Shards of Time

Aug. 18th, 2017 09:39 pm
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It's been a strange and disruptive past few days, and one which I am at peace with a certain resilience to stich things together and still have the opportunity for other actions. Initially the most serious problem was the discovery early Tuesday morning that Spartan had crashed. I quickly diagnosed it as a networking issue; the home, project, and scratch directories had all been lost and along with it, every running job screamed and died. As others came on board and I fielded users, we eventually narrowed it down to what appears to be a bug in a Cisco switch that was sending duplicate packets. Congratulations are due to Nhat, NinjaDan, Linh, and Mark M., for their efforts here. Making good of the opportunity we restarted all the nodes with a kernel upgrade as well, which were intending to do anyway, and brought nearly all the partitions online. Overall the detection, investigation, and recovery took the better part of two days, and I cannot help but be impressed by how calm and smoothly the operations ran under such apparent disaster. Arguably the degree of panic in situations like this is an indication of experienced versus inexperienced sysadmins.

The following day went to the hospital to visit Rick and also to see the social worker and doctor to discuss his situation. I signed myself up to pay for his transitional care until VCAT approves my application to receive power of financial attorney in addition to medical attorney. Six months ago he was giving presentations on the admixture of modern humans with archiac hominids, and the peculiar differences between reptilian and mammalian brains. Now, due to rapid onset dementia, he doesn't know what suburb he'd lived in for the past thirty years, the fact he has a brother, or where he was born, and his vocabulary has been reduced to probably less than a dozen words. He'll be spending his days staring out the window or at the television in his room, and that's all there is to it. I'll visit his flat and see if there's any music for him, based on prior studies. It's terrible witnessing such a clever and diverse mind disappear so quickly.

There have been other activities in the past few days. I have preparing heavily for the Isocracy AGM on Wednesday evening which will be addressed by Kos Samaras, assistant state-secretary of the Victorian ALP, speaking on The Reawakening of the Working Class. My own latest written contribution to Isocracy in the past few days has been a piece of the advantages of proportional representation. On Wednesday night we caught up with old university science fiction friend and now Greens activist, Tom S. and friend to see the director's cut of Dark City, the noir SF film which still well holds over the years. Finally, to finish things off last night went to a meeting of Free Software Melbourne at Electron Workshop; whilst it was supposed to be a games night we were distracted by the presence of Margaret Gordon, a documentary maker who wanted to know more about this Linux thing.

Fig

Aug. 17th, 2017 05:48 pm
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Can maintain disdainful detachment even as another, unfamiliar, cat thoughtfully grooms Fig's hind paw.

Revolution

Aug. 17th, 2017 11:38 am
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It’s not that the underground rose up to swallow everyone in a worm mouth warehouse entrance air hangar disappearing trench.
It’s not that microphones everywhere became lightning rods.
It isn’t even that bleached hair burst into flame, turning every activist into a small nuke.
It’s more like a horse became a secretary.
It’s more like the Titanic and the Hindenberg had a baby who grew up to pretend to be Santa Claus to kids and God to adults.
The rescue isn’t coming.
The parachute isn’t packed.
There are no air bags and the car is swerving out of control on the wet road.
There is a future coming that will make us nostalgic for brush fires, for a time when we’d only had two nuclear wars, for a time when cannibalism was rare.
I’m no electric guitar but I can hear the writing on the wall.
Pure jelly beans.
My understoodness has not been ratified.
But I can kill a zebra with my right wing and a statue with my left.
Both wings flapping is the bird version of applause.
Dive into my ice cream.
And rot.



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Woe is me

Aug. 15th, 2017 05:14 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Just noticed the book I was going to read tonight won't be out until November, so I shouldn't review it any time soon.

A note for next year

Aug. 13th, 2017 10:16 pm
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As near as I can tell from these rules James Nicoll Reviews does not qualify as a fanzine (it provides too much of my income). It might be a semi-prozine (bad for me, because my numbers would not get me onto the long list) or Related (where I also don't think I would made it onto the long list).
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There was talk of having a bonfire in October. Was trying to come up with theme/justification because I am incapable of spontaneity. Thought it might be nice to tie it in somehow to the Year of Waterloo Region SF. Wondered "what SF book features bonfires as a central image?"

Perseids Watch 2017: Success!

Aug. 13th, 2017 02:15 pm
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Many meteors seen, among other things.

Read more... )

Musings on boot camps and criminality

Aug. 13th, 2017 08:05 pm
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It's election season, and thus also the season to get tough on crime™, with our Prime Minister floating the idea of year-long "boot camps" for Serious Youth Offenders. This in spite of research here and overseas that suggests that this kind of "get tough" approach isn't effective and often backfires.

This ended up with me having a discussion with friends, one who's been in the military and has attempted to train people in this kind of circumstances. The following are my own thoughts on the matter. Would be keen to know if any of this sounds like it doesn't make sense, but no "but some people are just plain evil!" please. I'd like us to fix what we can for who we can.


