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The weekend was a very festive and some ways exhausting affair. Friday night was [personal profile] caseopaya's official birthday night. I took her to The Trust which does fine Italian food at a good price in the excellent surroundings of the former Port Authority Building. Afterwards took her to the SpeakEasy HQ for a double vaudeville and burlesque show - which was combined entertainment, amusement, and a very friendly interactive style. One of the perfomers was kind enough to give a signed CD of her work, gratis. Our table came inclusive with a bottle of wine and the couple next to us decided they didn't like there's - and gave it to us. Let us just say that the birthday girl had a little too much requiring a two hour trip home in the middle of the night.

The following day was a visit to Dylan's birthday gathering through torturously slow traffic at a Korean restaurant which we stayed for a short period and had animated conversation with current and former workmates. Afterwards made our way to Louise and Benjamin's wedding at the Kensington Town Hall, which was a thoroughly enjoyable and simple affair, although I must confess the the poet's contribution, Love Comes Back seemed to include what is perhaps best described as "unusual" metaphors. Not knowing any of the the others there and still a little under the weather, spent nearly all of the ceremony in the company of Chiara, and Adrian.

Following day was a session of GURPS Middle Earth where the GM decided to throw every plant-based monstrosity at us from various AD&D supplements (appropriately, have just completed a review of The Shambling Mound's Eleventh Week), and quite sensibly skipped our usual Sunday dinner outing. On a similar note smashed out a 2500 word article on GURPS Krononauts campaign design for the next issue of RPG Review. Finally, tonight took four visiting in-law relatives out to Tam-Tam, followed by drinks at Trades Hall. Overall, it's been quite a festive past few days, and I don't mind a bit of that in my life. But now the nose is back at the grindstone - until Thursday's international trip.
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In the past few days wrote-up an lengthy Isocracy Newsletter (members only), and have just posted The Shambling Mound's Tenth Week. This Thursday is the University of Melbourne Secular Society AGM. In other such gatherings, a week ago I went to see Barry Jones talk at the Unitarians about changes in employment and populism. He's very knowledgeable, but his style (and this is evident in his books) tends to be bric-a-brac and the first topic wasn't addressed at all! Last Sunday at The Philosophy Forum, Rohan Macleod led the discussion on the nature of political conservatism; the material needed work but there was excellent discussion afterwards on the class nature of conservatism and the separation of socio- and economic- attitudes.

Big event of the weekend was [personal profile] caseopaya's birthday. We had a quiet gathering in each other's company watching cheesy vampire films from the sixties and seventies. The gifting consisted of tickets to a cabaret show at Speakeasy HQ in the coming week which has since been extended - with a courtesy call no less - to include the following burlesque show due to a misprint on the tickets. The weather has turned a little cooler, so I was able to engage in my modest culinary expertise to produce two candle-lit dinners with a reasonable coq au vin supplemented on the first night with a rather tasty German sparking white (infused with lime) and an Italian chianti on the second; so in effect that will make three birthday dinners.

Last journal entry expressed a tale of a wayward blue-tongued lizard which finally ventured out to catch some rays. We managed to coax it outside where it has found a home under the hot-water system and probably a food supply more appropriate than cat biscuits. Tramper the rat continues to soldier on, although he rather foolishly managed to catch a cold and had stopped eating. His teeth needed a good clip and over the past few days I've been force-feeding him critical care, along with a course of antibiotics. It seems to have had a positive effect with the aging rodent making effort to eat more normal food again as well. Still, it seems that my prior assessment that he will be around for a while longer was somewhat optimistic.
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Many people think they are servants for a strange cat. Well, our cat truly is special. He keeps pet rats, or at least his thinks he does, differentiating between indoor rats (his friends) and outdoor rats (tasty invaders). Last week, for the second time, one of our rats (the appropriately named Scamper) managed to sneak out the front door and spend a couple of days in front garden. Mac Lir protected the area until the rat was located and rescued. I heard once that Manx were once kept as guard cats, a seemingly ridiculous notion. Nevertheless, if that is true, Mac is living up to his history.

