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Ash and Other Evil Dead, Philosophy, Anarchists, and Travel

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.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/206214.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
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Research Computing, Isocracy and Asylum Seekers, Events

Brought almost everything related to the cluster back online this week, hitting 90% utilisation by Friday, with reviving a downed node saved for other's use. Also this week have dropped into ResBaz. There was a couple of hundred people involved, so it's been quite a show, and ran into Yaokang W., who is interested in the fascinating field of using the Natural Language Tookit in case law. In a couple of weeks I'll be travelling to Wellington to present and MC at Multicore World. My paper has puns in the title; A Laconic HPC with an Orgone Accumulator.

The Isocracy Network has a new article by William Hathaway on a Long Term Strategy for the Left, but also a timely new national policy for asylum seekers developed by Damien Kingsbury, myself, and other troublemakers. 'Timely' is used in the disturbing context of the High Court deciding that the children of asylum seekers born in Australia could still be sent to offshore detention. Attended the large (and mainly unreported) snap protest at the State Library for those of us still opposed to the torture of babies (has it really come to this?).

Three other events attended this week; GURPS Middle Earth and Laundry Files games on last Sunday and Thursday respectively, the latter quite notable for using characters and setting from The Man Who Would Be King. Went to Robina C's et. als, exhibition on Friday at The Food Court; an interesting space and indicitive of an area that has been over-developed - nows the artists are moving in.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/205928.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: calm
  • Current Music: 05:22:09:12 Off, Front 242
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NFS and Other Adventures

Much of the past week at work has been spent dealing with amazing NFS cluster woes, the worst I have ever had to deal with. It took days to bring access to user data back (not helped by a public holiday in the middle of the week), and there is still an issue with job submissions. However I do think there is some light at the end of this rather dark tunnel. Appropriately attended Linux Users of Victoria's meeting on wireshark and tcpdump this afternoon, which had plenty of people in attendance. Finally, this evening went to visit some good ol' friends who were having printer networking problems which proved relatively easy to fix (which lead to concluding the night with a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity).

Apropos gaming have had a couple of storygame sessions in the past couple of nights with Cats Against Cthulhu on Thursday night and Eclipse Phase Mars on Friday night. Tomorrow will be GURPS Middle Earth. The RPG Review Cooperative has started its own github, where an old GM friend has added his "visual combat simulator" for Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 and Rolemaster. For an organisation that is a barely a month old, I am quite happy with how the RPG Review Cooperative is faring, although it must be said that it doing so from a well-established base. It seems beneficial for such community associations to operated with a well an established timetable for activity, to offer a number of services, to publicise, and with new activities every couple of days among the committee to retain momentum.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/205724.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
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Invasion Day Thoughts and the Week in Review

For a long time I have disliked "Australia Day" and the 'celebration' of the the landing of British First Fleet in Port Jackson in 1788. At best it is nationalistic nonsense that is grossly insensitive to the past and continuing experience of the country's indigenous inhabitants. Stan Grant's short but brilliant speech is receiving some justified circulation that explains this from personal experience. There is a good petition by Avaaz to change the date (I think Mabo Day would be appropriate). For our own part, Ben Debney has an article on the Isocracy Network, On The Continuing Prevalence of Racism.

In the past several days I've had some enjoyable gaming experiences: last Thursday was a build-up session for our Laundry Files storygame, and on Sunday was the first session of a new Eclipse Phase story. Most importantly however was the first release of the RPG Review Cooperative's first newsletter. On Saturay we also had another awesome cheesequest day, a dual-birthday gathering for myself and ser_pounce where we played Anti-monopoly (amusingly subject to its own trademark law suit) and Set.

Work has been 'challenging' over the past few days, which is never an enjoyable thing to have to write in this profession. The old cluster, Edward, is really showing its age and limits. One of the storage arrays is currently out when the disk filled to a hundred percent over the weekend, causing NFS to fall over yet again. Five of the disks and a controller card are out over the two storage arrays which we've been screaming about, like foreever [insert Valley accent]. Fortunately I've managed to source replacement parts which we'll install tomorrow. Bringing up the downed array is a matter of some priority so user jobs don't die screaming in a heap.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/205316.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: anxious
  • Current Music: Les Revenants, Mogwai
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Starry Wisdom and Time's Arrow


The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it.


I was rather impressed by this Christopher Eccleston quote as the Ninth Doctor, which re-established the series and gave it added seriousness by dealing with the complexity of the issues surrounding time travel. It was demanding, challenging, almost expressing anger with triviality. In the real world, I am quite fond of the elegance of Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov's work in this field. But I do feel it, in the spatial and temporal sense. The sheer immensity of the universe compares grandly to the small gods on the pale blue dot that humans seem so prevalent to following.

Today I began my 49th orbit attached to the third planet of Sol (on the eve of a planetary alignment - the stars are right!. Although this poor planet which has a questionable future (I am following the deliberations of the Athropocene Working Party quite closely). A small mountain of well-wishing came through, mostly on Facebook, of which I am deeply appreciative. Facebook of course is the mass consumer social media; Livejournal with its implicit anonymity and and orientation towards more productive and reflective entires cannot compete against the immediacy of a shared stream.