People seem to think it's the ordeals of basic training in the armed forces which "straightens them out", but it's really not that at all. Those who flourish in a military environment tend to do so because they're in a place where they can build skill, will and trust in their relationships with other people. Perhaps counter-intuitively, because it's a safe place with a lot of predictability and clear paths of positive action.

Taking a large number of deliquents and social misfits and putting them through a "toughening exercise" doesn't usually give you that. It gives you hardened delinquency. If they are forging relationships, it's more likely to be camraderie against the experience instead of with it.

Even the very best leaders and teachers will have trouble getting good results out of people if they have to start out as wardens rather than mentors.

Harsh discipline may train them to obey you when they must, but it won't make them respect you. And as soon as they don't have fear of immediate retribution to motivate them anymore, they have no reason to continue being compliant. It gives you short-term suppression, not long-term prevention.

If you're from a rough home environment where betrayal and manipulation is just a part of daily life, where trust is seen as a weakness rather than a strength, you can't just say "okay, you're in a team now" and have it magically happen. There needs to be some kind of anchor in respect and trust first.

Ironically, that mindset is one of the reasons that some do gravitate toward towards gangs and other forms of organised crime: they're a social structure with rules about respect, trust, loyalty and belonging; an outlaw society for when the rest of society has already turned its back on you, that finds value in some of your antisocial behaviours and turns them into a kind of positive.

To get away from that, you need to find people other ways to make a real positive difference. That doesn't just mean being going from an all-stick approach to an all-carrot approach, or putting them in a hug-box to talk about all their feeling. Those won't work for another set of reasons. Giving someone a place where they can gain some mana for choosing to do good things, even very simple things, can be a place to start.

At the moment, some do get that in the armed forces. Some eventually get that through the prison system, in one of a variety of ambulance programmes at the bottom of the cliff. And some, some never do. If we want to help at-risk people at scale, it's better (and cheaper overall) if we can do that earlier, before they start letting the poor choices of people in unstable circumstances dominate their path in life.
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The past couple of days have seen two of my proposed presentations accepted by two difference conferences. One is for eResearch Australasia on andragogical methods in teaching high performance computing, which I'll be helped by an HPC educator from Goethe University Frankfurt, and the second being the IEEE eScience conference in New Zealand on cluster-cloud architectures which I'll receive assistance from the HPC group at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg. In addition, Friday was a particularly good workday as we held a workshop for about a dozen various HPC systadmins from around the university, as part of the massive upgrade to the Spartan system from being a relatively small and experimental system, to one of the most powerful in the world. I effectively have been given the coordinating role for this group and already several good ideas have come out the workshop for improvements and preparations as we integrate a six-rack GPU partition to our existing infrastructure. Apropos I am off to NCI in early September for their HPC course and will be taking the PRACE online supercomputing course to see how they do things.

Yesterday we visited [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce for our irregular CheeseQuest and the next chapter of Mice and Mystics, which was not at all successful for the noble rodents. Afterwards played game of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, which we prevented the destruction of the world with one turn to spare - it's notably a very quick game. On returning home completed a review of Hunter Planet which will soon be going into RPG Review. I've just been in contact with the original author about my ideas for rules revisions (most of which I tested over 25 yeares ago) and a new scenario implementing Peter Jackson's Bad Taste. I'm also currently writing a version of GURPS Autoduel to fit with the Mad Max series, all of which are contributions to the now late issue of RPG Review.

It is good to able to return to a moderately normal set of topics in life. Previous posts of deaths, funerals, and loss of cognitive functions have been quietly uspetting, despite a calm personal exterior. About twenty years ago a person, who didn't know me that well, was engaged in conversation about motivation and emotions. He used the phrase 'Still waters run deep' to describe me. I appreciated the accurate encapsulation, and indeed have tried cultivate that part of my character (not always successfully). As an obvious variation, I am certainly not the silent type and express my considered views with some abandon. But it is the considered views that I express. I will either ask a question if I don't know something or I will make proposition if I am fairly certain of something. It is part of my recognition (and I do lay claim to coining this phrase) that deeply considered convictions are better than deeply ingrained prejudices, even if the emotional response is the same.
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(I think?), and since the year is half over, what YA do you expect to be nominated next year?

History for drinkers

Aug. 11th, 2017 03:11 pm
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The biological drive to serve dessert to tigers is unknowable and not evolutionarily beneficial to our race as matter of kites and slander.
In fact, each bandana that back-pockets its way to a lure for a solution becomes just another good-intention brick on that road.
Corrals for hope don’t exist on the minimal-gravity desert planet.
Brass discipline rolls the dice in a sunken ship.
No snakes, says the sign.
I can’t hear the trumpet when I try to be human.
My frontal lobes are soaking in a cave sweat.
Black plastic helps.
Juggle me this, juggle me that, who’s afraid of the atanarjuat.
Hard passes on hard lefts.
Grow more fingers if you need higher numbers.
Sleep in a bucket to get to heaven.


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