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Last week's presentation to the OpenStack Australia Day on HPC and Cloud hybrids was reported on in ITNews the following day. The day after that I repeated the presentation to a Telstra technical group. The following two days was teaching my usual courses, Introduction to HPC with Linux and Shell Scripting and HPC. These courses fill up amazingly quickly and the waiting list is now over 40 (class sizes are around 15). A practical example from the courses came the following day as we're working with a weird Gaussian convergence problem. The software comes with a suite of some 1044 tests, all of which can be launching them with a short script with a heredoc.

Out-of-hours had a great experience on Tuesday night visiting the Astor with Pete T., for a screening of the classic Australian low-budget dystopia that started an epic series, Mad Max. The evening was also the launch of Luke Buckmaster's new book on the making of the film, Miller and Max. A good number of the original crew and and bit-piece actors were also present in conversation and they had some very colourful stories to say about the production. Pete and I spent a good period of time in conversation with the crew who had a few classic items from the set, including Toecutter's bike helmet.

Other major events of the week including James Fodor presenting at The Philosophy Forum on Where Does Morality Come From?, which provided a bit of a topology of the landscape. There were two major gaming sessions this week, one for GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday and the last session of Laundry Files Australia on Wednesday night. Finally, University House hosted a UK Election event this afternoon, with lots of traditional British fare. The results, much discussed, are well known with the Conservatives probably just able to form government after having their 20 point lead reduced to 2.5 in the course of the campaign. It is almost certain that Jeremy Corbyn will be the next Prime Minister of the UK.
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One can tell when I've been too busy; my personal DW/LJ 'blog becomes neglected. In the past eleven days since my last entry a lot of my time has been spent in public engagements in philosophy and politics. Last night there was a well-attended meeting of the Melbourne Atheist Society where I spoke on Atheism, Islam, and Secularism, which was well-received and generated some excellent discussion. It followed from convening a meeting of The Philosophy Forum on Sunday where Graeme Lindenmayer from Agnostic Perspectives presented on The Concept of Beauty, in his particular style - accessible and detailed.

Another publication of the past few days was a contribution to the ALP Platform Committee which contains some pretty serious suggestions on taxation, employment, education, drug reform, and transport issues, and followed on from an article several days prior on land tax and proportional representation. Monday morning (Australian time) of course was the results of the French election and University House hosted a special early brunch with speakers. I raised the question of the future of the Parti socialiste which was followed the following day by a radio interview in Sydney on John August's program, Radio Skidrow on the west European electoral landscape; a follow-up post is planned.

There has been, of course, Linux and work-related events as well. Last Tuesday Dr. Paul Bone gave a presentation to Linux Users of Victoria on the Plasma programming language which combines imperative and functional programming with automatic parallelisation. It's a work in development and I've set up a project on Spartan for further development. We sponsored an HPC support lunch on Monday and a major item that has come out of that is the need for a massive biotechnology database that is somewhat closer to home than the NCBI or the DDBJ. These datasets are seriously big and file transfers alone are a serious issue for Australian researchers.

In addition to this I have expanded my Duolingo work by starting courses "upside down" - having completed Esperanto, Spanish, French, and German, I am now undertaking English as an (alleged) speaker of French, German, and Spanish (alas, there is no Esperanto section). There has been of course, a few gaming sessions over the past couple of weeks with Papers & Paychecks planned for tonight, GURPS Middle Earth last Sunday, Eclipse Phase last Friday and the Sunday prior, and a new game of Elric! last Wednesday. One item also of note was dinner at a great Spanish restaurant last week with nephew Luke and his flatmate Nick (they live above the restaurant): a great night, I got to practise my appalling Spanish with the staff, and fantastic food: the Arcadia is thoroughly recommended.
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The weekend witnessed a trip out to the Knox festival, primarily to join a group of friends to see Polly Samuel who is counting down what is almost certainly the last weeks of her life. We took a long our copy of the bestselling Nobody Nowhere which we found at a book sale on the other end of the country. It is of course, an extremely honest and insightful autobiography, and Polly no doubt will have some great pride in the contribution she has made to the world.

