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Heaven and Hell, Work Activities, Social Activities

"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven", wrote John Milton hundreds of years ago in Paradise Lost. For reasons of my own wish to understand, I've recently delved into a few texts relating to Borderline Personality Disorder, a place in which the changes from Heaven to Hell are certainly far too extreme and too explosive. It is bad enough (and then wonderful enough) to be on the receiving end of it. I can but only imagine what it is like to have it within. Tilly Grove's short piece "What I Wish You Knew" gives excellent insight to this world, although I cannot help but note that the article is motivated by a criticism of the book "Stop Walking on Eggshells". Said book is actually quite good in my opinion, well-written for a popular audience, well-structured in terms of explanation and helpful actions with insightful remarks from BP people and their non-BP associates. There were more than a few occasions where my own eyes were opened - wide, in shock, and in sadness - to this world. But I will draw a hard line where people describe the resulting behaviour as abusive; that requires a conscious and rational mind, which is not always present in these circumstances. Although I will certainly agree the effects can be the same. I was asked the other day whether my recent dental requirements came from being punched; haha, no, only in the emotional sense.

I wrote a short piece last night, "The Engineer's Curse", a reflection on my third viewing in the past year of "The Wind Rises" by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Even if it is not my favourite film from said director and studio, it is one that brings a great deal of personal and professional reflection. My conclusion was somewhat more upbeat, noting that in certain environments (and the University-HPC space is one of them, despite a myriad of other problems) where the engineer can work with the researcher to "turn dreams into reality". It was a beautiful moment of serendipity today that I was tasked with writing up a case study of Sam Blake's contributions to breaking the Zodiac 340 Cipher last year with our HPC system and, I must add, perhaps a little bit of my training in the tools. In addition to this, and outside the normal work hours, I have been powering away at masters-level assignments cluster and cloud computing; they haven't been so bad at all with a good understanding of most of the principles. Nobody will be getting a failing grade (except for those who neglected to submit anything). I wish I could say the same for my students at the University of Rojava. They are, of course, in much worse conditions, but that is not what I am grading them on.

Last weekend was very busy, socially. I made a rapid visit to Andrew and Charmaine D., for their housewarming and was plied with some fine wine before heading to the city - and behold, encountered Renée and then Tony P., and friends on the way to the comedy festival, all of whom I hadn't seen for literal years. Reaching the city I ventured to La Camera where my generous and loving friends, Jac and Damien, were treating me for a belated birthday gift of fine food and fine art. The latter was the performance "Because The Night" at the Malthouse Theatre. It was a combination of a loose interpretation of Hamlet, combined with multiple sets, like huge pieces of functional installation art, which audience members could interact with as poltergeists (in cloaks and sort of bunny masks), in silence and even touching props that weren't in direct use by the actors as they engaged in what must have been heavily improvised scripts. In a nutshell, it was brave, beautiful, and quite brilliant. I look foward to seeing this sort of theatre again and I rather suspect with the locale of my new home I'll be spending a lot of time in the arts. Next stop, I suspect, will the be the Goya Exhibition. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/315311.html.
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Pandemic, Education Technology, Platonic Considerations

It is a rather extraordinary success of modern science that we have vaccines for SARS-CoV-2, especially considering that there other coronaviruses in existence prior to the pandemic, and there had been no vaccines for those. With that in mind, about a year ago, I started saying to those close to me that everyone will become infected eventually. That was the entire point of "flattening the curve" and "elimination" strategies; keep the infection rates down so the health systems can cope. Now people can become infected but will resist the infection with vaccines if they have been applied. In the meantime, the pandemic marches on and as it has now caused three million deaths, I penned a few words on the matter of developmental economics and health policy. From the relative safety and isolation of Australia, I can but look on in despondency as the case and fatality numbers continue their trend in places like the United States, India, Brazil, and many others.

It is also from this vantage point that I have two new short initiatives in recent days. The first arose from rage-quitting a frankly terrible course that I found myself enrolled in teaching online learning. I thought it might be useful for my own teaching and, whilst it did include some interesting, if speculative, edge-cases for education theory (heutagogy, rhizomatic learning). But the actual content was simply the worst I had ever encountered in any of the numerous tertiary courses that I have taken, with no consideration of the suggested tools in their operating context, or with policy considerations. I expressed my considered opinions quite bluntly in leaving the course but, not being the sort of person who likes to convert problems into opportunities, I have now started elaborating a more prescriptive solution on how one should such tools for educational purposes, for publication in an appropriate journal. Finding a co-author or two of a like mind on the issue would be excellent as well, he hints broadly.

