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How About That Local Sports Team?

Victoria can be a strange state to live in at times. Today is a public holiday dedicated to a football grand final, with a massive parade through the city. The state also has a holiday dedicated in about a month dedicated to a horse race. I find both events incomprehensible. Melbourne Cup day seems to be an opportunity for people to dress up, ignore any sense of the style for the rest of the year, and get stupidly drunk. I can vaguely understand the appeal to the "aspirational" lower middle class who want to LARP as upper class for a day and fail miserably. Why would you want to do that? For the AFL ritual of the boot, I even understand watching the game. It a highly dynamic game that requires a high level of both natural talent and skill. The phenomenology of the viewing contrasts significantly with cricket. Viewing Australian Rules Football has a high level of intensity; cricket is like background music - occasionally something interesting happens, and it has a narrative, but its mostly low-intensity viewing.

It's not as if I don't grok sport, even competitive sport. In my grade school teen-aged years I was quite the player; in summer an opening bowler for a local u/18s cricket team, in winter an interschool football player (half-back flank with occasional ruck rover), ruby player (oddly, wing), and when I could, Gaelic football, lacrosse, and European handball. I was one of the school's best medium distance runners - anywhere from 400m to 3000km I excelled at. There was other outdoor pursuits as well; especially rowing, cross-country running, archery and the like. There were a few things that put me off such activities however shortly after starting university. Firstly, there was university where my interests rapidly moved to political activism, intellectual investigations, the trinity of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. Secondly, the sporting institutions themselves struck me as being more than a bit yobbish and had commanded far too large a portion of income and expenditure for what they did. Thirdly, was sports fans as a group, with the partisanship and anti-intellectualism, and often loutish behaviour. But buggered if I can work out why people want to go to the AFL parade, let alone why the day has a public holiday, as if any of it has existential importance.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/218241.html.
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Science Fiction Films and Miscellaneous

Last night was a vist to The Astor for the classic SF double, The Thing and Videodrome. Prior to the movie we ate at Kabul Flavour which is inexpensive, tasty, and with friendly staff. The films were absolutely superb of course - I have seen them multple times previously, and at $12 for the night, a steal. Unlike so much popular SF both films are founded on fairly hard science premises, the notions of an alien life form that mimics and assimilates other life on a molecullar level, or the ideal of extreme subliminal stimuli generating hallucinations and madness. What especially appeals to me (as a founder of a science fiction club at university) is that the stories are disturbing on a psychological level. They are, in my opinion, what science fiction should be about. SF (or fantasy) which is just contemporary culture with spaceships can, at best, provide humour (Red Dwarf, Quark) or even some camp charm (Dr Who, Star Trek). But when a person walks out thinking "that was disturbing", or even better still, "that was alien", science fiction has done its job. Which is part of the reason I play Eclipse Phase and look forward to the day that someone has the courage to make a film of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

Apart from that the past few days have been relatively normal; went to The Luwow on Saturday night to catch up with Stean V's visit to Melbourne. They've done a 'tropical gothic' aethsteic really well, if you can imagine such a thing, and a couple of quite good psychedlia and psychobilly, respectively, bands playing. Preparations for Europe continue as I power through revisions on Duolingo for the four languages of choose (German, French, Spanish, and Esperanto), and bookings of various train connections and hotels between cities. I've also made some progress on Papers and Paychecks, but with a lot to go before the Kickstarter launch date, and played a somewhat truncated session of GURPS Middle Earth on Sunday. My review of Castles and Crusades, originally from RPG Review, has been posted on rpg.net. Finally, the relative break in the training programme at work has meant that I can get back to preparing presentations for eResearchAustralasia and OpenStack in Barcelona, and a bunch outstanding software installs and job scripts.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/217966.html.
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Gaming and Training Updates

It's been a interesting past week for various gaming endeavours. The next issue of RPG Review is coming out soon, although it will be slightly delayed as our guest interview subject - Frank Mentzer - will be away for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile I've been working on Papers and Paychecks, along with several reviews, with a planned Kickstarter launch on October 24. In actual play the Eclipse Phase session last Sunday involved transporting alien eggs (what could go wrong?) to a transhuman habitation and a visit to the cold water world of Droplet. Tonight will be running Delta Green Mimesis, a home brew system that is a stripped down version of GURPS on a simulationist perspective and a built-up version of HeroQuest from a narrativist perspective.