The following day went to see Sixteen Legs at The Astor, introduced by patron Neil Gaiman and with said writer incorporating a dark fantasy story into this feature-length nature documentary on the Tasmanian Cave Spider. It was all fairly good, but to be honest it didn't justify a feature-length film and Neil Gaiman's "dark fantasy" wasn't nearly as strange and evocative as a lot fo his other works. I have the sneaking suspicion that the main reason the huge numbers of people turned up in the first place was to see him.

That day was also a meeting of The Philosophy Forum where I gave a presentation on The Philosophy of Quantum Physics, a rather conceptually difficult topic, often counter-intuitive, and often subject to speculations by people who clearly know nothing of the subject at all. Fortunately the well-attended meeting were people of sound and rational minds and there were was very good discussion on matters of quantum entanglement in particular.

It was not the only presentation of the past few days however; last night gave a talk at Linux Users of Victoria, giving a summary of Multicore World 2017, along with making some suggestions for improvement. The meeting also had two short talks, one by Russell Coker on Quilt, a patch management system, and Rodney Brown, on RISC V, a free and open source RISC architecture.
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Dropped in to the Unitarians on Sunday to hear Paul Dahan give his presentation on Land Price a Cause of Poverty and Source of Unearned Income. It was a good topic, and Paul does get his points in a storyteller's style. Rick B., was meant to be taking the service, but his train of thought was a little askew, so I took the opportunity to task if he wanted me to take over. It was a fairly seemless process. Afterwards Rohan McL. presented to The Philosophy Forum on Ontology and Violence, also held at the Unitarians..

Afterwards that was another session of Eclipse Phase, as the Sentinels finished off their Vurt-inspired hallucinatory scenario (part one, The Vurt in the Mind's Eye, part two, Of Fictions Imitating Reality). In a very closely related science fiction trajectory went to the Astor the following night with [ profile] caseopaya, [ profile] funontheupfield and Maria to watch the Tarkovsky psychodramatic film, Stalker. I appreciate the rumours that this is where the KGB poisoned him, but they seemed to do well enough in finding the most polluted place on earth to do the set.

Other major event of the past days was a presentation I gave just a few hours ago at Linux Users of Victoria, on Open Stack and the Barcelona Summit. I tried to give a conceptual overview of cloud technology in general, and OpenStack in particular with summary detail of the core and optional services, as well as the governance process, the techical changes in the Newton release, and the future of OpenStack's development. The well-attended LUV meeting also was addressed by Jacinta R., who spoke on various types of algorithms including some very recent developments by László Babai on Graph Isomorphism.
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Two major events on Saturday and three on Sunday make for a pretty full weekend. It started with visting [ profile] hathhalla and [ profile] ser_pounce for another cheesequest session (Pont-l'Évêque was a personal favourite) followed by a chapter of Mice and Mystics, which we finished quickly and successfully through some particularly hardline decision making and some lucky cards that provides a delightful emergent narrative. Post-cheesequest we went out to The Astor to see the double of Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy; and ran into [ profile] justadecoy, whom I hadn't seen for a couple of years. The latter film is, of course, charming and I've managed to see it three times now in recent months. The former I think will be lasting because in additional to some good character development it made excellent use of special effects and colours in a manner that was both artistic and clever in its simplicity.