Recently I have also been inspired to dust-off some old notes regarding Plato's Symposium, the famous drinking-party of the (male) philosophers in praise of the god Eros. It is from this narration that we have derived the terms "Platonic friendship" and "Platonic love" in popular culture, although they are obviously not used in the text itself. To be fair, some popular advice surrounding such terms can be quite useful and even nuanced to the complexity surrounding such a relationship, although there is no doubt that they are removed from the "ladder of love", expressed in the Symposium (from physical desire to love of the idea of beauty itself). One element that really intrigues me is the reported relationship between Socrates and Alcibiades, and the context in which the story was written. I am the debt of Bruce T., for first raising these matters to me some decades ago, and with scholarship in journals seemingly lacking in elaboration on these matters, I find myself beginning another journal article. Again, I will find among my friends surely there is someone who is sufficiently well-versed in the classics to contribute. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/315018.html.
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The Gift of Giving

I am increasingly of the belief that the desire to own more is a type of sociopathology. Which doesn't say much for many of the very wealthy in our global society, and less for the political system that generates such behaviour. Certainly, there is a necessity to satisfy one's needs (indeed, this should be in abundance), then a smaller quantity of items that satisfy some utilitarian comforts or vocational requirements, and finally, perhaps a few precious memorable items of life's experiences that are of value to one's expression as an authentic and actualised person. Of course, I have written about this before, "The Continuum of Needs and Wants". But outside of that, more is gained from the gift of giving. On Saturday evening I attended a wonderful birthday gathering of a new friend who is rather fond of elephants; I was able to gift them a rather adorable brass sculpture of said creature; they are overjoyed, and I am happy for their joy. Today, I gave a friend an old book of the mystic medic Paracelsus, which they named their AI-defeating software in the Eclipse Phase RPG that I ran for five years. After all, in the course of the story, they did save all of transhumanity. A couple of weeks prior I gave another friend a very belated 50th birthday gift, a rare and limited print of Ron Cobb cartoon, after discovering it was his favourite. Or over the weekend, there was the sheer happiness and relief from a student under some stress with an assignment where I could help out with enough content and leads for them to be able to take their own path without anxiety. I will take this opportunity to also thank Rodney B., who on multiple occasions now has helped me move my too many possessions from The Asylum to The Grand Mausoleum.

All of these are, of course, examples of gifts that have immediate and personal feedback on witnessing the joy of the recipient. The giver gets a lot out of the gift of giving when they witness the response of the recipient. It is, perhaps, a little more difficult when the recipient is not someone that the giver knows or the gift is indirect. But that certainly does not excuse the selfish complaints of those who begrudge the provision of public welfare to those in need. The privilege that many of us have as being residents in countries that are well-developed in terms of physical and social infrastructure, with at least some semblance of health care, etc, no matter how imperfect, is often brought into stark contrast to those places that lack such basics. It adds to the sociopathology hypothesis of our financially stratified society, that it is the poor that are in proportion to wealth and income, are far more generous in giving to charity than the wealthy. Personally, I must confess to some guilt in recent weeks of journal entries on my own relatively modest physical ailments and other misfortunes in affairs of the heart, when there is the stark realisation that scores of people have died in floods in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Their lives are just as important as mine, and I feel it almost churlish of me to raise my own difficulties when my fellow global citizens and effective neighbours are suffering not only the loss of their meagre personal possessions but even their lives. I can only encourage my gentle readers to please consider donating to appropriate organisations to help those stricken by such a disaster. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/314731.html.
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Medical Issues

"You talking to me? Or chewing a brick? Either way, you'll lose teeth". Ahh, Viz comics such memorable lines. Yes, yesterday I visited my dentist for a tooth removal. As mentioned previously, my teeth are well-cared for in waking hours. I hadn't been to the dentist in over ten years, but I have no signs of decay. Instead, courtesy of recent stresses in my personal life, I have unconsciously generated three vertically-cracked molars; "How bad is it? Well, I'm literally losing teeth over it". The one that is definitely dead was removed yesterday, courtesy of a cancelled appointment, a lot quicker and less painful than my last appointment as this tooth did not have a corkscrew-shaped root. Another two are being checked in a few weeks; one has my doubts about it, the other I am somewhat more optimistic. It's all a little annoying; often painful, time-consuming, and would be horrifically expensive for those on lower incomes (it's a scandal that dental isn't on Medicare). But I think the worse part is actually psychological, the loss serving as a very visceral reminder of the damage. There is good reason to have the steely stoic exterior for the mind and the stormy romantic interior for the body; "think thoughts, feel feelings". But time wounds all heels and there is an inevitable junction point between the two. In this case, my body remembers via its teeth.

