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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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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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It's been an interesting week in anglophone politics. Jeremy Cobryn was elected leader of the British Labour Party with almost 60% of the vote, a conclusive mandate in anyone's language. Whilst conservatives are having an aneurysm, a further 30,000 people have joined since his win. Meanwhile on the other side of the Big Pond, Bernie Sanders continues to go from strength to strength - one speech that really caught my attention was to Liberty 'University', a conservative religious institution where he emphasized the morality of economic justice. Finally in Australia the ultra-conservative and deeply unpopular Prime Minister Tony Abbott was overthrown in a party-room coup by the more liberal Malcolm Turnbull, who nevertheless has committed to existing policies.

On a completely unrelated personal note, last weekend I hit my thumb and broke the skin under nail causing some bleeding. A day later it was clear that it was infected. The day after that I was at the doctor's who prescribed some antibiotics. Alas, the infection continued and my thumb swelled, creating something like a felon infection. It was quite painful to say the least with significant pressure; not as bad a root canal, but lasting longer, and getting worse. So it was back to the doctor who promptly drained the wound by piercing the thumbnail and wound entrance with a paperclip heated by a lighter. Such are the wonders of modern technology.

On the gaming side of the week, I've reached level 15 in Ingress and will make 16, the top level, in a couple of weeks at the current rate. Thursday night was our regular Laundry files game, finally finished dealing with Deep Ones in the Bass Strait and the escaped Shoggoths. An order was also received to purchase my entire Torg collection, a game which I quite liked but really wasn't using, and that was shipped today. Also had a number of reviews published on this week, previously from RPG Review; RuneQuest Pirates, Pirates of the Vistula, En Garde!, 7th Sea Players Guide and Game Masters Guide, Freiburg, and Freeport.

Finally, in some work-related news I've resigned my position as Quality Management Coordinator, one of the many hats I wear. I was going to run an internal audit this week, but the managers weren't interested which is consistent with their behaviour in the past year of ignoring reports of various standard breaches and improvement requests. I was particularly frustrated by this in a business sense, because the empirical evidence is utterly overwhelming that continuous improvement, controlled documentation, procedural transparency, etc, are the foundation of success over ad-hoc decision making which perhaps counter-intuitively, is more time consuming. I foresee naught by doom and gloom as a result of this disengagement of the QA process. Resignation was indeed a very appropriate word choice.
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Thursday night was the dramatic ending of The Great Pendragon Campaign. The group has played Pendragon for pretty much four years, with The Great Campaign taking over two. Next up Andrew will be running The Laundry Files. Sunday played the fourth session of 7th Sea Freiburg, which involved romance, violence, and demons. I've taken the opportunity to complete notes for the four sessions run so far.

Australia is a country sufficiently broken that we "celebrate" the beginning of the invasion by the British as "Australia Day". Local aboriginal people are unimpressed, and with the resultant health record from dispossession and endemic racism, it's no wonder that the protests will never end. Meanwhile, just to illustrate how much the current government still clings to Mother Britain's apron strings, the Prime Minister has awarded a knighthood to Prince Phillip, a rather vile individual. Even other coalition MPs can't fathom this decision. A positive upshot is the benefits it provides Australian republicanism.

Other social events for the week for [ profile] caseopaya and I included having Clinton and his partner Deb over for dinner and a tour of the asylum on Saturday night. Deb was the main organiser of East Timor Women Australia and Clinton is a quietly brilliant political scientist and intelligence analyst and it had been several years (far too long!) since we had spent good time in each other's company. Somewhat related, [ profile] caseopaya and I went to see The Imitation Game and the delightfully deco Balwyn Cinema today. It was a good film, a popular and somewhat fictionalised story of a one of the great contributions to ending Nazism and the invention of computing. Edit Neglected to mention that earlier this week went in to get my eyes checked, for the first time in eleven years (I'm lazy about some things). They've barely changed; if I were to get new glasses it would be pure vanity, and I wasn't vain enough to accept the $790 pair that were on offer.
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My poor neglected LJ/DW has suffered the past several days as I have engaged in vita activa far more than this space which covers vita contemplativa. So near midnight on a Friday after a couple of wines (in vino veritas) an opportunity finally presents itself for summary and reflection, and indeed an ordering of thoughts on what is going to be a busy next several days as well. I am increasingly of the view that I am due for more holidays. But first, some rodent news. We are looking after a friend's rat, Suki. Her owner often spends time overseas so we get the care and entertainment of this cheeky creature's presence. At 2.5 years, like many female rats, she had developed a sizeable tumour, about 40g on a 340g body. Courtesy of Dr. Jack Zacks, this has been removed, with a short video of the surgery. Rodent is recovering just fine and she's just as perky as she has been in the past, despite her age.

Wednesday night went to see and review The Dead Kennedys, courtesy of The Dwarf. My review will hopefully be published on said site soon (although I notice my interview with Manchester Orchestra hasn't gone up yet either. Essentially I found the night highly positive with the Kennedys playing an excellent set, competently, and with good engagement with the audience. As a fan in my youth some thirty years ago, it was quite a buzz finally getting to see them. The Dwarf has arranged for my next review gig, The Tea Party with SuperJesus. Also on entertainment, Thursday night was Pendragon where a largely new set of player-characters engaged (and failed) in what is effectively the Lancelot-Grail cycle. The success of curing King Pellam-The Fisher King of his wound however lifts the ill-effects of the Waste Land and also ends the Enchantment of Britain. There is but one chapter to go in this epic story, the downfall of the realm. Meanwhile RPG Review 23 nears completion, and in the meantime, an Interview with Lewis Pulsipher.

Political issues are also taking some time. I have written an article on the necessity of Labor and the Greens to act, in a realpolitik sense, as if they were in a coalition rather than risk losing the upcoming state election. Apparently some people, putting aside political difference, can actually see the sense of it. Also related to the state election, tomorrow night is a meeting (FB event page) of the Victorian Secular Lobby at Trades Hall, discussing campaign strategies for this small group. Of some relevance this Sunday will be convening a meeting of The Philosophy Forum on the question of "A World Without Evil?".

Finally, I have been working through project management frameworks at work, with a simple generic template for PRINCE2 offered. Will be running another set of Linux-HPC-MPI courses next week and spent much of the past week revising content. Later in the week will be speaking at the Young Professionals CPA Discussion Group on open source software. Yes, I'm taking the open source message to accountants.


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