Today is [ profile] caseopaya's birthday, not quite making her a poisson d'avril. As a little gift I found a shell and rhodium cameo with marcasites. Tonight we're planning on going to see a comedy troupe who were big in the 1980s and early 90s but have been largely forgotten now; the Doug Anthony All-Stars, which I guess will mean another review on the ever-growing pile for Rocknerd.

On Thursday evening wrote a short article on issues that I've been considering for quite a while; that is the relationship between the model of perfect competition (and resultant 'free market' political orientation that results), and it difference between the model and actual markets. The assumption that free markets generate perfect competition is probably the worst intellectual fallacy of our modern age, but I am not convinced by anti-market ideology that many opponents have. Rather I am leaning towards the notion of interventions from without that encourage the conditions that perfect competition is meant to have.

It's been a fairly quiet past couple of days at work; the two clusters humming away without much drama, which is really good for the new system with its first 100 beta users giving it a run. It's given me the opportunity to get an abstract in for Questnet 2016, complete some workplace training, work through the planned compute cloud training modules and so forth. Finally, pleasant surprise was the planned new edition of Barbarian Kings looks like its coming back again after a short hiatus, for which I'm writing some material.
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A number of friends have been in hospital recently. Most notably (from my perspective anyway) has been [ profile] caseopaya, who had some minor surgery in the scheme of things, but with a longer recovery period. I've been out to see her every day except Saturday since admission, and as good as Cabrini can give, I think she's getting bored of the fairly pleasant view (wouldn't anyone?). I've also noticed that [ profile] missmalice has also had some time under medical care recently, and finally two work-related friends had accidents whilst on a skiing trip in New Zealand. Let's hope that's the last of that little flurry of activity!

On Saturday most of the LUV committee took the journey down to the La Trobe Valley to host a Linux miniconference in Morwell, held at St. Mary's Anglican Church (thanks to the Rector, Archdeacon Heather Marten, for her support and assistance). My presentation was on Why Linux is the Future of Computing, looking at some of the major trends in software and hardware development, and expressing concerns of non-technical roadblocks. Many of the attendees were from the local U3A which has a Linux group, and they have formed the core of a new chapter for Linux Users of Victoria. Afterwards we had dinner at the local RSL which certainly provided good and plenty food, although I do find such places are little overwhelming culturally. Utterly exhausted in slept in until after midday the following day.

RPG Review Issue 22-23 is running a little late; last article coming in as interview with Tadashi Ehara, editor of the highly inspirational Different Worlds magazine. Looking for release early next week. In other gaming updates, on Thursday night the continuing Masks of Nyarlathotep game saw two investigators put out of action, one kidnapped by cultists to live out a life of servitude, and one driven indefinitely insane by being possessed by Nyarlathotep and deciding it would be far easier to obsessively care for homeless kittens in the back streets of Cairo. Finally, today played some GURPS Middle Earth which involved organising some negotiations between goblins and talking salmon whose conflict was affecting a local water supply (think The Hobbit or even Father Giles of Ham rather than Lord of the Rings).
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Whilst [personal profile] caseopaya is overseas in bonny Scotland (and we're spending our anniversary apart!) we've had the opportunity to converse a couple of times via Google Hangout, which has been acceptable - at least it seems the Blade Runner promise of video phones has come true. It seems that they've picked up more than a few ideas from Access Grid in terms of general scope and scalability. Of course the big issue (apart from the appalling name) is how Hangouts lines up against Skype. There's a couple of popular tech articles available, such as DailyCal's, and UnifiedComms, both of which emphasise an important point - Google has made the effective entry point free, which has certainly helped attract users. Whilst one may note how this is very typical of Google, it is also very important for them to do so as a relative newcomer to the market against a very big established player. It is also a little surprising that Skype didn't predict that this would happen in the first place. I have also taken the opportunity to make some install notes for Google Talk Plugin on Slackware 14. Least this sounds like an entirely pro-Google post, I should quickly add that I am increasingly of the opinion that Google+ is an absolutely awful social media tool, with an astoundingly slow and surprisingly dull interface that is even - and it pains me to say this - worse than Facebook. Also Google recently announced that they're in league with SkyNet; in the end you know the machines will win.