Today was an gruelling day in training, running a course on parallel programming, covering issues in computer architecture, data parallelism using job submissions, library and package extensions in existing applications and programming languages, usage of OpenMP shared-memory programming, finally MPI distributed memory programming. Most of the people were already fairly experienced in the subject, so I hope it wasn't too simple for them. That will be the last training course for several weeks, as Europe beckons. After that courses are being planned for economics (primarily maths and stats), and engineering (numerical solvers and continuum mechanics) It was meant to be an introductory course. Afterwards was the HPC Users Forum where I gave a short presentation on various transition actions from the Edward to Spartan systems and updates on the latter. Not a huge attendance, but a worthwhile one.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/217726.html.
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Secularism, Linux, Ceremonies

It has been another secular heavy-week. On Tuesday attended the University of Melbourne Secular Society meeting with club president and physicist James Fodor giving a presentation on contempory theories on cosmology and how religious fundamentalists have reacted to this subject. Also present, unexpectedly, was Colin Macleod, whom I recall from more than fifteen years ago as author of Patrol in the Dreamtime. That evening the Victorian Secular Lobby met with Harriet Singh, MLC at Parliament House to discuss the future of the Safe Schools Programme, and especially attempts to overturn it by religious conservatives. Tonight the Isocracy Network met at Trades Hall with Anthony Wallace of Equal Love (they should fix that website), the national campaign organisation for marriage equality. The proposed plebiscite now looks dead in the water and soon it will be time to lobby politicians for a conscience vote.

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

On a higher education related event, attended the Sir Robert Menzies Oration and Conferring Ceremony at the University on Wednesday evening, which also included awarding of some cited doctorates, of which one name whom recognised from classes I've given. The event was full of pomp and circumstance, and thus it was appropriate that they had a life peer, Baroness Amos, giving the oration. It was full of well-meaning broad platitudes, as such speeches are, on the topic of the limits of free speech within the university context. I have little doubt of the baronesses commitment to raising the standard of education for the socially disadvantaged, both in developed and developing countries, but also note a level of political correctness (i.e., remarks made for the purpose of political expedience and loyalty), such as her support for the invasion of Iraq. Which of course, ironically ties into the subject matter of her very own speech, albeit in an indirect manner. Of course, direct or indirect, the effect of such censorship is still the same - the closing of the mind, the silencing of voices.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/217505.html.
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A Thanatos Themed Entry

Took the opportunity to see One More Time With Feeling, the latest Nick Cave movie based on the production of his latest album The Skeleton Tree. Overall it was an excellent piece of work, and I really enjoyed the screen time given to Warren Ellis and Suzy Cave. But as the movie wore on the grief that Nick and Suzy share with the death of their son, Arthur came out in a particularly raw fashion.

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

The other Thanatos-themed event was the sad departure of Scamper rat last night. The middle-sized and aged rodent of our trio (Tramper, Scamper, and Rover), Scamper was always extremely shy, and suffered from particularly having ongoing cases of mycoplasma infection. Late, far too late in his short life, he decided that these humans weren't so bad after all and became a lot more friendly. In the past few days his breathing had become particularly laboured and despite an aggressive course of antibiotics, his lungs gave out on him. I do appreciate the company of my haustiere, but I must confess the 18-36 month life span of rattus norvegicus seems a little dispropotionate to their personality.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/217201.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
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Secularism, Linux, Gaming, and Europe

Last Sunday's presentation to the Melbourne Unitarian Church on Changing Definitions of Marriage: Past, Present, and Future, was very well received. It was followed by a meeting of The Philosophy Forum where Graeme Lindenmayer spoke on The Nature and Existence of Time. This coming week have organised a meeting with Harriet Singh and the Victorian Secular Lobby to discuss the future of the Safe Schools Programme. The following Saturday I've also organised a meeting with Equal Love Australia to speak to the Isocracy Network to discuss the issue of a plebiscite or a free parliamentary vote on marriage equality, and issue which I introduced in the address to the Unitarians.