It is appropriate then that today I have completed what is now a very extensive theory component of renewing my First Aid certificate. Workplaces are legally required to have first-aiders on call, and it's a role that I've willingly taken up for a number of years and, in a few incidents, have actually used the knowledge and skills acquired. Times being as they are, the content has changed somewhat. There is, for example, a lot more emphasis on the prevention of danger to the first-aider, such as preventing cross-infection and the use of resuscitation masks when performing CPR, or other means of avoiding direct contact. It contrasts strongly with the "do anything that works and use anything that's available" approach that I first learned many years ago and I can see the logic in both approaches, even if my old preferences still lie with the latter. Another welcome new component is the emphasis on first-aider stress and debriefing. Any emotional situation has the potential to affect the well-being of the victims, the first aiders, and bystanders, and whilst some stress in such situations almost inevitable, it can potentially lead to flashbacks, depression, panic attacks, even PTSD (it's in the name), etc.

One of the core lessons that is taught is not to step beyond your area of expertise; "When in doubt, seek medical advice" is how I was brought up, and it seems to the appropriate course of action. On that matter, I have enormous gratitude for the affirmation and support I have received from friends from a recent medical incident, especially those who are in medical professions themselves; nurses, doctors, specialists, psychologists, and, to be frank, probably some of the best in the country (who, for some curious reason, have deigned to be my friend as well). As was gently pointed out, yes it is a tough call, and perhaps imperfectly carried out, but it is better to act and err on the side of caution and leave the decisions to medical professionals, than not act and live with potentially much worse consequences. Differences between estranged friends can be patched up at a later date when cooler heads prevail, but it requires both parties to be in the land of the living. Frankly, that has to be the priority. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/314606.html.
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Wild Geese Flying, The Grand Mausoleum

I enjoyed a lengthy lunch and dinner with Anthony L., and Robyn M. on Friday. This provided for, apart from great food and excellent conversation, further developments in the quasi-secret world-changing environmental program that I have working on. Because life moves at pace, there have been very recent developments in the technology that have led me to make contacts with some Queensland-based professors (along now with University of Melbourne, CSIRO, a couple of politicians, and "special contacts"). I feel that there has been sufficient development that I can publically reveal that (a) it involves the People's Republic of China and (b) it involves construction. I've decided to call the project "Wild Geese Flying", partially because it is a common metaphor in Chinese literature and song, partially because of Kaname Akamatsu's flying geese paradigm in developmental economics, which takes a good world systems approach, and partially because the metaphor of flying geese being a bird that likes to soar. I really do understand those who prefer a quieter life and have more modest goals. But that is not me; I want to do something really substantial in my time on earth, and as such I dream big. To date it hasn't been such a disaster taking that approach; as long as I keep my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds, giant achievements are possible. If this one works, I think adding one year's additional life expectancy to a billion people is a pretty reasonable life goal, right?

On the matter of temporal limitations, last week was quite impossible for me to do much about the move from The Asylum to The Grand Mausoleum. Far too many classes on successive days and, of course, a few other matters on my mind (which I found quite natural to put completely aside when conducting live teaching). With the aid of caseopaya, I made the first moves into the grand inner-city apartment, and have started recycling furnishings back into the Willsmere community. Over the next few weeks, I plan to have complete the move and make the place the sort of home that will be worthy of a few stories; there will be epic dinner parties, there will be sparkling conversation with extremely bright people, and the most amazing plans and plots will be constructed for the light of day. Of course, there are going to be some limits; Dunbar's Number applies, and I really need to concentrate on those social relationships with are practical as well as enjoyable and at the same time. And of course, I do have degrees, books, chapters, and papers to complete. Apologies in advance to my beautiful friends who live that glorious lifestyle like the 24-hour party people; maybe there will be time for one or two wild and spectacular nights where we can dance carefree under the light of the moon as well. But it is some thoroughly purposeful living that I need to concentrate on now, at least for some time. There is a world to change, and apparently, I have sufficient intelligence and gregariousness to harness the disparate and disconnected brilliance of others. Nemo vir est qui mundum non reddat meliorem. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/314083.html.
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Dental Issues, Living for Yourself, Education