Sunday started relatively early with a trip to the Unitarian Church, where Dr. Hans Baer was speaking on the recent US elections; it was entertaining enough even if I found myself mostly in disagreement with his strategic considerations, not to mention the only fleeting reference to religious content. Afterwards was a meeting of The Philosophy Forum, where Graeme Lindenmayer speaking on What is Life? What is a Life?, a primarily descriptive presentation but which drew light to some interesting edge cases where the binary between living and not-living becomes a little murky. Afterwards it was a journey to our Sunday session of GURPS Middle Earth which included revived discussion of the geopolitical situation and settlements, before narrowing down to the immediate scenario. Afterwards was a committee meeting for the RPG Review Cooperative which concentrated on the Papers & Paychecks Kickstarter, which remains frustratingly close to succeeding (go support this, now, please).
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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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Completed my second Duolingo owl on Saturday in French. I had set myself a rather optimistic goal of finishing it by the end of April, and with a rather Herculean effort on Saturday (starting at 7.30am, finishing just after midnight), I completed some 23 skills and probably around 90 lessons on that day. It was quite exhausting and the following day I froze when chatting to a fellow Esperanto speaker - by brain was full of French! In the coming month I am intending to complete as much as I can with German - not my strongest language and I suspect that I'll not finish that until the end of June.

On Sunday was a meeting of The Philosophy Forum with Rohan presenting on Leonardo Di Vinci, Tertiary Education, and Genius. The presentation needed some work but there was some good discussion. I neglected to mention last month's meeting which had Tim Harding speak on Determinism, Free Will and Compatibilism, which had a massive follow-up discussion on Facebook. I had to pen a few words myself on the subject, much to my annoyance as I find the partisanship on the subject when our knowledge is limited to be far too rude.

Today's work consisted on giving another course on high performance computing at UniMelb, along with Martin P., contributing with the use of the NeCTAR cloud. Tonight I'm working on a presentation tomorrow night for Linux Users of Victoria on UNUMS - computation without error.
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Saturday was spent [ profile] sebastianne and Luke and took them on a tour of our home's environs, the Kew Asylum and nearby grounds, including the bat colony by the river. It had been some months since we'd spent time in each other's company and it's always a great pleasure to engage with such a witty mind. I must think of some cunning plan to get her involved in politics and secularism again.

Following day I presented at a meeting of The Philosophy Forum on The Epistemology of Madness. Meeting went extremely well, very well attended and with excellent discussion. Those in attendence certainly seemed agreeable to notions that insanity cannot be equated with mere deviance, and that forms of incarceration is only justified under circumstances where it is causing harm. Also, as a matter of administrivia, the group unanimously decided not to be a subcommittee of the Unitarian church where we meet. Said organisation will kill themselves through bureaucracy.

After philosophy was a different sort of madness, this time in space via the game Eclipse Phase. I'd played in a session on Friday night where we continued our escapes outside the Mars TITAN Quarantine Zone. To up the ante I took the players in my game to the Jovian asteroids where they encountered the remains of a TITAN system along with (taking an old tip from [ profile] cheshirenoir, "stainless steel rats". The next step for the characters in my game will be the Jovian Republic, a sort of combination of North and South American conservativism - played with a nuanced view of the problems of posthuman and augmented intelligences, they certainly make a good argument.

Last night caught up with Jo H., and friends from Perth and went to see The Jesus and Mary Chain perform the thirtieth anniversary of their debut album Psychocandy (youtube) at The Forum, a particularly beautiful late noveau building with a fascinating history. In the near future I'll put a review up at Rocknerd, along with a planned review of Central Belters, a best-of album by Mogwai. Funk-punk political radicals, The Gang of Four are also playing at the same location in a few weeks, so I might end up there as well.
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Delightful Saturday evening with Brendan E., who is a arthouse tv expert without realising it. The Throways was a much better film that most reviewers suggest, and Ash vs The Evil Dead was quite hilarious. It is interesting from a retrospective that Ash Williams has become such a arthouse culture icon (Number 1 Greatest Horror Movie Character according to Empire Magazine); he's a complete idiot, but sufficiently brave and tough to make up for it. Apropos I have currently working on reviews of the presentation of the undead in Dungeons & Dragons with Libris Mortis (3rd edition) and Open Grave (4th edition).

