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Brexit, Australian Election, Gaming Updates

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.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/213222.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: sick
  • Current Music: The Best of, The Art of Noise
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Aesthetic Matters, Election Commentary

I don't advise a haircut, man... Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain.


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

The long-drawn out winter election continues will pollsters with pundits thinking that Labor will just fall short with two weeks to go. I'll readily admit that I don't particular care for the opposition leader, Bill Shorten; I've seen him operate up close and personal and it's not my way of doing politics (which is possibly why I'm not in his shoes). But it seems that he's going for the jugular in these last two weeks and doing surprising well at it. There was a smashing QandA broadcast on Monday and tonight he left the Prime Minister looking tired and directionless on a leader's debate on Facebook (copy of the debate available). Shorten and Labor seem to have the full slate of thoroughly sensible positive policies whereas the government seems to have nothing. For liberals in the Liberal Party, they must be very disappointed with Turnbull, who comes across as directionless, dithering, and waffling. If this goes on I would not be surprised to see Labor pull off a surprising victory.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/212891.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: thoughtful
  • Current Music: Music Complete, New Order
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Spartan, Gaming Weekend, New Order Review

The official launch date of the Spartan HPC-Cloud hybrid rapidly approaches. A transition course and workshop was run on Monday which resulted in a few more active users online, helped by having MATLAB licensing sorted out (frustrating Intel compilers are next). Next step will be getting a major project from a climate and marine science researcher to provide an initial major case example. Will also be attending Questnet next month at the Gold Coast, and have submitted a paper for eResearch Australasia.

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

As metioned in the last post, have been working on a series of reviews for last week's New Order and Australian Chamber Orchestra concert. The intention is do reviews of the New Order conversation, the concert, and the album. This week, only managed to complete the review of the concert, which is now on Rocknerd. As it is a long weekend this week, there is some possibility to complete the others as well.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/212530.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
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Sydney and New Order

Went to Sydney with caseopaya on Thursday for a few days, including a concert booking at the Sydney Opera House to see New Order in conversation with Mark Reeder on Friday night and then in concert with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The conversation event was good if not brilliant, but the concert was really something special. I have not had much more than a passing interest in New Order since Substance 1987 as most of the music after that point is not really to my taste. But this really was a superb concert, and in a sense I think the ACO made an enormously important contribution - from their opening rendition of Elegia onward.

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

The weather, it must be said, was quite humid and stormy throughout the three days and is getting worse with strong winds and floods. Our flight back to Melbourne was delayed for over two hours, with one hour spent sitting on the tarmac as other runways were closed on account of the weather. I could help but notice the absence of cats - zero spotted - and the plethora of dogs - about a hundred spotted. Where has Sydney's cats gone?

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/212379.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
  • Current Music: Music Complete, New Order
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Needing A Weekend to Recover from the Weekend

Traditional RPGs can be a mentally intensive process. My long weekend of gaming started on Thursday night with a session of Laundry Files, followed by participation via Skype of Eclipse Phase on Friday night, followed by running a session of Eclipse Phase on Sunday afternoon. The first two sessions were more investigative, whereas the third was a crazed running battle with walking wounded throughout a starport zone on Europa (I've been making heavily user of Mephit James' material of that location. The PCs, being the subtle creatures that they are, have managed to the cause of an uprising and interstellar conflict between the authoritarian and conservative Jovian Republic and the vigorously independent centre-left Europans.

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

The weekend also witnessed the Isocracy meeting with Bruce Poon, lead Senate candidate of the Animal Justice Party which was very illuminating. The Party, partially the result of a split from the Greens, shows significant political acumen in having broadly popular principles from which specific policies are developed, and playing hardball when it comes to political negotiations. From a description of their electoral strategy I think they have a good chance of winning a senate spot as well. There was some debate within the Isocracy Network over the issue of animal welfare and rights, I penned Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: A Philosophical Approach to a Political Issue, which asserted more an emphasis on the former, as rights imply responsibilities. Also related was the first meeting on Wednesday night at the Aldermann Hotel of a new Melbourne Jacobin Reading group, an initiative of Isocracy secretary, Dean Edwards. Good attendance, good location, and excellent discussion.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/212071.html.
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Isocracy and the Federal Election

So the the years have passed and Australia is in the midst of a Federal election again. Rather surprisingly, the opposition Labor Party actually looks like it has a chance of winning. This is partially by putting out policies that are so middling that its hard to find people that actually disagree with them, but also because of an surprisingly terrible Coalition campaign. In a week of utterly dunderhead moves, they Prime Minister started off by claiming that Labor's negative gearing policy would result in house prices collapsing and rents going up. I could not help but pen a few words on that subject on the Isocracy website, as it does touch on one my favourite issues in political economy - the public subsidies paid to the landlord class, and the relative impoverishment of those who are not part of it.