In the last entry, I mentioned that I had been undergoing a severe toothache. Well, that's now subsided into a dull roar, a constant feeling of moderate background pain. I have been to the dentist and their diagnosis was not good. I have one tooth definitely lost, one tooth possibly lost, a third needs fillings at least, all at the back. Whilst I have zero tooth decay, in recent times I've been clenching my teeth in my sleep resulting in severe vertical cracks. Apparently, I've been under stress or something. Really, eh? It's an awful result because really I do look after my teeth in waking hours and yet the unconscious concerns create this disaster. Whilst a plate was recommended, I think I'll pass on that as I'd rather concentrate on dealing with the temporary unconscious issues instead. Further tests and operations are due in the coming month, so I guess I'll be making a third teeth-related entry on that matter. I look forward to the day when teeth can be regrown through stem-cells.

A friend suggested recently that I should try "living for yourself" as a means to deal with my current malaise. I treat such pop-psychology with contempt at the best of the times, especially as it ignores the economic constraints that real people have to live with, and have found it wanting. It is certainly appropriate for people who have been living under the shadow of others, being unsure of what they wanted from life, or filtering their words according to the perceived opinions of others. In other words, to use the existentialist term, those who have unauthentic lives (which can very much be due to circumstances). But that's really not me at all, and those who know me even a little bit understand and recognise that. I have very clear personal goals, based on my own desires and interests (especially including a sense of duty to others) and express my honest and deeply-considered opinions. If anything, I suffer the problem of not knowing how to be an unauthentic person even in a tactical sense (which is why a career in politics had to be largely ruled out).

As is usually the case, there is an update here on matters of teaching and learning. These past few days I've conducted three workshops, Introduction to Linux and HPC, Advanced Linux and Shell Scripting for HPC, and Regular Expressions in Linux, along with the content for my thrice-weekly classes at the University of Rojava. I'm more than half-way through the latter and, it pains me to say, I think I'm going to fail the lot of them. I understand the incredibly difficult circumstances that they are operating under, but I have to grade their academic performance according to that criteria, and not according to my sympathies. From the learning side of the equation, I'm making progress on the second chapter of my MHEd thesis, especially looking at a literature review of technology and education. Finally, in the interest of my studies in macroeconomics, this week I wrote a short essay "Two Cheers for Modern Monetary Theory". This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/313731.html.
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Meet me at the back of the blue bus

In August last year I started jotting a few notes on the philosophy of suicide, and today I completed this short essay for Lightbringers. It is not meant to be read as an appeal or advocacy, but rather a matter-of-fact examination of absurdity, of social influences (including the risk of reading and writing such an essay), along with contemporary justifications. The conclusion notes that the politics have shifted, a process that has literally taken hundreds of years, to the extent that most people and increasingly most jurisdictions, accept that medically-assisted suicide is legitimate to provide dignity and agency to those in incurable physical pain. But, I ask, why do we not do the same for those in mental and emotional distress? Unfortunately, I suspect that it is because our society still has not learned to understand that such illnesses can be just as debilitating as physical versions and can cause just as much pain and suffering to the subject. My potential explorations on the subject are far from exhausted, but it is not a subject that I feel that I want to spend too much time on at the moment. Whilst I believe that I have the moral courage to do so, the intellectual stress of writing about this topic in my own emotional state is probably not entirely risk-free.

The unfolding of time does always bring a few surprises on the way, and yesterday it made its appearance in the form of a toothache. There had been a slight nagging pain for a couple of days with an occasional short burst, but yesterday afternoon it went into overdrive. On three occasions I almost passed out from the pain, so you get an idea of what it's like. I had been invited over to caseopaya's new abode for dinner, but I'm afraid I didn't make a great guest as I was moaning and groaning, the pain alleviated by a cold compress, and the collection of some clove oil and various anti-inflammatories to supplement gargling with salt-water and hydrogen peroxide. Running the HPC and Linux workshop today in such a state was quite interesting, as I had to rabbit on for hours whilst holding the compress against my cheek. Tomorrow night I'll be at the dentist's (first visit in 11 years), and hopefully, they'll sort everything out. I am predicting infection through 40-year-old dodgy amalgam. Seriously, I believe we orphans were experimented upon by various wings of the medical profession, and this is an example. After all, who were we going to complain to?

