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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Distributed computing, elections, and house of leaves

My earlier moaning about how easy it would be to implement the NetWorkSpace parallel computing architecture on a *nix system has proven to be less than well-founded. I set up a couple of Ubuntu machines and put the software on them. Initially I was trying to use my Mac as a master, but there were issues in the path naming still. I tried from a second Ubuntu installation, and NWS doesn't run properly from it. I've got an open (perhaps overly verbose) posting on the R mailing list, and Revolutions politely let me know that they make their money from support and thus can't help with the open-source stuff. Also that they don't support Ubuntu. I've all but decided to bail on the NWS package and try to implement MPI. It's apparently the industry standard, but also more difficult.

Yesterday was election day, and I was happy to see Libertarian candidates for all offices except for the Senate (where I voted for the only independent). I'm pleased to see that we'll at get a split government, that should at least tie them up and prevent them from doing too much more damage for a while. But it also precludes repealing the health care bill via legislation. Hopefully the courts can do something about it.

Rachael and I have started reading House of Leaves. I almost put it back on the shelf when I saw the back cover said something about "postmodern delight," but XKCD made a joke about it, so I'm willing to give it a chance. It's been engrossing thus far. The "unsettling" part of it is how effectively it erodes the fundamental assumptions you rely on for interpreting reality. I think the non-standard typesetting is aimed at least in part at assisting the narrative in that regard.

Of course, undermining one's grasp on reality might be a really unhealthy thing, but it also might help get rid of some ungrounded assumptions one might have. As long as you reassemble what you deconstruct.

Or maybe think of it as "Refactoring."