Привет меня новых российских друзей! Apparently my journal is now being recommended and translated among the Russian livejournal community, resulting in a small influx of native Russian 'bloggers to this journal. Alas, I know very little Russian and have even less familiarity with the cyrillic character set. Nevertheless, in honour of these newcomers I promise to make an effort in the coming year to learn at least some basic Russian, which will be a fairly radical departure from the languages which I have some familiarity with (i.e., Tetum, Esperanto, French, Indonesian). I will also admit to some Russian influences in my political outlook. In my teenaged years I was involved in Trotskyist political groups. Whilst their activism was impressive, their cultic approach disturbing, and their politics - like orthodox Marxism in general - is "insufficiently correct". I was impressed with Gorbachev's social-democratic reforms, although they were strangled in the crib by the Stalinists behind the failed August 1991 coup and the subsequent destructive capitalism through Yeltsin's opportunism. It is worth remembering that under Gorbachev real GDP per capita in Russia was the highest it ever had been, and it was rising further. I admit some sympathy to Tolstoy's Christian anarchism, and even more to his Georgist economics (How Much Land Does A Man Need? is possibly the best short-story ever written). More recently I've been exploring the ideas of Alexander Bogdanov; a radical polymath if there ever was one and whose emphasis on systems theorist which is increasingly important in a technologically mediated society.
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Last Monday attended [ profile] horngirl and [ profile] alchemon second housewarming. Good conversation with some pretty intelligent people (the physics of Newton's Cradle kept us going for a while), and a damn fine feast as well. Following day was [personal profile] caseopaya's birthday, so we went to Healesville Animal Sanctuary, organising the visit to witness the platypus presentation (according to local legend, a cross between a water rat and a black swan), followed by the Tasmanian Devil feeding. Very impressed by the nocturnal mammal collection as well. Following day, before attending an ALP quiz night planning session, purchased a Citizen Ecodrive watch for my beloved. She receives the high-tech gadgets, I still prefer the old-fashioned technologies. Yesterday ran another session of Pendragon, this time with Queen Margawse causing trouble.

Conducted a lengthy presentation this afternoon for a number the VeRSI people on the business logic of the quality management system we use. Future meetings will be held on integrating at least most of the PRINCE2 project management framework as the most appropriate initial activity, given the nature of the two organisations. The new course manuals that I wrote came in today as well; very shiny in full colour, and both of a substantial size. Initial reviews of said publication are extremely positive. Tangentially related to both my work and my studies, but with a public orientation, I have put in an application for another degree, this time a postgraduate diploma in economic policy at the University of London. I am particularly interested in public revenue from resource values and strategic investment for positive externalities (higher education, computational technologies). Anyone would think I'm trying for the top ten most educated people.
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Have had a great week at work, including writing a firewall document for Access Grid, a FAQ for the same and putting up a proposal to incorporate Livejournal/Dreamwidth technology as a collaboration tool for Australian researchers; I should also mention I have codes for DW if anyone is interested. Also last Tuesday attended Linux Users Victoria; Michael Wahren gave an excellent presentation on where Red Hat is taking virtualisation.

My alternative modernist Middle-Earth article, White Hand Rising, has been reprinted in Other Minds. Final draft (although I am sure there will be tweaks) of Rolemaster Cyradon has been submitted. F2F gaming during the week consisted of D&D3.5 Fantasy Australia on Thursday and RuneQuest on Sunday - both went very well.

Last Sunday gave the service at the Melbourne Unitarian Church. The speaker was Michael Shaik from Australians for Palestine and my opening words, reading and closing words were on-topic with his address. The address is repeated at The Isocracy Network; which is open for comment. Next week I am giving the address entitled "Sympathy for the Devil: The Use and Misuse of Metaphysical Evil", which has greatly amused [ profile] devilgirly who visited during the week (she has been justifiably shilling a a great film clip.

Meanwhile I'm putting all this together as [ profile] caseopaya is making her way to Royal Melbourne emergency from home because of abnormal levels of ketones. Yes, it can be fatal.. Update: Have returned from emergency. [ profile] caseopaya is on an insulin drip. Although she has abnormally high sugar and ketone levels she isn't showing any other symptoms of danger. They are keeping her under observation just the same.


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Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath

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