Sunday was a gathering of The Philosophy Forum, another good turnout. Grame Lindemeyer presented on Data, Information, Meaning, Intelligence and Consciousness - rather overlooking the importance of language in all this I'm afraid. After the presentation chaired the committee meeting of the RPG Review Cooperative and covered a lot of ground, before running the second session of Eclipse Phase which has seen the PCs end up as agents for Firewall. Tonight was our mashup between The Secrets of Cats and Call of Cthulhu.

Last night attended a presentation by Laure Akai, Secretary of the International Workers Association, on the practice of anarcho-syndicalism. Quite well attended, it was a potted tour of the various small chapters around the world and their very modest successes with direct action methods. It was organised by the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation of Australia which I may have sympathies with their end goals, but their purist restrictive membership means that it is not possible for me to join. Overall it reminds me why I am not involved in what are ineffectual and purist anarchist political groups.

Work goes well; swapped out some long-overdue dead disks on the storage array, cleared the stale NFS handles on some compute nodes, and now have Edward running with more processors and with more jobs on it than I've ever seen. Have also finished by presentation for Multicore World next week in New Zealand. Work keeps on making noises about wanting to send me to the OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas.
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Today was my last official working day at VPAC/V3 Alliance, a place where I have worked for since September 2007. I will be still working on various publications mentioned in previous entries, to leave some lasting legacy. I cannot pretend that I am happy with the circumstances of finishing work at VPAC, but I am also very pleased with the new position at the University of Melbourne. I'm trying to the numbers, operating at a level of at least 3,000 tickets resolved (VPAC and ARCS primarily) and probably a similar number of training days conducted (around 30 student-days per month in the past year, somewhat less in previous years). So maybe 4,000 researchers all up from RMIT, La Trobe University, the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Swinburne University, Victoria University of Technology, the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Western Australia, the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, the Westmead Millennium Institute, and the Australian Institution of Marine Science. It even possible that some good has come from it all.

The preceeding weekend was fairly busy; on Saturday went to visit [ profile] uke and family, whom we'd hadn't seen since last November. A great afternoon of wide-ranging conversation (which reminds us that we must catch up more often). Finished the fascinating book The Discovery of France, which they had loaned to me on the previous visit. The following day was the Unitarian service on permaculture, followed by The Philosophy Forum with a presentation by Pat Sunter, on "Phronesis, Pragmatism and Practical Wisdom:- re-grounding the social sciences". He made a good elaboration on the classical theory, but updated with some recent work by Bent Flyvbjerg. After that (yes, three events per day) was a session of GURPS Middle Earth, which included a mash-in of the classic Call of Cthulhu adventure, Paper Chase.
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Second half of the Tasmanian trip started with dinner with my old colleague Emeritus Professor Peter Boyce, a really wonderful night with a wide-ranging discussion with a bit of a concentration on the weirder parts of the former east European governments in less democratic days. It dove-tailed well with [ profile] caseopaya and I continuing strongly with our duolingo lessons, even if it has meant missing some CAE classes. Whilst not a headline, my favourite talk of the the final day of OSDC was Paul Wayper's presentation (primarily) on logging. One the last day took the M.V. Emmalisa for a lunch-time trip which is excellent value.

Returned from Tasmania in time for Halloween, where local kids adopt the completely wrong astronomical ritual under the influence of American cultural imperialism. We sent them away with threats that we would feed them to our rats. I spoke the following day at the Progressive Atheists Conference on Secularism in the Modern World. The real keynotes however were presentations by Bangladeshi 'bloggers who are having a fairly rough time. The following day convened The Philosophy Forum where James Fodor spoke on peer disagreement.

