Poetry: Silver

This was written for the October 30th 2012 “Equal Writes” session in Belgrave. I did both a poem and a prose piece explaining the background.

Silver the poem

Strong runner
Apprentice butcher
Goal set
Strive for the finish

Runs well
Edged out
Second place
A quick silver race

Stands tall
between two men
skins darker than his
but an agenda shared by all

Medals awarded
Gloved fists
In the air
He stands, badged with honour

Fastest Australian
Never again called
Seen to have shamed
By wanting all to stand tall

Peter Norman – Silver medalist – 1968 Olympics

In the 1968 Olympics in Mexico an apprentice butcher from Melbourne threw a cat amongst the pigeons in the 200m heats by breaking the world record, threatening the domination of the US. He took silver in the finals, improving his time again, separating Tommie Smith who won gold (and the then world record) and Jon Carlos who took bronze.

Before the ceremony Tommie and Jon told Peter about their plans to protest racial segregation and inequality with the gloved fist salute, and Peter Norman said “I’ll stand with you”.

On the way out to the podium he borrowed an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge from one of the US rowers and then, when Jon Carlos realised he’d forgotten his pair of gloves, suggested that they share Tommie’s.

That iconic act of defiance had an immediate impact, with the athletes being booed as they left the podium and then ostracised. The two US athletes were expelled from the Games and Peter Norman was reprimanded by the Australian Olympic Committee the day after the race.

Despite being ranked fifth in the world and running qualifying times in the 100m and the 200m before the next Olympics Peter Norman was not selected for the 1972 Munich games, and he later retired from competitive running.

There was no reconciliation, when the 2000 Sydney Olympics happened he was the only Australian olympian to not be invited to participate in the lap of honour, a grievous omission, dashing his hopes.

However, the American team had not forgotten him and he was invited to be their guest of honour, staying with them in the Olympic Village.

When Peter Norman died in 2006 both Tommie Smith and Jon Carlos came to Melbourne to be his pall bearers and to read eulogies, Tommie said “Peter Norman’s legacy is a rock. Stand on that rock.”

Peter Norman’s 1968 finals time is still the Australian 200m record. The day of his funeral is honoured as “Peter Norman Day” by the US Track and Field Federation.

HPC sysadmin job in Melbourne, Australia

No, not where I work for once, but a friend of mine is looking for an HPC sysadmin in his group in the Victoria State Government:

This role requires advanced skills in system and network administration and scripting, clustered computer systems, security, virtualisation and Petabyte-scale storage. It is highly desirable that you have acquired these skills in a Life sciences environment. The heterogeneous environment requires both Linux and Windows skills. You should have the ability to design and implement solutions for automated transfer of data within and between systems and to ensure the security of both internal and Internet-facing systems. In this complex environment, working closely in teams of multi-disciplinary scientists to deliver computing solutions, including advanced troubleshooting and diagnostic skills, will be required. Supervision of other members of the team will also be necessary.

They’ve got a 1500+ core Linux cluster.. 😉

Quick Twitter Rant on Terrorism Hysteria

As promised to my good friend Lev Lafayette on the tram back from the last Linux Users of Victoria meeting here is my brief rant on terrorism hysteria sparked off on the 26th May by a tweet by Emily Lakdawalla mentioning an article about Kiera Wilmot’s situation written by Kiera herself.

Please read about where this #terrorism hysteria is leading us: RT @elakdawalla: Kiera Wilmot’s own words: http://www.aclu.org/blog/[…]

Fear is one of the most disabling afflictions we can have and it’s almost as if western society is craving it.

We make prisons for ourselves in our minds, voluntarily sacrificing liberties for illusionary security whilst paying for the privilege.

We arrest and almost criminalise a 16 year old girl for a class chemistry project gone wrong then wonder why society stagnates.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled funny cat videos and Farmville. Nothing to see here, be happy in your virtual cocoon

Not that Australia is that much better, we have our own hysteria about asylum seekers to deal with.. 🙁

Poetry: Episodes

Another in the series of writings for the Equal Writes writing group in Belgrave, this one was on the topic of Episodes and is vaguely (OK, more than vaguely) autobiographical.

Episodes in my life

Growing up in Cardiff

City streets, city parks,
Trips to the Brecon Beacons.
Roman roads, standing stones,
faint echoes of the Mabinogion.

Autumn holidays in Pembrokeshire
Where Parry Thomas and Babs broke records,
and one sorry day, full of cold,
Babs broke his life.

University in Aberystwyth

Wyt ti’n siarad Cymraeg?
Not really.
Welsh, but not speaking Welsh.
In this Welsh University town.
Trying to learn the lingo but blocked,
timetable clashes and moved lectures.
Physics and maths getting in the way.
Instead I found computers,
almost lost a degree,
but found a new occupation.

Working in Great Malvern

Running computers for developers,
in the place where RADAR was developed,
to see in the dark.

During a war where computers first came to life,
to break codes,
to see into the enemies mind.

Later, working in computer security,
to keep the black hats out,
and keep the white hats safe.
Our own hats a lighter shade of grey.

Migration to Australia

Just married to an Aussie,
in the middle of the UK.
Our honeymoon is down under,
living in Cockatoo,
and an introduction to wonder.
New birds, animals, and mosquitoes.

A year passes and another trip,
and this holiday a decision is made
to leave the old country and try
something new.

Both of us migrants now,
me for the first time,
her for the second,
both taking a big leap together,
catching each other,
at the end of the red eye.