generous donations, the Coop had fallen into doing 'more of the same' in recent weeks, something which really must be amended if we're going to keep up some momentum. The absence of a couple of committee members on work-related activities hasn't helped.

Spent today off work, with a throat cold - didn't want to infect my workmates. Took it easy and have mostly recovered, so I should be fit for tomorrow. The most interesting event of the day was receiving correspondence from Exeter University's neuroscience research group concerning Aphantasia - I'm on the other end of the scale. When asked about a particular mundane subject my mental imagery is often more vivid than reality. It certainly explains my tastes in art (surrealism), writing and movies (magical realism) etc. On a philosophical level, I find that it is yet another nail in the coffin of those who argue that consciousness can be reduced to individual brains.
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Friday, May 6th, 2016 11:28 pm
Gave a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria on Tuesday night on Universal Numbers; a good turnout an some excellent questions. Rounding errors are tragically common in computing and lead to very expensive and sometimes fatal mistakes. Unums can prevent such mistakes, and is a truly revolutionary change in hardware, however the challenge remains to implement them in hardware. I was first introduced to them some two years ago by John Gustafson who initiated their development, and I have been quite remiss in not presenting such a talk already.

On Wednesday headed off to Sydney for the one-day OpenStack Australia Day conference. There was superb turnout (around 350) with over half the attendees interested in the tech stream rather the main stream (read: "managers") and a a result the techs were shunted away in the conference venue's dungeon. Nevertheless was pretty happy with some of the talks, in particular Shunde Zhang's careful and balanced explanation of StackBuffet and GUTS, and was of course very interested in NCI's tests of parallel computation in cloud environments (kudos for actually having the courage to say "Parallel jobs can run on the Cloud, but is it HPC? Not at the moment".

The Asylum was a hive of activity this evening for several Ingress players from different factions, although team Enlightenment certainly had the numbers. Took the opportunity to go out and meet the younger players some of whom have caught on to playing Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Geocaching simultaneously. As previously mentioned so much of my Ingress time from previous years has now been taken up by Duolingo, but when there's an Ingress party outside your front door it's an opportunity that shouldn't be missed.