Clinging to this speck in space, in a blink of time's eye, hurtling ever onwards to a terminal conclusion, one cannot help but wonder, if there is anyone out there? Some may recall last September the paper that popular media reported that looked like alien megastructures. At the time, the paper argued that the aperiodic dips in flux was probably due to a family of exocomets (but it didn't stop me from reading it in detail and telling caseopaya that 'this may be the most important scientific paper ever written'). Now it turns out that comets cannot explain the flux issues - and New Scientist has been brave enough to use the "A" word.

It may seem minor in comparison and it doubtless is, but one of my gaming groups has convinced me to run an Eclipse Phase campaign, starting this Sunday. I've run it before, and played in two different stories. But running my own narrative will allow me to engage to some detail with the game rules, and to push the transhumanism and first contact themes along with a deliberately chosen isolationist (outer planets) setting. As part of the RPG Review Cooperative I'll also endeavour to use this as a foundation for an Eclipse Phase Companion.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/205103.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: pleased
  • Current Music: The Hawk Is Howling, Morgwai
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Second Book and Linux Picnic, RPG Updates, Celebrity deaths

A first cut of my second book in the VPAC series, the snappily entitled Sequential and Parallel Progamming with C and Fortran (ISBN 978-0-9943373-1-3) is now available on github. As Matt D., and the ever-reliable darklion conduct the necessary code reviews, I'll be working on finishing the third book, Mathematical Applications and Programming: R, Ocatve, and Maxima (the latter will be a significantly new component). Giving some thought on who would be appropriate to write the foreward to that one. Somewhat related, today was the Annual Penguin Picnic for Linux Users Victoria. A good turnout (about 30 in total) and with sufficient catering courtesy of my visit to the markets the day previous. As usual, some excellent conversations from this rather clever bunch of individuals. Congratulations are also due to Linux Conf AU which, as of a few hours ago, announced that their tickets to the 2016 Conference next month has sold out.

Played Cats Against Cthulhu on Thursday night, where we foiled a plan to ritually blow up a local church with congregation. Friday night was Eclipse Phase where we continue our misdventures in the quarantine zone of Mars. Last Sunday played All Flesh Must Be Eaten, which has been reviewed and posted on RPG.net, next up the D&D supplement Liber Mortis. Also have taken the opportunity to add new items to the RPG Review store under the auspices of the new incorporated association - in very good news in that regard there is a good chance that we'll be getting the old MARS library.

There has been a trio of celebrity deaths recently which have saddened me; Ian Kilmister ("Lemmy"), once a member of Hawkwind and the lead of Motorhead, who died on December 28; David Bowie, the high-fashion avant-garde glam-pop-experimental musician on January 10, and actor of many character types, Alan Rickman on Jnuary 14. Lemmy had just turned 70 (by four days), the other two died at 69, and each of cancer (brain, liver, and pancreatic respectively). Obviously all talented in their respective fields, I found each of the appealing for their erudite minds, and honesty. All expressed some disdain to those in power and the marketing of politics whilst presenting progressive liberal views (I suspect that Rickman was a Labour-socialist). The other thing of course that one finds about aesthetic leaders is that they provide legitimacy in lifestyle choices; I can see the appeal in Lemmy's hard space-rock approach, Bowie as an aesthete, and Rickman's as a surprisingly tough self-made Shakespearean. All lived great and inspiring lives.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/204999.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
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RPG Review, IT Rant, and Isocracy Article

In some significant news gaming wise, the RPG Review Cooperative is now officially incorporated. On Thursday played Laundry Files with a wrap-up denouement of the Lovecraft Beowulf cluster scenario. Today, finished a long-oustanding review and played All Flesh Must Be Eaten. We used the Little Town of Hamelin introductory scenario which takes a new take on the classic medieval story. Overall it worked reasonably well, but the combat system (rather important in a zombie narrative) was a bit on the dull side.

This week finally finished a rant on Enduring Problems with HTML Email and Proprietary Attachments which had been sitting as a partially-finished text file for many weeks. It was an interesting week work-wise when the cluster's NFS server fell over (fortunately I was able to bring it back in a working state fairly quickly), a situation not helped by several dead disks. Nevertheless, it's been humming along at around 70-85% utilisation, so all's well there.

Had dinner inadvertently with the vice-president and friends of the Isocracy Network tonight from a chance meeting, which follows with a more planned dinner with other Isocracy and Victorian Secular Lobby committee members the evening previous. From that latter group, plans are afoot to have the mayor of Bendigo speak out our AGM next month. In the meantime, for the Isocracy Network, I have penned an article on What Labour Markets Are Really Like (also cross-posted on talk_politics, which explains the issues of monopsonistic markets and how they impoverish workers and society in general. It's a long article, but so much of it comes down to John Steinbeck's graphic portrayal in Grapes of Wrath (1939) of how many labour markets actually operate:


Look," the young man said. "S'pose you got a job a work, an' there's jus' one fella wants the job. You got to pay 'im what he asts. But s'pose they's a hunderd men." He put down his tool. His eyes hardened and his voice sharpened. "S'pose they's a hunderd men wants that job. S'pose them men got kids, an' them kids is hungry. S'pose a lousy dime'll buy a box a mush for them kids. S'pose a nickel'll buy at leas' somepin for them kids. An' you got a hunderd men. Jus' offer 'em a nickel - why, they'll kill each other fightin' for that nickel. Know what they was payin' las' job I had? Fifteen cents an hour. Ten hours for a dollar an' a half, an' ya can't stay on the place. Got to burn gasoline gettin' there." He was panting with anger, and his eyes blazed with hate.