On the topic of classes, first day of three of Linux and HPC courses for RMIT and UniMelb students was held today. Exhausting as usual, but also with good feedback and a couple of really switched on individuals who wanted to push Python down the parallel path. Will be running classes tomorrow as well, even it is supposed to be a public holiday for horse torture. Next week will be the same run of courses at La Trobe University. Appropriately, this Wednesday I will be speaking at Linux Users of Victoria on parallel programming (having just completely a security and module upgrade to the site, hopefully nothing is too broken).
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It was the Linux Users of Victoria AGM on Tuesday night. Ryan Kelly's talk on Cross Compiling for the Web was excellent. Whilst I loathe Javascript on aesthetic grounds, I accept its functionality, and this was a most encouraging talk in that regard. We didn't get quorum (as that required almost 150 people), but the meeting will be adjourned to Software Freedom Day. For the first three days of next week I have another set of Linux and HPC courses to run for the RMIT SPACE centre. Apropos this I have also 'blogged about some R library quirks and Parallel and MPI Octave. For next month, an abstract for my talk at OSDC in Hobart is now available on their website.

On the political side, Friday night was a dinner with Damien and Rae Kingsbury a fairly astute pair of minds, and with Anthony L., and Daye G., with the main topic of conversation being rebuilding (ye gods, yet again) an acceptable policy for asylum seekers in Labor Party policy after Labor for Refugees was routed at the last National Conference. On the philosophical side, today presented at the Unitarians on A Modern Reconstruction of Buddhist Karma. Afterwards introduced Adam Ford presenting at The Philosophy Forum on the topic The Coming Technological Singularity - Rapture of the Nerds? Or the End of the Human Race?, which provided some very good justifications of concern on the malicious artificial intelligence.
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Have written three major articles this week; the first was a rather satirical piece following an encounter with a religiously-inspired individual who used the old chestnut that marriage equality should be opposed because same-sex unions can't produce children. I consider this to be the The Worst Secular Argument Against Marriage Equality and there was follow-up discussion on talk_politics (a livejournal community which still generates debate!). The next was an essay on the current Libyan civil war which is has generated a bit of discussion on Facebook, and was partially inspired by reading the absolutely appalling evaluations on the situation by the journal Inclusive Democracy; they are certainly deserving of a scathing 'blog piece as well. The third was The Philosophy of Computers and Computation, unsurprisingly presented to The Philosophy Forum.

Played Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition with Liz B., as GM on Sunday; it was a standard sewer-crawl and introduction to the game system; much simplified (and limited) from earlier editions. Thursday night played Paranoia XP with Andrew B., as GM High Programmer; we played it 'straight' which can go pretty damn Orwellian, real fast. Still haven't managed to get the June issue of RPG Review completed yet; which is rather frustrating to say the least. Work progresses, albeit a little slowly on the new edition of Swordbearer, however I still think the planned timeline (release next year) will succeed.

Have completed another gruelling first day of bringing researchers up to speed on Linux and High Performance Computing; it was a good class, mostly from the University of Melbourne and RMIT, with a couple from Victoria University and ARPANSA. It was exhausting primarily because (as mentioned previously) I've been run ragged at work over the past couple of weeks and it's beginning to affect my health. Nevertheless I must have done something right as the post-course feedback was perfect for delivery and content ratings; I usually do quite well, but this is the first time I think I have received a perfect score from everyone who responded. Two more days to go on the current round, then followed up with another meeting about the vocational engineering programme.
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Philosophy Forum last Sunday was Dr. Bill Hall discussing Knowledge and the Singularity, which has a somewhat uncertain conclusion. It is all very well to note the development of human knowledge but the question of whether this is sufficient to deal with the critical issues facing the species was unresolved. Tuesday night was two excellent and useful presentations at Linux Users Victoria on Performance Co-Pilot and Android Security. The former presentation was excellent to the server and cluster level whereas the latter (in Paul Fenwick's enjoyable style) was great for personal applications (plus it introduced me to Pinpoint, a great tool for command-line warriors to make presentations.