On the topic of various endings, Sunday was the final session of my Eclipse Phase campaign, which has run for over five years - two of the players (no, not characters, players) have died in the course of the game. The final scenario involved the PC Proxies in a desperate position in Cheyenne Mountain, out-numbered and out-gunned with defeat looking increasingly certain. But from their initiative, they were able to make a call for more resources, and bring some balance to the big conflict. But the real tipping point was when an old enemy, the alien Factors, turned up to fight on their side, and victory was achieved. There was a big ceremony, transhumanity had been saved, and whilst there were certainly new tensions rising, but nothing would ever be the same again. It was certainly a story worth telling, but you know, after five years it had to come to an end as well. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/313430.html.
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Funeral Reconnections

Events are moving in my life like lightning flashes, "the text is the thunder rolling long afterwards". So today I shall focus on the attendance of the funeral of one Bev K. I remember so well the night we met; I was at a Labor Party function in Brunswick, and I attended with fashion in mind, set of grey tailcoats with lace cuffs. It was not Bev who caught my eye first that night, but rather her daughter, one Sarah K., who had also had the temerity to dress with style. Our eyes met across the room and, when she left the table for a moment, in my semi-inebriated state I ventured over and constructed one of the few origami folds I know - a swan. That is when first made contact with Bev K., as she cocked her head slightly to one side and smiled, recognising the behaviour of a romantic fool. Poor Sarah returned to her place to be confronted with a paper swan staring at her, and I believe Bev then pointed her in my direction. We talked, we exchanged numbers, and shortly we would begin what was an all-too-short but quite wonderful romance that I will always hold quite dear to my heart.

But this is not a story of Sarah and I; I can sing her praises (and at some length) another time, even if my friends joked that I was a bit of "rough trade" to her. But for Bev, I only knew her for a relatively brief period, but it had a profound and lasting effect on me. She was born just after WWII, and was an otherwordly, imaginative child, radicalised in the 1960s, she became a literary critic of some note, skilled in Russian, and had a major book on Chekov published by Cambridge University Press in the 1970s. After that her focus turned to law reform. When I knew her she was active in the Law Reform Commission, and today I learned that she continued on to become significantly involved in environmental law especially in relation to some of the state's large infrastructure projects. When I knew the family, I would often be in awe Bev's ability and determination to organise and still carry out a deep conversation whilst packing lunches for whatever was the adventure of the day. She also shared with me a mischievous sense of humour. She also had the insight to see I was rather besotted by her daughter: Prove to me that you wish to change the world and have the motivation and competence to do so, and I'm yours; you carry the torch, and I will carry the sword by your side.

So today I attended Bev's funeral. Struck down too early by that monster, Motor Neuron Disease, the funeral was held at the old St Mary's Anglican Church in North Melbourne, where she had been a member of the congregation for many years; inner-city, academic-professional, Anglican Christian-socialists, a running trait from British romanticism ("just a bunch of old rocks" was a family saying, a comment from a disappointed tourist from across The Pond visiting the remains of a Celtic iron age village). It has been some twenty-three years since I had stepped foot in the place with the family, a different world back then, but not one I will ever forget. Alas, I had classes to give and could not stay as long as I would have liked.

Liza K., gave a beautiful poem from Dorothy Parker; I caught her eye for a moment and lost her in the crowd. I hope she still has the illustrated version of "The Hobbit" I gave her, and that it has served her well. Young Roderick recited moving prayers; the boy has all grown up now, tall and strong, although I have discovered he no longer plays the piano. Sarah gave a most moving eulogy from the deep heart I know she carries in a way that most do not. Our encounter was again all too brief, but so deeply respectful, with her expressing caring sympathy for my own current difficulties of the heart. To Bev, who really did make the world a better place, I raise a glass. You - and the entire family - treated me with a respect that I was unfamiliar with. Despite my discomfort with such love, I assure you it was deeply, albeit awkwardly, appreciated. You saw within me - "I will not cease from Mental Fight, Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand: Till we have built Jerusalem" - where so many others have not. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/313325.html.
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Of Gratitude and Imagined Worlds

I must express enormous gratitude to the friends true and good who offered support on my last journal entry; some via LJ/DW, some by 'phone, some in person (such a lovely déjeuner français, thank you Jac and Damien), and many via FB or Messanger. The writing was a cathartic experience in its own right and the outpouring of love and concern was warranted and sincerely appreciated. It certainly helped my thoughts move from considering finding a permanent solution to what is (hopefully) a temporary problem; I have reflections on that matter as well, which I shall post shortly. I must also deeply thank those with knowledge of the psychological sciences who contacted me as well (OK, so one of them is the best person in the state on their relevant sub-area). Interestingly, they came to the same diagnosis of mon amour, and curiously one that has been overlooked. I must confess, to my shame, I hesitated to wonder whether this relationship, in any form, is worth the significant effort required. The answer is of course it is worth it; what sort of friend would I be, if I do not offer compassion and kindness, inspiration through a combination of passion and knowledge, dedication, stability, security, and even sanctuary?