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

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

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

Europe plans are going very well. Meeting at CERN was confirmed this week, so now only waiting on confirmations from Frankfurt and Montpellier Universities. This morning caseopaya discovered that the greatest band of this century, 65daysofstatic, are playing in Barcelona on the first night of the OpenStack conference. Naturally enough I purchased tickets immediately. Now with but four weeks to go, the finer details of the intinery need to be sorted out. In many ways I've waited my entire life for a trip like this, and whilst a month is far too short to fully immerse oneself in what remains the centre of human history and intellectual - Geisteswissenschaften, as the Deutsche would say - it is coming to fruition.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/216965.html.
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  • Current Music: No Man's Sky, 65dos
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Something About Father's Day

It is time I told the rest of the world. I'm a father; or rather, I have fathered. Three years ago I became a donor at the Melbourne IVF clinic. The simple reality is there is a number of people, who through no fault of their own, are unable to have children and wish to do so, and demand far outstrips supply (so go lend a hand, fine strapping local lads). Whilst raising children has never been high on my personal agenda, I do recognise it is very important to others and it would be absolutely heartbreaking for people to find that they cannot do this. Being a donor may, of course, generate future visitors, but that is part of the process and a responsibility. It turns out my profile apparently was sufficiently popular and there's a few of my progeny that are now healthy kinder. So the clinic has asked back to help out even further. I was worried that I was getting a little long in the tooth for this sort of thing, but they've assured me that's all fine and at least that part of my health is in a good state.

There is a changing roles of families, and like many aspects of life we overlook the profound influence of technology. Part of this changing role implies changes to "the definition of marriage" which has opponents of marriage equality so worried. Today I gave an address at the Melbourne Unitarian church on the topic; Changing Definitions of Marriage : Past, Present, and Future, which pretty much covers what it says on the tin. It's some four thousand dense and referenced words, that cover the current plebiscite versus parliamentary vote options, the diversity in traditional and historic marriages, the changes in advanced societies in the last century, and some of the future changes that are likely to occur. I was worried that it is a little long for a single address, but it went over very well and with some excellent questions from the congregation.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/216772.html.
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These Secular Days

I have dived into several secular related projects in the past several days. The first was speaking at the Sunday Assembly, a friendly godless congregation of people who like "church activities" but without a diety. My presentation ws Everyone Should Be Secular which, of course, is a rhetorical statement because everyone is secular. The issue is whether they are a secularist or support secularism - which is carefully distinguished from atheism, which many assume.

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

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

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



Following on from this, I've arranged a meeting of the Victorian Secular Lobby has a meeting at Parliament on September 13th with Harriet Sing, MLC on The Future of the Safe Schools Programme (FB event). On September 17th, I've organised a meeting of the Isocracy Network on Paths to Marriage Equality</i> (FB event) with speakers from Equal Love. This Sunday I'm speaking at the Melbourne Unitarian Church on Changing Definitions of 'Marriage' : Past, Present, and Future. Are we detecting a theme yet?

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/216541.html.
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Work and Europe Plans, Family Visit, RPG Review and Other Games,

Another set of classes this week teaching Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting for High Performance Computing, to a class that was pretty well engaged. Have planned another set for the coming month with a new course in Parallel Computation and Programming. Europe plans almost encountered a conflict when I realised that I depart Melbourne at the same time that eResearch Australasia is being held. Fortunately, I can give my paper at that conference in the afternoon and still make it to the airport to leave in the evening. Nothing like be accidentally well-organised, haha. Oh, and in a great moment in science this week; malaria solved. As a disease that kill over four hundred thousand people per annum, this is big news.

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

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

The thirty-first issue of RPG Review has just been released with an "Old School Revolution" central topic. Our interview subject for this issue is Ken St. Andre. My own contributions include reviews of Castles and Crusades, OSRIC, Basic Fantasy, and designer's notes for Papers and Paychecks, which is reaching the end of the first draft and, following mid-week drinks with fellow committee members Liz and Karl, now has an ISBN assigned to it. The drinks are significant as they were the last to be held at The Corkman, which has just been sold.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/216299.html.
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Training, Swordfighting, and Europe Trip

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 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, 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.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/216054.html.
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