Sunday afternoon was also an opportunity to run 7th Sea Freiburg which required some substantial modification to the provided plot to make sense, but with the same intent - the characters fall into financial ruin (as the foundations of their house are attacked) but also acquire significant dangerous wealth almost at the same time (discovered due to the explosion). I did enjoy starting the session for half the party with the phrase "roll for initiative" as they sat down. Thursday night's session saw the beginning final chapter of Masks of Nyarlathotep. Currently in the midst of our regular GURPS Middle Earth rescuing children in Dwarven ruins; we get a lot of that.

Caught up with [ profile] strangedave and [ profile] doctor_k_ who were visiting Melbourne on Friday night at the Village Bar, which really is quite a beautiful old building. Discussions were wide and varied over the evening covering childhood vaccinations, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and Glorantha. Can't say I was exactly feeling 100% the following day however.
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The three days training and systems administration on the Pople cluster at the University of Western Australia School of Chemistry and Biochemistry went very well with excellent feedback. It was especially good to catch up with old friend [personal profile] fred_mouse who worked in the same building over lunch. After the third day, caught up with a dozen or so Perth friends at Tak Chee House followed by cocktails at the finely appointed Bar Lafayette at the old Perth Technical College. Some of the staff seemed rather pleased to have a Lafayette visiting their bar, not the least being the waitress from Versailles. As a whole it was quite a wonderful night of good food, good drink, and excellent conversation. The following day managed to catch up for a long lunch with my old mentor, Bruce T., at The Dome in Maylands, site of the historic Peninsula Hotel, which does have a story or two in its own right.

Leaving that afternoon, the flight was relatively quick. Movie was The Hunger Games : Mockingjay Part I which was simply terrible. A stuff-up with luggage meant that we did not return home until after midnight. Whilst well and truly exhausted managed to make it along to Rohan's presentation at The Philosophy Forum on A Phenomenological Ontology of Love: Body, Heart, and Spirit which packed in a lot and generated a great deal of conversation (everyone has at least some idea about the topic). Hopefully will have it online at Lightbringers soon. Afterwards played GURPS Middle-Earth where on a tangential plot, we dealt with Earth Spirits in an old-fashioned D&D-style dungeon crawl (complete with silly monsters).

Whilst in WA received notification that my application to do a Master of Education from the University of Otago had been accepted. I am hoping with prior credit from my relevant Graduate Certificate I should be able to complete the degree with 'just' the dissertation. As part of the application, I have had to submit a propsed thesis abstract of course; I am taking a rather broad brush with The Future of the University in the Age of the Internet, where I will start with the effects of the print revolution on the university system, and look at current and future methods of online learning, and the effects this will have on the university as an physical institution and as a culture. I'm rather looking forward to it.
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Sunday I gave a presentation at the Unitarian church on The Once And Future King : Mythology and Motivation from the Arthurian Legends. It was quite well-attended, especially given inclement weather, and managed to catch up with a number of people I hadn't seen for a while. The discussion after the presentation was excellent and I also managed to get two very smart people together who knew each other by their works but who had never met - they spent a good time in serious conversation, so that little hook-up worked very well. After the address, led the meeting of The Philosophy Forum, presenting on The Philosophy of Social Development, which also had an excellent discussion. Despite my express desire for some else to take up the organiser's role (I don't like holding positions for too long), it seems that I'm stuck with this one for a while, whether I want it or not! Finally, for the third event of the day, finished off playing in a session of GURPS Middle-Earth. That itself was the second major gaming event of the week, with Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep run on Thursday night, which concluded the 1920s Chinese version of You Only Live Twice.