This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/204563.html.
  • Current Location: WIllsmere
  • Current Mood: tired
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New Year's Eve, 2015 Retrospective

New Year's Eve was spent at Reunion (FB link). Good to catch up with a lot of old friends, many of whom I hadn't seen in several years to two decades and more. Kudos to the event organisers for playing Ace of Spades at midnight. We stayed at the basic, but useful, Mount Way Apartments. I can't help but feel somewhat intrinsically responsible for this; it was in 1988 that I hosted a party at the Q club Perth in Perth in a disused section of a former department store; shortly afterwards Wayne snapped up the location to turn it into a goth-alternative club, which led to a succession of others in the late 80s and early 90s.

The following day caught up with Adrian S., and Bruce T., in Maylands, before venturing back to caseopaya's mother's home where we downed a fine bottle of 1999 Bollinger La Grand Annee that just happened to be lying around the house. A restful day is planned as we prepare to board the silver machine this afternoon, returning home in Melbourne late evening.

The end of the year inevitably brings consideration of the past year's activities (and comparison with the previous year)and the prospects for the coming year, even with recognition of Gramsci's famous condemnation of New Year's Day. It was a busy and eventful year to say the least, and next year will is also looking that it will have plenty of activity.

2015: a personal summaryCollapse )

Socially, physically, and psychologically 2015 has seen improvements in my life - as a result I am looking forward to 2016 with some immediate optimism and determination. Prioritisation is of course essential, and I have some faith in my organisational skills with a modicum of willpower. As always, my greatest danger is to over-commit and at this age, I certainly should be very well aware of my weaknesses as well as my strengths.

To my friends and fellow world-citizens, I hope the coming year bodes well - and do let me know if I can help you achieve your successes in some way.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/204372.html.
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River Cruise, Rocknerd, Star Wars

Went on a river cruise on Monday with caseopaya's immediate family up the Swan River to Sandalford Winery. The cruise, meal, and wines were all pleasant enough. It was quite a scorcher but we all managed quite well. Throughout of the journey I could reminisce about times in my childhood stomping around the muddy banks of the Swan River and especially Heirisson Island (I am sure that's an alternate spelling for 'Hedgehog Island'). The real highlight of the tour was when a pod of bottlenose dolphins swam past, quite far upstream. It is unfortunately quite rare to spot these delightful inhabitants.

Whilst originally supposed to go on The Dwarf, I've just published a review of The Charlatan's album 'Modern Nature' on Rocknerd instead. Not exactly their greatest work; others thought higher of it. I am a little surprised actually that Rocknerd doesn't have a whopping big article on the death of Lemmy, who has boarded the silver machine. [dreamwidth.org profile] reddragdiva probably wants me to write it.

Also took the opportunity this week to see The Force Awakens. It was average-good as a whole, I quite liked most of the characterisation (Emo Kylo Ren really is a great parody of the weakest character) and of course the repitition of the previous basic heroic narrative. It is very derivative of earlier films (almsot to the point of being ridiculous), and has some terrible plot flaws. So I can certainly understand the more recent mixed reviews that are coming in.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/204159.html.
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Christmas in Perth, Book Development

I have spent the past few days in Perth with caseopaya's family (in-common-laws). Her mother remains in extraordinarily condition given her health issues. Christmas eve dinner was spent at Rockingham's Thai By The Sea, which apparently has become a staple family gathering. Christmas day was at holiday home at the seaside island suburb of Falcon. Apropos nephew Luke finally received the review of his band's debut EP 'Last Words' on Rocknerd (I do have a few others I should put up by the end of the year). Apropos of this lifestyle will be attending Reunion (FB) on NYE where aging Perth punks, goths, and indie-poppers from the 80s and early 90s will hang out.

Still working on the second book, apparently over-inspired by the idea of providing a near-comprehensive introduction to C and Fortran programming it is getting a bit larger than I previously expected (arrays in Fortran are particularly painful). An old university friend on Facebook described me as a relentless restless intellect, which is certainly true but also gave me a moment of consideration on why exactly I am such a person. Surely it would be easier and perhaps even more beneficial in my life if I was not so restless and relentless in my intellectual pursuits. It is perhaps with good fortune that I am able to engage in a modicum of organisation in this, but I have wondered that if I had specialised I would be somewhat more successful. But it is the variety of pursuits that I enjoy and by which I used to feed off one another; in the strait-jacket of a single discrete discipline I doubt I could be happy. So the second book goes well - even if I do continue with Duolingo, game development, academic research, and a range of other restless and relentless interests.

This entry was originally posted at http://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/204015.html.