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

All this aside, this coming Saturday the Isocracy Network will be hosting a meeting with Bruce Poon, the state convenor of the Animal Justice Party to discuss animal welfare issues in the Federal election (the Greens have a comprehensive policy, Labor has a few important remarks, and surprisingly, the Liberals have nothing at all). It is, of course, not a subject that will attract too much attention, human beings being what they are, but nevertheless important for Isocracy as we made freedom from suffrance as a central policy regardless of species. Hopefully Bruce will be able to provide a well-grounded theoretical framework for this issue as well as the practical implementations in public policy.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/211714.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: contemplative
  • Current Music: Big Night Music, Shriekback
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Animal Welfare Issues, RPG Sessions, HPC/Cloud Development

I've organised a meeting of the Isocracy Network for May 28th, with the Victorian convener of the Animal Justice Party. It's an issue of which I confess that I don't have enormous knowledge on, but recognise a general distinction for welfare based on sentience and awareness and rights based on intellect and consciousness (with a continuum in between). Animal welfare issues are obviously not going to be a major issue in the election, but nevertheless it will be good to hear the speaker, the issues, and to provide a theoretical grounding to the issue as a whole. Apropos, the Isocracy secretary has also started a reading and discussion group of The Jacobin.

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

Although I've had a few days off work, the rest of the team brough the "bare metal" nodes online for testing on the Spartan HPC/Cloud hybrid system. This was very successful, and perhaps a world's first (albeit something that's not hugely difficult). Initial testing generated some results that were as expected; internode communication on the cloud nodes had ten times the latency as the traditional HPC nodes - and there is still further optimisation to make on the compilers to improve the general performance. Have also brought Brian May and imajica_lj on to the team to assist the authentication and cluster management respectively. All is very good in this part of the world.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/211486.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: sick
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Gaming and Hyperphantasia

Sunday's gaming session was GURPS Middle Earth; our GM has been running games around the Lake Town region using a European dark ages millieu, specifically the Baltic-Germanic regions. The scenarios have been taken from Harn, which actually has some of its own fascinating tie-ins with Middle-Earth - and which does quite well in portraying magic as an elaboration of reality rather than a replacement, not quite as subtle as magical realism, but along the same trajectory. Afterwards we had a brief meeting of the RPG Review Cooperative committee; not too much to report to be honest. With the exception of the library, which really has been quite a success with a couple of generous donations, the Coop had fallen into doing 'more of the same' in recent weeks, something which really must be amended if we're going to keep up some momentum. The absence of a couple of committee members on work-related activities hasn't helped.

Spent today off work, with a throat cold - didn't want to infect my workmates. Took it easy and have mostly recovered, so I should be fit for tomorrow. The most interesting event of the day was receiving correspondence from Exeter University's neuroscience research group concerning Aphantasia - I'm on the other end of the scale. When asked about a particular mundane subject my mental imagery is often more vivid than reality. It certainly explains my tastes in art (surrealism), writing and movies (magical realism) etc. On a philosophical level, I find that it is yet another nail in the coffin of those who argue that consciousness can be reduced to individual brains.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/211276.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: sick
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Universal Numbers, OpenStack Sydney, Asylum Ingress

Gave a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria on Tuesday night on Universal Numbers; a good turnout an some excellent questions. Rounding errors are tragically common in computing and lead to very expensive and sometimes fatal mistakes. Unums can prevent such mistakes, and is a truly revolutionary change in hardware, however the challenge remains to implement them in hardware. I was first introduced to them some two years ago by John Gustafson who initiated their development, and I have been quite remiss in not presenting such a talk already.

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

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

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/211010.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: awake
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French, Philosophy, Linux


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.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/210464.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: busy
  • Current Music: Blue Daydreaming, Hedgehog