Queensland had an election on Saturday. Starting from a mere nine seats out of eighty-nine the Labor Party is just shy of a outright majority, in one of the most extraordinary political changes in Australian history. Turfed out after a single term, the Newman government's rule was noted by giving discretionary powers to the Attorney-General for indefinite detention for sex offenders, the imprisonment of members and associates of what he called "outlaw motorcycle clubs", with presumed guilt of association rather than innocence, and the sacking of some 13,000 public servants in the first year. With a swing of over ten percent, some of his MPs were reduced to doing the chicken dance when questions were raised about impropriety. With an opinion poll released the same day showing support for the Federal LNP government has fallen to 57-43 in arrears, the sharks are finally circling the Prime Minister, who has come out insulting the electorate by saying they voted for change in a fit of absent-mindedness; you can't make this up.This is certainly a lesson in a democratic politics; treat the electorate like a contemptuous thug and they'll put you last. That's why our forebears fought so hard for it.

Of particular delight over the weekend was catching up for dinner with [ profile] log_reloaded and her partner Jase, the latter of whom cooked up quite a feast. It had been a little while since we'd caught up face-to-face, so it was a pretty good evening. In the last week I also reviewed the debut album from alternative rock band, Menace Beach which was less than earth-shattering. Finally, after a one year hiatus, I have made some significant moves this week towards enrolling in yet another degree, albeit one previously planned - a Master of Education at the University of Otago.
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Last Sunday gave a presentation at The Philosophy Forum on The Philosophy of Music, which gave a definitional, ontological, and epistemological overview of the subject. I admit to being particularly vexed with the issue of musical criticism, and over the week thrashed the ideas out in my mind, eventually writing Notes on the Accounting of Musical Taste for Rocknerd. It was the second item I provided for said site this week, the first being a review of the latest album by Skinny Puppy, albeit some months late. Another item of musical note was the arrival of The Definitive Missing Link Recordings of The Birthday Party, which I found after some time and expenditure for [ profile] caseopaya, who had said collection stolen from her many years ago.

Our neighbour's rat, Suki, whom we look after whilst she is overseas is not doing well. She's an old girl and has always been a little on the thin side. But now she's probably about three years old and is suffering from serious respiratory problems. Over the past few days she been eating very little, and her breathing has been quite laboured. After a couple of gasping and panic attacks, so we've done the right thing in terms of medications; she's spending time in steamy rooms, is now on an aggressive course of anti-biotics, and most recently we've been applying asthma medications. She also seems to enjoy spend the night sleeping on my chest. It is probably as much as we can do for the time being; her owner comes back next week and hopefully she'll be still be around for that.

A few posts ago, I suggested that I was off to Macquarie University to do high performance computer training for users. That has been delayed until January 2015. At the same time it is slated that I'll be running similar courses at the University of Sydney. In February I will be attending the wedding of [ profile] caseopaya's niece in WA, and will be running a course at the University of Western Australia. For March I have just submitted a paper for eResearchNZ, and for May I have a paper in for THETA. Nothing for April thus far. All of this, of course, is in addition to the training courses conducted in Melbourne.
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Well, as everyone knows we've had a change in government in Victoria, with no less than a card-carrying member (we don't really have cards) of the Socialist Left leading the Labor Party to a modest victory that included some really impressive grassroots campaigning. I worked myself pretty hard on the final week of the campaign (arguably too hard and completely exhausted myself on one day - I'm not twenty anymore). I have ventured some opinions and personal experiences of the campaign in a 'blog post on Isocracy.

Nevertheless the fallout and counting from the Victorian state election continues. The Greens have successfully replaced a progressive woman in the seat Melbourne with a progressive woman whilst their vote overall has declined and they have fallen short of knocking off a Tory MP in a nearby seat - and yet still many consider this to a "victory". As convener, I have reviewed the Victorian Secular Lobby election 2014 campaign, and am looking forward to seeing on what issues the new government can take a positive direction (e.g., chaplains, religious instruction in public schools, equal opportunity, and voluntary euthanasia). A couple of days ago had dinner with old comrade Bill Bowe of The Pollbludger who was visiting for said event, which included a visit to the Abbotsford Convent and of course a quick view of our old Kew Asylum.