A light-hearted passing comment from my expert friend in the science of the mind, that I seek phantasy worlds as my escapism, also caused me to pause for thought. I was just about to go watch an episode or two of "Star Trek: Discovery", as I have done for end-of-evening viewing for the past few weeks. But, I insisted, I am not a Trekkie (despite having a bookshelf on the subject). Which does raise my relationship with fantasy fiction in general. For the most part, I consider myself a practical and realistic person. But I also have, since a child, found myself deeply in love with mythology and especially those of the Hellenistic world. But it is not the nature spirits, the monsters, or angry and jealous Gods, that I find most enticing, any more than the futuristic technologies in science fiction and The Culture in particular, even though they have value in themselves. Rather, it is the extraordinary insight into the human mind and of the deeper ontologies and epistemologies of reality. The recent experiences have brought my dual tendencies towards fatalism and optimism to the fore (the latter is irrational, but also a coping mechanism). The Hellenic story of Pandora reminds us that the future is (thankfully) unknown, for it is the human spirit that we cannot live without hope, and from the Islamic world the parable that a lot can happen in a year; maybe the horse will learn to sing. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/313005.html.
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The New Home, Emptiness and Fullness, and The Zodiac Mindwarp

Settlement for my new apartment was on Friday, putting me in the frankly ridiculous situation of currently owning three places. Of course, I still have to move all my possessions and prepare the Willsmere house for sale, and I'm actually sufficiently cash poor at the moment that I can't do this right away (my conveyancing agent wanted their fees and stamp duty paid up-front, so that's $20K down the drain). Still, under our current law, buying is so much more sensible than renting if you have the up-front cash for a hefty deposit. Our housing and land system is so broken in favour of the landlord class, against new developments and renters, that it is almost always utterly irrational to rent as a matter of choice. All this could have changed for the better in the 2019 Federal election, but a campaign of fear, uncertainty, and doubt put an end to that. It's all a very illustrative example to me of what I utterly hate about politics - the irrationality and rejection of public welfare, the lies by vested interests and their ignorant allies, the power games - and the recognition of the utter necessity of engagement in it. It is all very well to have good relationships with your friends and build helpful communities, but all of that can be undone with a stroke of a pen and even greater welfare could be generated with the same pen. As Martin Luther King Jnr said: "What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic."

Whilst on the topic of love and while I should be happy with the new life ahead of me, the opposite is the case. I have been struck by a horrible experience of utter emptiness from correspondence earlier this week. In a continued streak of tumultuousness in affairs of the heart, it is again mia koramikino (as the Esperantists say). It has left me feeling utterly gutted, leaving but an empty shell of a person. The sculpture in Geneva, Melancholie by Albert Gyorgy, quite captures how I feel. I find it particularly poignant that the head is still attached; the thinking stoic mind separated from the visceral romantic body. However, a day after this correspondence, we had an old friend in the form of Rob L., visit. Rob runs a brewery and as an expert on such matters and brought over some local beers. It turned into "German night", as I cooked up kaese spaetzle and pfitzauf, and concluded the evening with mummelsee geist alcohol. It was lovely conversation, providing a sense of physical and social fullness, and yet one that contrasted so strongly with my emotional state. Naturally enough, I will write more about the latter, when I have composed myself.

I must conclude on a work event that I was responsible for organising; "Sam Blake and the Zodiac Mindwarp". Whilst it was restricted to staff of Research Computing Services and some selected researchers close to that body some notes can be provided about the event. Sam was part of small international team that cracked the 340 Cipher after fifty years by the Zodiac Killer, and some of that work was done the Spartan HPC system. I remember the news quite well because it's not every day that the system you work with effectively has a news embargo requested by the FBI! Sam's presentation did cover a range of issues in cryptography and the cipher in particular, along with the significant international coverage of the news, and illustrated a few example scripts that he used on the system. I pointed out very quickly with a few tweaks we could have made them run them a couple of orders of magnitude quicker. Who knew that communication could be so important even in technical fields? Anyway, there is future work that could be carried out and I hope to work a lot closer with Sam to see this to realisation. This entry was originally posted at https://tcpip.dreamwidth.org/312357.html.