Preparing myself for this Sunday's meeting of The Philosophy Forum where I take on the question of The Philosophy of Music, looking at definitions, history, technology, and aesthetics. Next week it also seems that I'll be visiting Sydney for a couple of days, specifically to Macquarie University's Australan Institute of Health Innovation to provide training to researchers on Linux command line, PBSPro job submission, Postgresql, and OpenMPI programming.
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Last Saturday night was the Victorian Secular Lobby meeting; a smallish gathering with last-minute cancellations. I gave a presentation which outlines an effective strategy for the small group in the upcoming state election. The following day The Philosophy Forum discussed A World Without Evil at the Unitarian Church; this was preceded by David Bottomley's (son of a former Minister) charming recollection of his childhood at the old (since demolished) neo-gothic church building. This was the second week in a row I had been, the previous week to see the Federal member for Melbourne and old uni colleague, Adam Bandt, speak on avoiding austerity budgets. His reasoning was sound, but sometimes I think he could do with some more fire and brimstone in his presentation. There was also the AGM afterwards; another substantial financial loss and decline in membership. As an more disinterested observer these days, watching the slow-motion train-wreck is almost amusing.

The work-week itself started fairly difficult; Suki rat made a late night decision to chew the stitches out from her tumor removal. So she was rushed to the emergency vet in Collingwood. They're really good there; they flushed her wound and stapled her up. She was in a bad way, in some stress and having lost blood so she spent time in a heat and oxygen tent. Eventually we made it home, and exhausted, the following day I went through three solid days of conducting Linux, PBS, and OpenMPI classes. Feedback was excellent, which remains inspiring. After that I has another presentation to give, to the Young Professionals CPA, where I spoke on Free and Open Source Software For Business Applications (slides available). I thought I was completely scattered; they thought otherwise, and I heard a few horror stories about how proprietary business software is both damaging and expensive.

In the realm of entertainment, my review on The Dead Kennedys gig has been published on The Dwarf; next gig will be The Tea Party and SuperJesus. Gaming-wise RPG Review has been delayed as the author of a key article has dropped out leaving me several pages short. Will be work on an alternative for the weekend. Last Sunday ran another session of Werewolf:The Yugoslav Wars, which involved planning for the capture of a Sarajevo business leader of ill-repute. Thursday night was another session of Masks of Nyarlathotep in Kenya with the party making their way substantially towards the base of the appopriately named Cult of the Bloody Tongue; true to the theme of the game, an impending death and insanity toll approaches.
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The Poppies meet [ profile] caseopaya and [personal profile] tcpip :)

Sunday evening was the long-expected Pop Will Eat Itself gig. As VIP passholders, we were through the door some two and a half hours before the headline act and had the opportunity for a bit of a chat, photographs, and signing of memorabilia. The lads were in good humour and played an good range of material, old and new, which I've reviewed. With a bit of circulation, said review has apparently captured a attention and I've been signed up as a writer for The Dwarf, which apparently brings some good opportunities for an aging rocknerd (insert prefix to 'nerd' for all my other interests), although [personal profile] reddragdiva need not worry about my output to his site. Whilst their heavier and industrial sound is the path they've taken my own preference in the Poppies is their heavily-sampled, pop-culture alternative dance period from the late 80s and early 90s whilst seemed to slot in well with the cyberpunk ethos of the time.

Also on Sunday was a meeting of The Philosophy Forum, which discussed The Metaphysics of Idealism and Materialism, which had a good attendance and a solid discussion, especially on the distinction between physicalist and empiricist approaches and pragmatic validity claims. I've finally caught up with putting together the notes of the previous two Philosophy Forum meetings, being Ontology of Space and Time, and the Philosophy of Language Roundtable. These were also well attended and with good discussion, although the former could really be expanded to include more emphasis on phenomenological experiences and the latter with emancipatory aspects, both personal and social. Have put out a general request for subject matter of the next meeting; tempted to suggest The Philosophy of Music; Of Sound and Harmony.


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